On Son’s Growing Up



It was another cold winter Wednesday night around 7 p.m. We were just finishing up dinner when my cell phone rang.

“Hi Mom,” the voice on the other end said. “What are you up to?”

“Hi Jesse,” I said. “How are you?” I held in my breath and closed my eyes, suddenly taking on the maturity of a two-year-old playing hide and seek.

“Great!” he answered. I let my breath out

I waited for the explanation of what he needed, what he lost, how much money it was going to cost me or what class he decided not to attend that day.

I looked out the window, took a large gulp of wine and waited. Waited for the “I need or lost” clause to be stated as it had so many times before.  But this time in that very moment while I scrubbed sweet potatoes off my dish in the sink, my son, it appeared, just called me to say hello. To see how his Mom was doing, to inquire what was new in her life? Could it be true? Could our 19-year-old boy be calling just for that one reason alone with nothing up his sleeve? Could it be—I wondered to the Gods—he was maturing?

At that time our son was finishing his second year of college in Rhode Island. For the first year and a half, most communication was by text. He was filled with trepidation (as were we) but I tried, as I did most of his life, to gently persuade him into a new situation. Not a large push, just a little nudge, a lot of encouragement and love and respect for his way of doing things. Jesse was the type of child who as a young boy who would hold onto my leg in any new situation for the entire duration of the event and want to release his hold just as we were readying to leave. This made me feel uncomfortable, not sure if this feeling was for him or for me but I craved him to be a joiner, to run off with the other kids with a huge smile. But he never did.

When he was away we missed him terribly and wanted to hear his voice—the house was quiet without him making his usual noises and messes—but using text as communication worked for all of us in our busy lives. It was quick, painless and could be given and received at anytime. We needed to know if he was safe, if he got to class, if he was adjusting; we needed to know if we could stop worrying. He was our first off to college, and I had to tell my brain to refocus onto other things while he was gone.

For the most part, the only phone calls that transpired were those of panic or dread. Those emotions were mostly coming from us, the parents. The conversation usually started and ended something like this:

“Mom, I have something to tell you. I lost my wallet/can’t find my car keys/broke my nose [yes, that was a real one]/I am out of detergent/coffee/food/waters/toilet paper/cleaning products—can you put some money in my account? And I need money for laundry—can you put money in that account too? My suitemates all have the swine flu and nobody has cleaned the bathroom in weeks. And by the way, that class that I was supposed to switch into, it’s closed and drop/add was yesterday. And of least importance, there is a smell in our room that we cannot identify. Oh, and Mom—I need a suit, tie and shoes by tomorrow.”

But this time, on this mid-week call in the middle of a harsh New York winter, Jesse seemed to be sincerely interested in what I did that day. He asked about my writing, how our two mini-dachshunds were doing with all the snow, about his Dad and his long commute and how he was adjusting to a fairly new job. He even asked how his sister was doing in school. It was as if I was speaking to a friend–a dear friend who I really liked—a good guy, a smart, respectful, honest man. One who could see beyond his own needs and ask about the needs of others, one much like his Dad. I felt a wave of pride that I was sure would leave me someplace in this phone conversation when the real Jesse came back on the line.

Friends of older adult children tell me that this phenomenon happens, that around this age our children turn into pretty cool people. People we can be proud of, that we can hang with. “Almost adults” that we can talk to with our voices and not just our thumbs. I know this too since Jesse is one of those now.

Could it be that all those emotional, frustrating, exhilarating years of parenting paid off? Is this once shy, quirky and very creative little boy—who for the first few months of pre-school sat on a chair by the door and didn’t move or talk to any classmates—becoming a caring and complete man?

Jesse graduated College. I still held my breath when he called all through those years not knowing what he would say—but now I know he has joined the human race. The teenage years are gone and we are left with a twenty-something we are so proud of and that we are delighted to speak with whenever he calls.

Now, unlike the college days, Jesse is busy with his own life.  A life complicated, yet joyous, fun and in a city that never sleeps. A life filled with navigating a real career, a  beautiful dog named Molly and a relationship with a girl we love.  A die-hard New York sports fan, dating a die hard Boston far, he is juxtapositioning watching all New York and Boston games (except maybe hockey) either in person or with friends in front of the very large television he has at his place.

It is amazing the emotional rollercoaster parents experience throughout the lives of their children. It still pains me that I don’t see him everyday – a deep pain right in the center of my heart accompanied by a big lump in my throat. I think about him when I am in the car alone or when I see a little boy with his Mom in a store. He is not far in distance, yet miles away. At the same time I have to admit I grin knowing I am not picking up after him, arguing or solving his day-to-day challenges.

