NOTES FOR ORAL HISTORY – BERMAN – HOLMES
The interviewees, Nancy Berman (NB) and friend Nancy Holmes (NH), compiled extensive notes after their interview. To navigate, use your browser’s BACK arrow to move between notes and the interview.
AA1 – AA/NB: James Harrison Turner, called “Hass” or “Hassie” or “Jim”
AA2 – (AA/NB: called “Muffy.”)
AA3 – AA/NH: Park Congregational Church was at Midvale Ave. and Vaux St. I went there for nursery school. The building is still there but is no longer a
AA4 – AA/NB: My grandfather’s moustache was always waxed, and he smoked cigars.
AA5 – AA/NH: Some of the McIlvaines lived at Midvale and Henry.
AA6 – AA/NH: Sally lived at 3319 WQL with her parents W. Clark Hanna and Anne Bissell Hanna (called Nancy). Mr Hanna was a lawyer and Philadelphia’s Assistant Prothonotary.
AA7 – AA/NH: Penn St. was paved smooth, while Queen Lane had gravel embedded in the asphalt. Ouch, that hurt when we crossed Queen Lane barefoot to play with friends after the street had been resurfaced.
AA8 – AA/NH: Correction to the previous few sentences. Dave and Shirley Petnick owned Tilden Market. Al and Ruth Bralow owned Tilden Drug Store and lived at 3300 WQL, across from the Queen Lane reservoir. The Bralows’ son Dennis was in my Mifflin Class of 1960, their daughter April a couple of years behind us.
AA9 – AA/NH: C.A. Rowell’s was at the corner of Chelten and Germantown Aves.
George Allen’s, at the corner of Chelten Ave and Greene St, had a tiny book corner just inside the back exit to the parking lot. Every week, I took my $1 allowance there and bought one Nancy Drew mystery. The books cost $1, the sales tax was 3 cents – I have no idea how I came up with the extra 3 cents each week. I read each book in an hour and a half, then had to wait a week for the next book. East Falls Library was much cheaper (i.e., free), and I trudged home every week with stacks of books from there to tide me over to the next allowance. But the Nancy Drews belonged to me. Allen’s also had a fascinating system of paying for purchases – plastic cylinders that whooshed payments from the floor clerk up pneumatic tubes to the cashier upstairs. Change and receipts whooshed back downstairs to the customer
AA10 – AA/NH: After Saturday matinees at the Alden, kids typically rushed out of the movie theater, raced across Midvale Ave (yikes!), and climbed up into the Mifflin rock gardens to tear around and let off steam. The last Alden ticket price I remember is 75 cents, up over the years of my childhood from 25 or 35 cents. And the Alden is where my parents took me to see my first movie, Cinderella; I can still see those singing mice on the screen. Years later, my dad took me there to see South Pacific. In between were lots of movies and the old newsreels and cartoons that preceded each show.
Another neighborhood memory: Redeemer Lutheran Church, at the corner of Midvale Ave and Conrad St, held Friday night dances for kids in the church undercroft. Sometimes I went with girlfriends, but one Friday I had an actual date! That week in English class at Mifflin, we learned the “rules” of dating – boy invites girl, boy brings girl a corsage, boy escorts girl to event, invites girl to dance, gets refreshments, and so on. That night, classmate John Buzilow called and invited me to the next dance, and all went according to the rules that Friday, including the corsage. “A” for John!
AA11 – AA/NH: Sister Lydia Fischer, principal – or was she called “Headmistress”?
AA12 – AA/NH: John D. Lankenau, Philadelphia benefactor and founder of Lankenau Hospital, whom the Inquirer in 2013 called “perhaps the greatest Lutheran layman in 19-century America.”
AA13 –AA/NB: All three Lankenau Lower School teachers were self-assured, commanding, and intelligent. Two, Miss Benkert and Miss Leidy, were strict, brook-no-nonsense, old-school Victorians. Both wore high-arch, square stacked block high-heeled, lace-up shoes in black or brown, and 20- to 30-year old dresses. Every day’s outfit was just like the next. Their wardrobes were a time warp of unenviable and inevitable practicality. Dark background colors of navy, black, and brown, and small indecipherable prints on synthetic fabric cut with purposely and mysteriously vague voluminous bust lines, then gathered close at the waist and narrowly belted, finally falling in either a very proper full-skirted A-line or pleats hemmed just below the knee. Each and every one hearkened back to the 1930’s and The Great Depression.
