My last day as a public school music educator was not a celebration.
Although much anticipated, many times over the years, when the day came I was only aware of a couple, key feelings: exhaustion – and, readiness.
In the years one would have called my prime, I would arrive every morning in full, theatrical costume. Every class was its own creation, my body frequently the illustrated lesson. My students and I were perfectly attuned; discipline was a non-issue. If I didn’t have every child, mouth agape, in the palm of my hand, I wasn’t doing my job.
Time cloaked me. Over the years, the scene changed; once too often my perceived role was marginalized. My dear father, well into his ninth decade, moved in to be under my care. Well past my own half century mark, I found myself counting the months, and then the weeks. The Land of Diminishing Returns had worn me out.
Taken in totality, my contribution to public related arts education had hardly been scant or sparse. Ten fully staged extra-curricular drama productions; 250 beginning violinists, en masse, across several grade levels; instrumental ensembles of every conceivable permutation; competitive marching band; adjudicated concert choir and choruses; general/vocal music, K-8; mixed elementary chorus; focused curriculum for the hearing support. But, 25 years was a good, solid run; on June 9, 2011, I was done.
Today, Jared Kushner was interviewed by Fareed Zakaria on GPS. As President Trump’s senior advisor, he outlined the litany of accomplishments achieved by his father in law’s administration. Seven million new jobs. Trade deals, unprecedented. The dollar, strong. The endless war between Israel and Palestine reaching an also unprecedented mutually satisfying potential for resolution.
What makes related arts teachers distinct from the rest of their colleagues is the sheer measurability of their efforts. Everything they do with their students is readily observable by anyone. Art teachers produce student work which lines the walls of the school; music teachers create and direct performances open to everyone connected with the district. Their product is the direct result of their daily effort.
But, any teacher working past his/her point of positive affect becomes a liability. Good intentions are overtaken by fatigue; good judgment loses its edge. Children, ever intuitive, begin to resist them; administrators try to find ways to move them out of the building.
Given the past two years of the present Presidential administration, the glaring allegations, the deceit, the endless self-contradictions, the blatant lies, and the swarm of negative emotion generated, a great divide is now fixed among the American people. A clear half of the population of citizens wants nothing whatsoever to do with this President. Far beyond mere political ideology, the man himself is openly reviled. There is palpable hatred afoot, across wide swaths of the nation – hatred, for the President of the United States, by just under a majority of his people.
The recent impeachment trial has left half of America emboldened, and the other half utterly slain. People can hardly look each other in the eye, fearfully wondering what is in the mind and heart of another. The climate, the prevailing mood is one of enmity. Were we at the mercy of the horse drawn carriage and musket, very little would restrain man from taking arms against man, woman against woman, child against child. All of this, over the person of the President of the United States.
Perhaps, instead of charging ahead like some Roman conqueror, President Trump should stop. It might be time for him to pull the lens back, expand to panorama, and take a candid look at the America his presence has created in the minds of its people. If he cannot do that, either because he is unable or unwilling, then he negates the very lives of those who are repulsed by him. He expresses virtual ethnic cleansing, reducing half of the population to zero value.
If he were not to stop, preferring instead to lead his faction into a future fraught by his own amoral, craven appetite for supremacy, the rift between himself , his following, and the rest of the nation would only grow wider. He would, by remaining in office, entrench the divide between the two Americas – perhaps beyond repair. In the face of and in spite of economic prosperity, he would single handedly destroy the soul and spirit of the entire country.
President Trump, don’t make us wait until November. Collect your laurels; accept your prize. Take your once in a lifetime lucky strike, and put it on the shelf with the rest of your shrine to self.
It’s well past time. Time for you to go.
© 2/2/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. Please respect the rights of those who produce original material. Do not copy, reconstitute, extract, or otherwise dismantle and distribute this piece without express, written permission of its author. Thank you.
“The truth can be cruel. Don’t take it personally.”
© 1/24/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo.
© 1/2/20 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. Please also visit Ruth Ann Scanzillo at YouTube for more indulgent pontification.
Thoughts on preparing for another year of change. Take what you can use; discard the rest — Much love, to all fellow bloggers and you, our readers ❤ Happy 2020!
© 12/31/19 Ruth Ann Scanzillo/YouTube.
Pop was never my thing, back then. But, I secretly wished it could be.
Raised on two part a capella worship music, sung by the untrained, first listening to my father croon into my ears while he fed me the bottle I always had an affinity for a grown man who could really sing.
Paul was definitely grown. His skin betrayed his age, but he still wore a shag to the shoulders as if it were the coolest, and a denim jacket same. And I think, but I’m not sure, that the day I stepped into Larry’s basement for my keyboard “audition” he might have already been there.
The Classmates were a vocal quartet of high school friends circa 1957, which was the year I was born. Frank, Jim, Larry, and Ronnie, three out of four second generation Italian and one black American with voices to blend. But, Paul was their friend, and became a final set fixture at nearly all our gigs. The reason he was in that set was because we always closed with “Peppermint Twist”/”SHOUT” – and, these were his signatures. Paul had spent his heyday singing them with his band, The Epics, both in Vegas and at the “World Famous Peppermint Lounge” – in New York City. The Epics were the band The Beatles came to see and hear after they played New York. It’s true; look it up.
I’d always had a solo voice, of sorts, suited for weddings and funerals, a solid Debby Booner. But, when our tenor couldn’t quite carry the Frankie Valli leads, and Frank asked me if I could, these became my own semi-signature tunes from behind the keyboard for the second set. “Big Girls Don’t Cry”; “Sherry, Baby”; my choice, the Ronnie Spector “It’s My Party” and, nod to the Beatles, “Twist and Shout”.
To Paul, I was probably the furthest cry from a female singer. I didn’t dress the part and, worse, I didn’t carry it. Frank had saddled me in the shoes of the same name when I produced my own pair and, when he acquired royal blue bowling shirts with white cuffs and collar for the guys, I got one too – along with one each of the violet and pink ruffled tuxedo long sleeves to match with black pants.
Never sure if this were on consult or his own idea, but one day Paul had me come over to his house and meet him in his basement. He wanted to coach me into singing lead. Out front. Like a real girl singer.
His wife, sweet and accommodating, provided iced tea on a serving tray. I squirmed. This man sucked on a Throat Disc and wailed like his life depended on it; how could I possibly learn from him? Ah. The arrogance of youth.
I actually don’t remember all of what happened during that session. He told me stories of his days in the circuit, and we listened to some forty fives and he talked about style. I concluded that I was probably the only female singer he’d ever met who would not be groomed for the front. He must have been convinced; we never met again, over iced tea or anything else.
But, what we did do was play out. Paul got us the best work in the big bars. He’d always be our finisher, and he was so good at it – stirring the crowd into a frenzy, pushing his cords until I thought they would just splinter out every time, I was content to crank the keyboard bass until the woofers jumped from the floor and ride all the way to the end on that Roland Hammond B3 preset like a boss. I was so happy just to be part of his show.
Paul’s show kept on, too. Long after I left that band to accept my first public school teaching job, he’d still be found singing. Few of us musicians knew he also coached baseball, and well enough to do so for major high school programs in our region. But, he would not stop singing. That voice which, to my ear and experienced vocal nodes, was always on its last legs just never gave out.
