Friday, December 16, 2005
My friend and neighbor Lisa Neuman died on Dec. 2 at the age of 92. Lisa was an exemplary single woman who lived a full, interesting life. Viennese to the core, she loved well-made pastries and was a devotee of Claude’s patisserie on Fourth Street (though she hated the man and insisted he had once tried to kill his wife). Lisa earned a doctorate in psychology in Vienna, but came to New York in 1937 under the sponsorship of her aunt, a doctor, as the Nazi threat was looming. She got a master’s degree in social work from Smith College, and her first job was at a home for “wayward girls” in Hudson on the Hudson, a town long known for its red-light district. The bulk of her career was spent with the New York City school system. Lisa spoke at least four languages and was an avid world traveler until she was slowed down by macular degeneration. As her world shrank, she took delight in sitting in nearby Winston Churchill Park. If I spied her there, I would join her for a while. She once remarked that the little park was our “Versailles.” Don and I were often guests at Lisa’s Sunday supper parties, where the cast of characters included a water colorist, a pianist, a couple of shrinks, a clockmaker, and an Italian tailor named Pino. After one of these parties, a former co-worker of Lisa’s revealed that she didn’t work too hard during her last days at the Department of Ed. She was often on the phone gossiping with friends and bridge partners. I was happy to know that.