Our Fortieth Anniversary- Where Has the Time Gone?
Richard J Garfunkel
With able assistance of Linda R. Garfunkel
August 1, 2009
Where has all the time gone? I am sure all of us ask that question quite often. This past July 27th was our 40th anniversary and we celebrated by having a party this past Saturday with 40 (or so) of our friends and family.. Some had other obligations that were long planned, others were too far away, and a few, here and there, had physical limitations. We wondered if all the invitees had been able to attend, would we have been able to accommodate them!
As Charles Dickens said in David Copperfield, “I was born…” on May 2, 1945, in one of the greatest weeks in the history of the world. On that day, the final reports regarding the death of the super monster and criminal Adolf Hitler were trumpeted around the world. The Russians took Berlin and the Nazis surrendered officially in Italy. In the midst of that happiness, my parents, like any other patriotic Americans, were mourning the death of our great leader Franklin Delano Roosevelt. My mother was certainly relieved at the news, because she rarely was able to sleep soundly during the war while her brother, Captain Aaron Kivo was overseas serving with a combat unit in Europe. Linda’s mother Anne Kulick Rosen, like millions of others, was relieved to hear six days later President Truman’s VE-Day announcement, and the capitulation of Nazi forces all over the world. Linda’s father, Corporal Morris Rosen, was serving actively with the 656th Field Artillery Battalion, Fifth Corps, of the 1st Army, under the command of Lt. General Courtney Hodges (the second man to rise from the rank of private to become a full general.) Anne was looking forward to her husband accumulating enough “points” to be sent home from Europe.
Pop Morris told us many war stories aver the years. When the war ended, as he and his buddies were still in occupied Southern Germany, they heard the news and went back to their card game, as life went on. His photo album of war experiences was enlightening, humorous and tragic. Many of his photos were of Dachau, the defeated and humbled “supermen,” and even the Munich Beer Hall where the whole mess was germinated. He even brought back a book put together by his outfit, “Battling Guns” which chronicled the 656th Field Artillery’s history. His article “Lootin’ is Ferbootin” (but it doesn’t say positively) was a humorous view regarding the “spoils of war.” He also wrote, “Who Put the Put in Allas Kaput?”
By the way Corporal Rosen was awarded the Bronze Star and the following quote was taken from his citation, “For meritorious service in connection with military operations against an armed enemy from 12 December 1944 to 6 May 1945, in England, France, and Germany. The skill, courage, and dependability with which Corporal Rosen performed his duties as Survey Corporal contributed immeasurably to the combat effectiveness of his organization during operations on the Continent of Europe. His untiring initiative and accurate execution of his arduous tasks exemplify the finest traditions of the service.”
On a beautiful day, July 27, 1969, a bit over 24 years from those momentous days in 1945, we were married by Rabbi Perry Cohen at the Carleton House, which is still located at 680 Madison Avenue in New York City. Coincidently our ceremony was also held in a very spectacular time. Just a week earlier Astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins of Apollo 11 circled the Moon and Armstrong, of course, became the first man to step on that barren orb. The whole world was absolutely ecstatic over this spectacular achievement. We, like tens of millions of others, watched the landing with our fingers crossed, our hearts palpitating and our hopes soaring. We were in Anne and Morris’s bedroom at 120 East 34th Street that evening, and they amazingly were half asleep through the final moments!
I can recall few elements of the events that led to our wedding ceremony. As the groom, I was never really in the planning loop. The Rosens and Linda did all of the planning, and I was frankly amazed that they were planning a fairly large and elaborate ceremony. We met with Rabbi Cohen at a Near Eastern- Turkish style restaurant, where there was a belly dancer, and we talked about ourselves and discussed the up and coming wedding. I was never really concerned who conducted the ceremony, and the only Rabbi I had any contact with as a congregant was the late Max Maccoby of the free Synagogue of Mount Vernon, who had died in 1956. In the years in between, I had attended services in other synagogues and had little connection to institutional Judaism. In a similar way, Linda did not have any special thoughts about who should conduct the wedding. My father-in-law knew Rabbi Cohen from the Junction Boulevard Jewish Center, a synagogue Morris founded in Lefrak City. Some of the board members were at our wedding. Years later we learned that Rabbi Cohen deserted his family and ran away with a younger woman.
As to the wedding itself, my best man was my first cousin Robert Kivo, who seemed interested in one of Linda’s friends, Amy Kessler. Amy was a roommate of Linda’s at Barnard College, and coincidently her parents, who were very sweet and gracious people, lived at 16 Lake Street, White Plains, where we had our first apartment. Linda’s other roommates were in Israel at the time of the wedding. As the glass of wine was passed to us by the Rabbi, Bob broke up Linda and me by suggesting that it contained hemlock. Many of our uncles and aunts were there. My grandfather, John Kivo who was passed 80 at the time, and the only surviving grandparent, cut the. challah. My father’s parents Abraham and Kate had died much earlier, and my mother’s mother Leah had died within a few years after my birth. Morris’s parents died in the flu epidemic of 1918, and Anne’s father had died in the early 1940’s. Her mother, Zelda Kulick, the matriarch of the family, died in the summer of 1960. She had lived with the Rosens for many years. We had a number of our friends there, including Henry and Madeline Littlefield. Three of my friends, Warren Adis, Stan Goldmark and Lew Perelman were in the armed forces and therefore unavailable to attend. Warren did send us a very interesting audio cassette.
