A Palmer Square Saint

On All Saints Day I was remembering Mary Hultse, who left this earth in 2018 and left Princeton before that. In preparation for the All Saints Day service on November 6 at Princeton United Methodist Church, we were asked to think about who were the saints in our lives

The name “saint” implies perfect, but according to Derek Weber, who quotes Psalm 149 in his All Saint’s Day meditation for the Upper Room Disciplines book, “saints of God are those who accept the invitation to dance. A saint is someone who knows something of the joy of living, even in the hardest moments of life. A saint is someone who knows something of the exuberance of praise, even when tears fall like rain and sweat falls like great drops of blood.”

As a successful advertising executive at Bristol-Myers Squibb, Mary Hultse commuted to Princeton from an apartment on the Upper West Side, where she was a regular at Riverside Church. Then she bought a second apartment, a fourth-floor corner walkup on Palmer Square, so that she could look out over Princeton University and enjoy walking around town. She retired in 1990.

Mary had such joie de vivre – going dancing, loving beautiful art, anything Hungarian, and clothes. She told stories of escaping Hungary with gold coins sewn into the hem of her dress. With a passion for the arts – she loved to sing, act, and dance – she joined local theater groups and played Aunt Eller in “Oklahoma” at Washington Crossing. She was beloved by the staff at Richardson Auditorium, where she volunteered as an usher. Devoutly faithful, she enthusiastically participated in the life of Princeton United Methodist Church (PrincetonUMC) and was in charge of the Altar Guild. She reveled in her Hungarian heritage and loved the daughters of a Hungarian family as if they were her grandchildren.  

She was a trooper – not just in drama, but in stamina – even with arthritis and knee surgery, she trudged up four flights, 67 steps, to keep her view. She had Moxie, like the name of her former German shepherd.  She had faith and extreme hospitality.  But what we loved about Mary is that she helped us to be our Best Selves.

Everyone she met was perfect – beautiful, wonderful, perfect. When you think about Mary glowing with compliments — that’s the kind of love that Jesus offers. Unconditional love. Like at PrincetonUMC, when we say “You are enough because God is enough.”

The same qualities that made her a good executive – persistence, insistence – eventually evolved into just plain obstinance, masking depression and the beginning of dementia. When she began to fail, she refused to move away from her apartment. It was so hard to help her, because she would agree to something one day and refuse the next day. 

An ad-hoc care team of a dozen PrincetonUMC people did help her stay in that apartment. We alternated taking her places. One woman did her wash. Others brought her home for meals and took her shopping. Walking behind her, we pushed her up those stairs and fetched cappuccinos from the Palmer Square kiosk. We worked with Princeton Senior Resource Center. We worked with Palmer Square management and (surreptitiously) with her doctors. We worked with McCaffrey’s. (Wanting to be independent, she would go to McCaffrey’s on the bus but not be able to get home. They would call us to come pick her up and we would dispatch someone on the Mary Team.) A couple from the church put in endless hours to organize her finances and pay her taxes. Along with her Hungarian friends, we were her family.

In the end, we were the benefactors, because in helping Mary, we got to be the best we could be. We surprised ourselves. We found out how good it felt to act out our faith.

In his meditation Weber refers to the English carol Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day. “In his own voice and with his life, Jesus calls all to dance with joy for this gift of life eternal. . . On All Saints’ Day, we remember those whose dancing with their Lord has given us all hope. And we aspire to follow them in the music and dance Jesus is leading.”

Mary Hultse embodied the spirit of the eternal dance.

Embodied Faith: experience spirituality in a new way

I’m excited about this. You knew I would be. Annalise Hume begins a four-session “Embodied Faith” workshop on Monday, September 26 at 7:30 p.m. I’m inviting all my friends and movement buddies to attend — by zoom or in person. Here’s how Annalise describes what we’ll do.

Our bodies hold memories and store our stories. By paying attention to how we feel or want to move, we can gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and God. Each week we will experience a passage of scripture or theological theme through a combination of prayer, movement, play, and journaling. If you yearn for a fresh way to experience God this year, come and play. No previous dance, yoga, or movement experience necessary.

