'Whose woods these are I think I know
His house is in the village though
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow'
I was admiring the snow glistening in the sunlight this morning, laying a thin white blanket over the frozen ground when I saw these words hanging on the walls of my memories like pictures framed up in my young days of childhood. Robert Frost was one of the first poems my father and I memorized together. I can see him sitting on the couch and me leaning in close toward his lap, careful not to crowd him - we three kids clamoring for his attention. Dad opened the world of poetry to me, and considered it important to bring the joy of writing words that carried strong emotion or simple thoughts clinging together in stories and adventures. We traveled on roads filled with characters cajoling one another, or enjoyed beauty lingering as a backdrop to Mother Nature’s symphony of colorful sunsets, cascading waterfalls, or winter on mountains tops before spring flowers peeked out from snowcapped crests. After a while, my imagination knew no limits and wandered down the streets of possibility.
I remember riding the train downtown with dad and visiting his studio where he worked as a commercial artist. I can still see the trail of his cigar smoke as he puffed and drew a line, or dabbed a stroke of color on his painting. Mom worked as a secretary at the studio when they met. She made him a very happy man, because the only thing I noticed in the photos on their wedding day was a smile that filled half his face – nothing but smiles in every picture that day.
Presents from dad were special, because he worked many days past dinner and brought work home too. So when he took time to shop, well, it was a real treasure. He shared his art with us, and that’s when my modeling career began while posing for a Louis Lamoure book cover, or holding up my cardboard box of laundry detergent with a look of cleaning determination. Modeling began and ended at 2933 West 183rd street which was home for more than 50 Christmas’ for me! One year we had the most perfect Christmas tree when we chopped down a pretty little evergreen from our front yard to make room for a turn-a-round in the drive way. It was just the right height for our living room and full of beautiful branches. Maybe that was the year we began using garland instead of tinsel.