One fateful night in October 1957, William David Binn went to a dance for young single adults at the Infants Home of Brooklyn in Borough Park. The dance was a fundraiser, sponsored by a socially conscious group of young men and women to which Binn belonged, with its proceeds pledged to go for the support of 75 children living in the group foster home.
As he stood there surveying the crowd, a beautiful young woman entered the room. Her name was Edith Kaufman, she was 23 years old and she had come in a car service with her friend, Marion. Binn, who was 27, recalls being attracted to her immediately. As soon as the music started to play, he asked Kaufman to dance.
“It was a cha-cha,” Kaufman remembers, “a Tito Puentes cha-cha.” While dancing, she whispered in Binn’s ear, “You’re a terrific dancer. Where did you learn how to dance?”
He told her he went to a lot of dances, in fact, a different one every night, six nights a week. This revelation didn’t produce the effect Binn was looking -- hoping -- for. The lovely lady in his arms turned to him and replied, “You seem like a nice fellow, but I don’t like guys who go to dances.”
“Most of those guys were ‘sharpies,’” she laughs, describing that night 52 years ago.
Binn walked away when the music stopped. But then he thought better of it and went back to ask Kaufman if she would like to join his group and help support the 75 foster kids. Kaufman explained that she lived on Eastern Parkway and had no transportation to get to Borough Park every Thursday night. Binn quickly arranged a ride for her.
A few days later, Binn was walking in the vicinity of Broadway and Maiden Lane in Manhattan. Walking toward him was Kaufman and another girl named Dede. “What are you doing here?” she asked Binn. He explained he worked for Art Craft Optical Company on Maiden Lane, as a manager. She explained that she worked for Samuel Abramson Jewelers on John Street. Dave took her and her friend to lunch that day. The next day, and every day thereafter, he took Kaufman to lunch “just as friends” going “Dutch treat.”
The next month, the Infants Home of Brooklyn scheduled a fundraiser event -- dinner and a show -- at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel on Lexington Avenue. Sammy Davis Jr. was performing and Dave was determined to go. If he could sell $100.00 worth of ads for the Home’s annual journal, at $5.00 an ad, he would earn two tickets to the fabulous event. But this was the smallest of Binn’s problems, he was as good a talker as he was a dancer and, in short order, two tickets to see Sammy Davis Jr. were tucked away in his wallet.
The primo problem was who to take -- his lunch buddy Edith Kaufman or Barbara Cohen, the woman he had been dating for six months. Binn’s motto was: “Don’t focus on your problem -- seek solutions.” Cohen, he recalls, had an annoying habit of flirting with other guys whenever he took her out and deep down inside, he knew he deserved better than that. He asked Kaufman to go and she said yes. From that evening on, they dated each other exclusively.
A couple days before Valentine’s Day, 1958, Binn realized he needed to buy Kaufman a substantial gift. He was afraid of losing her if he bought something cheap. He sought out Jerry, the wholesaler who sold diamond watches to Kaufman’s boss and gave him $100.00 to pick up something outstanding. The day after the holiday, after a movie and dinner date, Binn persuaded Kaufman to accompany him to Jerry’s apartment so she could offer her opinion about which jewelry would sell best. Jerry brought out a case with ten diamond watches and asked her which one she really liked. “This one really caught my eye,” she said, picking it up out of the case. “It’s yours,” Binn said. Kaufman nearly fell over in shock.
A month later, Binn presented Kaufman with a diamond ring and on June 1, 1958, they got married and celebrated with a lavish reception at the Park Manor Catering Hall on Eastern Parkway. Their first dance, as man and wife, was not a cha-cha. It was a romantic fox trot, danced to a popular song that year called “Love Is A Many Splendored Thing.”
These days, if you’re looking for Binn and Kaufman, who are respectively 78 and 74 years old, retired for the past 12 years and still married with two children and five grandchildren, still living in Brooklyn -- although they’ve moved from Crown Heights to Canarsie to Marine Park, you won’t find them dozing off in front of a TV set. According to Binn, they go dancing six nights a week at an assortment of senior centers where the charge is only $1.50.
What’s their secret? Binn says the key to a happy marriage is to “Be kind, have only positive thoughts, feelings, words and actions with loving kindness toward each other, because the greatest gift in life is to love and be loved.”
Kaufman puts it simpler: “The secret to staying happily married is to always remember one thing: When you’ve got nothing good to say to your partner, DON’T SAY ANYTHING!”
And it wouldn’t hurt to learn the cha-cha, either!
©2009 Community News Group
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