I Don’t Hear It Any More

I Am Surrounded By People Who Talk Funny
Those of us who live at the Jersey Shore are surrounded by people who talk funny.

I’m really trying to figure it out. Maybe if I were a psychologist or an anthropologist studying human regional attachments I would be able to understand why of my three children, the one that was the oldest when we came here to New Jersey, has the strongest ties to her adopted childhood home. One would think the younger two of my children, especially the youngest who wouldn’t remember living in another place would be more attached to New Jersey than his big sister. But this has not turned out to be the case.

Although my daughter now lives in beautiful Chicago with all of the lakes, wide-open spaces, great food, entertainment and the excitement of a big city that closely mimics the cultural life of New York, she still is homesick for the New Jersey shore. Not that all of the children aren’t attached to their childhood memories and life back here, but the other two seem to have moved on and found their own utopias in other areas.

My daughter through a phone call last night expressing her homesickness started me on this meandering blog post in the first place, Brett had a longer mid-western exposure that should have influenced her dialect when we moved to New Jersey. Not so. It has turned out that she is the only one that has adopted a slight New Jersey accent. Those of you who have ever visited New Jersey, or ever watched the Housewives of New Jersey know exactly what I mean. 

 When I first came here from the Midwest the New Jersey accent was so strong to my ears that I had to wonder where these folks got that type of an accent. But the longer I lived here the less and less I heard it until at this point I don’t even hear it anymore.

As I read last year in the ‘Courier-Post:

“To the north of us, we have the North Jersey accent bespeaking a certain Soprano-like tough guy patois: “Pick up that cawffe over deir and come tawk to me.”

And to the south, on the other side of the Delaware River from Philadelphia, there is that distinctive South Jersey accent, in which the nationwide convenience store chain 7-Eleven is pronounced “sebeneleben,” and the pro football team is named after the national bird — “The Iggles.”

And in the middle of the Garden State, you have an accent that is neither fish nor fowl, is little studied and is by no means distinctive — the Central Jersey “accent.”

Where these strange sounds come from, what they mean, whether they are dying out, and why and how some folks try to get rid of their accents are questions that fascinate linguists throughout the state.”

Accents come from the original settlers to the area I have learned. For North Jersey/New York, that means the Dutch and the English, whereas in South Jersey/Philly, you’ve got a German and Italian influence. The Central New Jersey dialect origins are a mystery.

As a former news anchor, I have always been conscious of enunciation. Nevertheless, sometimes a society will decide that one group’s way of speaking is going to be the standard. In the U.S., for example, national news broadcasters typically speak similar to people in the Midwest. For some reason, people believe that this accent is somehow more “neutral.” But that is always how I have spoken, whether it was my Midwestern influence, I don’t know.

Linda Ellerbee, a television broadcast journalist, once famously said, “In television you’re not supposed to sound like you’re from anywhere.” I guess that’s me. 
My oldest doesn’t have a strong accent, just very subliminal, but it is there. Apart from the actual words spoken, accents carry a lot of weight and meaning with them, I think. People have an emotional connection to the places of their youth and emotional attachment to the sounds of the language they grew up with, and for her it is still very strong. 

I suppose that is the answer. You can take the girl out of Jersey, but you can’t take the Jersey out of the girl!

Copyright Sandra Hart© 2015. All Rights Reserved.

The Mystery In The Old Shoe Box

As you know for the past week I have immersed myself in uncluttering – going through memorabilia and old photographs in an effort to downsize. My mother’s old photographs are in a huge handsome wooden box that my father made. That’s going to my son, the self-appointed family historian. The other photographs throughout the years I have half-heartedly made an effort to separate into different shoeboxes relating to each child, thinking about the eventual distribution.

That time has finally arrived. So now here I sit looking at this deformed mound of shoeboxes in front of me wondering if the cycle is ever going to be ended. In a way, while telling myself I am eliminating, I am just recycling and honestly not getting rid of much. I am passing these on to my children who will undoubtedly put them in another box somewhere in the back of their closet and then eventually when they’re doing what I’m doing, unload them to their children, my grandchildren. 

My parents lived from the evolution of tintypes to Polaroid. I have lived to digital and iPhone selfies, so I doubt if any more genuine ‘touchable’ photographs will be added to the boxes. And maybe, just maybe the cycle will end with my adult grandchildren who may not have a feeling for the family photographic connection anymore. It’s really hard for me to think about this life cycle ever coming to a conclusion, but it is a probable reality. 
So a sad farewell for me as I UPS three boxes to separate locations where my children have planted roots. The life I lived in my imagination with my mother’s family through her photographs and the life I lived with my children in real time may end with their children. 
Generations from now they will never know that you and I grew up in the best of times and were the luckiest and the greatest generation ever. These photographic memories, this life before death we, the ‘not-so-famous’ all experienced may end with our generation. The price we all pay as a result of rapid technological evolution? Could be. Time will only tell, but unfortunately, the proof might be lost in the nearest landfill. I hope not. 

