by Floris R. Freshman
When I grew up in Seagate, which is on the very tip of the Cape of Coney Island, during the fifties and sixties, my world was divided into friends whose parents spoke with European accents, and those whose parents were born in America and had no accents. I thought the latter were special.
They were really ‘American’, they were savvy, established. They had grandparents, lots of aunts, uncles, and cousins, all well-to-do, all in business. Their living rooms were decorated with modern furniture and velveteen wallpaper. They had refrigerators full of TV dinners and made mashed potatoes from a mix. They all had cars and televisions, and knew about the Governor and the Mayor. The mothers had jobs as well as the fathers. They never breast-fed their kids. They didn’t say hello when you passed by their block. They’d buy houses elsewhere and move away, some went to Florida.
The Americans only had one first name, whereas all my relatives each had about five names, which consisted of a Polish name, an affectionate nickname, then Yiddish and Biblical Hebrew names, and lastly, an American name. My relatives came to the USA from war-torn Poland, believing that no wrong could ever touch them again. Thus, they were newcomers, “Griene” in Yiddish, or “Green”, as fresh as a budding Spring. Therefore I also consider myself green, or a novice, being a first generation American. Okay, a freshman.
About the Author
Florie enjoys dance, song and art. She writes articles and draws caricatures. She won ontest in the Catskills in 1966 for “Try to Remember”. She loves art but loved Drama. A graduate of Performing Arts High School –Drama ‘72, Studied Tap, Ballet and Jazz at the Majestic School of Dance. She holds a BFA in Theatre Arts from Purchase College ’76 with minors in Dance and Vocal Music. In 1976 she studied with professionals worldwide for the ITI (International Theatre Institute) in Austria for two weeks: song interpretation with Dr. Aleksander Bardini of Poland. She played opposite Theresa Saldana in Peter Copani’s “New York City Street Show” for three months in Greenwich Village. She performed in Seth Allen’s “Blonde Roots” Off-Broadway and with Equity Library Theatre in “Allegro”. She studied Voice with Lou Rodgers for six years and performed with the “Golden Fleece” group. She toured with Arte Johnson in 1977 in Michigan as a chorus character in “Stop the World, I Want to Get Off!” Florie performed in the Broadway show “Nefertiti” in 1978 and played Fruma-Sarah, the ghost, in several “Fiddler on the Roof” productions as well as Lucy in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown”. Florie worked as a freelance artist for Madison Avenue Ad Agencies, and also received her teaching certification. She enjoys practicing Spanish and learning songs in many languages. Her main work is as a caricature artist at events, and also singing telegrams with custom written songs. She is currently working on a Musical about her father’s life, “Hands of Gold”.