I don’t know what happened, really. Something about a heart problem, requiring major surgery, and complications, and the ICU, and then death. How does that occur, in our time, anymore? Yeah. Paul was 82. But, from the first time and every time I’d seen him over the years he was always, already older than me, old – but young. Younger than all the rest. Paul Younger.
Rest in Peace, you old crooner. Or, keep on wailing. It’s your call, Paul. You were our prince of Pop.
© 12/29/19 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose first hand story it is, and whose name appears above this line. Please respect this tribute, exactly as it is written. Thanks.
She would have been far worse than just Adam’s wife.
First off, not a fabled blonde.
Nor Raphaelian, either.
And, always poking around. Nope; no Finishing Schools for this rib.
Her brow furrowed by perplexed curiosity, she’d be turning this way and that, searching out the limits of the verdant garden like a ferret loose in a zoo. Picking every berry to taste; running her hands through the moist earth; climbing every tree, if only to see beyond…..
As for the forbidden tree, her compelling need to know would have taken her squarely there as soon as restrictions were imposed. Enough with this nakedness, anyhoo; shame made the cooler nights more tolerable, what with as many fig leaves as could be woven before the sun went down.
Giving birth was a royal pain; remind her never to do that a third time.
And, where was God’s voice coming from, for His sake? Everything else audible had a mouth or a beak, save the wind, in this place. Why, if her nakedness was such a shame could He not show His Face?
God might have given up on her entirely to focus on Adam and the serpent.
Perhaps it was high regret at creating her, in the first place. Surely He would have known, already being All Knowing? What did He want her to do about it? The blood in her veins pulsed, its omnipresent reminder that her body was alive and she within it. The drive to move was inescapable. Where would she go, on this, the seventh day?
The word among the crawling things was that expulsion was imminent.
That thought alone was stimulating. The world outside of this garden? Would there surely be more to explore?
The two boys would already be bickering over their offerings. No meddler, she’d let them duke it out. Best for their own quest, for autonomy, after all.
Dusk would already be settling in. The serpent, slithering off, long dismissed as boring, its endless taunts a redundant yawn. Yes; the Tree of Life would remain, rooted, in the midst of the garden. She, however, would have long since tasted of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. This Eve was way ahead of that snake.
© 12/25/19 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author whose name appears above this line. Neither copying, in whole or part, nor translating permitted in any form at any time. Being the good person will be rewarded in the next life.
© 12/21/19 Ruth Ann Scanzillo AF of M Local #17 Member since 1986. No make up.
Dad never knew his parents.
Uncle Gabriel and Aunt Marietta told him stories. Raimondo was a foreman, a tenor, a brute and a womanizer; Giovina, defenseless, speaking only Italian dialect, had been committed to a sanitarium by her husband. Tony, her third child, was born there.
Dad would be taken from her, at birth, to live alternately at the Bracchi’s foster home or the Walter E Fernald School in Waverly, Mass. But, on or about age 15, to bolt, literally running away, he with his institutionally bequeathed harmonica and trumpet trained lip, caught the freight cars and rode them all the way to Louisiana.
From the deep South, this rambler would take odd farmhand jobs and then head West, learning life and copying a cigar box set of “spoons” by carving a John Deere plowhandle into his own hand held rhythm section. Together with harmonica in his right, bones in the left, he became a bona fide panhandling drifter, his travels reaching their ultimate end at the California coast. After a week invited to stay with a touring big band, he joined the US Army.
The Army would send him back east, to Fort Riley KS. Training there for the impending war, he would ride yet another rail, this time a steamer to New York on a final R&R, and meet Mum, with whom he sat and sang and played out his life story all night. By the time the fighting broke out, they were already married.
Deployed to Germany, where he would serve under Patton as a forward observer, reach Corporal as lead bugler organizing a parade for the dignitaries, and earn the Bronze during the Battle of the Bulge Dad had many interactions with every walk of life. Somehow, along the way, he acquired mementos: two decorative swords, of fine silver; a German luger pistol; an emerald cut topaz from a fraulein named Kitty; and, a bloodstone pinkie ring, set in gold.
When I was eleven, Dad gave me that bloodstone as a reward for learning his favorite piano piece, “Alpine Glow”. I have worn that ring, nearly every day, for the past fifty one years.
In spite of everything he did tell us, there was still so much we never knew about Dad. There were gaps, in time, for which there was no clear explanation. There were the repeated AWOLS, and the stint on Pearl Harbor day (his birthday) in the guard house, and one more memento, that oval silver tag with the name Tony Marino bearing his social security number which he wore as a cabbie.
Still, there was his sister Frances and her husband Al, who played clarinet for Artie Shaw, first cousins, same surname; his brother whom he’d met at the Fernald, Luigi, whom everyone called Tom, no physical resemblance, living as an electrician in Hartford. There was his niece, Rhonda Lee, who died tragically at age 51; his nephew, Richard, whom we’d only seen once; and Rima, beloved to Mum, who actually came back with her husband Ange to see Dad in the year before his death. These were those we did know, only as we did know them.
Research reveals that the bloodstone is claimed as an excellent blood cleanser and powerful healer, heightening intuition and increasing creativity, grounding and protecting against geopathic and electromagnetic stress. My memory speaks that Dad’s bloodstone was acquired in exchange for a pack of smokes. It’s owner never revealed anything about the ring to him, as far as we ever knew.
My hand, through which his blood still flows, bears Dad’s ring to the end. What Dad never knew, and what we never knew about him, are in God’s.
© 12/18/19 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose story it is, and whose name appears above this line. Neither copying, in whole or part, nor translation permitted by anyone at any time. Thank you for being the better person.
The best of families live.
They have memories of storybook clans, or those they knew from afar. In more recent years, many have taken TV sit coms as models. But, whatever the persuasion, families which remain intact enough to celebrate a holiday together know the meaning of turning a blind eye.
They look the other way when the drunkard shows up. Nobody talks openly about the homosexual, particularly if any one of them can’t see the point. The children who wreak havoc and break things are found to entertain their grandparents’ peals of laughter.
The single young adults who arrive late and forget presents are praised for their hairdos and shoes. The sloppy and overweight are given the best easy chairs, the nervous the napkins and silverware to arrange, and the most chatty the smiles and nods of oblivious disregard.
The best food gets all the praise because why bother, otherwise? Everybody flies in to eat, after all, and all those outside of strict Fundamentalism to drink. Any thoughts of hierarchy of importance, i.e. whose children are the smartest, the prettiest, or the strongest are kept quite private, to be discussed later in hotel rooms or upstairs at the homestead.
The best families tell jokes, and with very great finesse. All debate or disagreement is soundly tabled in favor of palate pleasing platitude. Hugs are felt, peculiar smells at close range tastefully ignored, chin hairs noted in stoic silence.
And, somehow, by the time the plates have been filled, the dinner consumed, and the left overs packed in take home carry ons, all are convinced that theirs was the best celebration ever. All are immensely proud of their own comportment, their positive attitude, their polite if pretensive compassion, their wit, personality, and enthusiasm for life. Each one hopes to be thought of by every one present as the friendliest, warmest, most desirable relative in the room. Each one’s wish is that theirs will be the family which endures to survive another year.
They all know this, each in their own hearts because, without a willingness to carry on, the alternative is unthinkable. They opt, in a world which breeds hatred, violence, loneliness, and isolation to pretend that, at any moment, they might all be saved from it.
Whatever it takes, theirs will be the good family.
And to this they hold on.
