Monday, May 9, 2016

Mother Nature and Mother’s Day

Morning rain. 11:00 AM. Photo: JH.
Monday, May 9, 2016. Rainy days, grey days, green days; that’s what the first week in May has been. Although the green is sumptuous against the grey, thanks to the ultra-violet rays giving them their fluorescence. Temperatures in the 50s, and the weatherman forecasting a couple of weeks of this. This is good for many things except people’s moods.

However, all that changed yesterday, as if Mother Nature simply flipped the switch: Mother’s Day in America: the Sun came out and temps moved up toward 70.
I spent the day the way I remember my mother spending her Sundays, including Mother’s Day, washing windows and organizing the domestic space. The New York winter with its dusty rains really muck up the glass. To finally see clearly and not through a cloud of streaked, dried grit and dust, is good for the head as well as the glass. Mine included the terrace, which I organized, putting the plants outside finally, and getting ready for the warm weather garden. I thought of my mother, through all this, as I often do when I set out some weekend day organizing my space. She would have approved.

My mother was a worker, a working woman, a toiler really. Because of her there was a roof over our heads, clothes on our back, and three squares a day. When the weather warmed up, the flower garden was planted and the enormous vegetable garden too. Abundance followed naturally. Despite and drama and disappointment that ultimately was my father’s contribution in her life, in distant retrospect it was as it always would be, a matter of fact, safe and secure, and accomplished. The time, effort and sheer manpower that went into it was her achievement in life. Among her misfortunes was the inability to see it for what it was. Besides, there were other, sadder ones too.

She read to me every night also, (until I could do it myself), something I recollect as a great achievement considering her long and labor intensive day. Then at bedside, she read Norman Vincent Peale’s “The Power of Positive Thinking,” and Gaylord Hauser’s “Look Younger, Live Longer.” And she often told me stories about her family, other families, my father’s family; the mystery of the professor who lived up on the hill who was murdered, shot through his screen door one summer night in the 1930s; the only murder ever in that little town.

I’ve often thought that had she been born in my generation, instead of hers – at the beginning of the 20th century, she would have been like a lot of the hardworking professional women I know and had a career. As it was, she barely could harbor a dream, and was unaware of her own potentials. And yet she fortified us with them, nevertheless.

Speaking of fortifying potentials, last Tuesday night I went to the Barnard College annual alumni dinner in the Grand Ballroom at the Plaza. Why the interest, someone who knew I was going, wanted to know. I’d heard about this annual before and was curious. A lot of powerful women in the room, I was told. Erica Jong, Twyla Tharp and Martha Stewart were all in the same class (’63). Ellen Futter, the head of the American Museum of Natural History whom I greatly admire, was President of the college before moving to the AMNH.
President Spar addressing the guests at the gala. Photographs by Patrick McMullan.
Then a couple of weeks ago Harriet Weintraub asked if I’d be interested in attending. I don’t think I’ve ever attended any alumni dinner. I had no idea what to expect except I knew it wasn’t going to be those rah-rah for the home team affairs. Girls are serious.

The 2016 Barnard College Gala was co-hosted by award-winning journalist Maria Hinojosa ’84, actress Cynthia Nixon ’88, and Barnard College President Debora L. Spar. Nina Rennert Davidson ’95 and Meryl H. Tisch ’77 were co-chairs of the evening.
Cynthia Nixon and Maria Hinojosa.
It seemed like a family affair. But with a serious purpose. Despite Barnard’s brilliant alumnae’s achievements, something like 40% of the students are on some kind of (or even full) financial aid. They need to increase their endowment substantially to continue their great work. There were many couples, some of whom were only associated with the college through their children or friends’ children.

The honorees were Cheryl Glicker Milstein ’82, her husband, Columbia University alumnus Philip Milstein ’71, and daughter Toby Milstein ’14 -- for their extraordinary generosity to support the construction of a state-of-the-art teaching and learning center scheduled to open in the fall of 2018. The Milsteins endowed the college with a $25 million gift.

Toby Milstein joined Tony award-winning musical theatre composer and arranger Jeanine Tesori ’83, in a musical tribute to Milstein’s parents, commissioned especially for the evening. 
Jeanine Tesori, Toby Milstein, and Laurel Harris.
President Debora Spar and former president Ellen Futter.
I had the privilege of sitting at the President table. Ms. Spar seemed more a modern executive than a university president. Although a magna cum laude graduate from Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service as well as a doctorate in government from Harvard, to read her CV is to read about a brilliant mind. In person, on the other hand, she’s a welcoming and charming, enthusiastic and savvy hostess.