For a long time this little boy was my constant companion, my first child after losing a daughter just the year before. My daughter Samantha died at nine days old. We held her as she took her very last breath, wrapped in pink blankets, in the Neo Natal intensive care unit at New York Hospital. I was a robot, a human body whose heart and soul were smashed broken and on hold, walking without legs, barely seeing my way through a menagerie of hell wondering why the world did not stop at that moment.

I held Jesse close and very tight from the moment he arrived. Still navigating darkness that I carried like a transient visitor who may or may not arrive every morning. His arrival was hope. A life to fill a void that nobody could easily explain. A daughter born to earth and taken away, a loss like no other.

Jesse has been out on his own for a few years now and this morning I walked into his room.  What met me was a Vince Carter bobble head doll, a shelf filled with old college textbooks (wasn’t he supposed to sell those back to the college bookstore?) and a framed picture of Mickey Mantle my husband gave him signed, “to my pal Robbie, best wishes Mickey Mantle” along with dozens of signed baseballs, a social security card (doesn’t he need that?) and enough mixed emotions filling the air to encompass a baseball field.

We removed the Plexiglas basketball night table and replaced it with a traditional wooden table we had in the garage, but everything else is pretty much the same. CA few years ago we moved the clothes that still remained in the drawers; a hand painted, decoupage, two-drawer box with cut out Nets and Yankees logos, to hold change and doodads on his dresser that evoked memories of a day when I encouraged him to make something out of the raw wood even though he was too cool at fifteen to still do “crafts”.

These days, I feel proud, thankful and exuberant. There are times I crave for the past when my children were small and life was filled with play dates, playdoh, basketball, baths, and wet kisses. But more often I now want the Hollywood moment when all my grown children, girlfriends/boyfriends come to my fictitious Hollywood sprawling, immaculately clean house with a warm, inviting style. The kids with their plus ones throw their arms around me carrying gifts wrapped in perfect color tones matching my tastefully chosen home décor — like a film with delicate and painterly cinematography where the Mom looks especially young, and thin, and cooks an amazing meal. There are no dirty dishes in the sink and a good Carly Simon tune is barely audible in the background. A good, heavy red wine from a French Region flows with laughter abounding.

I clearly remember when Jesse was a junior in high school and he had to get a letter of recommendation from his Math teacher. “Tell me a little more about Jesse,” Mr. Gagliardi asked. “I only know him in class.” My head ached knowing the fast path, high achieving competition that awaited him on a college application and I wanted to lie –to make something up about how he was working on a cure for childhood cancer, or how many volunteer hours he racked up at hospice.  I wanted him to be accomplished, a man of wisdom, distinction and philanthropy as the college admissions process makes us believe they should.

But as I started to speak the whole truth came out, “he has three things that are important to him right now,” I told him. “First is his Dodge Charger, second is his girlfriend and the third is school.” I wanted to hang up, I wanted to be proud, I wanted the world of college acceptance to go away and I wanted not to care how polished and ‘over do-good’ some of the other kids were on paper.

But as quickly as the words came out of my mouth to describe my then seventeen-year-old son, his response was even quicker and with one hundred percent certainty.

“Exactly how he should be,” his teacher responded. “Exactly how he should be.”


A Lesson in Living

On a Friday in early December, my vivacious mother-in-law, coming around the corner of 90 – lost her current self.

An accident.

“No fault”, said the insurance company.

Up until that day, this soulful, passionate – almost nonagenarian – was repainting her kitchen (well, not by herself); running to senior programs; making her husband kooky; talking incessantly about Florida; analyzing her grandchildren; loving her three children and spouses and pretty much being Ruby.  The Ruby we love and still see so clearly even –if she does not.

Her legs are not (currently) working.  Her mind is freshly off trauma and she is a rehab lady now.  Some guests just hold their heads down; some require baby food; others curse at the dining hall help…and there is a “for men only” table.

She has been through a lot. She does not like being there one tiny bit. She feels unsafe, tenuous and afraid. “It’s normal to feel that way,” we tell her.

We share that this is just part of her journey, that her body does not define her.

We tell her that the food there isn’t that bad; that the nurses and aides are doing their best. We persuade her to try and push through physical therapy the very best that she can. We tell her she is a rock star, a force to be reckoned with and that soon she will be back.

Some days she believes us and others get lost in the sights and sounds of a place that is not home.

We feel very lucky after seeing the mangled steel that was once her car.

There is joy, jokes, bingo, beautiful people and there are smiles.

Soon there will be more days with familiar laughter, love, long life lessons and living.





