In 1959, for the seventh year in a row, Lucy Goodman and her mother were headed from New Orleans to Biloxi on a two-week summer vacation.
For the seventh summer in a row Lucy’s father insisted they leave the house for the half-hour drive to Union Station two hours before boarding time because he believed you could never be too early when catching a train. For the seventh summer in a row when they arrived at the station, Lucy’s father handed her mother one roll each of pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters because he believed you could never have too much change. And for the seventh summer in a row he offered the same admonishment.
“Be careful, Marilyn,” he said to his wife, giving her a peck on the cheek.
“We’ll be fine, Leonard. Won’t we, Lucy?” said Lucy’s mother, glancing at Lucy, who nodded agreement.
“Last call for the Southern Belle! ‘Board!” the conductor barked.
“Be a good girl, baby,” said Lucy’s father, hugging her tighter than seemed possible for such a slight, owlish man.
“I’m not a baby,” said Lucy, squirming.
“Promise you’ll write every day,” Lucy’s father called after her as she boarded the train.
But unlike the past six summers, Lucy did not turn and say, “I promise.” This time she pretended not to hear. And this time, as she settled into the seat next to her mother, Lucy pretended not to see her father waving from the platform.
Lucy hated that her father still thought of her as a baby that summer of 1959, even though she was twelve. She hated that he would not let her to go to the movies and shopping with friends, nor to dances and parties with boys.
And Lucy hated that her mother took her father’s side.
“I don’t care how old you are,” her mother said. “What your father says, goes.”
Lucy’s stomach quivered with anticipation as the whistle signaled their departure and the train pulled away. When her father was not around, Lucy felt closer to her mother, felt more like they were sisters than mother and daughter. On vacation Lucy’s mother was different, willing to relax some of the rules that plagued Lucy at home. On vacation they were the Goodman girls.
Lucy’s father did not take vacations. He did not want to close his furniture store for an extended period of time and did not trust anyone to manage it in his absence. He also did not believe in spending good money to sleep in uncomfortable beds in strange rooms, nor to eat bland, rubbery food prepared in strange kitchens.
“For that I could have stayed in the army,” said Lucy’s father.
Lucy’s mother, on the other hand, loved vacations, believed in their healing, restorative powers. As proof she showed Lucy photo albums of childhood family vacations in which she was always smiling. Smiling at the Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore, the Washington Monument. Not the posed, tight smile she affected in photos taken at home on her birthday or on holidays after yet another quarrel between her mother and father, but a smile that flooded her face with forgiveness and delight.
Lucy’s mother’s smile was the same in photos taken of her when she was a fashionably dressed young buyer in New York, where she and her colleagues from Pearlman’s Department Store went twice a year.
“God, we had fun. We talked about living there together someday. I can’t wait to take you when you’re old enough,” Lucy’s mother would tell her, dangling the trip like a rite of passage into adulthood.
“When will I be old enough?” Lucy would ask.
“We’ll see,” said her mother.
Lucy’s mother worked for Pearlman’s until she was thirty and met Lucy’s father, an older man of forty with a nest egg and a successful business. Proudly determined to provide for his family better than his own father, who left his wife and son to fend for themselves in the midst of the Great Depression, Lucy’s father insisted Lucy’s mother quit her job at Pearlman’s when they got married.
“I wasn’t getting any younger,” Lucy’s mother would say when Lucy asked why she gave up something she obviously loved. “Besides, marriage is full of compromises.”
Lucy’s mother spent the first year of her marriage decorating their modest Garden District home with expensive, tasteful furniture from her husband’s store. She prepared hearty breakfasts to start his mornings and lavish dinners to welcome him back in the evenings. She was active in the synagogue Sisterhood, played canasta twice a week with friends. She also went to lunch regularly with her friends from Pearlman’s and talked with them about returning to work someday.
“But then you were born,” she told Lucy, “and that was that.”
When Lucy was five, her mother told Lucy’s father she wanted to take a family vacation and suggested nearby Biloxi.
“You know I can’t close the store,” Lucy’s father said.
“Then Lucy and I will go.”
At first Lucy’s father objected. He was afraid something terrible would happen if he were not with them. But when he saw how excited Lucy was, he relented, since Biloxi was only two hours away by car, two and one-half by train. He could get there quickly in an emergency.
