South Broadway, Yonkers, NY

My Dad grew up in Yonkers, NY, a city in Westchester County (though for a long time I thought it was part of the Bronx, and thus part of New York City.) Sometime in the 1970s or 80s my Dad took me on a drive to his former neighborhood. I do not recall much of the sight seeing, but a recent visit caused me to dig out old newspaper clippings about my grandfather and his business.

My Dad and his family lived at 272 S. Broadway in an apartment building named Parkhill Gardens. (These many years later, I teach at a school in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. On occasions when the highway is backed up, I exit in Yonkers and take the local roads, not far from my Dad's old haunts.)

Recently I traveled with my older son and grandchildren to scope out the apartment building as well as the location, a few blocks south, of the Studebaker dealership owned and managed by my Dad's father.

Of the three photos below, the two without the street entrance were taken on our visit. The one showing the arch from the street is from a Redfin real estate page. The Redfin page answered a question I had, which was curiosity over the street level entrance. On my recent visit, that lovely arch was no longer in place. Instead there is a white metal arched gate that appears to get locked in the evenings, a different set of steps leading to up the building's courtyard, and a small elevator on the right to permit access for anyone unable to navigate the steps. [Updated 10-24-17 – A picture of the current entrance, taken on our visit, has been added to the set below.]

In his 1995 single-spaced, typed memoire, here is how my Dad described the building.

They were called the roaring 20's, but by the time we hit the 30's, the market crashed and the great depression took over. The family was living in Yonkers, NY, and my Dad ran the Studebaker auto dealership there. We lived in a brand new apartment house on the 4th floor. Every apt. had a "dumb waiter" (a shaft that had ropes that went to the top floor into which each family could access by opening a door.) Newspapers could be placed in the dumb waiter and at the appointed time, with the signal of a bell a worker in the basement would pull on the ropes and pull down the papers to be discarded. Our Apt. house was called The Parkhill Gardens (272 So. Broadway).

We lived in the ParkHill Gardens for about 8 years, moving to a rented house at 68 Ridge Road. That move took us to the Park Hill section of town and a new school. [You can learn more about the Park Hill section of Yonkers here and here.]

In 1934 after 5 years in our house, we moved back to the Park Hill Gardens into the same size apartment and wing that we had been in before, being on the 6th floor in place of the 4th … The "Great Depression" took it's toll on many, including our family. My parents were suffering the same financial strains that everyone else was experiencing, but I at 9 years old was blissfully unaware of these events.

Indelibly etched in my mind is a story my Dad shared of antics on the roof. My Dad and his two cousins (siblings around the same age as my Dad, and whose family also lived at 272 So. Broadway) would scamper to the roof of their apartment building and toss water balloons down on unsuspecting pedestrians. However, no fun deed goes unnoticed by neighbors, and upon descending back to their apartments they were reprimanded by their mothers. Having visited the building, I think the "roof" in reference is the area directly over the storefronts, rather than the roof above the top floor of the building.

The picture below is of my Dad and the two cousins noted above. The photo was taken by Ada, my Dad's mother, "from the roof top building at 272, South Broadway, Yonkers, N.Y., shortly after the return of Burt [right], Paul [left] and Harvey [center] after 'all the boys' came home" from World War II. 

a Documentary

Last week I met one of the two young women who produced this documentary and did the interviews. It is a poignant, relevant and important 20 minute film focused on opiate addiction in Mason County in the state of Washington. While this particular story is a local one, the topic is a national one. 

"Everybody knows somebody who knows somebody, or they really don't know that they know somebody that is affected by this epidemic."

"You've got to have support of law enforcement, you've got to have support of city management, you have to have support of community groups."


Pizza

There is no pizza better than one handmade at home by people who know how to make pizza. About two years ago my husband began making homemade pizza using a vegan crust and making three pizzas – one with mozzarella, one with tofu (for the Vegans and cholesterol watchers in our home), and one mini marinara pizza for our grandchildren. The result was tasty and became quite yummy when he made some subtle changes to how he prepared and cooked the dough. Our taste buds agreed he had mastered the art of pizza making.

