My wife Sue radiated on her wedding day like a sun in the
sky. I’ve marveled at how a pretty
girl in love and dressed in a gorgeous wedding gown truly glows with a special
beauty on her marital day. I’ve
witnessed it in Sue and others of her generation and again with their
From the pretty woman to the pretty woman in the
mirror; “Who is the fairest of them all?”
The Manor, in 1973, had yet to become a super-sized wedding
factory – in our time it was a pretty and popular event facility with lovely
grounds and a fine kitchen and staff.
Herman and Roz gave their little girl a fabulous wedding and I was
welcomed into a warm and loving family.
All three have passed and I miss them so much.
I found the perfect partner and am a better man for it. Sue was a passionate woman of substance
and charm, a master organizer and time manager – the virtual super-mom. She did it all; career, family,
excellent mother, true quality of time instead of quantity. Sue shared the same lust to know and
understand the world and how it worked and it drove us to visit three dozen
Sue had hoped for a hippie wedding with 20 – 30 family
members and close friends. I am
the one who requested a large wedding for having moved to Atlanta, I yearned to
bring my family and friends spread across New Jersey, New York, and the US
together one more time before Sue and I got dug in living down south.
I’ve never been a fan of tuxedos, more so for an afternoon
affair. White dinner jackets with
violet colored shirts and black pants fit the bill and all my bros got on
board. L – R: Three beautiful ladies; my sister Bobbie with adorable nephew
Brett in hand, Nan Hass Feldman, Sue’s maid of honor, and Sue. To my right are best man Rich Fertell
and brother-in-law Marc Auerbach.
Amazing coincidence: Marc and Rich had the same nickname – Bink. Rich was called bink because
Morris Horowitz called him that one night at age eighteen and it stuck for life. Marc’s origin is that as an infant he
was always with his Binky pacifier and that stuck too. Roz was still occasionally calling Marc
when she died at age ninety-four; he was sixty-seven.
Uncle Joseph Bernstein accompanied me and my mother Jeanne
down the aisle. My mother and I
respected Joe’s quiet strength, responsible character, and wisdom. Grandpa Sam Bernstein, a furrier in a
coat factory, made a seasonal living. Joe went to work early, put himself
through college, became an accountant for an insurance company, then built a
successful insurance agency. By
the time he was fifty, Joe was the patriarch and whether he sought the position
or not, he paid his parents rent.
Thank God, he finally sold my father a life insurance policy the year
before he was fatally run over by a car.
The insurance companies involved in my Dad’s policy sued
each other – Joe went to court in Elizabeth, NJ, with us for two days until a
modest settlement was reached. Joe
always ate for lunch a peanut butter and cream cheese on whole wheat sandwich
with a glass of milk.
His son Alan became a lawyer – Joe’s accident cases were his
platform so I was groomed to succeed Joe as broker and he started me at age
fourteen working the files or running errands. But I was a born social studies teacher with an interest in
possibly becoming a lawyer too and Joe expected me to squelch my interest in
both and get an accounting degree to be a broker. In his mind, teaching paid too little and he couldn’t help
me with the law. The Vietnam War
and the need for a deferment led me to teaching.
Aunt Minnie Bernstein, a kind and smart lady, took a special
interest in me. I was in awe of
her – she’d had radical mastectomy (when still young) to catch breast cancer in
an age when cancer care was ignorant and primitive. She researched and built a life based on excluding chemicals
– made her own clothes, baked bread, riced vegetables and lived thirty to forty
more chemically free extra years.
God bless Aunt Minnie, back then she knew more than the doctors. In the below picture, Joe, quite ill,
has his eyes closed – he typically did this for his baby sister. He and Min’s last years were plagued by
serious health problems – they were good people who deserved a better end and I
In the grand-parents picture below (L – R), Sue’s step
grandpa Julius Roth, grandma Sadie Scheer Roth, Sue, me, my grandmother Freda
Belford Heller. Sadie immigrated
from Poland at age seventeen, married Milton Scheer at age nineteen, Rozzie was
born a year later. Milton, age
twenty-two, opened a grocery store.
Italian gangsters extorted him, he didn’t pay, they robbed and killed
him. Sadie became a beautician to
support Roz until she married Herman who was in the Army at the time. After the war, the very Americanized
Sadie would meet and marry Julius, an Austrian immigrant who worked in the
garment district and never really assimilated. I liked him – he was European man who perhaps valued my Ph.