While her mother worked the crossword in the Sunday New York Times, Lucy stared out the train window as it passed through seemingly endless forests of slender Southern pines. She imagined they were going to New York. Imagined what it would be like to do all the things her mother promised. Carriage rides in Central Park, visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art, shopping at Saks. Broadway shows every night followed by late suppers at Sardi’s. Things that Lucy’s mother had enjoyed with her friends from Pearlman’s.
Then Lucy remembered that on vacation in New York, she would not see Jimbo. She wondered if he would be at the hotel when she arrived.
James Beaufort Johnson, nicknamed Jimbo, was the grandson of Bob and Dotty Johnson. Bob and Dotty owned the Live Oak Hotel, where Lucy and her mother always stayed. Jimbo’s annual visits to Biloxi coincided with Lucy’s. Even though he was almost two years older, they became good friends and were together so much that Bob teased they had crushes on each other, eliciting vigorous protests from both.
Lucy was thinking hard about Jimbo when she noticed how dark it was outside, noticed large drops of water exploding on the glass. Suddenly, a pounding rain slashed jagged patterns on the window of the speeding train, and lightning bolts scraped the sky. Lucy snuggled close to her mother.
“Daddy will be worried that it’s raining,” said Lucy.
“Your father worries too much,” said her mother without looking up from her puzzle.
Lucy grinned. Her father’s excessive worrying was the basis for the tacit understanding between Lucy and her mother that they did not have to tell him everything they did, especially on vacation. So they did not tell him when they stayed in the sun too long or treated themselves to dinner at the Blue Crab, Biloxi’s most expensive restaurant, or forgot to wear their sweaters on cool Biloxi evenings.
A few gray clouds threatened when the train pulled into the station, but the streets were dry. Lucy and her mother climbed onto the hotel shuttle, an old school bus with “Live Oak Hotel” stenciled on both sides in fancy script that reminded Lucy of John Hancock’s signature on the “Declaration of Independence.”
The bus rattled along Highway 90 paralleling the shoreline of the Mississippi Sound, which borders the Gulf of Mexico. A necklace of elegant hotels, including the Live Oak, adorned the coast from Edgewater through Gulfport and Biloxi to Ocean Springs. On the eve of the 1960’s, the venerable structures were still two decades away from becoming decayed, faded memories that would eventually be replaced by garish casinos and monolithic high-rises.
Lucy inhaled the bouquet of salt water and sea breezes. She closed her eyes to listen to the cacophonous concert of seagulls, traffic and waves rolling onto the sand, sounds both comforting and thrilling, like the train whistle late at night that seduced her into her dreams. She wondered how New York would smell and sound.
The shriek of fighter jets from nearby Keesler Air Force Base interrupted Lucy’s thoughts. She opened her eyes in time to see the familiar rows of moss-draped live oaks drifting past her as the bus creaked to a stop.
With gleaming white columns, wrought iron lace balconies and wraparound porches, the Live Oak looked like an ante-bellum mansion. A chandelier dripping with prisms hovered above the lobby like a crystal wedding cake. Overstuffed sofas, glass-topped tables and cream-colored ceramic lamps sat atop wildly patterned Persian rugs that Lucy once believed could fly. The cool, crisp air – the hotel was one of the first to have central air conditioning – hinted only slightly of Lysol and stale tobacco.
“About time you Goodman girls got here,” said Bob Johnson, rushing to greet them from behind the front desk where he was sorting mail with Dotty.
Bob was much bigger than Lucy’s father, an affable stuffed bear with a graying crew cut and a dazzling salesman’s smile. Dotty was a little wider than her husband, about a head shorter, and had a face that always, Lucy decided, looked halfway between happy and sad.
Bob hugged Lucy’s mother and tried to hoist Lucy onto his shoulders. “Don’t, Uncle Bob,” said Lucy pushing him away, her face growing hot.
“Oh, Bob, can’t you see Lucy’s too grown up for a piggyback ride?” said Dotty, coming toward Lucy with a plate of the hotel’s signature pecan pralines. “Have one, honey. Freshly made this morning.”
Lucy gratefully grabbed a praline and took a healthy bite. She parked it under her tongue, savoring the sensual texture and buttery sweet flavor as it dissolved.
“Lucy Joan Goodman, you’ll spoil your lunch,” said Lucy’s mother.
