Malkie Altman of West Hempstead recalls how she fell in love with her husband, Murray.
In 1964, I was a biology major in my senior year at Stern College for Women, of Yeshiva University, in Manhattan. Murray was a biology instructor at the college. He was also doing research at the American Museum of Natural History for his master’s degree in invertebrate physiology from New York University. He was 26 and I was 21.
I noticed him only vaguely, but he was interested in me. He very properly waited until I graduated and was working as a lab assistant at the college. He persuaded our department chairman to urge me to agree to a first date. I reluctantly accepted. Murray seemed nice but he had a beard. I don’t like beards.
Our first date was a hockey game, and it led to a steady weekly date. Since I worked weekends as a wedding coordinator with my parents’ catering business in Springfield, Massachusetts, Wednesday became our date night. Our usual place was Chateau Henri IV, an intimate Manhattan nightclub. After a few weeks, the violinist would play our song, “A Very Precious Love,” as soon as we walked in the door.
I came to know this beautiful man who was kind, considerate of me, and oh, so very loving. But two things clinched the deal for me: One time I was leaving for Europe, and Murray wanted to take me to the airport. The flight was on a Saturday night, which is the Jewish Sabbath, and religious restrictions meant he could not drive from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. He would not have enough time to get from his home in Borough Park, Brooklyn, to my East Side Manhattan apartment and get me to the airport on time. So he parked near my apartment before sundown on Friday, took the subway home and then walked several hours back to Manhattan on Saturday afternoon. We then took his car to the airport that evening after the Sabbath ended.
Another time, we went to a show at the Plaza Hotel, and afterward Murray stood outside for at least 30 minutes on a bitter cold night to hail a cab while I waited inside. He had icicles hanging from his beard and mustache. We had discussed marriage before, but that night I said “yes” and Murray shaved his beard.
On Sept. 4, 1966, we were married at Congregation Kodimoh in Springfield, Massachusetts, and honeymooned in Jamaica, British West Indies. We have a wonderful son, an incredible daughter-in-law and a talented and loving grandson.
Murray retired in 1988 after teaching at Yeshiva University for 25 years. He then worked until 1995 as a help desk and training manager for The Federation Employment and Guidance Services agency in Manhattan. He is currently the office manager at the South Baldwin Jewish Center. I taught home economics for more than 10 years at the Hebrew Academy of Nassau County high school in Uniondale until I retired in 1996. I now have my own business, Malkie Altman Calligraphy.
In September we celebrated our 50th anniversary. It has been 50 years of a continuous repeat of that courtship. Murray has brought me nothing but joy, happiness, anticipation of my every whim, and always in great humor. I hope he feels the same.
We decided to celebrate with 50 events through the coming weeks and months. I took Murray to a Peter Yarrow concert and he took me to the Halloween parade in Greenwich Village. And so, they have started, but probably will never end.
With Virginia Dunleavy