“When she told us that she grew up in Indiana, we impulsively asked her if she knew Larry Camp, another friend who grew up in Indiana, a painter living down on Lower Broadway. The expected answer was, ‘No, Indiana is a big state.’ But Barbara said, ‘Larry Camp! I know Larry Camp!’ They both grew up in Boonville, Indiana, and hadn’t seen each other since the 1950s. Yet here they both were, living in New York for years. It’s this sort of coincidence that enlivens the little island of Manhattan, equally surprising and not surprising. It was Christmas when Barbara invited Larry to dinner, and the boy she remembered now looked to her like Santa Claus. Barbara came to New York 50-odd years ago to sing, and she spent many years on many stages before becoming a teacher. Her students are a disparate bunch of singers who just love her to pieces. She lives with her husband Joe Gustern, himself an opera singer, in one of the last housing co-ops in the city still operating on a socialist agenda. She’s smart, elegant, and fun to go out with. She’s pretty and mischievous as a meerkat. She radiates enthusiasm and vitality even though she’s had more than her share of sadness. She’s an inspiration of bravery and appreciation for what matters in life and we are lucky to know her. It’s a privilege to offer this little sliver of her story.”
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