Carol Ann Paresky and Joseph Malcolm Paresky at Grace Oliver Beach.
Photo by Carol Ann Paresky

It was 1942 when 13-year-old Carol Ann Paresky met 16-year-old Joseph Malcolm Paresky on a double-date. They were from neighboring towns, she from Newton, he from Brighton.

“I don’t even know who my date was,” Carol Ann said recently, “but I certainly remember Joseph.” She recalled with great certainty that he showed little interest in her, “a skinny pickle of a girl.”

The date ended and they did not see each other again.

1948 through 1956 was a whirlwind for Carol Ann, who married, moved to Marblehead, and became a mother of four children. Those years proved to be difficult, and when the marriage ended, Carol Ann wholly devoted herself — and the next decade — to her role as a single mother.

Through the grapevine, Carol Ann learned that Joseph had been widowed and was a father of four sons. The news made her think not of herself, but rather of a woman who was recently divorced with three sons.

“So I called him to fix him up with that girl,” Carol Ann said.

His reply astounded her.

“I don’t do blind dates,” Joseph said, adding, “How about you?”

On January 2, 1974 — 32 years after their youthful encounter — Carol Ann and Joseph met in the parking lot of Hawthorne by the Sea for their first official date.

“As I drove into the parking lot, I saw this guy — gray flannel suit, polka-dot tie, leaning against his Grand Prix — and I knew I was a goner,” Carol Ann said, the memory making her giddy. “I parked my old, beat-up Wagon, stepped out of my car with my fake mink coat to the ground, and HE was a goner.”

The date lasted more than 12 hours.

“We went everywhere in the world in those hours,” she recalled.

They visited Carol Ann’s mother, who was in the hospital, they went dancing, they dined, and they reminisced for hours. Beneath the undeniable chemistry was another, deeper layer — they shared the commonality of being single parents.

At the time of their meeting, Carol Ann had been on duty with her four kids “24/7,” and barely had time to bathe.

“I remember he looked at me at one point and said, ‘Be good to yourself,’ and I had never had anyone say that to me.”

She said he told her it was something he had read in Ayn Rand’s “The Virtue of Selfishness.” The words are still with her today.

Carol Ann and Joseph were married four months later in Marblehead on May 24, in the presence of their parents and eight children, and had a reception at the Hawthorne by the Sea — where they had their first date. They spent the next 38 years living a rare, old-fashioned, chivalrous romance.

“The only thing I have ever wanted, since I was seven years old, was to have a happy family and home,” Carol Ann said of her domestic dream. “It was magical that he came into my life when he did.”

This October marks 11 years since Joseph’s death. Carol Ann said the loss is enormous, but added, “I never knew this part of myself in my whole life. He showed me that.”

After he passed away, Carol Ann found an old photo that had been buried at the bottom of Joseph’s bureau.

“It was a picture from the newspaper, of me at my mother’s store, that was taken years and years before. He had it all that time.”

Originally published on in the Marblehead Weekly News,, republished with permission.

HOW THEY MET: Be good to yourself