During the entire four years that we were “going steady”, neither my parents nor my in-laws ever questioned Hilda or me as to when we intended to get married. In fact, Hilda, as well, never broached this subject. After seven or eight months of earning some money, I was able to purchase a gift for my girl‑friend. When I gave her a gold watch with some diamonds, I did not have to say: “Now, we’re engaged.” No formal engagement was ever announced. Unfortunately, one week after receiving this token of our friendship, she lost this expensive watch in a movie theatre. Mac, being the doll that he is, immediately purchased another watch without the diamonds and gave it to my darling.
After working one year, I was able to sit for the CPA exam in May 1940. Many candidates were able financially to take crash courses in accounting to prepare them for the exam; however, I was not one of them. In fact, I accompanied Hilda to her beauty parlor on the evening preceding the exam. Since I had always been good at taking exams, being blessed with a good memory, I never opened a textbook to study.
The exam was given in theory, auditing, commercial law and problems over 2 ½ days. Three months later, I received my grades. One had to receive a passing grade of 70% in each of the subjects. If you passed problems, you never had to sit for this again; however, you had to pass 2 of the other 3 to preclude you from having to sit again for all three. I failed theory with a grade of 65%. If you received a grade of 60% or over, you were permitted to lodge an appeal. I immediately appealed, not being aware that on appeal, the Board had the right to reexamine all four parts, including problems. Had I known this, chances are that I would not have appealed and sat for just theory in November. In October, one month prior to the next sitting, I received a notice that the Board of CPA Examiners in Albany accepted my paper in theory on review; thus allowing me to pass the exam on my first attempt.
At the age of 16 in 1934, my friends and I began to attend N.Y. Ranger hockey games in the old Madison Square Garden located on Eighth Avenue at 49th and 50th Streets. The cheapest seats were at the highest floor of the arena; one had to walk up four stories to take advantage of the 50 cents price of admission. Unfortunately, unless you came very early and obtained a seat in the first row, a part of the game was not visible; especially when the action was on the side where you were sitting. Those sitting in the first row would relate what was happening to those behind them.
The Rangers received its NHL franchise in 1926 one year after the NY Americans joined the league. “Tex” Rickard, the Garden president and fight promoter chose Connie Smythe from the University of Toronto to build the team. He assembled a talented roster, including future Hall of Famers Frank Boucher and Bill Cook, who with his brother Bun formed hockey’s top line; Hall of Fame defenseman Ivan “Ching” Johnson: and second line winger Murray “Mudhooks” Murdoch, who would become hockey’s first “iron man”, playing 508 consecutive games. The sportswriters dubbed the team “Tex’s” Rangers and that was the origin of the club’s name.
Prior to the start of their first season, however, disagreements with the Garden management caused Smythe’s exit. On the eve of the club’s first season, the task of guiding the Rangers was handed to one of professional hockey’s pioneers, Lester Patrick. He directed his team to a first place finish in their opening season, holding the positions of manager and coach. Bill Cook won the league scoring title; a year later, they won the Stanley Cup. It was first and last time a NHL team has won the Cup in its second year.
The Rangers became known as “the classiest team in hockey” going to the finals four times in six years. Boucher won the Lady Byng Trophy ‑ given to the player exhibiting sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability‑ so frequently, that the league allowed him to keep the original silver trophy and made a new one for future recipients. In their first 16 seasons, the Rangers missed the playoffs only once, and only twice did they end lower than third place. They won the Stanley Cup again in the 1932‑1933 season, a year prior to my attending the games. The names that I remember are Andy Aitkenhead, goalie; the Cook brothers, Boucher, Ching Johnson, Cecil Dillon, Murray Murdoch and Ott Heller, a defenseman.
Being always interested in sports, I was very successful in transforming Hilda in becoming an ardent fan in hockey and baseball. In fact, our first date a month after our meeting was a Boys High football game held, as usual, on a Saturday afternoon. We were dressed in our Sabbath finery; I with a hat and suit and she in a beautiful brown and green velvet suit with a hat to match and a pair of leather gloves. We walked over 2 miles to Boys High Field and since I had been on the Field Squad previously, we did not need admission tickets. In the middle of the game, it began to rain and “Sir Walter Prager” removed his jacket and covered Hilda with it. From that moment on, my future wife realized that Mac was altruistic.
