A recent Writers Guild prompt brought this bit of memoir from Steve Goldfinger–for the inveterate duffers in out midst.
Breaking the Ice: Aye, There’s the Rib!
by Steve Goldfinger
After my early days of hacking around scrubby Dyker Beach, Brooklyn’s only public golf course, I found myself playing The Country Club in Brookline from time to time. Yes THE Country Club, sanctuary of Boston Brahmans plus a handful of their chosen. Its name said it all.
My friend Tom, a fellow academic and ardent golfer, was one of their chosen. A few times a year, he would ask me to join him for 18 holes at this preserve available to but three hundred or so, a far cry from Dyker Beach’s availability to three million.
This time, it was for only nine holes. It was mid-January and the temperature had warmed up to 35 degrees, toasty enough for golf freaks who hadn’t teed up a ball for two months. The Country Club contained an extra nine holes that were kept open year round for such freaks.
Tom brought along his son Jeff, now 15, who was getting interested in the game. I had played with Jeff before, liked him, and was glad he was with us.
The air was brisk and the round uneventful, until we reached the seventh hole. Jeff’s drive put him about 150 yards from the green. I saw him pull a 4 iron out of his bag for his second shot.
“Use 6 iron,” I said. “You’ve grown a lot, and a 4 iron is much too much club.”
But 15 year-olds often have minds of their own. He stuck with the 4 iron, hit it cleanly, and watched it soar well over the green.
“Now, drop another ball,” I said, “and try a 6 iron.”
He did and hit the ball the perfect distance….but it veered off to the left and rolled onto a frozen pond. When we arrived at the pond’s edge, we saw the ball sitting there, ten feet away. Just sitting atop the glistening ice, waiting to be fetched. And feeling guilty that it was I who had consigned this $1.25 ball to such a fate, it was I who decided that I should be the fetcher.
I had gone two steps onto the ice when the inevitable crack came, and I crashed, sideways. I managed to stand up, the water above my waist. So cold I couldn’t utter a word. Tom and Jeff ran over to fish me out by extending an 8 iron for me to pull on. I noticed bleeding from my wrist where it had been scraped by ice as I fell through. Even then, I could barely say a word.
I was the shivering wretch of the three, though, insisting we go to the next tee to complete the round. I had just read The Right Stuff, and this was going to be my John Glenn moment. Tom and Jeff were still laughing as I teed up my ball. Then, when I tried to swing my driver, I was nearly felled by a horrifically painful crunch in my left rib cage. The technical name is crepitus, and it denoted a rib fracture. I tried to swing again but could use only my wrists to wave at the ball.
They escorted me back to the club house, bleeding wrist, broken rib, freezing torso, numb legs, sunken spirit.
I later asked Tom to petition the club’s Governing Council to post a sign alongside the pond on the seventh hole, to read: “Here Goldfinger couldn’t walk on water.”
Since joining BOLLI about two years ago, Steve has been writing. He’s taken memoir courses with Marjorie Roemer and worked on fiction with Betsy Campbell. In addition, he’s stretched his creative muscles into the world of acting as an intrepid CAST player.
INNER VISIONS: SELECTIONS FROM THE COLLECTION OF BEVERLY STEARNS BERSON
Davidow Gallery at Colby-Sawyer College
New London, NH
October 13 – December 10
Are you an art enthusiast looking for a good day trip? Try heading for New London, NH to see “Inner Visions.”
The new Bill and Sonja Carlson Davidow ’56 Art Gallery at Colby-Sawyer College features its inaugural exhibition: Inner Visions: Selections from the Collection of Beverly Stearns Bernson ’55. This is a wonderful collection of Outsider Art featuring paintings, drawings and sculpture from every major figure in this special genre. The exhibition will run until December 10 and will be open from 9-5 during the week and from 12-5 Saturday and Sunday except during school holidays. Help celebrate the college’s stunning new building and gallery by taking a trip to see this exhibition featuring works from BOLLI member Beverly’s extensive collection!
For forty years, David Greenfield maintained a full time periodontal practice and teaching appointment at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine. Now in the encore phase of his career, with clinical and academic periodontics no longer playing a role in daily life, he channels most of his energy into photography. His latest venture is a photo-blog, home for selected new images and accompanying narratives.