For dear life.
© 12/15/19 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose story it is and whose name appears above this line. Neither copying, in whole or part, nor translation permitted. Thank you for respecting original creative material. You are the better person.
The brisk breezes would stir the “whisker” tree’s fist sized tumbleweeds, scattering them between our feet as we scrambled up the steps and took the path between the rock gardens to the front porch at Mammy’s house. In summer we’d take the lazier, flat wide stone walkway from the drive, parallel the porch, the potted geraniums and succulents snuggled side by side along its railing under the broad, royal blue canvas awning flapping in the wind. From that side path, we could almost look Mammy in the eye, cushioned into her steel porch rocker in the far corner awaiting our appearance, smile alight.
But, come fall, we’d hasten past the battened down and molting toward the warm yellow light framed by the front door, halfway up the porch already hearing Aunt Martha’s belly and Pappy’s booming laugh, rising out of the maelstrom of chattering chaos already testing the outer walls of the entire house. Grasping the round, brass doorknob, and leaning into the glass paneled hardwood, we’d push and burst through, hardly noticed by the throng until one face turned and then Pappy, arms above his head, hands curled from hard work, roared out his raging welcome and everyone except the aunts who never stopped talking turning then to gather yet another of us into their arms.
Kicking the snow from our overshoes onto the multilayered hooked rugs, we’d stack them and take the short diagonal between the twin bookcases past the round oak dining room table and the African violets in the east window through to the kitchen, passing the ceramic cookie jar setting our paperbagged salad fixings carefully on the kitchen-turned- server table next to the apple, mincemeat, pumpkin, and rhubarb pies, where Mammy stood over the stove in her rick rack trimmed cotton apron, stirring a pot of gravy with a wooden spoon, the pressure cooker’s indicator bobbling and sputtering over the back burner like a steam train waiting in the station. All the aunts took their wide hipped turns in the kitchen, two of them diligent about the food and the other two appearing to inspect and taste test, the youngest with a wink toward a niece or nephew as she licked her finger.
Pappy was loud, and three of his four son in laws quiet, each quick with a joke or a witty comeback, Uncle Frank sitting with a closed eyed smile, Dad who was called Uncle Tony with his hands in his belt, napping already in the only scene where he would not command the center of attention, Uncle Bud standing tall near a corner already giggling through a long, spun yarn for the home movie camera, and Uncle George, egging Pappy on with his bright, Irish bell tenor.
We grandchildren were fifteen in all, the firstborn Alan, a brilliant artist and pianist, rarely able to come home anymore being married in Michigan, his four other siblings Philip, Lydia, Lois and Frannie often present, living only two doors down, the elder girls wearing their engagement rings dressed in wool sweaters and straight skirts and pointed pumps, Frannie in keeping with her other, younger counterparts in winter wear warm enough for playing outside if there were enough snow later. Then, cousin Bonnie and half brothers Butch and David from Lawrence Park because Uncle Bud worked at GE, and me and my two brothers, Nathan and Paul, having walked from around the corner and across the street and, finally, our four cousins from Ohio, Becky, Beth, Timmy and Kathy, the latter two with flaming red hair. Being either the first or last to arrive, once all were in house the card table would come out, and the floral painted linens, we among the smallest cousins relegated to the workroom where the rugs were braided and the clothes sewn and the toybox waited and, while the piano took turns being played and songs chosen for singing, the family like a choir from an old country church, Pappy the only tone deaf voice among them, the potatoes were mashed, the boiled bacon drippings poured over the salad, the parsnips and rutabaga and peas and Lima beans and corn ladeled into their divided serving dishes, the silver plated forks knives and spoons set on each soft, embossed linen napkin, tomato juice poured into the slender tulip glasses and set at the center of each China plate, head lettuce leaves placed on each smaller one for salad, fruit filled Jello squares lifted onto each leaf, one half teaspoon of Hellmann’s to dot each center, the gravy poured into the boat, the butter set in its silver dish, the roast carved and, finally, the Parker House rolls, ready and hot, in the round, linen lined bowl basket to table.
Pappy could be heard from any room in the house, but usually Aunt Dora Mae or Aunt Betty would call all to the dinner table. Aunt Dora Mae was hands down the better cook among them, Mammy’s eldest, but Mum’s voice was the most penetrating on account of her hearing loss and Aunt Frances was likely in earnest discussion with another of equal intellectual bent and Aunt Martha busy, laughing in a far corner, her nephews gathered around her ready audience testing their latest comedic mettle.
But, the food drew us all, to the oak table round circled by both Dora Mae and Betty as they’d labored the delivery of their firstborn, to the card table in the living room where Risk, Monopoly, Probe, and Life were won and lost, to the child’s table and chairs that Pappy made in the workroom just beyond the pantry and we, the Sweet family, sat our chaos down to the warmth of hot, family style Thanksgiving dinner and bowed our heads while Pappy thanked the God who brought him all the way across the Commonwealth to build cranes at BuCyrus-Erie, to the street corners to preach, to the City Mission and the Gospel Assembly Hall to settle his family in the east side neighborhood at 923 East 29th.
Then, everyone filled their faces, still all talking at once, Mammy finally sitting down at the kitchen end of the table, laughing with her mouth full, Pappy hunched over his plate, gumming his food with his teeth out, the aunts and uncles and cousins all tasting the same food with their own unique manifestations of the family DNA, all together, the whisker trees’ tumbleweeds flying about outside the east windows, as remnants of the feast wafted throughout the house to leave behind its everlasting aroma in the wallpaper, the white silken window curtains, the ceiling plaster, the floor underfoot, and the dark wood framing each room in the house, the collective spirit of nourishment sustaining life on one small, thankful speck of the planet as the world spun around once more.
© 11/27/19 Ruth Ann Scanzillo All rights those of the author, whose story it is and whose name appears above this line.
From the heart of Sweet gratitude: Happy Thanksgiving! from littlebarefeetblog.com
“One sided relationships will kill you. Have a whole one, with yourself.”
© 10/9/19 Ruth Ann Scanzillo.
Gather ye red flags while ye may, lest they smother ye at once.
The girl was some blonde.
Looking at him, smirking, thinking the whole scene too amusing.
The fact that he’d called the blonde his “cousin”? Two bright red flags, a-whipping in the wind.
But, she had not set face into the wind.
Gather ye red flags while ye may, lest they smother ye at once.
Next came the ones who, calling out his name in greeting, emerging from the restroom at Target or while walking up the street to the arena, she and he a date. Who does that, to somebody’s date? Two, at once, seemed everywhere.
Always the point, a back story, from him. Tale of yet another he had seen for just a “couple months.” Red flag, number three.
Gather ye red flags while ye may, lest they smother ye at once.
Then, the burner phones, near the kitchen tray, some excuse about retrieving dog pix.
The dishes for two, stacking in the sink.
His wandering eyes, the ones that twinkled.
Six flags. Amusement park of fair warning.
Gather ye red flags while ye may, lest they smother ye at once.
Then the foghorn, in the bathroom drawer. Set for 6:20 a.m., alarming on his one day off. She’d never seen a clock in that drawer, and she’d seen everything in that drawer. She’d seen the sleeve of false eyelashes appear in that drawer. But, the clock, never in that drawer, not before that morning.
Gather ye red flags while ye may, lest they smother ye at once.
© 10/9/19 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, the stooge, the beard. Steal at your own risk. He’s everywhere.
