LESSON #60 – FRIENDS INDEED!

Stop and look around.  Interesting people are everywhere!

Republished here with the approval of AROUND WOODSTOCK, “Our Woodstock Neighbors” April issue, 2018, by Leigh Cutrone.

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Once in a while we meet someone with whom we just click.  That was the case when I met this dear woman.  We just happened to be next door neighbors when I moved to downtown Woodstock.

Simply put I was fascinated by her.  She is quite a lovely lady.  She has the most gorgeous blue eyes which are full of life along with a sense of humor that would make anyone smile.

Her full name is Marita Hallberg Walsh.  Born in Sweden in 1943, she was the only child.  She still remembers the food shortages resulting from the German blockades.   But her parents came to the United States looking for a better life which they found in Brooklyn, NY. where Marita grew and began her love of art.  Her father was a fresco artist so, perhaps,  Marita inherited that flair early on.

Parsons School of Design accepted Marita and with several scholarships under her belt she graduated with a Graphic Arts degree from Parsons.  This is impressive since today only about 35%* of applicants are accepted.

Graphic art was Marita’s forte’ which took her into the advertising world.  In fact, her first job was in an advertising firm in NY in the 60’s.  Remember television’s, ‘Madmen‘??  Was this world accurately depicted?  Actually, Marita said the men were.  The women, in her experience, not so much.  Women were typists and stenographers.  Not any room for a Peggy becoming an advertising executive in those days nor for a Joan Holloway rising to part owner of the firm.

The young and married Marita lived in the West Village of New York.  She ‘painted’ me a picture of the West Village as an area where the aspiring musicians, actors, and young artists lived and socialized.  Marita, in fact, knew Bob Dylan‘s girlfriend, Susan Rotolo.  Suze and Dylan lived around the corner. Suze actually was pictured on Dylan’s 1963 album, ‘The Freewheeling Bob Dylan’.  It must have been fascinating living there then.   I can picture Marita with her blonde hair and bright blue eyes walking along Bleeker St and running into Suze and Dylan.

Marita has always had a love of traveling and adventures.    Marita has been to 19 or 20 countries (but who is counting?).  Always independent with a sense of purpose.  With each move (and there were many) came a “new adventure”.  “It was fun” and along the way she has met Woody Allen and Woody Harrelson.  With a bit of wistfulness, Marita mentioned she may not have actually worked FOR Any Warhol but she was close enough to “touch his robe!”

Marita and her husband moved to downtown Woodstock about 6 1/2 years ago and has had no regrets.  Woodstock suits her lifestyle and she has no plans to move anytime soon if ever.  Today she paints and is humble about her work as she pointed to a painting she was working on in the corner of her living room.  The easel was beautiful as was the painting.

I asked Marita if she had any advice for the younger people starting out in their careers.  She was quick to answer.  “Work hard and put down the phones!”

Any regrets?” I asked.   “Anything on your bucket list?”   Marita had to think.  Maybe not a regret but a ‘wish’.  She still wishes she had landed that job with Lou Dorfsman.   She explained that Dorfsman was a graphic designer who was hired as the Director of Design for all of CBS in NYC. Marita informed me that Dorfsman was responsible for everything and anything that had to do with design (print advertising, marketing communications, etc.) for CBS…”down to the design of even the pencils”.  We agreed she may not have had half the adventures in her life if she had landed that job!

As Marita enjoys everything Woodstock, we all should be happy to have her living among us.  Cheers Marita!

 

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LESSON #75 – KENNY ROGERS

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The year was 1977.  I was working at KBUC radio station in San Antonio, Texas.

The move from Cambridge, Massachusetts to San Antonio was a huge one.  But I had settled in pretty well and landed a job with a country western music station.  It was fun!  I met George Foreman that year when he came into the station to be interviewed.  As exciting as that was, it did not compare with seeing (and meeting) Kenny Rogers.