When film was the light-sensitive media of choice, David’s work was primarily black and white. With images now recorded digitally, his portfolio has expanded and is replete with color. During the film era, his greatest photographic joy was experienced shooting with a vintage Leica III, circa 1950, formerly used by his father. In 1996, David published Journey to Poland: A Family Mission which chronicled his investigative trip to research the experience of his parents during the war in Europe 70 years ago. That project ignited his interest in photojournalism and in ‘telling the story’ with imagery.
‘There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in’
The lyrics from Leonard Cohen’s Anthem include his vision of a world in need of repair. In these lines, however, he notes that light streaming through the cracks can show the way.
Cohen was surely not thinking about photography when he composed those lyrics, but who better than a photographer to capture the light streaming through the cracks and process it into imagery to inspire the repair process? My photography has that objective when working with not-for-profits that want to ‘tell their story’ and promote their missions using imagery.
Be sure to click on both of the following links to get to David’s photo gallery and blog, both of which are stunning. (Both are listed as well on our list of “BOLLI Bloggers” which can be reached from the BOLLI Matters home page.
On Thursday, October 5, the Lunch & Learn Committee is pleased to welcome Brendan Emmett Quigley to BOLLI. Quigley has been described as a “crossword wunderkind” whose work has been published in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, by the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, and The Onion. He is also The New York Times’ sixth-most frequently published crossword creator. Quigley appeared in the documentary Wordplay and the book Crossworld: One Man’s Journey into America’s Crossword Obsession.
Should you like to do a little crossword practice before his visit, you might visit his website: http://www.brendanemmettquigley.com/ where you can find easy, medium, and hard puzzles which you can work interactively.
One of our own puzzle enthusiasts, Guy Moss, has done some research about the history of the crossword which you might find to be of particular interest in light of Quigley’s visit.
THE HISTORY OF THE CROSSWORD PUZZLE
By Guy Moss
A puzzle. The origins of this funny word go back to the Old French “pusle,” which means to bewilder or confuse. And indeed, think of how many variations have been created over the years, leaving one in a state of puzzlement, obligated to puzzle out a solution.
The jigsaw puzzle, for example, is a very old classic. Credit for inventing the first goes to John Spilsbury of London, who in 1767 glued a map to a piece of wood and cut out each country. In 1880, Milton Bradley, already a successful toy and game marketer, started to produce the first jigsaw puzzle for children. It featured a train and was named “The Smashed Up Locomotive.” Today for $299.95 at Hammacher Schlemmer, you can buy the world’s largest jigsaw puzzle, measuring 17’ by 6’ and containing 32,256 pieces.
Logic puzzles were first officially introduced in 1886 by Lewis Carroll, who, in addition to being a famous author, was a mathematician and logician. These are the type that give you certain limited information (“Smith, who married Brown’s sister, earns more than the doctor, etc.”) from which you must logically deduce the desired conclusions.
The word search puzzle, a favorite among children, is credited to Norma Gebat, who published the first, only as recently as 1968, in a newspaper in Oklahoma.
And then there’s the Sudoku puzzle, an even more recent innovation developed by an Indiana architect, Howard Garns, through Dell Magazine in 1979. Calling it “Number Place,” he built on a concept dating back to the 1700s and a puzzle then called “Latin Squares.” In the 1980s, the Japanese began publishing a more developed version, and the very first U.S. Sudoku game was printed in the New York Times just a little over twelve years ago. The word, by the way, is an abbreviation of a Japanese phrase, “Suji wa dokushiri ni kagiru,” which means “the numbers must be single.” This reflects the puzzle’s nature, where each of the numbers 1-9 may appear only once in each row, column, or box.
But the most popular and widespread game in the world is the crossword puzzle. Close to 99% of the world’s daily newspapers each carry a crossword. During World War II, when there was an acute paper shortage, American newspapers tried to drop the crossword, but fan protests reinstated them. In England, where the paper shortage was more serious, crosswords still had their place in four-page condensed newspapers. They were considered a therapeutic diversion from the horrors of war.
Arguably, the origin of the crossword may be traced back to the basic human need to solve enigmas, with a very early manifestation being the riddle. In Greek mythology, the Sphinx is credited with asking one of the first: “What walks on four legs in the morning, two legs in the afternoon and three legs in the evening?” As we know from Sophocles, Oedipus correctly answers, man. Indeed, riddle-solving was a popular party game among the Romans.
