We Are All Witnesses

Today, I send an urgent message to all who write: you of the younger generations learning about the world of today, those of you have managed to reach an age that has passed into ‘retro’ or ‘vintage’ or perhaps even delved into the ‘antique’. Now is the time to take up pen and paper, tablet or computer, and write.
We live in an age where life has been reduced to minuscule correspondence by ‘twitter’ sent out in a thoughtless and meaningless plethora of electronic garbage. Once there was a different time, people wrote letters to friends, lovers and family, telling of their thoughts, ideas, emotions and facts of the history taking place around them. Those that remain are a gift from the past, a glimpse of what life was like, a veritable time machine in ink.
All of us have been witness to changes beyond imagination. We have seen remarkable turnabouts in science, culture, religion, politics, life styles, technology, and social mores unthinkable only 100 years ago.
If you don’t write down now what you have seen, what is happening around you, what you remember, then the generations to come will only know how our lives have been through the slant of whatever future ‘expert historian’ has chosen to write about it. Not what has actually happened, but what they want to have their age believe transpired.
Women have been castigated through the ages because they were written of by men who sought their power and were jealous of their ability to create life. Hence the demise of the goddess religions when they were branded as whores and witches. This same approach has been used throughout history on other religions and cultures, abused and annihilated because of the words of tyrants and fanatics.
Do we want our time on this planet remembered only in the words and rantings of egotistical fundamentalists, petty bureaucrats, morons, haters, or self-obsessed billionaires? There is only one way to tell the truth about our lives, our times, our thoughts and our feelings. Write it down.
and sent it to the world. Speak out, blog, post on facebook, write stories and e-mail them to friends. The time for silence is gone! We are all witnesses to this life. Tell the future what you have seen. Stand firm as witness to this age and your words can’t be silenced.

De Witt Stetten

My earliest memory of going to ‘the city,’  Manhattan, was to visit my godparents, Alice and De Witt Stetten.  They were best friends of my mother and father and I was lucky to have arrived a girl, otherwise I would be sporting the monniker, De Witt, today.  I prefer Alice.

They lived on Central Park, one of the large apartments built just after World War I, the great war to end all wars.  The city was growing by leaps and bounds and it was chic to overlook Central Park with its lush greenery, winding paths and hidden treasures, lakes, statues and meadows.

The apartment was as large, if not larger, than our big house in Mamaroneck.  I remember best the living room—almost cavernous with a grand piano in one corner.  I never heard anyone play it.  Maybe someone did once, there was a son, DeWitt, a daughter, Margaret, perhaps one of them took lessons as a child.

On the piano was my favorite piece in the whole apartment, a sculpture of Uncle De Witt’s hands, by some famous sculptor of the day.  Just the hands to less than an inch of wrist.  In repose, one hand lightly over the other.  It was done in marble, a light color, lighter than skin but only slightly.  There was a delicacy, a gentleness in the pose, the veins prominent on the top and visible as shadows when the light hit a certain way.

The adults would be on the other side of the room laughing, having a cocktail or a cup of tea, chatting about whatever nonsense adults chatted about.  I wore a plaid pleated skirt, white blouse and navy jacket, white socks and black patent leather sally-pumps.

I sat on the piano bench and stared at the sculpture.  My blonde hair was to my shoulders with the top piece twirled and twisted into a bun.  The center of the bun was left open, a convenient coliseum home for my pet turtle, George, who spent most of his life living there.  At least when I was on the move.  If I had to go, George went with me.  Seven year olds can be very demanding.

My mother knew how to keep me quiet and well mannered, several books always did the trick.  I learned to read at an early age and was happiest with my nose in a book. But I wasn’t interested in the books, George and I were fixated on the hands.

The fingers were long and tapered, but there was a strength that seemed to glow around them.  I could imagine them doing wondrous things, and in fact, that was what attracted the artist to them.  Uncle DeWitt was a renown surgeon. I sat on the piano bench and marveled at how one man could fix people and how another could make a piece of marble into a representation of something so life-like, so human.  Neither George nor I knew how it was done.  But I appreciated the skills thinking as only a child can, that they were both a kind of magic.