Ingrid Gorman and Anita Gorman

Recorded May 3, 2020 Archived May 3, 2020 36:43 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: APP2257900


Ingrid Gorman: 2020-05-03 15:43:12 Ingrid Gorman (56) interviews her mother Anita Gorman (81) about her recent birthday during the COVID-19 pandemic, a brief history of her career, and what she is doing now in retirement, as well as the lockdown. Sneak peek: she is practicing her violin, writing short stories, and learning multiple languages online.


  • Ingrid Gorman
  • Anita Gorman

Interview By



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00:00 Hi, Mom. Did you go to church this morning?

00:06 No, we're having a virus quarantine time. I was in church and was the first know the Second Sunday in March. I played the organ in Leetonia and then everything closed down.

00:22 So, have you and Dad been doing any Zoom masses?

00:26 A little. Now, one of the ones that I find really interesting is the mass in Sweden on the island of gotland in the Baltic. Sea. I found out about the priest originally from Youngstown, Ohio, who then went to Santa Barbara and worked there for a long time. And now he's the pastor of the church in the medieval town of visby and he had, he has a mass in English, once in a while and then he has amassed the Swedish obviously most of the time and he's good. And I'm trying to get the mass Parts in Swedish on the internet so far. I have not been successful but my Swedish is getting better. So that's that's been kind of interesting.

01:20 Well, I I sometimes I tune in to am a sin on in Zoom, but it's very strange to see an empty church. I know, I know the way I didn't see a little bit of Saint Michael's that yesterday and the sound was just not very good. It was a great big Echo. Yeah. I know. It's it's, it is strange. It's almost better to listen on the radio. I've done that a few times. Oh good idea. Good idea.

01:55 Well, thanks for doing this, with me on Sunday morning. I've been wanting to interview you and Dad for storycorps for a, for a long time. And since you both have birthdays recently, and we're in the middle of this covid-19, pandemic. I thought it was a very good time to do this. I'm sure it's a very unusual episode in your lives and are probably like nothing, like nothing you've experienced before and in your 80 + years. So I asked you, this question. What was it like to turn 81? You turned 81 on April 26th. What was it like to have a birthday in lockdown?

02:42 It was very quiet. But on the other hand, a lot of people contacted me, by phone was nice to have you and my granddaughter Imaging singing. Happy Birthday via some sort of video call in Google Hangouts. I do have a Facebook page and a lot of people contacted me via Facebook, or my email. And I had a number of card, so I didn't find reading 81 to be

03:23 Traumatic, I don't really read Lexi 80. You must have been visiting us When I Was 80, right last year and you gave me this really nice watch that. I'm wearing my bowling watch, which I thought was really do know, you came, you came to Maryland, you and daddy came to Maryland, but you did give me the Bulova watch. Yes, which I thought was cool partly because my first watch was a Bulova watch and it was given to me when I graduated from Junior High School and it was a combination birthday present and Junior High present and Confirmation present. I think I'm at watch. Told you, you have that watch. I think they'll have your washer and they watched listed at $50, which is a lot of money. This was in 1952.

04:23 And but that was Amanda down the street from us to work for the Bulova. Watch Company. My parents were able to get a deal and then, my father made me memorize the serial number on the watch, because that later to see if the serial number is correct. Well, I am not surprised one, and Grandpa made you, memorize the serial number that is perfectly in keeping with his personality and two. I am not surprised that you still remember it.

05:05 Is your memory is like nobody else is except for maybe my brother Peters.

05:11 Memory.

05:12 Do you know, I want to talk about what you've been doing. But before we do that, because you've been doing some interesting thing since, well 1 since you been retired and two from both jobs and two since we we've been in lockdown, but before we start talking about that, I think

05:35 In order to understand why you're doing what you're doing and be good to to for you to talk about your career. Just just stay in 5 minutes, capsulize your career.