“It was only one measly little bite,” said Lucy, bristling at the reminder that she and her mother were not sisters after all.
“Well, I suppose one bite can’t hurt,” Lucy’s mother said, glancing first at Lucy and then at Bob, who approvingly raised his eyebrows. “But no more till this afternoon.”
“Yeah, okay,” grumbled Lucy, reluctantly discarding the remaining candy.
“May I show you to your room?” asked Bob, offering his arm to Lucy’s mother with a gentlemanly flourish.
“Why, thank you sir,” she said, smiling her vacation photograph smile.
“And please forgive me, Miss Lucy, for not recognizing what a lovely young lady you’ve become,” Bob said.
He offered Lucy his other arm. She blushed at the compliment and forgave him instantly.
For the seventh summer in a row, Bob accompanied Lucy and her mother to Room 313. Lucy adored the draperies printed with feathery palm fronds, the patterns of light cast by the open Venetian blinds, the blond Art Deco furniture. The room looked just like the apartments in old Katharine Hepburn movies she and her mother liked to watch on television, movies about brassy, smart career women who lived in Manhattan, met handsome men and had both successful careers and marriages.
Bob unlocked the door, put the key into Lucy’s mother’s hands. Then he brought her hands to his lips and kissed them.
“Wonderful to see you, Marilyn,” he said, striding down the hallway, whistling happily, like Spencer Tracy in love.
“By the way, Lucy,” he said, stopping in mid-step when he realized she was in the doorway watching him, “Jimbo’s coming this afternoon.”
“Uh huh,” said Lucy from the doorway, yawning, hoping her heartbeat would not give her away.
While her mother unpacked, Lucy turned on the streamlined Philco radio on the nightstand and found the local rock and roll station. “The Battle of New Orleans,” one of the biggest hits that summer, was playing. Lucy began to sing along loudly.
“For God’s sake, Lucy, turn that noise off,” said Lucy’s mother, dealing yet another blow to Lucy’s sisterly fantasy.
After lunch, Lucy and her mother changed for an afternoon at the beach. But before they left, they called Lucy’s father.
“Yes, Leonard, we’ll be careful,” said Lucy’s mother, rolling her eyes at Lucy and struggling to hang onto the receiver while she stood in front of the mirror adjusting her bathing suit and hair.
Lucy rolled her eyes, too, as she shimmied into her suit. It was brand new, sleek and sophisticated, dark blue with flashy red stripes on the sides. Lucy admired herself in the mirror, pleased and satisfied that she looked more grown up than ever, not like a little girl who up until this year wore suits with dainty pastel flowers and ruffled skirts.
“A dab of perfume, some lipstick and I’ll be ready,” said Lucy’s mother after hanging up the phone.
Lucy and her mother crossed the highway to the concrete seawall. Lucy’s mother preceded her down the sandy steps to the beach. Then, just as she had done since Lucy was five, Lucy’s mother grabbed her hand to help her, urging Lucy to plant her feet firmly to keep from slipping.
“Whole foot – on the step. Whole foot – on the step,” chanted Lucy’s mother.
Lucy hoped no one was listening or watching. She did not need nor want her mother’s help. In fact, she was embarrassed by it.
They found their favorite spot under the hotel pier, spread their blanket, slathered themselves with suntan lotion and waded into the Sound. Lucy’s mother, who could not swim, insisted they hold hands. Lucy longed to race ahead, but grudgingly adjusted to her mother’s pace. She shuffled her feet on the bottom, trying to avoid scraping them on unseen jagged rocks and shells. As the warm, wet sand cascaded between her toes, Lucy felt like she was walking on melting pralines.
Amid the happy noise of children, a group of bronzed, muscular young men in skin-tight bathing briefs with U.S. Air Force insignias splashed bikini-clad young women who squealed half-hearted objections. One of the men almost knocked down Lucy’s mother.
“Sorry, ma’am,” he said.
He winked at Lucy, dove into the water and glided away. Lucy watched his back and legs gracefully rise and fall, a carefree, playful dolphin. She imagined herself swimming beside him, matching him stroke for stroke, impressing him with her strength and stamina.
When the water was at Lucy’s waist, her mother decided they had gone far enough. They headed back to shore, where Bob was waving at them.
“Look who’s here,” yelled Bob, pointing at the handsome, slender boy standing next to him.
