Published on October 21, 2019.
By: Joe Ball | CNBNews Contributor
The first time I ever saw Sandra Cohan was at her front door, 2442 Bryn Mawr Ave., in the Wynnefield section of Philadelphia.
I was there as a “blind date.”
She was 19.
I was 28.
I remember my first thought, when she opened the door of her parent’s home:
It was: “I like her looks!”
Our first date was a neighborhood movie, “Cyrano De Bergerac,”followed by either a hamburger at the Hot Shop, Broad and Champlost Sts., or corn beef sandwiches at King Cole’s, on York Rd., Elkins Park. (Forgive me Sandy. I forget. I am older.)
I do remember it was raining.
There was a rattle from the rear of my car.
I pulled over to see what…
Sandy got out of the car, into the rain, came to the back of the car where I was looking for the problem. She knew what the noise was.
I was impressed.
In those days, Wynnefield girls had buffount hairdos, and they probably would have stayed in a car to protect their hair.
My courtship was so short; it should be called a sprint.
I was already in business for myself.
For two years as a new entrepreneur, I had learned to sell (“Ask for the order!”)
With Sandy, I made the greatest sale of my life.
I proposed six weeks after we met.
And she accepted!
It happened ocean-pool side in the floral area at the rear of the Fontainebleau Hotel, Miami Beach. A beautiful setting for my beautiful wife-to-be.
We were married six months later at Rodeph Shalom, 600 N. Broad St., Philadelphia.
It was magnificent ceremony and function, produced by her parents, Minnie and Leigh M. Cohan.
Her parents had also been married there. It is said they were the first couple to be married in what was then the new Rodeph Shalom, now a Phila. Landmark.
It’s now 53 years of being together as husband and wife, parents of three super-terrific children and eight equally super-terrific grandchildren.
And with that as an introduction, here are some random tidbits from our years together:
Just weeks after being married, Sandy had already displayed her culinary skills. She had been a home economics major at Temple University.
One evening she asked what I would like for dinner. I said, “Big Pancakes.”
My mother had a knack for making the best crepes. My sisters, Barbara, Dana, Jayne and I, called them pancakes. Mom’s were flat, spread out covering the entire frying pan. Upon serving we would spread powdered sugar and cinnamon over them and roll them up for slicing.
I always called them, “Big Pancakes.”
So, Sandy made me a “big pancake.”
Man, was it big. BIG!
She had used standard pancake flour and mix. The pancake was about 12” in width and must have been 2” high. It did taste good – – for three days.
For our three children, Sandy has pointed the way, setting as an example, and offering direction.
When son, Bob, was 16, he told us at the dinner table he would like to be a doctor. Sandy said to him, “Then become a volunteer at Lankenau Hospital during your summer vacation and see if you like it.”
He did so.
University of Pennsylvania.
He had six years of hospital experience even before he went to medical school.
Today he is among one of the countries leading Urology surgeons.
When Yelane was in college she became engaged to her supervisor at a campus restaurant/bar, where she was a waitress.
To follow into marriage, she would be moving to North Jersey and helping her fiancé open and operate a Greek restaurant.
We did not think it was a wonderful idea, but Sandy said, “I am not going to loose a daughter,” and we supported Yelane.
It turned out that for reasons of her own she broke the engagement and then… but that is a story unto itself.
Our youngest child, Nan, was not among the best students early on. But Sandy encouraged her to continue her education, which she did.
Result: Nan has a Master’s Degree.
We now have eight grandchildren: Eric, 19; Emily, 17; Madison, 16; Griffin, 14; Eriya, 13; Jessica, 12; and Benjamin, 7.
They already know their grandmother loves them dearly and is there for them.
Coolness Under Pressure
There have been family emergencies.
Sandy has within herself a precise mental direction and steady hand.
Some situations are not too serious, but dramatic.
Others are draining.
Less serious: As an infant, Yelane locked herself into the second floor bathroom of our first home, at 2315 N. 51st Street Wynnefield.
She was a toddler. It was impossible to communicate to her through a door on how to turn the locking device. It could have been serious. Water damage. A fall out the open window.
Sandy’s soft assurances helped calm a petrified Yelane. Sandy called the Fire Department (wise move) and the rescue was made by an outside ladder.
A more serious episode came years later.
Nan suffered a stroke, days after a surgery.
It was life-threatening.
Sandy commanded our family’s responses, and was the hub of family prayers and assistance throughout the ordeal.
A life actually saved by Sandy, was – – Mine!
I’m now enjoying my second life.
I would have been dead 16 years ago, if not for Sandy.
At home, I went unconscious from a pulmonary embolism (cut off oxygen.)
Sandy, was behind me, when I fell to the floor.
I remember her later saying, “He immediately turned gray.”
She rushed to call 911. She also called medical professionals who knew my history.
The emergency crew was at our home in minutes. I received oxygen. The hospital had been alerted thanks to Sandy, and crew of trauma surgeons was actually waiting for me.
It took six weeks in intensive care, and six months for me to totally recuperate.
