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                                                               YIDDISH THEATRE 101 > THE YIDDISH PLAYS > THE PLAY IN HISTORY  >  HER MOTHER'S WEDDING GOWN

 

"HER MOTHER'S WEDDING GOWN"

(Ir mame's khasene kleyd)

 

Simon Wallerstein, the musician, was happy. No greater happiness can man attain than this father, whose daughter Rose was to be married this day to the man of her heart. His heart rejoiced at the thought of the happiness in store for his motherless child, happiness with the man she loved. Simon the musician was very much in favor of his prospective son-in-law, Dave Oppenheim, a fine upstanding type of man, a novelist and a poet, who loved his child dearly. Everything was ready for the wedding, the guests were gathered, waiting impatiently for the ceremony, which was being hurried, due to the fact that the married couple were to leave for Europe on their honeymoon the following day.

As Simon gazes upon his daughter Rose garbed in her mother's wedding gown, the years dropped away, tender memories of his wife Frieda are recalled. Once again he is a young man, once again he is the lover, nervously waiting to be united with his sweetheart, in the holy bond of matrimony. His Frieda standing there, fades, and he sees the sweet face of his daughter Rose, the image of her departed mother.

A tear in his eye as the Rabbi chants, a pang as the glass splinters under the bridegrooms heel, the realization that his Rose, his little baby, was to be shared with another, joy in his heart at the well wishes of the guests. His kissing of his Rose, his crushing of her form to his, his pressing of Dave's hand, denotes the deep feeling for the couple by the father.

In the midst of the frenzied, happy dancing, the loud pounding at the door throws the ensemble into an uproar, and when a detective in company of a uniformed officer arrests Dave the bridegroom, Rose and her father are stunned by the blow.

Before going Dave begs Rose and her father to have faith in him, to believe that it is all a mistake.

Dr. Edelman, Dave's friend, explains to Rose and her father that Dave was not what he pretended to be, and that he was the son of a very rich lawyer, a hard, unscrupulous man, who had betrothed him (Dave) to a very wealthy heiress, a Miss Lila Rich.

Rose, dazed by the unexpected turn of events, listening to Dr. Edelman, fails to grasp the significance of his explanation, and she appeals to her father. Simon, realizing, hangs his head. Now appreciating the situation, Rose goes into a fit of hysterically bitter laughter.

Simon and the doctor try ot quiet her as she laughs -- laughs with a long, drawn-out hysterical note.

AT HOME WITH THE OPPENHEIMS

In a very rich apartment in Park Avenue, Max Oppenheim, Dave's father, stands and listens to his son calling for his wife, his Rose. Dave is prostrated, made very ill by his father's cruel method of separating him from Rose.

Mrs. Oppenheim appeals to her husband to send for Rose, telling him that the doctor said that that was the one thing that would help Dave, but Mr. Oppenheim remains firm and refuses.

He is told that Simon is here to see him again, this being the fourth time, and he finally consents to see the beggar, as he expresses it.

Simon comes and pleads with Oppenheim to reconsider that he was ruining the lives of both of their children, but Oppenheim sneers and laughs at the heartache and the pleading of the poor father. Tells him that he will annul the marriage, and that his son, Dave, was to be the husband of the rich girl, and not the son-in-law of a beggar. In a fit of rage Simon attempts to strike Oppenheim and is thrown out of the house.

Simon hurries home broken-hearted at the plight of his daughter Rose.

In the meantime Rose who has been calling the Oppenheim home, trying to talk to Dave, has been refused. In a last attempt to get Dave, the phone is answered by his father, who having a sinister plan in mind invites Rose to the house.

Oppenheim arranges with a hireling to have rose inveigled aboard a ship bound for Europe, and in that manner ridding himself of Rose.

Rose goes to the Oppenheim house and asks to see Dave, and she is told that he is very sick and that the doctor ordered him away to Europe at once. Rose crying, begs Oppenheim to let her go with Dave.

Oppenheim tells her that Davie left already and that his boat leaves in an hour.

Demanding the name of the ship, Rose gets hysterical and cries that her Dave will die, that she will die if he goes alone, and she must be with him.

Oppenheim gloating at the success of his scheme to get rid of Rose, and in order to get her aboard the ship, has her taken to the ship in his car. Rose hurries to the ship not knowing that her husband Dave is lying in a delirium, calling her name in the room next to the one she had just left.