“It’s Jimbo,” said Lucy, tugging at her mother, hoping she would walk faster.
“He’s grown so much I hardly recognized him,” said Lucy’s mother, keeping a firm grip on her daughter’s hand, slowing her down.
Jimbo made it clear exactly how much he had grown when he told Lucy and her mother he now preferred to be called Jim instead of his childhood nickname.
“That’s what everybody calls me at school,” he said.
“By ‘everybody,’ he means girls,” said Bob, “especially the ones who swoon over his duck-tail, or whatever you call it.”
“It’s just like Elvis Presley’s haircut,” said Lucy.
“Thanks,” said Jim, dramatically flinging back a lock that had fallen over one eye.
“Time to get ready for dinner, Lucy,” her mother said.
“But we just got here,” said Lucy.
“You’ll have plenty of time with Jim the next two weeks,” said her mother.
“See you tomorrow, kid,” shrugged Jim.
He punched Lucy’s arm lightly.
“See you tomorrow,” said Lucy, shyly punching him back.
“Keep your hands to yourselves, children,” said Lucy’s mother, concentrating on brushing sand from her arms and legs.
Lucy and her mother spent most afternoons at the beach with Jim and Bob, but never Dotty, whose fair skin made her fear the sun. Bob provided picnics of apples, cheese, crackers and sweet iced tea.
Those afternoons were the only times that Lucy ever saw her mother eat a whole apple. At home her mother would wait until Lucy’s father was peeling an apple for himself. She would ask him to cut her a small piece and then another and maybe one more and that would be all. Under the Live Oak pier, however, she ravenously bit into the juicy Red Delicious apple that Bob offered her and devoured it to the core.
“Let’s go swimming,” Jim said one afternoon while he and Lucy were on the beach washing shells they collected.
“I can’t,” Lucy said. “My mother promised my father I wouldn’t go in the water unless she’s watching.”
Jim grabbed her hand and pulled her toward the water. Lucy dug her heels into the sand, but Jim pulled harder. Before she knew it, she was in the Sound.
“Hold onto my ankles,” shouted Jim, slowly swimming away.
Lucy glanced quickly in her mother’s direction, then grabbed Jim’s legs and let him pull her out to sea. She was amazed how powerful he was, how skillfully he cut through the water. She felt as if she were gliding through velvet.
They swam for what seemed like forever, past children, boyfriends, girlfriends, mothers and fathers who seemed hopelessly earthbound. Too soon they were walking hand in hand through shallow water, back to the beach.
As they gathered their almost-forgotten beachcombing treasures, they noticed a couple lying on the sand, bodies intertwined. The man had a blue and red American eagle tattooed on his arm.
“He’s probably a Keesler guy who’s shipping out,” said Jim, “and figures he’s not going to get any for a long time.”
“Any what?” asked Lucy, eyes transfixed on the writhing pair.
“Sex, you jerk,” said Jim. “God, what a baby.”
“I’m not a baby,” said Lucy, kicking sand at Jim and angrily stomping away.
“Aw, c’mon, Lucy, I was just kidding,” said Jim, running after her.
“Would you miss me if I didn’t come here anymore?” asked Lucy.
“I guess,” said Jim. “Where would you go?”
“Maybe to New York.”
“Wow,” said Jim. “Would you send me postcards of the Empire State Building and Statue of Liberty?”
“Sure. And write you big, long letters every day,” said Lucy, suddenly remembering that she had not written her father at all.
“That’d be real nice,” said Jim.
He slipped his arm around her, and she nestled her head against his shoulder. Intoxicated by the smell of Jim’s damp skin and hair tonic, Lucy forgot to wriggle free before she got near her mother, who at first seemed more concerned that Lucy was wet.
“Did you go in the water when I wasn’t there to watch you?” she asked.
“My fault, Mrs. Goodman,” Jim offered gallantly. “I splashed Lucy, so she splashed me back and….”
“Well, I suppose it’s all right this once,” Lucy’s mother said
Lucy was about to breathe a sigh of relief when her mother said, “And I thought I told you to keep your hands to yourselves. You know the rule.”
“Rule? What rule?” asked Jim, quickly withdrawing his arm.
“My father thinks boys and girls our age shouldn’t touch because it only leads to trouble. Except he’s never told me what kind of trouble it leads to,” said Lucy.
She gave Jim a nudge, and they started to giggle.
