Local storyteller’s children’s book has meaningful message

Naomi Silvermintz is a consummate storyteller. As a docent at the Saint Louis Art Museum, she leads tours and tells stories, all scholarly, about the works of art, breathing life into sculpture and paintings, some of which are centuries old. She also told stories to her young grandchildren, but instead of ones about art, they were of racism. Her four grandkids — now ages 30, 27, 25 and 22 — loved the story about the brown egg and the white egg and urged her to tell it again and again. “It just came to me and I made it up. I wanted to give them an idea of how bad racism is and that you should not judge people by their color.” Naomi explained..

Now, you and your children and grandchildren can read Naomi Silvermintz’s The Brown Egg and the White Egg, which has just been published and is available at www.amazon.com. Twenty years ago, Naomi toyed with publishing the book, but gave up the project and went on with her life. Recently her daughter and son-in-law, Elaine and Dr. Robert Kaufman of Memphis, decided to surprise Naomi with the fait accompli, a fully illustrated and self-published book, preserving The Brown Egg and the White Egg for posterity. Beautifully and humorously illustrated by Diane Brunk, it is a heartwarming story for kids of all ages. Its dedication is to grandkids Jenny, Jay, Ben and Becky, but it is really a gift to all of us.

KAREN KALISH, one of my very special young friends, had the chutzpah to say to me, “Those of us of a certain age remember with great fondness the phrase, ‘Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg’ from the early days of television.” Some of us also remember Molly Goldberg from the early days of radio!

Now Karen is bringing to St. Louis from Washington D.C. Aviva Kempner, an award winning filmmaker who is in the process of producing a documentary on the life of Gertrude Berg, the creator of Molly Goldberg of the radio and TV series The Goldbergs. From 7 to 9 p.m. on Monday, April 6 at Central Reform Congregation, 5020 Waterman Avenue, Kempner will be previewing her work in progress, which captures the life of its star, Gertrude Berg. She hopes also to discuss how those in the audience can help with the movie, making the completion of it a reality.

Kempner, who just won an award at the San Diego Jewish Film Festival, has made an enormous commitment to preserving and chronicling our cultural past through her filmmaking. Along with many other important works — Partisans of Vilna and The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg — she founded the Jewish Film Festival in Washington D.C. Karen told me that Kempner’s efforts are even more impressive in light of the not-for-profit status of her filmmaking endeavors. So, in her words, “Don’t R.S.V.P. — just come to hear Aviva and see the film.”

JOANNE KOHN, Chairman of the Board of the Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park, is the inspiration and mover and shaker behind St. Louis’s mid-20th century treasure designed by the world famous architect. Anthony Alofsin, Professor of Architecture, Art and Art History at the University of Texas at Austin, will speak about “Frank Lloyd Wright, St. Louis and Organic Architecture” at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 3 in the Saint Louis Art Museum auditorium. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Professor Alofsin will explore some of the ties between St. Louis and Wright, including little-known connections to the 1904 World’s Fair, and will examine the deeper and broader meanings of his concepts of Organic Architecture. Ever since the publication of Nancy Horan’s popular novel, Loving Frank about the ill-fated affair between Wright and Mamah Cheney, there seems to be a great resurgence of interest in the eccentric architect, so I expect that there will be a sizeable crowd to hear professor Alofsin who is a world renowned expert on Frank Lloyd Wright. Incidentally, the history of our Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park, which was built in 1955, is a fascinating saga and can be found at www.ebsworthpark.org.

NATHANIEL AYERS, the protagonist of journalist Steve Lopez’s marvelous non-fiction book The Soloist, was a homeless and almost hopeless musician living on precarious highways in downtown Los Angeles. Rescued by Lopez, Ayers, a former Juilliard School student diagnosed at age 19 with schizophrenia, eventually made the move off the streets to a homeless shelter where he lived, practiced on a donated cello and, on occasion, attended Los Angeles Philharmonic concerts in Disney Hall, thanks to its then Director of Communications Adam Crane. Today, Adam is Director of Communications for the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra (SLSO).

Having told you all this I now come to the crux of the story. The SLSO is joining orchestras throughout the United States in an effort to relieve hunger. A national food drive inspired by The Soloist, Orchestras Feeding America, will be held on March 27 and 29. On those days, canned goods can be dropped off in the Food Outreach bins at Powell Symphony Hall, 718 North Grand Boulevard. The most needed canned items are tuna fish, turkey, chicken, salmon, corn, green beans, mixed vegetables, mandarin oranges, pineapple chunks and peaches.

In the United States there are literally hundreds of symphony orchestras. Their national drive should produce tons of canned food for the hungry. By the way, The Soloist, a film version of Lopez’s account of his relationship with Ayres, is scheduled for release in St. Louis on April 24.

Big question — who will play Adam Crane?