Copyright Sandra Hart 2015. All Rights Reserved. 


“Romper, Bomper, Stomper ……”
(Yesterday I went for my annual checkup with my primary physician. At the end of my visit he looked at me and smiled, “When you looked into that Magic Mirror and said my name, bet you didn’t know you were making your doctor happy!” Honestly he was right. At the time I had no idea the impact the TV show Romper Room would have on the 60’s and 70’s children. To add to this resurgence of Romper Room thought, last week on my Facebook feed there I was with 176, 602 thousand likes and growing by the minute. The Do You Remember site posted a picture of me while doing a Romper Room Show back in the 70’s. Don’t know where they got the picture, but that posting reminded me of an article I wrote several years ago for an Internet magazine that has been reprinted over 5 thousand times. Never realized there were so many Romper Room fans out there!)
It seems as though in the last few years all those terribly terrific children who grew up with us on Romper Room are now ruling the world and moving and shaking in all-important circles of life.
Those who grew up in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s are today’s power brokers of influence. The are now the bankers, brokers, directors. writers, rock stars and CEO’s of corporations. But they all have the Big Question for me when I am lucky enough to meet one of them. “Why didn’t you say my name in your Magic Mirror?”
When the January 23, 1997 issue of Rolling Stone revealed to the world that my son, Emerson Hart, lead vocalist and songwriter of the band Tonic, had a mother who was the Romper Room lady, I could no longer hide in anonymity. I was dragged from underneath the rock I had been hiding since the 70’s. Since then I have been forced to account for my sins.
Some of these wonderful men and women I have met at my son’s concerts, either thank me, or admonish me for not saying their name in my Magic Mirror. When I explain to them that I tried my very best to name each and every one I could in the short time allotted at the end of the show to ‘see’ all of my Do Bees, but because of the volumes of mail I received each day, I couldn’t acknowledge as many as I would have liked, they pretend to understand, but they are still not satisfied. So if you are reading this and I didn’t say your name, please forgive me.
‘Romper Bomper, Stomper Boo. Tell me, tell me true. Magic Mirror, tell me today did all my friends have fun at play? I see Michelle and John and Bill and…oh, there you are. I’ve been looking for you all these years. I see YOU!”
Excerpt from Read Between My Lines by Sandra Hart ©  
(Sandra Hart is the former Ms. Sandra of the children’s television program Romper Room and is a working actress, award-winning author of “Behind The Magic Mirror” and “Places Within My Heart”and is a motivational speaker and blogger. She lives in New Jersey and South Beach with her husband and is “Nana” to four fantastic grandchildren.)

How To Make The Most Of Your Mothers Genes

Now that I am on the far side of over 50, most of my life is made up of memories and stuff. In the past few weeks after my return from Florida that’s exactly what I’ve been doing – going through stuff that is bringing back memories. If you’re my age you probably either already have done this, or plan to do this in the near future. I’m intending once and for all to let go of physical memories that I can’t carry with me any more. 

 If you’ve been through this please have empathy for me because you know that it’s not easy to get rid of material things that are evidence that you did have a life and lived it and it mattered… at least to you or your mother. Yes, I still even have the things that my mother saved about her life and about the lives of her children while we were growing up.  

I was at that point today where I was so frustrated that I just decided I was going to close my eyes and start dumping all ancient report cards, essays, letters with old stamps on them, birthday cards and pictures of people that I didn’t know when I came upon a small bundle of folded papers secured by a faded blue ribbon. 

What I found on those papers actually broke my heart. You see my mother was one of the most creative beings I have ever known yet, as a woman in the 30s and 40s she was a housewife, always ‘just’ a housewife. She was caretaker of all that she loved and secretly put her creative dreams in a box somewhere for her eyes only.  

Throughout her life Mother’s need for creativity came through her interior decorating in our home and as the years grew and she had more leisure time, she satisfied her creative genes by working on small oil paintings and crocheted so many quilts and scarves for us we didn’t know where to put them. 

That was my mother, or so I thought until I found her secret bundle of papers. I gently opened the yellowed papers and began to read. …”The Little Naked Tree”……as I read on I was finding beautiful stories in rhyme that she had written. They had her signature at the end and her return address beneath. It looked like Mother had possibly submitted these for publication, probably to one of the women’s magazines of the day. Or maybe she wanted to, but never got the courage to follow through with her dreams of being published and most of all, had kept her secret compositions from us.

