January 22, 2012

Newark, NJ. June, 1973

When I decided to make the leap from teaching for three years in a Catholic high school to a higher-paying job in a public school, I signed up for all the teaching credits I’d need (I had none) in one summer session. One of the classes was modestly called “Media,” and for my final project I planned an instructional slide show. About how to make strawberry preserves from start to finish. It starred my friend Nick and it was called The 39 Steps...to Strawberry Preserves. (I had to.) We began by going to the late-night farmers’ market “Down Neck” to buy the berries. Then headed to Nick’s family kitchen for the rest. Here he is hulling the washed berries, probably Step 4. Almost 40 years later, Nick is a seasoned professional with television appearances alongside Julia Child, Martha Stewart and all the rest. But I always remind him that I gave him his modest media start.


  1. Awww ... what a sweet photo! I don't know which is more sweetly delectable ... fresh young Nick ... or fresh strawberry preserves! The period wallpaper and wainscoting lend a homey touch, the marble top a touch of class. While that handsome chair suggests a family heirloom from Italy. This is truly one of those photos which improves with age ... rather like the subject himself.

  2. 39 Steps 39 years ago, oh my... I think the recipe came from the Alice B. Toklas Cookbook - I'll have to take a look and check. I loved that shirt - it started me on my lifelong addiction to tattersall...
    Ernest: The subject has definitely added girth with age! That baggy shirt was a small. The "heirloom" chair was Italian but part of our fairly new "dinette set" of faux-gilded wrought iron. It had recently replaced the default set that had come with the house, a rectangular formica-covered table that matched the countertops and chairs my father had reupholstered in light green bamboo-shade-textured Naugahide.