Over time, a wide variety of word-oriented puzzles evolved that ultimately influenced the crossword. They include the rebus, a visual puzzle that combines words and pictures, is an offshoot of the riddle, and some credit the hieroglyphics of Egypt and Phoenicia as the models for these. Parenthetically, priests in northern France in the 16th and early 17th centuries used a combination of words and pictures to make their Easter messages accessible to their illiterate parishioners.
Anagrams also became popular, and, in one form or another, date back thousands of years. Authors, for example, often rearranged the letters in their names to create handy pseudonyms. And, Jewish cabalists believed the Scriptures contained encoded messages.
The crossword puzzle, however, is thought most directly to descend from the word square, where words are arranged to read the same vertically and horizontally. The earliest version, somewhat different, is attributed to an early Egyptian, Moschion, who, around 300 A.D., carved one square that he subdivided into another 1,521 squares, each containing a Greek letter. If one started in the center and followed certain directions, the phrase “Moschion to Osiris, for the treatment which cured his foot” would repeat itself, apparently reflecting the creator’s gratitude to the god of the underworld for some remarkable recovery.
An important variation on this theme was the acrostic, which came into its own in Victorian England. This involved a series of lines or a poem in which specified letters of each line, to be discovered and then taken in order, spelled out a word or phrase. A famous double acrostic is attributed to Queen Victoria, purportedly penned for her children and reading on the edges, down and then up, “Newcastle Coalmines.”
New word games, of course, evolved to meet a growing demand. For example, consider conundrums: riddles with pun-filled answers. “Why is the Prince of Wales like a gorilla, a bald man, and an orphan?” The answer: “Because the prince is the heir-apparent, the gorilla is a hairy parent, the bald man has no hair apparent, and the orphan has ne’er a parent.” Or, consider letter manipulation: adjusting a word by one letter to create another word. An example: “Take away one letter, and I murder; take away two, and I am dying, if the whole does not save me.” The answer is “skill” [“kill” to “ill” unless saved by “skill”].
As we know it today, the crossword was born on December 21, 1913 when the first such puzzle was published in the “Fun” section of the now defunct New York World. Arthur Wynne, born and raised in Liverpool, England who emigrated to the United States at 19, was then the editor of this supplement and, believing that the older math puzzles, anagrams, etc. seemed dated, was determined to feature something new and special in the Christmas issue. His innovation was to modify the word square concept so that a grid read differently across and down based on clues. He titled the puzzle “Word-Cross.” One might note that in this first puzzle there were no black filler spaces, the grid is diamond shaped with a hole in the middle, and the clues were not broken into across and down sections based solely on the starting number.
To everyone’s surprise, Wynne’s puzzle was an immediate hit, and letters to the editor encouraged its continuance. By mid-January of 1914, the puzzle’s name had been changed to “Cross-Word,” reflecting the subtitle which urged readers to find the missing cross words. Readers started sending in their own versions, and within a month, a Mrs. M.B. Wood of New York became the first published by-lined outside crossword puzzle contributor in history. Contributed puzzles abounded (very soon up to 25 a day), and with them, came innovations in shapes and clues, even puzzles within puzzles. Apparently, the only folks who were antagonistic were the paper’s typesetters, who found the format especially burdensome and annoying.
Surprisingly, the World was the sole publisher of crosswords for close to ten years. During the early 1920s, however, other newspapers here and abroad picked up this popular pastime, and within a decade, they were both featured in almost all American newspapers and began to take the form familiar today. In 1924, the first crossword puzzle book appeared and, while initially viewed as a high risk by the publishers, flew off the shelves. A crossword craze developed to such an extent that the NY Public Library was forced to limit users’ dictionary time to five minutes each, and one train line made dictionaries available in each of its cars for commuters. Sales of dictionaries and thesauruses increased. One Cleveland woman was granted a divorce because her husband would do nothing but work on crosswords all day. A man was arrested for disturbing the peace because he wouldn’t leave a restaurant until he finished his puzzle. A telephone worker shot his wife because she wouldn’t help him with a crossword and then killed himself! And a hit song was written, entitled “Crossword Mama, You Puzzle Me (But Papa’s Gonna Figure You Out).” Despite all this, the New York Times waited until 1942 to publish its first crossword puzzle – the Sunday variety only, with the smaller daily editions beginning in 1950. According to one source, they felt it was childish, sinful, and provided for no real mental development.
