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These articles were prepared for the April 14, 2004

issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

From Poet Gerald Stern, Some Vivid Prose

Gerald Stern, the author of 13 books of poetry, won the 1998 National

Book Award for Poetry. Now Stern, a Lambertville resident, has

published his first book of prose. His memoir, "What I Can’t Bear

Losing: Notes from a Life," opens with his teenage memories of

Calvinist Pittsburgh, where all the good times shut down for the

Christian Sabbath. He reads from the book and signs on Thursday, April

15, at 7 p.m. at Barnes & Noble. An excerpt:

"The bars closed at 12 a.m. Saturday night – as if a whole city had to

be treated like fourteen-year-olds, as if the punishment had to start

exactly on time, 12:01, beginning of the true night, as if the street

cars and taxis would turn into pumpkins if the mice weren’t back in

time, as if – the religious rules of one group – a minority certainly

– were to direct the civil authority, as if one could go to sleep at

such an early hour, especially on spring and summer nights when the

moon sometimes broke through the filth and the rivers themselves

shone. . .

"Some of the more gluttonous religious caterpillars started their

Sabbath on Saturday sunset and some kept it till late at night on

Sunday. There was no unified standard as there is in Judaism, sundown

to sundown. But the tail end you could still feel and I’m sure many of

the prayerful went to bed on Sunday night still in a righteous

condition. In our neighborhood – in our world – there were weddings on

Sunday night at any of five or so synagogues and we went almost every

week. There had to be at least one wedding and we went from shul to

shul. I was in my late teens when we did this. I always shaved, shined

my shoes, put on a suit, necktie, and white shirt, slicked back my

hair, and gargled with some burning liquid.

"We had to put up with the ceremony, which was always boring, but it

was important that we be seen there. There was a huppah or not,

according to the orthodoxy of the bride. Upstairs, or downstairs,

there was food, drink, dancing, and beautiful girls, all open and

giving because it was a wedding and because we might be related,

cousins or what not.. . . We didn’t get caught because we acted as if

we belonged there. . . I quickly gathered the necessary details, made

friends with one of the older women, worked up a defense in case

anyone should recognize me, and adopted a persona and a history for

the evening: I was from Steubenville, Ohio, or Detroit or the Bronx. .


"One time, at the wedding of one of my cousins, where I was

legitimately invited, one of the faux guests – whom I recognized – was

caught in the act, kicked out and almost beaten up, certainly

humiliated. He looked at me knowingly and appealed to me with his eyes

But I couldn’t do anything. I was even indignant, now that I was on

the other side, but I did feel some sympathy. . .

"I stayed till the last dances, always got a bit tipsy, ate like a

king, kugels and cakes you can’t imagine, and as likely as not

accompanied someone home, or to her hotel if she was from out of town.

At one wedding, I met the sister or friend or cousin of [the] bride

and we hit it off immediately. She was from Ohio somewhere and her

parents, especially the father, kept a close eye on her. I took her to

the Webster Hall Hotel where she was staying, and we practically

consumed each other in the back seat of the taxi. She had her own

room, but her mother and father guarded her too well. Furthermore, she

had marriage on her mind and asked me the telltale questions – what my

profession was going to be, what my father’s business was, how I felt

about Ohio. My God, I was 20 at the most and my secret plans were to

go either to Mexico or France, write poetry, and get in touch with the

past. I hope she found what she wanted – I did. And though Sunday was

always melancholy for me, I came to understand it was because of those

two wonderful decades between 1925 and 1945, and I did everything I

could, and I do everything I can, to understand them and undo them,

even as, in memory, I love them."

Gerald Stern, Barnes & Noble, MarketFair, 609-716-1570. Free.

Thursday, April 15, 7 p.m.

Top Of Page

Yardley Players seeks actors for "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" to be

produced at Washington Crossing Open Air Theater in July. Auditions

are at Kelsey Theater, West Windsor, on Saturday and Sunday, April 24

and 25 from noon to 5 p.m. Schedule appointment with Marge Swider at


Ritz Theater Company seeks actors for "Candide" opening July 8.

Auditions are April 26, 6 to 10 p.m., at 915 White Horse Pike, Oaklyn.

Master classes in preparation of "Candide" include a stage combat

workshop on Saturday, April 17, 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; and a vocal

workshop on Saturday, April 24, 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Call 856-858-5230

for appointment.

Top Of Page
Call for Entries

Christian Fine Arts Society seeks Christian poetry of 21 lines or

less. Send to Free Poetry Contest, 9588 Thornbush Lane Fishers,

Indiana 46038 or enter online at Deadline is

Friday, April 30.

The Borough of Highland Park seeks artists for its monthly art

exhibitions. Contact Donna Como at 732-572-3400.

Top Of Page
Participate Please

TV 30: Princeton Community Television has six-week training program

beginning Wednesday, April 28, to learn the basics of digital video

camera operation, lighting, sound, production, and editing. Register

at 609-799-2092. $20.

HomeFront offers mother’s day cards in exchange for a donation of $25.

The cards express that the contribution made will help make Mother’s

Day special for a homeless mother and her children in Mercer County.

Deadline is Saturday, May 1. Call 609-989-9417 for information.

Experience Works is searching for New Jersey’s outstanding older

worker. Businesses and individuals may nominate applicants age 65 or

older, a resident of New Jersey, and currently employed for more than

20 hours each week. Website: Deadline is

Friday, April 30.

Top Of Page

New Jersey Audubon offers trips to lighthouses, Nova Scotia, Spain,

New Mexico, and Costa Rica. Proceeds from the tours benefit

conservation, environmental education, and wildlife research efforts.

For information call 609-897-9400 or visit

Mercer County College offers a five-week credit course, "Southwest

Photography Workshop" from Sunday, May 29, to Wednesday, July 7, in

New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, and Colorado. $1,200. Contact Eric Kunsman

at 609-586-4800, ext. 3835.

Top Of Page
Volunteers Needed

First Trenton Film Festival is recruiting volunteers for the May 7 to

9 event in downtown Trenton. Benefits include free tickets to

screenings. Call 609-396-6966.

Literacy Volunteers of America begins its next seven-week tutor

training course on Thursday, April 15, 6 to 9 p.m., at the

Lawrenceville Library. Call 609-393-8855 for information or to


New Hope Arts seeks volunteers for a broad range of activities

including gallery sitting, distributing posters, and helping to set up

the April Sculpture Exhibition held from April 17 to May 2. Call

215-862-3396 to E-mail:

Top Of Page
Just for Kids

The Arts Council of Princeton is now registering for summer camp for

ages 4 to 12, Classes are in the visual and dramatic arts. Call

609-924-8777 or visit

Voices Chorale invites children ages 5 to 12 to compose a piece of

music with a vocal element. Deadline is Saturday, May 1. Call

609-637-9383 or visit for more information.

Montessori Corner Schools is accepting registration for summer camp

and for the 2004-2005 school year for children 18 months to 9

years-old. Call 609-799-7990.

New Jersey Association of Realtors seeks entrees in the second annual

Poster Calendar Contest for students in grades three to six. One theme

is "What Equal Opportunity Housing Means to Me." Website:

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