05:49 If you can say and what you did up until just recently, all right, they going all the way back. I went to Queens College in New York City, majored in English. Then went to the University of Wisconsin, where I earn a master's degree in English. I started the doctoral program there, but I was tired at the end of that first year of doctoral studies. I was tired of school and I wanted to get married and I didn't have anybody to marry and I wanted to have children. So I ended up teaching and in Boston at Emmanuel, College girls college, and those are my best students ever. It's very interesting to me that my first students for my, for my best and whatever my second students cuz I was a teaching fellow. It was constant. Also, and then I met your father.

06:49 Boston, we got married in New York. We move to Chicago. You, and your brother were born in Chicago. Then we went to Ann Arbor, Michigan. So Daddy could get a masters in public. And by the time we got to Benton Harbor, Michigan, I was ready to go back to work until I was hired to teach one freshman composition class, and it was in an evening class at met once a week. I think, from 7 p.m. To 10 p.m. That's, my memory would think the very long time, and that was at Lake Michigan college. And that I did that for a couple of years then we moved to

07:35 Ohio and I was hired to teach part-time at Youngstown, State University me while I fell into the job of the doing music at our local Parish. I started the folk group because the new pastor realize that I could play the guitar and then eventually, I became the choir director. Meanwhile, I started taking organ lessons because I thought that would be kind of an interesting things to do and immensely

08:12 So, one thing or another, I went back to doctoral work, and so in 1985, when I was 46 years old, I went to Penn State University and it took me five years to earn my doctorate. After that. I was hired at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania. I spent 17 years there. Oh my gosh, I can't believe it was 17 years was from 1990 to 2007. I retired at the age of 68 and I continue to do music and of course by this time. I might not have been playing the organ for a for many years. So all in all I taught

09:02 443 years English mostly. Yes, I did teach third grade in Chicago. The year before you were born at St. Pascal school and I taught High School one year and that year up teaching high school was what convinced me that I ought to go back and get my doctorate.

09:26 So I taught both part-time and full-time for 43 years and I did church music for 40 years, I believe and so now I am retired. Although I've had some substitute job playing the organ here and there but of course that's not happening at the moment. So I said, I guess I wouldn't say something.

09:58 I think my brother takes after you and really having an affinity for English and writing and reading and I gravitated more towards science, but you did have a huge influence on me in terms of music and I think that that that

10:20 Influence happened in several ways. One is that one of the first records that Peter, and I ever played was a Beatles record that you had. And the other one was revolver. And then also, you had, you had other kinds of Folk Music like Simon & Garfunkel and Judy Collins, Joan Baez, and then I can remember hearing what I might call now, Appalachian or Mountain Music. I don't know if you were playing radio or if it was the stereo.

11:06 And and then, of course, I we took. I took music lessons. So I don't remember how that happened. If that if you decided that I needed to have piano lessons when I was six or more probably probably. And I'm still involved with music today. And I and I think that I always thought I was curious that you loved Irish Celtic music so much, even though you're one-hundred-percent Swedish. I wasn't sure how you decided that I'm a hundred percent Swedish. My parents aren't sweet. And however, I had a DNA test and I'm only, I don't know, a-tee, some 88% Scandinavian, apparently, and I'm a little bit. I'm a little bit English. They tell me in a little bit, northern Europe, whatever that mean. So, but I think Celtic music is great. It's just wonderful.

12:06 Pandora bright right now. I'm taking Scottish fiddle lessons. So so I think the appreciate it, I am classical. I I listen to a lot of classical music a bit but usually ancient Kroger or earlier and so the music appreciation is definitely something I inherited and I'm and I always appreciate that and I tell people about that, people ask me. Well, that's good. And of course my interested in music was encouraged by my father, who is a very good mandolin player. And he could play the piano by ear and I found out much much later that his mother.

12:52 Play the piano, the organ in the guitar, and she actually play in a, in a church for a while. So I find that really interesting. Also, his dad Grandpa's dad far, far, far, right, now,, I can't forget him know. I wait to leave the trombone, right? I wish I had met him. He played the trombone and in a brass septet. That was composed of workers that Alfred Nobel is Munitions Factory in poop or Sweden and I have his violin.

