May 27, 2015

Harry Potter

The Princeton Symphony Orchestra’s concert for children and families, “The Composer is Dead,” featured familiar musical works from “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” along with a murder mystery in which the children had to figure out which instrument led to the disappearance of PSO Music Director Rossen Milanov.

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The Spirit of Princeton led and sponsored the annual Memorial Day Parade Saturday, with marchers of all sorts taking part, some in kilts, some in plumed hats, some on bikes and in soap box derby carts. The parade was followed by a dedication ceremony at Monument Hall, where Retired Navy Captain John Baker was the featured speaker. Memorial Day thoughts are the subject of this week’s Town Talk. (Photo by Emily Reeves) 

May 22, 2015

Celebrate the achievements of the Class of 2015 with a customized Ad in the Town Topics Newspaper. Include a photo, a listing of future schools or simply a message of good luck. Full color Ads are available for a special fee. For pricing and publication requirements, contact Jennifer Covill at (609) 924-2200 ext. 31 or simply email


From left, Princeton Public Library Executive Director Leslie Burger, Janie Hermann, public programming librarian; and Peggy Birdsall Cadigan, Deputy State Librarian for Innovation & Strategic Partnerships, New Jersey State Library.

From left, Princeton Public Library Executive Director Leslie Burger, Janie Hermann, public programming librarian; and Peggy Birdsall Cadigan, Deputy State Librarian for Innovation & Strategic Partnerships, New Jersey State Library.

Princeton Public Library has received the 2015 Innovation Award from the New Jersey State Library Association for January’s popular how-to festival, “65 Things at 65 Witherspoon.” The daylong program, during which multiple, simultaneous demonstrations of a variety of skills and abilities took place throughout the library, was an opportunity for members of the community to share their talents with others. Library executive director Leslie Burger and public programming librarian Janie Hermann accepted the award last month during the State Librarians Breakfast at the NJLA Annual Conference in Long Branch. “The New Jersey library community is recognized nationwide for being innovative and forward-thinking ” said Hermann. “So to be recognized as innovators among this group, is a wonderful honor indeed.”

May 21, 2015

The American Boychoir School needs an infusion of $1 million and a new, more affordable location in order to stay open.

In his latest communication with funders and friends of the school, board chairman Rob D’Avanzo has written that the private boarding academy for fourth-to-eighth-grade boys will not begin another school year “unless we know we can finish it. Operating annually without a financial reserve is perilous, no matter how deeply we wish to continue delivering the school’s incredible programming.”

The Plainsboro-based school filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last month and began a fundraising campaign that enabled the students to finish out the school year. Approximately $360,000 was brought in the emergency campaign. The school’s Concert Choir toured the country in late April, and the Training Choir performed on a separate tour. Last weekend, graduation was held and the movie “Boychoir,” based on the school, opened at the Garden Theatre.

The American Boychoir School, founded in 1937 in Ohio and relocated to Princeton in 1950, was formerly located in a mansion on Lambert Drive that is currently home to the PRISMS Academy. ABS moved to its Plainsboro campus in 2013.

The board met for six hours to discuss the future following last Sunday’s graduation ceremony. “In the coming weeks, the board will be focused on whether it can secure both acceptable facilities and the financial commitments necessary to restructure the school,” Mr. D’Avanzo’s email reads. “When I wrote to you on April 10, I said that we would need $3 million to continue. Many of you have asked me whether we need all of that money in hand even before we can reopen. We do not, but we believe prudence necessitates that we obtain $1 million of committed funds to consider opening the school next year.”

The email says another update will be provided June 1.

May 20, 2015
ARTIST OF NOTE: Victoria Gebert will be recognized as a Presidential Scholar in the Arts at an award ceremony in Washington, D. C. next month. The Princeton High School graduating senior who is an accomplished sculptor with a penchant for turning trash into treasure was in math class when she heard the announcement of the award. Her artwork will be shown at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and she will be attending Yale University this fall. The stunning gown she crafted entirely from recycled materials won Princeton Magazine’s annual student art contest and was featured on the cover of the magazine’s holiday issue in 2013.

ARTIST OF NOTE: Victoria Gebert will be recognized as a Presidential Scholar in the Arts at an award ceremony in Washington, D. C. next month. The Princeton High School graduating senior who is an accomplished sculptor with a penchant for turning trash into treasure was in math class when she heard the announcement of the award. Her artwork will be shown at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and she will be attending Yale University this fall. The stunning gown she crafted entirely from recycled materials won Princeton Magazine’s annual student art contest and was featured on the cover of the magazine’s holiday issue in 2013.

