Schulenberg’s Page: Optimism returns to the Big City

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So 1976 was almost over and it had been a year that could charitably be called “interesting”! For some of us at least, it was more optimistic since Jimmy Carter was the new President and with the Democrats in the White House it was possible to almost forget the corruption that the Watergate Scandal had uncovered!

At least Richard Nixon wasn’t constantly in the headlines so that was already more optimistic.

The dance company, Dennis Wayne’s Dancers, had formed a year earlier and was installed in its headquarters on Sixth Avenue in Greenwich Village. Joanne Woodward, who was paying the bills, was frequently in attendance!

But I was still running around buying supplies for the fabric jewelry project!

Visiting ballet rehearsals was a nice interval.

Meanwhile, Sharon Lamoreau was working with Ric Mendez and me with the fabric jewelry project. She was a dancer and had met Ric at the Martha Graham classes they taking; and they’d become close friends!

Sharon had a big personality and an equally big sense of humor! She wanted to develop a cabaret act in which she could portray a variety of offbeat types similar to what Lily Tomlin was doing. As we worked making the bracelets and necklaces she would become different characters working in our jewelry factory!

Ron Welsh came by to visit and, before he knew it, he too was making fabric jewelry with us.

We had a deadline for a large order!

Ric, Sharon and Ron Welsh sewing fabric jewelry.

What Sharon didn’t realize was how extraordinarily beautiful she was!

I photographed her — but to keep her from self consciously mugging I told her that the camera shutter wasn’t working. Big lie!

I asked her to stare at the lens and tell me if it was working. She had no idea what she was supposed to see but it worked and I got the shot I wanted!

Sharon was surprised but thrilled when she saw the photos! She decided that one of the new “employees” she’d be would be the house model, Brennis Starr! She told us that Brennis’ real name was Bernice but she felt it wasn’t glamorous or elegant enough and so she gave birth to Brennis!

I visited my mother’s cousin who was, I think, her favorite relative even though they lived on opposite coasts! A funny family story — not really a joke —  is that they shared the same birthday although late in life my mother learned that her cousin Lilly celebrated her birthday on a different day than my mother’s. For some reason it was my mother’s birthday that was incorrect but my brother and I celebrating the wrong date for so long that if we’d been asked the date of her birth we’d be confused as to which is correct!

The things we see on a bus trip while just trying to get things done — From smoking inside a bus to someone nodding out suspiciously.

And I say suspiciously because I was becoming so aware of drug use in the city — especially heroin — that even if someone was just plain tired and couldn’t stay awake it was assumed they were a drug user!

Life in the Big City.

In the evening I met with Sharon, Ric and Bruce Patterson in the apartment that Beth Rudin DeWoody had lived in before she married Jim DeWoody. She had loaned it to Bruce and Ric who were her very close friends when they were students at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

As we sat around a table sewing necklaces I brought out some photos I’d gotten from the picture collection of the Public Library on Fifth Avenue.

They were photos of poor immigrant families sitting at their tenement tables making artificial flowers.

We had to laugh with the recognition that what we were doing almost 100 years later was similar if not identical. But we were doing it in a luxury high rise Upper East Side building with doormen in a marble lobby many floors below!

We finally finished and Bruce brought out a packet of tarot cards. He had been fascinated by tarot and was learning to read the cards.

He read Ron Welsh’s cards first. It turned out that Ronnie had enjoyed the fellowship of our sewing circle so much that he decided to come back for more!

Ric was next. I don’t remember what the reading consisted of or what resonated with Ric, but we were engrossed and fascinated anyway.

Bruce then read his own and that was it!

No punch line or earth shaking revelation — just interesting and fun.

And we even made our deadline!

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