13:37 And he played the violin. I even have some music that he copied by hand and classic, mostly classical music. And so I've been playing his violin. I've been learning the violin pretty much since I retired from teaching English.

13:57 Well, and I have a picture of that band that on top of my piano with his trombone.

14:07 Well, that's why it's a great summary of of your your career and and how some of your interests are laid into a job at Saint Michael's Parish for four decades.

14:20 And in fact, I did not know that you had started your doctorate at the University of Wisconsin. If I ever knew that I forgot that funny, I know what it was like to be one of the youngest students because I was 21 when I finished my Master's Degree 51.

14:45 Could be an older students, as well as students are. There were a number of us who graduated from high school at the age of 16. I still say that. That's the reason I'm still socially backward at the age of 81, but,

15:10 I'm not sure what what the whole purpose was to know. But anyway, we were able to do it.

15:19 So tell us what you've been spending your time doing these days. You're no longer the organist at St. Michael's your your you retired a long time ago from your teaching job. So, how are you spending your days?

15:38 Well, I consider myself a writer and I've been told that important important to say that I am a writer and I'm not sure what I did the first few years after I stopped teaching English. I think I probably just focused on on church music, but I decided to get back to writing short stories. When I was in high school. Mr. Levy my senior English teacher, had us all write a short story and he sent mine into a competition and I won the district prize for the borough of Queens. Either. I still have it. I have a metal to prove that so that was that was an aspiring. So I always thought I'd like to get back to that as as an English Professor. I did a lot of academic writing.

16:37 And I did some poetry also and I had some poems published, but it wasn't until I think 2014 that I joined a local writing group because I wanted to be motivated. I'm always.

16:55 Looking for ways to be to do something to be motivated to do whatever it is. I want I want to do and so I started going to the writing group when I knew that every month. I have to show up with something but I could share and I started getting some stories published in various obscure places. And so I now have had 40 short stories published and 17 essays. So I've done essay. Is that a memoir as I did some traveling essays for an online magazine in California? I I I did an essay about a young man with who had Down syndrome. That was just published.

17:45 Last December. So,

17:51 And I I recently joined a subgroup of a story of Daya. Org because I wanted more motivation and may is the month when Julie Duffy who has that group sent out crops every single day. So I made a promise that I would do that and I'm also now a member of of her Superstars which is interesting because you become part of a writing community. And example, way. I have a buddy for this week. We've communicated to bed since she gives us a pep talks and and she has had online writing sessions during the quarantine. I found those extremely useful. She did some free riding session on 90 minutes matter. Fact, there's one there's one today at 1.

18:50 And so it's expensive. Zoom. I can see the other people. They can see me and we have a little bit of a chat and then we write for 20 minutes and then we chat again and see. If this goes on for an for an hour and a half. I have found those extremely useful and

19:16 I should be writing every single day. I don't necessarily right every single day. But obviously, during the month of May, I will because of her prom, but I also one thing I do every day without fail and I've done at the something like 331 days, but who's counting is Duolingo? I started that because I wanted to learn some more Swedish. Since I was going to sweeten last summer, to make a distant cousin and go to a festival about immigration and that was very interesting but it died. So I started doing the Swedish and and now I do one thing or another language is I'm doing French Spanish German.

20:11 Italian Swedish Scottish Gaelic and then I just completed the Latin course, but they keep making me. Go back and do some more.

20:23 Exercises. And I'm not quite sure why I thought you taught Latin.

20:33 Think I should be going back to do the review exercises. I taught Latin one-on-one at Slippery Rock. I had a couple of student and during my to sabbatical semesters. I studied Latin I had taken Latin in high school. I loved it. I took some more Lampman in college. I did a senior honors thesis on Alexander Pope's imitations of Horace using both the Latin and English. I still have that that's almost 200 pages. I remember.