A few of my coworkers and I heard that Kenny Rogers was going to appear in a local hotel lounge.  We were all familiar with his first real hit, “Lucille,” and we all thought it would be fun to go and hear him sing this great song in person.  (He later won his first Grammy for this song)

It was a bit embarrassing. There were about six people total in the lounge waiting for him to come out and sing.   We were about ten feet away from him when he walked in carrying his guitar.

He looked at us and thanked us for ‘coming out.’  He laughed and promised that he would put on a great show for us as if he were singing for a thousand people!

Kenny wasn’t phased about the lack of audience.  At that moment any embarrassment I felt for him slipped away.  I also gained a great respect for this man.  The show was great and he sang so many good songs.  We thoroughly enjoyed that evening.

This man would later become a megastar playing for thousands.  I have told this story many times but I think it is worth retelling today.

Years later we went to see Kenny again while in Myrtle Beach.  In fact, the year was 2017.  It was his last tour…”The Gambler’s Last Deal” tour.

This time he appeared at the Alabama Theatre and every seat of the 2,000 was filled.  He had a full ensemble behind him.  It was a sad time really.  He limped out on the stage using a cane.  I guessed he had had a hip replacement.  He sat on a bar height stool and sang all of his great songs.  He was uncomfortable but still had that upbeat sense of humor and laughed at himself.  He fumbled a bit at some of the verses of his songs but my respect for him didn’t falter.  He gave us a good show in the end.  

I was happy to see him at the beginning of his career and at the end of his career.   I was sad to hear of Kenny’s death.   His music was a part of us.  Somehow we feel we ‘know’ an entertainer when their music holds an important place in our lives.

KENNETH ROGERS, thank you!

 

Leigh

 

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LESSON #74 – I’M HOME ONCE AGAIN

IMG_8219.jpgFollow your dreams,
reach for the stars.
but never forget
where you came from.

– Audrea Harvey*

I wrote about renting “our” house in Loveladies, Long Beach Island, NJ,  two years ago. We rented this house for a family reunion and to celebrate my sister’s 60th birthday.

At that time I wrote about all my memories and the good times our family had here. (LESSON #57 – MEMORIES) https://lmcutrone.wordpress.com/2017/10/20/memories/.

Here we are once again!  This time it is for a different reason. This time we are here to celebrate my 70th birthday.   OMG…REALLY?  How did I get here in ALMOST one piece?? Where did all those years go?  I know where.  I was in the business of living and growing up,  traveling, college, being married, raising two children, moving, watching my children be married and having children of their own.  I shouldn’t have blinked! Damn.

I can hardly believe I am at this juncture in my life.  Many of my family and many friends will be gathering here for my Birthday Party.  I am grateful I have these people in my life and I am grateful that we are celebrating in the very house where I turned 21 so many years ago.  How many?  OMG…49 years ago!  When I wasn’t looking!  So here we are ready or not.  Say hello to the ’70s!!  Like it or not I intend to make the most of my years ahead of me.

It was like yesterday.  I remember the details.  I remember it all.   My father handed me his gift.  It was a beautiful heart-shaped diamond pendant in white gold.  This gift was the most appreciated and such a special gift.  It even topped my very own Princess phone given to me at the age of 15!

A surprise party of fellow Long Beach Islanders driving to the house across the dunes with revved up engines, doing wheelies in the sand.  (It must have been cool???) At that time I had a small group of year-rounder friends that seemed to all stick together.  Islanders do that and still do I’ve been told.

I was a ‘single’ 21-year-old young woman.  I had fun and laughed a lot.  I was feeling no pain as I stood in the middle of the bar dancing to Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love”  Alcohol may have been involved!  Ouch!

Funny how more nostalgic we get the older we are.  I look out at Barnegat Bay now and remember looking out at the same Bay all those years ago.  I decided then that I loved the Bay more than the ocean and beach.  The Bay still relaxes me.

As we all begin to gather here I am reminded that I feel at home and it is appropriate that I spend my 70th birthday here.  I am a Jersey girl for sure!  I was born in NJ,  I went to High School in NJ and I spent many summers and years here on Long Beach Island.

