In 1945, a strapping young man named Arthur Weiss was enrolled in New York University’s School of Dentistry. One day, he and some friends went to the USO in Manhattan, where a young woman playing the piano caught his eye. “Not only was she playing the piano,” said Weiss, who will be 100 years old in October, “but she was playing while her legs were crossed. I’d never seen anyone do that before!” When Weiss began to sing next to the dexterous piano player, he realized that she not only could play with her legs crossed but that her musical pitch was absolutely perfect. “I never sounded so good in my life.”
He asked the young woman, named Lola, to dance. He soon felt himself gliding across the floor. “She was a wonderful dancer, and I was smitten,” he said. After that night, Arthur, who lived in Brooklyn, was determined to see her again.
Lola was in her final year of Hunter College and lived in the Bronx.
“I thought he was cute,” said Lola, now 95, with bright eyes and dangling earrings, looking effortlessly elegant. “He was dressed sharply and was a good dancer and sang well, and then there was his interest in dentistry. I was intrigued.”
Arthur decided to move in with a fellow dental student in the Bronx so he could be closer to Lola.
When their courtship reached the two-year mark, Arthur recalled them sitting on a park bench in the city, and Lola said, “I’ve been going with you for a long time now and want to know what your intentions are.”
Feeling at that moment like the world was his for the taking, Arthur replied, “Well, I have a lot of travelling I want to do.”
Lola was not impressed. She gave him an ultimatum. “He called that night,” she said.
“I couldn’t even make it one day without her,” he said, laughing.
A life of adventure
Exactly nine months after their marriage Lola gave birth to the first of their three sons, Jon, now 74. He was followed by Eric, now 71, and then Adam, the baby, now 61 and living with his wife Laura in the artist John Pike’s former home in Woodstock.
Arthur worked at building a dentistry practice, and Lola continued as a piano teacher, travel agent and dancer and devoted mother. This love story only heightened over the years, with the two travelling all over the world, moving to Arizona (where Lola worked at a Native American museum) and then, after a yard sale in which they parted with all their possessions, to a tiny town in Mexico when he was 91 and she 87.
They had lived in Mexico for a time before. “We both spoke Spanish and had always wanted to go back there,” said Lola, as though moving to another country at their age was no big thing.
“We had travelled there when the kids were younger, and I fell in love with it,” explained Arthur. “There was no tourism, no one spoke English, the people were so kind and welcoming, and I remember thinking, I’m killing myself building my practice on 51st Street in midtown Manhattan, when we could live here as a family for $100 a month!”
Family lore has it that Adam, then eleven years old, would not bear living in a tiny village in Mexico. He wanted to get back to his school, friends and sports in the States. Though his parents did return then, the desire to go back to that little village in Mexico never quite left the couple. After they had retired co to Arizona and travelled to China, France, Italy, New Zealand, Australia, Thailand and many other places, the lure of that magical place in Mexico brought them back decades later never left them.
“We loved it there, but eventually we realized that we were of an age that we wanted to be closer to our family, so we moved to Woodland Pond [in New Paltz],” explained Arthur. “I said, Mom and Dad,’ we can’t travel to Mexico every three months to see you!” said Adam.
They remain very active
The couple recently celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary at Adam and Laura’s house in Woodstock. There was singing and dancing. All three of their sons and their grandchildren were there. More than 35 people spanning four generations celebrated with a triple chocolate mousse cake with fresh raspberry wedding cake with a miniature bride and groom on top. That extravaganza had been made by Laura, a former pastry chef.
“She presented it to them with ‘Here Comes the Bride’ playing in the background,” said Adam. “We even had a picture blown up of them kissing at their wedding.”
Arthur and Lola have continued to live a busy life. “We’ve always been very active, athletic people whether it was tennis, running, swimming, dancing,” said Arthur, “and we’re so happy that at Woodland Pond they have an indoor pool where we swim three times a week and also go to the gym several times a week.”
They also grow their own vegetables in their own garden.
What has kept them together all these years?
“Arthur is very tenacious when he goes after something,” Lola said. “He’s always learning, always searching whether it’s his spirituality or a new language or instrument. [He took up yjr flute at age 80.] He went back to school at Iona in New Rochelle to become a Jungian analyst! After he retired, he also became an expert videographer and he’s also interested in people. He reaches out to them and wants to hear their stories.”
Arthur is similarly positive. “Bottom line she is beautiful, highly intelligent, a wonderful communicator, and she can play in any key!” he said. This husband of 75 years went on to sing his praises about the productions she directed, wrote music for, choreographed.
There’s a way that this pair look at each other that makes you think that they haven’t quite gotten over the fact that they’ve found each other and made their joint life an adventure, a journey.
“We’re partners in crime,” said Lola. “We’ve had to dodge a lot of curve balls, and we just kept on loving one another and raised these three sons. I think that is our greatest accomplishment,—raising these three beautiful human beings.”
Unconditional mutual support
And what do their sons have to say about their parents?
“Mom will often make the joke that it was having separate cars,” said Adam. “But my take is an unconditional support of each other in all facets of life as well as self-care both physically and spiritually.”
Eric credited his parents being “both being extremely curious and interested in many things.”
Jon said the 75th wedding anniversary had been “an opportunity of a lifetime.” It had been, Eric said, “an unbelievable joy, knowing that less than one percent of people in the world get to honor both of their parents with this achievement.”
Adam agreed that the celebration had been the most loving gift ever. “To see them smiling and enjoying the chocolate wedding cake my wife made, surrounded by four generations of family! What more could you ask for?”
These two are extraordinary people whose contagious love of life begins with their appreciation for each other. They are a living testimonial to what love can mean. Cheers to Arthur and Lola!