Category Archives: Memoir

Gossip’s Guide: What to see in 20 minutes?

Antonio Salemme's Paul Robeson
Antonio Salemme;s Paul Robeson

 

Conversing with a reference librarian at the Princeton Public Library, I learned that visitors sometimes ask: “What can I do in an hour before I leave for the airport?”

With my Gossip’s Guide hat on – I suggest: 

In 20 minutes, more or less

The Quick Paul Robeson Tour: Check out the Robeson bust by Antonio Salemme in the Princeton Room on the second floor of the library. Walk past the Arts Council of Princeton’s Robeson bust (this site formerly belonged to the Colored YMCA) to the Paul Robeson house and Witherspoon Presbyterian Church, where his father preached. (Both visible only from the outside).

the Norman Rockwell “Yankee Doodle” painting at the Nassau Inn Tap Room (reminding the patron that it is NOT a colonial era building!). Check out the alumni headshots. If you have time, a free place to sit is the upstairs lounge, by the fireplace.

Princeton Cemetery. Available at the entrance is a new brochure. 

Tiger Walk:  Stroll from the tiger in Palmer Square and the tigers at the entrance to Nassau Hall. Keep going and you will find more.

The Comparative Architecture Tour: Enjoy the interior of the Princeton Public Library, a Taj Mahal of libraries, designed by the Hillier firm. Diagonally across, the work of postmodern architect Michael Graves. Contemplate the differences. Then check out the interior of the Arts Council and the current exhibit.

Dohm Alley: a startling array of thoughts and objects in a small narrow space. Plus, there’s a water feature good for contemplating, and it’s right down the street from the town’s college bookstore (never miss a chance to enjoy a college bookstore.)

In 30-40 minutes

A quick Einstein tour — the Einstein museum in the back of Landau’s plus the Einstein bust at the corner of 206 and Nassau Street, great photo op. (The house is too far to walk in a hurry, but I tell people to drive and park on Edgehill.) 

Morven, now made relevant by truthful and inclusive exhibits that tell the stories of female occupants and slaves.

Prospect Gardens, always attractive in any season.

Cotsen Children’s Library inside Firestone Library

Princeton University Chapel, always open and it has a brochure about the windows

Tiffany Window Tour at Princeton United Methodist Church on Fridays and Sundays noon-2.

Quick sculpture tour 1: Circle of Animals by Ai Weiwei and Picassso’s Head of a Woman, down by the former Dinky Station.

Quick sculpture tour 2: The Plaza in front of the chapel: statue of John Witherspoon, Song of the Vowels by Lipschitz, and (just inside the University Library, and open to the public) Noguchi’s White Sun. Throw in Oval with Points if you are walking that way.

This tour works if a Princeton native can direct the visitor. Later I may have time to add the links. What would YOU recommend?

 

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Connect with your audience

EileenSinett_colorI was lucky enough to be able to take Eileen Sinett’s 4 Points of Connection  earlier this year. In this workshop I was able to put together a talk about social justice — not an easy task but she skillfully guided me through it. Her next presentation of this workshop is on October 18, details here.

Sinett knows how to connect with her students, whether a student is frightened to just open her mouth, or is an experienced speechmaker seeking to hone her skills. Everybody comes away more confident, more ready to step up to the podium.

 

With local sports, he made a difference

A wonderful tribute for a sports writer and, indeed, any journalist: “He instilled in us the importance of knowing that the event you were covering that day was the most important thing to the players and coaches on the field. George never thought he was bigger than the event and he never thought another event was bigger than the one he was covering.”

This accolade is for Trentonian sports writer George O’Gorman from Bob Nuse, Packet sports editor, who I am privileged to number among my friends at Princeton United Methodist Church. Here is his memorial column.

Medieval Nuremberg

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Good friends,  Ginny and Norm, will have two days in Nuremberg, our home town in the ’60s. They have booked the Nuremberg trial tour, and here is my ‘take’ on what else to see. Our most recent visit was 2015, when our friend Martin gave us an excellent tour of the medieval city, rebuilt after the war to look old again. Take your guidebook but here are my picks with the caveat that my sense of direction is spotty; check your map!

The “berg” in Nuremberg is a hill. The “burg” on the top of the hill is a castle.  Start at the  the castle, the highest point in the old city. You can do it on your own but if you take the  short tour you get into the “deep well,” which is fun and could be a sermon topic. You will learn it was NOT part of Bavaria, but of Franken, of historic import, says Martin.

