As we celebrate our 100th Anniversary, we are sharing stories from Edith Goodmaster. Edith worked at the Shubert for 25 years, as the private secretary of Maurice Bailey. Mr. Bailey operated the theatre during its Golden Era, and is credited with coining the phrase “Birthplace of the Nation’s Greatest Hits”.
As you can imagine, Edith has wonderful memories that she has been generous to share with us.
Please enjoy this series of stories, excerpted from a presentation Edith gave at the Annual Meeting of the Jewish Historical Society of New Haven.
SHARING LYRICS WITH SAMMY CAHN
Sammy Cahn, one of the most prolific lyricists in the history of stage and screen was one of the last shows we had at the Shubert. While not well attended, it was a delight and consisted of a presentation of his vast inventory of songs including such memorable creations as BEI MIR BIST DU SHOEN, I’LL WALK ALONE., LET IT SNOW, I BELIEVE, 3 COINS IN THE FOUNTAIN, THE SECOND TIME AROUND, CALL ME IRRESPONSIBLE and on and on. Sammy spoke often and lovingly of his mother Elke and Mr. Bailey asked him if he would be willing to entertain the residents of the Jewish Home For The Aged. He immediately agreed and when Mr. Bailey expressed concern about getting him there, I quickly volunteered. We made the necessary arrangements, I picked up Sammy, his pianist, and the other two singers and off we went. It was a smash performance and the following day I left a thank-you note, written in verse, at the theatre. I immediately received a response, also written in verse, both of which I have and cherish. I would like to share them with you:
Dear Mr. Cahn:
I really must speak,
This has been an unbelievable week.
You’re presenting a show that is sheer delight,
I wish I could see it every night.
Martha and Sydnee, their beauty is rare,
With voices to match, a remarkable pair
Paul Eichel is handsome, no question or doubt,
When he opens his mouth – the sounds that come out!
When he hit those high notes, he made the lights jingle,
As for me, I’m still all a-tingle.
Richard Leonard is not only charming,
What he does to a piano is simply alarming.
He plays with such style, such flair, and such ease,
And as you say, he plays in all keys.
Now as for you, you incredible man,
You have acquired a life-long fan.
You’re brilliant, witty, successful, and yet,
The nicest person I’ve ever met.
If “Elka” was watching, she must be proud
At the way you handled that alte crowd.
The songs you have written will ever be young,
And in years to come, will always be sung.
For beautiful words can never grow old
But in each generation wil be retold.
So I say for myself and my husband too,
We’re “irresponsibly mad for you.”
In return, I received from Mr. Cahn:
My Dear Edie,
Merely to indicate what it meant to me
To receive the lovely rhymes you sent to me
You turned your phrases ever so nicely
And all the rhymes were “pure” and metered precisely
The cast adored your flattering criticism
And always applied with charm and witticism
Your thoughts and rhymes for me from wherever ferret-ed
Were I have the hutzpah to say totally merited
And the surprise that surprised all of New Haven
Is that it has such a great rhyming “maven”
And if I come on charming, loving and sweet a lot
It’s because I reflect people like you that I meet a lot
And you can interpret it any way that you wish
But “Elka” taught me young to respect age and all things Jewish
Tho the empty seats are a memory sweetly-bitter
Relay my regrets and thanks to the Shubert Theatre
I depart these precincts humbled but gayley
With apologies to Witken and also to Bailey
The cast and I hope we left a lyrical sound
And hope we’ll get them, “The Second Time Around!”