Miss Benkert was a stout, large bosomed, forceful looking woman. She wore silver wire-rimmed spectacles. Her mid-length wavy hair was gray. She was stern. She was smart. Very smart. And would brook no challengers. And who among us would have dared to challenge her authority anyway? Now I realize there were daily flashes of humor darting around deep inside those sharp, intelligent, blue eyes.
Miss Leidy was whippet thin, growing seemingly thinner with every passing year. She had a prominent nose, a mole on her equally prominent chin, her brown eyes circled by dark-rimmed glasses. Every morning she fashioned a scraggly brown knot of hair with silver streaks gathered with ever stricter enthusiasm and secured by long tortoise shell hairpins at the back of her equally scrawny neck. She darted restlessly, energetically, around the room, stopping occasionally to make a point by jabbing the air in our direction with chalk pointedly gripped by the long gnarly, still-elegant fingers of her right hand, while using the back of her left to deftly brush away an errant, distracting strand of hair. We girls knew we would never be so lucky as to escape her vigilant control. We dutifully bowed to her insistent demand to “pay attention, girls.” Or else.
The third teacher, Miss Wooley, by contrast, had remained pretty. Her even features always caught in a smile, she had a small nose, merry blue eyes, her pale white skin and pink cheeks topped by a froth of snow-white curly hair. She laughed a lot, and we laughed with her. She was short and plump. Her dresses were equally unflattering and out-of-date, but lighter, happier colors and worn loose. She always seemed slightly mussed, slightly out of breathe.
Miss Benkert taught us 1st and 2nd grade, Miss Wooley taught us 4th grade, and Miss Leidy taught fifth. Who was on third?
Another teacher, Mrs Ida, had a pale white complexion, freckles, and fading red hair turning to white. She wore it long, gathered in a messy bun at the back of her neck. She always seemed preoccupied, distracted. Even haunted. I took it to be from her early tragic years in Russia (and having to flee?). I wish I knew the truth about her past. It seemed to involve her family having been rich, perhaps aristocratic. A chandelier hanging in the foyer cut loose and crashing to the ground. The plot line for a Gothic, romantic novel. She wore long skirts and cardigans, similar to Mrs Gouker. But she seemed, in retrospect, European, more elegant in her carriage, even feminine, than any of the others. She was a ‘Mrs’ after all. And almost all the others had never been married. Even old maids. But I know of no husband in her life when I knew her, nor did she discuss one. She cut a sad, lonely, lovely figure. She taught French (with a Russian accent), Russian, and embroidery, and took us on those infrequent but wondrous nature walks tramping thru the woods. She was the one to first point out Johnny Jump Ups and other native wild flowers.
AA14 – AA/NH: What was it like, growing up on WQL in the 1950s? My memories were, yes, we ran wild all day long, in and out of one another’s houses on both sides of the block, being fed by the mom wherever we happened to land at lunchtime. Girls playing with girls, boys with boys, and sometimes mixed groups. At the end of the day, wherever I was in the neighborhood, I could hear my mother ringing a big (and loud) cowbell to call me home for dinner. I still have that cowbell. My dad typically got home from work about 6 p.m., then the four of us ate dinner in the dining room. Every night. Afterward, Dad would set up a card table in the living room and do paperwork for the bakery all evening, with the television on.
Thanksgiving and Christmas, Dad worked late into the night, making sure the bakery trucks went out to deliver all the holiday orders. On Christmas Eve, Rick and I didn’t see Dad at all. We hung our stockings and put out Santa’s requisite cookies and milk by the fireplace, but little else was done in the way of holiday decorations. Christmas morning, we kids were going crazy because we couldn’t go downstairs until Mom and Dad were up to go with us. Overnight, magic happened in the living room: a tree scraping the ceiling, fully lit and decorated, with tinsel, piles of gifts, and beneath the tree our American Flyer train circling busily, spewing smoke from its stack – all set up after Dad got home from work at maybe 2 a.m. As we got older, Rick and I went along with Dad to Penn Fruit at the corner of Chelten and Wayne Aves to select a tree. After a few years, we tired of that because Dad hauled out every tree on the lot, inspecting them all for the tallest, fullest, most amazing tree. Still later, Rick and I took over the tree search, ingrained with Dad’s selection criteria (and swearing to each other that we would fib about whatever exorbitant amount we had to spend to get the Perfect Tree.
