the history of love

a word that perhaps has been thrown too casually, has been often singled out and discussed as being thrown too casually—its scarcity dwindling, its sacredness depleting (is sacredness even a part of love?), a perhaps omnipresent element whose rarity has been exaggerated by many ("you know what, you know nothing about love, and not everybody reserves the right to imbibe the gentle breathe of it; but fortunately, just trust me, I HAVE!"), a merciful piece knowledge self-proclaimed by one person too many, or maybe just another word for confusion...? just exactly what is love?

inspired by a letter sent by her grandfather to her grandmother, lauren fleishmen started photographing and interviewing couples who have been married for more than 50 years in new york, in which evinced love from another angle. these loves are not perfect, may have been or maybe is still troubled and is trying to get through, may not be real for love and its definition are at the lowest fraction universal—but these pieces depict beauty and reality, as if they were enough.

You really don't think about getting older. First of all, you're aging together and when you see a person constantly you don't notice big changes. Like you don't notice, oh you're getting a little wrinkle here and tomorrow you say oh it's a little deeper. No those are things that just happen. You dont pay attention to those things. You dont realize it.. really . You dont realize that you're.. I mean I'm not thinking everyday, oh my husband's 83 years old he's gonna be 84. Oh my goodness, I'm married to an old man. And I hope he feels that way too.

—Angie Terranova, Staten Island, New York.

You have to remember the times were different. We met in the 1939 and we didn't have money. So our group of friends always met at our friend Betty's basement. There weren't things like dates and going out to dinner. We didn't know from those things because we didn't have money. So we enjoyed each others' company.

—Fran Futterman, April 25, 2011.

Now I am going on 88. My wife is 85 and I'm only wishing for another 5 or 6 years of life. This is all we want. We don't want to live much longer. As a matter of fact, I always say to my wife, I wish I could reach 94. This is the aim of my existence. I'd like to see my grandson earn a living and my granddaughter get married. We want them to be happy the way we were.

—Moses Rubenstein, Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn.

We knew each other before the war but we never spoke. He was with other girls because he was much, much older than me. You know he was very nice looking! He was a tailor and he had a place where he made suits for men. When we came back from the war he had gone to my sisters house. I was staying with her. In August of this year we will have been married 63 years. I would say love came little by little. Not right away. We were young and he was older but I liked him. He spoke to me in a very nice way.

—Golda Pollac, Mill Basin, Brooklyn.

I was the kind of girl that fell in love right away. So the next day I would tell my friend, terrific, I'm in love already! But after my first date with Sol I did not feel that way. I think it only proved to this day that you can't judge right away. It may not work out but as you get to know a person love comes.

—Gloria Holtzman, Midwood, Brooklyn.

We met each other at a dancing party. It was January 1938. My friend invited me to the party. He said there were a lot of beautiful young girls. Another cadet with high boots had approached her but she didn't like high boots and so she said no to him. I was the second one to approach her, I had a different uniform, but I'm still not sure if it was my uniform or my face that attracted her to me.

—Yevgeniy Kissin, Midwood, Brooklyn.

We met when we lived in China. I was on vacation in another town and we only saw each other for three days. We lived very far apart and so, when I returned home, we sent letters. At that time we didn't even have a telephone! We wrote letters each week but it took about 20 days for our letters to reach each other. We did this for five years.

—Jin Lin Chen, March 15, 2011.

What is the secret to love? A secret is a secret and I don't reveal my secrets!

—Ykov Shapirshteyn, Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. 

i love how these couples recalled their first encounters and personal opinions on love. the loves are all different, but there's a similar, familiar sentiment to them. during those times—of war, of long-anticipated letters, of surviving penniless with each other—i think there's a longing, a satisfied one, and an ease all at the same time. and those times have passed by just like that, and it's beautiful how these people are in a complete awareness of that. Isn't it funny how day by they nothing changes but when you look back everything is different?

more of lauren's work on this particular project can be found here. you can also donate via kickstarter.


  1. lovely! and those photographs somehow speak to me in their own language, that love is not too surreal. *excuse me for being sentimental :p

  2. yes, i like how the pictures really aren't intimidating, could see some fine grains + the colors are earthly