As you walk down the hill to the RR station and tourist office, you will pass most everything you need to see. Plan to get to the Hauptmarkt and Frauenkirche at noon, so you can see the Glockenspiel clock.

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But do stop at the Albrecht Durer house. We spent at least an hour there, going room to room and learning about 16th century life. You might even be greeted by Agnes Durer. A Durer-focused gift shop is across the street.

 

 

My favorite of the churches is St. Lorenz. Buy the English guidebook and you can easily spend an hour. You will also like the big area at the back with its mission exhibits. Weekday services are at 5 p.m., just before closing time at 5:30.

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Annunciation at St. Lorenz

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Tabernacle by Veit Stoss at St. Lorenz. Open 9 to 5:30, services at 5.

 

 

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The Nurnberg Angel (I don’t have an umlaut but I like this spelling better) hangs over the streets in December for the Christkindlmart. You should be able to find her in the souvenir shops; she is made from colored foil. The story goes that a Nurnberg craftsman was grieving over the loss of his golden-haired daughter. She appeared to him in a dream, and he made a little doll out of colored foil for his Christmas tree.

 

By this time you will have reached the Hauptmarket, where you can get fixings for a picnic. They probably sell lebkuchen, and they might even have it ‘gluten frei.’ You can read about the sad history of this area,  a plaza dominated by Frauenkirche, here.  Hopefully you arrived at noon so you can See the clock . Don’t bother with the church. The Beautiful Fountain is also here as is St. Sebaldus Church, worth seeing and open till 6 p.m.

At the bottom of the hill, right at the wall of the old city, across from the RR station and the tourist bureau, is the crafts market (Handwerk Market) good for window shopping, tho pricey, and it also has eateries.  Tree ornaments are hard to resist!  If you might want to buy loden woolens (I love my cape), price them at Landau’s before you leave or online. They are more fun to buy in Germany, but they might be just as well priced in Princeton. But shop in Germany for unusual and stylish woolen hats.

Another option for sightseeing is this excellent walking tour from the New York Times; it emphasizes St. Sebaldus Church.

Somewhere in the city – ask in the tourist office because I can’t remember where – is an outside statue of a man whose front half is normal and whose back half is full of worms and ugly things. It’s a cringe-worthy Bible lesson for medieval passersby.

Along the way you will encounter lots of photogenic spots, including this one on the Pegnitz River. Be sure to get someone to take this iconic photo!

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Thanks, Martin, for a terrific tour! Ginny and Norm, have a wonderful time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From worm poop to designer bottles?

TerraCycle_CEO_Tom_SzakyGarbage is certainly the hero at the Terracycle headquarters, says Diccon Hyatt, who tells of Tom Szaky’s latest iteration, a new business model for his throwaway manufacturing business. It’s Diccon Hyatt’s cover story in the issue dated July 4 but being distributed a day early, click here, 

It’s a long way from when the headquarters for Szaky’s four-person start-up was a basement room, with a futon cot, on the corner of Nassau and Chamber Street.  U.S. 1 has charted his progress. His success story – leaving Princeton University to start a business –  is no comfort to hand-wringing parents of students aiming to quit school to follow their dreams.

 

Listen well to get at the truth

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An article from the Harvard Business Review courtesy of Niki (Veronica) Fielding’s  new newsletter Owlthena, validated one of my favorite approaches to reporting: Keep prepared questions to a minimum and just ‘follow the trail’ of where the conversation leads.

It works only when there is no time limit, and when you have the freedom to circle back to the subject again, but it’s pretty exciting to start at square one as if you know almost nothing. When you let one question lead to another, both you and your subject may be surprised at the discoveries.

HBR says: Follow-up questions seem to have special power. They signal to your conversation partner that you are listening, care, and want to know more. People interacting with a partner who asks lots of follow-up questions tend to feel respected and heard.

It also works for me to say, at the beginning, anything can be off the record:

HBR: People also tend to be more forthcoming when given an escape hatch or “out” in a conversation. For example, if they are told that they can change their answers at any point, they tend to open up more—even though they rarely end up making changes. 

The article came to me in Niki’s new Owlthena newsletter, “What’s Hot Wednesday,” an assembly of business studies that I would not have seen. The one from HBR was by Alison Wood Brooks and Leslie K. John. (Feminist thought: is it a coincidence that this intensive study on listening was done by women?)

One caution about this approach: Many busy people don’t want to give you the time to meander down uncharted lanes. Keep the prepared questions in your pocket.

