There are a number of accounts of my parents’ courtship.  This first one was written in 1992 by Anna Alpert, my mother’s same age first cousin and friend.

“Your mother (my beloved late cousin) at age 13-14 was a beautiful girl, who looked older.  She was the object of affection of my brother Abe’s many friends.  She favored one, Dave Glazier, who was handsome and had a car. (Albeit he had an accent as did most of my brother’s friends.)  However, after a year or so Dave decided to go to Florida to seek his fortune.  That was the time that Morris came upon the horizon.  Of course he fell for the beautiful Lillian and they started to see a lot of each other, which was easy since he (Morris) lived with our family.  This did not sit well with Moi and Ta (as Lillian called her foster parents).  Their beautiful daughter was not going to get serious with a greenhorn, who was poor and there was no reason to think that he would ever be otherwise.”  (Lillian was American born and educated and Morris was foreign born and uneducated.)

“Anyhow Lil and Morris continued to see each other secretly. (I believe your mother thought this made it more romantic.)  When Uncle and Tante saw that they weren’t succeeding, they gave in.  However, in a year Uncle lost his job here (Hartford) and they moved to Chelsea and no doubt thought that would be the end of that love affair.  But they were not counting on Morris’s determination.  He followed shortly and the rest is history.” 

Another version of my parents courtship taken from a 1998 letter written by Sophy Wasserman, my mother’s half sister: 

“Your parents had a real Romeo and Juliet romance.  The Uncle and Aunt believed Morris Eisenberg to be wrong for Lil and hoped the move to Chelsea would get Lil away from him.  They felt she was a ‘treasure’ worthy of a rabbi or doctor. 

Morris E. came to Chelsea to claim Lillian.  The Gardners even wrote to my Dad to tell him to intervene.  Then Lillian and Morris eloped to New York where Sam and Celia gave them their blessing.”

In fact, my parents did not elope.  Three different articles that appeared in The Chelsea Record confirm otherwise.   The first article is captioned BRIDAL PARTY TOMORROW and states that “the party is tendered by Mr. And Mrs. Morris Gardner in honor of the coming marriage of their daughter”.  The next article says “SYNAGOGUE THRONGED AT PARTY…. tendered in honor of approaching wedding of Miss Lillian V. Gardner to Morris Eisenberg” and refers to “a gathering of over 300 men and women” and lastly there is a notice of EISENBERG-GARDNER WEDDING RECENT ONE and describes “the ceremony performed in the home of the bride’s parents”.  Note that all three articles refer to my mother as the daughter of the Gardners and use their surname.  To my knowledge my mother always used the surname Gershenowitz.  The last article also states that “about 100 relatives and friends….were present” and that “a buffet lunch was served.”  That must have been a very crowded apartment.  This took place at 118 Essex Street in Chelsea at the ‘cold water’ flat they moved from when I was born.  We moved one street over to an apartment that had central heating.

Then there is the not very romantic story of my parents New York honeymoon.  It was spent at Uncle Sam and Aunt Celia’s flat in Brooklyn.  I do not know many details but I am told that my father invited Abe Gershenowitz along.  Abe, in turn, allegedly invited another mutual friend named Jake.  A hotel room had been rented in New York City, but Aunt Celia talked them out of it and with Uncle Sam persuaded them to stay at their apartment to save money.  My ‘heartbroken’ mother spent much of her honeymoon crying.

Honeymoon Picture-Lillian & Morris at Statue of Liberty