Sunday, April 22, 2018

a note to readers


Dear readers:

There are about 107 "chapters" in this humorous partial memoir. In order to read the complete "book" you will need to open up "Older Posts" until you reach the epilogue.

I hope the pieces of my life in these short vignettes in the blog make you laugh. Please enjoy this (ongoing and very unfinished) project.

All my best,
Marjorie

Citizenship Papers

The pieces of this document were falling apart, so I pieced it together the best I could and scanned it. It is my grandfather Max Levine's citizenship papers of 1906:


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

the grands

Tonight, I met a cousin I have not seen since 1964. Here are our grandparents.


Friday, January 5, 2018

I used to live here as a kid...

"This street is where it all happened, not much now. Why do we always expect home to stay the same? Nothing else does. It's funny how when you're a kid a day can last forever. Now, all these years seem just like a blank." --- Bobby in Hearts in Atlantis

I took that ride today, back to the street and house where I grew up. I parked my car and walked up the same driveway I had walked up thousands of times so many years ago. I climbed the three front porch steps and I peeked in through the glass front door, but the interior was barely visible: all dark and muted. It was a different house, not my house. I rang the bell and nobody answered. I gathered nobody was home because the mailbox was still stuffed and full.

So, I turned around and walked down the three front porch steps and then turned around and looked back. It was almost dusk and chilly under a cloudy grey sky, and the wind rustled some long tall plants in front of the living room's bay window. They swayed back and forth, back and forth. I was overwhelmed with great and almost unbearable sadness. Nobody was home and nobody would ever be back home there for me. The street was bleak, depressing, and almost unrecognizable.... the houses seemed forlorn and like shadows of their former selves.

I used to live there as a kid but going back today was personally like visiting a cemetery. There was so much emptiness, such a great feeling of loss. The wind kept rustling the front shrubbery, rustling the shrubbery and I stood all alone on that sidewalk and for a minute it felt like nobody even lived on that street. Everybody was gone. The street was a gloomy ghost town.

I got back into my car and drove away, consumed with strange heavy emotions. And as Bobby said: "I lived on that street during the last of of my childhood." I will always think of that street. Always. I knew I would never go back there again... but as the view of that street disappeared in the rear view mirror, I remembered the time so many years ago when I drove away from that street into my future.








HB Studio, a Dream Place

This blog piece is for "Selfie"... who inspires me with her kindness and wisdom to keep pushing and to acknowledge my past which brought me to a reinvented present. And it is she who suggested this music.



In 1965, I attended HB Studio and took classes in acting technique and scene study with James Patterson. My scene partner was a young Robert DeNiro... and we performed one scene from the play "The Diary of Anne Frank." I remember that he was very quiet and mysteriously introspective and detached. 

I was still living in Valley Stream, Long Island and I drove into NYC in my 1962 gold Corvair with my friend Linda, who was a great actor and artistic motivation.

Back then, the view of the West Side Highway was quite different: there was an overpass that extended all the way from uptown to downtown and cars could pass under the highway as they drove in either direction. The high highway obscured the view of the Hudson River and the streets in Greenwich Village were quiet and uncrowded. That elevated highway is long gone, but it gave the area a darker feeling, and cast strange and haunting shadows onto Bank Street.

This photo was taken by Berenice Abbott; it is a southern view of the West Side Highway to about West 26th Street:


Back then and so long ago, I was a young girl and filled with hopes and aspirations. HB Studio was a dream place, but I never fulfilled my dreams. It just never happened, and that knowledge sometimes overwhelms me with regret and sadness. I am old now and getting older, but I did manage to find places where I could fulfill my dreams... in small scale ways. More about that later. 

This is now the bright, open and airy view of the West Side Highway. The Hudson River is visible in the distance. 


This photo was taken in June 1966, in front of the Broadhurst Theater... I was probably looking up and hoping to see my own name on a marquee one day. And so it goes, and so it goes. 

And here is that spot now: 

It is the "now" or the present that grounds so many people. But there are some of us who are always filled with great nostalgia: a sense of longing for something... for past places that have now changed or are gone and can never be revisited or for previous carefree times that were filled with wonder and exist only in memories.

"Selfie" gets it because she has what I call "the soul of a poet."

WHAT WAY TO GO TODAY

Almost dusk:
Last summer on one Wednesday, in July,
I sat on a bench, a grey wooden tired
Bench on a boardwalk out at old Long Beach.
In the sky a lonely and lost grey kittiwake tipped
As the hot pink sun set in blazing technicolor over
Hot pinkish sand and the fading blue ocean water.

That morning:
I had thought about seeing great art...
Vermeer, or Courbet, or maybe Monet.
But, I drove to the beach instead to think
To think about everything creative that had been
Created before I got here, and when I was here,
And what will be created when I leave this place.
When one day I leave my place and all places in my
Consciousness that is now in this time and was
At a past time and will be in some next time;
Maybe all time exists at the same time.
The great minds of theoretical physicists search
For the "Theory of Everything" as they sit
In their cluttered rooms, their great thinking rooms.
In universities, they ponder the mathematical equations
And Schrodinger's cat and all those mysteries.

