The "levee" was David's name for the Saturday morning meetings of our group of friends at a cafe on Bleeker Street, just around the corner. We were held together partly by our serio-comic recollections of our not- so- wayward youths in the disparate, far-way places in which we grew up-England for David, England and South Africa for Anna, Ktziah in Israel, Isabelle in France (La Bastille area in Paris), the Bronx for Na'ava, Sid, and myself. We nearly reached a crisis a few years ago on the occasion of a Passover Seder at Sid and Ktziah's - David was worried that there would be allusions to G-d, but Ktziah promised, and assiduously kept her word to omit all references to "Elohim" or "Adanoi." David's humanistic beliefs were vital to him - he told a pastoral counselor that he was "non-pastoral."
I can also attest to his flashing-and flashy--backhand, well-schooled on the grass courts of England. I've been privileged too see it in action in three places-Roosevelt Island, where we'd play from 8:00 to Midnight and among the principal attractions are long-legged Dianne, and Agnes, not so good a tennis player but endowed, well, well-stocked with off-color jokes (at which David was no slouch-more in a moment. We also played at Cloveley Country Club near the town of Fish Hook, South Africa. I got there because David and Anna invited me down to share a house they had rented-my part turned out to be a whole wing of the house with a view of the bay.
And we played on courts in the hills of northern Vermont near the house of Dr . Tony Donn-that tennis outing took place on an eventful fall weekend. It was open-house at the noted mansions in the area; so there was the well-dressed crowd coming into the great hall to see the sights,, and on the staircase they see-David and I in our tennis gear. Surely a scene out of a British novel where obscure cousins or down-at-the-heels pensionnaires enter the stage from the wings of a country house to take their brief bows.
And about David's humor -- there are his English parson jokes - but I blush to tell them in such august company. But I believe I have Anna's permission to recite one of David's limericks. (Here goes!)
There once was a man from Kent,
whose thing was so small it was bent;
To save himself trouble,
he'd go in double,
And instead of coming
And it's time for me to leave.