Music Memories

Did you ever think that maybe the music that we have been exposed to by our parents as children has a great deal of importance in our formative recipe as to who we are today?

I recently did a YouTube video about my musical memories and how important they are to me. I was reminded by one of my fellow YouTube creators about music that her mother and father liked.

That conversation brought me back to a time that I had almost forgotten. My mother loved the music of Hoagy Carmichael. I can remember her playing his song, Stardust, over and over again. Every time it came up on our old wooden radio she would stop what she was doing and stand there living her personal Stardust dream. I was too young to understand it all, but now I wish in adulthood I would have asked her sometime during her ninety-two years just what that dream was. Mother’s music when I was a child resonated with me and I felt so it deeply in my heart because I loved her.

When I was about 12 years old for Christmas I found a music box that played Stardust. Every penny that I saved for Christmas that year went to buy that special jewelry box for her.

Throughout her life mother kept all of her precious jewelry in that box and I always knew when she was taking something out when the tinkling sound could be heard throughout the house.

When mother died and we were packing and sorting her possessions I kept two things; her purse that was filled with personal items and that music box.

Eventually, sometime when I was in my decoupage period I decided to decoupage the faded outside of the music box. Looking at it now, I’m not too sure it was the right decision, but it still plays.

Today I took mother’s music box out from my shelf in my closet. I gently gave the stem a few winds, just to listen to a few notes and it slowly plucked out the familiar tune. Next, I’m going to place my jewelry inside it’s empty faded velvet partitions. Then I will wind it fully and put it where I can look at it every day so that I can be reminded of my mother and the music that has shaped my life. I will remember through her music box the beginning if my own childhood dreams choreographed by Hoagy Carmichael.

Copyright Sandra Hart 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Why We Sometimes Marry The Wrong Person

“It’s one of the things we are most afraid might happen to us. We go to great lengths to avoid it. And yet we do it all the same: We marry the wrong person.”

The New York times recently published an article on a subject that my children and I have often discussed. Choosing a partner subconsciously on the comfort level of what you knew growing up as a child most often than not guarantees a divorce in the future.

I came from a family where my parents stayed together until death. My brother chose a mate and they have been married for over 50 years. My first marriage ended in divorce. Why?

I have no doubt that my parents truly loved one another, but my father had a terrible temper and he and my mother bickered constantly. I vowed never to marry someone who had a temper, so I chose someone who had no emotion whatsoever. I swung the pendulum all the way to the opposite and instead of reaching a middle ground I ran away from familiarity that was not a comfort zone for me. Although we have been best friends since then, divorce was inevitable. There was no passion in our union. 

The issues regarding relationships and marriage were not open for discussion to us years ago. I wish I had had then the tools that are available today to young couples starting out in relationships. 

I am incorporating the article in this blog because I think it is right on target and explains so much about why and how we choose mates that might not be so right for us.

Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person


MAY 28, 2016

IT’S one of the things we are most afraid might happen to us. We go to great lengths to avoid it. And yet we do it all the same: We marry the wrong person.

Partly, it’s because we have a bewildering array of problems that emerge when we try to get close to others. We seem normal only to those who don’t know us very well. In a wiser, more self-aware society than our own, a standard question on any early dinner date would be: “And how are you crazy?”

Perhaps we have a latent tendency to get furious when someone disagrees with us or can relax only when we are working; perhaps we’re tricky about intimacy after sex or clam up in response to humiliation. Nobody’s perfect. The problem is that before marriage, we rarely delve into our complexities. Whenever casual relationships threaten to reveal our flaws, we blame our partners and call it a day. As for our friends, they don’t care enough to do the hard work of enlightening us. One of the privileges of being on our own is therefore the sincere impression that we are really quite easy to live with.

Our partners are no more self-aware. Naturally, we make a stab at trying to understand them. We visit their families. We look at their photos, we meet their college friends. All this contributes to a sense that we’ve done our homework. We haven’t. Marriage ends up as a hopeful, generous, infinitely kind gamble taken by two people who don’t know yet who they are or who the other might be, binding themselves to a future they cannot conceive of and have carefully avoided investigating.