When family and friends arrive, I will feel even more at home.  There will be no cars driving over the dunes!

I’ll try not to dance by myself in the middle of the room dancing to Zeppelin!!  Oh, who am I kidding?  It’s in the plan!!

Love, Leigh

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY CLASS AT CHHSW!  We are in this together!!

 

https://www.familyfriendpoems.com/quote/advice-for-life

 

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LESSON #73 – AN EXPAT ON 9/11

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Each of us has a story.

We were living in London, England on 9/11.  We were Expats.

My children were attending a US Department of Defense School on a Royal Air Force base outside of the City.

My day was slow going surprisingly.  I was having a cup of tea just looking outside the window at Hyde Park. It was a pretty day. The sun was shining and our apartment was quiet. I remember thinking I should take a walk down Oxford Street.

The phone rang. It was the kids. I don’t remember much after that but I was told to turn on the TV. I did. The horror that I saw would, of course, never be forgotten.  My husband called to see if I knew.  He was supposed to have flown out on a business trip to Madrid that day.  Plans changed.

Living abroad on 9/11 was difficult. Somehow I felt so alone. I wanted to be home to mourn and to watch the news in its entirety.

The British people were kind and were saddened along with all the American expats and we were treated kindly.  The Brits had, in fact, lost 67 countrymen that day.

At the American International Church of London, where we attended services, the Royal Family of Prince Andrew, Fergie, and children attended the service to give their respects. I don’t remember that service very well but I do remember tears and sadness and feelings of disbelief.

We lived around the corner from a street full of Muslim restaurants. Tables were normally full of men smoking their Hookahs and keeping to themselves with idle conversation.

On 9/11 and for weeks after, we would walk down this street and no one would be outside. These people had rolled up the sidewalks. It was eerily quiet.

The Queen held a service at St. Paul’s Cathedral on 9/14. Crowds of people came out to mourn all together and to show solidarity.    Prime Minister Blair, Former Prime Minister Thatcher and all of the Royal family were together to show their respects and pray together.  We couldn’t get in but we stood outside and listened to the words over the loudspeakers with several thousand others.  It was helpful somehow to know that the Brits mourned with us and all Americans.

At the changing of the Guard outside Buckingham Palace, the Coldstream Guard played the Star-Spangled Banner on 9/12.  The Queen had ordered this be done.  There were over 5,000 Americans and both the Americans and Brits were gathered together weeping at the atrocity of it all.

The kids came home early and did not return to school for many days.  The base became more secure and Passports had to be shown. The base was in a ‘Code Red’ status since it was an active military base.  No one knew at that point whether to expect more planes to appear unexpectedly above the skyline.

The BBC did not televise all the details as the US news had. I found myself starving from the lack of news coverage and turned the channels to get any news at all. Chris Matthews was televised on our cable and I hung on every word. It was never enough. I had so many questions.  That day we went to the Marriott downtown since they had American news stations on their cable.  People just sat there in silence staring at the news.  Like everyone else in the world, we were all in shock.

Being an Expat on this day and for weeks afterward, I felt out of place. Prior to 9/11 I lived in London and always felt at home. As kind as the Brits were to all Expats we were Americans now with a story to tell when we returned home.

On this day and for all the 9/11s ahead, we are Americans first and foremost no matter where we live.

My heart is full today as it is every 9/11.  I mourn for our loss.

God bless America. We won’t forget.

 

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LESSON #72 – I’ll CALL TOMORROW

IMG_7739.jpgAs I repot this Dieffenbachia plant, I find myself thinking about my Mother.

My Mother passed away in March of 1997.  She was ‘only’ 74.  Over 22 years ago.  I received a call in the morning on a Saturday.

I was in my office at the time when that call came in.  It was my sister telling me my Mother had had a stroke and she was in the hospital.  It didn’t look good.

Funny what we think about in times of crises.  The years passed before my eyes.  A few days before, my Mother had called me from Houston and I hadn’t picked up.  I decided I would call her in a few.  That conversation never took place.