That same year, I began taking her to the Ranger games and she immediately fell in love with hockey and the Rangers. Besides attending several games during the season, we started a ritual of celebrating New Year’s Eve by going to the Garden with several other couples; the Rangers always playing the Boston Bruins that night. After walking to Times Square to be with the vast crowd at midnight, we all took the subway to go to one of our homes to have a festive party eating delicatessen cold cuts.
Hilda’s sister, Esther, had a friend Rebecca who was married to Jack Blaustein. He was quite familiar with Phil Watson, a winger, who played for the Rangers 1935‑1948 and made the Rangers All‑Century Team. He earned his nickname of “Fiery” because of his aggressive manner of competing. After the games, Hilda and I were permitted to wait outside the locker room because of Jack introducing us to Watson. We would speak to many of the players who were extremely nice and friendly to us. The roster consisted of Davey Kerr, goalie. Lynn and Muzz Patrick- Lester’s sons-, Neil and Mac Colville brothers, Art Coulter(Captain), Ott Heller, Alex Shibicky, Bryan Hextall, Dutch Hiller and our friend Phil Watson.
One Thursday morning in the beginning of August 1940 while taking inventory at Kay Cloak & Suit Co., something snapped in my mind and told me that it was time to propose marriage to the young lady who was my best friend for four years. Since I was one block from Pearl Dress Co., I suggested that we meet for lunch which was not unusual when I was working near Hilda. She met me outside her building and we went for lunch at Dubrow’s Cafeteria at the comer of her street. While sitting at a table and eating, I, in a not too romantic setting, said in a matter of fact manner that the time for marriage has arrived. I was not surprised at Hilda’s reaction which was not one of shock since after seeing each other every day for four years, marriage at some point in time was expected. At this point, I must admit that neither of our parents ever inquired as to when we were getting married.
I daresay that today a girl’s parents would not be as patient and tolerant of the suitor’s intentions if the courtship lasted for four years. Hilda, knowing that as soon as I earned a living wage I would “tie the knot”, was not exceptionally startled and surprised at my “proposal”. After all, she had already received two watches from her intended without a formal engagement announcement and had made me “jump through the hoop” two years earlier using a very clever tactic; therefore, she knew who her husband would be but not when.
After lunch, we both went to Pearl Dress to inform her father of the latest news. Based upon his reaction, I felt that I could have told him about tomorrow’s weather and he would have been just as excited. Actually, in retrospect, I could not criticize him because of the length of his daughter’s relationship with me. We set the date of the wedding to be on Saturday evening on September 14th. On the following Monday evening the three of us went to Trotzky Caterers located in Trotzky’s Restaurant on West 49th Street; they were one of the most popular kosher caterers at the time. They ran their affairs at the Hotel Sharon on West 46th Street between Broadway and Eighth Avenue. The hotel was a three story building built at the turn of the century and quite run‑down. However, the ballroom was, at best, adequate for our needs. Papa Friedfeld made all the financial and menu arrangements and we were ready for the next step. I don’t recall whether flowers were part of the deal as I don’t remember ordering any floral arrangements. Taking care of the caterer was the only task assigned to him and his only cost.
Hilda and I on Monday ordered the wedding invitations and mailed them to my parents, who were vacationing in Sharon Springs ‑ which they called Sheriff Springs ‑ in the Catskills. Mama Friedfeld was also in the Catskills with her two youngest daughters. None of them had any idea of our plans and were surprised when they were “invited” to their children’s wedding. Both of us engaged Hilda’s cousin Fishy’s orchestra, selected a photographer on Pitkin Avenue to produce a few stills of us only. You can rest assured, no album was created and no pictures were taken at the wedding. As Jews at that time were not known as imbibers, I did not spend a great deal of money on liquor.