There is a profound disconnect between an active alcoholic’s self perception and the image others develop about him/her.
Repeated blackouts cause both memory fails and amnesia; whereas those who were present observers of the blackout behaviors cannot forget what they have seen and heard, to the alcoholic such behaviors never happened.
Therefore, the person the alcoholic thinks he or she is bears no resemblance to that person others have come to know.
If you have become entangled in the life of an active alcoholic who indulges repeated blackouts, categorically reject all blame assigned to you for any of their actions.
You caused nothing, are responsible for nothing about their behavior, and must forgive yourself every reaction to it.
© 10/1/19 Ruth Ann Scanzillo.
Just watched the Season Finale of “Undercover Billionaire” on the Discovery Channel – after following every episode, all summer.
This is a story of faith, and commitment, and the work ethic which built our city. That team, so artfully chosen by Glen, staying strong on a volunteer basis, just because some guy walked into their lives with a proposition.
Glen Stearns has me convinced as an adorable, warm, genuine, positive, and true guy, and I really don’t care what his net worth actually is. Admittedly, after the first episode, I wondered how he could get somebody to buy used tires from him on a discard lot, and I said so on Facebook. Then, about three weeks ago, I and members of my string quartet had lunch at UNDERDOG BBQ, the restaurant he and his team built in 90 days.
We had a really great time there! The sandwiches were hearty, the portions were generous, I had well more than a scant one or two gluten and soy free options, detecting no added sugars or excess salt in the meat – in fact, my lunch was complete – (about which I was ecstatic!), and the service from Carmen was personalized and memorable.
Some locals have compared their food to Federal BBQ on Peach, but I have never yet been there so I offer no quality judgments; what I will say is that I cannot wait to return to UNDERDOG BBQ for a rib rack on a plate and a fair taste of the entire menu. This multi-faceted, multi-armed venture has the potential to do so much for our beloved hometown and people who are really willing to w.o.r.k., just like his team, and we should get b.e.h.i.n.d. them 150%!!!! In fact, as a former “waitress” to Panos, on Pine, Denny’s on Peach AND W 26th, and Friendly Ice Cream, this old retired teacher might just show up and apply for a summer job!
“You’ll know you’re a threat when somebody lies about you.”
© 9/20/19 Ruth Ann Scanzillo.
He was familiar.
In the wake of fake widowers, oil magnates, and satellite engineers, he was just the guy who’d cut her hair. Her father had also cut her hair; he’d cut hair, every day, for a living. They were both barbers.
And, like her father, he was Italian.
In a sea of fluid sexuality, snakes, and white supremacists, he shared the blood of her heritage. Like most of the rest of the traditional Italian American men, he liked women, and he remembered her.
She thought being remembered, after two haircuts and a perm, was meaningful. He recognized her. And, he didn’t forget.
Thirty years had passed, but he remembered.
And, she remembered him.
From this one, momentary flash of commonality she took her first step.
1st Mvt: Andante “Courtship.”
It was his face.
Appearing online, with a short greeting, his photo.
She’d always recalled a certain boyish beauty, but this was an expression. She wanted to call it apologetic, yet resigned; he seemed to be telling the camera to take or leave him.
They began by writing to each other.
Though he only lived twenty three minutes south, she had a major performance two weeks from the day he surfaced and knew, in her gut, that if they met up her focus would significantly shift. So, they messaged each other.
Long paragraphs. Outpourings. Every day, for two weeks, earnest exchanges between them. The face she’d seen in the mirror, as he stood behind the barber chair emanating it’s subdued chatter now replaced by the poetic revelations of a philosopher. The man had depth. This she had managed to miss, entirely, during that first impression.
And now, he promised to wait for her.
Thirty years had passed between that first meeting and this encounter, yet he was still able to wait for her.
Though this aspect had a tremendous effect on her attraction to him she would not, ultimately, learn to appreciate it.
She invited him to her recital.
The date of the performance came. Looking out into the dark of the hall, she was able to spy the outline of a man’s head which looked like his. Whenever there was a break in the program’s music, she fixed on that man. Surely, he had made the drive over the state line to hear her performance.
When the concert ended, and applause rose, the lights came up as well and she was finally able to see the man upon whom her gaze had settled.
That man walked forward.
It was her old friend Steve, a college classmate – and, his praise came freely. But, she was already in her head; the morning wouldn’t come soon enough, their planned meet up to take his dogs for a peninsula walk kicking her heart rate.
Perhaps she should have taken the sign.
2nd Mvt: Largo “Coupling.”
The dogs appeared on the landing, first. They were so big. She loved how they wriggled, and pressed in. She laughed, out loud.
It was his face.
He looked ten years older than his photo. Of course, this is because he was, at least, maybe more.
But, beyond that, he seemed tired, maybe dehydrated. And, then, something in her said: “Forgive; accept.” And, she rubbed the top of his head, over his thinning hair.
The rest wrote history.
They talked and walked the dogs, embraced, then reconvened that evening at her house. She played her cello for him; he stood, a bit tense, unmoved. She played the piano. When the song ended, he kissed her. He was quietly eager. He made overtures. He persuaded more.
Now, it was difficult to go back to the beginning. Images of him, arriving at the back door; a gift of food, or a small vase from home. Earnest kisses. And, the attic loft.
She wasn’t completely clear when the first doubts crept.
He worked long hours, at the hospital. The claim was that he had to get home and feed the dogs. She would not know the extent of that which impelled him; she knew only that he had to be encouraged to spend more than a couple hours at a time with her.
Dinners out. Plays; shows. The attic loft. And, stories. Stories, of his ex wife of so many decades ago. Then, stories of the woman who had died the winter before, about whom he’d spoken in his letters. He had so much to reveal, explaining the demise of all his previous entanglements, and she heard him. She remembered being made to feel transcendent in his company, silently pre-eminent in the wake of the remarkably ungrateful women who had preceded her. In her heart, she began to promise him love and acceptance.
Weeks passed. The pattern was set. Then, one day, he arrived with photos of his house and gardens, and an urgent disclosure.
He’d had a deeper past.
Seated across from her on the living room sofa, he began this new story. Tears rolled from his eyes. Decades earlier, he’d committed a felony, and had been incarcerated for five years.
He was utterly contrite. He looked like a sad boy, sitting with his wet face. Her heart surged in her. Commitment to loving him gelled. He had her.
Two weeks of numbness, the euphoric effect of shock.
Then, a visit to the reference library. He’d provided the year, the month, the day. She found the local newspaper microfiche, and scrolled to the bottom of page one.
A New Year’s Eve drama unfolded. This was the kind of story nobody alive at the time could forget. Her eyes stopped blinking.
Silently, she removed the film from the manual device, rolled it up, set it back in its box, placed it into the small drawer and pushed the drawer back into the cabinet.
Life went on.
3rd Mvt: Scherzo “Land of Diminishing Returns.”
It took two years, but she would call them little slips.
What became notable was how deftly he retrieved the ones she managed to catch.
Early on, the short blonde following them back to the green room, curiously smiling at her then him, called his “cousin” when queried. Except that he had no known relatives.
The fleeting reference, to a woman by name, a call he needed to make. Not mutually known. The gaslight: hadn’t she just talked of someone named the same?
The casual recall of their having recently been together. Except that, fact be told, they hadn’t. Some vague excuse about his relative time frame for remembering.