Graduating Princeton High School (PHS) senior Victoria Gebert will have much to celebrate this year on her 18th birthday. She’ll be one of 141 young scholars across the country being recognized for their accomplishments in academics or the arts at an awards ceremony in Washington D.C. on June 21.

As the recipient of a 2015 United States Presidential Scholars Award, Ms. Gebert will receive a Presidential Scholar Medallion. She is one of 20 U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts.

The Princeton student is an accomplished sculptor and her artwork will be displayed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

“Presidential Scholars demonstrate the accomplishments that can be made when students challenge themselves, set the highest standards, and commit themselves to excellence,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in his announcement of the award. “These scholars are poised to make their mark on our nation in every field imaginable: the arts and humanities, science and technology, law and medicine, business and finance, education and government — to name a few.”

Presidential Scholars are selected annually based on academic success, artistic excellence, essays, school evaluations and transcripts, as well as evidence of community service, leadership, and demonstrated commitment to high ideals.

Ms. Gebert was in math class when she heard the news. “I knew names were being announced in early May, but it didn’t really sink in until I saw the list and realized my name was on it! It’s actually still sinking in that I get to go down to D.C. and show my art in the Kennedy Center.”

After graduating from PHS, Ms. Gebert will be off to Yale University where she hopes to combine her passion for art with her interests in psychology and music. ”I’m super passionate about sculpture, but I also love allowing my other artistic and academic passions to inform my art. My love for psychology and music should never come second to my art — they can all go hand-in-hand.”

Readers of Town Topics and Princeton Magazine may recall that Ms. Gebert first caught the public’s attention when she debuted a dress made out of trash at Princeton University’s Trash Artstravaganza and transformed corrugated cardboard and orange burlap into a spectacular float in the style of Jabba the Hut’s Sail Barge for a recent Princeton University P-rade.

She was the first place winner of Princeton Magazine’s “Wintertime in Princeton” Student Art Contest with the beautiful dress, shown above. Titled “Winter Wonderland,” the dress was constructed entirely of recycled materials when Ms. Gebert was an 11th grader at PHS. The stunning gown was featured on the cover of Princeton Magazine’s holiday issue in 2013.

Born in Princeton hospital in 1987, just a year after her parents and siblings moved to Princeton from their native Germany, Ms. Gebert is the youngest of four children and has two sisters and a brother. At age 16, she was recognized for her artistic endeavors by the National Young Arts Foundation.

“I grew up in a safe, supportive town and received an incredible amount of love and learning from family, teachers, and friends, so I would be pretty misguided if I thought this was all me,” said the award-winner. “I’m especially grateful to all the educators in my life — I don’t know where I would be without all the intellectual curiosity and knowledge they shared with me.”

One of only eight winners from New Jersey and the only one from PHS, Ms. Gebert was selected among 4,300 candidates out of more than three million students expected to graduate from high school this year, who qualified for the 2015 awards.

For a complete list of 2015 U.S. Presidential Scholars, visit:

The Spirit of Princeton invites the community to the annual Memorial Day Parade and Dedication Ceremony Saturday, May 23, at 10 a.m. The parade on Nassau Street will be followed by an 11:15 a.m. dedication ceremony at Princeton Monument Hall (former Borough Hall).

The parade features veteran’s groups, marching bands, civic and youth groups, all marching to honor those who have died in military service to their country.

The parade kicks off at 10 a.m. at Princeton Avenue and Nassau Street and then heads down Nassau Street to Princeton Monument Plaza, where the ceremony will take place. Retired Navy Captain John Baker will be the featured speaker at the ceremony.

Small American flags will be distributed for free to children along the parade route. These and other parade expenses are paid for by the Spirit of Princeton, a charitable non-profit group of local residents dedicated to bringing the community together through a variety of civic events, such as the Memorial Day Parade, Flag Day Ceremony, Veterans’ Day Ceremony and Independence Day Fireworks. Donations to Spirit of Princeton are encouraged, because the organization, which has been in existence for two decades and was funded initially by a few very generous donor grants, may be forced to cut back on those activities that have played such a joyful role in the lives of Princeton residents. See the website for information on how you can “Get into the Spirit” by donating.

