Today is the eighth anniversary of my mother’s passing. I have written many times about my mom – her love of food, miniatures, collections, her family, etc. Today I planned to focus on her love of music. As I prepared this post it began to sound very familiar. Whoops! I already wrote basically the same thing in August 2018, in my post “Music: Is it in Our DNA?”
Well – no problem. You might not remember what I wrote either!! Plus, I’ll add a few new tidbits.
As a child of six, Doris Lichtenthal probably had no idea of the significance of the events unfolding around her in Vienna, Austria. It was late spring 1938. Doris, her mother Rose Lichtenthal, and her beloved Omi (grandmother) Sophie Spiegel, were preparing to leave Vienna for the United States. Doris’ take on the whole thing was that she would finally be getting her wish: to go to America and listen to Jazz.
After Paul was released from Buchenwald in 1939, the family was reunited and settled in to their new lives in New Rochelle, NY. The apartment at 30 Eastchester Road was small, but there was room enough for a baby grand piano in the corner of the living room.
Paul joined the New Rochelle Symphony and Doris later became a member as well. Her instrument of choice was the bassoon.
In her teen years, she attended Camp Beaupre, a summer camp for girls focused on music and art.
Doris had a high school romance with David Nilson, with whom she shared a love of music. They were both in the orchestra at New Rochelle High School.
Doris’ love of music was shared with her first husband, Alan Samuel. During the two-year stay in Japan, while Alan served in the US Navy, Doris wrote home many times about what music they were listening to or what concert they had recently attended. These letters were transcribed and shared in my book, “Letters Home.” On March 26, 1954 Doris wrote, the only thing that reminds her of the USA (NY) is Jazz, “…it’s funny how when I was 3-4-5 years and rode my tricycle thru hall and had to take nap (1 pm or so) would always turn on radio and listen to “American” (jazz) – it’s same here.”
On April 14, 1954 Doris wrote that Alan suggested they tape the good records so as not to wear out the needle on the record player.
On January 24, 1955, Doris lamented on the delayed arrival of her first baby (me!) “Tomorrow we’ll be a week late and I feel like I’ve let down the world…Have been trying to make each day important. Thurs. – went to Beauty parlor – worked out fine. Fri. – visited with the girls, Sat, – went to Tokyo (Ginger, et al) to investigate the purchase of – get this – a Bassoon (me) and an oboe (Alan.)”
After returning to the States in October 1955, there was little time for Doris to play any instrument. By then she had me, a whiny, needy little being who probably sucked up whatever energy she may have had. (Oh, and she was newly pregnant with Jeanne who was born in June 1956.)
In 1964, my brother Dean was born. Mom now had five children under the age of 10! It was no wonder she put aside her bassoon! (Wonder whatever happened to it!) But she never put aside her love of music. She found a kindred soul in her second husband, Al Falcone. From the moment he entered our lives there was music in the house. Sinatra, Dave Brubeck, Sergio Mendes, Herb Alpert, and so many more.
Al’s son, Mark is also quite the music connoisseur. He has an amazing memory for who sang what and probably knows the name and artist of every song he’s ever heard!!
Mom made sure we all experienced the joy of playing an instrument. She had our neighbor, Mrs. Croog, attempt to teach us to play piano. (Jeanne was probably more successful than I in this endeavor.) Everyone tried out the guitar. I moved on to the banjo – better for smaller fingers (!) – but quickly found singing was more to my liking. Jeanne played flute in the Hamden High School Marching Band. Kathy played the clarinet until she used it as a baseball bat and chipped it. (Kathy reports they then “took it away from me!”) Betsy own a piano – I’m pretty sure she can play it. 😉 Brother Dean taught himself to play the guitar as well as many other instruments.
In her later years, Mom helped out with the annual Quinnipiac Jazz Festival. She was so proud of Dean and his musical prowess. (Dean Falcone is a fleet-fingered Multi-Instrumentalist and eclectic pop/rock composer/producer who’s been playing in bands since his pre-teens.) She would be amazed to see the accomplishments of her grandson, Cliff Hines, who is currently touring with Rickie Lee Jones.
Mom, we miss you EVERY day! What a marvelous legacy you have left. As I asked in 2018 – is your love of music in our DNA? Just check out the moves of your youngest great-grandchild!!