The neighborhood kids had a fine time trick’r’treating on Halloween, collecting as much candy as possible. Mr Hanna always wanted us to do tricks first, but we were never prepared.
Freddy Castellano was my first husband, at about age 5. My marriage consisted of sitting on the couch in his enclosed porch at 3305 WQL and cutting out paper dolls for hours while he was out playing, probably with my younger brother Ricky, Sally’s younger brother Bobby, and Tina Carr’s younger brother Billy. Sometimes Freddy’s mother or grandmother would be making lemon meringue pies for the family, and she would make a small lemon meringue tartlet for me to take home. Good marriage.
Many times, Sally Hanna and I played dolls on her enclosed porch, at 3319 WQL, with a huge wooden dollhouse that had been in her family for generations. It was about 4.5 ft. high and 5 ft. wide, with a peaked roof, glass windows, and front door trim painted like the front of the house, and two big panels that swung open from the middle to reveal six rooms on two floors. It was filled with doll-size furniture, and we passed many happy hours there with our Madame Alexander dolls and later our Barbie dolls, creating family stories and playing out made-up life dramas. My first dog, which we got when I was 8 and he was 3 weeks old, became another of our “dolls.” Sally and I often dressed him up in doll clothes and wheeled him around the neighborhood in a doll carriage. He was too young to know dogs weren’t meant to be dolls.
Nancy B. and I roller-skated up and down the 3300 blocks of WQL and always Penn St., which was smoother under our wheels – until the woman who lived behind Nancy’s house would spot us and quash our fun by turning us in to Nancy’s mother. We loved playing dress-up at Nancy’s house, especially when her petite mom let us play with her shoes that were small enough (women’s sample size 5?) for us to toddle around in. And we had great overnights in her third-floor bedroom with a view of the lights on City Line Ave., talking about the universe, aliens, past lives, life, nothing. Happy.
With our neighborhood friends, we spent many hours in the empty lot down the street next door to the McKenzies (Nancy B’s aunt), building “forts” and “igloos,” and having “battles” and snowball fights, depending on the season. When Sally and I were reading Mary Norton’s The Borrowers series, we gathered acorn caps at the lot to make miniature teacups for our smallest dolls in imitation of the books’ tiny characters. There’s a new house now squeezed into that lot, but I can still see the scruffy old lot that provided fodder for our imagination.
Our friends often piled into my backyard to play in our sandbox with wood ledges around the edges to sit on and square corners that made it easy to sculpt perfectly squared “buildings.” For hours, too, we swung and climbed on our swing set and acted out cowboys and Indians (I insisted on being Roy Rogers, so I guess my younger brother was relegated to playing Dale Evans), Davy Crockett, Flash Gordon (my favorite), Rapunzel (letting down the swings for her hair, but needing the “prince” to climb up the slide steps to rescue her), and just generally running amok.
What did our mothers do all day while we were at school? At my house some mornings, Tina’s mother Jean Hayes Carr would stop in for coffee and talk with my mom about what Mrs Carr was reading or what new thing she had just learned, or news, or just stuff; she was always interesting. For a few years while I was a teenager, Mom worked as an occasional substitute teacher in the public schools. But mostly she did crossword puzzles, including the New York Times puzzles in ink right up to her death at age 93. And she read, constantly. Times when I blew into the house, she was often sitting reading in her chair in the living room. When I let our little black dog in from the backyard, he would sometimes swipe Mom’s knee with his tongue as he ran past her, as if to say, “Hi, Sweetie. I’m back.”
Sally’s mother was a gardener. Resisting the pretty flowers she planted along the steps up the driveway to their house was impossible for me. I had to pass them four times a day — on the way to and from school in the morning and afternoon and twice at lunchtime. Mrs Hanna gave me a stern talking to after these transgressions, but reforming was so hard. How did she know I was the culprit? In the summer I loved her because she would set up her kitchen workspace and spend the day pickling all the watermelon rinds gathered for weeks. The windows were open, and the sweet, vinegar aroma wafted everywhere.