Last week we had two professional pizza makers visiting from Olympia, WA, where they make pizzas at Vic's Pizzeria. Not one, not two, not three, but four pizzas did this duo make for our group of eight, each pizza as good as the other. (Okay pizza makers, if my count is off, please let me know!) 

Pizza making tips from the pros:

  • use plenty of flour (even more than Fred typically uses) so the dough does not stick to the large wood pizza spatula 
  • and the flour can be cornmeal instead of flour 
  • use hands instead of a rolling pin to form the pizza shape
  • start with a ball of dough, flatten with palms, then use fingers to roll out the dough in a circle (I have video of Katryna doing this but haven't yet figured how to export from my phone and upload to here)
  • if the dough rips, use your fingers to "glue" it back together
  • bake in a 500° oven (they started with a higher temperature and then decided to turn it down; it cooks in a 600° oven at Vic's)

Katryna showed us a video taken by her Mom of her flipping a pizza dough three times high above her head as the dough spread out in a circle, growing in circumference with each toss in preparation for making a large pizza.

Definitely a fun experience watching the entire pizza prep! And the pizzas were delicious, each topped with different combinations of spinach, Shitake mushrooms, avocado, homegrown tomatoes, onion, mozzarella, tofu, cashews, red peppers, and broccoli. (Did I leave anything out?)

Pizza accompanied by Jacques Brehl, what could be better!



Nail Polishing - saga and success

On what looked to become a rainy summer afternoon, I checked with my daughter-in-law to see if it would be okay for my  granddaughter (almost 5) to have her toenails polished. My thought was we would walk to town and purchase some polish. This is when I learned about Piggy Polish, a less odorous brand that was suitable for children and adults. My granddaughter and I walked the 1.3 miles to town and purchased two polishes and polish remover. Then the saga began.

As we walked home, my granddaughter dragged the paper bag along the grassy area by the sidewalk. Two blocks later I noticed the bag was wet and when we investigated, the bag had a small hole. At that point, we should have looked in the bag! Alas, we continued on our journey and upon returning home went to show our stash to her Mom. Oh dear, one bottle of polish was missing! Despite me and then both of us retracing our steps, we never located the bottle of polish that had escaped thru the small hole in the wet bag.

We soon moved on to other activities, including conjuring up multiple stories about the adventures the escaped polish was having, and I put the remaining bottle of polish in a safe place where it would be available to us when we decided to polish our nails. Days passed. Rain came. We decided to polish our nails. Uh oh, where could that one bottle be? We searched, asked others in the house, all to no avail – the bottle was lost. We sighed and went about our day.

A few weeks later my daughter-in-law surprised us with a 4-pack of Piggy Polish. Yippee! My granddaughter polished my toenails and I followed suit polishing hers the same colours; a few weeks later we repeated the process. 

During the last week of family visits, Katryna asked if the three of us would like to have our nails done, so off we went to Pristine Nail & Spa where we each received a manicure. This was easily my first manicure in more years than I can recall, and it was a special treat for each of us - Katryna because she has a job in food service and cannot wear nail polish at work, my granddaughter because it was her first time in a salon (and she handled it with finesse as if she was a long time patron), and me because I satisfied two interests – French Manicure and a picture on my thumb nails. The pictures tell the story. :-)

We had a delightful time (Thank you Katryna :-)) and then headed off for a second treat at Chocolations only to discover they were closed, perhaps just as well as we had a tasty dessert planned for after dinner that evening.

---------

As of yesterday evening all our family and friends have departed for their homes. In cleaning up (not much to do since everyone had already done laundry and vacuuming before they left - thank you all!) look what I discovered on the shelf behind our bed. Ah, the most obvious of spots and one I never checked. The missing bottle of Piggy Polish!