For most of recorded history, people married for logical sorts of reasons: because her parcel of land adjoined yours, his family had a flourishing business, her father was the magistrate in town, there was a castle to keep up, or both sets of parents subscribed to the same interpretation of a holy text. And from such reasonable marriages, there flowed loneliness, infidelity, abuse, hardness of heart and screams heard through the nursery doors. 
The marriage of reason was not, in hindsight, reasonable at all; it was often expedient, narrow-minded, snobbish and exploitative. That is why what has replaced it — the marriage of feeling — has largely been spared the need to account for itself.

What matters in the marriage of feeling is that two people are drawn to each other by an overwhelming instinct and know in their hearts that it is right. Indeed, the more imprudent a marriage appears (perhaps it’s been only six months since they met; one of them has no job or both are barely out of their teens), the safer it can feel. Recklessness is taken as a counterweight to all the errors of reason, that catalyst of misery, that accountant’s demand. The prestige of instinct is the traumatized reaction against too many centuries of unreasonable reason.

But though we believe ourselves to be seeking happiness in marriage, it isn’t that simple. What we really seek is familiarity — which may well complicate any plans we might have had for happiness. We are looking to recreate, within our adult relationships, the feelings we knew so well in childhood. The love most of us will have tasted early on was often confused with other, more destructive dynamics: feelings of wanting to help an adult who was out of control, of being deprived of a parent’s warmth or scared of his anger, of not feeling secure enough to communicate our wishes. 
How logical, then, that we should as grown-ups find ourselves rejecting certain candidates for marriage not because they are wrong but because they are too right — too balanced, mature, understanding and reliable — given that in our hearts, such rightness feels foreign. We marry the wrong people because we don’t associate being loved with feeling happy.

We make mistakes, too, because we are so lonely. No one can be in an optimal frame of mind to choose a partner when remaining single feels unbearable. We have to be wholly at peace with the prospect of many years of solitude in order to be appropriately picky; otherwise, we risk loving no longer being single rather more than we love the partner who spared us that fate.

Finally, we marry to make a nice feeling permanent. We imagine that marriage will help us to bottle the joy we felt when the thought of proposing first came to us: Perhaps we were in Venice, on the lagoon, in a motorboat, with the evening sun throwing glitter across the sea, chatting about aspects of our souls no one ever seemed to have grasped before, with the prospect of dinner in a risotto place a little later. We married to make such sensations permanent but failed to see that there was no solid connection between these feelings and the institution of marriage.

Indeed, marriage tends decisively to move us onto another, very different and more administrative plane, which perhaps unfolds in a suburban house, with a long commute and maddening children who kill the passion from which they emerged. The only ingredient in common is the partner. And that might have been the wrong ingredient to bottle.

The good news is that it doesn’t matter if we find we have married the wrong person.
We mustn’t abandon him or her, only the founding Romantic idea upon which the Western understanding of marriage has been based the last 250 years: that a perfect being exists who can meet all our needs and satisfy our every yearning.

WE need to swap the Romantic view for a tragic (and at points comedic) awareness that every human will frustrate, anger, annoy, madden and disappoint us — and we will (without any malice) do the same to them. There can be no end to our sense of emptiness and incompleteness. But none of this is unusual or grounds for divorce. Choosing whom to commit ourselves to is merely a case of identifying which particular variety of suffering we would most like to sacrifice ourselves for.

This philosophy of pessimism offers a solution to a lot of distress and agitation around marriage. It might sound odd, but pessimism relieves the excessive imaginative pressure that our romantic culture places upon marriage. The failure of one particular partner to save us from our grief and melancholy is not an argument against that person and no sign that a union deserves to fail or be upgraded.

The person who is best suited to us is not the person who shares our every taste (he or she doesn’t exist), but the person who can negotiate differences in taste intelligently — the person who is good at disagreement. Rather than some notional idea of perfect complementarity, it is the capacity to tolerate differences with generosity that is the true marker of the “not overly wrong” person. Compatibility is an achievement of love; it must not be its precondition.

Romanticism has been unhelpful to us; it is a harsh philosophy. It has made a lot of what we go through in marriage seem exceptional and appalling. We end up lonely and convinced that our union, with its imperfections, is not “normal.” We should learn to accommodate ourselves to “wrongness,” striving always to adopt a more forgiving, humorous and kindly perspective on its multiple examples in ourselves and in our partners.