Of course 1969 was a remarkable year, with many, many things happening. As we all remember Richard Nixon and his infamous Vice-President Spiro Agnew, were sworn in on January 20th, officially ending both the era of Camelot and the Great Society. Nixon won in a three way race against Huber Humphrey and anti-war, third party spoiler, Gene McCarthy, but the Democrats retained large majorities in both the Senate (58-42) and the House (243-192), They would hold those majorities (and even greater) in the Senate until 1980 and in the House until 1994.
The cost of living was rising because of the expense of the Vietnam War. Ground beef was 57 cents per pound, bread and coffee were both 23 and 95 cents per pound. Eggs were 40 cents a dozen. One could get a house for $15,525 around the country. We paid about $180 per month for our one bedroom apartment. A new car cost around $3,247, and we paid about that for a 1969 Volvo. The average income was around $8,500 per year and we both made approximately that level working for Bache & Company in New York City and Sleepy Hollow High School in the then North Tarrytown.
Getting back to our wedding plans, Linda registered in B. Altman & Company for our china and sterling. A five piece place setting of the former cost $25, while the sterling pattern, Francis the 1st, cost $55 for a four piece place setting. Some relatives gave us three place settings, which was a very extravagant gift! We bought our five piece bedroom set at Walter Grossman’s furniture store in Harlem. Walter was the father of my long-time friend Joel. For $500 we also got a king-size mattress and the bed had wooden posts. Our linen trousseau was bought on the Lower East Side, from one of Amrose Art Linens’ customers.
There was no Bed, Bath & Beyond in those days. Linda bought her wedding dress off the rack at Best & Company. Rather than wait to have a dress custom made, the off the rack dress cost $98 including the train. The veil had to be custom made and cost $35. The service at the store was as good as though the dress had cost $1,000’s. The formal wedding portrait was taken by JT Winburn in the store’s bridal photography area. They could not get the flowers correct, but Linda carried calla lilies down the aisle. They were supposed to look like they had just been picked.
The population of the United States was approximately 202 million about two-thirds what it is today. The unemployment rate was 3.5% and almost everyone was working or was in the armed forces. The war in Vietnam was still raging and our friend Warren Adis, who was just at our 40th Anniversary party with his wife Mary, missed our wedding because he was still in Vietnam. In that year, bonnie Prince Charlie, Queen Elizabeth’s son, officially became the Prince of Wales and the Earl of Chester. The Woodstock Music Festival was held in the Town of Bethel, in Sullivan County, on Max Yasgur’s 600 acre dairy farm which he rented out for $75,000. Over the 200,000 plus music aficionados who attended that seminal event, was childhood friend Charles Columbus. He bought tickets, was stuck on the Thruway, and spent three muddy, but exciting days there.
Along with the excitement of the Moon Landing, we were all shocked by the Manson murders, Yale and Vassar went co-ed, and Mary Jo Kopechne drowned after Ted Kennedy drove his car off the Chappaquiddick Bridge. During 1969, our enemy Ho Chi Minh died at age 79, and Golda Meir became the Prime Minister of Israel. The Vietnam War continued to rage despite the long and extended peace talks in Paris, and Nixon made little progress, but he did start a secret bombing of Cambodia and Laos as we escalated our involvement.
In the sporting world, the formerly hapless Jets won their first and only Super Bowl under the inspired leadership of Coach Weeb Ewbank and Quarterback Joe Namath, who later that year threatened to quit the sport when NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle, forced him to sell his share in the NYC bistro Bachelor’s III. Namath, of course backed down, and the incident was quickly forgotten. Another event that was remarkable was the World Series triumph of the NY Mets over the heavily favored Baltimore Orioles, who had won 109 games that season. The Orioles rolled over the American League, and the once vaunted New York Yankees were wallowing 22 games behind the “Birds” on the weekend of our wedding. At the same time the poor and hapless Chicago Cubs were leading the 2nd place Mets by 4.5 games. That lead would fade quickly in September, as the “Amazins” went on to baseball immortality.
At the end of the season, the Yanks would finish 80-81, 28.5 games behind the Birds and would draw only 1,067,996, their lowest attendance since 1945. In comparison, since 1999, when they first exceeded the 3 million mark, they have steadily increased their attendance. From 2005 through 2008, at the now closed first Yankee Stadium, they drew over 4 million! By the way a box seat in 1969 cost around $3.00. Last year, that same seat, was $200! This year they range from $800 to $2500, and few are buying!