Sidelong eye contact, with his coworker who preceded her into the room, an arresting control. Cool dismissal of the girl upon query as a student shadow, without even the value of a first name. And, no formal introduction.
Eye contact, with women passing in the grocery and department store aisles. Their startled recognition. His reference to them knowing he needed/abrupt modulation to the recipe books at the check out.
Eye contact, with young women in restaurants, out on dates, in doctor’s offices. Their blank stares of deliberate anonymity.
Eye contact, twinkling, with the B&B hostess. Curious attention paid to the sliding lock on the adjoining door, calling to mind a time he’d gone out in the night visiting Italy while his woman companion deeply slept. A jarring juxtaposition.
Dirty dishes, in the sink. Two plates, two bowls, two spoons. One meal. One lone chicken leg, left in the skillet. A bottle of new wine, and a single wine glass never before seen.
The consistently odd nights of spaghetti and fried chicken, from an otherwise experienced self taught gourmet.
The presence of cash, on her bureau, when he stayed over. Not placed there by her. His never having cash, otherwise.
Her toiletry bottle, alone on his kitchen counter. Her toothbrush, always precisely replaced, once on a different cabinet shelf and again out, on the bathroom sink. Then, a new brand of toothpaste, appearing on the sink, the old one still in use.
An alarm clock, going off at an odd hour, found in a drawer, never before seen.
And, always, always, the sudden flame of anger at mentions made, escalating to verbal derision, then shut down.
4th Mvt: Funerale/Coda.
She’d given up all honor, including that to love by example he who had never been. By the end, denial was not an option. The music had stopped. The story was over.
Familiarity had inbred with contempt; miscarried, still born. She had forsaken her soul for one who had long since lost his own.
© 9/18/19 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights solely those of the author, whose story it is, and whose name appears above this line. No copying, in part/whole/jot/or, tittle permitted, for any reason at any time. Thank you for respecting original material.
“Love is the enemy of power, but fear kills it.”
© 9/18/19 Ruth Ann Scanzillo.
You know……this isn’t the first time a celebrity book of essays has been marketed.
There was Dear You.
Now, comes Unfinished.
And…….w.h.o. wrote these, exactly?
So many ghost(s) [writers]; so little time………
I plan to check them out, you know…….seeing as I’ve written 600+ of my own, over the past 5 years and, well, I’m no celebrity.
Wouldn’t want to see anything published that felt, shall we say, familiar……..would we?
I’m serious about this.
Pens aren’t selling; Pen campaign. Essays, written with a pen.
Call me a skeptic, even a cynic.
But, it bothers me.
The scourge of the century.
© 9/17/19 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. She writes her own. Every, single word.
littlebarefeetblog.com p.s. lots of traffic from India, lately………………………………………………….
Thank God, WordPress.com caught it.
I really am grateful for their security measures.
How the mouthpiece speaks its way into relationships.
© 9/14/19 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. Feel free to visit YouTube for more outrage.
© 9/13/19 Ruth Ann Scanzillo.
Recitations from littlebarefeetblog.com:
© 9/12/19 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. More, in print, at this blog (littlebarefeetblog.com) , at your leisure; for my purposes, these essays, poems, and proverbs were written over the past 5 years. Thank you.
This video has been edited for content. Please, reconsider a review. Remember: these disclosures may strike you as raw, but they are bound to help somebody and that is the intent. Thanks~! ❤
© 9/12/19 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. For more tedious slog, please visit Ruth Ann Scanzillo at YouTube. Thanks for the stop in.
This is a series of videos produced for YouTube, created between August 1, 2019 – September 8, 2019. The links are presented in chronology, but you may select according to preference. Thanks for stopping by!
© 9/9/19 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All references to previously established theories, tenets, or publications are inadvertent and are duly acknowledged.
[ *this piece written, entirely oblivious of Dr. Martin Spurin’s book, Separately Together © 2016 ]
I can still see her face, and hear her voice.
Carol Burnett, on the Tonight Show, crowing: “Oh, I’d LOVE to get married, again! He could live in his house – right next door – and, I could live in mine!”
Perhaps it’s simply that she and I share a birthday. Stars aligned, and all that. Needing our independence, abhoring being led around by anyone – especially a h.u.s.band.
But, just yesterday, an article appeared in the Wall Street Journal. Apparently, seniors like me – single, little baggage, or kids all grown and gone – are finding themselves perfectly content to sustain relationships without the benefit of cohabitation.
In fact, there were several couples cited by name and photograph enjoying just such a radical lifestyle. Yes; imagine that. Loving somebody, without living with somebody.
Up until encountering that societal revelation, I’d been struggling mightily with my relationship of the past two and a half years. Both of us over 60, each of us happy in our own homes, I’d been driving out more than three times weekly to spend much of my time on his property with him; after all, I’d been retired from my full time teaching position for over five years, and he was still trying to eke out the final two before he could leave his position as a dialysis nurse to our regional medical center and take his own. I rationalized that being on site had to be a help, rather than a hindrance.
But, I was underfoot. The things I did, all voluntary, were not required by him. My desire to modify my surroundings to make them feel more welcoming to me were taken as criticisms, as if he needed to make changes heretofore unnecessary. The pop of color I wanted to add to his dreary den in the form of pillows and throws pleased me but, to him, they were just more things and, invariably – considering the presence of his two Rottweilers – more laundry.
On the nights I’d spend there with him, he’d need to be asleep well before 10 in order to rise by 4:30am, while I’d need several more hours of nocturnal biorhythms to wind down. Likewise, the mornings on his rare days off he’d already be up and roasting coffee before I’d even had my REM phase of sleep.
As winter encroached, his desire to keep the house at 64 degrees F hit my small boned body like a rush of blowing snow when the door opens. I shivered until my heart almost hurt, resorting to leaving my coat on through dinner until he commented that doing so was unsettling. Wearily, I’d pull on double layers and endure, not so secretly wishing I could just crawl into my warm bed.
After the first full year, taking stock and keeping tabs became my subconscious ritual. How many times had I driven out, vs his effort to spend a day with me at my house? When I counted the dollars spent on gas, and declared them, this was cause for one of many, increasing disagreements which became verbal volleys which, in turn, escalated into a pattern of lashing out every time I had overstayed my welcome. At the height of each of these, I would pack up whatever I’d brought with me and drive away. Unbeknownst to both of us ( until the counselor intervened ) he interpreted these actions as evidence of an unstable relationship which lacked the emotional security he sought.
Were we breaking up? Were we getting back together? What, exactly, were we doing?
Admittedly, we’d talked about what we’d do, going forward. He’d alluded more than once to selling his 2 acre rural idyll and downsizing to a condo near the water; I’d openly stated that, after 30 years, I would never sell my house. This was clearly our impasse, and I wondered if it would become our deal breaker.
Imagine my astonishment.
Entering the fray: The 100th Monkey Phenomenon. The Wall Street journalist had been doing the study and, here, as by fire, were the results: couples meeting later in life were opting to stay in their own, individual homes and sustain their loving relationships anyway. And, by all accounts, they were actually happy.
Mum and Dad loved each other, exclusively. Theirs was a match made on a train, circa 1940; Providential meeting, whirlwind courtship, broken engagement (hers) and a wedding before the war. Living together, for them, was a trial. Dad took to jogging to get out of the house, and Mum sat at her sewing machine to be alone. They held out until death, leaving so much for the family to vividly recall. My brothers had long since left town, but I’d stayed as witness.
