Tuesday, June 28, 2016

1958...NY memories continued ... POPSY

When I met Dick in NY City he was in the throes of beginning his own free lance photography business. The two years that he'd spent as an assistant photographer at “LIFE” magazine opened many doors for him and he took advantage of that.

One acquaintance was a big Greek man named Popsy who had been the band boy for Benny Goodman. When the “Big Band Era” came to an end Benny asked Popsy what his plans were for the future. Popsy told him that his dream had always been to be a photographer so Benny set him up with a small studio in the NY City Theater District

Popsy would be the first to tell you that he was no artist when it came to taking pictures but he had the basics and the actors and actresses flocked to his studio. It was close to their work and they were also lured to Popsy because of his proximity to famous musicians. 

When Dick went out on his own he couldn't afford a studio so it was a win-win situation when he teamed up with Popsy. Dick would have use of his studio and darkroom and, in return, he would teach Popsy some of the finer points of photography. I have fond memories of the many times I would meet them after work at the studio. It was usually for Chinese take-out and a recap of the day.
In my next blog entry I will tell you about a once-in-a-lifetime experience that could only have come true through our friendship with Popsy.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Before marriage … 1958

As I wrote in my last entry Dick and I met early in 1958 and married in August of the same year. We'd pretty much made up our minds about this after just a few dates and the next step was to find a place to live. We settled on what we could afford which was a small railroad apartment on the West Side.

These were exciting months for us. I was still working at WABC and Dick was enlarging his contact list of clients and of course we were making plans for our upcoming marriage. I remember one day in particular. We 'd both agreed that it would be smart to have a routine physical just on the off chance that something was wrong and could be corrected before our wedding.

On this day we'd just left the Doctor's office and Dick was saying how it was a breeze and he was glad we'd been pro-active. He then asked me why I was so quiet … was anything wrong? I turned to him and in a serious voice I said, “I'm glad too but I can't help but wonder why the Dr. had to have his hands all over me for just a routine exam.”

WHAT ?” yelled Dick, and he spun around and started running back to the Dr's office. I raced after him ...shouting that I was joking ... but I couldn't catch him. He was still yelling and I had visions of his barging into the Dr's office and decking the poor man before he could get a word out

Luckily the office was on the third floor and the elevator wasn't available. It gave me just enough time to thank him for caring so much and to, once again, tell him that it was just my crazy sense of humor. At first he looked aghast and then he started to laugh. I was so relieved but little did I know that, for the rest of our lives, he'd remind me of this every time I complained about one of his pranks!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Meeting Dick …1958

        The last two blog entries have opened up a flood of memories so, if you will bear with me I will bring more of them to light … starting with how I met my husband, Dick. 
About 6 months after I started working in New York City I was introduced to a new and invigorating group of New Yorkers. The talk was eclectic ... typically liberal and heavily concentrated on the Arts. As the evening went on a new man arrived and I found myself drawn to him.

Dick was a photographer who had just left a two year stint on “Life” magazine and was starting a free-lance business. He was attractive, in a rough boyish style and not very tall. His mother lived in the apartment one floor up and he had moved in with her while he launched his new career. Suddenly this thought came to my mind: “He’s too short for me, but this is the man that I’m going to marry !”

This was early in 1958 and it didn't take long for us to make my prediction come true. Dick and I tied the knot on August 23, 1958 and our marriage lasted 32 years until his death in 1990.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Another connection …

My ears perked up when I heard that many of the iconic photos of Muhammad Ali were taken by Gordon Parks. I never met him but my husband, Dick, worked with him at “LIFE” magazine and admired him greatly.

I met Dick in 1957, the year that he left his job as assistant photographer to start his own free lance business. He had worked with an array of well known “shutter bugs” at “LIFE”, such as Eliot Elisofon and Margaret Bourke-White but Gordon Parks was definitely his favorite.
Gordon had a great sense of humor and he loved to act goofy. If you were walking with him, Dick said, he would suddenly scoot over to the edge of the sidewalk and continue walking with one foot on the sidewalk and the other on the street … making it look like he was staggering. This would often promote barbed remarks and disgusted looks from those he passed but this just made him act even goofier ! My husband had a lot of this silliness in his personality too so they got along just fine.

Gordon Parks was famous for putting his clients at ease and portraying the “real” person in his photos. It makes me wonder what he said to Ali to elicit this reaction ?

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

I feel connected …

No, I never met Muhammad Ali but every time I hear about him it brings back memories of the other guy, Howard Cosell. I met him in 1957 in NY City where we were both working for WABC radio… he as a sports broadcaster and me as a lowly writer of promotional material. 

I was living in Tudor City, located on the East side of Manhattan near Grand Central Station and, although it was a hike to West 86th Street, I would often walk to work. However, after a long and tiring day it was a treat to share a cab with others who lived on the East side, or were taking a train home to the suburbs from Grand Central Station. One of the regulars who did this was a young man named Howard Cosell.

Howard worked on the “broadcasting” floor of our building so I never ran into him except on our rides to the East side. He loved music, especially opera and he never tired of telling us about the shows that he and his wife had seen. He would outline the plots of the operas and when and where they had been performed. He was a born teacher and we were avid students. His demeanor was always extremely proper and I had no reason to believe that he would become one of the most controversial figures in the world of sports reporting. The thing I remember most about Howard Cosell was his quiet and compelling voice. The nasal sound was there but I never heard the excited and almost-manic quality that were to become his particular trademark.

I left ABC before the amazing friendship between Muhammad Ali and Howard began but I followed it avidly as it progressed. I remember how he honored the man who became Mohammad Ali and was the first reporter to use his new name. He also stood squarely behind him when Ali refused to be drafted and was the one who broke the good news to him when the Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, voted in Ali's favor.

Howard passed away in 1995 at the age of 77. Among the many ailments that contributed to his death was Parkinson's Disease, the very same malady that was taking over the life of Muhammad Ali at this time. 
There will be tributes all week as we mourn the loss of Muhammad Ali and I'm sure that among them will be sound bites and stories about his friendship with Howard. Of course they will be of interest to me but, most of all, it will bring back memories of those magical years in the late 50's and the gentleman named Howard who insisted on always paying the cab-fare.

Friday, June 03, 2016

CI-VIL-I-TY … noun … politeness and courtesy in behavior or speech

I am so disheartened with all that is going on in our country. For more than 65 years I have watched as our politicians vie for election and, although I've seen some unbelievable things, I've never seen it go this far. The lack of civility is astounding, as are the ridiculous promises with nothing to back them up, and it will only get worse as we approach November 8th

Trying to be open minded I recently clicked on C-span because I knew they were airing the Libertarian Convention and I was interested in what they had to say. A lot of it didn't make sense to me but when I heard a delegate from Texas stand up at the podium and speak of the “mop headed tyrant in the White House” I turned it off in disgust.

My son Matt is extremely knowledgeable about politics. He listens to CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and the 3 Network channels. He tells me that it is the only way to get an overall picture of what is really happening and I know that's true but I find that I simply can't do it.

What is happening is disgraceful and puts us in such a bad light in the eyes of the world. I dread the outcome of the upcoming elections. If Trump wins I have visions of a foreign dignitary disagreeing with him and Trump telling him to “go home to mommy”, as he tells the dissenters at his rallies. When I mention this to Matt he agrees but he also tells me that he puts his trust in the American voter. 

I pray that he is right.