ANYBODY can do this. “While the sessions are movement based, our brain-body connection is so strong that you are welcome to do the entire class in your imagination without moving at all. All abilities and disabilities are welcome.”
These four sessions are sponsored by Princeton United Methodist Church and any reader of Princeton Comment will be my guest. The sessions are every other Monday from 7:30-8:45pm by ZOOM or in person in the church’s Fellowship Hall at 7 Vandeventer in Princeton. Register here:

https://princetonumc.breezechms.com/form/1353a5

Buttons, buttons- did you ever see such buttons as these?

When a friend finds out I collect buttons, it’s hard for them to imagine what KINDS of buttons I collect. Here are two ways to be beDAZzled by buttons.

One. Page through the offerings of a button auction to benefit a nonprofit button group here . These enamel buttons and the glass buttons above (courtesy of Armchair Auctions) will give you a taste of the gorgeous buttons available.

Two. Drop by the New Jersey State Button Society‘s show on the Saturday after Labor Day, September 10, 10 to 3 p.m. If you get there a little before 1 p.m. you can hear the talk, “Buttons Go to Work” featuring uniform and work buttons, as below. The show is in Titusville, just south of Lambertville, so make a day of it!

Affordable Housing? Explained

Affordable housing is complicated in every municipality, especially Princeton, where there both a nonprofit agency and a government agency are trying to do the right thing.. Now there’s controversy swirling around two proposed apartment developments near Princeton Shopping Center. Richard K. Rein makes sense out of this in an article in TAP Into Princeton.

Quoting his lede,

“It was a tale of two PILOT ordinances at Princeton Council’s August 22 meeting. There was a “good” PILOT, a tax arrangement by which Princeton would end up with 65 new units of affordable housing, tucked in with and no different from market rate units in new developments loaded with amenities. And there was an “evil” PILOT, a program that, as one prominent critic argued at the meeting, gives away the store to the developers and also ends up costing municipal taxpayers more than they initially perceive.

The clash of good and evil has the happy consequence of forcing us to enter the weeds of this increasingly popular financing arrangement.”

How to decide? When i’m confused, I vote with Leighton Newlin. Pictured above. He’s been around a l o n g, long time. He knows what’s what.

Comebacks that Count

You heard about Bill Baroni going to prison. That was not very long after he spoke at the Princeton Mercer Chamber. Now he has been exonerated, has written his second book, and gets to retell his story to the chamber luncheon audience on Thursday, June 2. As explained by Richard K. Rein, who made his own kind of comeback, from retirement, with TAPinto Princeton.

Photo provided by Bill Baroni. At this moment he was immersed in the Bridgegate scandal.

In this photo, provided by Baroni, he is answering questions about the Bridgegate scandal.

His first book was about weight loss. His second, about prison.

Buttons About Horses!

Yes, vintage and antique buttons can have horse themes. On Saturday, before you pour those mint juleps, help me celebrate “Derby Day” at the New Jersey State Button Society show and competition. On May 7, from 9 to 3. door prizes and displays will have a horse-racing theme, and admission is free.

It’s at Union Fire Company, 3926 River Road (minutes south of Lambertville). More than a dozen dealers and artists will offer buttons made from enamel, china, metal, and ivory — plus modern and vintage buttons made from fruit pits, rubber, and glass. At 11 am we will distribute favor ornaments, made by button artist Nancy DuBois. Exhibits on how buttons can embellish quilts and how to use buttons with children will be presented by Mary Jane Pozarycki and Susan Infosino. Helene Plank’s display shows how buttons can paint pictures.

See you there!

TCF Goes Online — and Green — on March 19

Allen Katz

Forty six years later, Trenton Computer Festival (TCF) returns. It’s still free, and still welcomes all levels of expertise, and still run by Allen Katz. Yet again for another year, it is online.