The parade and ceremony will take place rain or shine. No political campaigning is allowed in the parade, but local officials will be recognized along the parade route. Participating veterans can park at Monument Hall. Shuttle service is available to the parade start.

Parade watchers can have breakfast before or after the parade at the Princeton Rotary Pancake Breakfast from 8 a.m. to noon at the Palmer Square Green.

For further information, call (609) 430-0144 or visit:

Trenton Mayor Eric Jackson will speak on Thursday, May 21 at a breakfast sponsored by the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce. The event will be held from 7:30–9:30 a.m. at the Wyndham Garden Hotel in Trenton. Mayor Jackson will lead a discussion on economic development and public safety in Trenton.

“The Princeton Regional Chamber is very pleased to host this important presentation by Mayor Jackson and his economic development team,” said John P. Thurber, Chairman of the Chamber. “Under the mayor’s direction, a comprehensive city-wide market study has just been completed. This study provides vital new insights to guide Trenton’s economic development strategy, and links public safety and quality of life improvements to that strategy.”

Mr. Thurber added, “We look forward to hearing the mayor’s presentation and to learning how the Chamber and our partners can work together to support the revitalization of the capital city. All of us in the region have a stake in that revitalization because the region’s prosperity depends on Trenton’s vitality.”

Tickets for the event are $25 and can be purchased online at or on the day of the event.


The question of how to handle congestion caused by tour buses on Nassau Street came before Princeton Council in the form of a work session Monday night. A committee made up of Council members, merchants, and others has been grappling with the tour bus issue for several months, and Mayor Liz Lempert wanted to hear from the governing body before proceeding further.

“It’s a difficult issue,” said Council President Bernie Miller earlier in the day. “It’s difficult to come up with a solution that doesn’t gore somebody’s ox.”

Buses arrive daily so that tourists, many of whom are international travelers, can take pictures of Nassau Hall and other parts of the Princeton University campus. The stops are often one leg of a trip to Philadelphia, Baltimore, or Washington, D.C., so tourists are in town for only a brief period of time. Many visit Starbucks for snacks and to use the facilities, and some merchants complain there isn’t enough time for shopping or meals at local restaurants.

Merchant Henry Landau of Landau on Nassau Street was opposed to a proposal that would remove eight metered parking spaces on Nassau Street to make way for loading zones for the tour buses. Instead, he suggested that buses stop in front of the PNC Bank at the top of Palmer Square and then reload across the street where the taxis wait for passengers. “If you back up the taxi parking on the other side to where the taxi stand is, you would have more than adequate space for two buses on that side as well,” he said. “In most cases the buses are in and out by 11 a.m.”

Safety is a major concern. “It’s my number one goal,” said Council member Lance Liverman. The large buses, parked on Nassau Street and obscuring visibility for pedestrians as well as those driving cars, are “an accident waiting to happen,” he said. Mr. Miller commented that safety of tourists is equally worrisome. “When the bus stops away from the pedestrian crossing, they walk out in the middle of Nassau Street,” he said.

Council discussed implementing a temporary parking program which could run from June 1 through September 30. Two places on Nassau Street could be designated for loading and unloading passengers, and the buses would park on Alexander Street across from the Dinky train station. Another possibility was to drop passengers off on William Street, have the buses park across from the Dinky station, and then pick the passengers up again at the other end of town.

Council member Jo Butler said keeping buses off of Nassau Street could be a missed opportunity for merchants, and questioned if all buses should be treated equally. “It’s not one size fits all,” she said. “We might want to consider different solutions on different days. We have a lot of people we want to make happy.” In response to a suggestion that different rules apply to the buses on different days of the week, most Council members said they favored a policy that applied to every day.

Criteria the Council came up with for development of a plan were centered around access to crosswalks, spaces large enough for buses to park, keeping meters close to stores for residents to use, minimal disruption for church programs and business deliveries, a walkable distance for tourists to visit Nassau Hall, and proximity to shopping destinations. The town’s Traffic and Transportation Committee will review suggestions and return to Council with recommendations at a June meeting.

Kanye West BookPoet Sarah Blake will be reading from her unauthorized lyric biography, Mr. West: Poems Wesleyan University Press, ($24.95), at Labyrinth Books on Thursday, May 21 at 6 p.m.

According to Andrew DuBois’s recent notice in the New York Times Book Review, “The central connection Blake makes (and the main strength of the book) is between herself, as impending mother to a son, and Kanye’s mother, Dr. Donda West. A touching elegiac strain is evident throughout these poems of motherhood, although in this triangle of affection, with the two women as the base, Kanye is still the uppermost point.”