In 1921, at the World, Mr. Wynne found himself not only contemplating retirement but also badly in need of assistance because of the volume of puzzles being contributed as well as extensive errors appearing in the paper. John Cosgrove, the World’s Sunday Magazine editor, hired a young woman named Margaret Petherbridge to help. She had been Wynne’s stepdaughter’s roommate at Smith, and after initially focusing solely on aesthetics and not even doing the puzzles herself, she mastered the art of editing them and created many of the innovations in place today. Petherbridge also collaborated in the publication of the early puzzle books and resigned from the World in 1926 when she married publisher John Farrar. Later, after the Times entered the field, it hired then Margaret Farrar, the top name in crosswords, to be their new puzzle editor. Her instructions from Times editor Arthur Hays Sulzberger were to keep the puzzles focused on the news, keep them dignified, and enable readers to solve them in around twenty minutes – the average time commuters spent on the subway. Farrar remained editor until 1969, when she was 72, and was followed by only three others: Will Weng, Eugene Maleska, and now Will Shortz.
The annual American Crossword Puzzle Tournament is the nation’s oldest and largest event of its kind. Founded and directed by Will Shortz, it is held in Stamford, CT and draws well over 500 contestants. The program consists of warm-up games on Friday, competitive crossword competitions throughout Saturday and Sunday mornings, a variety show, and then a championship playoff on Sunday afternoon. All the puzzles are specially created for the tournament , and awards are given in 20 categories, with the event’s overall winner taking home a grand prize of $7,000. The 41st annual contest will take place from March 23 – 25, 2018 at the Stamford Marriott.
If nothing else, you can now better appreciate how Mr. Wynne’s maiden effort evolved and where it has gone in over the last 100 plus years.
For more about the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, including past winners and other information, be sure to go to
Guy describes himself as “a semi-retired attorney specializing in bankruptcy law with the firm of Riemer & Braunstein LLP in Boston. He lives in Newton, joined BOLLI in 2016, and enjoys, among other things, travel, reading, history, photography, art, museums, and games. This piece on the origin of the crossword puzzle was developed originally for the Eight O’Clock Club, a local discussion group of which Guy is a member. It was sparked by the awareness that 2013 marked the 100th anniversary of the crossword puzzle and a curiosity about how various common games, notably word games, arose.”
We at BOLLI Matters so appreciate hearing from our readers! Please, leave a comment below–
At our most recent Writers Guild session, we shared our work with a “conspiracy theory” prompt in which we challenged ourselves to stretch our imaginations into the “fantastic” and write with authority. As autumn creeps upon us, this piece of fiction by Quinn Rosefsky took many of us right back to summer camp… We thoroughly enjoyed it and are sure you will too.
Quinn says that: “Walkabout” started as a chapter in a book I call: Camp Arawakee .The manuscript was on a shelf in my closet for over twenty-five years. At one time, the book had enough strength to entice an agent to take interest. However, no publishers ever bothered to take a nibble. That was disheartening. More recently, I summoned the courage to take a fresh look. After all, in the past several years, I have somehow managed to write and re-write many times, what on paper looks like a mere 200,000 words. That changes a person. Let me tell you! So, what we now have in “Walkabout” is the fresh, 2017 version of the sentiments which first came to life so long ago. I’d be interested to know if anyone can come up with an ending to the “story within a story.” Having said that, you should probably read the story before reading this brief essay
By Quinn Rosefsky
Where was Louis? The boys in Turtle Cabin waited in the fading light for their counselor to return from chatting with the pretty dark-haired nurse in the infirmary. Charlie, Teddy and Sean made up a contest. Who could jump the farthest from the edge of the lean-to onto the ground? A few feet away, Pete and Michael began arguing about whose turn it was to sweep the floor the next morning. As the first stars began to appear, Louis strode into view.
“Story!” the boys said, one after another.
The boys and Louis, dangling their legs, huddled on the edge of the lean-to.
“It was as hot as an oven the day I saw my first opal,” Louis said, dumping a bag of strange pebbles into his palm. “I’d been behind the wheel of my truck for hours and the flies were driving me crazy. I was so tired I could barely keep my eyes open. That’s when I drove the truck off the road into a ditch. There was no way I could get the wheels free. I sat down under the only gum tree around to rest.
“Just as I closed my eyes, something flashed at my feet. I bent over. There it was lying on top of the ground, the most fiery opal I’d ever seen.”
Louis paused to adjust the bush hat he always wore, even in the shower.