“I think it’s time we go back to the room,” said Lucy’s mother.
They hurriedly collected their beach-going paraphernalia, rejecting any help from Jim and Bob, and trudged away without a word. It was only after they got back to the room that Lucy realized her mother had not helped her up the seawall steps.
“I know the rules seem silly,” said Lucy’s mother at dinner, breaking the uncomfortable silence that lasted the rest of the afternoon, “but your father doesn’t want you growing up too fast.”
“Is that why you won’t take me to New York?”
“Of course not,” Lucy’s mother said. “I’m waiting until I think you’re old enough to appreciate it.”
“When will I be old enough?” asked Lucy once again.
“We’ll see,” said her mother.
wAfter dinner at the Blue Crab, Lucy’s mother ordered coffee and, as usual, spooned some into Lucy’s glass of milk.
“To the Goodman girls,” said Lucy’s mother, raising her cup.
“To the Goodman girls,” said Lucy, raising her glass, feeling oddly like crying.
On afternoons that Lucy’s mother wanted to have some time to herself, Lucy stayed in the lobby with Dotty Johnson. Lucy’s job was to offer praline samples to the new guests Dotty registered. She took the task quite seriously, even when Jim tormented her by sneaking up from behind and grabbing handfuls from the plate for himself.
Sometimes when things were slow, Dotty left one of the trainees from the nearby hotel and restaurant management school in charge of the desk. Lucy, Jim and Dotty would go to the tiny cottage the Johnsons built for themselves behind the hotel for chocolate chip cookies and lemonade. Then Dotty would retire to the bedroom to read while Jim and Lucy played cards or watched television in the living room.
One afternoon, Dotty emerged after taking a phone call and announced she had to get back to the hotel right away.
“Do we have to go with you, Maw
maw?” Jim asked.
“Well, I suppose it would be all right for you to stay here,” said Dotty. “Jim, you’re in charge.”
“Hear that, kid?” Jim said, turning to Lucy and puffing himself up. “I’m in charge.”
Lucy made a face at him and stuck out her tongue. Jim grinned and silently mouthed the word “baby” at her. She frowned at him, but felt strangely pleased.
“If you need me, you know where I’ll be,” Dotty said.
Lucy and Jim played gin rummy for a while and then curled up on opposite ends of the sofa for “Popeye Playhouse,” a cartoon show hosted by “Ensign Al,” who wore a sailor suit and shouted, “Rough seas ahead,” after dousing himself with a bucket of water.
“What a jerk,” Jim said, after the third soaking in less than five minutes.
“I think he’s funny,” Lucy said.
“Then you’re a jerk, too,” Jim said, “and a baby, besides.”
“I told you I’m not a baby!”
“Are too! And here’s what we do to babies like you,” Jim said, lunging at her. “We tickle them to death.”
Jim tickled her relentlessly, so Lucy decided to defend herself. The tickling turned into an awkward, but spirited, wrestling match. Eventually, their momentum carried them off the couch. Laughing, they landed with a thud, Lucy on top of Jim.
“Let me up,” Jim gasped. “Can’t breathe.”
“Not until you take back what you said.”
“What’d I say?”
“I’m a baby.”
“Hah, so you admit it!” Jim said.
He pulled Lucy beside him so they were face to face and was about to tickle her again when she leaned forward and kissed him. Lucy loved how cool and soft his lips felt. They tasted of chocolate and lemons. For a moment, she felt the same delicious ache as when she heard seagulls and train whistles, the same velvety smoothness that surrounded her on their forbidden swim.
She was surprised when Jim’s mouth enveloped hers, when his tongue forcefully coaxed her lips apart and began to explore. Frightened, Lucy summoned her strength and gave Jim a mighty shove that propelled him head first into a nearby coffee table.
She fled from the cottage into the hotel through the lobby. Too frantic to wait for the elevator, Lucy ran up the stairs to the third floor.
When she got to 313, the door was ajar. Lucy paused for a moment to catch her breath, wondering if her mother would know what happened, would be able to detect it in some telling look or gesture.
As she started to enter the room, Lucy heard “Come Softly to Me” on the radio, a song she would never enjoy again. The blinds were drawn and her mother’s bed unmade, the bedspread half on the floor. Lucy saw a partly eaten apple on the dresser next to the open bottle of her mother’s Shalimar. And then, in the corner near the window, she saw her mother and Bob Johnson embracing, swaying to the music, kissing.
