Sunday, May 11, 1969. Mother’s Day. I was a 15-year-old 10th grader. My sister got married this day. I served as best man at the wedding, a service for which my brother-in-law, Eddie had purchased for me a thank you gift: a two-record set of Gustav Mahler’s symphonic song cycle based on Chinese texts, Das Lied von der Erde, in a recording with Otto Klemperer conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra, Christa Ludwig and Fritz Wunderlich, soloists.

At the wedding reception, I sat at the head table of the ballroom as best man together with family members. When we completed our meal, I remained sitting alone, smoking a cigar. My family had left the table by that time and had started mingling with guests. As in the text of one of the Mahler songs, “Friends, beautifully dressed, are drinking and chatting.” As I sat alone, the wedding photographer approached me. He said: “There are a lot of girls here. Why don’t you talk to them instead of sitting alone smoking a cigar?” I took his advice and proceeded to chat with my sister’s female friends. I eventually made it to the dance floor.

That evening I rode with my parents, together with Aunt Zelda and Uncle F., to the Philadelphia Airport to see my sister and her newlywed husband off on their honeymoon, a one-week stay in Miami Beach. During the car ride Aunt Zelda turned to me and said, “Wouldn’t it be nice, Gary, if you got a job, saved up your money, and took your mother on a vacation to Miami Beach?”

My sister and brother-in-law returned to Philadelphia the following Sunday, May 18. We had a small gathering at my parents’ house that included Uncle Louie, my father’s older brother, and his wife. My mother had a bottle of champagne on hand. My sister had bought me a gift: a men’s jewelry box, the lid of the box decorated with an antique map of the world.