So as her daughter, a published author and writer, I am giving my mother’s dream life. Here is one of her stories that I have copyright for in her name. This is for you Mother. Thank you for my creative genes.


I am am a little naked tree 

People on their boat pass by 

And make fun of me. 

Here I stand with lovely green trees all around 

Tiny squirrels scamper on the ground.

There a lot of things they don’t know about me. 

I am a friend, companion, too, for a lot of animals that you see.

The fishhawk sits on the very top.

He makes makes a wish 

Then swoops down to catch a fish.

The mother squirrel has made a retreat.

 She stores her food so nice and neat.

 Down near my roots there are some holes.

 Snug and cozy for little moles.

Near the trunk there is a nest.

Mother Robin lays her eggs to rest 

And soon the eggs are hatched out.

Little robins flutter about.

So now you can see, 

Why did they make fun of me?

Just because I am different as can be?

You may have friends who are not like you 

But they may be very nice

And have purpose, too.

So always remember on life’s way 

Be very careful what you do and what you say 

Always be kind and nice to all you see.

They could be just like me

The little naked tree.

V. Atkinson© Sandra Hart© All Rights Reserved.

How to Handle Life’s Surprises

In April 2003 at the age of 64 I was competing in 5K races. In August of that same year, just four months later, I woke up one morning and I could hardly get out of bed because my muscles hurt me so much. Throughout the weeks that followed my muscles became weaker and I honestly felt as though I was dying. I had no energy and could hardly make it through the day. I couldn’t even lift myself up from a sitting position without effort and even walking without severe pain in my leg muscles was impossible. I had been so healthy. I was always conscious of what I put into my body. I was a vegetarian and had never smoked and was an unforgivable ‘tea totaler’. I had always been able to do activities with ease for a person feeling much younger than my years. Why me?
My doctors tested for everything from lupus to leukemia, but it wasn’t until I went to Florida and got the advice of Dr. Robert Hoffman, head of the lupus clinic at Jackson Memorial Hospital, that I got a very quick and precise diagnosis. I was suffering from polymyalgia rheumatica, an overnight onset illness that affects mostly women over 50.
 Because not enough of the population suffer from this illness the drug companies are reluctant to do any type of research about it’s onset and whether it’s genetic or viral. The Mayo Clinic did one study but they were never able to find the cause. They just know that it’s a disease that causes inflammation and weakness of the muscles. 
In my personal research on PMR I scoured the Internet for information which provided little insight on the root of this illness. I also called all of my cousins on both my mother and father’s side to see whether any of them had suffered anything like this or any of their mothers. I came up empty.
The course of treatment is to take prednisone, an anti-inflammatory drug. Prednisone also has many undesirable side effects, some of which include weight gain, loss of bone (osteoporosis), cataracts and puffiness in the face. As a woman, the face puffiness, that was the worst emotional side effect for me, other than feeling that I had lost my youth and stamina. It was the weight gain and that facial distortion because of the prednisone (as indicated in the cover photos of Katherine Turner and me before and after). I had remembered seeing pictures of the actress when her face was blown up and she seemed like she had gained a lot of weight and became quite distorted from her earlier beautiful appearance. 
It was her medication. Katherine suffers from one of the most severe arthritic illnesses. When the ravaging effects of rheumatoid arthritis – a chronic inflammatory disorder that affects the joints – and the drugs used to control it caused her to bloat and gain weight, her looks changed, just as mine did.
Because of my frustration with lack of information on PMR I decided to build a very complete informational website concerning this illness that others might be able to use as a reference. Through this website I was contacted by Arthritis Today, a wonderful monthly magazine dealing with all types of arthritis illnesses. They wanted to do an article on me since PMR is a not widely known illness and is considered to be a type of arthritic condition. When the article, Act Two, came out my puffed up face was in full view of the world. I felt terrible, but I also knew my sharing of my story would hopefully help others.
But there was a pot of gold at the end of the PMR road waiting fir me six years later because my illness, unlike Katharine Turner’s had a very lucky natural outcome. One night while I was sleeping, it disappeared overnight. I was off prednisone at last and soon I returned to looking like myself once again. My doctors say that when polymyalgia rheumatica has run its course, it should never ever come back again. Twelve years later that has proven to be true, at least in my case. 
I don’t know exactly what the moral of my story should be because sometimes we face things that we have no control over. There are no quick solutions sometimes. So I guess what my final thoughts are is that life can throw us wrenches and we either have to except it and go on with our lives or give in. 
My choice was not to give in, but to find answers, not only for myself, but for others as well – to share my experience so that they too would not be in the darkness like I was when I was first diagnosed. 
Sandra Hart© All Rights Reserved

The Wildflower Child In Me

            A Lesson In Native Gardening: The Wildflower Child In Me

This spring I was dragging my feet having to leave tropical South Beach so early to take care of some damage from pipes that broke during the extremely cold winter in New Jersey. I have not come back to Four Views this early in quite a few years and quite honestly dreaded what I was facing.

