Still Standing

Anita & Kenny Baum
040414_beshert-nowFirst Date: Jewish Welfare Board Social, February 1953
Wedding Date: April 4, 1954
Venue: Beth Isaac Adath Israel Synagogue
Residence: Baltimore
Favorite Activity: Being with family, traveling

On a recent Caribbean cruise, Anita and Kenny Baum were the king and queen.

It was during an evening show that the emcee asked for married couples to stand. As couples were released to their seats based on years of marriage, the Baums remained standing. The crowd was astonished at their 59 years together.

Kenny Baum uneventfully met Anita Schleider at a Jewish Welfare Board Social for Jewish servicemen at the Woodholme Country Club in February 1953. A few weeks later they met again, this time at a social hour catered by Anita’s family’s business, Schleider Caterers.

When Kenny returned after two weeks home in St. Louis, he called Anita, and they started dating. They enjoyed going to movies, dinners and social board events.

Kenny fell in love quickly with the “beautiful Jewish girl” who he describes as “the sharpest person you ever want to meet.”

In August, they committed to each other while on the Schleider front porch.

Belle Baum visited Baltimore over Thanksgiving to meet the Schleiders. During dinner, Kenny gave Anita a gift. It was an engraved cigarette case. Inside was the engagement ring he bought with his savings.

Esther and Max Schleider had given their blessing after meeting a rabbi in St. Louis to check out the Baum family.

040414_beshert-thenLess than five months later, more than 200 guests witnessed the nuptials on April 4, 1954, at Beth Isaac Adath Israel Synagogue. Rabbis Manuel Poliakoff and Benajmin Bak officiated. Nineteen-year-old Anita was a vision in a long-sleeved lace and tulle gown with a jeweled crown. Her 25-year-old groom looked dapper himself.

After a New York honeymoon, they returned to their Keyworth Avenue apartment. After Kenny’s October discharge, he joined the catering business.

Anita raised Gerri, born in 1955, Sam (1956) and Renee (1959), and family life was busy. After 17 years of night and weekend work, Kenny left to open the Knish Shop on Reisterstown Road. Anita worked at the store for two years but left so they “wouldn’t get divorced.” She joined Sears and stayed 20 years.

The Baums became empty nesters in 1980. In 1998, they sold the Knish shop. Kenny consulted until 2002, when he joined Seven Mile Market. Anita works for a pediatrician.

When asked about reaching the 60-year mark, both express awe.

“It’s mind-boggling to believe all of these years have gone by,” said Kenny, 85. It’s the biggest blessing of my life.”

“I’m grateful to have him,” said Anita, 79. “I love him.”

The Baums advise newlyweds to learn as you go along. They endured hard times like the long hours in the catering business and the loss of Sam 10 years ago, and kvell in the happy times with granddaughter Mira Baum, 15, and their trips to Israel and Europe.

“Every day I live with her, I love her more,” said Kenny.

Linda L. Esterson is an Owings Mills-based freelance writer. For “Beshert,” call 410-902-2305 or email Linda.Esterson@verizon.net.

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