Summer Stories. Today, the six episode of A Summer to Be Remembered by Bob Mitchell: The End of a Story of Love and Music. Enjoy your day, Yareah friends. Art is Everywhere!
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Jim encouraged me to accompany him to New York City to audition for the Mannes College of Music. There was a famous French baritone, Martial Singher, who was head of the vocal department with whom he wanted to study. He assured me it didn’t matter that I was a tenor. He could teach me, too. It felt good to know I was moving into the professional ranks. I thought about Dad and his bullying me to go his way. Would he appreciate what I’ve done?
The bus dropped Jim and me off at the Port Authority in New York to interview and audition at Mannes. I had only three dollars in my pocket. Ah, youth! How naïve we were! When young folks don’t know that something is impossible, they just go ahead and do it. So we did. Jim was a shoe-in with his background. Unlike me they took him into the Opera Workshop his first year. Mannes accepted me as a voice major with a minor in piano. A comfort for me was knowing that Aunt Kay and Uncle Vin lived in Astoria. Surely they would help if needed.
After singing for Mr. Singher, he confirmed that I am a tenor. As to my future prospects, he said with a twinkle in his eye, “Well, my dear, we shall see!” He had the last say as to my acceptance at Mannes, so I felt as though I were on my way at last toward a singing career.
And you know what, Dad? Being accepted at Mannes was my doing, and I paid every penny myself, thank you very much!
At the time I was so angry with Dad that I was not connected to how my anger buried the hurt deep inside.
When Jim and I first arrived in New York in the post-Ocean Grove fall of 1960, we stayed briefly with a family we knew from the North End Hotel. When that came to an end Jim went back home to Ocean Grove while I stayed for a week or two with Aunt Kay and Uncle Vin until we found a small one-and-a-half room brownstone apartment on Eighty-Second Street between Lexington and Third. The living room had a bed with a slide-out cot underneath; the half-room was a kitchen with a stand-up shower nestled between kitchen and front room. These would be close quarters indeed.
The apartment rented for ninety-six dollars a month, which seemed steep to us. But it was an easy walk to Mannes, which was then on East Seventy-Seventh Street. Mannes College today is located on West Eighty-Fifth Street between Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues. To make my new college life feasible, I knew I had to get a job right away—to eat and pay my half of the rent.