 

 

 

Safer children? Maybe not

20120610164834_00019ALiving three blocks from a school, I am continually surprised to see parents walking fourth graders to and fro. Yet I remember how my sister and I walked ourselves to school in every grade. As for my kids, I never accompanied my kids to the bus stop and often I didn’t keep tabs on where, in the neighborhood, they were.

Is it such a different world? This article in the Atlantic explains how today’s parents protect their children — and question whether that’s needed or effective.

Breakfast with Pat

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Pat Tanner bills herself as the sixth of seven children in a food-obsessed Italian family, and she admits that the terms ‘food-obsessed’ and ‘Italian’ are redundant. An award-winning food writer, restaurant critic, and blogger, Tanner speaks at the Princeton chamber breakfast on Valentine’s Day, Wednesday, February 14, at the Nassau Club, starting at 7:30 a.m.

Always devoted to some aspect of food, Tanner edited the Zagat Survey, contributed to publications such as the New York Times and New Jersey Monthly, hosted a live, weekly radio show, co-founded the Central Jersey Chapter of Slow Food, and catered meals delivered to homes,  In fact, that’s when I first met her — Tanner delivered dinners to my fridge in the ’80s.

She has written for U.S. 1 Newspaper since 2002 – later for the Princeton Echo of Community News – chronicling how Princeton added fine dining opportunities to what was pretty much a wasteland.

In true U.S. 1 fashion, Tanner told the stories behind the cooking personalities, as in this profile of three women bakers. Early in her tenure she shared what she taught to financial advisors: a top 10 list of breaches of dining etiquette. She’s not too uppity to review a hot dog stand,  She has a blog, dinewithpat.com. 

Last year, when Tanner put food writing on the back burner, she began letting her picture be published. (Food critics try to remain anonymous.) But her fans keep hoping to lure her to the table.  The breakfast table at the Nassau Club is the place to be on Wednesday.

 

Merrie Landers: Girl Scouts to Europe

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Here’s a wonderful piece by Margarita Cambest in the Towson Times, a Baltimore Sun newspaper, about my Girl Scout troop, the Merrie Landers, and our 1957 10-week trip to Europe.  A memorable moment in time.  I’m in the first row, far right, in both pictures. Fashion note that Cambest included: we camped in Girl Scout uniform dresses. We weren’t allowed to wear pants.

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person to person still matters

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It’s 6:30 am at Franklin Corner Deli, and in walks Jerry Fennelly, one of my best ‘sources’ when I was reporting on real estate, picking up morning coffee for his 13 hour day. What’s new, Jerry? He obligingly launches into his trend analysis (I haven’t seen it, but you can order it). My take on what he said:

  • landlords should worry, businesses are taking smaller offices than their job roster warrants because many workers will be traveling or working from home.  Fennelly cited a company that is taking half the space that the workforce size would warrant.
  • retail real estate dealers should worry because the whole world of real estate is morphing into an Amazon-endangered zone.

fennellyFennelly and I enjoy a back and forth about the prospects of shoe stores and food stores. Shoe stores, he admits, might survive because bunion-sufferers like to try on shoes. The food business might be transformed by the Peapods and the Blue Aprons, but folks will still patronize the entertainment side of food – restaurants.

Today a New York Times article underlines Fennelly’s proposition. What we in Princeton know as “shared office space” began l-o-n-g ago with businesses like Princeton Office Solutions in inexpensive (now ancient) developments like Hilton Realty’s Research Park. The cheapest rental space is the mailbox they keep for you, and you can rent conference rooms if you need to meet a client.

In the ’80s and ’90s independent landlords operated these spaces all over Greater Princeton. Last time I looked (disclaimer, I retired 5 years ago and no longer track this), virtually all the Class A spaces had been bought out by Regus. 

The next new business model might be for large co-working space operators to rent large amounts of space for, according to a NYT source, “commercial landlords who want to maintain a hands-off approach with renters and not have to provide copy machines, mail forwarding and receptionists to individual tenants.” In other words, the co-working spaces will house – not just start-ups and entrepreneurs but significantly sized companies.

Yet – yet – the Wall Street Journal says the opposite. 

Employers are ending or reducing remote-work arrangements as managers demand more collaboration, closer contact with customers—and more control over the workday. But bringing workers back to the office isn’t easy.

Fennelly went on his way and I went back to Delaware Valley Physical Therapy  to introduce aJames-W-226x150.-Schorsch,-PT,-DPT friend to the ministrations of the fabulous Jim Schorsch. Seems to me these two trends will prevail — the value of chance encounters like this one, and the viability of hands-on occupations like the various therapies. You can’t massage a sore knee with TV medicine.