Story & Photos by Marianne Salza
Revere Beach belonged to Eugene “Gene” Masella. He grew up three streets away, and the boardwalk was his stomping ground. There, Gene noticed Mary, who lived in the dance halls and loved eating Joe & Nemo’s Frankfurts. Gene was instantly drawn to Mary when he saw her sitting with four of her girlfriends that she prepared government parachutes with. After 75 years of marriage, Gene and Mary “Tudy” Masella adore each other’s company, treasure their grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and banter over whose memory is sharper.
“You have arguments. Nobody’s perfect,” explained Tudy, 96-years-old. “When you love each other, you stay with each other.”
The couple received certificates from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and Mayor Brian Arrigo in recognition of their love and devotion on their diamond wedding anniversary.
“We were surprised,” said 93-year-old, Gene. “I don’t know anybody who reached the 75-year-mark.”
Gene and Tudy exchanged vows on February 11, 1945, at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, in Chelsea, with a reception in a three-family house. She purchased a gown from Jordan Marsh, in Boston, with the $50 that her father sent her while he served in Okinawa, Japan.
“We had a honeymoon. We went to North Station and got on a bus to Charlestown and got a room at one of the hotels and stayed for the night,” Gene recalled with a gentle smile. “In the morning, we went to the cafeteria across the street. Then we got on a bus and came home.”
The newlyweds rented a two-room apartment in Chelsea, where Tudy was born and raised. Gene worked eagerly, constructing his home and two others when he was not building restaurants, shops, warehouses, and apartments.
“He is a hard worker and a very good husband,” admired Tudy. “He is very smart.”
Gene and Tudy’s home was one of the first built on Suffolk Avenue hill, a quiet and safe neighborhood, where the two admire the spectacular view of the city and Boston skyline from their parlor. Gene purchased the farmland from the state, and acquired wood from a lumber yard in Lynn. He dug the foundation by hand and installed 1,800 16-inch concrete blocks.
Gene said the city wouldn’t accept the area at the time, so he was forced to install a septic tank for all three houses.
Tudy kept their home immaculate.
“I cleaned my windows every week, and I have a lot of big windows. There are three sliding doors in the dining room,” Tudy emphasized. “They called me Mrs. Masella, the window washer.”
Tudy enjoyed being productive and had two jobs. During lunchtime, she worked in the office and as a waitress at an exclusive, private men’s club for businessmen on the second floor of the Traveler’s Insurance Building, in Boston, where she often met famous baseball players. After supper with her husband and children, Sheryl Ann, Donny, and Eugene, Jr., Tudy worked at a diner.
“She has been an excellent companion, hard worker, and clean,” said Gene, who teasingly offered his wife’s window-washing services with a chuckle.
From a young age, Gene was diligent and attentive, quitting school in the eighth grade to help support his family during The Great Depression. When he was 13-years-old, Gene began working part-time at the First National Store, in Winthrop Center, where he became a meat-cutter. Gene also learned to become a chef at his uncle’s Revere Beach restaurant.
“My mom and dad couldn’t afford to buy me clothes, so I went to work,” explained Gene. “My oldest brother was a carpenter, and he used to take me with him when I was a kid. That’s how I learned. He was the one who encouraged me to build this house.
Gene, whose favorite dish to cook is lobster, also learned to become a chef at his uncle’s Revere Beach restaurant.
“Can’t beat Gene Masella’s cooking,” boasted Tudy. “I won’t eat anybody else’s cooking but his.”
Gene and Tudy’s marriage has been rich with commitment, love, traveling, and an adoring family; and that’s the secret of a successful 75-year-marriage, according to Gene, who beamed with a grin: “She’s always right.”