Says poet Evie Sockley, author of the new black: “Mr. West transforms the poet’s fascination with the rapper into an amazing group of poems that explores what she knows or can find out about West, alongside her own life. The poems construct West as unmistakably human and larger than life — as much like as unlike the poet. The work is tender without being sentimental, funny without being cruel, and obsessive without being exploitative. It is a study in nuance and it is strangely moving.”

Sarah Blake is the founder of the online writing tool Submittrs, an editor at Saturnalia Books, and a recipient of an NEA Literature Fellowship. Her poetry has appeared in Boston Review, Drunken Boat, FIELD, and The Threepenny Review.


More than 30 hands-on topics are on the agenda for the sixth annual Science Expo at Littlebrook Elementary School on Thursday, May 21. Like these students getting a close-up look at horseshoe crabs with Dr. Alan Geperin, young participants will explore chemistry, biology, physics, genetics, and more with visiting experts from Princeton University, the Institute for Advanced Study, and other academic institutions. Joining the lineup this year are a Google executive and a Marine Corps pilot. Littlebrook is at 39 Magnolia Lane in Princeton. For more information, visit

Revo War

George Washington returns to the historic Princeton Battlefield on Saturday, May 23 for a military encampment and mini-re-enactments of the Battle of Princeton, a critical turning point in the American Revolution. General Washington will answer questions at the event, which will also include muskets, cannon, fifes and drums, tactical formations and drills, and a combined arms assault with marching, loading, and firing volleys. Training for Young Patriots and marching in formation are part of the day. Larry Kidder, an editor for the book “The American Revolution in New Jersey: Where the Battlefront Meets the Home Front,” will have books for sale. For more information, visit (Photo by Anna Savoia)


Palmer Square was all about the fair sex Thursday as the Ninth Annual Girls Night Out event offered a wealth of in-store sales, promotions, complimentary parking, music, raffles, food sampling in the Taste of the Square tent, Salon Pure styling demonstrations, sips from Princeton Corkscrew Wine Shop, and hors d’oeuvres from Mediterra, among many other treats. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)

May 15, 2015

Paul E. Sigmund IV, 49, son of the late Princeton Borough Mayor Barbara Boggs Sigmund, pleaded guilty Tuesday, May 12, to a drug charge and two motor vehicle offenses. He was ordered to pay $1,925 in fines and will be under court supervision until he successfully completes substance abuse treatment. Mr. Sigmund was charged by Princeton police after an incident in Sept. 21, 2014, in which his Chevy Malibu hit a 3-inch-pole in a Princeton parking lot and heroin and hypodermic needles were discovered in his vehicle. Mr. Sigmund is a former Mercer County Freeholder and was once chief of staff to former Trenton Mayor Tony Mack.

May 14, 2015

At a work session on waste management during a meeting of Princeton Council this past Monday, members of the Princeton Environmental Commission urged members of the governing body to step up measures that would reduce trash and waste.

One priority stressed by the Commission and echoed by a few members of the public is an ordinance that would require customers to pay a fee for the single use of plastic or paper bags at supermarkets and stores. Other measures suggested included leaf management, more composting, and helping businesses with their recycling efforts.

“We need to do something different,” PEC chair Matt Wasserman told Council. “The status quo isn’t acceptable when it comes to waste management. There is a lot we should be doing from a waste perspective that we’re not doing here as a town.”

The good news, Mr. Wasserman said, is that “the winds of change are actually blowing.” More than 1,000 homeowners in Princeton are now willing to pay a fee to compost. The town has been recognized with Silver Status by the organization Sustainable Jersey, and a majority of the voters in the most recent election said they were in favor of charging a fee for the use of plastic bags.

Mr. Wasserman recommended that Council convene regular meetings with the organization Sustainable Princeton, the town’s Municipal Green Team, and the Department of Public Works. Annual waste reduction targets should be created, and current ordinances should be enforced. “Make it easy to compost and recycle, and harder to landfill,” he said.

