On June 9, 1940, when I was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the hospital had no typewriters in the neonatal department. The OB who delivered me filled in my birth certificate in by hand, but I’m sure it’s authentic.
The next eighteen years in Stratford sped by for me in a whirlwind of boredom —not a lot happened in that sleepy town. The famous people who grew up there include Pulitzer Prize-winning author Steven Milhauser, but you can’t really count him since the Milhausers moved away before he reached high school age. There’s also my grade school classmate Johnny Papa, who was for a few years a pitcher with the Baltimore Orioles. That’s about it.
After I graduated from Stratford High School (the only high school in town), I took classes at schools here and there. And among several jobs requiring minimal skill, I taught dance at Arthur Murray’s in Bridgeport.
The big city beckoned and, at twenty, I was living in a rent-controlled apartment on Bleecker Street in Manhattan. Millie Quiros, a friend I’d met at the University of Bridgeport, decided to make the move too, and we roomed together for several years. She studied acting at Herbert Berghof; I did clerical work for a series of big companies.
Meanwhile, I’d found out about Hunter College, where the tuition was free. Starting in 1961, I signed up for two evening session classes each semester; eight years later, I’d fulfilled the requirements for a B.A. I figured free was good, so I kept taking classes through the ‘70s, accumulating an assortment of credits. Once I landed a teaching position in the New York City school system, I needed to get an M.A. I decided to do that at NYU, which wasn’t free but cheap compared to what it costs today.
One of my excellent music teachers at Hunter had turned me into an opera buff, so I also spent a lot of time at the Met Opera, cadging bargain tickets out front. During school holidays, I joined “opera tours” around Europe, going to Baroque and Early Romantic period shows we didn’t see much here. My opera immersion paid off when I was given a chance to teach a class called “Opera In Our Lives” at my school, High School for the Humanities.
I met my sweet husband Dan in 1981, we got married in 1987, and we’re still having a good time together after 35 years. No kids. By 1991, we’d had enough of the Greenwich Village scene and bought a townhouse in Hoboken. It’s the closest thing to Paradise. We can see the New York City skyline from our waterfront, and we can get to shows there in minutes and then come home to our cozy, neighborly city.
I retired from teaching in 2003 and could then indulge in Appalachian clogging, my favorite dance form. I founded the dance group City Stompers a year later, held weekly classes in Chelsea Studios, and the group performed at a variety of venues around New York City. After seven years, I turned the operation over to Daniela Muhling and Megan Downes, who are still going strong. My involvement in Old Time music now includes less dancing and more singing.