Now, I love to witness my partner drive away. I know where he’s going, and I know where I am. I’m home, where I can keep him in my heart and thoughts until we meet up in the next day or so. It’s called space, and now it’s okay to both want and need it. And, it requires faith, expressed and exercised. Trust is better nourished when tested.
Yes. We are two old habits, and we cannot break. And now, we can still love each other, thank God.
Even if, on this particular night, we only see and hear each other in our dreams.
© 9/5/19 [essay by] Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author (of the essay), whose story it is and whose name appears above this line. Thank you for respecting original [ essay] material.
“The Painted Woman.”
In defense of vanity as art.
© 8/26/19 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. Feel free to visit my YouTube channel (Ruth Ann Scanzillo), and thank you for respecting original material however tedious and redundant.
“From A Distance.”
© 8/24/19 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. Feel free to subscribe to my YouTube Channel (Ruth Ann Scanzillo). Thank you for respecting original material, including that due any tenets and theories espoused in this interpretation.
“Knowing What Love Is.”
Kids, I’m still learning to wield YouTube Editor. You are suffered to omit the adjective “whole” and ignore the fondling of hair and clumsy irregularity in tense within the first seventeen seconds, and to substitute the word “imagination” with “intention” at the end.
© 8/24/19 Ruth Ann Scanzillo Feel free to Subscribe to the YouTube channel of the same name. Thank you for respecting original interpretations, including that due the originators of any tenets or theories espoused by this piece.
“Swipe Phones and Sunday Mornings”
Ruminations on devices of the past and present….
© 8/21/19 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. Thank you for stopping by. Please respect original material, in all its forms.
originally posted at my FBK page, The kNose Feed.
Easier to sleep than stay awake.
Easier than giving, always take.
Easier to hide than show your face
Easier than moving, stay in place.
Easier to blame than make amends
Easier than breaking that which bends
Easier to quit than ever try
Easier than living, slowly die.
© 8/21/19 Ruth Ann Scanzillo All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. Thank you for respecting original material.
Where do you put
The love that you have
Where is its place to go?
How can you hold
The loving inside
When will you ever know
Who will receive
So grateful to take
Needing what you can give
How can just one
Take without giving
How do they both then live?
Where does love go
When given and gone
Will it not be returned?
Where does love go
Does it die like death
Once afire to be burned?
© 8/17/19 Ruth Ann Scanzillo All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. Thank you for respecting original material.
She could already feel the cushion beneath her weight.
The car sped, following its familiar travels, winding north then west and north again, as if of its own volition, her hands on the wheel just some form of balance as she sat, riding along.
The trip home. Always such clarity, on this route.
More than the place called by its name, the house was her. Protector; solace. Nobody had given it, and nobody could take it away. She had earned every inch. Moreover, having a place to go meant, increasingly, the place to be.
No matter that three decades of accumulated life had found a depository. She was a keeper, not a dispensary; every detail of her life experience had found some representation within its walls. Embodied sentiment; symbolic memory. Lost spirits were welcome, and likely took up residence while she slept.
He was all about property ownership and maintenance. Investing, then selling; every four years or so, he’d moved on, taking his profits. And, the place he currently called his own both stood to generate plenty and required every minute of his self imposed standards to keep up.
If he had a soul, he kept it to himself. Lawn; garden; dogs; hens. Beverage. These were friends, family, and mistress enough.
Into the occasional cracks of empty time she’d found herself, inserted.
Convenient entertainment. Easily displaced.
The fog would lift, by morning. Only two miles remained. The lost spirits beckoned her to her own bed, in the place where she could always go, with the promise of sleep at the center of self love.
All this she knew, on the road home.
© 8/3/19 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose story it is and whose name appears above this line. Thank you for respecting original material.
My mother was a World War II “We Can Do It” poster girl. When she wasn’t seated at her sewing machine making gowns and coats and fully lined three piece suits, she worked a semi-automatic machine at Csencsis Manufacturing, a shop which produced nuts and bolts for the war effort.
Every morning, my brother and I would awaken to her shrill holler, frantic herald that our nocturnal sludge threatened to make her late for work. The round jar of Pro-Tek greeted us on the toilet tank, next to her fragile hairnet, foreshadowing that petroleum products intended to protect skin from the stain of petroleum products would shorten her life. And, every day after we walked to school, she’d stand at the noisy, oil spewing tool, tapping and threading out “piecework” until the buzzer signaled either lunch or the end of her shift.
Like everything else mum did, she excelled at the numbers; her quota always long exceeded, the other workers grumbled that her standard was beyond expectation and made them look lazy. But, to her, one must put one’s hand to the plow and do the work to one’s best ability. This was all part of the grand order of things: the assembly line of life, and her part in it.
Back in school, mum was a math “whiz”, and tutored other students. She also wrote clever verse, and kept a diary. But, hers was a life of deferred dreams; winning a sewing contest as a girl, the award — a trip to New York, to study fashion — was aborted when the Great Depression called a halt to everything, and the French soldier pen pal over whose letters she obsessed would never come to the States to finally meet; instead, she would deliver the home baked bread door to door, take in sewing, and marry the Italian soldier, who appeared on the night train just in the nick of time to save her from a life with preacher Willie. Once the war ended and the dust settled, dad would have a house built for her and faithfully carry home the cash from his barbershop, on Saturday nights, to count it on the kitchen table.
The extra money earned in the machine shop meant more material for our clothes, which were all handmade by her, and food for the cooking; my brothers and I ate at mealtime, then dad would arrive home by 8pm to sit down and eat his supper alone. I never had any memory of mum having supper with any of us.
While mum was at work and dad was at work, I’d be up the hill to Lincoln School, watching the other children in my class, trying to remain in my scratchy spot on the Kindergarten rug, cringing bewilderedly at Mrs. Williams gentle scowl every time I opened my mouth, then stretching my arm as high as it could go and waving my hand until she finally let me speak. There were so many things in the classroom — easels, for painting; a piano for playing; so many books to read; so many things to make. I would look around, at everybody on the rug, then stare at the teacher’s laced up shoes, waiting, waiting for a moment to do what I wanted to do. To my eye, everything in that room was there to be used, and I couldn’t stand sitting while we talked about the calendar and the days of the week and what time it was until we could finally do any of it.
Twenty five years later, I would be at the front of the room, facing hundreds of children, all week long. For the first time, I could actually see all their faces, and absorb their expressions. And, for twenty five more years, I did this every week from September to June.
Fifty years went by; had I contributed anything important?
The assembly line mentality had herded me, and my mother before me, into a predictable, limited life. I grew up to perpetuate the myth that controlling the masses mattered most, that a democratic majority could be found among those who followed along. Somehow, in spite of intellectual strength and inborn gifts, my mother would die at age 76 from a cancer which had never, before or since, appeared in any member of her family, a disease which the assembly line had wrought, caused by multiple chemicals produced in shops, chemicals used on the lawn at which she knelt all summer weeding the flower gardens, chemicals in the artificially sweetened beverages she drank to lose mid section weight brought on by daily, sedentary toil and malnutrition, chemicals in the air surrounding the manufacturing machine and in the water she used to make her coffee.
The assembly line generation is fearful that their jobs will be replaced by artificial intelligence. This is borne of a lulled sense that, apart from the job they do all day, their lives have no further value. And, that is tragedy on the cusp of realization.
