Lois Keating Learned
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The last of six children, I was 5 years younger than my sister. She and my four older brothers were all born within eight and a half years; thus I’m an only child in a big family. The older five were born during affluent years, while I arrived in the middle of the Great Depression. My father was a stock broker and a member of the New York Stock Exchange, not the best profession for those times. He had earned a degree in engineering from Yale in 1913 and designed and built the large Tutor-style home in which we all grew up. It was located in a prosperous middle-class village on Long Island, called Garden City.

Even though the public schools there were highly rated, my siblings attended a private elementary school in Lawrence Long Island, about 40 minutes away from Garden City. They all went away to boarding school for the high school years and then attended Yale University in New Haven, CT. World War II interrupted their schooling, so they immediately went into business after 1945. Nancie, my sister, attended various high schools and spent a year at LaValle U. in Québec, Canada, finishing up at a secretarial school before getting married in 1952.

During the eighth grade the Garden City students were given various tests for a tracking system in the high school. Quiet little me, with a late October birthday, tested, surprisingly high and it was recommended that I also should go to a private high school for a more challenging education. Even though this was a financial burden for my father, off to Massachusetts I went to attend Foxhollow School in Lenox. The scenery won me over as well as Miss Farrell, the headmistress and English/History teacher. The work was challenging but very interesting and coordinated. English History and literature of the same period – i.e. Queen Elizabeth I and Shakespeare – were taught together and Art History and Music Appreciation also covered the same historical time.

My mother’s family did not aspire to higher education, but my parents were persuaded to send me to Connecticut College (then only for women) in New London, CT. I thoroughly enjoyed those four years and am still active in alumni affairs.

After college I worked in New York City at an advertising agency as a ‘Girl Friday’ doing all sorts of work, but soon tired of this humdrum existence and commuting from Garden City. My father’s retirement and the sale of our home, forced me to make some changes. I found a job teaching nursery school in Locust Valley and an apartment in nearby Oyster Bay. To my pleasant surprise I discovered I loved teaching and went on to get an MA from Hofstra University and began teaching second grade at Buckley Country Day School in Manhasset, eventually teaching Fifth Grade at the East Woods School in Oyster Bay, retiring after more than 15 years there.

During the summer vacations I travelled. First to South America – Peru and Chile – and managed to get a year off to teach in Nagoya, Japan, traveling home the long way around the world.

Though I had been engaged to be married soon after graduating from college, I didn’t take that big step until 1972, when I married Leslie Learned. We had known each other for years as his first wife also taught at Buckley. Some months after her death we met again at a friend’s house and cupid got busy with those arrows! Les was a bit older than I and retired six months after we married. We had 15 marvelous years together. I’m still in touch with his son Stuart and wife, Sherry, who live in Florida and their sons and their families. Christopher and Doreen live with their son and daughter in California and John and Linda are on Long Island with their two girls.

Eventually I sold our large home in Centerport and moved to a smaller cape-style house in nearby Greenlawn. With most of my family and friends gone from Long Island, in 2009 I moved to a continuous-care community in Southbury, CT. One niece, Libby and her husband live close by in Newtown, and two others, Mary and Suzy live with their families on the shore in Rowaton and Greenwich. It’s a great community and I have made many friends here, but I do miss Long Island, my old friends and especially its expansive beaches and the Atlantic Ocean.

Lois Learned
Southbury, CT ©2012

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Lois' stories on Story Chip

Summers

From the age of 7 until I was 16 and had a driver’s license, my transportation was relegated to a bicycle. At 12, I was given an “English” bike, which was larger and lighter than my balloon-tired one, and had gears! Now progressing up hills or against the wind was a much easier chore. After Memorial...

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Just Another Day

In September the air in New York City was fresh on this particular day in 2001. It was sunny and I wished I didn’t have to stay inside, down in a dark and damp cellar, filling half-pint jars with cucumbers and other vegetables for the Historical Association’s annual pickle festival. As it was our...

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Books of Childhood

My town did not have a public library until the 1960s. Before that, it was assumed that everyone in this upper-middle-class community would have a good selection of books at home. Fortunately, the public schools had adequate libraries for the elementary students. Once a week we’d have ‘library’ for...

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Brown vs. The Board of Education

Eons ago, when I was in college, I took a course on a dare. The course was “American Political Thought”. It was taught by Professor Dilly — and she was — a dilly. This particular day she entered the classroom with a pile of books, which she slammed on her desk to immediately get our undivided...