21:11 Delivering that and having having the whole thing fall on the bus and then what papers all over the place. So, anyway, but I just, I do enjoy studying languages and I have studied French Spanish and Latin in school, very, I have in the past very informally, studying a tiny bit of German in a little bit more Italian, but the Scottish galic, I chose because I started taking Scottish fiddle lessons online with a professor. From Westminster College in Pennsylvania, and I did started that last fall because my regular violin teacher moved away and I really had always wanted to do a little more than classical violin. Anyway, so

22:05 What's the difference between a fiddle and a violin?

22:10 You're allowed to spill beer on us, right? That's right. They put music in front of you and you're able to play and if they take the music away and you can't play, you're playing a violin player. Can't play, they take it away. You can play different music and different techniques ornament. I've managed to master a couple of them, not all of them, but I'm getting better cuz I I I do to try to do that every day for at least a half hour or more and then I also have been playing the piano during the time of quarantine because I want to keep up my keyboard skills since I expect that.

23:10 I'll be doing some substituting.

23:12 Again, yeah. And

23:20 Well, let me ask you a question before it before you before we talk about what you're doing with music. You said you were taking Scottish Gaelic. I was signed up to take an Irish. What's the difference between Irish and Scottish Gaelic? I didn't know there was, I just thought it was Gaelic. I was signed up to exchange such as Max. I believe, Max on the Isle of Man. So they're all related news. For example, Swedish Norwegian and danish are all related, but they're different. So, I would say when I can.

24:03 In a free samples Plancha, seems to be the same guy. I find it really difficult because the the words just don't seem to relate to do anything else. Where is with with French and Spanish and Italian, and German and Swedish relationships that I can be in a either. For example, Swedish and German are related. And so I was at the word for ready in Swedish is fair day in the world.

24:42 Ready is fair to condemn in German? So they help each other in a little, in some ways. I was sometimes, they can confuse me as well, and then Spanish and French and Italian, all derived from Latin.

25:00 That I've encountered so far. That's the same as English has cat.

25:06 Cat. It's just that cat is Cat. Yeah.

25:11 I had this idea a theory that when you look at Gaelic and you see how words are spelled, and then it's got nothing to do at all with how the word is pronounced. Maybe they made it that way on purpose, like a secret Club. That's an idea. That's a very good idea. Right? As I was going to take, it was going to be downtown DC, but it was cancelled because of the shortly. We went into lockdown, right around that right around that time. I think they have Irish on Duolingo.

25:52 You could take a look at it. I could take a look at it. I'm doing a lot of things right now too. But it's I'm trying to be more creative artistically. I took out the watercolor paints that don't tell Dad but I I painted a birthday cake.

26:09 I painted, lots of birthday cakes. They're all crap. But the one that I think looked the best I made into a little card and put in the mail yesterday. So that's great. They didn't have the right flavor. I think I'm going to keep trying and trying and trying to paint that birthday cake. You inherited your father's artistic ability. He's an excellent artist and I wish he were doing more art. And I appreciate the fact that when you have visited recently, you've encouraged him to help you with watercolors, do it and see how the paints

27:00 Yeah, different from anything else I've ever tried. I don't think he's ever done Wiles. Watercolors are his favorite. I hate to put down a krillex. Well, speaking of painting. I see that. I'm glad that you are in the, in the, my old bedroom, which you've converted your office, and I really appreciate that. You kept the painting on the walls. That aren't that I did. When I was a kid. I can't remember when I painted that for a wonder how. I, I don't know. But I remember being grateful that you, let me paint on the walls. There's a rainbow. There's even a little

27:42 Teddy bear. I think that's a sticker, isn't it? I think that might be a sticker. Yeah, I was in high school at the time that I painted the rainbow. And the reason I remember that is that I was taking the trigonometry class and if I have been with Mr. Hoops.

28:04 Yeah, and he taught us how to draw a parabola with a pencil and a piece of string. I'm not sure I could do it, but I used pencil and a string and maybe a thumbtack and somehow I did the parabola, which is now the rainbow that you did. I painted on the wall. We've had the, the walls painted, but I just told the painter to leave, your decorations have stars on the ceiling.

28:39 There are there were stars in the sky with the clouds behind you glow in the dark stars. So I don't know if they're still there or they got killed off. That's for the stars were on the ceiling. Maybe.

