By Jack Goldfarb
The conversation flows freely for the seven retired professional men who meet in a Peter Cooper Village apartment twice a month to talk about whatever is on their minds – a gabfest known in New York slang as a shmooze.
The gathering is not a group therapy session, nor an “organ recital” for airing health problems, but these knowledgeable guys are seldom at a loss for words during their two-hour get-togethers.
Rotating their venue in their 20th Street building, these men have come from a wide diversity of careers: Milton, a presiding Appellate Court judge, Henry, a chemical engineer, Ira, an endocrinologist, Steve, a director of community relations, Lou, a Wall Street trader, Clyde, an educator, and Jack, a travel writer.
The men have limited their numbers to seven members, keeping themselves a viable group. They don’t want their meetings to become some kind of formal forum, especially in this presidential election year. Wary that politics can be an incendiary topic, they try to respectfully listen to each other’s views and keep their differences from becoming too vocal.
The conversation seldom lags as the men draw on rich hoards of reminiscences, anecdotes and good-natured joshing with each other. Occasionally, someone will propose a topic more personal: “How I met my wife,” “What was my first paying job?”
The men are great listeners to each other, and not at all shy about giving give each other advice. Neither has any argument yet spilled over into a nasty exchange, although the presidential election still has two months to go…
Recently, word of the Peter Cooper men’s group reached a prominent New York television channel, which proposed to film one of their meetings. The seven men, affirming that cameras, bright lights and the accompanying publicity was not what they were about, turned down the offer.