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Family Christmases

Early Christmas morning, we six children would get up, rush to the living room and the pile of beautifully wrapped presents under the decorated tree, tearing them open and then ‘oohhing’ and ‘ahhing’ over them. Eventually, we’d carefully thank the person who’d given this or that to us. Finally, we’d...

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Music In The 1940s

Feb.12, 2015 Any music/musicians’ strike in the 1940s is a mystery to me. My mother took me to many musical comedy shows during those years, starting with Oklahoma! As the eldest in her family, she had been required to sit in the family’s box at the opera on too many Saturday afternoons and...

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The Ambulance Ride

“Jesus, it’s 6 a.m. and I’ve ambulance duty today! I better get showered, dressed and down to the station. I think I can grab some breakfast there. Suzy, the nurse on duty tonight, usually leaves some good muffins.” Tim muttered to himself as he struggled to get out of bed and perform his morning...

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Dating

Looking back at ‘Our Day’ dating was not as informal as it is now. ‘Proper’ young ladies just didn’t ‘pick-up’ a fella, she was introduced to someone presented to her by her family or by a friend of the family, or it could be someone from your school or someone met at a suitable setting, such as...

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Preserving Produce

During World War II many articles were rationed and one needed coupons to purchase scarce items, such as shoes and gasoline. Everyone tried to contribute to the war effort. My grandfather, who had a large summer home, with about an acre behind it, decided to establish a Victory Garden and share the...

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Foxhollow - High School Graduation

Having heard of my contemporaries’ graduations and having attended many ceremonies of the younger generations, I know mine was unique. The last three years of high school I attended a private girls’ school in Lenox, MA that was composed of about 70 students coming from all parts of the USA. Most of...

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Gift for a B.A.

Gift for a B.A. Back in the late 1950’s, when I was just out of college, I attended a large wedding for one of my cousins. While waiting on a long reception line after the ceremony, I began a conversation with a middle-aged lady wearing a black lace dress, which ended in mid-calf. A small white...

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Raising Boys vs. Girls

As the youngest of six children – four boys and two girls – I guess you’d say I’ve some experience in a ‘mixed’ family. Though my brothers were seven to fourteen years older than I, and were away at boarding school, college and World War II when I was young, I do remember some differences. My mother...

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Medecine Back When

In the late 1930’s and 1940’s, when I was a child, medicine was practiced much differently than today. For one thing, doctors made house calls. Perhaps there were more doctors per capita than there are today. Now, doctors not only have the large cost of their education, but also the exorbitant...

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Lois' First Car

My First Car After learning to drive at 16, I longed to have my own car and not have to rely on my parents’ permission to use the family ‘jitney’. Fortunately, a friend of mine, Seth Jagger, had restored a 1934 coup-convertible he had found in a barn in Vermont and flat-bedded it back to Long Island...

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Driving A Motor Scooter - Japan - 1965

Near the end of my stay in Japan, one of the trustees asked me if I’d like to use his motor scooter during the spring term. I was elated! No longer would I be a prisoner of the transit system, nor would I have to worry about carrying home the many groceries I bought for our three-person household....

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Clothing We Wore Growing Up

Saddle shoes are the first bit of clothing I remember fondly. Before that I wore horrible ‘Oxfords’. They were slippery soled tied shoes, usually in brown, and were part of the uniform for the Parochial School of the 1940’s. I was so happy when I went to the public school in the fourth grade and...

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Greatest Generation

According to Tom Brokaw, the greatest generation was the people who survived The Great Depression of the 1930’s and World War II. That group would include my four brothers and some cousins, including Jeanne Bevier Trenholm, who served in the W.A.C.S., the Women’s Auxiliary Corps Service. My oldest...

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Anticipation

Years ago, I imagined that, unlike the earth traveling around the sun in an ellipse, I’d think of the year as a square; not a rectangle, but square with four equal sides. Starting the beginning of September, the top of this imaginary square ran through the fall to the end of December. The right side...

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That Lucky Old Son

CLOSED FOR THE SUMMER, read the marquee over the local movie theater. Just two weeks before in late July, I remember going with my friends to the Wednesday matinee to see “Twelve O’clock High”. We had given up a beautiful, sunny afternoon to see the film as we knew the boys would be going, too. The...

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Parents

My parents, William (Bill) Keating and Anne Pierson were born in Brooklyn, New York and grew up there, attending brother-sister schools, Polly Prep and Packer Collegiate Institute. They probably had known each other since grade school. Mother often spoke of her many ‘beaus’ (boy-friends in today’s...

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