“How’s my sweet boy?”
That was always her greeting, to her sons, to her grandsons, to her great-grandsons. Of course, if the person happened to be female, the greeting was, appropriately, “How’s my sweet girl?” But always at the end of a call, or a visit, it was, “God bless you.”
The singular life force that was Miriam Epstein, a one-time pillar of the Five Towns community, died in Florida on Jan. 24. She was 98 … and a half. During the final weeks of her life, with family members gathered around her bed, she looked up and exclaimed, “What a life!”
What a life, indeed.
Miriam Horowitz was born in Brooklyn, on July 30, 1914. As the oldest of four children, she was often called upon to help supplement the family income, and by the time she was 11 she was selling bathroom disinfectants door-to-door. She became a model in her late teens, for Vogue, and then for the well-known furrier, B. Geller & Sons.
In 1936, she married Lawrence J. Finkelstein, a fabrics salesman. Eight years later, they moved to the Five Towns with an infant son and dreams of a much better life in the suburbs.
Miriam walked away from a very promising career, gave birth to two other children, and stood staunchly behind her husband as he formed and ran his own textile company, Lawrence J. Fink, Inc.
In 1962, she became owner and proprietor of the Five Towns School of Dance, in Cedarhurst. The studio, which catered mostly to young children learning ballet, tap, acrobatics, and jazz, soon became a meeting place for all the young mothers who only wanted to sit with Miriam and discuss current events, or their problems at home, while their kids learned to dance in the next room.
Her business proved to be a God-send two years later when her husband died of a heart attack in 1964. He was just 50-years-old.
In 1970, she married Al “Doc” Alpert, a dentist with a practice in Franklin Square. When he died in 1975, and Miriam found herself seated in the same Riverside chapel in Far Rockaway where she sat after the death of her first husband, she vowed never to get married again.
However, within two years she married Harold Epstein, a prominent New York attorney. After living together for a short time in Roslyn, they moved back to Lawrence so she could be closer to her business, and most importantly her family.