New this year: an environmental theme, as arranged by Karen Johnson, co-program chair. Frank Niepold of NOAA speaks at 10:15 a.m and Bob Kopp, co-director of Rutgers Climate Impact Lab, speaks at 3:40, but as before – a dizzying array of workshops are available.

Go to the TCF website to choose from 50 workshops including “How Computing is Changing Photography” to “How to Communicate for Climate Change — Challenges.” One of the names I recognize is John LeMasney, who is known for explaining tough technical skills to novices like me. On March 19 he speaks at 12:25 on a topic that continues to plague many of us — how to recycle electronic waste.

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Making sense out of crazy parking conflicts

Confused about Princeton’s parking madness? I’m smilling at Rich Rein’s analysis, always cogent and often, as in this column, entertaining. For this astute deep dive into the controversy he calls, as witnesses, “some of the most dedicated apponents of permit parking” naming homeowners on Hawthorne Avenue, Library Place, and Princeton Avenue.

Even if you don’t know – and don’t care – about this problem, it’s fun to follow how Rein makes his point. “People with parking often don’t want neighbors to get it,” he says. Rein founded U.S. 1 Newspaper and now publishes at TAP Into Princeton. The article: After a Deep Dive into Parking Madness, We Emerge — Not Recovered But At Least Recovering

Read it here and be persuaded. Or at least informed — about your supposedly liberal neighbors.

Dance again — at home!

Gabriella (Profitt) Cunha

If you love to dance.

If you like dance class but don’t like people watching you.

If you wish you could dance but don’t have time to get to a studio.

If you worry about getting hurt.

If you can’t find ‘the right teacher.’

If you yearn to dance but – to put it kindly – are ‘past your prime.’

Then you are like me.

For decades, I’ve been an eager but not technically proficient amateur dancer. In 1960, for one fabulous summer, I studied the Limon technique at the American Dance Festival. Over the years I studied dance whenever I could, wherever I could.

Two years ago I discovered Gabriella Cunha’s virtual “in home” Dance Workout class, offered by Martin Center for Dance on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 12:30 p.m.

Of ALL the techniques I’ve studied, I like Gabriella’s the best. Though she does not know Limon’s movement, hers is uncannily like his — organic, swinging, satisfying.

You may know that I am a former dance critic. Critics, of course, aren’t supposed to be promoters. But hey! I am retired. And at my age I get to do and say what I please.

Using modern dance concepts that beginning dancers can follow, Gabriella suggests modifications so that elder dancers (like me) can safely move. Her studio is a small room, so anyone can take the class in a small room.

I could go on and on — but here are some clips so you can see what I mean:

Here is a sample of the upper body warmup.

The shoulder warmup.

The foot warmup.

After the 45-minute class, Gabriella offers 15 minutes of stretching. I’m always intrigued by her insights on how the human body is put together. In addition to her expertise in music, ballet, modern dance, Reiki, and yoga, she is working towards a degree in naturopathic medicine. In her class, I feel safe.

Without the eyes of anyone on us, in our own spaces — I and the other students can feel like a dancer again. If you are a young beginner or an older person who used to “take class,” I invite you to join us. The classes are “a la carte,” come when you can.

For information, DouglasMartinArts@gmail.com or 609-937-8878.

Just Published: Rein on Willilam H. Whyte

“When organizations are empowered to do as they damn well please,” said William H. Whyte, “the temptation is strong for them to do just that.” Whyte is most famous for his book “The Organization Man,” but his most lasting legacy may be his insights on urban planning.

Since Richard K. Rein retired from U.S. 1, the newspaper he founded, he has been working on his biography of Whyte, published this month by Island Press. He will speak at the Princeton Public Library on Thursday, January 13 at 7 p.m.

Some reviews are in. Anthony Paletta, in a review for he American Conservative, suggests that Whyte succeeded “by not allowing organization or ideology to get in the way of ideas. Publisher’s Weekly called Rein’s book “a welcome tribute to a visionary thinker.”

I worked for Rein at U.S. 1 Newspaper, and I am eager to get the book and hear what he says about it. Since in-person places will likely be gone, you can register for the livestream here. See you online. . .