In 1969, Rod Carew and Pete Rose led their respective leagues in batting, and Harmon Killebrew and Willie McCovey were the MVP’s of their leagues. Other significant sporting events that happened in 1969, were the repeat championship efforts of the Boston Celtics who won their eleventh NBA title in twelve years, the Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup, Steve Owens, the Oklahoma running back, won the Heisman Award and the University of Texas was king of College football. The Bruins of UCLA won another college basketball crown under the legendary Coach Johnny Wooden with his great star Lew Alcindor aka Kareem Abdul Jabarr.
In 1969, Uclans were in the middle of a seven year National Collegiate title winning streak, and when Johnny Wooden retired after 1975, the Bruins had won ten championships in twelve yeas. Also in 1969 the heavyweight boxing crown, which had been vacated by Muhammad Ali because of his refusal to be drafted into the US Army was held jointly by Joe Frazier and Jimmy Ellis.
The mile record of 3.51 was held by the former Kansan running sensation Jim Ryan. Today the record for the mile is under 3.43. Wasn’t it just yesterday when in 1954, Dr. Roger Bannister broke the 4:00 minute mile, a barrier that had eluded many great runners for years.
In the world of horse racing, the favored Majestic Prince, who had won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, was upset by Arts and Letters, in front of about 90,000 people at Belmont Park, which included Linda, my grandfather John Kivo and me. In golf that year three virtual unknowns won the big major events; Orville Moody, the US Open, George Archer, the Masters, and Tony Jacklin, the British Open. In tennis the great Rod Laver won the Grand Slam, all four major Opens, and Billie Jean King won the US Open and Brit, Ann Jones won Wimbledon. Little known Mark Spitz, who had won a gold medal or two in the Tokyo Olympics won the 100 meter freestyle at the 8th Maccabian Games and his sister, 15 year old Nancy, took a silver medal in the 100 meter freestyle.
In the following days after the wedding, pictures were brought back from the Moon Landing, Nixon made a quick trip to Vietnam from Bangkok, Thailand, and photos from the Mariner trip to Mars were released.
On Broadway, Ann Miller starred in Mame, Oklahoma ($6.50 Sat. night Orch.)was ending another revival run, 1776, Promises, Promises Zorba, Cabaret ($12 Sat. night orchestra), Fiddler on the Roof, ($9.90) The Great White Hope, $9.50) Hadrian VII, Hair, The Man of La Mancha, Plaza Suite ($8)all were doing well. Pearl Bailey was starring in Hello Dolly, ($11.90) and Mickey Rooney was the leading man in George M out in Westbury.
Some of the films that graced the movie theaters in July of 1969 were; I Am Curious Yellow, True Grit, the Wild Bunch, Castle Keep, The Lion in Winter, Romeo & Juliet, Goodbye Columbus and The Graduate. We saw most of those films, but I must admit that I only saw True Grit with John Wayne and Castle Keep with Burt Lancaster years later on television. Other notable1969 releases were Easy Rider, Midnight Cowboy, Alice’s Restaurant, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and Paint Your Wagon. The Oscar for Best Picture was won by Midnight Cowboy and John Wayne and Maggie Smith won the Best Actor awards for True Grit and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie respectively.The price for a movie was around $1.50 per ticket. Off the beaten path of mid-town, one could also see Monterrey Pop, La Strada, the Blue Movie, and 2001 Space Oddesey.
The leading songs in 1969 were the Beatles hits; Come Together and Get Back, Honky Tonk Women sung by the Rolling Stones, P.P. May’s, Leaving on a Jet Plane and Stand By Your Man by Tammy Wynette. The top television shows in that year were, Laugh-In, Gunsmoke, Bonanza, Mayberry RFD, Family Affair and Here’s Lucy. I am positive that I watched very few of those shows. Nothing has changed too much; the top shows on television are still horrible.
The Nobel Peace Prize was won by the International Labour Organization and the prize for literature was won by Samuel Beckett.
Meanwhile, back at the Carleton House, the wedding was scheduled to begin at noon, and by 6 PM everybody was on their way home. I went back to our courtesy room at the hotel, which is now for permanent residents only, and my new raincoat was gone! We checked out, and drove to our new apartment at 16 Lake Street, White Plains. At some point that evening, we decided we were hungry. I drove down to the Mont Parnesse Diner on Central Avenue, where I bumped into my Uncle Aaron, Aunt Blanche and my grandfather John Kivo, who all lived nearby and were also in need of some refreshments. Since we did not have the time or money to go on a honeymoon, we postponed a trip to the following summer. On Monday, July 28th, I went to work at Bache & Company at 40 Wall Street, while Linda had a few weeks to get the apartment in order before beginning teaching social studies at Sleepy Hollow High School.
So on this past Saturday, August 1st, we celebrated our 40th anniversary in our backyard and on the deck at our townhouse in Tarrytown. In between we lived three years at 16 Lake Street, nine years at 122 Greenacres Avenue and twenty-one years at 101 Prospect Street. We had a wonderful mixture of about 40 guests which Among our 40 guests were friends from childhood, Amrose days, tennis games, Barnard College, politics both WP and Greenburgh, and relatives including our wonderful children Dana and Jon.