Summertime 2017

As a school teacher, I have long enjoyed gloriously relaxing summers. In my early years of teaching I typically taught during part of the summer, but in the past six years I have savored up to twelve weeks of work-free vacation filled with relaxation. Relaxation, even during summers when I worked, is swimming, kayaking, reading, one or two weeks vacationing elsewhere (Cape Cod; Maine road trips; visits to Olympia, WA to visit our younger son), taking workshops, seeing family near and far, and indulging in pastimes or whatever tickles my fancy without the constraints of time.

This summer was a glorious hodgepodge of nine weeks of non-stop houseguests! The constant was our older son, his wife and their two children. During the first five weeks our visitors also included my daughter-in-law's mother, and then her father joining us for the last of those five weeks. The following three weeks we settled into a household of six. And the final week was hands down the most heart warming week of all, as our younger son and his girlfriend flew in from Washington State. It had been almost two years since my family was last together, and the reunion was all the sweeter as it provided ample time for reconnecting, and for our grandchildren to get to know their uncle and he to get to know them.

Summer highlights…

  • Stamford Museum and Nature Center
  • Greenburgh Nature Center (amazed it took till being a grandparent to visit!)
  • Tibbetts Brook Park (twice! and see the end of this post for my almost-86 year old Aunt's recollections of when she and my Mom went to Tibbetts Brook!)
  • Rye Playland (where I made a goof and went on a ride with my grandchildren and agreed completely when my 28 month old grandson said "Grandma, this is dizzy!)
  • games of Hearts with the Olympia contingent
  • lunches and a dinner at Sal's Pizza (especially when my daughter-in-law's parents were here, including multiple stops for Sal's devilishly rich gelatto)
  • delicious family meals, including pizza by the pros! (all but one cooked at home, and almost all eaten on our deck)
  • lots of conversations, some in French (with my daughter-in-law's Mom, who also speaks English so we both were able to practice our conversational language)
  • a kayak or two with our grandchildren
  • Nail Polishing
  • plenty of visits to Mamaroneck and Harrison Libraries
  • having my younger son and his girlfriend practice yoga in two sessions that I led (he followed my journey to becoming a yoga teacher with encouragement and support)
  • long mornings spent on the beach at Rye Town Park (where we discovered we are considered Seniors - 62+ - and each purchased a 20 dollar pass providing unlimited free parking and beach access)
  • numerous (some weeks daily) afternoons at our neighborhood pool and beach
  • occasional bicycle riding, with our granddaughter graduating from her balance bike to a larger bicycle with pedals
  • walks to CVS, Lord's Farm and Mangone's, all less than a mile from our home
  • with my older son and grandchildren, visiting the neighborhood in Yonkers, NY where my father grew up in the 1920s and 1930s (my Dad lived at 272 S. Broadway [more on the visit here] and his Dad owned the Studebaker dealership [more on that here] just a few blocks south at 350 S. Broadway) followed by brunch at The Corner Cafe
  • going with my grandchildren and son to attend his graduation after three summers/two years of study with the Montessori Training Center Northeast in Hartford, CT (Master's of Education studies and AMI Primary Training certification; AMI is Association Montessori International), and while there visiting the home in West Hartford where my husband lived for many years (that's the house, below)

At times my husband and I felt wiped out by day's end, sometimes even before day's end! We found ourselves having to acknowledge our energy depletion, both physical and mental. Eventually, when our son's four weeks of studies were completed and he was no longer spending Mondays thru Fridays in Hartford, our days found a summer mellowness. We quickly saw that having Papa home provided a consistency and stability that two sets of grandparents, despite our collective best intentions (or perhaps because of best intentions ;-)), were not providing, and the consistency and stability resulted in fresh reserves of energy for Fred and me.

What brought our family to spend nine weeks with us (and ten weeks next summer!)? Our daughter-in-law is studying for her AMI Assistants to Infancy certification, and the program is based in New York City, just a 40 minute train ride from Mamaroneck.

We have had priceless time with the people we love. We have glowed in the gathering of our two sons and the people they care about. Happy Sighs. 

