Friday, February 25, 2011
Happy Birthday, dear Mark - and thanks for the memories, the forty years of friendship, and oh yeah, your recipe for teriyaki chicken wings ...
I had just typed a wonderful ode to the State University of New York at New Paltz, and the beginning of my friendship with the birthday boy, when my computer took an odd path, blacked out for two seconds, and wiped the whole thing out, despite the fact that Blogger saves a draft as you go ... I am really bummed. I had evoked great images of planes over Kennedy Airport, my chubby little body shlepping up Mount Mohonk, the ax murderer, the first joint I was ever offered ... all gone. According to my horoscope, my lucky time of day was 7 AM, which came and went and took some of my best writing with it. Damn, spit, and dirty socks!
So without further ado, let me jump ahead to my first day in Freshman English, known as Lit and Comp I. My professor was Anthony "Tony" Robinson, a not-so-famous author (think Donald Sutherland's Professor Dave Jennings from "Animal House") whose father, Henry Morton Robinson, was a famous author. That class was notable for several events, not the least of which was my spilling an entire cup of hot chocolate over my copy of Seven Centuries of Verse, Professor Robinson's rather ribald interpretation of Coleridge's poem "Kubla Khan", and the fledgling beginnings of friendships that would last a lifetime.
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
One of the students I met in that class was Mark Fendrick. He, like me, was just 17 years old, unable to go to the many bars and taverns lining the streets of our college town (legal drinking age was 18 in those days.) He had been raised in Brooklyn, more specifically in Flatbush, not all that far from where I had lived before my family emigrated to Long Island just eight years ago. He loved Star Trek and music and good food. We were both "LHS" graduates - his was Lafayette High School in Brooklyn, mine was Lawrence High School in Cedarhurst. We had both participated in Government in Action 1970, held at my high school, during the semester prior to graduation, and may have actually met then ... we certainly passed each other in the halls. We were both Jewish, and the oldest sibling in our respective families.
A fast friendship was formed, along with others in that class - my hallmate, and later roommate, Kathy Pieplow, Barbara Chlanda, and Sandy Osherofsky, my companion on my trip down off of Mount Mohonk. We had earned the dubious distinction of being the last two freshman to return from that fateful foray in the Shawangunk Mountains, holding up 998 other tired freshman and a fleet of school buses.
I am certain I cannot reduce the fabric of our lives into one blog post, and I won't even try. Here is the Reader's Digest version though: from that very first class, Mark became enamored of Sandy. She saw him early on as a friend, and dated different students, but as he told me, he was going to wait for her. And he did, and she did, and they did get married the month after college graduation. I was their maid of honor.
June 30, 1974
One other thing Mark and I had in common was our love of cooking. After we got off the food plan at college, we started cooking for ourselves, limited only by a complete lack of cooking equipment. I had a hot plate with two settings - on and off. Plus an old teflon frying pan and one small enamel pot that my mother had provided. But I had discovered the joy of cooking for others, and my college friends didn't seem to mind that I was making do with ground beef, a can of green beans, and ketchup.
Mark and I were self-taught cooks. We read recipes, tasted new dishes, and experimented freely. Nothing has changed except our access to more exotic ingredients and much better cooking equipment. We started out cooking for our respective spouses and friends, and as time went on we cooked for our kids ... and in Mark's case, his grandkids.
This is a recipe I remember Mark preparing, circa 1975, in the one bedroom apartment he and Sandy shared on Avenue S in the Gravesend section of Brooklyn. It was so good, and so easy, I snagged the recipe and then years later, included it as one of my submissions to a cookbook put together by the Sisterhood of Congregation Shalom Aleichem in Kissimmee. I am probably going to have to add photos of the finished dish sometime later this weekend, but if you check over here (don't forget to click on this link) you will find the recipe.
Mark and Sandy with daughter Iris; Mark and Sandy with grandson Sean ... or is it Lukas?
Left to right: my husband Rob; Kathy's husband, Alan; Sandy Osherofsky Fendrick;
Kathy Pieplow Westrich; me; Mark Fendrick.
Did I mention that Kathy and Alan owned a deli and did catering for about 30 years? I've got some wonderful recipes from Kathy ... but that's another blog post.