As we all waited for our flight.  I found my way to the Airport chapel where I knelt and prayed to please not take my Mother before I reached her.  I needed to say goodbye and to tell her I loved her.  I knelt there for a long time.  Suddenly the Holy Spirit told me that she was gone.  I felt it in every inch of me.  A feeling of peace enveloped me as I accepted that this was as it should be.

My sister had had her palm read by a friend.  The palm reader had told her that someone very, very close to her would soon pass away suddenly and that this person was elderly and a woman. My sister wanted both of us to fly to Houston that weekend.  I declined thinking it was important that my sister spend one-on-one time with my Mother.  I did not believe that my Mother would pass that very weekend.  She did.

At our age, we all have been through the trauma of losing someone we love.  The older that I get the better I understand that we all handle loss in different ways.  There is no right and wrong answer to coping with the loss of our loved ones.

This particular plant I am repotting is a new offshoot of the plant I carried home with me from my Mother’s funeral service in Houston.  This plant is very special.  It is a living, thriving memory of all my Mother represented to me.  It has given joy to me for all these years and as it grew, it gave joy to my sister, to my daughter and circled back to me when the Mother plant decided it was time to give no more.  Yet, here was another new plant spreading its leaves to the filtered sun.  It still brings me happiness.

I’m still unsure why and how the Airline let me carry this plant onto the plane. Perhaps, they saw the pain in my eyes. I just don’t remember flying home since I was walking in a fog with so much sadness that I couldn’t feel anything more.

Why had I decided not to go to Houston?  Why did I not pick up that phone that evening?  Why couldn’t I have told my Mother I loved her one last time before she had died?

So many whys and so many questions.  I know now not to take life for granted.  We all face our medical problems as we get older and if I have learned nothing else, I know to tell family and friends that I love them without hesitation.  If by chance God calls me home unexpectedly the people I love will take away the memory that I loved with all my heart.

Love, Leigh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LESSON # 71 – SPECIAL MOM DAY

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Most of us probably have a special Mother’s Day that we hold on to.

Mine was when we lived in Phoenix.  My son was about 2 and my daughter maybe 4…I think.  My husband was on a business trip.

My two dear children came into my bedroom carrying a tray.  They had one piece of burned toast on a large plate.  The coffee cup was filled to the brim with cold water.  Coffee grounds were floating while Lauren proudly explained that she had made me a good cup of coffee.  Both children were proud of their accomplishment.  My heart filled to capacity and then some.  It still does to this day when I remember this special Mother’s Day.

Tomorrow is for all Mothers in all forms, all colors, all everything.  A day to remember Mothers who have passed and are no longer here to hug and give us guidance.  Missed beyond words.  Mothers in name only, Mothers who are yet to be and Mothers in the thick of it.  Young and Old.

So, we thank our Mothers,  but we don’t have to think long about all ‘we’ have done to deserve this special day.  Humbly I say.

I am reminded once again how it all began…this thing they call motherhood.  In my case, there was a lot of pushing involved without meds both times, and, in return, I have a nice homemade yummy breakfast once a year if I am very lucky!  Pushing…..pushing,  b r e a t h i n g  in and out, more pushing until insides feel like they are coming out along with a beautiful baby!  TMI?? Yes, perhaps.  Yay for us! All that work and a good breakfast besides.  Perfect.

It has been a ride and a lifetime of love, pain, love, guidance, hospital runs, love, worry, tears, heartbreak, love and maybe the best breakfasts one can only dream of!

Happy Mother’s Day everyone!  Enjoy!!  I, personally, wouldn’t trade any of it… for anything.  Except, perhaps, for the best dinner in the world!  Wait for it….my children are taking me out to dinner tonight.  Just the three of us.  What is better than that I ask you?

I am so excited!!

Love and Miss Both My Moms,

Leigh

(Some of this blog may have been republished because of lack of time but it’s ok since I wrote both!)

 

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