Ours is a structurally outmoded society. And yet, those in power persist in allowing war to dictate how our economy survives. If this doesn’t change, we could very well starve to death before we have ever truly lived.
© 8/1/19 Ruth Ann Scanzillo Originally published at Medium.com Thank you for respecting original material.
RUTH ANN SCANZILLO,
Professional Pianist / ‘Cellist.
Dear Readers of littlebarefeetblog.com:
A few have pointed out that I have no professional website; herewith a brief history of my work in the region, as a preliminary bio for the future website. Dates are occasionally approximate because, well, I’ve been around awhile and the memory isn’t complete….thanks!
Ruth Ann Scanzillo
PO BOX 3628 Erie, Pennsylvania 16508
DOB: April 26, 1957 814.453.3523; 814.881.5372
SUNY @ Fredonia, Fredonia NY
1975 – ’77 – Graphic Design/Printmaking;
1979 – ’81 – December, 1981: Bachelor of Music, Music Education, magna cum laude, concentration: cello – Dr. Louis Richardson, Professor of Cello;
1989 – ’94 – SAA Suzuki Summer Institutes, Stephen’s Point WI; Ithaca College, Ithaca NY; Chicago, IL; registered, Violin IA; IB; Cello, I, II, and III
1975 – rehearsal/performance piano, Footlights Theatre, Erie, PA
- “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown!” – Jane Behan, musical director
1982-83 – rehearsal/performance piano, Lincoln Theatre, Erie, PA
- “SUGAR” – Mark Moffatt, director;
- “HAIR” — Mark Moffat, director;
1984 – rehearsal/performance piano/instrumental ensemble director, Erie Playhouse, Erie, PA:
- “Ain’t Misbehavin'” – Leo Estes, John Burton, directors;
circa 1985 – rehearsal/performance piano, live scene underscoring, Erie Playhouse, Erie PA:
- “I Remember Mama” – Charlie Corritore, director;
circa 1999 – Piano I, Fredonia Opera House, Fredonia, NY:
- “The Fantastiks” – summer stock cast; Harry John Brown, music director;
1999 – 2000 – rehearsal pianist, Mercyhurst University D’Angelo Department of Music:
- “Song of Norway” — Louisa Jonason, opera director;
- “Don Giovanni” —– Louisa Jonason, opera director;
2000 – 11 – Production, direction, set design and build, live piano accompaniment and synth. keyboard underscoring, The Dillon Drama Club, Grover Cleveland Elementary School, Erie PA:
- Beauty and The Beast (final production assisting founder Carolyn Dillon)
- Wizard of Oz (2002)
- Annie, Jr (2009)
- A Christmas Carol
- A Christmas Story
- Spanky and Our Gang (two shorts, original staged adaptations);
- Star Wars (five movies, consolidated, original staged adaptation by verbal permission conference call w/ LucasFilm licensing);
- You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown (2011)
2011 – rehearsal and performance piano, Mercyhurst University, D’Angelo Department of Music/opera:
- “TINTYPES” — Louisa Jonason, director (slated for August, 2011, West Bank Cafe, Manhattan. Hurricane Irene aborted); performed, September 11, 2011, Walker Hall, Mercyhurst University;
2015 – rehearsal pianist, “The Selfish Giant”, original opera by Stephen Colantti, Erie Opera Theatre, Brent Weber and James Bobick, directors;
2019 – performance piano, Keys 3, “MAMMA MIA!”, Cathedral Prep, Fr. Mik DeMartinis, director; Will Steadman, music director;
1986 – present: piano collaborator for juries, hearings, college recitals and concerto competitions:
- SUNY@Fredonia Conservatory of Music (1989 – 2008) – studios of Barry Kilpatrick, Marc Guy, Susan Royal, James East, Jack Gillette;
- Edinboro University music department (1999 – 2014) – studios of LeAnne Wistrom, Patrick Jones, David Sublette, Robert Dolwick, Howard Lyon, Brad Amidon, Anne Wintle-Ortega;
- Mercyhurst University D’Angelo Department of Music, vocal and instrumental performance departments (1999 – 2000; 2008-12) – studios of Louisa Jonason, Geoffrey Wands, Robert Dolwick, Chris Rapier, Alyssa, Scott Meier; and, with Shaun Pomer (1989) and Glen Kwok;
- Erie Jr. Philharmonic Eiji Oue Concerto competition (1989 – 2013) – violin; trumpet; clarinet; tuba;
- COYO Concerto competition, Cleveland, OH (2007) – cello; soprano;
- Young Artist’s Debut Orchestra concerto competition (2007-08) – violin;
2011-12 – rehearsal and performance pianist, vocal performance studio of Louisa Jonason, D’Angelo Department of Music, Mercyhurst University;
2019 – String Trio, Caryn Moore, vln; Sunny Saunders, vla; self, cello; works by Pleyel, Boccherini, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Massenet, et al;
including, but not limited to:
- Artunian; Bach; Barber; Beethoven; Bernstein; Bozza; Brahms; Britten; Creston; Chopin; Chaminade; Copland; Colantti; Dvorak; Franck; Grieg; Hartley; Haydn; Hindemith; Hummel; Ibert; Korngold; Loeffler; Mozart; Mendelssohn; Neruda; Piazzolla; Puccini; Rossini; Rachmaninoff; Ravel; Saint-Saens; Schubert; Schumann; Shostakovich; R. Strauss; Telemann; Vaughn-Williams; Wieniawski; Verdi; Von Weber; H. Wolf;
for the following instruments:
- soprano; mezzo; tenor; baritone; bass;
- French horn;
- natural horn;
- alto and tenor saxophone;
1989 – 2000 – Erie Philharmonic Orchestra, Maestros Eiji Oue and Peter Bay; composers: Copland; Korngold, et al (film scores)
1986 – 2013 — section cello, Erie Philharmonic Orchestra, Erie PA, under maestros: Walter Hendl; Eiji Oue; Peter Bay; Hugh Keelan; Daniel Meyer; Jeff Tyzik; various additional guest batons;
1986 – 2011 — section cello/Principal cello/harpsichord, Erie Chamber Orchestra, Maestro Bruce Morton Wright;
2011 – 2018 — Principal cello, Erie Chamber Orchestra, maestros Matthew Kraemer and Bradley Thachuk, musical directors, and various baton candidates;
1999 – present: Principal cello, Bemus Bay Pops Orchestra/Chautauqua Pops Orchestra, Bruce Morton Wright and John Marcellus, musical directors; Chautauqua Pops Strings, Lenny Solomon, musical director;
Artist Pick up hires:
- circa 1987 – Johnny Mathis, Erie Warner Theatre;
- circa 1992 – Anne Murray, “
- 2008 – Clay Aiken, Erie Civic Center;
- 2015 – MANNHEIM STEAMROLLER, Red Tour, Erie Warner Theatre; 2020 – Green Tour, Erie Warner Theatre;
2019 – String Trio, Caryn Moore, vln/Rachael Brown, vln; Sunny Saunders, vla; self, cello; works by Pleyel, Boccherini, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Massenet, et al;
Other Work History:
1986 – 2011 — Public school music teacher, K – 12, School District of the City of Erie, PA – general/vocal and instrumental, including: marching band, choir, chorus, string ensemble, string orchestra, music appreciation, and special classes for the hearing impaired
1989 – present — Private studio teacher, Suzuki-registered cello (Books 1 – 4) and violin (Books 1 – 3).
