A 55-year saga: from London blitz to wedded bliss

They found each other last spring after Bromley, a former British subject, ran an ad in a London Jewish newspaper looking for his former sweetheart. Melinsky didn't spot the ad but her cousin did and told her of it.

The never-married London woman called Bromley at his San Jose home and said, "I think I'm the one you're looking for."

Bromley flew to London but left behind Melinsky's phone number. With only her address, he showed up on her doorstep while she was out shopping.

Fortunately, Melinsky's neighbors, with Bromley in tow, located his gal on the street. The love of his youth was no longer 17. Her dark, curly tresses had turned white. She said she recognized him but only by his eyes and nose.

He gave her a peck. She demanded a proper kiss. Like the sailor and nurse in the famous wartime photograph, they embraced in the street with an audience of neighbors cheering them on.

It didn't take long to recover the lost 55 years, the newlyweds said after the ceremony.

"We're always talking. We both have terrific senses of humor," Yetta said. And "the nostalgia is very strong. We talk about the time when we were together."

They also talk about their childhoods. Melinsky grew up in the seaside town of Bournemouth where she remembers going to synagogue with her father – her mother died young – and to Hebrew school.

Bromley fondly recalls sharing haftarah portions with his twin brother during their joint bar mitzvah.

The sweethearts most often reminisce about their "country rambles," dancing and movie-going during the war, when they worked at the same clothing factory.

The factory was in a largely Jewish neighborhood in London's East End. Most of the employees were Jewish. One day, the young couple showed up at work to find that their factory had been bombed to the ground during the night. They lost touch soon after.

"If you've ever lived in a situation when there's a war on top of you, things change. Yetta had to keep moving. I was on the other side of town, not able to get through," recalled Bromley.

He joined the army in 1941 and Melinsky entered the women's Auxiliary Territorial Service, as did many young patriots, including the future Queen Elizabeth II. Later she became a telephone operator. He worked as a tailor's cutter and pattern-maker.

After the war, Bromley met and married another Englishwoman, with whom he moved to Canada and then the United States, where he has lived ever since. Neither he nor Melinsky ever knew what became of the other.

It wasn't until last spring, three years after Bromley's wife died, that he dreamed of Melinsky, still 17 and in hauntingly vivid detail, strolling down a London street.

"I decided to find out what happened to her."

Melinsky's longtime companion had died only months before she received the news of Bromley's ad.

After the London rendezvous, Melinsky flew to San Jose for a "lovely" month with her old beau.

After she returned to London, Bromley recalled feeling what he describes as a "terrible void." So he called Melinsky on the Fourth of July and proposed over the phone.

"I have always wanted to be married," Melinsky said this week. But "the opportunity always eluded me. I love the idea."

Bromley agreed. "Yes, it's a lovely thing. It's an official recognition of our love for each other," he said.

The newlyweds were married on Tuesday of last week in a Santa Clara County courthouse. Yetta has taken the Bromley surname, and she now calls San Jose home: "It's not London, but it's quite, quite nice."

They have no plans yet for a honeymoon. But, says the bride, after 55 years apart, "every day is a honeymoon."

Lori Eppstein

Lori Eppstein is a former staff writer.