The truth is I just wanted to wish Fannie and Mits Zamore a happy anniversary and maybe mention it in a paragraph. Fat chance, especially with both of them on the phone line at the same time correcting each other over what they ate 65 years ago or whether Mits turned right or left at the top of the stairs that day at the University of Tampa.
So if I don't have all the details right it's only because when you talk to these two, you get two or even three sets of details. But I'll do my best.
Last week the couple had dinner at the Columbia restaurant in Ybor City to celebrate their 65th anniversary. This marked the 65th time they have celebrated at the Columbia ... at the same table on the patio.
“The very first time I had the stuffed crawfish and Mits had chicken livers,'' Fannie says. “He loves chicken livers. I think the total bill for the two of us with tip was around eight dollars.''
Owners Richard and Casey Gonzmart ought to put a plaque on that table.
Fannie called me recently at my house. I put the phone on my shoulder, leaned back in the chair and just listened. It was like a trip in a Tampa time machine across the years with a couple still in love.
Let's start with Mits (technically Milton), who still has that New Jersey\Bronx\Brooklyn dialect and who wanted me to know he always worked and when he was a kid he worked two jobs — at Macy's and Saks at the same time .
But then there was the war and when he came out with the GI Bill he found himself enrolling at the University of Tampa.
“They let me put my tuition on a payment plan. I think it was seven dollars an hour. I went to my first class and the professor gave me a test.
“I knew I needed help so I went to see the university chaplain, who was Rabbi David Zelonka. He sent me upstairs to meet a girl named Rosenberg. He said she could help me out.
“Well when I saw her she was the most delicious looking girl I had ever seen ... still is.''
That's not quite the way the then-Fannie Rosenberg remembers it.
“He had this Groucho Marx mustache that drove me crazy.''
A few weeks later, Fannie needed a guy as a double date for one of her girlfriends and called up Mits.
The story gets a little unclear here, but Mits rented either a convertible or a car with a rumble seat in the back, brought along a ring, and the rest is history.
“Well,'' says Fannie, “my parents didn't like him because he had a job selling burlap bags and when he met them his shirt was not tucked inside his pants.''
The story goes on, but as I sat there listening it drifted off into what it was like growing up in post-war Tampa and of a time when we might not have had as much but family and friends seemed a little closer.
Mits had a dozen jobs, from working at Maas Brothers to Tampa Crown Distributors to selling real estate. Fannie became a school teacher and taught everywhere, from Robert E. Lee Elementary to Tinker out at MacDill Air Force Base.
“I guess,'' says Fannie, “we grew up with the city. We saw Ybor in its heydays and then when it was all but shut down. So much has changed, but we are both in our 80s and still so happy I can't complain.''