Judy Kay-Wolff

AN UNFORGETTABLE 60th BASH

The year was ’87.   The date was August 9th — two day’s before Norman’s actual 60th birthday and a bit over two months before the famous Crash of 1987.   Norman’s parents timed it right — cause had he arrived two and a half months later in 1927, our situation would have been quite different —  less money, teetering stock and certainly no glorious party.  God works in strange ways.  Norman was one who shied from the limelight and I think he was oblivious to my intention of throwing him a 60th!  Unbeknownst to him, I recruited my kids and three close confederates.  Each was on the receiving end of the RSVPs. The blast was going to be held at EVVIVA, three blocks from our house.  I concocted an excuse that my friend  Essie was having a party and I volunteered to set up the decorations an hour beforehand, so her husband  Milt would pick Norman up and we’d meet  here.   It was just another Sunday in August – and I am positive he had no clue.

At 3 p.m. he entered EVVIVA and you could have knocked Norman over with a feather.   There before his eyes were more Masterpoints than you could shake a stick at (long before inflation where points were sacred accomplishments).    EDGAR KAPLAN was the quick witted, glib-tongued Master of Ceremonies. Others in attendance were BOB AND PHYLLIS JORDAN, ARTHUR ROBINSON, B. J. AND ESTHER BECKER, GEORGE AND EDITH ROSENKRANZ, LENNY AND MARION HARMON, ANDY AND WANDA GABRILOVITCH, ALICE AND IVAR STAKGOLD,  ELAINE (MRS. ALVIN) LANDY, TANNAH HIRSCH, ALVIN ROTH PLUS FOOTBALL CELEBRITIES AND ONE-TIME PART OWNERS OF GINO’S (BABS AND LOU FISCHER AMD YVONNE AND ALAN AMECHE).  The fellas were not not only part owners of Gino’s but Lou played for Ohio State and donated the astroturf and Alan, of course, was famous as ALAN (THE HORSE) AMECHE, OF THE BALTIMORE COLTS.   Norman’s  Merrill Lynch bosses (past and present) were two of the speakers, telling funny stories of Norman.   It turned into a ninety-minute Roast ‘cause we couldn’t get the bridge players off the podium .. especially Al Roth chirping “My Way”.    The roast produced one laugh after another and lots of warm cuddly feelings of early bridge.

I also wrote to non-bridge celebrities in the news and requested notes of congratulations:   Some of those responding  (many by handwritten notes) you may have heard of:  George Bush, VP; Donald T. Regan (Norman’s boss from ML) who traded places in the Reagan administration going from Secretary of the Treasury to Press Secretary – switching jobs with  James Baker;  Nancy and Ronald Reagan (**); Pa. Governor Robert T Casey; Pa. State Senator James Heinz; Philadelphia Mayors Frank Rizzo and Wilson  Goode; Morley Safer; “Red” Grange;  Philadelphia Flyer Ron Suter: Timmy McCarver; “Red” Auerbach;  Julius Erving; Joan Rivers; Radio announcers Larry Kane and Howard Eskin; Barbara Walters; Steve and Eydie; Lucy Arnaz; Omar (the one and only);  76er player and announcer Matt Goukas; New Jersey Governor Tom Kern; Senator Arlen Spector; Senator Edward M. Kennedy; Senator Bill Bradley; Don Rickles; Wall Street Week Announcer Louis Rukeyser; Dolly Parton;  Bob Hope; Judge Wapner; Wayne Newton; Johnny Carson; Eagle head coaches Buddy Ryan and Dick Vermeil; Frank Sinatra; Mike Schmidt; Coach Lee Elia; Jane Pauley; Wayne Gretzky; Tommy Lasorda; Dale Murphy; Joey Bishop; Larry Bowa; New York Mayor Ed Koch;  … and would you believe, I even wrote to The Pope (and Norman received a blessing  by his Secretariat of State with a photo of His Holiness). (**) By the way many of Norman’s congratulatory notes wished him well on his 80th  birthday as I learned early on from other similar ventures that 60 or 70 was considered kid-stuff and they ignored requests for less than octogenarians).