On summer evenings, my parents sometimes put folding chairs out in our driveway next to the long row of my mother’s antique roses with their heady perfume. (We kids quickly learned how to maneuver around their thorns as we were getting into and out of cars parked in our driveway.) Mr and Mrs Carr would come over and chat for hours over cocktails; whatever kids were available would run up and down the driveway steps, in and out of our yard, catch lightning bugs in jars, and hide within Freddy Edwards’s big evergreen bushes by the driveway until he angrily flushed us out. And sometimes through the year, late at night, the Carrs would stop in for a chat and a nightcap with my parents after some bank function or other social event. The adults had a good time, but for me it was disruptive because I would be sitting in the living room in my bathrobe with Mom and Dad, watching TV, setting my hair in the big curlers popular at the time, and I would have to beat a hasty retreat to my bedroom.
AA15 – AA/NH: The Turners had the first (tiny) TV. A banner year for my family was 1954: Mom won a Philco console TV, radio, and record player at the Main Street Fair on Germantown Avenue in Chestnut Hill (first and last time she ever won anything); my parents bought their first – and last – new car, a shiny, dark green Buick Century 4-door (my feet actually touched the floor in the back seat, and we still had the car for many years after my brother and I learned to drive); and we got our first dog, a tiny black mongrel only 3 weeks old that someone at the bakery had won in a raffle and didn’t want. In 1969, I remember my family and the Carrs all crowding into the Carrs’ living room to watch the landing on the moon, and at one point I ran out in their driveway to look up and marvel at the moon. The Carrs always had the best new toys and games on Christmas. After opening gifts at our house, my brother and I would pile over to the Carrs’ house to play with all of their new toys. Our whole family was often at the Carrs’ on Sunday evenings to watch College Bowl, a quiz show pitting college and university students. Brandeis kids – they were good! My father, who was in the army in Europe during World War II and never talked about the war, liked to watch the Sunday night war documentaries like Victory at Sea. What else did we watch as a family? Perry Como, I Love Lucy, Andy Williams, variety shows, Ed Sullivan (my first glimpse of the Beatles, whom my 80-year-old cousin loved before I had even heard of them).
AA16 — AA/NH: And the Mickey Mouse Club! Oh, how I envied my Mifflin classmate Anita Mertz, whose parents took her to Disneyland in California when it first opened!
AA17 – AA/NH: Maybe I misremember a 52 trolley. Trolley tracks all the way down Midvale Ave? I remember the K bus on Midvale, turning left on Wayne Ave, then right on Chelten. We also took the A bus in town from the WQL corner at Henry Ave, dressed up and wearing white gloves (and maybe even hats, back in the day).
AA18 – AA/NH: Tina Carr lived at 3318 WQL with her parents Bill and Jean and her younger siblings Billy and Janet. Mr Carr was a vice president at Provident Tradesmens Bank & Trust, Co., later Provident National Bank, at 17th and Chestnut Sts., and now a Rite Aid in that beautiful building with huge bronze-framed windows, site of my first summer job that wasn’t babysitting. At age 17, kids were first eligible to get official work permits and be employed.
AA19 – AA/NH: My grandparents were William T Holmes and Antoinette Westervelt Holmes; my parents were Richard Westervelt Holmes (called Dick) and Helen Laing Holmes. I remember times I sat on Grandfather’s lap and opened his gold pocket watches on long chains to examine the moving parts, front and back. And marching around the pattern in their living room rug (now in my own living room) as my grandmother played marches or hymns or classical music on her piano or her organ.
One factor in our 1949 move across the street may have been that perhaps my grandparents needed more space. They had long had boarders – medical and nursing students — from Women’s Medical College & Hospital on Henry Ave. Some became good family friends, like Nancy Stackhouse and Dorothy Schindel (“Doctor Dottie”), who was later Rick and my pediatrician in an office at Green St. and School House Lane (now demolished).
AA20 – AA/NH: In 1979, when my brother and I sold the house at 3315 WQL, a couple who looked at it ultimately bought our old house at 3919 Henry Ave. He was the assistant rector at Trinity Lutheran Church at WQL and Germantown Ave. The rector at Trinity then was Dr Edward Horn, whose wife Sophie was our adored history teacher at Lankenau. (This is fewer than six degrees of separation, right?) The Horns invited me to dinner one night, and I thereby got to see a bit of the house my grandparents built and lived in with my parents before my birth.
