It’s March 2017. I’m remembering January 21, the day after Trump’s inaguaration, thousands and thousands of women (and men) marched in protest in D.C. and cities around the country and the world. The numbers were amazing. The Women’s March.
It’s interesting and exciting that the dissent was spearheaded by women. The President elect, our President maligned so many groups, including women. But it’s women who took the initiative, don’t accept, resist. More are considering running for elective office.
Over a year ago I wrote a blog, “Friendship: the guys.” I knew there needed to be a companion, “Friendship: the girls.” Maybe now is the time.
Women contributed significantly to who I am. I have four sisters, all younger — Cissy, Vicky, Marylee and Lizanne. All unique personalities. My relationship with each is very different but they all have been very important in my life. Several months ago I wrote about Marylee and will reflect on the others in future blogs, not here. In a similar way, my mother Cis, daughter Jenny and aunt Ellen were/are important females who influenced me and deserves their own blogs.
Cousin Ellen Mignoni is the only other female relative whom I consider a close friend. We grew up together and stay in touch. Ellen is on my weekly call list; she is supportative and keeps me balanced. But it’s interesting, in recent years I’ve had more contact with cousins Elaine and Phyllis; closer friends in the making.
My earliest “girl” friend (much to mom’s dismay) was Carol Jefferies, a fellow Mill Street apartment resident, a tough kid — a year older and basically not the best influence. We got caught in a 5 and 10 store theft — can I say Carol was behind it. In elementary school, there were various friends who were “girls,” — Donna Lutz, Patty O’Gara, Karen Fannin, and Karen McGee. There were different relationships with each of them but all good friends. Karen Fannin for several years was my first “girlfriend.” She taught me that girls had different interests. In High School, I stayed connected with Karen McGee. She was a bit of a confidant, we shared growing up concerns. I should get in touch with her.
In my Sophomore year I began dating Rainy Cohen. She was from a liberal Jewish family, had an older college brother at Ann Arbor, who was involved in the anti-war movement. For me, a different culture (Jewish and political activist) and it may have contributed to my anti-war involvement in college. Rainy today is a retired teacher, a liberal Facebook activist. We have FB contact.
Interestingly, Diane is the only female friend from my college years. We met at a party in the Boston Statler Hilton hotel, dated for a year and decided to get married. It’s hard to believe that was almost 50 years ago. In the past few years, we’ve attempted to adjust to retirement and my medical issues. It’s not always easy. She can be very critical but it pushes me to look at my decisions. We also share many interests and while traveling her serendipity (let’s check out this back road) complements my planning (but it’s getting late). I’d write more but she wouldn’t want me to write anything. Enough.
In the early 1970s I read a book, “Open Marriage” by the O’Neills. Their premise was that a married couple didn’t fulfill all their spouse’s needs. Wives would have male friends; husbands would have female friends. I remember teachers at the Holy Ghost Prep faculty lunch table being amazed by the idea. No “open marriage” there. But over the years Diane has had male friends and I’ve had female friends. Many of these “girl” friends have become part of my life.
After college and the Peace Corps training, Diane and I lived in Bristol, then Yardley. My first post-PC job was teaching at Saint Michael’s in Levittown. Much to my amazement, my principal, a Mercer nun, became a close friend and mentor. Sister Michael Marie was amazing. She identified with kids, respected faculty, and energized a school. She taught me how to be an effective, understanding school administrator. I kept in touch with her for decades, and we had a retirement lunch a few years ago, before she passed. One of my first adult female friends.
Diane and I both became close friends with Barbara Cantor who would marry one of my best friends, John Paglione. Barbara had moved to Bristol recommended by her Pratt College roommate Melody. Barbara and John met in a local drug store and were soon married. Melody, a developing potter, married a local boyfriend Garret Bonnema. We all became friends. Barbara and Melody are among my close women friends today, decades later. Both contributed to my artistic sensibility.
For several years in the early 1970s, Diane and I lived with John and Barbara Paglione in a rented house in New Hope. Barbara became a “sister.” In recent years, we’ve visited Paglione’s in Ann Arbor, hosted them in Yardley and shared several short vacations. More are in the planning stages. Although John and I talk weekly, I really enjoy when I call and get to hear Barbara’s perspective. A women’s point of view.