Along with Jeanine Tesori’s tribute to the Milstein family, President Spar announced a major College fundraising initiative. All proceeds from the Barnard College Gala support the education of exceptional young women.

I was seated between Martha Stewart and Amy Weinberg. Martha told me that she has never missed this annual dinner. I got the feeling there were many attending who, like Martha, had never missed one also.
Tom Rogers, Sylvia Rogers, Amy Weinberg, and John Weinberg.
Among the guests at the dinner: Maria Baibakova ’07; Laura Blankfein ’75; Katherine Chenault; Jolyne Caruso-FitzGerald '81 and Shawn FitzGerald; Anla Cheng and Mark Kingdon; Fern Cohen and Hersh Cohen; Nina Rennert Davidson ’95 and Mitchell Davidson; Ina Drew and Howard Drew; Tovah Feldshuh; Jane H. Goldman and Benjamin Lewis; Maria Hinojosa’84; Rena Hoffman '84 and Scott Hoffman; Emily Tow Jackson ’88; Jennifer Lipschultz and Mark Lipschultz; Catie Marron and Don Marron; Jane Och and Daniel Och; Atoosa Rubenstein '93 and Ari Rubenstein; Ann Weinbaum Sacher ’85 and Bill Sacher; Jill Scheuer '76 and Keith Pattiz; Sylvia Rogers and Tom Rogers; Karen Skilken and Steve Skilken; Liz Somekh and Ed Somekh; Lauren Sorrel and Larry Sorrel; Martha Stewart ’63; Amy Weinberg and John Weinberg.
Yvonne Missry and Julie Siedel.
Steven and Sharyn Klein. Abby Pucker, Alessandra Clark, and Rebecca Darcy Cohen.
Gonzalo Sanchez, Stacey Bronfman, Rena Hoffman, and Richard Buckley.
Anna O'Sullivan, Andrea Stagg, and Kathleen Veteri. Fern and Hersh Cohen.
Marcella Rosen, Sue Groner, Carol Gold, and Mirella Servodidio. Toby Milstein and Laurel Harris.
David Chapnick, Elaine Chapnick, Camille Kelleher, and Rory Kelleher.
Chris Royer and Debora Spar. Susan and Benjamin Winter
Beth Zadek, Bill Sacher, Anne Sacher, Michael Ziegelbaum, and Kim Ziegelbaum.
Rena and Scott Hoffman. Brian Laulicht and Debora Lehrer.
Dorothy Denburg, Cheryl Milstein, Nancy Garvey, and Jolyne Caruso-FitzGerale.
Donald Marron and DPC.
Tatiana Broushlinsky and Roman Vnoukov. Nathalie Molina Nino and Lida Orzeck.
Kristen Moustakas and Julie Seidel.
Steve and Karen Skilken. Peter Grossman, Alexis Fleet, and John Thier.
Maeve Duffy, Felice Silk, Emily Silk, and David Silk.
Julie Gross, Jim Basker, Portia Poindexter, and Laura Garrison.
Sheena Margoulis, Arielle Merrick, Sarah Cartright, Achsah Guibbory, and Anne Prescot.
Thomas Spanos and Caroline Bliss Spencer.
Adina Jick, Zoe Plotsky, Katie Donham, Oliva Benjamin, Beatrice Helman, Maggie Horikawa, Chelsea Keys, and Elana Hubert.
Atoosa Rubenstein and Nichole Bullock.
Terrence Durant and Jade Hawkins.
Judah Frommer and Aryela Frommer.
Igor and Mila Akopov. Cat Tamel and Cherise Wykoff.
Adam Wrubel and Nichole Small.
Christina Rodriguez, Suzanne Castilano, and Annie Rolland.
Jone and Teresa Chen.
Leander McCormick-Goodhart, Stephanie McCormick-Goodhart, and Avis Hinkson.
Mitchell Moinian and Nazee Moinian.
Merryl Tisch, Cheryl Milstein, and Tovah Feldshuh.
Adam Modlin, Wendy Modlin, Dan Litowitz, and Rachel Litowitz.
Ira Rennert, Nina Rennert Davidson, Gabriella Davidson, Tamara Winn, and Ingeborg Rennert.
Catie Marron.
Deborah Spar, Donald Marron, and Martha Stewart.
Harriet Weintraub.
Portia Poindexter, Jim Basker, Ellen Futter, and Ariel Merrick.
Larry Milstein, Toby Milstein, Cheryl Milstein, Philip Milstein, and Meredith Milstein.
Brice Smith, Emily Shoyer, Cindy Malsch, Ariella Martin, Nichole Segal, Lily Cohen, and Leah Erlich.

Contact DPC here.