D. scholarship more than anyone.
But Nana did not find Julius the partner she’d hoped for; Sue as a child
liking to having breakfast with them, Nana doing her braids, Julius doting on
her, was their sun that lit two lives that clicked on few cylinders.
Julius Roth was called up to cut the
challah and say the prayer for bread.
A scholar, who supposedly spoke a dozen languages, after retiring from
the garment district, he became a color-blind tailor who occasionally got into
fights with customers because he matched the wrong thread with cloth – they
were always wrong according to him – he slowly alienated his family too.
Julius Roth and Murray Panzer of his famous line the
guy stinks a mile a minute (pictured smoking) were two outsiders in
their own family; Murray, probably because of an untreated emotional problem,
Julius because he remained a stranger in a land that remained strange to
Curiously, I recall Uncle Murray being very subdued at our
wedding – he loved Sue, the one person he never insulted or barked at and
interrupted me to dance with his niece.
We met again, of course, in Israel three years later where I
discovered his likely problem; untreated manic – depression; he cried thirty
seconds after laughing heartily.
A series of four group pictures begins, the first being a
circle of New Jersey friends at the time.
From L – R standing: Jeff and Leslie Wyman (Schneider?). Leslie and I were pals in high school
and college, she the married Jeff, a lawyer, they were living in Teaneck when I
lost touch with them. Mike Abelson
and wife Ellen – his family once owned twenty-six jewelry stores – he and I
shared some great times during a European trip at age twenty-two. Mike Abelson, a sweet guy who made a
career in advertising, died tragically young of an illness.
Continuing R – L standing; Jay Garfunkel and Richard Duke Engle. Jay married Ellen, second from left
sitting – they live in Oceanport, NJ.
We reunited a couple of years ago and I look forward to seeing them
again in near future. You have
seen the patio furniture they manufacture and distribute on what seems like
every outdoor deck and patio and for two good reasons – it’s attractive and
Richie Engle manages concerts given on Grey Line boat tours
around Manhattan with his son. The
mother, Daphne Engel Gregory, seated far left, divorced Duke and later married
Dean Gregory and has a career planning, internships, and educational services
Continuing L – R seated is Ellen Garfunkel who help Jay
build a model family business, raised three nice children and now tends to her
grandkids. Finally, Helen and Neil
Markowitz – Neil died tragically young too, perhaps a decade after this
picture. Sue and I sadly lost touch with Helen.
The photographer keeps interrupting people’s dining to
take pictures, thus the lack of smiles and even some frowns. I was starving and the dude did not let
Sue and I eat a morsel of food.
Below L – R seated; Best Man Rich Fertell, Sue, me, Marc and
Lisa Auerbach. Standing R – L:
Arnold Polinsky holding son Brett, sister Bobbie, Wendy Handelman Nachman and
David Nachman with whom we later moved on from and they divorced. Artist Nan Haas Feldman and retired
English professor and poet husband Alan Feldman who live in Framingham, Mass.
and now travel and create art and literature.
Note Ivan’s slightly frothier Jewfro than Marc’s – sign of
Frankly, I cropped about six people out of the above picture
due to my not remembering who they are or being able to say something nice
about them. L – R; note my cousin
Ivan’s Heller’s Jewfro is higher and more picked out than my brother-in-law
Marc’s Jewfro (see picture before, Marc second from right) which for its time
was pretty awesome. Blonde Debbie,
next to Ivan, was his girl-friend for a few months. Jeff and Leslie, last names long forgotten and maybe first
names too, was a Long Island couple we were friends with until Sue got into an
argument with Leslie over a teaching philosophy.
Above picture (L – R); Lewis Goetz who has been a prominent
Washington, DC architect for over forty-five years and had three
marriages. Robb Miller, then a
Newark teacher, became a prominent architectural photographer and is now
retired and living in LA with interior decorator Caryn Swann. Rita, last name forgotten, was a Long
Island girl who moved to Atlanta to teach the same time as us. She taught in Conyers, then deep red
country, in a trailer to poor white special education students. Rita announced at our wedding that she
was moving back to Long Island.
Sue and I seated Rich Cooper (far right seated) next to Rita
– they were single and we hoped they might like each other. Not – Rich, at that moment, was into
meditation and celibacy and I believe was not with a woman until he married
Jeannie some years later.
Standing left is Joe Cohen who was in the music business for
years and I heard from someone that he’d enjoyed success with Jersey City
waterside housing renovations.
Cousin Carl Reitman was a liquor salesman and the three young ladies to
his left are cousins from Sue’s Panzer and Waterman family strains.
Just me and my lovely bride.