ArtsRock is proud to announce that the legendary Broadway star CHITA RIVERA will appear in conversation with Elliott Forrest at The Nyack Center, 58 Depew Avenue, on Friday, May 13 at 8:00 PM. For more information or to purchase tickets, go to http://www.artsrock.org or call 855-ArtsRock.

“This is a living legend. Chita Rivera spans decades of the best of stage and screen and has been awarded our nations highest awards for excellence. I can’t wait to sit on the stage with her and share her wit and wisdom with our ArtsRock audience in Nyack,” says ArtsRock Artistic Director, Elliott Forrest.

An accomplished and versatile actress/singer/dancer, Chita Rivera has won two Tony Awards as Best Leading Actress in a Musical and received eight additional Tony nominations for an exceptional 10 Tony nominations. In November “Great Performances” aired their special Chita Rivera: A Lot of Livin’ To Do, a retrospective of her extraordinary life and career nationally on PBS. She recently starred in the Broadway production of The Visit, the final John Kander/Fred Ebb/Terrence McNally musical directed by John Doyle and choreographed by Graciela Daniele (2015) following the acclaimed production at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in the summer of 2014. She starred in the Broadway revival of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, the Broadway and touring productions of The Dancer’s Life, and the revival of the Broadway musical Nine with Antonio Banderas. She trained as a ballerina (from age 11) before receiving a scholarship to the School of American Ballet from legendary George Balanchine. Chita’s first appearance (age 17) was as a principal dancer in Call Me Madam. Her electric performance as Anita in the original Broadway premiere of West Side Story brought her stardom, which she repeated in London. Her career is highlighted by starring roles in Bye Bye Birdie, The Rink (Tony Award), Chicago, Jerry’s Girls, Kiss of the Spider Woman (Tony Award), and the original Broadway casts of Guys and Dolls, Can-Can, Seventh Heaven and Mr. Wonderful. On tour: Born Yesterday, The Rose Tattoo, Call Me Madam, Threepenny Opera, Sweet Charity, Kiss Me Kate, Zorba, Can-Can with The Rockettes. She was awarded The Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2009. She received the coveted Kennedy Center Honor in Washington, DC in 2002 and was the first Hispanic woman ever chosen to receive this award. Chita’s current solo CD is entitled And Now I Swing.

Elliott Forrest has hosted and produced live events from Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Hollywood Bowl and The Jerome L. Greene Space, among others. He is the recipient of a George Foster Peabody Award and has hosted more the 60 concerts at Carnegie Hall. He has been on the radio in New York City for 30 years and is currently heard on classical music station 105.9FM, WQXR-FM. In Rockland County, Forrest is the Founding Artistic Director of ArtsRock where he’s led staged interviews with such luminaries as David Hyde Pierce, Lewis Black, Alec Baldwin, Mike Nichols, Robert Osborne and others. For 12 years Elliott was seen on the A&E Television Network as host of BREAKFAS T WITH THE ARTS and BIOGRAPHY.

ArtsRock – The mission of ArtsRock is to provide increased access to professional arts and multi-cultural programs for an underserved, diverse audience, in and around Rockland County. ArtsRock is a 501 (C)(3) New York Not For-Profit Corporation.
For more information or to purchase tickets, go to http://www.artsrock.org or call 855-ArtsRock.
Contact for Ms. Rivera – Merle Frimark ■ 212-819-1133 ■ Merle@merlefrimarkpr.com

The Fork Less Taken


The North Fork of Long Island is where magical things happen. There are 40 plus vineyards, emerging micro breweries and a “Slow Food” minded restaurant industry. A farming scene that is thriving and ever evolving with things like the planting of hops and the obsession of organic and sustainable methods, not dwindling like in many other places. There are local artists, farmers, ranchers, musicians, wine-makers, cheese makers; fish mongers — did I mention the incredible Long Island Sound? A true artisans paradise.

It is not the overachieving South Fork. What’s growing in most North Fork fields aren’t subdivisions but vegetables, fruit and lots of grapes.

I was lucky enough to stay directly across from the Sound with a room that’s view was out of a movie and to experience the Fork’s sunset complete with a stranger playing bagpipes on the beach.

Thank you to our hosts.


Tomorrow is the day. Our “Blondie” returns to College to begin her Senior year and to tackle the grown up ways of renting her own apartment off campus.

Life will become quiet again here.

No more four in the morning awakenings (like the one that happened last night), high heels on the kitchen floor or cuddling together on the couch to watch the last season of Parenthood on her laptop.

We have been down this road with our son. Shopping, packing, unloading, sweating, worrying, loving and leaving. But this will be our last time and the air is thicker and the parents seem, well, a little older.