Lucy tried to run, but her legs felt like stone. Dazed and trembling, Lucy forced herself to back away. She walked slowly, heavily down the steps, but quickened her pace through the lobby, hoping to prevent Dotty from seeing her. Feeling as if it had taken forever, she finally crossed the highway, raced down the seawall steps, collapsed in the sand and tried to throw up. All that came were sobs.
Several men from the air force base stopped to ask her what was the matter, but Lucy ignored them. She cried until she couldn’t anymore and then fell asleep. Someone shaking her shoulder awakened her. Lucy turned and saw her mother kneeling beside her, looking anxious and scared.
“I was worried sick about you,” said Lucy’s mother, embracing her.
Still groggy, Lucy allowed herself to be held, but when her focus sharpened, she struggled to loosen her mother’s grasp.
“Why?” Lucy asked cautiously, afraid she might not have escaped in time.
“Because you didn’t come back to the room on time like you always do,” her mother said. “And then Jim told me you ran away this afternoon for no reason and didn’t tell him where you were going.”
Lucy jerked away from her mother and walked away as fast as she could, but her mother managed to catch her. They were almost at the top of the seawall when her mother grabbed Lucy’s hand. When they lost their balance and fell, Lucy’s mouth hit the concrete.
“You made me fall!” Lucy cried, her lower lip bloody and stinging. “You made me fall!”
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry,” her mother said, trying to help Lucy up. “I wanted to hold your hand.”
“I’m going to tell Daddy on you!” Lucy sobbed, an ancient threat resurrected by a fresh, unfamiliar pain.
They limped back to the hotel, Lucy keeping as much distance between her and her mother as possible. It wasn’t until she saw Dotty’s look of concern and heard her say, “Oh, my Lord. We’ve got to get you to the emergency room,” that Lucy realized her mother’s knee was split open. Lucy felt a pang of sympathy that quickly subsided when she remembered how angry she was.
“I want you to tell me why you ran off this afternoon and didn’t come back when you were supposed to,” Lucy’s mother asked later in their room.
“I wanted to be by myself,” Lucy said.
“Are you going to call Daddy and tell him we fell?” Lucy asked.
“Of course not,” Lucy’s mother said. “You know how he worries.”
“Yes,” said Lucy, “I do.”
Lucy and her mother did not see Jim and Bob again, though they received a box of pralines and a vase of roses with a card that said, “Hope you’re better soon.” It was signed, “From all the Johnsons, Dotty, Bob and Jim.” When Lucy and her mother checked out on Sunday, Dotty was alone at the registration desk.
“See you next year,” Dotty called after them as they climbed aboard the shuttle.
On the ride back to New Orleans Lucy’s mother tried to engage her in conversation, but Lucy did not want to talk. She closed her eyes and pretended to nap.
When her mother fell silent, Lucy opened her eyes just enough to see outside, to spot something familiar. But it seemed as if the Southern Belle was traveling faster than usual, and nothing looked the same.
Lucy’s father was happy to see his wife and daughter, but scolded them for not being more careful when he saw their injuries.
“That’s why I’ve never liked you to go without me,” he said.
“You know you can’t close the store,” Lucy’s mother said.
“It’s time for us Goodman Girls to plan our trip to New York next summer,” Lucy’s mother said when she came to tell Lucy goodnight. “One of my friends from Pearlman’s lives there now and is dying to show us around.”
Lucy shivered and wrapped herself tightly in the covers.
“I don’t want to go,” said Lucy.
“But you’ve been begging me for years to take you to New York,” said Lucy’s mother in her thin, angry voice.
“I’d like to spend a summer at home and be with my own friends,” Lucy said.
“Don’t be ridiculous,” said Lucy’s mother. “The Goodman Girls are going to New York.”
“I don’t want to go with you.”
Lucy’s mother emphatically sat on the edge of the bed. When Lucy turned her back, her mother stood up slowly, hesitated for a moment, then left. Lucy closed her eyes and listened for the train.
Ria Parody Erlich is a retired educator and public relations professional. Ria has spent much of her time in retirement doing things she always felt she was meant to do in the first place, including writing – and acting in and directing theatre. Sometimes life gives you second chances.
© 2021, Ria Parody Erlich