A New York State of Mind

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The towers of Manhattan from within Central Park. Photo: JH.

Monday, December 23, 2019. Forty-five degrees Sunday afternoon, with the Sun out. Saturday, you may know was the shortest day of the year; Sun went down earliest and came up latest. That means only one thing now: the days will grow longer, i.e., more light. But the weather is a big dramatic player these days. A friend of mine who has an apartment in Miami reported that they’ve had five straight days of rain which is, I’m told, unseasonal. But isn’t everything?

What I like about this holiday, is that it offers more moments of rest from the folderol and hatred that has overtaken so many, so great that they cannot control expressing it. Many carry the idea that our President is the cause. At this age, that is an inadequate explanation for the phenomenon. But it is a both great and grave matter for all of us. Otherwise it’s pointless.

But popular. I do think it leads to something — whatever that is; “time will tell,” as my mother used to say …


Christmas cheer in the Pulitzer Fountain in Grand Army Plaza.

It’s impossible to write about the world we’re living in at this time without regarding the angst that permeates much of our daily lives. That’s another example of the power of this holiday. I’m not talking about one’s religion. Or politics. Or personal relationhips. I’m talking about the “vibe” that is everywhere but also affects the behavior and state of mind of us humanoids.

Saturday night, to take exception, I had the pleasure of dining with my niece Mary and her husband Rory and one of their sons, Jon, and his fiancée, and their daughter Sarah Kate. I was twenty when Mary was born, daughter of my one of my older sisters, Jane. By that time I’d already left the hearth and home, as well as college, and was living here in the Big Town.


The wedding day of Rory Read and Mary Savoy standing next to her grandmother, Tillie Columbia.

I saw Mary a few times — but only a few — when she was a child, and so I never really got to know her. I’d hear about her life from my sisters but never saw her as she was growing up into a young  woman. She went off to college and among the benefits of that higher education, she met Rory, and they have been together and getting educated ever since. 

In the meantime, she and Rory have four off-spring, and now two daughters-in-law and one in the wings, as well as two grandchildren. A few years ago they bought a pied-a-terre here in Manhattan, and proximity worked its way into our relationship.


Jane and Helen checking in on their baby brother a number of years back.

Technically, I have a lot of birth relatives, but physically, I have lived away from my original family from the time I left for college. With Mary and Rory, I have been re-introduced to the sublime pleasure of “relatives.” And this holiday season “parents” that sentiment. That is its main purpose in our lives. Saturday night, as I started out to tell you, I had dinner with Mary and Rory et famille at Sette Mezzo. For me it had the pleasure of getting to know a new friend, and so it was, made ever greater by the reality.

Here’s the gang; never at loss for words around the table:


Jon with his fiancee Hannah Biggie, Sarah Kate, DPC, and Mary and Rory sit for the family portrait at Sette.

And while we’re on the subject of “relatives” at this season, this photo of three year old me, and my eldest sister – Helen – who was fourteen years older than I. She sent it to me several years ago when she was re-organizing her life after her husband died. 

Helen died three years ago at age 89. She was my big sister for my entire life and while she didn’t ever treat me like a child — after childhood — she always treated me with a kindness and love that was there in this photo. I see the boy is preoccupied with something in his hand, but big sister sits by comfortably but alert, watching over the kid. As I grew older she made the Christmas morning the special day that it was for this kid. And for the rest of my life at this time of the year, there were cards and gifts and the words, always:  “Love ya, La” which was the “nickname” I gave her when I first began uttering words. And so we remains: The Gift.


Big sister Helen with little brother Dave 75 years ago!

Meanwhile, The Celebration of Christmas continued at Doubles this past week. All two hundred guests ‘sparkled’ at the GLITTER – GLITTER ASSOCIATES PARTY on December 18th. During the delicious Doubles dinner, Wendy Carduner made a special toast to Mark Gilbertson thanking him for many years of always “getting us together … and keeping us together.”

Those filling the dance floor until the DJ played Donna Summer’s LAST DANCE included: Orthon and Kathy Prounis, Tristina Waltz, Allison Weaver, Megan Kelly, Hillary Dick, Jack Lynch, Karen Klopp, Mary Snow, Alexandra and Lewis Rose, Jill and Harry Kargman, Courtney Lyons and many, many more.


Mark Gilbertson, Mary Snow, Lewis Rose, and Alexandra Rose.

Then, the following afternoon another 200 guests and members came to town. In addition to photos with SANTA, the children were entertained by Daisy Doodle and Disco Dancing. Some parents including Elizabeth Darst, Marissa Rose, Allison and Matthew Porterfield, Owen and Victoria Holm, Julie and Bill Curry all partied with children ‘in tow’.


Megan Kelly, Tristana Waltz, Allison Weaver, and Meredith Dimmick.
Bill Dye and Lisa Lewis.
Othon and Kathy Prounis, with Mark Gilbertson.
Matthew and Allison Porterfield; Harry Kargman, Quintus Von Bonin, and Martha Von Bonin.
Nicole DiCocco, Katherine Carey, and Sabrina Forsyth.
Hilary Dick, Jack Lynch, and Karen Klopp.
Marisol Brekka; Emily Clark and Courtney Lyons.
Owen Holm, Bill Curry, and Branson Fletcher Hall.
Owen and Victoria Holm.



Photographs by Annie Watt (Doubles)

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