For decades, Lenny and Phyllis
Kapner were down-the-hall neighbors of my elderly aunt, who lived in the
Kings Highway section of Brooklyn. They were an important part of
her support system, and my visits to her always included time with the
Kapners (when they arent off travelling or visiting grandchildren).
Sweet-natured and constantly joking with one another, they readily agreed
to participate in this essay. Our initial session was postponed,
however, when Phyllis fell and broke her nose; it was nearly a year before
we were finally able to gather in their apartment for a meal, a conversation
and a portrait.
(describing the period before they were married):
There wasnt this
sudden rush of affection. But he kind of grows on you. He
hes a very stable, warm person.
I am. Theyll
never find it out themselves. I have to dress you cute, so
Did you have an idea about
getting married by then? You knew it was something you were looking
I thought it was time
for me to get married. But it wasnt that all my friends were
married, cause they werent. Most of my friends were
Neither were mine.
How old were you at
I was 26 when we met.
I was 25. You were
25, so I was 27. When we met.
So, she was older,
she had a job, she was making more money. Were any of these factors
for you or her?
No. Isnt that
Right. I mean
more money. It was like seventy-five dollars
We lived on my salary.
We didnt live on hers.
Whatd you do
with her money?
We kept it for
We put it away.
We hadda work that way.
We figured that eventually we were going to have children, gonna have
to live on my salary. We had to learn how to do it then.
And when you have a rent
of thirty-seven dollars a month, it really is nothing.
I think one of the main
things that keeps us from quarrelling is that we never -- or 90% never
-- blame the other person for something that has happened. I mean,
if you make a mistake, so you made a mistake, thats all.
made the mistake, thats right. And thats
really true. I find that doesnt happen too often, in other
So you surrender your
Yes. In each case.
Thats exactly the words for it.
Thats just the term.
You know, they say you
have to work so hard at a marriage. I never had the feeling that
we really had to work so hard.
I think this is right
from the beginning.
Right from the beginning.
Right from the beginning.
Thats the real truth.
We just melted together.
I think we used to comment
on it then. Thats right. Thats really true.
I never felt that we had to really work at it. And I know that Lenny
has been supportive of me when I needed it, and I think Ive been
supportive of him when he needed it. It seems to me that thats
the way it goes.