There is a gigantic emotional purging of us parents of college age children and I have often thought there should be a huge support group to talk about all the hills and valleys. There is no road map, no manual, you cannot click google to tell you whether or not your child will succeed, be happy, or not fall in a ditch (every time they don’t call or text me I think this is what happened).

But we do our very best everyday, we parent by example –we are human by example.  We teach respect, hard work, ethics and to be kind to everyone no matter who they are or where they have been. We wake in the middle of the night wondering if they will find love, be brave, smile each and every day.

Our first daughter Samantha is no longer on earth with us and we know that she watches over her sister. There is no doubt in our mind.

Rebecca will not be happy with me on this one – she is currently not a sharer like her Mom- but a few years ago she had an assignment where she had to interview her grandparents, aunts, uncles and parents to learn more about their history.

This is how she ended her essay:


My family has taught my brother and I, pride, hard work, humility and values. While my parents always watched out for us and knew what we were doing (most of the time) they also allowed us to be who we were, they didn’t push us to do anything that didn’t feel right for us, and allowed us to discover who we are on our own. I always watched my friends parents, control their every move and tell them what they should do and believe in, but not mine.. I was allowed to try new things and find myself on my own. My parents had a daughter before my brother and I, she passed away after just ten days, and although it might not be possible, I always felt like I knew this little girl who was supposed to be my big sister. When I was younger my mom told me I would look in the mirror and talk to myself , she would ask who I was talking to and I would tell her “my sister.” Every where I am, I feel her with me, its like having an angel on my shoulder. I’m very lucky to have the family I do.

Tomorrow this girl will start her life as a Senior in College with her own apartment and we will continue not to tell her what to do but to lead her to conclusions of her own, encourage her to shine and hope that we will always laugh, find adventures and be together. Well at least for the next hundred years. 🙂

Live large “Blondie” we love you to the moon and back.

Tasting the Spirit of a People

When my 94-year-old Neapolitan, no-nonsense, say-it-like-it-is grandmother of five and great-grandmother of ten, Lucia Amoroso, passed from this world a few years ago and some of her belongings were shipped from Tampa to my home in New York, I had one thing that was on my mind. “Are her recipes in that shipment?”

Old recipes. Family heirlooms. Recipes handed down from generation to generation. Memories of sitting at the supper table with family– laughing, talking, sharing, fighting. This is what Julia della Croce, originally from Pearl River and who now resides in Nyack, and who is considered one of America’s foremost authorities on Italian food, has been trying to preserve for over thirty years and whether she is writing about it, teaching it or cooking it, her passion for tradition and the spirit of a people pours out of her.


Julia is the author of over thirteen cooking and travel books, including two for Williams-Sonoma on pasta-making. Many of her books have been translated into French and thirteen other languages, and distributed around the world. She has also conducted cultural and culinary tours to Italy.

Julia began her career as a restaurant critic. Her work has appeared in many magazines, newspapers, and on-line publications including The New York Times, Food & Wine, and The Washington Post. She has been broadcast on countless radio and national television shows, including the Food Network.

Besides working toward the preservation of traditional Italian cuisine through publishing and teaching, Julia has dedicated herself to advocacy work for better food and sustainable agriculture. She pioneered an award-winning healthy school food program for 200 children at an independent school in New York and developed a nutrition program providing natural food and local farm-raised produce to an emergency food pantry in New York City serving some 900,000 people every year.

I was introduced to Julia through Michele (Micalizzi) McCarthy, Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee’s Communications Director (who when we meet at Press Events only talk about the event before us and food). I met Julia at the Blauvelt-Norris-Burr House, a historic house in Blauvelt, New York owned by artist Michael La Placa. Michael designs original pottery that is hand-painted by Deruta artisans and owns a palazzo in the charming hill town of Bettona overlooking the Spoleto Valley of Umbria (more on that later).

Michael’s Dutch home whose main section and south kitchen were built circa 1790-1800, sits on land previously owned by David Bogert. The first known occupant was Garret I. Blauvelt. In 1853 the farm was acquired by John S. Norris, an architect and builder. In 1885 it was purchased by the Burr family who owned it for 56 years. If the walls could talk they would tell some fabulous tales and you can hear the history as you walk through into the magnificent home.

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I was invited for lunch.

Michael set the table with his Deruta ceramics and Ginori dessert dishes and his updated kitchen, still rich with all the aesthetics of its previous life, could take your breath away. We started with a salad of arugula, crostini and hard-cooked eggs with anchovies — Insalata di rucola, crostini, uova soda, alice. Julia’s husband, Nathan Hoyt, painstakingly sauteed the crostini in olive oil schooled by Michael who was very busy chopping, washing, preparing and avoiding squishing his two puppies who remained under his feet.