May 13, 2015
COMMUNITY OPTIONS SETTLES IN: After Town Topics newspaper moved out of 305 Witherspoon Street, the staff of Community Options moved in. From left: Stefanie Rinaldi, Wendy Williams, Meghan Hunter, Deborah Napoleon, Teresa Snyder, Awee Taylor, and Keaira Askew gather outside the building that will house Community Options’ new and expanding STEP program, which provides employment opportunities for young people with disabilities. For more information, visit: by Kathryn Sampson)

COMMUNITY OPTIONS SETTLES IN: After Town Topics newspaper moved out of 305 Witherspoon Street, the staff of Community Options moved in. From left: Stefanie Rinaldi, Wendy Williams, Meghan Hunter, Deborah Napoleon, Teresa Snyder, Awee Taylor, and Keaira Askew gather outside the building that will house Community Options’ new and expanding STEP program, which provides employment opportunities for young people with disabilities. For more information, visit: (Photo by Kathryn Sampson)

Shortly after Town Topics moved out of 305 Witherspoon Street, the building it had occupied since 2007, local residents wondered what would be taking its place. That question was answered last week when the staff of the non-profit Community Options, Inc. began setting up their offices there. The building will house Community Options’ expanding School-to-Employment Program (STEP).

For 25 years, the non-profit organization has worked to develop housing and employment programs for people with disabilities. Its guiding philosophy is that all people — regardless of disability level — should live and work in the community with dignity, choice, and self-determination.

Founder and President/CEO Robert Stack likes to say that people with disabilities have some of the same problems as celebrities. “They are surrounded with people who are paid to be around them and what Community Options wants is for them to be in the regular workplace,” he explained. “We try to jumpstart that process through STEP and a chance at giving them a regular paid job.”

As to meeting obstacles along the way? “Everyone has obstacles that we have to figure out how to deal with; we can’t put ourselves in a bubble,” he said.

Before acquiring its current building, Community Options had offices in the Daily Plan It, which was, said Mr. Stack, “bursting at the seams.” The new location provides space for the STEP program and for staff from its Mercer County office.

“We hope that our local presence on Witherspoon Street will give parents of children with disabilities the vision that their son or daughter can in fact have a job just like any other student who is close to finishing school regardless of the fact that they have disabilities,” said Mr. Stack.

Thanks in part to a grant by the Kessler Foundation, STEP was launched in New Jersey in 2008 in response to the youth employment rate for individuals with disabilities. The job training/transition program serves high school students and young adults with special needs, through real world, hands-on training. The goal is to improve future opportunities for competitive employment and/or post-secondary education.

In recognition of the contribution made to STEP by the Kessler Foundation, Elaine Katz will receive the Community Options Betty Pendler Award this Friday, May 15, at the organization’s national headquarters on Farber Road in Princeton. “Elaine has been tireless in getting employment for people with disabilities and has given us our first grant for STEP,” said Mr. Stack.

“Most people without disabilities find training for jobs as teens during high school but teenagers with disabilities rarely have that chance,” explained Mr. Stack. “That’s where STEP comes in, with unpaid internships in a variety of jobs.

So far, the non-profit organization is working with the University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro, the Robert Wood Johnson hospital, and others, offering experience in food service, maintenance, custodial, inventory, and other work. “One of our teenagers loves to work in patient transport, taking patients from X-Ray to their hospital room or from there to the hospital’s main lobby, for example,” said Mr. Stack. “We find that if we place a person in a job that is a good match for them, it works well and so far we’ve had a 90 percent success rate.” That means that 90 percent of the time, the intern has been hired into a paid job. STEP places students aged between 16 and 19, who are on the autism spectrum or have some intellectual or physical disability, filling a gap in what is available from government programs such as ARC, which, according to Mr. Stack, has a waiting list of well over 6,000.

“We are very well-known in the area and a lot of parents want their kids in our program, which currently has 27 students from the area,” said Stefanie Rinaldi, who oversees STEP. “And that number is likely to double by the end of the year.”

Ms. Rinaldi explained how the program works. “For our student interns we hire coaches; each intern is paired with a paid coach who does not have a disability and who works alongside the intern in the job, until they are able to do it on their own. At that point the coach is no longer needed and can ‘fade.’ We call it ‘fading,’” she said, adding that Community Options is always looking to hire coaches. “If there are people in the area who want to work with Community Options as coaches, they should get in touch and this is a great place to get work experience; we have hundreds of such part-time per diem employees; some are retired, some are college graduates looking for a stepping stone, often in social work, education and psychology.