“What’s an opal?” Charlie said.
“It’s a jewel almost as precious as a diamond but still worth a lot of money.”
“Let him get on with the story,” Pete said, elbowing Charlie.
“Anyhow, just then, an Aborigine, his eyes so bright they looked like they were on fire, walked out of the bush and came straight towards me. He was wearing dusty blue jeans and no shirt.”
“What’s an Aborigine?” Ronnie said.
“They’re our native Australians, the ones who were there when Europeans first began to settle the continent. Same as your American Indians were here first.”
“Are there a lot of them?” Sean asked.
“Not any more. They’ve had a rough time.”
“Are they dangerous?”
“Not at all. They never were and never will be. They’re the ones who protect life in all its forms. That’s why the bush has been unspoiled for thousands of years.
“This particular Aborigine, who said his name was Jack, was on what’s called a walkabout. He’d been living alone in the bush for over a year, learning what he was to do with his life.
“As soon as Jack came to within a few yards, he stood still. He didn’t move for five minutes, not a muscle. It was as if he’d turned into a statue.
“Then Jack moved. First he pointed to my opal and then he took it from my hand and turned it over and over. Then he said: ‘Follow me.’
“We walked along an invisible track in the bush for about an hour. Finally, Jack stopped and pointed to the ground. I was completely mystified. Opals, dozens of them, were everywhere. I ran about like a man possessed. I was rich!
“Then I remembered my car was still stuck in the ditch an hour away from where I was. But what good would it do me to have all those opals if I never got out of the bush? I looked around to thank Jack, but he was gone. I was alone with no truck, no water and the hot sun beating down on me.”
“What happened next?” Charlie asked.
“You’ll have to wait until tomorrow,” Louis said.
“It’s not fair,” Pete said stomping his feet.
“That’s enough, Pete,” Louis said, wagging his finger. “I’ll give you guys fifteen minutes to get ready for bed and then it’s lights out.”
“How can I fall asleep not knowing if you survived?” Sean asked.
Quinn is a familiar face at BOLLI where he takes courses, teaches courses, serves on the Study Group Support Committee, participates in the New Yorker Fiction Group, the Writers Guild, and more!
Our Writers’ Guild prompt for this week was this “Keep Calm and Look in Lost & Found” image. As always, some chose to use the prompt while others did not. We all thoroughly enjoyed Steve Goldfinger’s approach, and we felt that many BOLLI members might be able to relate!
LOST & FOUND
By Steve Goldfinger
For a moment, my wandering brain lost the prompt, but now I remember. Ah, yes. “Lost and Found.”
Well, it’s easy to lose things. Car keys, cell phones, shopping lists, hearing aids. Names of people whose faces are imprinted in my skull, faces of people whose names are as secure in my mind as swallows in cliff dwellings.
I cannot find the treasured score card that documented the best round of golf I ever played. I was 21 year old, knew I would never have so low a score again, and promised I would keep it to show my grandchildren. But where is it now? Hiding somewhere in my attic or moldering at the bottom of some forsaken garbage dump?
When I lost my virginity, I knew I had also found something. But when I lost my wallet yesterday, the only thing I found was an empty back pocket. My only consolation was that my credit card was not longer in it. Once again, the piece of plastic was undoubtedly sitting next to the cash register of the last restaurant I ate at. Again, I neglected to retrieve it after I signed the check. Damn it. I want it back. Now, what was the name of that restaurant?
After driving to the MFA to see the new exhibit that so excited me when I read the review in The Globe, I forgot which one it was. When a large sign reminded me and told me where it was, I had to ask a guard to direct me to the stairway I had marched to directly so many times in the past. It was a great exhibit…fine paintings and etchings by…oh, shit!
And what have I found?
Perhaps a new internal tempo that allows me to drive more slowly, aware as I am that, in front of me, the lane seems to have narrowed, and too many dents and scrapes have appeared on my car.
Or the magic of the remote, being able to put a ball game on a 40 minute delay so I can then zip through the commercials to get to the action.
Or the ability to justify my lifestyle–couch potato, bacon and eggs, steaks, morning croissants, and evening ice cream–by “Hey, I’m 82 and just back from Alaska where I survived a strenuous hike. Good genes. Thanks, Mom and Dad.”
Or how easy it has been to depart from the world of medicine. A satisfying six decades, but in the end, too many directives separating me from patients, too many memory lapses, too many teaching moments falling short of my expectations, threatening my pride.