AA21 — AA/NH: Puritan Pies, at 2621 Morris St in Southwest Philadelphia.
AA22 – AA/NH: I exaggerate. He didn’t run over her and nearly kill her. He nearly ran over her. He was a careful driver.
AA23 – AA/NH: Bob’s was on Conrad St. at Tilden, next to the little hairdresser that had big metal hoods dangling long lines with small curlers at the ends for attaching to women’s hair to make permanents. Bob’s had fake cigarettes (thin white cylinders with red tips), waxy red lips and white waxy vampire teeth that we would clutch between our teeth, Dixie cup ice cream with flat wooden spoons, Charm lollipops, orange popsicles and creamsicles [Nancy B. liked orange popsicles; I liked creamsicles.])
AA24 – (AA/NH: Mrs. Loretto B. Smith — Loretto with an “O”)
AA25 – AA/NH: Castellanos lived on the north side of WQL, “across the street” from Ellen Sheehan’s house.
AA26 – AA/NH: Mrs Eleanor Sypher – tall, thin, white-haired, elegant, and stylish.
AA27 – AA/NH: A couple of quick memories of assemblies. Two songs we sang were The Wanderer and The Grandfather Clock. Give me half a minute and I’ll sing them for you! Also, a couple of times, my classmate Andy Gotwols’s parents performed on stage for us, singing duets a lathe stars Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy.
In the Mifflin “cycle” (seventh and eighth grades, not sixth), Mrs Sypher taught English, music, and grammar (!!), and led the school assemblies. Mrs Eleanor Dunn taught history. Mr Joseph Radetzky made the sciences fascinating to me. Miss Young, with beautiful strawberry blond hair, taught math and pointed out on Day One that I had left the “e” out of “Mathematics” at the top of the first page of my brand-new notebook.
As for the lower grades, after sweetheart kindergarten teacher Miss Murphy, first grade was a blur. I was too busy learning to read (Dick and Jane books) and to print (endless practice on blue-lined paper so thin it smeared and tore with the first erasure) to think about who was teaching me. Second grade was Mrs DeVita, who taught us to sing Adeste Fidelis. All the verses. In Latin. Third grade was Mrs McAllister, who scolded me for beginning a sentence with, “Well….” (Maybe that morning I was already the 27th kid who did.) Mrs Fishbein, a short woman with short curly dark hair, taught us art in fourth grade. She often brought bunches of wild goldenrod to class for us to draw, even though my classmate Brian Riffert was allergic to goldenrod. He always had to move to the back of the room. What could he see from that distance and with eyes and nose probably running? Fifth grade was Mrs Loretto B Smith, who lived in the middle of the 3400 block of Penn St. Sixth grade was Miss Ruth Heck, who daily walked up WQL past my house to her home on Woodpipe Lane in the Carlton Apartments. (Teachers were real people with a life outside the classroom! Who knew?)
Also among our teachers were Mrs Schwartz the sewing teacher, whose car brakes failed going down Conrad St. one afternoon as the whole school was emptying. She fainted at the wheel, and the car plowed into seven or eight more as it reached Midvale Ave. We also had Mrs Terrell the cooking teacher (I still use her recipe for the cranberry-orange relish she had us make in Home Ec class before Thanksgiving one fall), and young Mr Richard (what was his last name?) the phys ed teacher, and a man who taught shop. All under the auspices of our principal, Dr Israel Galter, who lived on Crittenden St.
AA28 – AA/NH: Sister Lydia had wavy white hair (what bits we could see curling out from under her stiffly starched white cap and framing her face), light blue eyes, and a smile that lit up her face. But often in the moment, instead of a full smile, her mouth made a very quick little movement that looked more like a facial tic than an actual smile. Sister Lydia always wore long (midi-length) black dresses, while the other Sisters wore blue, almost Delft blue. The older ones wore starched white, chin-length caps over all but a bit of hair around their faces. But Sister Ruth Harper was younger and wore a shorter blue dress and no cap over her brown hair.
AA29 — AA/NB: Golly. I hardly ever remember Sister Lydia smiling. I found her to be stern, morose, commanding, wary, possibly lonely, depressed. Heavy lies the crown? That’s why I and others called her ‘Twitch’ — because her smile was so infrequent, almost involuntary. She seemed so stiff and unapproachable to me. On those rare occasions when Sr. Lydia did smile, it was startling. In that moment I could see she could be warm and welcoming, even handsome. I respected her as a child. I feared her as a child. I gave her a wide berth. But I never backed down.