Community Options was founded by Mr. Stack in 1989, some years after he moved to Princeton in 1981. “I had been working with kids with disabilities for a long time but when the place I was working for went out of business, I realized that a non-profit group was needed that would follow a business model,” said Mr. Stack. Since then, the organization has grown to include 275 group homes nationwide, 104 in New Jersey, including 17 in Mercer County. It now serves thousands of people with disabilities through 38 offices across 9 states, including Arizona, Kentucky, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania and South Carolina.

With an operating budget of $107 million, it currently has some 3600 employees nationwide, at least 1,000 in New Jersey, and 30 in Princeton. Its funding comes from private sector donations as well as from state and federal government.

Locally, Community Options operates a home built from the ground up in Hopewell and a renovated home on Harrison Street in Princeton for persons who use wheelchairs.

The excitement of moving into a new space was tangible last week as computers were set up and staff members figured out the logistics of the newly-painted building. Still there might be one downside to the new location, laughed Mr. Stack. “Our staff might be growing in another sense now that we are within walking distance of Conte’s Pizza!”

For more information, visit:

Scholarships are available from the National Federation of Republican Women, and the deadline for applications is June 1.

The Betty Rendel Scholarship Fund was established in 1995 in honor of the organization’s past president. The three annual $1,000 scholarships are awarded to female undergraduates who are majoring in political science, government, or economics and have successfully completed at least two years of college coursework. Recipients are chosen from applicants across the nation.

The National Pathfinder Scholarship Fund, established in 1985 in honor of Nancy Reagan, provides $2,500 to three women seeking undergraduate or graduate degrees. Undergraduate sophomores, juniors and seniors as well as students enrolled in a master’s degree program, are eligible.

Completed application packages must be submitted to the NJ Federation of Republican Women, P.O. Box 901, Pennington, N.J. 08534 by June 1. For more information, email

reichl book

Ruth Reichl is sometimes asked the question: If you had a superpower, what would it be? For the author, food writer and editor — formerly the restaurant critic at The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times and the editor-in-chief of the late and lamented Gourmet magazine, the answer is a no-brainer: To have a heightened palate.

“I wish I had it, but I so do not,” she said during a telephone interview last week. “Especially in my business, it would be a great asset.” Ms. Reichl will speak this Friday at a sold-out Book Lover’s Luncheon hosted by the Princeton Public Library and the Friends of the Library, at Springdale Golf Club. “The closest I’ve ever seen is Paula Wolfert, whom I traveled with once,” she continued. “She really does have an uncanny ability to pull flavors apart.”

Perfect palate or not, Ms. Reichl has been at the center of the food world since writing the first of three memoirs, Tender at the Bone, in 1998. Three subsequent memoirs, other books, and television appearances followed. Last year, Delicious! marked her first venture into fiction. She is currently at work on another novel and a memorial to Gourmet, which folded suddenly in 2009.

Making the transition to fiction was harder than Ms. Reichl expected. “Everybody said to me, ‘This will be so easy for you. Your memoirs read like novels.’ And I thought I knew how to do it,” she said. “But the truth is, I didn’t. It was really slow. I realized I needed to know the characters very well, and that took longer than I thought.”

Delicious! is the story of a young woman with a remarkably sensitive palate who travels from her home in California to take a job at New York’s oldest and best known food magazine. When the much-loved publication is abruptly shut down, she agrees to stay on at the empty office to maintain its hotline for reader complaints. Along the way, she makes some compelling discoveries about the magazine and its history, particularly concerning the persecution of Italian-Americans during World War II.

Ms. Reichl admits to a few obvious parallels between the world of Delicious! and Gourmet — the camaraderie between the staff members, the test kitchen where staffers would drop everything and rush in when someone testing out a recipe yelled out, “Taste!” — but that’s about it. “Everybody says your first book is autobiographical. But I really wanted the fun of inhabiting someone who was very different from me,” she said. “It was interesting to me to explore the sister relationship because I don’t have a sister. And it was fun to be 21 again. I like that she’s not really me, but when my son read it he said, ‘But Mom, she’s optimistic like you.’ I hadn’t realized that.”

The main character’s discovery about the treatment of Italian-Americans comes from Ms. Reichl’s own interest in life on the home front during World War II. “I did a lot of research for this book,” she said. “I read a lot, and I suddenly came upon this whole history of what happened to Italian-Americans, especially on the west coast. I was shocked. I don’t think anybody knows about it, except that there was an apology read into the Congressional Record in 1998 or so. The thing that really ended it was that Fiorello LaGuardia put a stop to it. He said, ‘OK, that’s enough.’”

