Sunday, June 18, 2017

WEDDING | Eli Rinzler and Ana Bennett, High Falls, N.Y.

June 17, 2017—Eli Rinzler puts the ring on the hand of Ana Bennett at
Crested Hen Farms in High Falls, N.Y. Photo by JT Marlin.
We have been attending the wedding of Eli Rinzler, son of Alice's Wellesley '66 classmate Cinnamon Rinzler and Curry Rinzler, to Ana Bennett. Here are three photos from the ceremony.

1. Groom Eli on Saturday is putting the wedding ring on the finger of blushing bride Ana at the Crested Hen Farms in High Falls, New York. Eli's brother Sean was Best Man. Ana's Matron of Honor was her sister.

2. At the reception, Alice is holding beaming Charlotte, who is called Charlie.

Charlie looks pretty pleased with the whole event and with Alice's attention.

3. Some of Eli's relatives and their friends gathered at the home of Curry and Cinnamon Rinzler in Woodstock, N.Y.
Back row, standing (L to R): Warren Boeschenstein, John Tepper Marlin, Cinnamon Rinzler (mother of the groom), Dan (husband of Dana), Karen Boeschenstein (also Wellesley '66), Terry Peard (Kit's husband). Front row, sitting: Kit (sister of Cinnamon), Chris (son of Kit), Dana, Alice Tepper Marlin, Curry Rinzler (father of the groom).

BIRTH | June 18—On his 75th, McCartney Gets New Queen's Honor

Sir Paul McCartney, Companion of Honor
June 18, 2017—Sir Paul McCartney turns 75 today (three and a half months after me, but you knew that).

He got a nice birthday present yesterday from Queen Elizabeth II.

The Queen's actual 91st birthday is on Wednesday, but her official birthday was celebrated yesterday. So that's when she bestowed her semi-annual honors.

Sir Paul was knighted by the Queen two decades ago when he was 55 and she was 71. At 75 his knighthood is being topped up with a Companion of Honor award — the centennial of which is this month, by the way — for services to music, on the same day as J.K. Rowling won the award for her services to literature and philanthropy. Sir Paul said of the new royal distinction:
I'm very happy about this huge honor and with the news coming on my birthday weekend and Father's Day it makes it colossal!
Sir Paul was born in Liverpool, England. He is a big believer in magic in reviewing his life. When he was 14, his mother died of an embolism. This led to his establishing a personal relationship with John Lennon, whose mother had also died when he was a teenager.

McCartney and Lennon are responsible for most of the most popular songs on the Beatles repertoire. McCartney is a two-time inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the recipient of 21 Grammys. His Beatles song "Yesterday" is one of the most covered songs in musical history, and he has written more than 30 No. 1 songs. Other top-ten hits of his include "Hey Jude" and "Let It BeCome".

In trying to explain how he came to write songs and become part of the Beatles, Sir Paul turns to the language of alchemy, invoking both magic and chemistry:
Every time I come to write a song, there's this magic little thing where I go, "Ooh, ooh, it's happening again." I just sit down at the piano and go, "Oh my God, I don't know this one," and suddenly there's a song. ... Life is an energy field, a bunch of molecules, And these particular molecules formed to make these four guys.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

MEMORIAL | Silvia Tennenbaum (1928-2016)

Silvia Tennenbaum, 1928-2016.
June 9, 2017—A memorial service for our former neighbor Silvia [Pfeiffer] Tennenbaum was held today, Friday, at noon.

Her tombstone was unveiled at the Green River Cemetery on Accabonac Road in Springs.

Present were her brother and her three sons and many other relatives and friends.

Silvia died last year on June 27 at 88 at the Bryn Mawr Hospital in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. She had moved in 2014 from her home in Springs to the Quadrangle, a Jewish-affiliated nonprofit independent-living facility in Haverford, Pennsylvania, where she reportedly continued to follow her team, the Mets. 