Alain de Botton (@alaindebotton) is the author of the novel “The Course of Love.”
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My formative years were spent in an  industrial blue-collar town with a mixture of European immigrants. Even though it was not for religious reasons in our house we always had fish on Fridays like most of the families in our town. 

I always hated those fish Fridays because it seems every time we had fish, I was the only one in the family lucky enough to get the tiny hidden bones tucked between the flesh. How I remember chewing, chewing, chewing every bite until my jaws ached just to be sure that I wasn’t going to swallow a sharp bone that I was sure would puncture my stomach, causing the end of me. Friday’s were definitely not my favorite days. 

But, in spite of my memories of those torture fish Fridays of long ago, I guess life habits are hard to break. You would think a sane person would have left the bony protein behind as I waved good bye to that industrial town. ‘Forget about it’ as my good Jersey shore friends would say, I still have fish on Friday. It is the only thing I eat with both a head and eyes.


Now I do feel lucky to have lived near the ocean most of my adult years. At least once a week you will find me at the local fish market, or at the dock waiting for the fishing boats to come in after a day at sea. I’ve shopped in the Pike Market in Seattle, Fulton Fish Market in New York and browsed markets all over the world. For me, there is something to say about the fresh saltwater smell of fresh fish. Most of the markets have powerful fans to whirl away the strong smell, but I like it. It reminds me of my love of the sea.

Well, today it’s Friday. Arthur and I left the beach this morning to take the fifteen minute ride into Miami to the Casablanca Fish Market where all sorts of fresh fish can be found. 


 Crazy as it seems, I still love the smells every time I open the Casablanca door. I love the noise and the eclectic mix of people who stream in, hovering over the various days catches. 

The simple pleasures of life that mean something are getting easier and easier to find for me. As my grandson would say, ‘it is a big time senior citizen adventure!’  

Come on, Kid. It sure beats Snapchat.  

Copyright Sandra Hart©. All Rights reserved.




I don’t know about you, but my childhood memories are very much a part of who I am especially now that I’m older and I’ve had a lot of time to think about my childhood and how it actually molded me into the person blogging here today.

I have often alluded to my thoughts on  one of the saddest things about families today is that we are spread so far apart many times because of the way the world is now. The old fashioned nuclear family, unless you’re one of the lucky ones, is not intact and not what it used to be. 

A television colleague of mine I worked with back in the 70s recently posted on Facebook a video that brought back so many delightful memories for me of my early summers back in Ohio. Because of my grandparents having 10 children, our parent’s extended family was extremely large so every year we would have a Lewis family reunion at a park in Canton, Ohio called Myers Lake.
 My brother and I always looked forward to this one summer’s outing to Myers Lake, not only because we could see all of our aunts and uncles and cousins, but the thoughts of all the great amusement rides that they had in the park. 

Sherman and most of my cousins enjoyed the roller coaster, the Ferris wheel and other spinning rides. Just watching everyone go up and down and whirl around made me dizzy. From my beginning motion sickness has been my curse, so I found happiness with a younger cousin in trying to win things. My favorites were all the toss games where you could win prizes. (I still have a prized pussy willow carnival glass vase that I won one year at a Myers Lake concession stand that I recently saw on eBay worth quite a lot). 
Aren’t we who we are because of who we were as children and how we interpreted life events? Perhaps those early experiences with compensating for my DNA flaws by ‘winning’ became the foundation for overcoming later life challenges and the embryo of my life’s successes.  

As my grandson said to me the other day during a conversation about November’s election, “Nana, you grew up in the best of times. I think your’s was the greatest generation.” So true. Sadly for the Millenniums, so true. 

Copyright©Sandra Hart. 2016. All Rights Reserved.



She heard the sounds of the piano stridently rising above the restaurant chatter and began to squirm in her seat. Whenever the music started it was hard to sit still. She looked at her parents busy with their menus, then over to her brother who was attempting to make a paper airplane from a cocktail napkin and slowly slid off her seat and ran toward the dance floor. 

