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Wednesdays With Myron – Early Years 1933-1952 Part 1

An old ornate stone building in Portland Maine

I was born in Portland, Maine in 1933. My earliest childhood memory is setting fire to a field with a magnifying glass when I was about 6 years old. I really thought the thing was going to race through the whole neighborhood, but I managed to stomp it out before anything terribly tragic happened. Still, I was quite traumatized.

My father and his brother-in-law, my uncle, were in business together running an Army-Navy store. My uncle didn’t treat my father very well, but my family was able to move to Deering, a nice middle-class area in Portland.

I took outside art classes all through school, and did the scenery and posters for productions at the local Jewish Community Center. The other students elected me President of the Youth Club there. It was actually a very professional and sophisticated entourage – there was an active group of theater people who were in touch with Oscar Hammerstein and others in the New York theater community. Visiting critics sat in the front row of performances to give the playwrights their opinion.

My parents were supportive of our education, even though they didn’t have a lot of schooling. When my brother and I were very young, my father bought a floor-to-ceiling, 10-foot-wide bookcase filled with a collection of classic novels, essays and short stories. No important author was neglected.

My mother finished high school and then went to New York and did some secretarial work. When she developed Bell’s Palsy, her beautiful face became twisted and contorted, which sent her into a spiraling depression. Although she sang opera beautifully, she was too embarrassed to be in the spotlight. Instead, she would hide in the chorus. Near the end of her life, mother was confined to a nursing home, and was frustrated to be placed in a room with a near comatose woman who talked to herself. One day, when she was particularly exasperated and no nurse responded to her call button, mother decided to call the police and fire department. The home’s parking lot was instantly filled with police cars, ambulances, fire engines and the rubbernecking curious. The fallout from that incident was the phone in her room was ripped from the wall. Ripped! Mother was an impatient lady! At least I know where I inherited that trait.

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