By: Dale King Contributing Writer
Abraham David saw Annie Sobel for the first time on July 5, 1939. And even from two blocks away, he realized that he wanted to marry the long-haired beauty.
“I said, ‘Oh, my God, you’re so beautiful. I’m going to marry you,’” Abe recently recalled. But he was 16 years old at the time, Annie was 14. “She went home and told her mother what a stupid kid I was.”
Annie said her mom “just laughed. She said, ‘He’s just a little boy, he’s 16.’”
But the youngster from the Bronx was actually smart, clever – and patient. He stayed in touch and began to woo the lovely teen as the time became right. He got a steady job, earning $10 a week, a massive sum for Depression era work. Then, he got a raise to $12 a week.
After volunteering to serve in the Army, he sent her a letter every day while stationed in Europe during World War II, and carried a picture of her every moment he was away. She responded in kind.
And on July 19, 1943, Abraham, then 20, married Annie, 18, “in a rabbi’s small office, with about 20 people on hand.” In their wedding photo, Abe, in uniform, bears a striking resemblance to Elvis Presley. His bride, with a shoulder corsage and long, dark hair nearly down to her shoulders, looks like a movie star.
More than 75 years later, the couple is still together. They celebrated their diamond anniversary with a festive dinner graced by some 200 residents, family and friends in the ballroom of Edgewater at Boca Pointe, where they have lived for 10 years.
The Davids have more milestones coming up in 2019. Abraham turns 96 on Jan. 13. Annie will be 94 on St. Patrick’s Day. The couple has three children, a son, Mark, 72, and twin daughters age 68. Add to that seven grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren and one on the way.
Their apartment in Edgewater is filled with photos of their kids and grand-kids. A framed black-and-white photo from their wedding day is in the bedroom. A color photo of their 75th anniversary can be seen in the living room. A bound volume of memorabilia from his wartime service with the 830th Engineering Aviation Battalion is on the coffee table.
The war was a bit disruptive for Abe and Annie, who had begun spending time together at movies (a nickel a show) and enjoying 5-cent ice cream sodas made by “a fella name Botti.” Abe joined the Army after graduating from Evander Childs High School in the Gun Hill section of the Bronx. Annie graduated from Roosevelt High two years later and spent the war years working for Western Electric six nights a week. “I had to travel by myself for two hours on a train, subway and bus,” she said.
Travel was tough then. Abe recalled how he got a 10-day pass from the Army and went to Walla Walla, Washington. From there, he spent three-and-a-half days on a train to get back to New York for the wedding.
He sent a telegram to his betrothed: “Get ready for marriage.” He arrived home on a Sunday. They were married Monday.
Soon afterward, the couple launched a business manufacturing women’s undergarments. The Davids bought out several other firms and expanded the company to 23 factories at its height.
Abe was able to retire at age 58 when he sold the firm to Frederick’s of Hollywood. But he occasionally complains: “My wife has to buy her own panties today. I used to sell them at seven pairs for $1.”
To be honest, Abe said, he and his wife did well in the business and have enjoyed life together. They spent a lot of time traveling. Annie’s hubby said he “played tennis until I was 86 and played golf until I was 93.” He still drives a car – even at night – and just recently sent the application to renew his driver’s license.
Since moving from the Northeast, the couple has lived in five Florida locations, including Boca and Fort Lauderdale. Edgewater at Boca Pointe is the fifth spot – and they plan to stay.
The Davids speak proudly of their contributions to help area charities, beginning with a financial gift to Jewish Adoption and Foster Care Options (JAFCO) in the early 1990s. “I walked in one day when it had just started. It was a very small office. I saw Sarah Franco and Wendy Jenkins [who later became JAFCO executives]. I immediately wrote a check for $5,000. They said it was the biggest donation they had gotten.”
Today, JAFCO – a privately-funded community-based agency — provides a wide range of services for more than 350 abused and neglected children. The Davids also paid to construct a building where autistic youngsters are cared for.
In addition, the couple supports a hospital in Israel, the Israel Tennis Center and a number of smaller organizations providing aid to various causes.