At a reception following the unveiling at Ashawagh Hall, her eldest son, Jeremy, told us that the Quadrangle was founded by a couple of Haverford professors and that the Philadelphia area is heavily populated by nonprofit religion-based assisted-living facilities. It is close to where Jeremy lived, and he took charge of managing his mother's last years.

Jeremy reported that his mother was suffering from bleeding ulcers and pneumonia and asked that there be no intervention. "She was ready to go," he said. She had previously lost much of her mobility out of a reluctance to move around.

Two of Silvia's fellow Mets fans, who show in their
 hair their solidarity with Silvia and The Team.
Silvia had a defiance about her during her last decade of life in Springs, symbolized by the blue streak she put in her hair. 

Two of the women who came to the unveiling were retired Postal Service staff members at the Wainscott Post Office. They were grateful for the Mets tickets that Silvia subscribed to and would bring them in weeks that she couldn't use them. 

Silvia was born in 1928 in Frankfurt, Germany, daughter of a mixed-religion marriage between Lotti Clara Stern and Erich Pfeiffer-Belli. Perhaps because of the rise of Nazi-inspired anti-Semitism in Frankfurt, her parents divorced in 1930. (It turned out that the Nazis tended to leave alone couples with one Jewish partner and a Christian partner, but no one could be sure.) 
Silvia's brother.

Four years after divorcing her first husband, Silvia's mother married William Steinberg, a talented conductor. Together with Silvia, now eight years old, in 1936 the couple fled Hitler's German tyranny. Steinberg went to Tel Aviv, where he helped create the Palestine Symphony Orchestra. In 1938 he was recruited by Arturo Toscanini to assist him in running the NBC Symphony Orchestra. 

Silvia was a fervent Mets fan.
Silvia loved America. She graduated from New Rochelle High School in 1946 and attended Barnard, earning a BA with honors in Art History in 1950. As a new immigrant, she took to baseball as a way of embracing her new  homeland and followed the Brooklyn Dodgers until, through Walter O'Malley's teachery, they decamped for Los Angeles in 1957. (Ask a Brooklyn Dodger fan: "If you had a gun with only two bullets in it and were in a room with Hitler, Stalin and O'Malley, which one would you shoot?" The answer will be: "Shoot O'Malley, twice!") 

She switched her allegiance to the New York Mets and never for a minute ever left them.

Studying for an MA in art at Columbia University graduate school, she met and, in 1951, married Lloyd Tennenbaum, who was a student in mathematics and philosophy and became a rabbi. 

Meanwhile, Silvia's father, by then conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, became also a guest conductor of the New York Philharmonic and in the 1960s the family stayed in East Hampton during the summers.

The Tennenbaums moved for seven years to Lynchburg, Virginia, where Silvia gave birth to three sons. Her husband was eventually appointed rabbi to two congregations on Long Island's North Shore and the family settled in Huntington, New York. 

Million-dollar sale
of paperback rights.
There Silvia wrote her first book, Rachel the Rabbi's Wife (1978), a caustic roman à clef about the life of a self-important rabbi and a demanding congregation that believed in its entitlement to unlimited support services from the rabbi’s wife. The book was a huge success. Silvia told me she sold the paperback rights for a million dollars, and used the money in part to build on the property a studio where she liked to write. 

However, by 1981, when we became her neighbors, the couple had separated. Silvia retained the house. She was extremely welcoming and told us all about the merits of registering as Democrats in East Hampton.

During the next 33 years, Silvia continued to be outspoken and flamboyant. She had her front fence painted a bluish-tinged purple, not quite the same color as the streak in her hair.

In the 1980s, one of her letters to the East Hampton Star prompted a local resident to place in front of her house a sign, “Communist Headquarters”. A critic of Israeli policy toward Palestinians, she preferred not to be formally associated with the large Jewish Center of the Hamptons and instead affiliated with Sag Harbor’s Temple Adas Israel, the oldest synagogue on Long Island, led until 2014 by widely published Rabbi Leon A. Morris. 
Silvia's three sons, L to R, Rafe, David and (holding the "veil"),
Jeremy, with Rabbi David Geffen.