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Julia and I talked and she shared with me how she got started in cooking. “I was twenty-five, and the man in my life then, owned a 50-foot ketch that he lived on. Since the decks were, in effect, his living room, I was stuck raising and lowering the halyards while he shouted orders from the helm. Not for me! Better the galley, where I could cook while the crew worked up a sweat. We decided to start sailing cruises on Long Island Sound.” Julia didn’t mind the adventures but as she explained, “I prefer the intimacy of the home kitchen to the pressure of a commercial kitchen.” Chefs are involved in menu planning, purchasing and quality control in addition to many other business practices. Julia moved on to writing about food and exploring the regions of Italy. “In Italy, food is very much defined by regions, most ingredients are simple but these cooks are skilled and have been practicing their craft for years.”

The salad was a bit nostalgic for me (my grandmother used anchovies a great deal in her recipes), satisfying and visually captured the colors that we desperately needed during a very long winter in New York. Next we were served Red Radicchio Risotto — risotto di radicchio rosso. There is no other dish that is more satisfying and comforting than a risotto. With a creamy but al dente texture, it was the perfect lunch pairing after the salad. Our dessert, baked by Michael was a Chocolate Cake in the style of Capri –Torta caprese. It was light with just the right touch of sweetness. This cake is a traditional Italian chocolate and almond or walnut cake named for the island of Capri from which it originates. It is made without flour.

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We sat, we talked, we ate and we were enveloped in this historic setting with beauty all around. Michael’s taste for furnishings is superb and I could have heard Julia talk about food until the end of time. Michael opens his homes to cooking classes and culinary tours both in Blauvelt and in Umbria. At the Blauvelt-Norris-Burr House, you can take a three-hour class starting with a traditional antipasti, then on to a pasta or another classic primo, a variety of second courses and finish with a classic dessert. In Umbria, Julia provides hands-on lessons as do other local cooks as you explore all facets of Italian cuisine from the heart of Umbria. Michael’s palazzo was built in the 17th century and in addition to cooking, guests explore the fabled cities of Assisi, Perugia, Orvieto, and Spoleto – to name but a few. Savoring Umbrian cuisine and wine with a mixture of home cooked meals, visits to extraordinary local restaurants, and wine tastings. Pairing with Michael and his homes is a brand new endeavor by Julia and one she looks forward to experiencing for years to come.

To learn more about Julia, go to: http://www.juliadellacroce.com/index.html

To learn more about an upcoming culinary tour August 12-20, 2015, go to: http://www.aweekinumbria.com/

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Mel Davis – Looking Forward

Barbra Streisand filled the October air and two gray, stuffed Schnauzers — in a plush dog bed — sat near the back door to the home. Mel Davis, at a towering 6’6′ wore slippers and quickly explained how Streisand and Schnauzers were two of his loves. “I love Barbra,” he said “all her music, all her movies, everything… and the Schnauzers…” he snickered, “I had two real dogs (referencing the stuffed puppies) back when I played for the Knicks — Candy and Baron — now can you please remove your shoes?”

The home was immaculate. Not a thing out of place. Every oak floor throughout gleamed with Brazilian, maple or mahogany custom etching. The kitchen boasted Viking appliances throughout with a custom tile floor and the multi tiered wood deck and spa, directly off the kitchen, ideal for hosting parties. Mel Davis, selected fourteenth overall by the New York Knicks in the 1973 NBA Draft, it would become clear, held his share of events at this home in Montebello. A delightful, classic home built purposely for entertaining, “Yes, we enjoyed entertaining a lot here,” Mel explained. “

Originally from Bedford-Stuyvesant Brooklyn, Mel wanted to be a veterinarian but St. John’s University, where he began his college career in 1970, did not offer a medical degree. Mel played for the Knicks with NBA stars such as Willis Reed, Clyde Frazier, Phil Jackson and Bill Bradley. He was ranked seventh on the St. John’s University all-time rebounding list after playing just two years on the team.
The 6’6” forward played in the NBA from 1973 to 1977 spending three successful seasons with the Knicks and one with the New York Nets. Mel went on to play five more seasons of basketball, overseas. He spent time in Italy, France and Switzerland before returning to the United States.


“When I played basketball in Italy,” Mel said, “my teammates would invite me to their homes for supper. The first time, I put ketchup on my spaghetti,” he smiled. “short of killing me they told me, mostly in Italian, that they would teach me to cook. And they certainly did!”