In the evening:
It is during the quiet and still and sad night when
I miss most the people I never met:
Edie Beale, and the Rat Pack, and even Rod Serling
Who made me want to time travel: to go back to simpler places
Like Nedick's, or the Belmore, or Bickford's, and Willoughby.
Then the longing, a longing when distant sounds and faraway
Foghorns drive thoughts to reflect on a life visible through some
Smoky cracked mirror, a haunted and haunting steamy mirror.
As I am sort of old now and getting older
There is a vague and odd feeling that I,
Like the kittiwake, somehow must have lost the way.

--- Marjorie J. Levine © 2009

A Girl Named Anthea

In about 1957, when I was in the 5th grade and living in Valley Stream LI, I began a correspondence with a pen-pal named Anthea who lived in Nottingham. I was given her letter during one of the Hebrew classes I attended when the teacher held in her hand many letters that children (who were looking for pen-pals) from all over Europe had written.

I remember how excited my mother was the early Saturday rainy morning when Anthea's first reply arrived. She awakened me and sat on my bed and we both read the letter written on fine blue stationary. And so, Anthea and I began to exchange letters and our friendship lasted for some time. She was an interesting girl, a few years older than I, and talked a great deal about her love for Cliff Richard. I remember how devastated she was when he "got hitched." Today, that confuses me because his bio states he never married...

Well, one day Anthea said: "Marjorie, I never asked you about your religion. Do you go to church?" Without any hesitation, I told her I was Jewish and sealed the letter. I walked down Westgate to place that letter in a mailbox that stood on a grassy patch. That mailbox is no longer even there.


I remember telling my mother that I thought I would never hear from Anthea again after my "big reveal." Even at that early age, I knew. And I was correct. I never received another letter from Anthea. That did not surprise me at the time, but now I wonder why she was unaware of my religion especially since her first letter reached a Hebrew School. Sometimes when we are young we just don't connect the dots I suppose.

Well, Google maps allowed me to view the street where Anthea lived at that time so long ago. I looked at that sort of dark and grey street which was covered with low clouds and where so many decades ago a postman walked with my letters and delivered them through the mail slot on her front door. I think the house with the red doorway was her home.


The passing of time is so sad really. Nothing remains of her letters from long ago because as it goes, I threw them all away when I moved to NYC. But, they exist in my memory as does the address I wrote on the envelopes of my own pink stationary with red hearts in 1957.

I laugh when I imagine how Anthea's jaw must have dropped and her eyes widened when she read my last letter. She must have been horrified to realize she had been interacting with "a Jewish girl." The hatred must have lived inside her bigoted head and my disclosure must have made her furious. I enjoyed you Anthea, but that's right.... you talked to a shayna maidel! Mic drop. 

Nevertheless, this is Anthea's Nottingham, in all it's glorious and somewhat mysterious beauty:













Tuesday, October 31, 2017

On the Streets Where I Lived, Worked, and Eventually Played




























WHAT WAY TO GO TODAY

Almost dusk:
Last summer on one Wednesday, in July,
I sat on a bench, a grey wooden tired
Bench on a boardwalk out at old Long Beach.
In the sky a lonely and lost grey kittiwake tipped
As the hot pink sun set in blazing technicolor over
Hot pinkish sand and the fading blue ocean water.

That morning:
I had thought about seeing great art...
Vermeer, or Courbet, or maybe Monet.
But, I drove to the beach instead to think
To think about everything creative that had been
Created before I got here, and when I was here,
And what will be created when I leave this place.
When one day I leave my place and all places in my
Consciousness that is now in this time and was
At a past time and will be in some next time;
Maybe all time exists at the same time.
The great minds of theoretical physicists search
For the "Theory of Everything" as they sit
In their cluttered rooms, their great thinking rooms.
In universities, they ponder the mathematical equations
And Schrodinger's cat and all those mysteries.

In the evening:
It is during the quiet and still and sad night when
I miss most the people I never met:
Edie Beale, and the Rat Pack, and even Rod Serling
Who made me want to time travel: to go back to simpler places
Like Nedick's, or the Belmore, or Bickford's, and Willoughby.
Then the longing, a longing when distant sounds and faraway
Foghorns drive thoughts to reflect on a life visible through some
Smoky cracked mirror, a haunted and haunting steamy mirror.
As I am sort of old now and getting older
There is a vague and odd feeling that I,
Like the kittiwake, somehow must have lost the way.

by Marjorie J. Levine © 2009, 2016




And just when time seems to be moving faster and life is winding down, sometimes we can find happiness and make our dreams come true in unexpected and small scale ways... and even make "A Silent Movie!"