She continues, “As a writer one of the great things is when you get blocked, you just go do research for awhile. I probably own every rationing cookbook that was published. I read a lot about Roosevelt and his feelings about food being another front of the war. To me, this was such a fascinating time. Today we live in a time in America when the rich and poor have probably never eaten so differently from each other. But World War II was a time when just about everybody ate the same. “

Ms. Reichl was born and raised in New York and spent several years as a young adult in Berkeley, California. She was a co-owner of a restaurant in Berkeley and served as restaurant critic not only for the Los Angeles Times, but also for New West and California magazines. She currently lives in the Berkshires with her husband, a television producer.

Her own ventures into television include hosting specials on Food Network, producing a public television series for Gourmet, and serving as a judge on the show Top Chef Masters. Ms. Reichl has mixed feelings about food shows. “A lot of them are remarkably stupid,” she said. “ But we have food TV to thank for the fact that we have a food-obsessed public, which is a good thing. Kids raised on food TV are now cooks and curious eaters. With the stupider shows, it’s kind of like when you first start drinking wine. You drink Blue Nun and Mateus, and then you graduate to better things. I have no animosity toward any of the shows.”

Her own cooking repertoire consists mostly of fairly simple food. “I had people over the other day, and I just did a roast chicken with German fried potatoes and creamed spinach and a big salad, with a lemon tart,” she said. “I don’t think home cooks need to cook like chefs. I’m fortunate because we buy most of our food from local farmers and providers. We pretty much eat with the season.”

Keeping abreast of what is advisable to eat and what is not can be a chore. “We’re so frightened of food in so many ways,” Ms. Reichl said. “Every couple of years we’re told you shouldn’t eat this, you should eat that. Butter’s bad, butter’s good. The same with eggs. But then the things that are really bad, we’re not frightened enough of, like margarine. We’re not wary enough of industrial food and way too frightened of natural things. I think if your grandmother ate it, you shouldn’t worry about it.”

HELPING WITH DENTAL HEALTH: Princeton High sophomore Avery Peterson will bring toothbrushes and toothpaste to a rural village in Peru when she visits through the Creating Ties program this summer. After viewing photos of villagers and noticing they were in need of dental care, she contacted local businesses and got some help with her cause.

HELPING WITH DENTAL HEALTH: Princeton High sophomore Avery Peterson will bring toothbrushes and toothpaste to a rural village in Peru when she visits through the Creating Ties program this summer. After viewing photos of villagers and noticing they were in need of dental care, she contacted local businesses and got some help with her cause.

For the past 12 years, Princeton High School Spanish teacher Martha Hayden has been taking students on summer trips to her native Peru through the independently sponsored program Creating Ties. The goal is twofold: To teach students about the culture of the country, and to involve them in community service.

All the students — 18 this year — travel together with Ms. Hayden for a week. A smaller group, led by John Witherspoon Middle School teacher Carolina Montoya Mondragon, stays for an additional week, living with families in small rural villages and contributing to the community through building projects, teaching, agriculture, and other activities.

For the students who participate in only the first week of the trip, there is a day devoted to community service. But those able to take part in the second half of the program make the strongest connections, getting a chance to immerse themselves in the local culture. Avery Peterson, a 16-year-old PHS sophomore, is one of the students among those on this year’s trip.

As someone interested in public health and social sciences, Ms. Peterson has been thinking for some time about how she could contribute to the general health of the rural village she will visit. She decided on dental care, and she has enlisted the aid of some local businesses in her mission to teach the importance of dental health to the villagers. Church & Dwight, Princeton Orthodontics, and Princeton Dental Group are supplying Ms. Peterson with toothbrushes and toothpaste to take with her on her trip.

“I thought I would definitely want to make the trip very impactful,” Ms. Peterson said. “I wanted to have something that would change their lives. There are lots of communities and places that are impoverished and they don’t necessarily have the best dental hygiene. Bad teeth leads to bad health, and bad gums lead to gingivitis, which leads to further diseases.”

During a checkup with her orthodontist, Dr. Jonathan Nicozisis, Ms. Peterson told him about her idea. He immediately gave her 200 toothbrushes to take on her trip. She sent an email about her plan to Princeton Dental Group, which donated 50 toothbrushes and dental floss. Ms. Peterson made her connection with Church & Dwight through Matt Wasserman, whom she knew through a friend. Mr. Wasserman works for the company and also chairs the Princeton Environmental Commission.

