Tag Archives: New York Times

Finding The Nina’s Starts A Perfect New York City Day

3 Jan
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My Al Hirschfeld Collection, including the article that appeared in the NY Times a few days after his death.

Like many who grew up in the New Jersey/New York City area in the 50s, 60s and 70s, my Sunday morning routine included one important item, I had to open the New York Times and find the Nina’s in the newest Al Hirschfeld drawing!

My Dad started me on the search for Nina’s. Little did he know what would happen to me. I became obsessed.   I loved looking at the newest entertainment stars Hirschfeld had rendered in ink. They often were stars of Broadway musicals, another passion I developed. I especially loved when he did a complicated drawing that had more than one Nina! Heaven!

Thus it is not surprising that over the years, I purchased books of Hirschfeld’s drawings so that I could look for Nina’s even when I was not getting the “New York Times.” Especially when he passed away at age 99 and his long run of drawings for the paper and the world ended. I was saddened when he passed away close to my birthday in January of 2003.

I even saved the article that appeared in the New York Times on January 26, 2003, six days after his death. He was that important to me.

When I was older and moved to the Midwest, I was glad he was born in St. Louis, the same city where my husband was born.  Another connection!

There is something about his drawings that are so free and moving. He captured the essence of each person with such simple lines; it is deceiving. And so many of his drawings are just joyful.

I have been to the Al Hirschfeld Theater in NYC, (last time to see Kinky Boots) where a permanent display of replicas his works adorn the second floor walls. I made my daughter look at each drawing with me to find the Nina’s. A tradition she had to share!

This past summer, in July 2015, when I visited my family, I enticed my sister to go with me to the New York Historical Society to see the exhibition: “The Hirschfeld Century: The Art of Al Hirschfeld.”

To be honest, it did not take too much enticing the get my sister to leave New Jersey with me to see the exhibition. She knew how much I loved his drawings. In fact she and her husband purchased the book, Hirschfeld on Hirschfeld for me as a gift many years ago!

And, of course, she also grew up looking for the Nina’s. We might have had one or two arguments over his drawings through the years. Who would find the Nina’s first was a big deal!

The exhibit was wonderful. My sister and I went from drawing to drawing, checking the number by his name to see how many Nina’s we needed to find. And then the search was on.   We looked at every sketch, drawing and film.  It was delightful.

I wanted to take a photo at the art table that was set up. But the guard would not let me. Sigh.   I could almost imagine myself as Hirschfeld, but no such luck. I am not a good artist. But I was disappointed not to have the photo at the replica of his desk.

The gift shop lured us in. Luckily they would ship my purchases home! A book, a mug, a t-shirt and some gift cards went to the Midwest. My sister’s purchases spent the rest of the day in Manhattan with us, even attending a show with our Aunt and cousin.

It was a glorious New York City type of day: subway ride, taxi, show, lunch, ice tea at Bryant Park, dinner at the Bryant Park Grill in the City, hanging out with family, and Finding the Nina’s!

The Sunday Crossword Puzzle Is a Family Tradition For Some

29 Mar

Puzzle

I never do the Sunday Crossword Puzzle when I am home alone. I do get the Sunday New York Times delivered to my house each week, because I cannot see a life without the large Sunday paper on my driveway. I grew up in a home where the Sunday paper was important. We each would take our sections and sit and read quietly, while my Dad did the puzzle.

Daddy loved to do crossword puzzles. When he was retired, he would start each day with a cup of coffee and the newest puzzle in the newspaper. He usually would use a pencil, but at times Dad used a pen. His ability to solve the puzzle was amazing. In fact I knew after his heart surgery when he was back to himself because he was once more able to complete the puzzle in under hour. For a while, after his open-heart surgery, he struggled.

My Dad had one major competitor for the puzzles, my sister. As she grew up, she wanted to do to the puzzles as well. I think they even bought two Sunday newspapers when my sister was living at home while she attended law school. It alleviated fights as they both could complete these impossible weekly puzzles on their own.

They were not good at sharing the puzzle. This made life more bearable for my Mom.   I am not sure if they competed to see who would complete it first, but it would not surprise me if they did.

I just did not want to get involved in the puzzle battles. I would answer a question about a word, if asked. But usually I stayed out of the way. It could be very intense. And although I was an English major and knew many of the references, I was afraid to get involved. What if I made a mistake? So I just bought my own puzzle books and stayed out of the fray.

When my sister married, she married another crossword puzzle addict. They and their children would sit around on Sunday and read the clues out loud so everyone had a chance to answer. They would also take turns being the one to write down the answers. A new family tradition was born. It was a world of word puzzle cooperation!

My husband was not interested in puzzles. So we never developed the tradition of doing the crossword puzzles together. Whenever my parents came to visit me in Kansas, I would read the section of the newspaper with the puzzle in it first so that when my Dad was ready he could do the puzzle. Sometimes one of my children would sit with him when he worked the puzzle, but it was more of watching than participating. Occasionally, my Dad would ask for help with a word.

I would buy my Dad crossword puzzle books so that he would have something to do when we were having down time. I even purchased him a crossword puzzle mug to use when he visited my family. I still have the mug. Whenever I use it I think of my Dad.

In the Catskills a different crossword puzzle tradition developed. My cousin also loves the Sunday puzzle. Every Sunday friends and cousins gather on his lake front property with the latest puzzle. It is passed around to those interested in working on it. Completing the Sunday Times puzzle is a process of teamwork. Clues are read out loud. Comments are made. The group effort often works.

I enjoy joining in because I like the concept of the crossword puzzle. I took my husband to see the movie, “Wordplay,” about the New York Times crossword editor Will Shortz and a crossword competition. I loved the movie. I enjoyed seeing the joy of the competitors as they did well.

So I had to think, “Why did I never get into crossword puzzles when I love word games so much?” I think it was because doing these puzzles was my Dad’s thing to do. And I would not compete. My sister moved back home after college after developing the love of crosswords while at school. So when she lived at home while attending law school, she and my Dad had to work out a compromise; it was purchasing two papers.

Except for a summer or two, I never lived at home again after college. I went to grad school and married. And the crossword puzzle tradition ended in my home, except when my parents visited. I also think that if online crossword puzzles had existed sooner, I might have been more interested.   With online puzzles, each person can work on their own without interfering with others. But even my sister, who does weekday puzzles online, admits that on Sunday she wants to work on a the paper puzzle.

When I get my Sunday Times. I read it over a two-day period. I save the Book Review and the Sunday Magazine for last. Often reading them on Tuesday. But I have never touched the puzzle. When I am with others, I love working on it. So, perhaps it is time for me to take on this tradition and attempt to complete the Sunday New York Times Crossword puzzle. Perhaps I need to develop a new Sunday tradition.