Or my ability to respond to writing prompts in perhaps a better way than I have responded to social ones over the years.
Since joining BOLLI nearly two years ago, Steve has been exploring new ventures. He has been active in both the Writers Guild and CAST (Creativity in Acting, Storytelling, and Theatre).
Interested in joining either one yourself? During the fall term, the Guild will meet on Wednesday mornings from 9:45-11. And CAST will meet on Fridays from 12:30-2. All are welcome!
Recently, we’ve been thinking about the wide range of volunteerism in which BOLLI members engage and would like to highlight them in this venue. Are you involved in a program that you find particularly rewarding, especially one that would benefit from additional volunteers? Share your volunteer experience with us! Here’s Lydia to start us off–
THINKING ABOUT VOLUNTEERING SOME TIME AND ENERGY?
Two Suggestions from Lydia Bogar
The storm warnings came across the bottom of the TV screen before the 5:00 news. I checked the radar on my computer and went back to washing the kitchen floor.
Within minutes, my old memory stem woke up as I put the mop on the porch. Tomorrow would be the anniversary of the Springfield/Brimfield tornado. The video of that tornado as it crossed Memorial Bridge in Springfield remains as vivid today as it was then…
That old memory stem also brings back the first responders from across the state, and, most especially, the contributions made by two groups of volunteers: first, SKYWARN, severe weather spotters, all trained volunteers connected to the National Weather Service in Taunton (www.weather.gov/box/skywarn) and second, the Worcester area CISM team (www.centralmasscism.org).
My first SKYWARN training was in October of 1999 when I was a disaster services volunteer with the Worcester Chapter of the American Red Cross. It was a very interesting training–especially good for campers and boaters. Glenn Field from NWS Taunton gave us a lot of information about clouds, reading radar, and thermal convections. As a civilian, retired from the Red Cross, I have continued SKYWARN training and strongly recommend it to the BOLLI community. You can contact Rob Macedo at email@example.com to schedule SKYWARN training for any community group with a membership of 15 or more. It is very much worth three hours of your time.
I’ve also spent 16 years training and volunteering in CISM (Critical Incident Stress Management), a peer support network for first responders. There are 15 teams in Massachusetts, covering all police, fire, and EMS personnel from North Adams to Provincetown. Our teams consist of trained peers as well as fire department, clergy, and mental health professionals. It is an amazing global system that includes volunteers who served in New York in the fall of 2001, Boston after the Marathon bombing, southern Louisiana and Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina, and the western part of Massachusetts after the tornado in 2006. If you are a retired mental health professional or retired member of the clergy who is interested in volunteering, please contact me at Toehead8@verizon.net, and I will refer you to the Team Leader in your residential area.
Former English teacher and health care professional Lydia Bogar provides BOLLI Matters with a wealth of material on a variety of subjects including her own regular feature “Lines from Lydia.”
There’s something wonderful about opening up the BOLLI Matters “dashboard” to find the Comments box full of flags! Your comments are so welcome, and we can’t thank you enough. We just hope you’ll keep them coming–every one takes us another step toward our blog becoming a truly interactive vehicle…BOLLI’s voice!
“I guess I’ve always collected art,” Bev says about her favorite pastime. After studying at Colby Sawyer Jr. College, Vesper George School of Art, and then Mass College of Art, she became a graphic artist. She then worked at Beth Israel Hospital and the now defunct Newton Times. Her work included quite an array of creative art projects in Newton, and she was a founder of the New Art Center. All along the way, she was exposed to art, artists, and dealers, curating shows and buying works.
In the early 1960’s, Bev started Any Old Thing, an antique business she undertook with her long time friend Lorraine Altschuler. “We were friends since junior high,” she says. “We did not have a shop but, rather, traveled around New England and New York City, renting space at antique shows and, at times, other shops,” she says. “It was a wonderful life.” Sadly, after 29 years in the business, Lorraine passed away, and Beverly carried on alone. In all, Any Old Thing lasted 45 years.