Simon arriving home is told that Rose went to the Oppenheim apartment. He hurries back to the apartment, to be met by Oppenheim.

Upon his inquiring for Rose, Oppenheim tells him that Rose and Dave left for Europe.

Simon doesn't seem to grasp the thing. Oppenheim goes into detail and tells him that he was sorry for what happened.

Simon, grateful at the supposed change in Oppenheim, begs for more details.
 


 
Simon returns from the sanitarium, well and recuperated. Rose wearing
"Her Mother's Wedding Gown."
Simon, his snow white hair unkempt,
his eyes stare with a searching glance.
Rose hears that her Dave has
left for Europe without her.
Simon fixing up his "Windsor
bowtie" for Rose's wedding.
 

Oppenheim, lying to Simon, tells him that Dave was ordered to Europe by the doctor immediately, and that his daughter Rose went with him. He also tells him that Rose said that he (Simon) would understand. Simon is dazed and looks about him in despair. Oppenheim takes the opportunity of slipping from the room as Simon's back is turned. Simon faces about and realizing, shouts after Oppenheim to tell him on what ship. Just then Dave, who is in the next room, leaps from the bed in a delirium and rushes into the room.

Seeing Dave, Simon sees through Oppenheim's scheme and becomes frantic.

He is told by a niece of Oppenheim, a good-hearted girl, who knowing all blurts out the name of the ship and the pier.

Simon rushes from the house, hails a taxi and urges the drive to drive at break neck speed. He is driven frantic by the thought that the ship will leave, and he begs the drive to increase his speed.

In the meantime Rose rushes aboard the boat and starts a search for her Dave, the ringing of the bell, the sound of the whistle, the hustling of the crew to get the gangplank up, and the boat slowly moves away to a chorus of good-byes and the waving of hats and handkerchiefs.

Simon runs up the stairs of the pier, just in time to see the boat move off. He shrieks his daughter's name, crying for his daughter Rose, stretches out his arms to the fast, disappearing boat, and he collapses with a moan on the rail of the pair.

AT DR. EDELMAN'S IN GREENWICH VILLAGE

Five years later, Dr. Edleman was waiting in his office in Greenwich Village for his friend Dave, who was to be married this day to his betrothed Lila Rich.

The couple coming into the office insists that the doctor go with them to the marriage bureau, and then to a wedding breakfast. The doctor excuses himself and wishing them luck begs of them to go alone.

Mrs. Hodes, a neighbor of Simon's, comes to see Dr. Edelman and tells him that she thinks she saw Simon, Rose's father on the street, but the change in him was so great that she doubts as to whether it is Simon.

Dr. Edelman scoffs at her, telling her that since the disappearance of Rose five years ago, Simon vanished and was never seen or heard of.

Mrs. Hodes tells him that she is almost sure that the man she saw was Somon, and that she brought the man with her.

When the man is brought in, Dr. Edelman is startled but recognizes the wreck of the man before him as Simon the musician. An old hulk of a man, broken and sick, dressed in rags, his snow-white hair long and unkempt, his eyes stare about him with a frightened, searching glass, his lips quivering and mumbling unintelligible words. He recognizes no one but clutches the faded, torn old dress that his Rose wore on that eventful day.

When Dr. Edelman addresses him, his answers are vague, and he recounts a strange tale of suffering and sorrow. He whispers that his baby, his Rose is dead, that he has with him the dress, her dress that he clutches, is his child's heart, beating next to his.

With tears in his eyes, Dr. Edelman realizes that the derelict standing before him is insane from the suffering and the loss of his child.

Simon retells the story of his child's wedding, picturing it on that day five years ago in the hushed, awed tones of the crazed father. He spreads the faded old wedding gown on a table and kisses it, saying that it is his Rose, his baby. He starts dancing wildly to an imaginary wedding dance, and he collapses from his exertions.

Dr. Edelman and a nurse help him into the next room as he sings a plaintive lullaby, his own composition that Rose always sang and played.

Dr. Edelman is at a loss, not knowing what to do for the poor old man.

Dr. Horowitz, a very intimate friend of Dr. Edelman, comes in and tells him that as a result of an investigation he made into a case of a woman in a sanitarium of questionable repute, he discovered a very interesting story. He tells of a woman being confined in this sanitarium for five years, though she is perfectly sane.

Dr. Edelman asks to know more of the woman, and he is told that the woman knows him and begged him to bring Dr. Horowitz here.