-----

My Aunt Joan's memory of going to Tibbetts Brook Park:

Memories.  We used to go to Tibbetts Brook for canoes and swims.  Lived in the Bronx but probably wasn't for Westchester residents only or had to pay an admission.

You can tell this to A. & E.  Go back 80 plus years.  I figure I was about 4 or 5.  Mother packed salami sandwiches and we would pick nick and eat lst.  Then, because old fashioned idea of don't go in water till1hr. After you eat, my dad would take out a canoe.  Eileen and myself went with him - of course only one who could swim and not well at all was dad.  No such things as life vests or rules in those days.  My mother would sit and watch and worry.  One day she realized that if the three of us went under she would be frightfully upset - but she still never got into the boat.

Then into the most gosh awful ugly suits for swim time.  We had to wear sneakers so as not to get germs on feet - ha! And also walk through a foot bath/basin of disinfectant (with the sneakers on) when leaving dressing room.  There were fountains spaced out in the pool and kids had a lot of fun under them.  Men wore bathing suits with tops to cover the chest.   We were only kids wearing sneakers - mother was super cautious. I think bathing suits were wool.  Women wore heavens knows what - maybe there was a corset built in, I remember a lot of hooks.  Sorry, no pictures from that era but I recall it vividly, especially asking "Is the hr. Up yet" because swim time was the main attraction.

You mentioned it and brought back memories.  Now you're taking your grandchildren to the same place.


Niece's High School Celebration Luncheon

This past Sunday we were guests at a luncheon to celebrate our niece's graduation from high school. This was an informal luncheon in a lovely location – a second story outdoor, covered deck overlooking Plandome Bay on Long Island Sound. The weather was glorious, and across the Sound we could see a small flash of rain, right over the area where we live.

At first I was going to wear a new dress with these wonderful shoes. After seeking my husband's opinion, I thought a different dress might work better, but he had the same reaction. Last change was to switch to pants. Then there was the small matter of which top to wear. The one I wound up with was the third option. And all that mulling over of an outfit paid off handsomely as I received multiple complements on my outfit, including one woman who went deliciously gaga over the whole ensemble. And of course, the shoes remained the same throughout all the clothing switches. Scroll down to see the completed outfit from head to toe.

I rarely receive such effusive complements, let alone quantity of positive comments, so all that mulling over was well worth it because I felt like the proverbial "million bucks" and apparently I looked it, as well! I've long believed that if you feel good about how you look then you will shine and others will feel you look wonderful. 

The handsome gentleman with me is my best friend and love of my life, my husband of 39 years (though if you count how long we've known each other, it's closer to 45 years!)

1 Year Yoga Anniversary!

On June 23rd we celebrated 1 year of yoga at my neighborhood community center. It was an especially heart warming celebration for me because I am the person who teaches/leads our yoga practice. Indeed, just days earlier I celebrated my 1 year anniversary of becoming certified as a yoga teacher.

To commemorate our yoga community, I suggested we have a breakfast celebration following our 8:00 to 9:00 morning practice. Here I am nibbling on a homemade cookie and standing next to our table of communal goodies. And below that you can see all the treats, many of which were homemade. I contributed apple cider and homemade vegan granola bars from the minimlaistbaker.com. I have been searching for such a bar for months, having followed at least three or four other recipes but never liking the texture of the finished bar. This one was perfect! (And I had the added delight of making them with my grandchildren!!)

2 Day Yoga Workshop

I have taken two days off from school to attend a Restorative Yoga Level 1 Teacher Training in Westport, CT at Kaia Yoga. This will be my third workshop with Jillian Pransky and I am eager and ready for this next level in my training and learning.

Stephanie of Sound Body Yoga is my friend and fellow yogi who encouraged me to pursue my 200-hour teacher certification. Among other modalities, she is trained in restorative yoga, having taken her training with Jillian Pranksy. I am an admirer of Stephanie's approach to teaching and how she leads her classes, so it made perfect sense to pursue my training in restorative with Jillian.

