There’s been much talk of Lou Gehrig this week; the baseball legend is about to have another of his records broken. Fourteen years ago Cal Ripken, Jr. surpassed him, playing in 2,131 consecutive games. It was an achievement duly revered in baseball’s annals. It pales, however, compared to a record being extended once again this weekend.

Born in New York in the midst of the Great Depression, Harriet Grail thrives today in Columbus, Ohio. And on Sunday she will attend her sixth consecutive Bogart wedding in a run dating back to August, 1970. Her career as a family attendee strings longer than the combined careers of Gehrig and Ripken, PLUS THREE.

What a remarkable lady.

They met at Columbus’s Jewish Center in ’69. She was eight years the junior and a divorcee with three adolescents; he was overweight, bald, and penniless. His kids were a bit older and he too was rebuilding. And they fit!

My Dad swore he’d never marry her. He was getting his life back on track and looking forward to having both sons in Columbus together. And besides, he’d point out, the lady had “three strikes against her.” (This was his indirect reference to Harriet’s kids, two of them female. Clearly intimidated by the thought of living with teens, his head was telling him Nischt Nischt).

But his heart had the final say and on August 9, 1970 they wed.

To be sure, Harriet had won our hearts from Day One. We’d met her the year prior at a pre-arranged Meet ‘n Greet. Marilyn Fenton (then Simon) made Chanukah latkes and we all got together at Chez Bogart, 20 East 14 Street, in the apartment behind the old SBX store. My Dad had us on our best behavior. Stuart and Randy were there. Low key.

And the rest, over four decades, has become history.

Al Bogart, once content to live a life of sales and sons simply melted once he met this lady. And before you knew it, Hal and I were part of what they now call “extended family.”

We used to tease our father about his ability to sustain a healthy marriage. Indeed, our mom had gone south in just under fifteen years.
“Pop,” I’d say ad nauseum…”You can never make 15 years with anyone.”

He died on August 9, 1985. You do the math.

Our dad was gone, but the mutual love between Harriet and the Cleveland contingent never faded. Nor did our bond with her wing (Jeffrey, Denise and Leslie).

It’s nearly a quarter century, but family remains family.

When Michael went through OSU he knew where his grandmother was. (And so did his laundry).

When Jamie wed in Montego Bay, she knew her grandmother’d get

And now, as Stacy ties the knot in the Best Location in The Nation, Harriet will be there.

Life brings bitter and sweet; we have shared it together. In the interim Harriet met another beautiful man, Fred Grail, and enjoyed another long term marriage. We lost him last year, but, true to form, she remains in love and contact with his mishpachah.

So bother me not with the much-hyped accomplishments of the sports stars. And don’t replay me the YouTube of Ripken’s self-congratulatory perimeter run in Camden Yard. That was September 5, 1995. And Harriet was just getting started.

She’ll be walking down the aisle this Sunday…at my baby’s wedding.

That, there,…that….is what I’d call a victory lap!


  1. bob says:

    No jokes no sarcasm, just want to say that it was a real pleasure to see Harriet at the wedding. I think all the Highlights boys in particular always enjoyed seeing her. Always a smile on her face and good words for everybody.

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