Barbara and John Dye were neighbors when we bought our River Road house in Yardley in the mid 1970s. Their daughter, Kati and Jenny became best friends. The Dye’s had been Peace Corps volunteers. Although we all had similar interests, we had more contact with Barbara. She was more out spoken, socially and political active. She was a liberated woman and we became friends. But it’s interesting, now that we’re all retired, John and I have become closer. The interaction between couples is interesting.
My friends specifically female friends, were often associated with Holy Ghost Prep or Yardley Borough. Rose Horch, lived in Yardley, was hired at HGP as an English teacher and later Academic Dean. We became friends. She left HGP for ETS but we stayed in contact and although our current interaction is limited, Rose and her husband Dwight, Diane and I have had lunch in Lambertville. Rose showed me a professional woman.
Barbara Cavanaugh was a younger German teacher at HGP in the 1970s. My first European trip with students was a week in Germany with Barbara. Barbara was a female contact with the younger generation — music, movies, lifestyle. I always commented how I had faculty friends that kept me young. Barbara was the first female in that category.
Years later I became friends with another German (and math) teacher, Sandy Courtney. For years Sandy organized an exchange program with an HGP school in Germany. I signed on two years. Sandy and I had a unique relationship. She was pretty conservative, but socially liberal. She didn’t drink but had no problem joining me as I sampled German beer. I have some contact with Barbara on Facebook; but contact with Sandy has been too limited.
Another HGP teacher, Eleanor Osborne and I were friends from Bristol. She and I grew up on the same block on Mill Street. Regularly the Profy family had pizza and pasta from her family’s restaurant. Eleanor came to HGP as a substitute foreign language teacher — Spanish. As the years passed and we became older, Eleanor increasingly became one of my sisters with frequent telephone contact. A new HGP language teacher, Edna Ramirez , and I have become social friends. Fascinating how you just click with some people.
In my last years at HGP, I also became close to Kathy Posey, an English teacher. She was from Virgina and and at times slides into a southern drawl — calling me “Vinne.” I would only allow that from Kathy. She retired right after me and we have met for lunch several times. Kathy is understanding, a support, a good friend. Kathy showed me the importance of nurturing students. Mom, Kathy.
Other HGP female friends include Arlene Buettler (her husband John was a 60s HGP grad, faculty member and friend) and Trish O’Conner. Both were my assistants in the library. Arlene’s library style was conservative, hush, quiet, very classic; Trish was liberal, loud, a friend of all students. Although both could sometimes drive me crazy, they were/are close friends. I still send Arlene notices related to “chocolate;” Trish gets emails related to Ireland. More recently, Gerri Carmine, another math teacher, and administrator became a cooking, Italian culture friend. There are other HGP teachers who have left imprints, Louise Martucchi, Pat Esposito, Karen Smallen, Jan Nolting, Kristen Walters.
We moved to Yardley in 1978. Several years later I was recruited by the local Republican Party to run for Borough Council. At my first meeting I met Susan Taylor. A fiscal Republican but quite liberal socially. I had registered Republican to vote against Reagan in the primaries. Could I run as Repulican? I did. Susan and I became a local team for eight years. In addition to our time dedicated to borough issues; we socialized. During the 1980s, our family vacation was chartering a 30 foot sailboat out of Rock Hall on the Chesapeake with the Taylors. Jerry, Susan’s husband, had significant sailing experience.
For years I became involved in local community organizations. Susan, sometimes Jerry, were involved with the same organizations — the Yardley Historical Association, Friends of Lake Alton, Friends of the Delaware Canal, the Yardley Community Center. Although I no longer have involvement in the community organizations; our friendship with the Taylors is strong. Susan is probably my closest female friend. Words not needed; she understands.
Another girl friend from the Council years was Sue Micklewright. Sue was hired as one of Yardley’s first Borough managers. We had a professional relationship which developed into a personal friendship, which has continued even though Sue moved to Oregon. When I’m upset, Sue is often my late night telephone call or FB friend.
Women’s role in our lives and their contribution to our history – personal and national — is often not recognized. I suspect I have a share of male chauvinism. But I believe I have also realized the contributions of women to my personal life and our national character. Part of who I am is because of them. I thank them. May there be many more women’s marches.