Tomorrow Susie and I will celebrate our twenty-eighth wedding anniversary. I will take her to dinner at a lovely upscale Durham, NC restaurant on West Main Street called Revolution [you can't make this stuff up.] At dinner this evening, we were reminiscing about our first dates, in 1948 and 1949, when we were students at Forest Hills High School in Queens.
Our very first date [a story I tell in my Autobiography] was a movie outing. I took Susie to the Thalia Theater in Manhattan, an early art movie theater, to see a revival of César, the third in a pre-war film trilogy made by the great French director Marcel Pagnol. [For musical buffs, the entire trilogy -- Marius, Fanny, César -- was turned into the Broadway show Most Happy Fella.] At about the same time, I started taking Susie to performances of the newly formed Bach Aria Group, which performed arias from the Bach cantatas at venues such as the 92nd St. Y in Manhattan. It was there that I first heard Bernard Greenhouse, the marvelous cellist who was later a mainstay of the Beaux Arts trio [with the inimitable pixie Menahem Pressler on piano.] The violinist was Maurice Wilk, the very best student of my violin teacher, Mrs. Irma Zaccharias,
Somewhat later, I took Susie on a big date to the Cherry Lane Theater in the Village, where we watched a performance of T. S. Eliot's Sweeney Agonistes with the curtain raiser Desire Caught By The Tail by Picasso. We even went to the Davenport Free Theater , a weird and wonderful place in Manhattan where one could watch terrible performances absolutely free.
But our fanciest date was in the summer of '52, when I was working as a Copy Boy at the New York Herald Tribune. I took Susie to the Blue Angel, a New York cabaret named after the dive in the famous Marlene Dietrich film. The cover charge was five dollars per person -- a fortune -- but the show was quite memorable. There were three acts -- Orson Bean, who opened, Josh White, and Eartha Kitt. Josh White and Eartha Kitt were spectacular, of course, but I still remember Orson Bean's opening joke. He came out, took the microphone rather diffidently, and said, "Hello. My name is Orson bean, Harvard 48 ... Yale nothing." It got a big laugh.
I wonder sometimes. Do young people today go on dates like that?