Family members, friends and residents at The Bristal Assisted Living of North Woodmere gathered outside of the facility on June 7 to watch as Martin and Helen Inwald renewed their wedding vows in observance of Martin’s 95th birthday.
The ceremony began with the couple’s great grandchildren spreading flower petals down the aisle in front of the pair. Then, the Inwalds’ sons, Clark, Gary and Scott walked their parents down the aisle, where they would sit in chairs and read vows that were more humorous than the vows they shared 70 years ago at their wedding. The vows included promises that Helen would not cut out articles from the New York Times before Martin had read them, and that Martin would “tear himself away from the Bristal food” and take Helen out to a restaurant.
The ceremony was organized by the recreation staff at The Bristal, who worked for two months to plan a small wedding ceremony. They also got in contact with Inwald family members, who provided The Bristal with old family photos. In the end, Executive Director Latavia Ross said she was pleased with the result of The Bristal’s efforts.
“I think it was amazing, I think it was beautiful,” Ross said. “I had a couple of tears in my eye.”
The couple were introduced to each other by one of Helen’s neighbors who attended the same synagogue as Martin’s parents. Their first date was in October 1947, when they went to a show in Manhattan and ate dinner at a French restaurant.
“I went the day before, scouted the area, counted how many steps from the theater to the restaurant and exactly how much time it would take,” Martin recalled. “So it was a very stiff first date, but successful.”
They were married on Dec. 19, 1948 at the Park Manor in Brooklyn; their wedding song was Irving Berlin’s “Always,” according to the release announcing the event.
“It doesn’t feel like 70 years to me,” Helen said. “He’s still cute and he still has a wonderful sense of humor.”
They raised their three sons in central Valley Stream, where they lived for 64 years until they moved into The Bristal four years ago. At The Bristal, Martin serves as the president of the resident council and Helen runs her own chat group.
Throughout the years, Martin and Helen have retained their sense of intimacy. “When we’re in a movie and there’s a scene that maybe makes us think about a trip, a country, a countryside, then automatically she’ll bring her hand to mine or I’ll bring mine to hers,” Martin said.
They both said that they have managed to stay together for 70 years because of the “four Cs:” compromise, compassion, cooperation and consideration. There is also one R, according to Helen.
“You have to have respect for the other person,” she said. “I think we can all goof off at times and act silly, but you still have to respect that person and what he really stands for.”