This is what I looked like yesterday morning before leaving for the first day of the workshop. This isn't posted for a fashion statement; just as visual reminder for me in years to come when I glance thru my blog posts. :-) The only fashion note is the skirt, purchased from Athleta online last year as a birthday gift so as to have a cover when needing to wear my yoga clothing out in public beyond just a quick entry or exit from a place of practice. Turns out I did not need to wear the skirt, but given that my drive would be on the highway, about 35 minutes in light traffic, I'd much rather have the skirt on if I needed to exit my car.

Come to think of it, for sentimental reasons the yoga top and leggings are also worth noting. The leggings were a gift from a colleague at the beginning of my first year (five years ago) at the school where I currently teach. She retired at the end of the year, but not before enlivening my life with her personal stories. French by birth, she lived in the U.S. and returned to France every year, which is where these leggings came from. The leggings are all cotton and as comfortable as can be, and she kindly gifted me two leggings, both the same color.

My top is by lululemon. My Mom died in 2010 and had wanted to be cremated. On the day I picked up her ashes I determined to bolster my spirits in some manner. As it turned out, I was driving past a lululemon store and decided to go in and see what all the fuss was about, lululemon at the time being a popular yoga brand. I wound up purchasing this top and a pair of capri gray bottoms. The top turned out to be comfortable, easy to move in, and long-lived (it's going on 7 years and still in good condition). The bottoms I do not wear that often as they are only comfortable at the end of the summer and early fall, when my weight is 5 pounds less than it is by the end of the winter! 


Blue on Deck

These Land's End seersucker shorts may not be the *most* flattering on my belly, but they are fun to style, quite comfortable to wear, and appropriate for work. I wore them not too long ago with a pink-purple top and sweater and below is today's style.

Given what I did at school today (climbing on a stool to stand upon a counter to tack numerous items to a wall that was all cork), I couldn't have dressed more efficiently except, perhaps, for wearing sneakers!

A sure sign that spring has arrived is the green of the grasses upon the marsh and the lushness of the trees. In the earlier photo there is still brown upon the marsh.


Hat Attack!

I have always liked this style of hat. This particular hat was a gift from our daughter-in-law to my husband. It was handmade in Ecuador, where she, our son and granddaughter lived for almost two years. They spread their time between Quito (where her sister lives with her family), Ibarra, and their home in the Chota Valley. (Our son blogged about their experience at living off the grit.) I was also the recipient of a multi-colored wide-brimmed hat, and am laughing now because either my head has expanded or the hat has shrunk, but my husband's hat fits my head more comfortably than my hat.

I also quite liked this outfit, and tried to persuade my husband to take a second picture to highlight what was under the much-loved Gap jean jacket, but as you can see, I did not prevail! To accompany the beige (off-white?) straight-legged pants from H&M was a gray Gap ribbed tank top, over which was a short sleeve, V-neck, yellow and gray striped Gap tee-shirt, and over that was a light weight gray button down Gap sweater, in case extra warmth was needed. 

The green patterned scarf comes from Brugge in Belgium, purchased in 2007 when we traveled to Europe to see our son (who popped over for 8 weeks while he was living in Japan) and meet his then-girlfriend (now our daughter-in-law, they met in Japan, both being on the same language immersion program at the Yamasa Institute) and her family, (her Dad is Belgian and her Mom is Peruvian.) Long distance, cross-continent romances run in this family. :-))

Am wearing currently favored gold colored earrings, and silver and gold bracelet from The Turnover Shop, and lotus flower necklace, a gift from a friend (and the person who encouraged me to be on this journey) in honor of my 200-hr yoga teacher certification last June.

Hooking up with Judith Boyd's Hat Attack on The Style Crone. I am an admirer when it comes to Judith's blog. Her elegance as a writer, dresser, and artist is always inspirational, and reading her posts is soothing while also being creatively stimulating.