The woman coming in is recognized as Rose. A different Rose, old -- sad eyes, with suffering and pain shown on her once beaming face.

She begs of news of her father and her husband.

Dr. Edelman is silent. he cannot tell her of her poor insane father, or of her husband who is about to be married.

Rose accepts his silence, as an acknowledgement of her questions, and is broken-hearted.

She tells of her experience, her search for Dave on the ship, her hearing her father's voice, calling her from the pier. Then bitterly she tells of her torture, five years of hell in the sanitarium, where she was sent by her husband's father, that he was the one that planned it all. She tells of her thoughts while there, of her picturing of her husband's death, without her being near him, of her father's death, and her seeing the solemn funeral procession.

The effect upon Rose of her own story, results in her having a melancholy spell, she cries bitterly while telling of her father's death and the chant of the death prayer.

She is helped into the next room by Dr. Horowitz and is told to lie down.

Dr. Edelman then tells Dr. Horowitz briefly of Dave's proposed marriage to Lila, and that he must stop the ceremony. He calls the court but is told that the couple were already married, and that they had left.

Dave and Lila come back to take the doctor to the wedding breakfast. Dr. Edelman excited, asks of Lila to be excused, that he wants to talk to Dave alone.

He then tells Dave that Rose is here.

Dave, who has been told by his father that Rose accepted a sum of money as a heart balm, is bitter and doesn't want to see her.

He accuses her of coming back to obtain more money.

Dr. Edelman then tells him of Rose being confined in a sanitarium for five years by his own father, and that everything he was told was a plot to separate him from Rose and enable his father to lay hands on the wealth of Lila Rich.

Knowing that he always loved Rose and realizing that he is married not to another, Dave begs to see her, to plead with her for forgiveness for the wrong he did her.

Dr. Edelman brings in Rose, and she runs to Dave, hugging him and kissing him, saying that at last she has her Dave back again, and that they will never be parted again.

Dave is in agony, and his suffering causes him to blurt out the truth.

Rose is stunned at the repetition of her misfortune.

She rants at Dave for believing that she would accept money -- that he could even think of her in that light. She becomes hysterical, raving at him to give her back her heart that he took, that he is the cause of her father's death. Her raving ceases when she hears Simon's voice in the next room, crooning in a sad, weary, plaintive tone, her lullaby.

She is then told of her father being alive, and as Simon enters the room, the sight of her father's plight makes her sad.

He fails to recognize her but keeps mumbling the words of the lullaby.

Dr. Edelman suggests that perhaps her singing of the lullaby will bring back her father's memory.

Rose with her voice choked by tears and her body wracked by sobs, -- slowly sings the song, all the while gazing at her father, who stands there, but does not recognize her.

She sings and slowly Simon lifts his hand to his head. He is dazed; something seems to be pounding at his head. He tears his hair, looks at Rose who unable to sing any further, shrieks, "Father, Farther, your Rose, your baby, speak to me."

Slowly Simon's eyes search her face, and recognition dawns and with a cry -- "Rose --  my baby," and he clutches her to him.

SIX MONTHS LATER

Simon Wallerstein who has been in a sanitarium recovering from his illness under the personal care of Drs. Edelman and Horowitz -- is to come home today.

Dave is completely broken up over the suffering his father caused Rose and her father. He has loved Rose all the time and is mad at the thought that she is lost to him.

Lila, his wife, knowing of Dave's love for Rose, is willing to sacrifice him and plans a divorce to enable them to remarry.

Dave learns from Rose that Simon will not for a moment consider Dave, and that he will not consent to their remarrying.

Dave contemplates suicide and is prevented from doing so by his mother who comes to plead with Rose for her son's life.

Rose explains to Mrs. Oppenheim, Dave's mother, that she will not and cannot do anything against the wishes of her father, tearing to cause him a relapse.

Simon's return from the sanitarium is the cause of much rejoicing on the part of Rose and his friends.

Dave, unable to keep away, comes and throws himself at Simon's feet, begging for his forgiveness. Simon turns him away. Glancing at Rose and noticing the look on her face, and with a father's intuition, realizing that she loves Dave, and that their suffering only served to create a closer bond of love between them, he forgives and forgets.

When Rose tells Simon that she will abide by anything he will day or do, Simon beckons Dave and Rose to him and gives his answer that now they will be happy -- and happy they were.
 

-- written in story form by Harry Gabel; from Max Gabel's successful play.

 
 


 



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