Alice and Jan Wedding
October 9, 2006
My Dear Family and Devoted Friends,
Do you remember where you were on Sunday afternoon, October 9, 1966?
Perhaps you were preparing for Game 4 of The World Series? Or maybe looking for a betting line on The Giants? Or maybe you were struggling with the Times Sunday Crossword Puzzle?
Or maybe you were in the Baroque Room of The Plaza Hotel, celebrating at the marriage of Alice Rosemarie Dawn, 26, of New York, of blessed memory, and Jan Robert Polatschek, 26, of New Rochelle.
Alice's father, David A. Dawn, and his new wife Helga, made us a splendid wedding forty years ago today.
I still enjoy the memories of that Sunday afternoon.
Alice was a beautiful and enthusiastic bride in her ivory silk and lace wedding gown that she and Helga picked out on Fifth Avenue. Alice's father went apoplectic when he saw the $1000.00 bill from Bergdorf-Goodman. Although Alice was in the vanguard of the "earthy-crunchy" movement, she did grow up in Scarsdale. And Helga, to this very day, can be counted on for her impeccable good taste and sense of style.
And speaking of apoplectic, neither set of our parents were happy with the "arrangements." Alice and I "lived together" in Brooklyn before our wedding. If I had to do it over again, I would insist that we both go "home" and arrive at The Plaza with our families. But at the time we were selfish and inconsiderate. So we drove together that Sunday morning from Brooklyn to "The City" in our new blue Volvo.
Now, I never told this to anyone before: Halfway across the Belt Parkway towards the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, I panicked. I had left my tuxedo suit on the doorknob of our bedroom in Bay Ridge. Have you ever tried to make a U-Turn at the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel?
Did I tell you how Alice and I met?
One Sunday morning in March of that same year, my buddy Allen Milman called me at home in New Rochelle. Earlier that week, while walking on some sidewalk in New York, he met, by chance, an old girlfriend. She was now a teacher. She invited him to a Sunday Brunch at an East Side apartment, given by one of her colleagues. Allen, gregarious Allen invited me.
I was reluctant to drive into New York. I was happy to hang around at home. But my mother overheard the telephone conversation and just about ordered me out of the house.
Alice, yet another colleague of the hostess, was at the brunch with her boyfriend. I guess I "bird-dogged" him pretty good. Alice and I started dating almost immediately.
I often wonder, "What if my mother had minded her own business or what if Allen had crossed the street?" It seems that so many of life's important events are simply random happenstance and serendipitous.
That summer I proposed. Alice was ecstatic. She was never happier than when she got on the telephone to tell her family and friends, "I am getting married!"
Wealthy young man that I was, after all I was a teacher earning the munificent salary of $5500.00 per annum, I bought Alice an emerald cut diamond engagement ring, about one carat. We always had a good laugh about that ring.... Listen....
...Since Alice's father was a prominent businessman, we thought that an announcement in the New York Times would be appropriate. So, one afternoon, while we were making wedding plans with Mr. Remenyi at The Plaza Banquet Department, Eve Brown appeared.
Eve Brown wanted to meet us. She was the Public Relations Manager and erstwhile "Cholly Knickerbocker" columnist. She took Alice's left hand. Now, you can imagine that Miss Brown had seen some pretty good-sized "rocks" in her day. She examined Alice's elegant yet modest ring and stammered, "What . . . a . . . beautiful . . . color."
Colorful was the atmosphere in The Baroque Room on our wedding day - mostly gold's and white's. And the men were so elegant in their tuxedo suits and the women in their formal gowns. After all, it was THE Plaza.
Allen my friend from kindergarten was a serious Best Man. My cheerful sister Paula Carol, of blessed memory, was Alice's Maid of Honor. Paula was thrilled to finally have a "sister." And Alice truly loved her new "sister" and friend.
My friends Jay and Barbara Shaw, and Ken and Sandy Metviner, "old marrieds" by that time, were proper guests.
