It’s good to be writing to you again—even if these times haven’t been good for so many. For my husband Burton and me—as past readers of this column will remember—the tough times started well before COVID.
We’d had a rough 2019. Burton’s brain surgery in late 2018 caused a stroke that shut down his left (dominant) side. He was hospitalized for many weeks, then home in a hospital bed. His middle initial is D for David. D also stands for Determination. Though physically and mentally challenged, Burt simply says, “You do the best you can with what you’ve got.” He’s worked his way to an electric wheelchair, outdoor rides, visits from friends, a recliner, a dedicated PT practice.
It’s far from the retirement Burton envisioned, burning up the golf course. But he’s still able to hear about Andy’s latest paddle ball triumph or David’s progress with his health care company. Still able to field nightly phone calls from granddaughter Lindsay. Still able to join me for a 5 o’clock cocktail or hold my hand watching TV. But still, a rough year.
So I’d looked forward to 2020. Numerical symmetry. Perfect vision. A new decade. Matters had to improve. Then this creepy spiked red ball started flashing on TV and a fellow named Fauci commandeered our screens. Soon Burton and I weren’t the only ones confined to quarters; the whole world was, too. So much for numerical symmetry.
But Life has taught me to look for silver linings. Good friends are sterling silver. In 2018, the year before the excrement hit the fan, I’d joined three BFFs—Brenda Rosenberg, Peggy Daitch and Sandy Seligman—on a birthday trip to Paris. We’d visited the Louvre and shopped on the Left Bank. We’d dined on the Champs-Élysées, sipped champagne and nibbled foie gras.
A year later, joie had turned to blah. On a Zoom call, my BFFs—aka my personal angels—sensed my downhearted condition. They conferred. The next morning, Brenda (who also publishes via ReadTheSpirit) called. “I dreamt you wrote a coffee table book about your art collecting and your focus on Detroit’s Cass Corridor,” she said. “I want that book. I have a place for it on my coffee table. Frame it as your gift to the Detroit art world.”
Detroit’s Cass Corridor near Wayne State U. was the setting for Detroit’s first avant-garde art movement. Nearly two dozen talented artists worked in the area in the 1970s and 80s. I’d collected the work of this scrappy band of creatives. They were represented by two top notch gallerists, Jackie Feigenson and later Mary Preston. In 1980, the DIA mounted a show of their work, “Kick Out the Jams: Detroit’s Cass Corridor 1963-1977.” Burton and I had loaned pieces we owned by Brenda Goodman and Ellen Phelan.
My girlfriends know writing is my lifeline. I’d crafted memoirs about our earlier marriage problems and my later cancer crisis. That latter book is called GodSigns, which also became the title of this online column. Both books proved therapy for me and support for thousands of readers. Writing about what I’d been through helped give meaning to the suffering.
Brenda was right, I thought. I had a happier story to tell. With no end to the pandemic in sight, I had time to tell it. If Brenda had a place for such a book, and Peggy and Sandy were vying for the book launch party, who was I to deny them?
I hung up the phone and turned on my laptop. My latest book, Detroit’s Cass Corridor and Beyond; Adventures of an Art Collector is the result. It features photos of art I collected and displayed in a home we built in Franklin, MI. Our home was photographed by another personal angel, renowned architecture and design photographer Beth Singer. Beth and I were partners in the 1990s, finding, styling and shooting beautiful homes for Better Homes & Gardens and several Special Interest Publications. Burton’s and my home was among those we featured. Beth shot the professional photos included in my new book. And tech challenged as I am, Farbman Group’s capable marketing director, Lauren Holder, was my tech angel.
Bottom line: to paraphrase Joe Cocker, I get by with a lot of help from my friends.
How can you get a copy of the new Cass book? Keep watching this column in ReadTheSpirit.com magazine. We’ll have news soon about its availability. When it finally is released for sale, I hope you’ll enjoy reading it and learning more about some fascinating and talented Detroiters.
With my Cass Corridor story ready for prime time, I’m glad to be back in the weekly issues of ReadTheSpirit magazine. I’m blessed to know and introduce you to people who inspire me.
Classic race car driver David Porter is one of them. His story follows…