Although the guest celebrities were the star attractions, the real entertainment was my business showgirls, known to our business associates as Kay’s Baseball Cards,Inc.    I had started a little baseball shop in my unfurnished living room/dining room in 1981 and until the zoning board ten years later paid us a friendly little  house call  advising us we had one week to cease and desist operating from my Main Line driveway,  I would be fined.  They suggested to immediately rent a warehouse.  If we complied, all was forgiven.   The next day I was became the Landlord of a 5000 square foot office/warehouse at Lee Park, in Conshohocken.The business was my son’s idea and Norman was the banker – ever eager for a challenge.     One morning I woke up in the middle of an empire and had six girlfriends taking and compiling orders  and two warehouse people doing all the heavy work.   My key employee was Samantha Schuman who was really the head honcho, taking over the business when we were at the Nationals.   I installed a kitchen and  bought two huge couches, TV, microwave, refrigerator, toaster and whatever else was needed to keep everyone working through the lunch hour  (sustenance provided).  It was completely enclosed – like a cell block but with no outside windows.   Better yet, you couldn’t tell if it was raining, snowing or a heat wave – and night or day — more conducive to uninterrupted work.  Many a night Sam and I slept over readying a huge 6 a.m. delivery.   Time was very much the essence of the hobby.   It was lucrative to be the first kid on the block. I was like Simon Legree but no one was complaining as we were doing great, we were one great big happy family  and everyone was paid well.

I gathered the girls for a meeting, drafted them into action and ordered eight extra large black tee shirts with white script which said on the front KAY’S BASEBALL CARDS, INC. and on the reverse side “OUR MOTTO – SERVICE*/QUALITY*/PRICE* (SELECT ANY TWO**). Because the shirts were pretty skimpy, I remember Barbara Brier stretching hers over a huge wooden rocking chair (to little avail).   Milt opened the show introducing the Kay’s Baseball Cards Girls (?) Choir featuring Helen Smith (the lead singer), Barbara  (who was told to mouth the words), Joan Weinrott and Jane Segal (who literally ran Unit 141), Dene Bloom, Essie Dubow, Sam Schuman, my sister Deedy Gart and moi.  (We also had a professional pianist Ed Hagopian who became like a member of our family as I was always having amateur shows for special occasions.   At one point, he very tastefully hinted that we should not consider giving up our day jobs.   Amazing how quickly we got the message). Our opening number featured a huge veiled easel and we sang ‘Hello Norman’ (a takeoff on ‘Hello Dolly’) and with the closing words, Norman’s mom ripped off the sheet revealing a blown up photo of two-month old Norman (modest Norman) in his birthday suit so to speak (but luckily posing on his tummy).   It took minutes for the laughter to subside.

The party lasted five hours (including cocktails and lunch) and no one wanted to leave until the owners literally threw us out.   If was one of the happiest days of Norman’s Life — and was just one of many bashes I threw over forty years  — but that was the sole appearance of the KBC Chorus as they had cards to sort and boxes to package. Twenty- two years ago seems just like yesterday. I kept the RSVPs and often look over the scrap book, photographs and still watch the original VHS that professionals had taken to preserve this day for posterity.    I still get enormous pleasure watching the expressions of elation on Norman’s face (and sometimes  his even trying to repress tears of joy).   I suppose I am just an unbridled, adventuresome devil at heart who strains to be “different.”   Indeed, it was!


6 Comments

Tommy SandersAugust 6th, 2009 at 3:33 pm

What a beautifully planned and orchestrated party. I feel certain “it was one of the happiest days of Norman’s life.

JUDY KAY WOLFFAugust 7th, 2009 at 6:35 am

Tommy,

You’re sooooooooooo right. Unfortunately it was short lived — until the 1987 debacle. However, he recovered and was back in action again successfully and survived to see the Twin Towers gala repeat performance. Some people never learn. But overall he did well over the years for himself and his clients — and certainly his partners. Hard to believe it is seven years since his death — but I too remember his 60th and have the albums to verify it was one of the happiest days of his life.

Love to you and Carol,

Judy

Jackie WingAugust 13th, 2009 at 3:52 am

I remember Norman liked to eat and tell stories. He was fun to be with. Very intelligent. Kind. I’m glad we had the opportunity to know him. I saved the poems you wrote about your horses not winning when you were there. We must have had some wins together. Judy and Norman were very kind to us.

Judy Kay-WolffAugust 16th, 2009 at 11:06 pm

Dear Jackie:

You and your famous husband, harness driver, Ted Wing, share some wonderful moments with

us. Those rides to Yonkers and Roosevelt Raceways seem like unending trips, but we shared

many a smile with Ted in the WINNER’S Circle. Mustn’t sell yourself too short. And, yes, Norman enjoyed good food (and the great company that went ith it). Thouh his life was cut relatively short (almost 75 when he died), he enjoyed his time here – his family, the stock market (ugh –though he may turn over now), his horses (slow and fast) ad the many friends he made in his hobbies. You and Ted were a very special part of that and he would be happy to know you are all well and your family has expanded by leaps and bounds.

Love,

Judy

TimApril 5th, 2010 at 5:11 am

Hi Kay,

Sorry to post an off-topic question, but I was curious if you still have any baseball cards? I am trying to catalog all of the “Broder” sets and was told you have some expertise in this area.

Thanks,

Tim

forexcomJanuary 27th, 2011 at 7:13 pm

))))))))))))))))))) it is matchless 😉

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