Last week, during our inaugural session of “Coffee with Dick & Sharon,” Sharon quizzed Dick about some of the turning points in his life that led to his view of the world in his senior years.
Dick talked of his youth on the outskirts of Minneapolis, reading a ton of books and playing a million hours of sandlot baseball at a local elementary school playground, before fleeing to the bright lights of Manhattan still as a teenager—followed by years wandering through his twenties as a sometime college student, infantry soldier, cab driver, bartender, and construction worker, before getting a grip on life in his thirties. (Okay, he didn’t actually go into that much detail, but we only had 20 minutes.)
This week, it’s Sharon’s turn. She talks of being raised, in part, by her beloved Uncle Leopold, a very “out” gay man—when that wasn’t the safest thing—who toured the world with the American Ballet Theatre and introduced Sharon to the biggest stars of the ballet.
She talks, too, of her childhood friend, Robin, who got caught up in Nixon’s—and America’s—War on Drugs (and Black men), and who was sent to Leavenworth Prison, where Sharon visited him. Before his death in prison, Robin would call Sharon for comfort and support, which would weigh heavily on Sharon’s heart since there was so little she could do for him.
In another vein, Sharon talks of getting yanked out of multicultural melting pot of The Bronx and Queens, to attending a nearly all-white high school in a white-flight neighborhood south of Los Angeles.
Her experiences there, among so many well-meaning white people, gave Sharon a stark vision of the trials she would face as an adult—an adult Black woman—in America, which in turn fed some of the passion that she pours in LA Progressive.
The two of us have turned some of Sharon’s high school experiences into a play, called “The Last Reunion,” which we’re still polishing and hoping one day to stage. Earlier in our writing process, our friends Tanya Verafield and James Bane corralled two of their actor friends to do a zoom table reading. Since then, we’ve shortened, polished, and polished again—but this can give a flavor if it.