And I think she demonstrated power, in a subconscious way for women to have power in the world that was all too rare to us growing up. So not smiling all the time turned out to be more okay as I matured. She only seemed cowed when The Men (board members for the school?) showed up on stage for big religious/school events. They outranked her. They told her what to do. I didn’t like it. Who were they, anyway?
AA30 – (AA/NH: Sister Ruth Harper)
AA31 – AA/NH: Among our other teachers in the Upper School were Mrs Loice Gouker (history, and principal after Sister Lydia’s death) – she and her husband, the Reverend Wilbur Gouker, lived in the Houston mansion, cloister, and carriage house on Wissahickon Ave and became my near neighbors decades later when I moved to West Stafford St. Also teaching were Katherine Watson, RN (science), our dear Mrs Clara JC Milligan who taught Latin and delighted us with stories of her travels in Italy, Helen Love (French) who spoke very little French in class, Miss Joan Shih (art), Mrs Piranian (sewing), Mrs Gloria Myers (phys ed), and two teachers close to our age Miss Carol Heffelfinger (math) and Miss Marylou Hawkins (English). Miss Hawkins, especially, blew a tornado of fresh air into our minds and classes!
AA32 – Do you mean Gutman Library (#14 on the current campus map)? The Tuttleman Center is on the west side of Henry Ave. The Lankenau school property and all of its buildings were east of Henry Avenue, next to the original Textile/Jefferson property at the corner of Henry Ave. and School House Lane. Most of the original Lankenau buildings still exist.
AA33 – AA/NH: The still-existing old gatehouse (now the IT building, #18 on the campus map) was the driveway entrance to the Lankenau main house (now demolished) way down the hill. The big, old Lankenau main house was razed and grassed over. The broad expanse of grass still existing in front of where the main house once stood is where we staged plays, ceremonies, and events outdoors and set up the Maypole that we girls danced and wove long colored ribbons around during May Day celebrations.
AA34 – AA/NH: With a slice of processed cheese on top. And if you took a piece of bread at lunch, you had better break it into four pieces and butter and eat the pieces one at a time.
AA35 — AA/NH: (Jesse played defensive tackle for the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots. I sold his parents – and many other families – Girl Scout cookies every year in my trudging around the neighborhood.)
AA36 — AA/NH: When I was attending Mifflin, I walked the Albas’ daughter Joy to kindergarten and back every day for real money, my first paying job that wasn’t allowance!
AA37 – AA/NH: Who else was on the 3300 block? Next door to me at 3315 were Elsie Edwards and her brother Freddie at 3311, and now Elsie’s niece Lynne Edwards and her husband Mike Seidel. At 3307 were the Turners, and at 3305 the Castellanos. On the other side of my house were the Hannas at 3319, the Barnharts at 3321, the doctors Irene Maher and Carmen Thomas at 3323, the empty lot, the McKenzies at 3327, and doctors Lemon and Emily (?) Loeffler at 3329. Across the street were the Bralows at 3300, Mr McAndrews at 3306? 3308?, the Albas at 3310, the Richardsons at 3312, my Holmes grandparents at 3314, Mr and Mrs Steele and her father Mr Yokel at 3316, the Carrs at 3318, Corky Senneker (real name, Harold) with his two aunts at 3320, Mr and Mrs Cutty at 3322, and Mr Karsh at 3324. Mr Karsh was a favorite of Sally’s and mine because he worked for the company that made Curity brand bandages and other healthcare products, and he occasionally brought us Bandaids and samples from his sales case plus paper dolls of “Miss Curity,” the company’s nurse-icon. Later, our friend Joyce Saile lived at 3324 with her parents and brother. In the 3300 block of Penn St was my Mifflin classmate Gail Newman, who moved away in 5th grade, but whom I recognized immediately across a huge lecture hall at Penn State in the 60s, and again in 2016 at another friend’s wedding. She didn’t change. And in the 3400 block of Penn St lived my Mifflin best friend Georgianna Ziegler, now a lifelong friend.