 She loved music and the sound always made her want to move and swirl and swing around the floor with her arms open wide. She couldn’t help it. Something inside of her four-year old self just made her do it because it was fun and made her happier than hugging the cat or eating ice cream. Swinging and dancing and moving to the music until she was dizzy was out of her control. It was just what she loved to do on Sunday afternoons at The Lotus.

It was 1943 in Washington, D.C.. The Lotus restaurant was popular among military and government personnel during the war years. The Washington Daily News called it “a sort of a poor man’s Stork Club where the average Joe can put on a dog without pulling more than a five spot out of his billfold.” 

The restaurant occupied the top level of a two-story 1926 building and her little dancing legs looked forward to those stairs each week when her family lunched at The Lotus. It was not the food for which she had visions in her head, it was the music. Most of all it was the music that made her love those stairs.

In movies of the 1930s and 1940s, supper clubs were portrayed as places where big stars and popular bands such as Glenn Miller’s played, but far more common were the sort that hosted local musicians. Still, patrons dressed up and enjoyed a time out, dining and dancing, and maybe a floor show, without spending a fortune.

 Located in the capital, The Lotus got the best bands of the era and she got to dance out on that shiny floor with them all. Twirling in and out between the soldiers and their girls taking that last dance of leave, or when she was held in her daddy’s arms, the thrill was always there. Music was in her heart and she just had to move and be a part of the magic she felt.

This particular Sunday she had the dance floor for a few minutes all by herself and she swirled and dipped to the live music with her curls flying in the air and was just having the best of time before her father interrupted her short solo by leading her back to the table. It was also on this particular Sunday that her life could’ve gone in another direction. A talent scout from Hollywood just happened to be lunching at the Lotus that afternoon and thought that this little dancing girl should go to Hollywood for a screen test. After all Shirley Temple was a big star and he thought he saw something with the same star quality in this little curly haired girl who loved to dance. 

Her parents said politely to the Hollywood gentleman, “Thank you very much, but no.” They didn’t want their daughter to be in the movies. That was the end of that, as far as her parents were concerned, but certainly not the end of her love for music, or dancing, or just being herself. 

The author Virginia Woolf once said, “Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind is written large in his works.” 

 And so, my friends, that was my life during the war when I was four. And in the end, it turned out, I did it anyway. All by myself. My way. Written large.

Copyright Sandra Hart 2015. All rights reserved. 


Erasing Memories

We all have memories of our childhood. Hopefully, more good ones than bad. And if you’re like me many of those memories are attached to where we have lived. The houses that cradled our family are still so strong in my mind.

The house where I was born and I grew up was my grandma’s big house in Washington, D.C. not far from Embassy Row. I remember running through the echoing high ceiling rooms, roller skating while holding onto the high iron fence, rummaging through the garbage out near the alleyway, and pushing the cat out the window to see if it could fly. (Oh, if I could only take that back!)

After the war and after my grandmother died we moved to an industrial town in south eastern Ohio. Our house in Steubenville was much smaller and not quite as grand as grandma’s big old mansion, but it was home and I have very fond memories of living there.

The square yellow house had a great big porch that ran the length of the front of the house with big fat balustrades and a high railing. Daddy put a porch swing at one end and mother filled the rest of the space with comfortable wicker furniture. This was the outdoor space in the summers where my brother and I and all of our friends would sit in the evenings and play canasta and laugh with our friends.

Mother filled the backyard with beautiful flowers along its borders and Daddy kept the deep green grass in the center mowed into a velvet carpet in the summer.

Now, the further the years take me away from that time in my life, the more I appreciate the days that I lived in that industrial south eastern town and the care that my parents put into that square box of a house filled with home cooked meals and family antiques.

My housing journey and the years that followed would comprise of New York City apartments, a house in the Pittsburgh suburbs, and finally a home on the shores of New Jersey where I have spent the last 42 years overlooking the beautiful Atlantic Ocean.

I have boxes on top of boxes. Boxes filled with photographs of my life in these houses of past days of living that I cherish.

They say you never can go home again. That is true. But in my case not only can I never go home again, but my houses are gone. Gone. Only in my photographs and in my memory do they exist.

