I was referred to Harold
& Dorothy by a former classmate I'd run into, after several years'
absence, who told me she had recently met a long-married couple at a dinner
party and that the husband regularly ran in the New York Marathon.
In the 1999 marathon - at age 80 - he finished 31,236th, with a time of
6:54:41! As gregarious a New Yorker as you could ever hope to meet,
Harold invited me up to their apartment for his specialty cheese
omelettes before our interview.
The first thing they did
after they were married was to buy a subscription to the Metropolitan
Opera Guild; at the time of our meeting, they were embarked upon their
52nd consecutive season there. They have six children.
What would each of you
say you bring to the basic dynamic?
Well, Dorothy brings stability.
(They laugh.) And patience. You know?
Lots. Lots of patience.
Im short on patience.
Im impetuous. I do things impetuously sometimes.
And I think a terrific
quality Dorothy has, she can get really pissed at me for something
justifiably and then afterward, the next morning, its all
forgotten. You know?
I dont keep grudges.
I dont hold grudges
No, he dont
but my memory doesnt
work that quickly. (laughs.)
But hes a terrific
guy. He really is. The best thing is, when he gets angry,
walk away. I found that to work
the best. Just dont answer back, just walk away, forget it,
it blows over. And were best of friends, all the
Its funny, you know.
Over the years, Ive always felt it wasnt really healthy
that we didnt argue fairly often. Cause arguing at least
means dialogue, and we hadnt had that many dialogues.
No. We really didnt.
What have you learned
from him over the years? Is there anything that hes taught
Oh, lots of things.
Whats some of
that exchange thats been made?
Basically, his love
for people. He could talk to anybody that he doesnt
know. He could stop people in the street. And I admire
this. Cause I could not do it. I really could not do
what he does. His gift for people is
kids even get embarrassed sometimes, when theyre here and were
going somewhere, to theatre or something, and he just stops and talks
to everybody. Hes made clients that way. Hes a
very unusual man. He really is. I admire him.
Ive got my warts.
Well, what have you
absorbed from Dorothy?
Its a big word.
Has she taught you
to be stable?
Yeah. I think as
a result of the give and take, Ive become more tolerant and more
aware of the need to not go off half-cocked about something. And
again, this ability I mentioned earlier, about not getting upset and then
its behind you, and lets go on, and no more upset. You
And patience. Although
again, just the asking of the question brings things to mind that you
rarely stop to take the time to say to someone, gee whiz, gee whiz.
You know, Ive learned something; Im a better person for having
been exposed to certain things. But in the meantime, you know,
this matter of where do we go from here? You know? Where do
we go from here?
What is your take on
marriage these days? As a necessity, as an institution?
We know its a totally
the thinking about marriage is different. And back
when, when your parents got married, my parents got married, we got married
you went into it with the unspoken assumption that youre gonna stay
married. Period. Now, its been said, of course, we had
aunts and uncles who were married for 50 years, maybe they both would
have been better off if theyd divorced early on - who the hell knows,
you know - but they stuck it out. And theres something to
be said for that, again, in terms of stability and family.
But short of that, the
attitudes are different these days. Im sure people going into
marriage again, not explicitly stated feel, well, if it
doesnt work, theyll get divorced. The stigma that used
to attach to divorce is no longer there. And you hear about people
being married three and four times, thats a thing you remember
Charlie Barnet? Sax player. Great band his big, big
song was Cherokee? He was married, like, twelve
times, I understand. Look, Artie Shaw was married a whole buncha
times. Just affording the alimony must have kept em broke!
Crazy. But thats another subject.
Well, what place do
you think marriage has nowadays, anymore. Is it still necessary?
As an institution?
Given, while theres
no stigma, I suppose well, the stigma used to attach to being born
out of wedlock, for the kid.
I think that has abated
to a large degree. To a large degree. Although, not totally.
Not totally. Theres still like it or not, and justifiably
or not theres, I guess, some stigma
attached. I dont know. Im not a sociologist, I
havent seen the studies. But the point is, as an institution,
I think its still a valid institution, and Im glad to see
that people are still getting married. You know, now, the rationale,
if youre not gonna have kids, why bother getting married?
Why bother, yeah.
Just live together, and
Which seems a kind of
a strange, strange approach to it. But then, conversely, I meet
young people, married - they dont plan on having children.
Which is a puzzlement.
I dont know what the sociologists have to say on the subject, but
I think the fact of marriage brings with it some element of stability.
It [is as though] two people care about each other, they love each other,
but on alternate days of the week; hes off somewhere, shes
off somewhere, you know, that kind of thing. Then you hear about
these open marriages these days, which are not that new, where theres
an understanding; and I know some married couples who take separate vacations.
Thats another interesting sort of angle.
its around. The clergy like it; helps em make a living.
The catering halls like it. Listen. Theres always an
economic element. Always. I dont care what.