Sweethearts for seven decades

(Editor’s note: February is the Month of Love with couples expressing their sentiments on Valentine’s Day. In celebration of the season of romance, the Mirror talked to a couple who have a lot of experience in that area.)

It was love at first sight for Frank Roscia 74 years ago, and he has been holding Kay’s hand ever since.

The Altoona couple met in high school and will celebrate their 70th anniversary this fall.

“It was a big mistake,” Frank said of how he met the love of his life. “I took her for another woman.”

At the time, Kay and Frank were students at Altoona High School.

“I thought she was [my friend] Grace,” Frank said. “I tapped her on the back and took her for Grace.”

When she turned around, the face was unfamiliar. He had never met Kay Bellacero before, but he couldn’t keep his eyes off her.

After that accidental encounter, he would wait for her every day after school.

“I’d carry her books and walk her home,” said Frank, who never minded going 2 miles out of his way to accompany Kay to Eldorado. His own home was near the high school.

“On the way home, there was this ice cream place,” Kay said, adding that he used to buy her a treat.

It was about the only time they could be alone together.

Their dates took place in the Bellacero family living room under the watchful eyes of Kay’s parents. Frank couldn’t even hold her hand.

Throughout the evening, Kay’s mother minded the clock. When midnight approached, she would remind Frank that the last street car of the day would be arriving, and it was time for him to go.

“My mom was really strict,” Kay said.

She recalled that one time they got her parents approval to walk to the movies at the Rivoli. When they got there, they learned that Kay’s mother called the movie theater to make sure they had arrived, she said.

Two years after high school, the couple got married.

Frank worked at the Pennsylvania Railroad and attended Penn State where he studied accounting. Kay worked at Altoona Shoe Factory to pay for Frank’s tuition.

He never got his degree. The children came along and he needed to provide for them.

“I worked two and three jobs,” he said.

In addition to his duties as a stenciler for the railroad, he tended bar and worked at a funeral home. He owned the Phoenix Restaurant for a time during the 1950s.

Kay worked various jobs, too, including a time at the Bon Ton clothing store and continued to work there for a short period after it became Monarch’s.

Despite all the work, they were devoted to each other and their children – Patricia, Peter and Roseann.

“Our main concern was to have time for the children,” Kay said. “We went to all their activities.”

“We put all three kids through college,” she continued, adding that the children also are graduates of Bishop Guilfoyle High School and attended Mount Carmel Grade School.

Their faith has been an integral part of the their marriage, too.

“We have always gone to church,” Kay said. “We are church people.”

The Roscias are members of Mount Carmel Catholic Church where Kay is a member of the Altar Society and the Holy Name Society. Frank belongs to the Knights of Columbus.

Frank and Kay believe that it is their teamwork that has kept their marriage flourishing all these years.

They sacrificed to get ahead, often saving for furniture and vehicles to avoid paying interest.

“I didn’t go out for entertainment. I stayed home,” Frank said.

Of course, no marriage is perfect, and the Roscias admit they have had times when they did not see eye-to-eye.

“If you don’t agree, you have to come to a solution,” Frank said. “You have to work it out.”

When problems come, it’s not time to call it quits, he explained.

“You don’t say: ‘Good-bye. I have a job. I don’t need you,'” he said.

“Marriage is like a job,” Kay said. “You have to work at it.”

Frank’s advice for a fulfilling marriage is to know what is right and what is wrong.

“Don’t get into trouble,” he said. “Don’t go into debt.”

Kay said the secrets to a long marriage are to respect one another and to compromise.

“Values make a marriage beautiful and lasting,” she said.

In their retirement years, the Roscias spend time with family. Daughters, Patricia Bell of Altoona and Roseann Madden of Hollidaysburg, live close enough for family get-togethers while Peter lives in Miami. The Roscias travel to Florida to visit him. Kay and Frank also have 10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

The family is expected to gather for a 70th anniversary celebration later this year. Kay and Frank were wed on Oct. 21, 1944.

In addition to enjoying special times with family, they go out with friends. Kay plays pinochle with her card club, and Frank likes the challenge of word puzzles.

They also find time for dates. They go out for dinner, especially on special occasions, and attend Altoona High football games and Altoona Curve baseball games.

“We still love each other after 69 years,” Kay said. “We still hold hands if we go somewhere.”