An appearance that Al made in an Army hospital in Hot Springs, Arkansas, heralded a great change in his life. A lovely girl, who was one of the x-ray technicians, asked for his autograph. I might finish the story now with the beautiful, old ending, "and so they were married and lived happily ever after."
It was not quite as simple as that.
"Perhaps you think I'm crazy," Al told me later. "A man of sixty doesn't ordinarily fall for a girl of twenty or is it the other way around? I couldn't get that girl's face out of my mind. The
next day I telephoned the commanding officer from Texas, and he said her name was Erie Galbraith. I knew what to do, of course. The old Hollywood approach ! I wrote her and asked if she was
interested in getting into the movies. Every girl is, and it never fails."
Al was in Hollywood a short time later when he was again stricken with a critical illness. This time he couldn't get up in a week or two for another tour. An operation was necessary. Two ribs and part of his left lung were cut away. With a tube in his back, he was lying in a condition so critical that he cared little whether he lived or died, when the best possible medicine came to him. It was in the form of a visit from Erie Galbraith. More than anything he had desired, Al now wanted to live. He was determined to live, and to regain his health for the best reason in the world. He was in love. What did it matter if nearly forty years stood between them? Love laughs at locksmiths, and it screams with mirth at the human concept of time and age.
Al and Erie were married while he was regaining his health at Palm Springs. Under her care and gentle companionship, he was soon his old self again.
Regardless of differences in age, this unusual girl was a perfect wife for my brother. Serious beyond her years, her chief desire was to maintain a home with which her husband would be content.
The fact that my brother had married a girl of twenty-one was something of a shock to me, but she walked straight into my heart the first time I met her. She is a wonderful young woman for whom I will always have the highest regard and deepest affection. A friend, who met her, gave me this opinion, "Al sure can pick'em, but he can't keep'em." He was wrong in
the case of Erie, and I am sure she never regretted marrying my brother.
Excerpt from Mistah Jolson (1951) by Harry Jolson