Thereafter, Mel purchased a cookbook in every town in Europe where he played ball and tried new recipes every week when he returned home. He cooks every chance he gets and admitted that his go-to meal is still meatballs and spaghetti but always with a homemade sauce. “In Italy,” he began “the refrigerators are small, you go to the market everyday and buy what is fresh, I loved that –what a healthy way to eat and a great way to enmesh yourself in the culture.”


When Mel and his wife built this home the kitchen details were very important to them. “I have been living in Suffern for thirty-one years,” he said, “twelve years ago when we built here I walked every single lot and chose this particular one, we were the first house built besides the model.” Mel was at the construction site everyday going over every last detail with the builder. A friend of his wife’s told them about a builder in Greenwich where they got many of their custom detail ideas.

If you live in Rockland County and your child loved basketball then you might know Mel Davis from his camp that he ran for fifteen years at Rockland Community College. “Future Stars Basketball Camp” is a legacy. “I wanted to do one week each summer,” he explained, “but parents begged me to increase it to two weeks, some wanted three — some of them wanted me to turn their children into NBA stars!” Every week at the camp, Mel held a “Pro of the Week” day where names like Willis Reed and Walt Frazier would come by for a visit. “I feel like I have touched 90% of the families in Rockland,” he said.

Not only did Mel touch the lives of the camp kids, he is a huge advocate for Big Brothers/Big Sisters and The Boys Club (Police Athletic League). “The Boys Club kept me off the streets and kept me clean growing up and I will never forget them.” Mel remembered. He also spoke highly of Gillian E. Ballard, President and CEO of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Rockland and is there for her whenever she calls.

Mel attributes his success to being very focused and driven, being in the right place at the right time and a little luck. “I have never met a more determined person,” said his wife Joan. Being a true Scorpio he is a fierce competitor and suited to any form of business that makes a difference in the world. While playing for the NBA and in Europe there was little time for much else besides playing ball. When Mel saw “The Bucket List” the movie with Jack Nickolsan and Morgan Freeman he knew this was a tremendous idea. His bucket list includes sailing, classic cars, dancing (especially the salsa, meringue and tango), fishing, and English style horseback riding.. The Davis’ love Harriman State Park and have been known to get their Latin on at the Westgate in Nyack.

Mel has three grown daughters and when he speaks of them his eyes light up and a little smile crosses his face. “I told them that one of them has to promise me to give birth to a Shaquille O’Neil!” he laughed.

The Davis’ love Sutters Mill and Dino’s Diner in Suffern and Mel rides at the Ramapo Equestrian Center just around the corner. “We recently tried O’Lar in Piermont as well, at the recommendation of our Realtor Noemi Morales-Barile, and the food was out of this world delicious.”

When asked if he could sit down to a meal with anyone in the world, who would it be? “President Obama,” he said without hesitation. “That would be my most memorable meal.”
The Davis Montebello home is on the market for sale. For more information, contact Noemi Morales-Barile at Coldwell Banker (845) 494-5015.

The home will be included in Coldwell Banker’s “Fall in Love With the American Dream” Tri-State Open House on October 19th.

Using the Whole Box of Crayons-ArtsRock’s Announces Their 2014-15 Season

Amazing performances. Purposeful projects. Brazen Brass. Enlightening Interviews. Celebrities. Magic. Puppets and Frogs. Artsrock, now in its fifth season brings Rockland County access to professional arts and multi-cultural programs all at a very reasonable ticket price.

The 2014-2015 season is packed with birthday celebrations, world-renowned music, an artist challenging social norms, a musical instrument petting zoo, ArtsRock annual ‘Milk & Cookies’ puppet festival, an authentic swing band, musical/dance energy and improvisation and the spirit of performance of the heart.

Put the dates on your calendar. You will not be disappointed.

Friday, October 24, 2014, part of their ‘Guitar Magic’ series begins by celebrating Paul Simon at 8:00pm at the Nyack Library, Carnegie-Farian Room. Well-known, contemporary guitarists pay tribute to Paul Simon. The series is hosted and curated by Jeff Doctorow an ArtsRock Board Member, accomplished musician and avid guitar collector.


If you participated in “Walk to The Beat” this summer in Nyack, you will not want to miss ArtsRock’s Walk to the Beat, Jr. Some acts are still being confirmed but you can expect steel drums, a Brazilian sound and a very celtic/Spanish influence among other percussive music and dance performances. Heather Cornell and Anna de la Paz of Nyack, and both International performing touring artists, will bring the spirit of the original festival inside the Nyack Center. After the show, the room will turn into an interactive space with demonstrations, lessons and opportunities for young and old to try out the energy they just experienced. This event is appropriate for all ages 1-100. Saturday, November 29, 2014 at 2:00pm.

