Volume 79, Number 15 | September 16 - 22, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Villager photo by Tequila Minsky

Harvey Meltzer and Phyllis Wolf Meltzer on their balcony in Greenwich Village.

83-year-olds hook up, find marriage (where else?) online

By Albert Amateau

It was a whirlwind courtship. They met online in December and got married in August in the groom’s Greenwich Village apartment. You might say it’s a December-December romance. Both the bride and groom are 83 and their grandchildren were among the guests at the Aug. 22 ceremony conducted by the Reverend Achala Matthew Godino, of the Integral Yoga Center in the Village.

“It was his first,” said the bride, Phyllis Wolf Meltzer, referring to Reverend Godino.

“It was her fourth,” quipped Harvey Meltzer, the groom, referring to his new wife.

“I found her on Match.com,” Harvey told a visitor to the couple’s Greenwich Ave. home a week after the wedding.

Phyllis wrote the marriage ceremony.

“I wrote a song for Harvey, too. One line of it goes, ‘I could be the Scotch to Harvey’s seltzer,’” she said.

Harvey, who was widowed last year, recalled that he had taken the loss hard.

“I finally told myself that I had to pull myself together, and then something popped up in a conversation about online dating. I thought I might as well give it a nod and joined Match.com,” he said.

Harvey told the dating service that he was looking for women between 70 and 87 within 15 miles of the Village, where he has been living since 1971.

Phyllis had told the same dating service that she was looking for men between 75 and 85 in Clearwater, Fla., the same town where she had been living since 1974. Phyllis, whose husband of 23 years died in 1984, learned about the online service from a couple she was on a cruise with last year. That couple had met on Match.com.

Harvey and Phyllis both had a few dates from within their specified areas but nothing clicked until they were referred to each other.
“I was hooked before I met her,” said Harvey. “We tried to keep up with each other on e-mail but we soon moved on to the telephone. The long-distance conversations went on for hours. In 166 years of living there’s a lot to talk about,” he said.

“My daughter said, ‘How do you know he’s not an ax murderer?’ when I told her I hooked up with a man on Match,” Phyllis recalled. “But I said, nothing ventured, nothing gained. You run into a few dead-end dates and then you get a prize,” she said.

“I told her I walked with a cane,” Harvey said. “Which hand do you hold the cane?” she asked and he said, “The left.” “That’s good, I hold my cane in the right hand,” she said.

There were more parallels: As children, they both read “Bomba, the Jungle Boy” books. Phyllis even had a pet monkey named Bomba. They both lived in Massapequa, L.I., at one point and they both worked in Manhattan for CBS for many years. She was a writer for the bandleader Fred Waring’s popular television show, and he was an executive in charge of the broadcasting company’s royalties. But their paths never crossed until the Internet brought them together last December.

On the Match Web site Harvey noted that he was an infantry rifleman during World War II.

“I was an 18-year-old kid when I went into battle,” he recalled. “We landed in Marseille and then we were sent to a place called Bastogne in Belgium to relieve airborne troops who were surrounded by Germans.” It became known as the Battle of the Bulge, in which 19,000 American soldiers were lost at the end of December 1944 and the beginning of January 1945 amid freezing temperatures and deep snow. Harvey Meltzer lost some toes to frostbite during the campaign.

In 1994 Harvey went back to Bastogne for the 50th anniversary of the battle.

“Everyone gathered in the main square, veterans and townspeople. It was a huge celebration,” he recalled. “They called it ‘Nuts’ day — that was what General [Anthony] McAuliffe said in response to a German demand for surrender. I went again in 2004 with my son, and it was still a big celebration.”

Phyllis and Harvey met in person around Christmastime. Harvey had gone with his son and grandson on vacation to Sanibel Island, a nature preserve on Florida’s Gulf Coast, and didn’t return to New York with them.

“I told them I was going to visit a lady in Clearwater,” he said. By the beginning of the year, Harvey and Phyllis decided to get married and Phyllis came to New York.

“I told Match to take us off the site,” said Phyllis. “They took me off, but they didn’t take Harvey off and he still gets e-mails from those women. Please let people know that he’s off Match.com and he’s taken.”

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