But I’m realizing that sometimes forced change and challenges can be good. It’s really been delightful to see the dogwood, mountain laurel, azaleas and some of the other early spring flowers in bloom again. I took a break today from all the inside work I’ve been having to do and walked around the grounds with almost new eyes of appreciation, as though seeing how lovely nature can be if allowed to landscape on its own for the first time.  
Considering the topography of my sloping land on the cliff side I’ve always preferred natural landscaping, or native gardening with winding beach stone pathways and ivy draped slopes. Mountain laurel and dogwood are indigenous to our area and grow wild through the other trees, reproducing and popping up where they feel best at home. I love that. I remember as a child in Ohio my favorite wildflower was Queen Anne’s lace growing in random patterns along the roadside and in the fields.  
Unfortunately Queen Anne doesn’t live her, but I saw the scattered wild raspberry bushes planted by the birds starting to sprout their canes. Their existence in my landscape certainly was not my doing, but I am grateful every summer as I carry basketfuls into the house. And the way the wild roses somehow found a home in my natural garden and reproduce themselves over and over again without any help from me at all. The dogwood, laurel, wild raspberry, wild roses, oaks, buttonwood and birch – everything within my native landscape began life on its own.
 As I continued my walk along the path drinking in the surroundings around me I began thinking about life and how if sometimes we could just let go and let life unfold without trying to push our way through things it might be easier and turn out better for us. Just as in my garden. Have faith that opportunities will naturally open up around us that will be good for us and if we are smart enough to nurture those opportunities wonderful things will grow from them.  
Nature has patience. It takes a long time for a seed to germinate. Sometimes I think life would go smoother for us if we could just learn to let go and let life happen. So many times in my life I have tried to force a door open that I was not supposed to enter leading me down the path I would rather have not walked. I eventually got smarter and learned to have patience, be quiet and listen. That’s when a seed of inspiration was planted, the right door opened and moved me toward positive growth and happiness. 
My dogwoods, mountain laurels and tall trees have weathered through stress – at least six hurricanes in my lifetime with them. They are still standing. Every one of them. Mother Nature has endowed them with strength and patience and genetic intelligence to bend with the wind and whatever else She throws at them. If we could only get that down, life would be so much easier, don’t you think?
©Copyright Sandra Hart. All rights reserved.

It’s So Nice To Have A Man Around The House

( I recently received notice that a small article I wrote for an Internet magazine has been republished about 10,000 times. What a shock! This  is just a small article in which to my embarassment  every word is the truth. But he is sweet and handsome)

“It’s so nice to have a man around the house,” as the old song croons. It has been years since I could boast that plus in my life. Oh yes, I have been married to Mr. Wonderful for 28 years now, but he can’t do a thing and he doesn’t want to pay anyone to do it for us. So guess who is the lucky handyman around our house. ME.
Just in a 24 hour period he broke our sun umbrella spoke while trying to open it. This morning while making coffee he lost the little do-hickey at the bottom of the filter cone and the coffee now runs everywhere except into the coffee pot. Not to mention that this is the second coffee maker he has so destroyed.


One afternoon I opened the microwave to find this mysterious carmel-looking stuff all over the inside of the unit. On closer inspection, I saw that it continued on to the glass top stove, and even went further onto the floor. Knowing my husband was guilty, I finally got him to admit that he was trying to loosen the cap of our big Gorilla glue in the microwave and it exploded! An attempt to get it out of there resulted in it permanently adhering to everywhere it landed.
A friend of ours got us a can of acetone that has been sitting in the kitchen for a year now. My husband has not yet tried to see if it will remove the hardened glue! So I have gotten used to my carmel-spotted microwave insides and daily pick at the drops on the stove to no avail. I refuse to acetone on my own!


My children say I deserve angel wings because of my Mr. Magoo husband, but who would want him if I send him packing with an instruction book for the next owner? Young girls would not understand the manual and old independent gals like me would understand what goes with him and put him back on the shelf. What to do except understand that I have a six year old in a grownup’s body. Oh well, guess I’ll go for a swim and let the endorphins roll in and hope the house is there when I get back.

Sandra Hart’s Blog© Sandra Hart  Sandra is the former Ms. Sandra of the children’s television program Romper Room and is a working actress in both film and television, an award-winning author and a popular motivational speaker. She is a member of the National Leadership council of NARSAD (National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression).