Photos from Irving Wolfe's 90th Birthday PartyNote: you'll need to scroll less if you make your browser window really wide. I laid out the page with several pictures two across.
My cousin Irving Wolfe (really, he's my mother's first cousin and my first cousin once removed) has been a leftist activist for most of his 90 years. He's still out there holding signs in demonstrations, now (February of 2003) against a U.S. attack on Iraq. He's a thrifty guy and was able to recycle a sign he had used to oppose the first gulf war:
When I was in college Irv took me out to dinner in Greenwich Village one time when I was spending a school vacation in New York. It was the first time I had calamari (tough and overcooked, I recall, but that was the restaurant's fault, not Irv's). We then went to hear Norman Thomas speak.
The night before my wedding I stayed over in my Aunt Mimi's house in Mamaroneck NY. Irv and Evelyn had just got back from their first trip to Cuba and showed slides. They've been back several times, and so have many of their friends who were at the party. I cracked up when I noticed this vanity plate as we were leaving. I think it says something for America that the government will issue this plate. Well, maybe it just says something for New York State. I don't think I'd park this car in Miami.
Before the party proper we went to Irv & Evelyn's house, where the relatives and some friends were gathering. Here are some of the people who were there --
Evelyn Wolfe and her sister-in-law Feeny Ziner. Feeny wrote a children's book about the Bluenose, the Nova Scotia schooner that's something of a symbol for the whole province, and was delighted that I knew that (without Evelyn or anyone's prompting!). She told me the whole story of how she saw the Bluenose at Expo '67 in Montreal and got to ride on it back to Halifax as part of researching the book.
The party was at something like the Rockland County Conservatory of Music. It's in a shopping mall just off I-87, on the west side of the Tappan Zee bridge, on the second floor. There's a big room in the middle where the sit-down meal was, and a hallway all around that room with small individual lesson rooms and offices on the outside. There was a table set up near the stairs coming up to the place with beverages, and waitresses working their way through the hall with hors d'oeuvres.
Soda and wine were flowing like water, and there were delicious hors d'oeuvres like little rolled up pieces of lox with capers on tiny pumpernickel rounds, endive leaves stuffed with boursin and slightly hot red peppers, grilled chicken rollups that looked like sushi...
This father-daughter violin duet of friends or neighbors played in the hallway during the hors d'oeuvres hour and then did a couple of Dvorak Hungarian (natch) dances after the meal. That's Feeny again, of course, enjoying the music and company.
Here's what the room looked like -- not all that much to it, really. The people at the table in the distance are the Lawrences, who were neighbors of Irv when he lived at Skyview Acres in the early '50s. Charles Lawrence was the MC for the program that followed dinner, and he and his two sisters sung a bunch of songs from the civil rights struggle era that brought tears to my eyes -- I haven't heard those songs sung like that since I was on a lunch counter demonstration in 1962. I don't have a picture of Charles' sister Sarah Lawrence Lightfoot, an intimidatingly gorgeous woman who is a major figure at the Harvard School of Education. She spoke very movingly of how important Irv had been in her life.
Here are Irv, Evelyn, and Charles Lawrence on the stage
Irv was really delighted with his birthday cake even though there were nowhere near enough candles. He applauded the audience for their rendition of "Happy Birthday".