On Saturday, December 13, 2014 get ready for the Big Band era at 8:00pm at Temple Beth Torah in Nyack. Swingtime Band, Long Island’s premier swing band makes its return to Rockland for a Holiday celebration. Led by Artistic Director Steve Shaiman, this 20-piece Swing Era Jazz ensemble presents a program of seasonal big band favorites. Chanukah and Christmas melodies accompanied by vocalists Bobbie Ruth and Jerry Costanzo.

On December 29th a hula-hopping fiddler, dancing monkey and the Bossy Frog will entertain and enlighten with a musical extravaganza. Immediately following the show, the concert hall will turn into a musical instrument petting zoo where children can try out all kinds of instruments. The Bossy Frog Band’s happy new year concert is at 11:00am at The Nyack Center. And don’t forget that milk and cookies will be served.


For the young and young at heart, award-winning puppeteer Bonnie Duncan along with three local puppeteers will perform a one hour puppet show followed by a “Pop Up Puppet Making Workshop”. Sunday, January 18th, 2015 at 2:00pm.


Saturday, January 24th at The Nyack Center at 6:00pm. Bodypainting from 6pm-7:45pm.
 Conversation starts at 8pm. World-renowned artist and Nyack resident Andy Golub asks us to rethink what is art and what is a canvas. His NYC Bodypainting Day in July of 2014 received worldwide attention, and challenged social norms by selecting models, both male and female of all shapes and sizes. Mr. Golub joins award-winning broadcaster Elliott Forrest in conversation about his life, career and inspirations. The evening will feature images of Mr. Golub’s work and live, full nude bodypainted models.


Saturday, March 14th 2015 at First Reformed Church of Nyack at 2:00pm, children’s favorite performer Tom Chapin will be celebrating his birthday in his home county of Rockland with songs that will touch and entertain kids of all ages.

Thursday, March 26th 2015 there will be a special ArtsRock benefit. The week after St. Patrick’s Day and with amazing Irish spirit Sir James Galway (who at 74 still wishes to be known as ‘a bit of a lad’) and Lady Jeanne Galway, world-renowned classical flautists, will be performing a benefit concert.

For more information, ticket pricing and to purchase tickets go to ArtsRock website at: http://www.artsrock.org

A Man with a Mission

This past Thursday, on September 11th, Eugene Polinsky turned ninety four.

Last Thursday, while we snacked on ginger cookies and ginger ale, I was lucky enough to sit down with Gene on his sprawling front porch, across from the Hudson in Grandview, New York. He spoke of many things including his upcoming trip to visit his sister-in-law in Dublin, his new friends in Belgium and his hope to see ninety seven year old John G. Morris in France. As a young photo-editor for Life magazine, John G. Morris was based in London and assigned to oversee the photographic reportage of World War II. Most notably, he coordinated the dramatic photojournalistic coverage of the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944, including the iconic photographs of the landing made for Life by Robert Capa.

The Mission

Gene along with seven other men, flew “special operations” in B-24s, clandestine night operations from a then secret base in England known only as Station 179 (Harrington). The base was located about ten miles west of Kettering, Northamptonshire. They shared the base with two other bomb groups. Polinsky was a navigator in this Air Force special operations group; the 492nd/801st Bomb Group known as the “Carpetbaggers.”


A book was written about his crew in 2005. That year he met people who were on the ground, who were part of the underground and part of the reception committee that he had never met before. It made a huge impact on his life. He now feels a community with these men that he never experienced. “I cannot get over the range of gratitude the Belgians feel toward Americans. It really overwhelms me. They took us to visit cemeteries, I went to Bastogne, Ardennes — they took me all over.

Gene was invited to a reception in Belgium and has gone back every year. He is the only survivor of his crew.

The Life

“My daughter says that there are buildings named after the people I know,” he laughed.

Gene has a long story (he said he only told me one fraction of it) about being an actor, writer, producer, director, father and husband.

“I became friendly with Lee Strasberg after the war and got involved with the American Theater Wing. I was a very good actor and a medium director,” he said.

Currently he writes theater reviews and has written reviews since college. He goes into Manhattan at least two to three times a week to see a show. Broadway, in the Park, Off Broadway — you name it, he has seen it. He writes under the pseudonym name Eugene Paul.

Gene met his wife and very much the love of his life in college in 1937. “When I sat down in class, Mary Post was sitting right next to me.” he smiled. They had four children and much to his genetic luck his great, great grandfather lived to be 107. “I will definitely shoot past 100,” he said.