When my father returned from his vacation, Hilda and the three men went to Pitkin Avenue to rent their wedding outfits; Hilda getting her wedding gown and veil and the men their white‑tie suits (tails) and their top hats. The rental fee for the gown was $25.00.
One of our clients was the National Safety Bank located at Broadway at 38th Street which was one of the few Jewish owned banks in the nation. My firm conducted annual audits of this financial institution and by coincidence we spent the entire week preceding my wedding at the bank. My future father-in-law had his business and individual accounts there which afforded me the opportunity to examine the extent of his wealth. Evidently, I was satisfied with his financial condition since I went ahead with the wedding.
On the night of the affair, the photographer picked me up in a limousine at my home and drove me to Hilda’s house. We were now dressed in our wedding clothes. As we left her house, all the neighbors threw rice at us; especially Mrs. Toscano who lived in the adjacent building. Then he drove us to his studio where our pictures were taken; after which he drove us to the hotel. Throughout the entire affair my wing collar, that I had never worn previously, kept separating itself from my shirt and you can just imagine what I looked like.
Since we were still on daylight saving time, the wedding was called for Saturday evening at 8:30 pm and actually started sometime later. We invited around 100‑120 guests (I can’t recall the exact number) and most attended. I don’t believe we had a smorgasbord table; thus, we probably commenced with the ceremony. The bride, being as vivacious as ever, walked down the aisle with a great smile nodding to guests on both sides of the aisle in the manner of a boxer entering the ring. My parents and in-laws were very Orthodox Jews, as were many of the guests. Despite this, men and women were not separated during the ceremony.
I walked down the aisle with my parents with a demeanor as though I was on my way to be executed. The solemnity of this most important step in my life prevented me from acting gay and having a smiling appearance. In fact, under the canopy, while the Rabbi and selected guests were making the Seven Blessings, I began to feel very faint and turned white as I was told later on. Hilda’s sister Esther, the maid of honor, was standing next to me and, noticing my condition, immediately held my arm to support me. After the ceremony, all went to their assigned tables, which were not gender separated; mixed dancing went on till 4 a.m.
We sat in the hotel lobby with our parents and siblings for about an hour and then retired to our hotel room. Since we were awaiting the arrival of our furniture, we rented a room at the Hotel Sharon for two weeks; not even thinking of making honeymoon plans. At exactly 7 am, the bride and groom on their first night together in bed are disturbed by a knock on the door. The store from whom we rented our wedding outfits came to pick up the clothing telling Hilda that her gown was rented to another bride for a wedding that afternoon. She told the messenger that her gown was wet with perspiration; his reply was: “Don’t worry, we’ll clean it.” A few minutes later, we heard another knock. It seems that our conjugal relations would have to wait. Murry and Gert also stayed at the hotel that night and he wanted to know if his brother was satisfying his bride.
Around noon the following day, we decided to visit her parents at Pearl Dress. Her father would not allow a simple event as his daughter’s wedding or the lack of sleep to prevent him from making his Sunday morning trip to his business; as usual Mama Friedfeld accompanied him. When we arrived, Papa could not look us in the eye as the thought of his first daughter sleeping with a man and losing her virginity was a deed he couldn’t reject; however, it was very difficult for him to accept. Mama, although being a prude, was exceptionally warm in greeting us.
We stayed there for an hour or so and then went walking on Central Park West to examine the building in which my employer, Mr. Rainess and his wife resided. In the early evening, we went to Radio City Music Hall to complete our “honeymoon.” I remember, as though it occurred yesterday, that we both felt as though we were walking on air. Whether it was our first day of being husband and wife or it was the result of our first sexual experience, or both, I really cannot explain. We returned to the hotel to spend our first night together without any interruptions by others.
Although most of the guests or residents of Hotel Sharon were shady characters: i.e. prostitutes, drug addicts and the like, my bride and I did not look down on them and they all could not have been nicer to us. We were living a life style quite different than theirs; however, I cannot forget their respect for us, and their daily greetings. In fact, the desk clerk was so happy to have us as guests, that he gave us free tickets to Broadway shows. After two weeks, we were ready to move into our first home.