Now, Beverly’s home in Newton houses her extensive and extremely varied collection, all placed with care for maximum enjoyment. A few years ago, Bert Yarborough, an artist and professor at Colby Sawyer where Bev is on the President’s Council, saw her collection and was intrigued. When the college decided, then, to build a new art center, he asked if she would be interested in having works from her collection be the opening show in the gallery. “I was flattered and eager to get it underway,” she says. “I had loaned works to other shows in the past—but never something like this.” The show, entitled Inner Visions, features work by self-taught and mainstream artists. At the moment, Yarborough is working on the catalogue for the show which will open on October 13 and will run until early December. “Very exciting!” Some of the pieces to be mounted in that exhibit include…
Beverly is also involved in Gateway Arts, a workshop for adults with disabilities, where she sits on the advisory board and helps with fundraising. “The artists’ lives are changed profoundly—socially as well as artistically—and the interaction is a joy for all,” she enthuses. “We have a store on Harvard Street in Brookline Village where the artists sell their work. It is a truly wonderful place which gives the artists an opportunity to earn money for their work and a reason to be deeply proud of what they do.”
When it comes to pride, Bev is quick to point to her family—husband (Bob), 2 sons (Peter and Teddy), 1 daughter (Julie), 2 daughters-in-law, 2 granddaughters, 1 grandson…and another grandson on the way.
As if work and family were not enough to keep Bev busy, she has also devoted a good deal of time and energy to tennis, playing regularly since her 20s. In her 40s, she started playing team tennis (doubles only) and kept at it until she was 70. “I still play, all year long, two to three times a week at the same club—the names keep changing. Now it’s Boston Sports Club in Newton. We play outdoors in the summer.”
After retiring from team tennis eleven years ago, Bev started taking courses at BOLLI. She has taken two courses each semester and has attended several of the winter and summer lecture series as well. In addition, she is now the art editor for the 2018 volume of The BOLLI Journal.
“BOLLI is an amazing place,” Bev says. “The people who give their time organizing activities, teaching courses, giving programs, and doing all the behind-the-scenes work that makes it all happen are truly wonderful and greatly appreciated. BOLLI is a gift to all of Brandeis’ surrounding communities.”
But, of course, it takes interested and committed members like Bev to keep it an amazing place!
There’s nothing I like more than getting to know the people around me even better! I hope you’ll leave a comment for Beverly in the box below. It means a lot to each of our profiled members to hear from others. (And I’d love to hear from you about YOU!)
MEET MEMBER LOIS BIENER: A PERFECT BLEND OF SCIENCE AND ART
When Lois Biener decided that it was time to cut her work schedule to half-time, she began to feel a bit nervous about how she would fill her days when the time comes to retire fully. Having heard about BOLLI from her neighbors Sally Fleschner and Don Kendall, she decided to explore the offerings at 60 Turner Street for herself.
So, in the spring of 2015, Lois enrolled in Naomi Schmidt’s five-week science fiction course and was quickly hooked. “It was a group of such interesting, vital people,” she said, “including former teachers, lawyers, doctors, and not just one but two physicists!”
Lois’ work has included teaching social psychology for a number of years, but she has also spent a good deal of her professional life doing social science research. In the Survey Research Center at U. Mass. Boston, she has focused, in particular, on tobacco-related issues. Her interest in tobacco control interventions as well as electronic cigarettes keeps her involved in the research.
Outside her scientific work life, Lois has focused on developing her artistic side. She sings with the Commonwealth Chorale (along with BOLLI members Bob Keller and Phil Radoff). But perhaps her most challenging artistic venture has been her dive into pottery.
Lois has been taking pottery classes at Mudflat Pottery School in Somerville for some time now. After five “beginner wheel classes,” she says she’s still developing her basic skills. “One of my classmates has been at it for twelve years now,” she reports. “It’s a little daunting.” Recently, though, she finally had a pottery breakthrough and can now successfully throw a bowl or a cylinder. Now, she is focused on hand building as well.
In addition to doing course work at BOLLI, singing, and throwing pots, Lois relishes the time she spends with her 37-year-old daughter and 3-year-old grandson Noah, who is now talking. She and her husband have also begun to travel more extensively. They visit England fairly often, and, this past year, took a trip to Costa Rica. They are now planning to go to Portugal this winter.
So, Lois has found BOLLI to be a terrific experience. Highlights, she reports, have been the science fiction course; the cotton course, “which was an eye-opening, great introduction to global capitalism and the place of slavery in that story;” as well as the course on the plays of Tony Kushner. She also enjoyed judging junior high school students in their Boston Debate League contest at Brandeis during her first year at BOLLI. “How about a BOLLI team?” she asks.
Clearly, BOLLI has helped ease any tension she may have had about retirement!
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