Who is on the plum tree?
I learned more than skate hockey in Brooklyn. Jewel Street began my life epiphany. At age four or five, I audaciously (seemingly appropriate at the time) put my favorite dolls in the wicker pram lovingly made for me by my Grandpa, lock-stepped to the apartment door and planted. Finally, when my busy Mom noticed this aimless dalliance and asked me what I was doing, I replied, “Well, we are moving, right?.”
I became aware of an innate distaste for all things in my ‘hood’ – the accent, volume, crass argot, lack of ambition, disdain for higher education and learning in general – plus a contemporaneous and passionate determination to ‘get out’. I bribed my brother, gaining the necessary modicum of success to net me attendance at “My Fair Lady” and “Camelot” twice. (It wasn’t long before folks were surprised by my zip code.) Soon I was an incurable devotee of all Noel Coward productions which led to a blind admiration of his favorite leading lady, Tammy Grimes, which lured me to “The Unsinkable Molly Brown”. The storyline was true – Molly Brown survived the iceberg. I would survive the ‘Brooklyn Burg’. Before the last chords of the musical played, I was into my new mantra, extracted from one of its songs, “. . . So if you go to somewhere on your way from nowhere, and you meet anyone, you’ll know it’s me.”
Setting my sights for Georgetown University – not wanting to matriculate in Manhattan, Long Island or up-state New York – I spent four wonderful years absorbing the culture of debate at the foot of the Jesuits, of style in the wake of the Kennedys and of variety through bonding, lasting friendships with students from everywhere. Working hard on and off campus, I graduated equipped to support myself and my travels thanks to the extraordinary medical and clinical knowledge base acquired at theSchoolofNursing. Post grad, this equipment served as entrée to The New York Hospital, its inchoate coronary care program and finally the honor of incorporation into the staff of the first Coronary Care Unit in the country.
Coincidentally, I met medical and social, national and international giants while living with an alum in an apartment owned by friends of her folks on East 72nd Street. After marrying another Hoya upon his graduation fromG.U.MedSchool, we moved toVirginia, compliments of the United States Navy. A lovely, safe place to raise a family, Virginia has been kind to us and our progeny. Only now, my street hockey days far behind me, can I appreciate the fortuitous novelty associated with being born and raised inBrooklyn. It is as if my life would have been a cooking experience rather than a culinary art were it not for the herbs and spices made available and used on my road rarely traveled from a play street to the Upper East Side of Manhattan via the nation’s capitol, to the salty shores of theAtlantic.
And always, during every passage, in every role, through all tragedies and triumphs, I wrote. Finding time, some warm sand, I’d unroll Dad’s Army blanket, watch and listen to the calliope cast of characters that tumbled out. “Do you write?” “Not really, but did I ever tell you about the time. . .”