Mr. Wasserman was happy to help out, arranging for Church & Dwight to donate two boxes full of toothpaste and toothbrushes. “Church & Dwight and its employees take seriously the importance of CSR, Corporate Social Responsibility, and have made it a core tenet to support the local organizations that help the less fortunate and other people in need,” he said in an email. “While Peru isn’t exactly local, Avery certainly is, and as such the Arm & Hammer Oral Care marketing team was thrilled to be able to support her in this wonderful service project.”

Ms. Hayden is impressed with her student’s resourcefulness. “Avery’s idea was wonderful,” she said. “She saw pictures of kids who had a lot of issues with their teeth. They don’t have a lot of water yet, and they don’t clean their teeth regularly at all. They lose teeth at an early age. So she will teach them oral health. We’ll also do it for adults. She did this all on her own, and I’m very proud of her.”

The students, who will depart for Peru at the end of June, have good Spanish language skills. Before the trip, they are learning about the culture of the Incas and Peru. In addition to the dental care products being brought by Ms. Peterson, those staying on for the second week will bring games, crayons, toys, balls, and other items that are not accessible.

“The community service part has been wonderful for the kids,” said Ms. Hayden. “A lot of them go back during their college years or gap years. I think it changes the way you look at the world. It makes you understand that there are little things you can contribute that mean so much. It builds social conscience and it’s life-changing.”

Five Mile Lake McC 4-15 058 Five Mile Lake, by Rachel Bonds at the McCarter Theatre 4/30/15 Directed by Emily Mann Set Design : Edward Pierce Costume Design: Jennifer von Mayrhauser Lighting Design: Jeff Croiter © T Charles Erickson Photography

© T Charles Erickson

Continuing its tradition of introducing major new plays and writers to the American Stage, (Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, The Convert, and Anna in the Tropics) McCarter Theatre Center is pleased to present the East Coast Premiere of Five Mile Lake by playwright Rachel Bonds. The play runs through May 31 on McCarter’s Berlind Stage.

For more information, visit



This iconic work, “Spinning Whistle Tea Kettle,” by the late architect and designer Michael Graves is one of some 2,500 brought to market for clients such as Target, Alessi, Stryker, and Disney by his leading design firm, Michael Graves Architecture & Design (MGA&D), which continues to offer a full spectrum of architectural design services from its Princeton office. The firm’s clients include Fortune 100 firms, international developers, educational institutions, governmental agencies, and non-profit organizations. And it has received over 200 awards for design excellence. Its founder has just won the National Design Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, in recognition of his excellence and innovation across various platforms. For more information, visit: (Image Courtesy of Michael Graves Architecture & Design, Inc.)

War Art

This 12 by 12 inch oil on gesso panel from Samira Abbassy’s Eternal War Series will be on display in an exhibition of the Iranian-born artist’s work at the Bernstein Gallery from May 16 through August 13. “Narratives: Hearts, Minds & Mythologies,” will be open to the public through May, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and from June through August, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The Gallery is located at the Woodrow Wilson School. There will be an artist’s reception on Sunday, May 17, from 4 to 6 p.m. For more information, call (609) 497-2441, or visit:


In Spring you don’t need to be a young man for your fancy to turn to thoughts of outdoor dining and socializing in one of Princeton’s most attractive corners. (Photo by Emily Reeves)

May 11, 2015

Princeton University is seeking input from Princeton-area residents via an interactive mapping tool called “Campus Compass” that will be used to inform the University’s 2026 Campus Planning effort. With this mapping tool, the planning team, led by University consultant Urban Strategies, invites community members to describe where and how they spend time on campus and offer their ideas for improvingement. Urban Strategies plans to share aggregated responses on its blog site this summer.

The mapping tool is available online ( It takes approximately 10 to 15 minutes to complete a questionnaire. For more information, contact blog administrator at

May 7, 2015

The Princeton Station will be closed over the weekend for a final pavement surface and permanent striping to be installed. The parking lot will be closed to all parking from 11 p.m. on Friday, May 8, until 4 a.m. Monday, May 11. On Saturday, May 9, and Sunday, May 10, parking will be available in the University’s West Garage immediately adjacent to the Princeton Station. Additionally, metered parking along Alexander Street will continue to be available. For more information, contact: Princeton University Office of Transportation and Parking at or 609-258-3157.