Week of December 22, 2015 - Fifty Years of Justine and Susun, contd.

Monday, December 21, 2015 7:34 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

Fifty Years of Justine and Susun

It wasn’t easy moving from the streets of Manhattan to the woods of the Catskills, from being pregnant to being a mother, but we did it. Like many, we started small, spending weekends in the country. We rented a small cottage on Glasco Turnpike in High Woods near Woodstock, and divided our time between our busy store on Avenue A and our relaxed life in the country. Isn’t life interesting? The very first place we rented, nearly fifty years ago, is just a few miles away from where I live now, and have lived for the past forty years.


Paradise Alley – The Always-Hungry Pregnant Woman (1966): Susun, following the advice and craving of her gravid body, eats yogurt and avoids soda pop and clothing.  Justine’s father, Southey, was an avid amateur photographer who developed his own film and created his own prints in his darkroom –  which was only slightly larger than a closet – in our fifth-floor, walk-up apartment on the corner of Tenth and Avenue A, a tenement called Paradise Alley. Compare this candid shot with the stylized image of the same body below.

Fertility Goddess (1966): This is clearly a set-up art shot – which I have always liked – since no woman this pregnant would lie on her back unless specifically requested to do so. In fact, the hospital staff and I fought about this. They wanted me to stay on my back; I kept turning onto my side to be comfortable. We finally “compromised” by strapping my arms and legs to a metal gurney with three-inch leather straps.

Walking! Justine preferred to practice her walking on the smooth surface of the country road that ran past our house. Down the road was an old woman who tended a most beautiful flower garden, bisected by a small rivulet, surmounted by a wee bridge, which was resplendent with colorful blossoms from early spring to early winter. Justine and I walked there to talk with her every day we were in the country. I tended my first garden living here on Glasco Turnpike.

Bathing Beauty: One of the surest ways to turn on my daughter’s smile was to run a bath for her. I am blessed with a child who was willing to be delighted by the simplest of things. As a child, she was so exceedingly careful about not getting hurt that we could go on all kinds of wild adventures together. She deserved – and got – the most magical childhood I could give her.

Nature Girl: Justine’s love of the bath easily translated into a love of whatever water we were near in the country. What a fairy sprite spirit Justine reveals in this photo. About two years separates this photo from the previous one. Her hair is lot longer; as are her legs! And the magic is alive and afoot!

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