Some relationships are made in heaven, some are heavenly, and some, well, you decide.
This is a story, entirely true, about a young couple who met in a tiny Catskills hamlet in the late 1950s.
He, as you already know, was a judge’s son, a male judge’s son. His mother, however, was the problem; definitely not the solution. Although she was a mighty professional in her own right (and in search of protection of their privacy I won’t share more about her career) she was, in her own way, quite the judge as well! And her judgment is what this tale is about. She was, after all, a striver.
Said judge and spouse had one child, the very indulged Jewish young man who shall be called Rob. He was their only child and money was never an object. Their family traveled in circles that the more typical first or second generation American Jew rarely knew. However, every summer Rob would be dropped off in the Catskills hamlet to spend a few weeks with his cousins who lived year round in the summer resort town. He loved his summer visits and made friends who came from less esteemed backgrounds. Many of them came from working class families and didn’t attend tony private schools. Such was the pretty young Irene.
Rob and Irene soon became an item. He, with his brand new two-tone blue Plymouth sedan, and pockets full of money, was quite the catch. And she, with another year of high school to go, was smitten by the young law school student. She was 17 and he was 22 but she was street smart and super intelligent. He was what we’d call today helicopter mom’s sheltered son. They fell in love.
Typical story so far. Rich boy. Poor girl. Romance. That’s not why I tell this tale. It’s what happened next.
Summer ends. Rob’s mother meets Irene the Bronx bagel baker’s daughter.
Mind you, her father worked in someone else’s bagel store. He was no emperor of bagels with a vast chain of shops. Hardly. He was an unskilled laborer struggling to keep his little family going. He was a man who never encouraged his only daughter to dream of college. His dream was that she’d soon be taking shorthand and bringing in some desperately needed money.
And so Rob’s mother meets the future stenographer and puts her elegant foot down: Hard! No no no. This girl has got to go.
Our not so dashing young hero avoids the battle and leaves Irene bereft.
Irene decides to show him. She dumps the stenographer plan. Deals with her father’s notions about what a woman can do. And goes to City College. She is a brilliant student, summa cum laude.
Then, still showing him she goes to law school. She’s even more brilliant. She marries a law professor. She herself becomes a law professor of international renown. Her books and articles are often cited.
Rob meanwhile has become a lawyer of little fame and consequence.
But Irene, z”l, had much to thank his mother for.
All true, attested by me who knew them both.