Silvia and her husband were divorced in 1986 (he was a few years older than Silvia and predeceased her by a decade). She had returned to Columbia, where she earned an MA in art history in 1983. Besides frequent letters to the East Hampton Star, she wrote for the New American Review and the Massachusetts Review. One story, “A Lingering Death,” was selected by Joyce Carol Oates for “Best American Short Stories of 1979.”  Her second novel, Yesterday’s Streets (1981), was a fictionalized account of her family’s life among upper-middle class Jews in Frankfurt, Germany from 1900 to 1936. In 2012, Frankfurt named this book its "Book of the Year”. 
She is survived by her three sons — Jeremy, David and Raphael (Rafe). She was buried at Green River Cemetery in Springs on June 29, 2016. Rabbi Daniel N. Geffen of Temple Adas Israel presided then and presided again over the unveiling, followed by a sharing of food, beer and memories at Ashawagh Hall.

Additional Comments

Silvia was generous. She gave us a few things she didn't need when we first became her neighbor. She was always responsive to our suggestions about improving our properties and planted pine trees between us after just one suggestion. We and others missed her greatly when she moved to the Philadelphia area.

Alice notes how much fun Silvia was to talk with. She always had an interesting individual point of view, and effectively marshaled facts, often little-known ones, to support her view. We enjoyed her hospitality when we first arrived and were beneficiaries of fertilizer generated from horses in her back yard. She also often shared lilacs from her prolific bushes.

Friday, May 12, 2017

NYC | Comptroller's Ofc Reunions May 2017

L to R: Peter Flynn, Eric Wollman, Andrew Rosenthal, Aya Gureil and 
Cristina Ottey (staff of the Contracting Unit). Photo: May 2017.
The big reunion coming up is at 1 pm on Friday, May 19 when Eric Wollman retires.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

WOODIN | Will Woodin's Oxford, Conn. Ancestors

William H[artman] ("Will") Woodin, FDR's first Treasury Secretary, was born in Berwick, Pa., but before his family settled in Pennsylvania they lived in Oxford, Conn.

His ancestor David Woodin left England because he did not conform to the Church of England. Being a dissenter was, for a time, a treasonous way of life.

The English dissenters with which the first Woodins identified appear to have been Congregationalists. Having first  tried settling in the Netherlands, the dissenters migrated in large numbers to New Haven.

Why New Haven Was a Magnet for Puritans

New Haven was founded in 1638 by John Davenport and some 500 other Puritans who left Boston to create a theocratic colony. Unfortunately there were lapses of discipline in Boston and immigrants to New England chose to go to a new colony that permitted only fellow dissenters. Called the New Haven Colony, it was originally independent of the Connecticut colony to the south.

The Congregational churches or meetinghouses in the United States broke more definitively with the Church of England than the Presbyterians, who were at times allied with the Anglicans. The distinctive feature of the Congregational Church is that each church runs its own affairs; there is no hierarchy. The Presbyterians, however, elect not only their elders but higher regional levels of church leaders—the American Constitution is modeled on the Presbyterian church organization, using some of the language of Free Masonry. 

The Congregational churches put great emphasis on learning and they founded some of the first colleges and universities in America, first Harvard and then Yale, then Dartmouth, Williams, Bowdoin, Middlebury, and Amherst—and later, Beloit, Carleton, Grinnell, Oberlin, and Pomona. 

The Congregational churches led the migration to America and later the revolt by Oliver Cromwell and others against Charles I. In 1630, Puritans founded the first American Congregational Church in Watertown, Massachusetts, under the leadership of Sir Richard Saltonstall. They chose Rev. George Phillips from Norfolk County, England, as their first pastor.