I asked him his secret to a long and productive life. Did you drink or smoke or do anything ‘bad’ I asked?

“Of course!!,” he laughed. “But that was quite a long time ago.”


The Theater

“The best show I have seen this year was Twelfth Night. If you went early, you could watch the actors get dressed and in makeup right on the stage!” he said

The Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park production of King Lear, starring Tony Award winner John Lithgow and Academy Award nominee Annette Bening he felt was beyond fantastic. He said if you have not seen Once The Musical, run – don’t walk.

“Neil Patrick Harris in Hedwig and the Angry Itch…what can I say? He blew my mind. I could not believe what this man can do. I am convinced he can do anything.”

Gene also spoke very highly of the Westchester Premier Theater, and goes there often for a show and a delicious prime rib. He admitted that he goes everywhere and sees everything except for one theater on White Street that is up three flights.

“Come back,” he said “and I will tell you all kinds of war stories.”

Just try to keep me away.

Profiles on Women – Noemi Morales

Last year, along with two other Rockland Real Estate professionals, Noemi Morales hosted a “Beverly Hills Movie Star-Style Home Tour” in the foothills of the Ramapo Mountains. Lemonade and cookies were offered and a special tour map similar to those that lead you through Los Angeles homes of the Hollywood elite were prepared and given out to each guest.

Local artist Corinne Louie, a self-described “professional doodler, artsy fartsy web designer, sketch note artist, singer, musician and dancer” created drawings of each agent to include in the maps.

“I thought why not put our ideas and creativity together and collaborate on this really special open house,” said Noemi Morales who has been in the real estate business for over thirty years.
There were also large photo cutouts of Cher, Elvis and Marilyn Monroe adding to the creativity and glamour that Morales brings to the real estate table.


It appears that Morales brings other things to the table as well.

“I love to cook! I make my grandmother Carlina’s chicken fricassee as often as I can,” said Morales. “As a child, I used to help her plan Sunday dinners. She was my Mamita and there was nothing I loved more than spending time with her. She was my best friend. She picked up my sisters and I from school everyday and was our activities director. She took us to the library to church and taught us to cook and crochet, embroider and knit.”

While living on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx when her son Joseph was small it was her neighbor, Gloria Annunziata, who taught Morales to cook Italian food. “I would smell the aroma in the hallways and stop by to chat,” explained Morales. “The food was heaven.”

As a young girl Morales lived, for a few years, in Puerto Rico where the moon was her streetlight. Having been born and raised in New York, this was a very different lifestyle and one that Morales feels connected her to her Puerto Rican roots. “There is so much tradition there, it was a very different way to live,” she said. “I try to capture that feeling every Christmas with purely authentic Puerto Rican food around our table.”

Morales’ Father was a corrections officer and later a Federal Marshall. He was also a Marine with two purple hearts. Morales wanted to emulate her Dad when she was young. “I have such love and respect for him.” She said. “He told me ‘I arrest them and you get them out’. He wanted me to be a lawyer because he said I always had the winning argument.”

When Morales moved to Rockland she began her real estate journey. She sold a home to her first client who was on a broccoli and rice diet and also had a very different palate when it came to looking for a home. “It wasn’t easy, but I loved the challenge.” she said. That was July 1984. It was the beginning of a long and successful career, one where she is top in her field.

Morales grandson Luke will be turning three and she is hands down in love with him and his new passion for drums and any type of car, just like his Dad. Her Havenese puppies Molly and Buddy are always by her side, if they are not following around her husband Adam. Morales and her husband moved to Piermont in 1993 and feel very lucky to live in that idyllic village.

One of her clients Virginia Sanchez Korrol felt an immediate kinship to Morales. “It was a cold, snowy day when I first met Noemi at Piermont Landing. I felt immediately drawn to her. I appreciated her sense of fairness and caring—her values were more important than making a sale. I didn’t know it then, but I made a friend that day.”

Things you should know about Morales:
* She will never reveal her secret meatball recipe from her friend Jack.
* She is beaming with pride over her nephew’s recent graduation, as an officer, from the Martime Academy.
* When she travelled to the Island of Cape Horn she thought the boat would capsize because of the intensely rough waters. When the weather finally settled, the entire crew and guests went on the deck to see the most beautiful rainbow.
* Her Mother can take an onion and some garlic and make a meal fit for a King
* She is so proud of Piermont and its pesticide free landscape, which won them an award from the Governor.

“I love interacting with people everyday and the challenge real estate brings me,” she said. “This is the only career I see myself in and I am very lucky to have found it.”