2019 – present — RECAPITULATTI! Professional string trio: Rachael Brown, vln; Sunny Saunders, vln/vla; self, cello.
Scholarships and Awards:
1975 – Card-Catlin Art Award, Erie PA – portfolio adjudicated;
1981 – Gaeliewicz String Award, SUNY@Fredonia; Hillman Scholarship, SUNY@Fredonia;
1984 – S.A.D.I.E Award for Drama In Erie : Best Orchestra, “Ain’t Misbehavin”, Leo Estes/John Burton, directors; starring Wydetta Carter, John Burton, Michael Henderson, Tootie Howard, Marlene Spells…..
© 1/21/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. I certify that the above information is true and accurate, to the best of my memory. John Burton may not have been a director of Ain’t Misbehavin’, but I believe that I am correct on all other points. Thank you.
There are many layers to the oppression of immigrants, in our time.
Because of 9/11, both the cause and perpetrators of which have never actually been proven, immigrants of a particular religious persuasion are regarded as suspect by those who assign terroristic activity in a broad swath to anyone to which the alleged 9/11 terrorists’ religion ascribes – namely, Islam.
It isn’t immigration the objectors resist; it’s the threat of infiltrating terrorism, driven by a belief that those who practice Islam are intent upon destroying everyone who does not.
They falsely assign the threat of terrorism to every immigrant woman wearing a head covering, every immigrant whose skin is a particular shade of brown, and every immigrant whose surname begins with Al.
What we are embroiled in, presently, is the secondary effect of a not-so-cold, holy war.
Never before has the separation of church and state been more relevant, been more vital, been more required, if we as Americans are to survive as a nation.
As for the holy war, we must leave that to those who practice religion.
If the government attempts to assign value to anything based in religious persuasion, it is already out of its lane; unfortunately, such assignments are being made, every day, by those in power.
President Trump was described recently by the news media, following his obvious tacit acceptance of the rally chant against the Congresswoman: “Send Her Back!”, as an “old-world segregationist”.
Perhaps society needs to take a straight ahead look at itself. To what extent do cultural groups self-segregate, and to what end does doing so protect and sustain culture itself? People of similar ilk stay close together. When they do not, or when they are forced apart – such as when Hurricane Katrina scattered the Creole population in the Gulf of Mexico – how do they survive?
Many old world beliefs, discarded by progressives intent upon a new world order, had value. Educated people can distinguish between what is old and worthy, vs. what is archaic and outmoded.
But, President Trump represents neither.
© 7/18/19 Ruth Ann Scanzillo All rights, including the title, those of the author, whose name appears above this line. Please respect original material. Thank you.
I’m so happy and encouraged that everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, can feel loved and accepted now, at least in theory and, increasingly, by law.
Now, I hope that straight people and gay people alike can befriend, hire, promote, and even fire without regard for sexual identity.
Nobody ever likes to feel pre-empted because of sexual identity. Women hate it when men do it; men hate it when women do it; minorities hate it when majorities do it; majorities hate it when minorities do it; gays hate it when straights do it; straights hate it when gays do it.
Let’s choose our friends, our colleagues, our employees, our managers, our leaders, on inherent merit and value, alone.
Let’s at least try, and see if we can.
Ruth Ann Scanzillo
Anybody who was born in Erie, Pennsylvania within the past century knows.
This town has an unspoken history.
What has appeared in print, alternately surreptitiously or boldly depending on the relative acceptance of the author’s credibility, has alluded more than once to what everybody has always known: this was a Mafia “mob town”.
Back when Italians and Irish were the dominant first generation immigrant population, the “connected” families were well established. One of them led the city’s government for decades. These were the days of scenes from The Godfather movies; small business fronts, numbers runners, clubs, and neighborhood networks all set up to keep everything smoothly under control.
Into this picture, my Italian father appeared as a displaced citizen. A Bostonian ward of Massachusetts, he’d found himself here by way of a night train and a native Erieite who would become his wife, twice – the first time, in 1944, and again in 1955. Having graduated from barber school after WWII, he would set up his first shop on what, in those days, was the center of the East side: Parade Street. A decade later, he would move to purchase a cement block building on the corner of East 5th & Wallace Streets, and serve a regular clientele of Russian and Polish immigrants as well as city officials for 44 years.
I can remember Dad speaking about the BB gun holes in his plate glass windows on 5th. He and Mum would discuss them, in front of my brothers and me; these were Union people, harassing him to join and follow all their rules for price fixing. I cannot remember when the BB gun holes ceased, but something happened to end them because, once they stopped, they never appeared again. The city officials, however, continued as loyal customers until their deaths by natural causes. Many a final haircut would Dad give, to each of them, in their hospital beds at Hamot, St. Vincent, and over at the Vet’s.
A dear widow and long time Erie resident told me her take on the city, recently. Her late husband was beloved, and well known. And, as secretary to an attorney’s office, she knew who all the racketeers were, by name. She said that, back then, there was no crime in Erie; the mob saw to it that the streets were clean.
Nowadays, Erie is in transition from being an industrial mecca to a vacation resort, and shows promise. But, socially, vestiges of its history can be found in a continually manifesting tribalism. Because, geographically, the city is set on the water’s edge of Lake Erie its flat terrain is laid out in the “Philadelphia grid” style of endless, square city blocks. Consequently, there is nothing to distinguish one neighborhood from another except immediate, unspoken boundaries of ghetto; those living in poverty can be found one square block away from the wealthy, investing elite who own historic villas converted into office space and executive rentals just down the street from City Hall.
So, these tribes of peoples, set apart by closely juxtaposed neighborhoods from Glenwood Heights to the upper lakefront blight, still function in parallel proximity. Even as each nationality represented continues to celebrate its heritage in the multiple summer ethnic festivals, one problem persists: Social segregation. Now, who is in control?
And, that is the first question.
In Erie, as in these United States, every citizen is free to ask that first question. Ask any question, once.
The answer given is expected to be accepted.
But, what if the answer, often the official position on any topic, isn’t acceptable?
What if there is a problem with its content?
I have always been the inquisitive child. If Why? is the question, I will be the first to ask it. Unfortunately, though an established professional in my own right, I am merely the barber’s daughter. Who will give me the straight, factually accurate response? Do I need to know it?
In Erie, you can ask; but, you cannot ask, again. If you challenge the answer you are given, what happens to you is swift and inescapable: you are labeled the “troublemaker”.
And, once branded, you had better retreat into the shadows and stay away. Control is everything to those grasping after it and, in a town where the history was all about leaving well enough alone, if you wonder you are to do so in solitude; if you doubt, you are to keep quiet; if you disbelieve, keep your religion to yourself.
To what end can we know how Erie, Pennsylvania will survive those who do?
© 6/12/19 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. Born at Hamot; raised on the East side; educated in the public schools; taxpaying homeowner on the West side; lifetime Erieite. God Bless Our Home, and all who dwell within it. Thank you for your respect.
One in five American adults experience a mental health issue;
One in 10 young people experience a period of major depression;
One in 25 Americans live with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression.
“Disagreements can usually be boiled down to ignorance on at least one side of the argument.”
© 6/2/19 Ruth Ann Scanzillo
“Intent is only one tenth of the impression.”
© 6/2/19 Ruth Ann Scanzillo.