About 75 years ago, just after the Barkins moved from West Philadelphia to Overbrook, Evy met Alvin Jacobs, her neighbor from up the street.
“We were two of a bunch of kids who hung out together,” said Evy. “There were six of us friends, and gradually, we all paired off,” said Al.
So gradually that neither Al nor Evy knows exactly when they became a couple. Mathematics had something to do with it. “He got me through high school math, because he was very good at it and very patient,” said Evy, now 89. “I remember thinking, ‘Is he really this kind? I think I’ll marry him.’ ”
When Evy turned 16, Al gave her a watch and baked a cake for her party.
“The cake didn’t rise on both sides, and the watch turned her arm green,” said Al, now 91. Evy didn’t mind.
Barbara, now 91, was a secondary education and art student at Temple University when a cousin suggested she meet Donald Goldberg, a Navy veteran recently returned from the North Atlantic who was also from West Philly. Don called and they agreed that he and several of his friends should come to the Barkin house for a basement gathering with Barbara and her friends.
“I brought my ukulele,” said Don, who is now 94. He and Barbara talked a lot that night. “Then I didn’t hear from him for many months,” she said.
Six months later, “I needed a date — I don’t remember the occasion — and her name was in my book,” Don said. Barbara doesn’t remember their first date either, but it must have gone well — they’ve been together ever since.
Don ran his late father’s sewing machine repair business. On Saturday nights, he picked up Barbara in his 1940 Plymouth and they went to the movies.
Al and Evy were still living a teenybopper lifestyle, often at the local hamburger shop. The occasional movie required a lift from a parent.
But at night’s end, their dates converged back at the Barkins’ house, with Barbara and Don in the living room, Evy and Al on the porch, and the girls’ mother, Florence, on a chair by the stairs with a clear view of everyone.
“It was a contest to see who would fall asleep first, their mother or us,” Don said, with a laugh.
The four took turns checking on Florence. If her eyes closed, necking commenced.
Evy and Al were students at Temple — she studying music supervision and piano and he, secondary education and mathematics — when he asked if she’d like to get married. She did, so he bought her an engagement ring.
Don never really asked, Barbara said. Sometime between 1950 and 1951, “He showed up with a ring.”
Barbara and Evy’s dad, Albert, was a fun-loving yet practical guy. “I remember him saying, ‘You both want to get married. You should get married together.’ ” Barbara said.
Their parents had more family and friends than funds, Evy said. “Dad said he would have to make two small weddings, and he didn’t know how he would do that. He loved to entertain, and a double wedding would be unusual. I knew he would get a big kick out of it.”
“We didn’t realize how big this wedding was going to be,” added Barbara.
On April 6, 1952, 300 guests gathered at the Broadwood Hotel’s Crystal Ballroom.
The rabbi — Don’s Knights of Pythias Steuben Lodge Brother — led each couple through their vows separately, first Barbara and Don and then Al and Evy. Then beneath a very crowded chuppah the rabbi introduced the two newly married couples and Al and Don each smashed a glass.
The seven-course meal began with fruit cup. “You knew it was a rather expensive meeting because we had fresh fruit cup, not canned,” said Evy. “The best band in Philadelphia — the Bobby Roberts Band — played from the great American songbook,” said Don, who was until recently a band leader himself.
Receipts from the shindig were found years later — $5 per plate for the meal, and $350 for the seven-piece band and singer.
Following the tradition of crowning a mother whose last single child has been married, the couples placed a wreath of flowers on each of their mothers’ heads. “It was a double wedding with a triple crowning,” said Barbara.
“The last picture in our wedding album is her father holding out his two empty pockets,” said Don.
Barbara was a substitute math teacher in Philadelphia until she and Don married. They have two children, son, Glenn, and daughter, Terry, and now have four grandchildren. Barbara later became one of the first Weight Watchers leaders and ran meetings until her retirement two years ago. She is an artist who makes collages and fused-glass dishes and jewelry. She is also a clown named Dotsie.
Don left sewing machines and vacuums when he bought Barbara’s aunt’s upholstery shop in Media. He bought out several more shops and his company was rated among the best craft shops by Philadelphia Magazine. He sold the company in the 1990s.
The Goldbergs raised their family in Mount Airy and Erdenheim. In 1997, they moved to Laguna Woods, a California retirement community, and Don launched a new career as leader of The Silver Foxes swing band. He performed with them regularly until two years ago and now creates fabric sculptures, which he sells for charity.
Barbara loves how Don makes her laugh. “He’s funny. He’s very caring. He’s always interested in everything and he supports everything I do,” she said.
“Barbara is the kindest, most caring person in the world,” said Don. “If there’s anybody in the village that doesn’t have a friend, Barbara will befriend her. She’s never seen a bad movie or a bad show, and never says a bad word about anyone.” They are avid bridge players, and if Don has trouble seeing the cards, Barbara helps.
Evy left college when she married and taught piano lessons to support herself and Al until he graduated. They have two children, Jo Anne and Penny, who were raised in Upper Darby, and now have two grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Al taught math in Philadelphia public schools for 39 years and was head of Overbrook High School’s math department for 15. After he retired, he became an adjunct professor at Temple, St. Joe’s, and Penn State Abington. He competes on the tennis court and billiard table.
When their children were older, Evy resumed her career. She began teaching dance as well as piano and became a certified practitioner of the Feldenkrais Method of body awareness. She leads meditation and line dance classes where the couple lives, the Maris Grove senior living community in Glen Mills, and is copresident of the Jewish Community there.
Evy says she couldn’t do half of what she does without Al’s support. “He’s very kind and has a very even temperament. I love that he is affectionate. And I love that everybody else he has ever met loves him, too.”
“I love when she is in my arms,” Al says of Evy. “I feel very comforted when I am holding her. She is a very good cook, and she introduced me to some important things when we were married — the arts, classical music, dance, and meditation. There is so much to love.”
For the past seven decades, Barbara and Don, Evy and Al, and their children have remained close.
“I think we spent every weekend at our parents’ place. It was always family first,” said Evy. “And then when my parents passed away, Barbara and Don became the host and hostess who planned all of our family dinners.”
“Our oldest children are four months apart and the younger are six months apart — they are still very close,” said Barbara.
For a dozen years, Evy and Al had an apartment in Laguna Woods so they could spend part of the winter with Barbara and Don. Barbara and Don had a place in Ventnor for 44 years and they would visit in the summer. These days, most of their visits are by phone or Zoom. But in April, the two couples celebrated their 70th anniversaries together with 72 guests at a Laguna Woods clubhouse. Their grandchildren sang a song to them, and one grandson screened a documentary he made about their lives. A new incarnation of Don’s swing band played and both couples danced and danced together.