My childhood home in Washington DC no longer is there. When I was in college I went back to visit my old home and it was nothing but a paved parking lot. The owners who bought the house from my father turned it into an apartment building. The tenants in the heart of Washington destroyed the building and it was eventually torn down. My pilgrimage was much too late.

The other day my cousin sent me pictures of my old home in that small industrial town that has suffered the closure of the steel mills and the businesses that were supported by the workers and the steel mills. And although it is still standing it has been torn apart into something of an old drunk, ravaged by wear and tear and hard living. Today the scenic hill overlooking the city that once was haven for all of us children and families has been turned into a ghetto. La Belle View now is anything but what its name visualizes. I didn’t even recognize it from the picture. The big porch was gone, the balustrades are no longer there and the verdant hedges lining the porch are gone and the sloping lawn that goes down to the street is grassless. The windows in the house have been changed to tiny slits like sad eyes looking out onto the deteriorating neighborhood.

I honestly wish I hadn’t seen those pictures. I didn’t want to destroy the wonderful memories I had of our beautiful house and velvet green lawn. Memories of wonderful neighbors and of my friends. And my grade school and church that have now disappeared forever, leveled to the ground for whatever reason. Gone.

One by one the childhood homes that have nurtured me have either disappeared or changed forever.

Last week I had an offer from someone who wanted to buy my New Jersey shore home. Their plans are to tear it down completely and start over and build a McMansion overlooking the ocean. Take a bulldozer and eat away at the windows and the high cathedral ceilings that have been my eyes to the outside world for all of these years. “No thank you,” I said. How much money will it take to erase my entire life’s living in homes that I have loved? To never be able to ever come back to any home that has ever given me Haven. I hate to think that that is the way I am going to walk off into the sunset.





Memories Lost


I have such vivid memories of my childhood that have remained with me throughout my life. I never thought it was unusual, pondering events of a life lived, and to be honest, as a writer, I have often found a certain degree of comfort reconciling my days here through those memories. Sometimes I think it is as though our lives have been a movie in which we are the spectator.

Washington D.C. 1943…..

The bed was so big my brother and I could stretch out our arms and only our fingertips would touch.  The lights were on, but I was scared. My parents were hurrying to pull down the long dark blinds to cover the high windows in our bedroom because the sirens started to blare outside breaking the silence of evening. The noise was deafening and was coming in waves, over and over again.  

Then, when I wanted the safety of the night lights, my mother shut the switch. We were swallowed up. Darkest of darkness. My brother and I lay there in that black hole, sheets over our heads, with the sirens wailing in waves and I shook. I shook in fear of what it could be.  I had seen those awful scary pictures of war in the movies about the bombs and broken houses like ours.

My brother and I knew this was an air raid because we had been through them before, but each time our fears were real. Maybe this time. Maybe this time real bombs were coming. 

To this day, I remember the fear. I can still hear those sirens. And I still remember my relief when after the sirens stopped nothing happened to us. We weren’t dead.

In conversations I have had with my older brother throughout the years about our childhood, he remembers very little. He, for some reason, has scant recall of our lives as children. Was it so unimportant  that he walked through our past without holding on to it as I did? Or is his mathematical mind wired differently than my creative one?  I have always been highly sensitive and aware of my surroundings. Sherman always seemed absent. So smart. There, but not.

Sherman’s one standout memory of our childhood in Washingon is of when the large cement urn at the top of our outside steps crumbled and fell, pinning his leg, the inner steel stake plunging through his calf. A traumatic incident that left a permanent scar and for some reason his recollections are only made of this one terrible event. Perhaps this is Sherman’s emotional event that allowed his short term childhood memory to transfer to his long term memory.

Dr. Rudolph Tanzi, co-author of Super Brain, tells us that within our hippocampus in our brain our short term memory attaches it to something emotional so that it will transfer to long term memory. But where all of these memories are stored we don’t know. The neuroscientists don’t know either. Not yet anyway.  On the other hand, Deepak Chopra, the author and holistic/New Age guru, takes the Eastern view that they are stored in the soul.

Whichever theory you want to believe, since we really don’t know, one truth we all can agree upon is that we each store memories that are our own. So when the sirens stopped and the war was over, my brother and I got our own beds and I traveled unknowingly alone with my memories.

Sandra Hart Copyright 2014. All rights reserved