AA38 — AA/NH: The Reverend Dr. R. Dunham Taylor was the rector all during our childhood and young adulthood. At the church door after each Sunday service, he gave the little kids wiggly “fish” handshakes, which delighted us. Maybe our first “secret handshakes.” All through my childhood and teen years, I sang in the church choirs, directed by Ernest Wells, who also taught at Penn Charter. At the spring festival (I think it was spring) staged in the church’s side yard each year, parishioner Hayward Reid would dress as a cowboy, complete with broad-brimmed hat, and ride his horse to the fair. We kids, grinning, took turns being hoisted up onto the horse’s back. That horse looked ENORMOUS. His back was so wide for young legs, and his hair so bristly against bare legs. Another fond sensory memory: The church at Christmas Eve midnight services, creamy white woodwork (the church has a lot of woodwork!) gleaming in the soft light (only candles), lush red poinsettias massed on every windowsill, and the congregation singing “Silent Night” in two-part harmony that I had learned at Mifflin and in the church’s choirs.
AA39 – AA/NH: He was the teacher and later principal in Hay Springs, Nebraska.
AA40 – AA/NH: Arthur Holmes
AA41 – AA/NH: The bakery sold wholesale pies and cakes and jellyrolls to the Philadelphia schools, Linton’s restaurants in Germantown and elsewhere, Hot Shoppe restaurants (I remember our family going to dinner at one on Hunting Park or Allegheny Ave at the foot of Henry Ave), and many other restaurants and organizations in the region.
AA42 – AA/NH: None of my friends’ fathers did any cooking. Dads I knew didn’t go in the kitchen in those days, only moms did.
AA43 – AA/NH: Correction: Dad graduated from Episcopal Academy (my uncle Arthur, brother Rick, and cousin Bill Holmes all graduated from Penn Charter, too). After Episcopal Academy, my dad went to Amherst College for just one year and then was pulled out to work at the bakery with my uncle and grandfather.
AA44 – [AA/NB: and being driven around]
AA45 – [AA/NB: with Steve Poses]
AA46 – AA/NB: I didn’t know women weren’t supposed to do that.
AA47 – AA/NB: Yes, I worked twice with Neil Stein; with Jay Guben, the Restaurant School founder; and at Frog (Steve Poses), Alexis, Morgan’s (Jay Guben), La Terrasse, Mandana, Ice House Charcuterie (Neil Stein again), and Marabella’s.
AA48 – AA/NH: Nan also published three well-received books about her thrifting adventures and her philosophy of reuse and recycling before the idea of recycling entered the public consciousness. She also had a devoted following for her guided thrift shopping van-tours all around the Delaware Valley and into New Jersey. Great fun excursions!
AA49 – AA/NH: When I returned from Monaco, I cooked for a short while at Bon Appétit restaurant on 17th St., then worked at the new Springfield Retirement Residence in Chestnut Hill doing admissions interviews, acting as an ombudsman for residents, and starting a monthly newsletter for the residents. Next, I was the picture editor for the national magazine Réalités, senior editor of Learning magazine (also national) for elementary teachers, held various positions in nursing and medical editing for Mosby/Elsevier publishers and for the company that ultimately merged into J.B. Lippincott/Wolters Kluwer publishing, and left Lippincott as an editorial director. Since then, I have been a reading tutor in a public elementary school in Germantown and have continued to seek ways to advance literacy and love of reading among elementary-age kids.
AA50 – AA/NH: It was held at the Hotel de Paris in the main square in Monte Carlo next to the famous Casino.
AA51 – AA/NH: This is incorrect. The banquet was invitational. Attendees were largely American business interests, which is why I was included (I was the vice president of a small publishing and film company in Monaco). A friend who was with me remembers this: A large golden brown turkey was wheeled out, and the carver put on a show. He was dressed in a black cape and a rakish hat that made him look more like one of the three musketeers than simple plain folk that had just fled religious persecution. Picture that.
AA52 – AA/NH: There wasn’t time for anything else, as she was moving rather quickly around the room, mostly smiling and nodding. The only other time I saw her was at a performance by cellist Mstislav Rostropovich in the inner courtyard of the palace one lovely evening, with a soft breeze blowing, and magenta bougainvillea trailing off walls and balconies. Of course, she was at the Monaco Grand Prix to award the trophy every May. And probably watching the harbor every summer as fireworks teams from dozens of countries vied weekly for the privilege of staging the fireworks display for her November birthday celebrations. But our paths didn’t cross again.