29:02 I can do that tonight and then see if that's if they're still going and I'll let you know. Well, we just have a little bit more time. So you were starting to talk about the music you were doing your you're playing the fiddle. Are you doing your lessons online, your Scottish? I have a lesson once a month. The professor, Melinda Crawford / 2. She's excellent Fiddler. She runs the a, a school, a Scottish Middle School in the summer time, and she is, I probably would have been interested in that. I could have been the oldest Fiddler, kind of a kind of an interesting thing to be the oldest one around but she's going to do it online and I don't have to think about whether weather.

30:02 That would be a good idea for me. But we do an hour once a month and then between those times I cuz I said I try to practice everyday, I'm getting better. And I also on occasion, go online and look for a bar. License are on when they've always been online. Even before the quarantine. We use Skype.

30:31 But there are a lot of people online playing fiddle and teaching hospitals. That's kind of interesting. Once in a while. I'll go online to see what the tempo is for a particular song where I listen to how they do the the ornaments perhaps of his daddy has a beautiful singing voice and of course, he's been in the church choir with with you. All these years you guys talked about maybe

31:08 Forming some sort of musical Duo and M performing. We haven't done anything about that and we should I arrive at had even thought about about going to nursing homes and I'm doing a little act and he, he misses singing. So he just says he sings in the kitchen. A lot more things in the basement.

31:39 But yeah, we we should and I I did take my my classical guitar. That's the only one only have a classical guitar right now and I put it in the living room as a reminder. And of course, you know that we normally participate in do some more folk and traditional musicians, out of Salem, Ohio, and they only had online sessions for the last couple of weeks. And so maybe before too long, we'll be back to doing that. That's been very good for me because I am able to play the fiddle with the group without being embarrassed.

32:29 It's just very, very good practice. And then of course, your father plays the string bass in the harmonica. Oh, yeah. Yes, and it might be time to buy him another harmonica. I have to check with him because he is so. Fragile is the occasionally, a note won't play even though he's playing it. Well, I was thinking since it's so since we're all more or less confined to their homes and will be I think for a while. It's a great time for you guys to get your act together and then you can take it on the road when we open up.

33:17 You're right. Okay. Well, I'll talk to him later and see if he wants to start out with you guys, too. I've been thinking about that. We used to have family band. We need to need to do and I miss that I still have a folder. That's called family. Been out a lot of folders recently, but I kept that one. Oh good. I threw out the Latin folders. I thought I don't think I'm going to use these. I have like plenty of Latin books. I just don't need the folders with all her.

33:47 Photocopies.

33:50 So Mom, I think we're going to

33:54 We're going to wrap this up pretty soon. So I have I'm glad that we got together this Sunday morning. It's a little rainy and chilly here in Maryland. Was it like in Canfield Ohio? It's sunny. And I don't know how warm it is. I will say that your, your brother sent me a photo to photos of the outside of his house and I can see that your spring is more advanced than our f c. As I look out the window. I see some buds starting to come on a tree outside. We've had some flowers. I mean, the daffodils came up in the Tulips, but the fries still look very wintry right now. So, interesting. The temperatures have been strange. Maybe the trees are a little confused.

34:51 I don't know, could be. So I have an idea about how to, how to close this up. I was wondering if you could

35:00 Say, I love you in any all the languages, you know.

35:06 Okay, you didn't tell me why that's weird.

35:16 You should tell him that's French teamo, Spanish.

35:28 German ich liebe dich Latin would be down low. Not really sure. Don't ask me to do it in. Scottish.

35:46 I can't do that way. I could possibly blue. I think his is Russian. Yeah. I used to know a few phrases in Russian because when I met your father, he was in the Army and he was in the military intelligence unit in he was

36:05 Interrogator, so I always thought if any Russian parachuted into our backyard, your father would know exactly what to say. But what would you like to drink Lion's a piece? I think that's okay. Well, thanks for talking Mom. I love you too. Well, y'all got to schedule a meeting.