Five years later, in 1635, seven of the Watertown Puritans left the Boston area and settled in Wethersfield, Connecticut, becoming the second church organized and located in Connecticut (the first being in Windsor, earlier in the same year). In 1641, the New Haven Colony, at Rev. John Davenport's suggestion, offered land to 28 Wethersfield families within New Haven and they became the First Congregational Church of Stamford, six years before Stamford itself formally existed. Rev. John Sherman served as first pastor in Wethersfield (1635-1641) and Rev. Richard Denton, originally from Halifax, England, served as first pastor of the church in Stamford (1641-1644).

William Woodin Migrates from England before 1642

Records of the First Congregational Church in New Haven indicate that three Woodin generations lived in New Haven at least part of their lives. The first William Woodin arrived three years after New Haven was founded, in 1842. He married Sarah Clark, who may have been the reason he chose New Haven, because she seems to have had family in the Colony. She died in 1691, seven years after her husband. Almost surely he or she had family or business connections in New Haven. They were members of the growing Congregational church, which would found Yale University in 1701, ten years after Sarah died. 

The first two American generations of Woodins appear to have sought security and lived long lives. The two Woodins born in New Haven to William and Sarah Woodin lived to an average age of 70. Will Woodin's g4[gggg] grandfather, Benjamin Woodin (1670-1738), was born when his father was 29. Benjamin married Mary Wilmot and he lived to be 67. His wife was five years younger and lived four years longer.

Benjamin and Mary Woodin had a son William in 1718. He married Katherine Harrington and moved to Oxford, Conn., He lived to 73 and his wife to 80.

The Oxford Woodins

Oxford, Conn. is located midway between Waterbury and Bridgeport, nestled between the Naugatuck River to the east and the Housatonic River to the west. The two rivers create an opportunity for good farmland and woodlands. Oxford, Conn. has a sawmill that would have been an Oxford export and generated the raw materials for builders of homes and boats in the region. Today there are many Woodins living in Oxford, with first names Alvin (connected with the Trowbridge family), Donald, Heidi, Lisa, and Pin Dylan.

The two Oxford-born Woodin ancestors were adventurous. Both had shockingly short lives. One Woodin died at sea as a young man and his son died of an illness in the same year his wife died.

Milo Woodin was born in 1774 in Oxford but decided to make his career on the open seas as a whaler — a dangerous but exciting profession. He was successful, rising to become captain of his own whaling ship, an Ahab (but presumably nicer) of his day. He married someone named Lucy (her last name is not recorded anywhere). Sadly, he was lost at sea as a young man of 28, in 1803.

Five years before he died, in 1798, Milo had a son, Will Woodin's great-grandfather, David Charles Woodin. David was an architect, and the last of the Woodins born in 1798 in Connecticut.

Pennsylvania, Ho!

David Woodin most likely left Oxford, Conn. in search of work. Pennsylvania was well-suited for the industrial revolution that was under way in the early 19th century, with ample coal and iron and rivers to carry them on. He was married in 1819 to Sarah Hartman (1792-1825), who was born in Catawissa, Columbia County, Pa., six years before her husband. David died, like his father, a very young man, on October 21, 1825, just 27, a month after his wife. Sarah’s brother Casper Hartman and his son and daughter-in-law were felled by an illness called the “flux”. The same illness seems to have killed David Woodin and his wife. It is considered today to have been a form of dysentery caused by bacteria or a parasite.

David and Sarah's children were William Hartman Woodin — Will Woodin's grandfather and co-founder of the Jackson & Woodin foundry — and two younger siblings, Joseph B. Woodin, and a daughter whose name is lost. All three of them were orphaned in 1825, the eldest being just five years old and the daughter aged two. These toddlers appear to have been brought up by Sarah’s brother Casper Hartman, and his wife Deborah Carr. Casper was born in Catawissa in 1777, the son of a pioneer German immigrant, Johann Wilhelm Hartman (1748-1831) from Baden Baden, Germany and a Quaker, Frances Reemy, so that there may have been some Quaker influences in the home of David Woodin.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

KENYA | Olga Marlin with Mboya Family (Updated Apr 10, 2017)

At birthday party (photo says 1975) with Alphonse, brother of Luo Leader
Tom Mboya (1930-1969) and Tom's widow Pamela and children, behind
whom is Olga. (Another Luo leader's son was U.S. President, 2009-2016.)