Sandy was with me every day.
Some Personal Traits
The good… The not-so-good… The who cares.
… Sandy is a multi-level addict. Yep. Believe me.
She is an addict for solitaire on the computer. For hours. Sometimes the computer loses.
She is an addict for chocolate. Chocolate pudding… Chocolate cookies… Chocolate cake… Chocolate candy…
She is a semi addict for raisins and peanut butter.
She is addict for the soap opera, “All My Children,”
If she misses the 8PM Version, she pushes herself out of bed early AM, to watch the rerun at 7AM.
She is a telephone addict.
While on the landline, two hands, two phones. Why not?
… She often waits to the last minute to get to a scheduled social gathering. But she makes up for it. She waits for the last minute, to leave it.
… She has a multitude of friends. Many with the same name; “Honey,” “Darling” and “Sweetheart.”
Some of Her Favorites
… Kohl’s Department Store.
Sandy: “Joe, I bought you some summer shirts.”
Joe: “I already have 23 summer shirts.”
Sandy: “But with all my discounts, they were only $3.98 each.”
P.S.: I’m wearing – – and enjoying – – them.
… Her canasta and mahjong games with a variety of lady friends.
… The summer house at the shore. The boardwalk walks. Being with her children, and grandchildren.
… She has a caring “green finger.” Orchards are her favorite plants. She talks to them. I think they wave back. They reward her with multi beautiful blossoms.
… But her favorite, favorite of all is the identification given her by her grandchildren. It is “Bubby.”
Lessons I’ve Learned From Her
… When a meal is over, to put my chair under the table.
… To change my underwear every day, instead of every other day.
… To add two words to my vocabulary. They are: “Thank You.”
Where Is It?
Everyone has routines and habits. Sometimes there is a change and momentary confusion.
When this happens, I know what to do.
I keep my slippers under my nightstand.
“Sandy, where are my slippers?”
Answer: “In the closet.”
The bedside telephone is in a holder stand, by our bed.
“Sandy, where is the telephone?”
Answer: “In the bathroom.”
I keep my pajamas hanging in a closet.
“Sandy, where are my pajamas?”
Answer: “In the wash.”
I have T-shits I have liked for over 25 years.
“Sandy, where are my favorite T-shirts?”
Answer: “I needed some rags.”
She watched and worried as I almost got arrested by French Police for crossing railroad tracks in Laharve, France.
She worried with me when we were in Russia. Vendors had a doll Sandy liked. I bought it through the window of our Moscow tour bus. Next thing I knew, four police vans surrounded the bus, going after the vendors. They thought I was selling U.S. dollars to them.
For days, we felt we were being followed.
And then there was H.K. court case.
It almost destroyed my business, my family, my life.
Sandy was steadfast in her belief of me. So was I.
The final result proved our faith in being right.
… Should I be clearing a nasal passage manually, Boom! Her accelerated voice: “Stop that!”
… When I say, “I think I’m out of business; her reassuring words are: “See it as your hobby.”
… During a major gallbladder attack, before dawn, that I was suffering, I mean major, wow, the pain, horrible, like knives cutting and slicing my insides, doubling me over, and almost speechless, she volunteered to rush me… Rush me, to the hospital.
Then came her memorable words when she said:
“Right after I shower.”
… Occasionally I’ll say to Sandy, “Why are you doing this?”
Like getting her car washed just before rain is due.
Like tearing up and replacing the kitchen floor, where I saw nothing wrong.
Her stock answer: “Because I want to.”
End of conversation.
… But best of all. From time-to-time, Sandy will touch my leg, look at me, and say: “I’m so glad you’re here.”
And that’s after 53 years of togetherness…
… Sandy has been and is an “on-call” babysitter for our grandchildren.
… She is a corporate officer of our businesses.
… She administers at least 14 trust funds.
… She directs all that has been done at 1175 Hollow rd., including payment of utility and other bills, landscaping, household repairs, laundry, and creating tasty, appealing meals.
… She is a world traveler. Her visits have included almost every country in both Western and Eastern Europe…Israel… Egypt… Turkey… Greek Islands… China… Japan… Thailand… Singapore… Mexico… South America and the Caribbean, Canada and Alaska, many of the states in the U.S. including the National Parks, Florida River boating on the Mississippi – – and Branson Missouri.
… She is a retired pre-school teacher… a past president of Golden Slipper Women Charities and active Overbrook High School Reunion Committee person.
Final Words (To Date)
Every morning when I leave our home, I call to Sandy: “I’m leaving. I love you.”
She replies: “Have a good day.”
And they’ve all been good – – thanks to my Sandy. Our Sandy.
Joe Ball, Philadelphia-area publisher, advertising agency owner and radio show producer, has been named chairman of the U.S. International Film & Video Festival judges committee in the Business-to-Business category. The subject materials are videos submitted by businesses, production firms and advertising agencies from throughout the U.S. and internationally. Ball continues to lead American Advertising Services, 29 Bala Ave., Ste. 117, Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004, a firm he founded 55 years ago.