When I was vacationing in California a few winters ago, I received a call from my then 86-year-old mother in Glen Head. While we were catching up on the news, Mom suddenly interrupted: “I wonder whatever happened to Sid Dole.”
Mom, a widow of four years since my father's passing at 88, was referring to one of her first boyfriends who accompanied her to my Aunt Bernice and Uncle Gerry’s wedding in 1950. The Aunt Bernice-Uncle Gerry nuptials are famous in family lore because a movie exists of the happy occasion and Sid Dole’s head can be spotted popping up in a couple of scenes.
“I don’t know, Mom,” I replied, “but I’ll try to find him on the internet.”
And, off I went! First thing I did was Google “Sid Dole” and “Sidney Dole.” After several frustrating attempts, I found a “Sidney A. Dole” in Torrance, California. He was 87. Age sounded right. This could be the guy. There was a partial email address: s______dole@______.com. I figured the first part had to be sidneydole, but what could go before the “.com”?
I composed an email to Mr. Dole, preceding “.com” in the email address with “verizon,” “gmail,” “att” and four others. I introduced myself as the son of Vivian Sibener Schachter and told him how my mother was hoping he’s had a happy and productive life. I also included my telephone number. I sent out the seven emails, six came back, which means — one made it through!
That night, the phone rang. It was Sidney Dole. We had a wonderful conversation. He had moved from New York to California more than 50 years ago. He had worked as an industrial psychologist/business manager. He’d been married twice, the second time over 28 years ago to a lovely woman named Beverly. He was content.
A few months later, Sidney called Mom and they reminisced for almost an hour. Mom was delighted.
A year later, I received an email from Beverly Dole. Sid had died.
Her message read in part:
“I was with him when he spoke to you. That was nice of you to go to the trouble of contacting him. I know your mom was an important person in his life a long time ago. Sid died Friday morning from — I guess you would call — complications of old age. He was in hospice 1 1/2 days — maybe a record. We had a small service yesterday. I think it was nice. A few chuckles, which I think are pretty important. He had a good life, and I think that will help me.
“We were married for over 28 years, and July 17, 2016 would have been the 30th anniversary of our first date. Also — on 8/8 he would have been 88. Thanks again for contacting him. It's always fun to hear from your past!
I went over to Mom’s house to share the news with her. She cried. We talked about Dad and Sid and life. As I was leaving, she mused, “Why do all the good men die at 88?”
Then she poked me in the belly and said, “I’m going to make sure you live to 120!”