Harry Lehman recalls a night back in 1939 or ’40 that he spent at the old High Hat Cafe at Sixth and Diamond streets.
There, his friends introduced him to a young woman named Catherine “Kay” Porubovic. She hadn’t yet reached the legal drinking age of 21.
“They waived it back in those days,” Harry explained.
Anyway, the couple had a good time.
“I was dancing with her, and then I said, ‘Suppose I take you home,’ ” he said.
As Harry, of Kensington, drove Kay to her Fishtown home, they planned their official first date.
“We went to the Midway Theater. That used to be a very nice movie at one time. A lot of people went there on Saturday nights,” Harry said of the famed former theater at Kensington and Allegheny avenues.
Eventually, Harry proposed to Kay.
“It was Christmas time. I gave her a big box. She opened it, and there was another box and another box and another box until the ring,” he said.
Kay wanted to wait until she was 21 to get married. On June 20, 1942, they wed at St. Peter the Apostle Church, at Fifth Street and Girard Avenue.
“We’re still here,” Harry said.
Two weeks ago, Harry and Kay Lehman, longtime Tacony residents, celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. The couple’s family — they have three children, nine grandchildren (who call them Mom-Mom and Pop-Pop) and five great-grandchildren (who call them Gigi and Poppy) mdash; took them to dinner at Randi’s Restaurant in Bustleton.
One of their prized gifts came from their grandkids, who gave them a basket filled with 70 pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters and dollar bills and a $70 gift card to Shop-Rite.
Looking back, Kay said she’s glad she went that night to the High Hat Cafe, where she met her future husband.
“I fell for his dancing. He was a good dancer,” she said.
After getting married, they honeymooned in New York.
“We took in the whole town,” aid Harry, noting that they visited the Empire State Building and saw boxer Jack Dempsey at his bar/restaurant.
The couple rented a house for a few years, and Harry spent some time in the U.S. Navy.
The Lehmans moved to their current rowhome on the 6500 block of Cottage St. in 1952.
“We bought it brand new. It cost $9,590,” Harry said.
Harry, who attended the old Northeast High School at Eighth Street and Lehigh Avenue, drove a truck for 30 years. Later, he worked as a security guard at PSFS and Western Savings Bank.
Kay attended St. Peter the Apostle Grammar School, then enrolled in a trade school, where she learned to make clothing. She worked in dress factories over the years.
The couple raised three children: Gary, Alan and Cathy, all of whom went to St. Timothy School. The boys went on to Father Judge, while Cathy attended St. Hubert.
They’re proud of the children. Harry and Kay never missed a football game their boys played at St. Tim’s, Judge or Delaware Valley College. Today, their sons sell high school and college graduation mementos. Their daughter, a Winchester Park resident and graduate of Holy Family University, is a teacher at Our Lady of Port Richmond.
Harry is a healthy 93 and still drives.
“I just got a letter from the state saying I’m a good driver,” he said.
Harry recalls being told by a doctor about 15 years ago that he needed quadruple-bypass heart surgery.
“I said, ‘Do it after Christmas,’ ” he remembers. “He said, ‘You won’t be here after Christmas.’ I said, ‘Do it tomorrow.’ He did it tomorrow. I said, ‘Do you work for Allstate?. I want to know if I’m in good hands.’ ”
Kay, who is as old-fashioned as they come, takes countless pills each day and has urvived double pneumonia, heart failure, lupus and a car accident, but she is an active 91.
“I can’t believe our ages,” she said. “I can’t believe I have a son who is 65. The man upstairs doesn’t want us yet.”
The pair have done a lot of traveling over the years, going on cruises and touring the United States at beer can conventions. Harry has about 2,000 different beer cans in his basement and garage.
“I think I’ve been to every state except Alaska,” he said.
Besides collecting beer cans, Harry used to like to fish.
“He got up at three o’clock in the morning to go fishing, and I made him breakfast,” Kay said. “I wouldn’t do it today. He can go to McDonald’s.”
“All my fishing buddies died. I’m the last one,” Harry said.
The Lehmans have been active members of St. Timothy Parish. Harry, who converted from Episcopalian to Catholic, was an usher for 32 years.
Kay once came out of retirement after seeing an ad in the weekly bulletin.
“I went to work when I was seventy,” she said.
Kay cared and cooked for a few people, including a man who had a stroke. He eventually went into a nursing home.
“After he died, his wife asked me if I could still make filled peppers,” she said.
Harry, who does the laundry and grocery shopping, can attest to his wife’s cooking skills.
“I’ll eat anything she makes,” he said. “She’s a good cook.”
The Lehmans stay busy.
“With nine grandchildren, there’s always something to do. And we’re waiting for our sixth great-grandchild,” Kay said.
Harry’s day includes breakfast, followed by a nap, then lunch and a glass of scotch before dinner. Kay keeps a neat house and whips up tasty meals.
The two play their favorite board game at the kitchen table.
“We play Scrabble for pennies. When we hit five dollars, we pay each other off,” Kay said.
Who usually wins?
“She does. I’m a bad speller,” Harry acknowledged.
The couple also get out of the house.
“We still go to the casinos,” Kay said, adding that a bus picks them up at nearby Roosevelt Playground and takes them to the Showboat in Atlantic City.
Both play slots, with Kay having the better luck. She calls her husband a “donator.”
Kay said one secret to their successful marriage is that she “put a zipper on my mouth and plugs in my ears.” She said her husband has always been a hard worker and a “go-getter.” She long ago stopped calling him Harry.
“I call him ‘Lehman,’ ” she said. “Our one granddaughter gets a kick out of that.”
The Lehmans are still basking in the glow of their latest milestone.
“Our kids gave us a party for our 50th, 60th and 70th anniversaries,” Kay said. “We’ll never make our 80th.”
“You never can tell,” her husband said. ••EndFragment