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A Friendship Between Two Roses Blossomed in Brooklyn

Rose Rubino and Rose Sollitto's friendship has endured over 90 years.

How does a friendship survive for over 90 years? For two Brooklyn women – both named Rose – it’s all about embracing life’s highs and lows together. 

“We’ve been there for each other through tough times, but also through weddings, births and all kinds of celebrations,” said Rose Rubino, who turned 98 in February. “I just had that feeling towards Rose my whole life, she was always there.” 

Rubino and her best friend Rose Sollitto, also 98, grew up two blocks away from one another in Dyker Heights. Both born in 1926, the two women were too young to remember exactly what the early 30s were like as the city and nation suffered through the Great Depression. 

But what Sollitto recalls vividly was the first day of kindergarten when she met Rubino at P.S. 187. (The school is now I.S. 187, the Christa McAuliffe School). 

Sollitto said her kindergarten class was asked to sit in a big circle inside the gym. Besides the normal excitement felt on the first day of school, there was an extra buzz amongst the seated children as Rubino was sitting next to her twin brother Joseph. The children kept asking who the twins were, Sollitto recalled.

“And I had to ask, ‘What’s a twin?’” 

“And that’s where it started,” Rubino said, as she grabbed Sollitto’s hand and smiled.

The two women recalled they used to walk home from school for lunch everyday. 

“We used to skip down the block together,” Sollitto said, who often had omelets for lunch, while Rubino had sandwiches. 

The women said the neighborhood felt safe, as neighbors looked out for one another and knew every kid on the block, and beyond.

“No one would lock their doors and your neighbors would walk into the house all the time,” said Sollitto.

The two women were friends with Antoinette DeLuise, actor Dom DeLuise’s older sister. After Rubino attended Bay Ridge High School and Sollitto went to Washington Irving High School, both women got married in 1948. 

“We got busy because of the children, but it didn’t stop us from caring about each other,” said Sollitto. 

Rubino said she always felt comfortable with Sollitto: “She’s so agreeable, we’ve never had a fight!”

In turn, Sollitto said she loved Rubino for her outgoing personality, but also for her “quiet moments.”

Now the two women mostly talk on the phone to keep in touch, as Rubino lives in Sheepshead Bay and Sollitto resides in Staten Island. But it takes time to talk about their extended family, as Rubino has three children, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, while Sollitto has six children, 13 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

Most importantly, they recently celebrated turning 98 together. 

“It’s a good feeling that we’re still talking to each other after all these years,” Rubino said. “Sometimes you don’t even have to say anything and she knows what I’m thinking.”