Bernie and May met because of a burlesque dancer.  Just how did that happen?

Bernie Meets May

Bernard H. Blieden
May and Minnie all dressed up
Where were they going all dressed up?
May takes a picture for Bernie
Picture inscribed “May 10, 1944, To My Husband-To-Be”

(some pictures taken during their dating years)

My mother always told me that she met my father on a blind date.  However, she left out a few “interesting” details which I have only recently uncovered!

As an only child, my mother was very close to her cousins.  In particular, she was close friends with Mollie Zucker.  Mollie’s older sister, Millie, became a burlesque dancer and changed her name to Billie Shaw.  Max Rudnick, the owner of the theater she worked in, fell in love with her and married her.  Max gave everyone in Millie’s family jobs, including Mollie, her husband, and May.  May’s first job, at 18 years old, was as an usher in the theater. (May’s Uncle Harry would pick her up every night since Minnie did not want her going home alone at night.)

Bernie was always interested in the theatre and even had a motion picture machine operators’ license. Who arranged the blind date?  Bernie was friends with Mollie’s husband and he arranged to have Bernie meet May.

On their first date, Bernie took May to the circus.  When he picked her up, he handed her one rose.  At first May was insulted – just ONE?  She later found out that one rose meant love and she saved that rose forever.

The First Rose

Here is the rose that I found pressed into an old book.

When Bernie first took May home to meet his mother, his family was surprised that their quiet, shy Bernie had a girlfriend, no less such a pretty one!  Although May was also shy and quiet, she was an immediate hit with Bernie’s family.