Searching for a soulmate

June 27th, 2015 1:43 am

First Posted: 2/10/2013

Who would have ever thought back in the 1950s that technology called a computer and the Internet would allow a person to search for a soul mate?


The expertise and refinement of the Internet has no bounds and will search for the girl and guy of one's dreams.

So easy! Feed the computer your personal information (embellish the facts) and chances are that tall, dark, handsome guy with an established future possessing the same interest and goals will appear. The independent beautiful woman with a spectacular figure capable of managing a career and family at the same time will also appear like magic on the screen.

Easy enough.

My generation did not have the luxury of the Internet so we relied on Cupid to perform his magic.

One never knew when or where the real thing would occur. Sometimes it was around the corner, at a dance, skating rink, high school or maybe next door.

Such was the case for my brother Joe Manganaro and Dorothy Gattuso.

Our families lived in a double block where a tap on the kitchen wall was often used for communication. Life went on as good neighbors but unbeknownst to us in the mid 1950s there was a little eye contact and flirtation going on between Dorothy and Joe. It developed into the real thing and they were married in 1956 but not without a lot of teasing about the song recorded by Tony Orlando with a catchy phrase, Knock Three Times on the Ceiling if You Want Me and Twice on the Floor if You're Not Going to Show.

Ann Marie Paragas met Bob Conroy when she was in high school and worked an after school job as a waitress in Peos Restaurant. Bob dropped in the restaurant each day for a cup of coffee but mainly to see Ann Marie and left a nickel tip. At the other end of the counter was another young man who also was interested in the pretty blond waitress having a cup of coffee and leaving quarter tips.

Ann Marie did not let that 20 extra cents deter her; she followed her heart and settled for the nickel tipper attached to a witty Irish guy. They were married over 50 years.

For centuries, the method of choosing a mate for a daughter was in the hands of a father through match making. Mama's marriage to Papa was arranged while she was sailing to America from Sicily, Italy at the age of 15 ½. Grandpa selected Papa a young man also from Sicily, Italy who was a soldier in the U.S. Army. By the age of 16, Mama was married to Papa.

At their first meeting called the introduction, Papa arrived with a delegation of family and friends as was the custom. The women assembled in the kitchen and the men in the parlor, enjoying a glass or two of wine. When proper time for the visit elapsed, Papa and his delegation left.

Grandpa turning to Mama asked, Do you like him? Mama responded Which one was he? The whole process had to be repeated. They were married for 60 years - enough time to more than like him.

Serendipity is the ability to find, by accident, interesting items. I heard that word spoken by a young groom who was an officer in the U.S. Air Force on the day of his wedding as he described his meeting with his beautiful young bride.

Twelve years later, I met this young couple, Heather and Lieutenant Cornel John Bartoli, Jr., at the funeral of his mother, Connie Butera Bartoli. I had never forgotten the uniqueness of the toast and asked Heather how they met.

It was an extremely rainy day so much so that I was soaken wet and late for class. Knowing the professor would not be happy with my lateness, I ducked into the library. There, I met a friend who was talking to his friend whom I did not know. The introductions were made and that was it. They are the parents of four children and love rainy days.

Once more, long before the age of computers when young unmarried women would ask, Where can I meet a nice guy? my first response was, in church and the second was look for a young man who is sitting alone; chances are he is shy and would like company.

Many years later, the first piece of advice became a reality for me. I was involved in a Diocesan program called Beginning Experience. Our group was holding a nine-week session for people who had lost a spouse through death, divorce or separation at St. Rocco's Church.

One evening following a service I saw Chester, approached him and invited him to join the group. He attended the first session, thinking he was going to a political meeting. The spirituality of the group and the coffee social kept him coming back. A requirement of the program is there is no outside fraternizing during the nine weeks.

Early in January, I received a telephone call from Chester, asking if I would have dinner with him. I remember the feeling of panic and put him off. My daughters and friends encouraged me to accept. Next time he called I said yes.

He was nervous and so was I. He talked and talked and I listened. He talked so much that he drove by the restaurant and had to backtrack. That evening was the beginning of a wonderful relationship that led to a marriage of 21 years.

Happy Valentine's Day to all who are and have been fortunate to share their lives with a true love.

My advice still holds true for those searching for a soulmate: Go to church!