Wednesday, October 30, 2019
My maternal grandparents, Abe (Jewish name Avram) Meckler and Esther Leah Gordon (known as Lily), were married October 29, 1939, in The Bronx, Bronx County, New York. Yesterday was the 80th anniversary of their marriage.
The marriage lasted 50 years, ending with the death of my grandfather. He had been ill for some time but held on long enough for the big 50th anniversary party that was held in Las Vegas in 1989. So many of my relatives came! Zadie (Yiddish for grandfather) died in December.
Fifty years is a good long marriage. Just out of curiosity, I looked up "longest marriage" and found that a Sikh couple in India had been married 90 years. That's nothing short of amazing.
My grandparents had a double wedding with my grandmother's older brother, Al. Alexander Gordon married Roslyn (Rose) Rubin on October 28. I have been told that Jews aren't supposed to do double weddings (don't know if it's actually true), so Al and Rose were married just before the end of the 28th and my grandparents right after the beginning of the 29th. I was told the changing point was midnight, but that would have made for a very long night. On top of that, by the Jewish calendar, the day changes at sunset, so maybe it was actually earlier in the day. I don't think I have a copy of Al and Rose's marriage certificate, so I probably need to get that to check on the story, don't I?
In 1999, when Bubbie (Yiddish for grandmother) and I were visiting my grandfather's cousin Mort, Mort showed us a basic family tree that he had put together. He told us that the family name of Perlman had originally been Perlmutter. I made a somewhat cynical observation that there must be a family story that they were related to the famous operatic tenor Jan Peerce, whose original name was Perelmuth (a spelling variation), and Mort said yes, indeed, that they were. Suddenly Bubbie popped up and said, "He sang at my wedding." We both stared at her and said, "What??" See, Jan Peerce was already very famous by 1939, and my grandparents, although I loved them dearly, weren't anything special in New York City society. So why would the great Jan Peerce be singing at their wedding?
And my grandmother explained that Zadie's brother Harry was married to Jan Peerce's cousin and that the two families were in a catering business together. So we had a connection. Maybe Harry asked his wife if she could get her famous cousin to sing at his brother's wedding? Bubbie couldn't remember the two songs the famous opera singer sang, but she did remember what the cantor's son sang: "Oh Promise Me" and "Because" (perhaps this one). (But here's a recording of Peerce singing "Oh Promise Me.")
I have put a little effort into trying to verify the story but haven't gotten anywhere. I believe I checked the New York Times and didn't find anything. I suspect that if Jan Peerce was there the wedding would have been written up in one of the many Yiddish neighborhood newspapers that existed in New York City at that time. Alas, I don't read Yiddish, and none of those newspapers is indexed, much less in English. But some day I will figure it out.
I have two more photographs from the wedding, which I can't currently find due to too many boxes still unpacked after my move two years ago. One is of my grandmother alone, and the other is of her and Rose together. Surprsingly, I don't think I have any photo of Al from the wedding. I should get in touch with Al and Rose's daughter and rectify that. And maybe she also has heard the story about Jan Peerce singing at the wedding. At least that would be more support for it being true.