Tom Mboya was a fervent apostle for Kenya's freedom, following Jomo Kenyatta. However, Mboya sought to achieve independence without violence, and did not join in the Mau Mau uprisings against the British. Mboya led Kenya's second-largest tribe, the Luo, which included many Catholics and Anglicans and some Muslims like Barack Obama's father.

When Pamela Odede was engaged to be married to Tom Mboya, she attended classes at the Kianda cooking school. A graduate of Western College for Women in Oxford, Ohio (now part of Miami University in Oxford) — also attended by Donna Shalala who now heads the Clinton Foundation — she decided to convert from the Anglican faith to her husband's Catholic faith. She came to several classes in Catholic doctrine with Olga Marlin.

Olga and Pamela became friends and the Mboya children called her "Auntie Olga".

JFK and Tom Mboya, assassinated six years
apart. JFK was 46 in 1963, Mboya 38 in 1969.
In her memoir, To Africa with a Dream, Olga writes about getting to know Tom Mboya. He told her several stories of how he was treated during pre-independence days (pp. 124-125, 2nd edition).

Prior to independence, Mboya worked on major documents for a future independent Kenya, including its constitution.

He also pleaded eloquently for a Marshall Plan for Africa and was appointed Minister of Economic Planning and Development in the first coalition government led by Mzee Kenyatta.

On July 5, 1969, a quiet Saturday afternoon, Mboya, was shopping downtown. He stepped into Chhani's Pharmacy to buy a bottle of lotion. When he came out, an assassin opened fire, escaping in the ensuing confusion.

Mboya was struck in the chest. Blood soaked his suede jacket. He died in an ambulance on the way to Nairobi Hospital.

Grieving Kenyans soon gathered in such numbers at the hospital that police with batons were called out to keep the crowd under control with batons.

In her memoir, Olga vividly describes how Tom Mboya's death affected her (pp. 160-162, 2nd edition).

Only 38, the handsome, articulate Tom Mboya embodied many of the qualities so urgently needed by the fledgling nations of black Africa. He saw beyond his tribe to Kenya's detribalizing urban classes. He made them his constituency. His loss was a big blow to Kenya.

Friday, April 7, 2017

PORTSMOUTH | Priory (Abbey) School 1958 and Today (Updated Apr 11, 2017)

Portsmouth Priory (as it then was called) had a community of 24 Benedictine monks when I was there in 1955-58. All but two of the monks are in the photo above. The year before, Fr Aelred ("Barney") Wall, Headmaster, was in the photo; he switched to a more contemplative monastery in my senior year. The strength of the monastery may have peaked a few years later when Luke, Paul, Anselm and Gregory became novices.

The lay faculty numbered 16 in 1958, as indicated in the photo below. So of a total teaching pool of 30 (24 monks and 16 lay), three-fifths was monastic.

As vocations to monastic life have fallen off, and older monks have gone to their eternal reward, the ratio of monks to lay staff has reversed. The lay faculty today outnumbers the monks. On the Abbey web site five monks are shown as actively involved in the school, while the Portsmouth directory shows 116 on staff.

Since 1958, the number of seniors has grown from 35 to 94 in the Class of 2017. The teaching faculty has grown from 30 to 50, supported now by, it appears, 66 listed non-teaching staff.

Similar trends are observable in other monastic institutions. Ampleforth Abbey and College in England is one of the houses of the English Benedictine Congregation (along with Downside) that founded Portsmouth. Ampleforth is one of the largest religious college-preparatory schools in the country. The number of monks has fallen at Ampleforth, from more than 100 when I was there in 1952-55 to about 30 today. 

At Ampleforth today, according to its Headmaster Fr Wulstan, who was in New York City this past week, monks are placed in roles where they can have a maximum influence on the spiritual life of the boys and girls at the school. Almost all of the teaching is now assigned to people who recruited for their teaching skills and academic background.