It’s a good thing for Myra and Stanley Ostroff that first impressions don’t always stick.
Although they are approaching their 52nd wedding anniversary on Dec. 14, they couldn’t stand each other when they first met in the summer of 1958.
It mostly had to do with her initial opinion of him – he was a wise guy who liked to make offhanded remarks, and that just didn’t sit well with her.
They met at a singles social on a Pennsylvania farm where she was doing fundraising for cystic fibrosis and he was out with a buddy looking to meet young women and have a good time.
As luck had it, his friend became interested in one of her friends at the event and asked that Stanley Ostroff drive them home.
Myra came along for the ride too, sitting in the front with Stanley while the other couple sat in the back.
During that ride, Myra and Stanley warmed to each other, quickly getting past their earlier negative initial impressions.
“We just clicked,” he said. “It just seemed right.”
He invited her out on a date for the July 4th weekend, which they spent together – but sleeping in separate lodgings in Atlantic City, N.J. – and their romance blossomed in the ensuing weeks.
They got engaged the following month and married by the end of that year in a synagogue in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, the city where they both grew up.
“I was very comfortable with him,” said Myra Ostroff, 77. “He was attentive and caring.”
He, too, liked the easy manner in which they got along.
“We were comfortable,” he said. “She was a nice lady. She was bright, interesting and kind of pretty.”
It didn’t much matter that he was a dancer and she wasn’t or that she has never been a good singer.
“Other than that, she does everything extremely well,” he said.
He boasts about her cooking, and especially her baking, which is so fabulous that people who know of it practically fight to get a taste, he said.
Money is no object
They joke that each thought the other came from money when they first got together.
“I thought her father had money,” Stanley Ostroff quipped. Actually, her father spent 16 years as a Philadelphia police officer before moving on to a series of other unrelated jobs.
“I thought you had money,” she fired back teasingly.
Regardless of wealth, they didn’t hesitate about getting engaged and married less than half a year after first meeting.
“My philosophy was, as I said to my friends, ‘When you go swimming, you don’t stick a toe at a time in the water. You jump in,’” said Stanley Ostroff, now 82.
For Stanley and Myra Ostroff, it didn’t matter that their interests didn’t always converge. Over time, she became very active in the Reform movement of Judaism, at one time serving as president of a regional board of the movement and as national vice chairwoman and member of the national board.
She also was president of the former synagogue they belonged to in Aberdeen, N.J., Temple Shalom. These days, they are members of the Monmouth Reform Temple in Tinton Falls, N.J.
“Myra is my contribution to Reform Judaism,” her husband said.
They have a 9-year-old dog, Rocky, that’s his baby because he is the dog lover in the household.
If it were up to her, they wouldn’t have a dog at all, but marriage is at times about compromise. The compromise in this case is that they could have a dog, but not a big one.
Rocky is a small, white Coton de Tulear, that barks tough but tends to scurry away from strangers.
Myra Ostroff, who attended Temple University for one year and a medical technician training program at St. Luke’s Hospital in Philadelphia for 18 months, gave up her young career as a medical lab technician one year after they got married and moved to New York City. Her husband was already working as a women’s shoes manufacturer’s representative in the city.
They lived for six and a half years in New York before moving into a ranch house in a quiet neighborhood in Old Bridge, N.J., where they still live almost 45 years later.
She was a stay-at-home mom for their two sons, Michael Ostroff, who is now 49, and Charles Ostroff, 46.
Myra Ostroff and a dear friend, Addie Bogdonoff, ran their own craft store in Colts Neck, N.J., Crafty Women, for nine years in the 1970s, selling needlepoint canvasses, yarn and crewel work.
Stanley, an Army veteran of the Korean War who briefly attended the University of Pennsylvania, always helped with raising the boys and chores around the house.
She said she always appreciated him for that, especially since he was the breadwinner over the years, representing various shoe companies, including Nine West and Christian Dior, where he was a vice president for its shoe division.
He retired about six years ago and has been involved as a volunteer advocate for abused, neglected and foster children through the nonprofit children’s welfare organization CASA.
They are both avid readers and mystery fans. They enjoy going to restaurants and stage shows together, and spending time with their five grandchildren. She prefers dramas, while he is more inclined to see musicals, however.
A witch’s brew
He said he and others who know Myra well are convinced that she’s a witch who can cast spells on people – a good witch, of course.
For example, one winter when the two of them were traveling to Washington, D.C., and had stopped in Maryland, a car drove by them at high speed, splashing snow debris onto her. She gave them the evil eye and, surprise, surprise, two miles down the road they noticed that car stopped with a flat tire, Stanley Ostroff said.
They have had fights from time to time but nothing that ever lasted too long.
“We have a motto: You could go to bed mad but you wake up the next day and it’s all over,” he said. “You don’t carry it to the next day.”
He said he loves her because there’s not anything not to love.
“I really like everything about her,” he said. “I’m very comfortable with her.”
She said she loves him for his heart and his patience.
“He’s always been even-tempered, where sometimes I would fly off the handle,” Myra Ostroff said. “And he’s just caring, a good father, a good husband.”
Leave a comment