Another kindergarten mischief maker, my friend Jay Gilsen was so shocked that he was the last bachelor from our group that he got drunk as a skunk sipping bourbon from a highball glass "neat."
My parents Ruth and Otto never stopped their joyful celebration that day.
My cousin Stanley Taxier and his wife Roberta were there. They were happy for me and also happy to be with their parents Sue and Harry Taxier, and Tillie and Fred Bein.
And Lois Finstein. and Linda Leaf. and Betty Ann Ross., your parents were there as well. And cousin Dorothy, your mother, my father's sister Ida Kiewe, came all the way from London.
And Larry Benowitz., your mom Lil was delighted to be at the wedding of the son of her oldest friend Ruth; and your father Ben was gleeful. Ben ran into an old chum from Brooklyn, a guy named Federman, "Feddie" he called him. Feddie was now a business associate of my father-in-law.
Helga's younger son Michael Weiden got so excited that he passed out and slept through the whole thing. Helga's older son Peter danced with "Mom."
At 3:00am, there was a knock on our guest room door at The Plaza. A plumber marched in looking for a leak. It's a mystery to this day whether he was telling the truth, or whether one of my smart-assed "friends" from Highbridge set the whole thing up.
So much has happened over the last forty years. Sadly, Alice and I went our separate ways after fifteen years together. But, happily, we did have a "rapprochement." I can honestly say that we enjoyed a warm and supportive friendship for several years.
In my mind's eye, as I recall the photographs in the wedding album, I am so sad that so many relatives and friends there that day are no longer with us.
Alice is gone. Alice's grandfather Max Briskin, and Alice's mother Ida May Dawn, and Alice's father David Dawn are gone.
My mother Ruth and all my aunts and uncles, Sue and Harry, and Ida Lifson, and Abe Lifson, and Beatrice Lifson and my Aunt Ida from London are gone. My dear sister Paula is gone now for more than thirty-four years.
Who can know why Paula Wiesenfeld died at twenty-eight or why Alice died at sixty-two? I suppose there is no answer to "why?" As I look back over the last forty years, I know that not much, if anything, is "for sure." But I do know one thing for sure. I know that I don't have another forty years. I dare say that many of you also do not have another forty years.
Alice smiled and smiled and we danced and danced in The Baroque Room on that day forty years ago. Alice cherished her memories, as I do. And, she would counsel all of us to "make new memories." I will continue to follow her advice and example.
So, when we meet again, let's celebrate and make some new memories together.
My love to you all,
Yes, I do remember October 9th 1966, your wedding at The Plaza. It was a beautiful affair and as you so well describe; everyone looked so glamorous and happy.
I remember how nervous I was, just being married to David in March of the same year and being presented as the new member of the family. Alice's sister Carolyn could not be there because she was pregnant with Michael and he was born on October 31, Halloween Day. My God, he will be forty now.
I remember Alice being so happy and we all were so fond of you.
I remember Michael getting sick to his stomach and we had to bring him to somebody's room at the hotel. I remember how everybody commented on Peter's big size feet when he danced with me. Well, those were the good old days.
All our best wishes for you with your adventures so far away.
The piece you sent on 9 October is outstanding. Can't believe it is forty years.
I have to correct one point, Jay Gilsen was not the only bachelor at that point or for many years later.
It is fascinating to think about the what if's, as in what if Allen crossed the street. I often wonder why these things work out this way. I have experienced getting on planes and sitting next to people who I have extensive connections to yet did not know them before sitting next to them in a random selection process. I am wondering if this is not part of the CHAOS theories?
I hope all is well and that you are enjoying your expat status.
What a lovely account of that very special occasion, Jan!
Tom and I met you in Rome during the Summer, 1967. My goodness, you and Alice were still almost newlyweds! I appreciated reading about your wedding day. You have a wonderful memory for details.
I know Alice loved you dearly and I can just imagine her joy on that October day so long ago.
Thanks for sharing your recollections with us. It is, indeed, sad that Alice could not be here today to toast with you the good years you shared.
Love and hugs from Tom & Marty Bartimole