Schulenberg’s Page: New York, Part CLXXXVIII

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Connie Bartel’s Greentrees Farm on the Delaware River.

August, 1970, a full hot summer —  just to remind you what that might be like!
The Fillmore East was at its finest with Jimi Hendrix having started the year, 1970, with performances New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, the same day President Nixon signed the Environmental Policy Act into Law!

The musical, Mame closed after a long run and to this day I wonder why I didn’t run to see it!

I must’ve been busy. Very busy!

And I was. Work was pouring in with some weeks having me with a major commission deadline for every day in the week! The weekends I’d retreat with my white Persian cat Tybalt to the little tenant house on Connie Bartel’s Greentrees Farm on the Delaware River.

I must have thought that Mame would play forever!

But the weekends were a literal life-saving regenerative experience with gardening, reading and long candlelit dinners full of wine, lively conversations with Connie and weekend friends. In a sense, we roughed it but the fields of gorgeous wild Queen Anne’s lace during the day and the impossible magic of whorls of fireflies lighting the night made up for anything!

The urban frustrations, of which there are many as every Manhattanite knows, included the crowds at The Port Authority Bus Terminal from where I’d take the bus to Easton, Pennsylvania and then the taxi to the welcoming serene haven of Creek Road in Alpha, New Jersey!

But, it was all worth it!

I may yet some day still see Mame!

In August I went to see Purlie, a musical that was being raved about mainly because of its young star Melba Moore belting out the song, “I Got Love,” which continually brought down the house!

Melba Moore and Cleavon Little in Purlie, 1970.
The set for Purlie.

Some things were changing for the better: President Nixon banned radio and television cigarette advertising which would take effect after January 1, 1971.

In April, the first contract with Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers was signed and “Houston, we have a problem” occurred soon after preventing a planned moon landing! But the shame and horror of the Americans’ guilt for the massacre at the small Vietnamese village of My Lai still hung in the air.

Just before my birthday on the 27th, I went with friends, including the beautiful actress/dancer/choreographer Donna McKechnie, to the Playboy Penthouse to see a comedy troupe called The Good Humor Company.

A few years later, Donna collaborated with Michael Bennett (whom she subsequently married) to create the character of Cassie in A Chorus Line. The character was based on her own life and experiences and she appeared as Cassie in the original production!

But that night at the Playboy Penthouse there was The Good Humor Company!

Though I don’t remember any of the skits or routines I do remember that they were charmingly and hysterically funny!

And one of the most charming and funniest of the young women had the unlikely but somehow appropriate name, Ding Dingle!

I don’t remember if it was her stage name or the name given to her at birth! But she was funny and the group appeared to be going places!

Sometimes an overheard conversation can be as humorous or bewildering as any theatrical experience!

Such as this one by a guest at the Playboy Penthouse:

We ended the evening as we frequently did — at the Brasserie in the Seagram Building!

Another night in Manhattan as the rest of the country seemed to be going to hell!

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