BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. – Briarcliff Manor couple Don Constable and Helen Rudie have been married more than 41 years and can still recall the exact details of the night they met, even though they barely saw each other.
It was just after 10 p.m. on a Friday night in September 1970 and they were both with friends at a bar in Manhattan when Don asked Helen if she’d like to accompany him to a party. She immediately shot him down because she was only at the bar to take care of her sister. A mutual friend eventually convinced Helen to join them at the party but paid almost no attention to Don the whole evening. At the end of the night, Don asked Helen for her number and she reluctantly gave it to him.
“The next day, here comes a telephone call and he wants to go out for dinner and he names a day very close to that day,” Helen, 91, said while reminiscing at the Atria Briarcliff Manor. “He comes to pick me up and I don’t even know what he looks like. I see a man that has to be him so I walk up and push him on the belly button and he looks down and says ‘Oh there you are.’ And I’m looking up at the bluest, most gorgeous eyes I’ve ever seen.”
The two later went out on their date and several others but Helen said at one point she had a secret that she had to tell Don and couldn’t go another date without revealing it.
“I told him I couldn’t see him anymore and he clearly felt insulted,” Helen said. “I told him I was older than him but he didn’t care so I told him the real truth. I told him I was Jewish. And there was dead silence and then he says ‘That’s great so am I.’ And I said to myself, ‘Helen, you’re an idiot.’”
Don, 77, said he felt like they almost immediately loved one another and years later would even go into business together. But the key to a long lasting marriage was more than their similarities and their love, he said.
“I think it’s about respecting one another,” he said. “I think you have to really respect and care for each other through everything.”
Helen said all of the years of her relationship with Don have flown by.
“It’s been like going out on dates every night for the last 41 years,” she said. “Every day I’ve known him it’s been like going out on a date every day.”