Wednesday, September 29, 2010

An Enchanted Evening for Art, Too

Abandoned charcoal self-portrait of Art.
Art lived in Southampton with his parents. He had served in the Navy from 1945 to 1947, returning home at the age of 21. He was working at Roulston’s, a chain grocery store managed by Rod Pierson, a distant relative. Art was quiet, but enjoyed having a good time with his friends. Joe Cerullo and Bruno Marcincuk were close friends and drinking buddies, and Helen Darby was among the girls they knew in town.

Helen was popular in the local community. A party at her house would be attended by young ladies, as well as the available young men, many of them fresh from the service and just starting to build lives for themselves in the charming resort community.

This particular party was one of many that Art attended around that time, but with one distinct difference. When the song “Some Enchanted Evening” came on, he suddenly noticed the statuesque brunette across the room and their eyes met.

They talked for awhile, and liked each other right from the start.

But this was a party, after all, and each of them talked to other people as well. When it was time to go, June allowed another young man to drive her home that night. She liked Art very much, but the other fellow was interesting, too. As for Art, he was always very slow to anger – he hardly ever got angry at all – but he was distinctly unpleased that someone else was taking June home. Fortunately, he had asked her for her phone number and he called the next day.

(On Friday, more on the summer of 1949…)

Countdown: Correspondence begins in 2 days.

© 2010 Lee Price

Monday, September 27, 2010

June's Enchanted Evening

June and Art met on Memorial Day, May 30, 1949. The song “Some Enchanted Evening” was playing in the background.

Hand-tinted photo of June by the
radio at her Riverhead home.
“Some enchanted evening
When you find your true love,
When you feel her call you
Across a crowded room,
Then fly to her side,
And make her your own...”

While the song was playing, their eyes met across a crowded room.

The song was new but everyone already knew it. It was from South Pacific, the wildly popular Rodgers and Hammerstein musical that had opened on Broadway the previous month. Artists were already rushing to cover it, and 1949 would see versions of it by Ezio Pinza (original Broadway cast recording), Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Jo Stafford, and Al Jolson. They may very well have heard Perry Como’s version, which was released on May 24 and was destined to be the version that placed highest on the charts.

“Once you have found her,
Never let her go!”

June hadn’t planned to attend the party. She was perfectly content to stay at home and listen to the radio with her parents. It was her mother who insisted that she get out of the house and go have some fun.

The occasion was a house party at Helen Darby’s home in Southampton, Long Island. June lived thirty minutes’ drive to the west in Riverhead, and Helen was not a close friend. Helen was more a friend of Jane’s, June’s roommate from New York City during the 1948-49 school year. June was invited because she was a friend of Jane’s.

With pressure from her mother, as well as from Jane and Jane’s friends, June decided to put in an appearance at Helen’s. And at some point in the party, “Some Enchanted Evening” played on either the radio or a phonograph. It was a life-changing moment.

Later that evening, June went home with another fellow.

(On Wednesday, more on that party...)

Countdown:  Correspondence begins in 4 days.

© 2010 Lee Price

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Story of June and Art

We have 180 letters that tell the story of the courtship of June Virginia Anderson and Arthur Werner Price. The story told in these letters begins on October 1, 1949, and – as far as this blog is concerned – ends on Sept. 1, 1951.

From October 1949 through May 1950, June and Art’s love letters fly back and forth between New York City (where June was attending school) and Southampton, Long Island (where Art was working in a grocery store while attending local art classes). We plan to blog these letters real time, minus 61 years.

From June 1950 to August 1951, June and Art’s letter writing significantly decreased. Months go by without a letter. Our plan is to condense these few remaining letters into our three months of June, July, and August, and conclude the blog on September 1, 2011.

We are very fortunate in not only having the letters – which vividly recall a New York City and a Long Island that no longer exist – but also their artwork. And June and Art were very talented artists (see gallery on the right for a sample).

Five days from now, on October 1, we’ll begin blogging the letters real time. But before that, we’ll fill in a little of the unfolding story of June and Art in the summer before the letters began, particularly their first meeting on Memorial Day, May 30, 1949.

(On Monday, Helen Darby’s party on Memorial Day…)

Countdown:  Correspondence begins in 6 days.

© 2010 Lee Price