Reading with Hattie, Baking with Julia by
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Reading witn Hattie,  Baking with Julia

When our son Noah was young he watched all the usual children’s TV shows of the time.  His favorites, as I remember were Sesame Street,  Mr Rogers, and The Electric Company.

Watching The Electric Company,  Noah delighted in Morgan Freeman’s character Easy Reader, and Hattie Winston’s character Valerie the Librarian,  maybe because his own mother was also a librarian!

Little did we know that years later Hattie would move into our New York apartment building and she, her composer husband Harold Wheeler, and their daughter Samantha would become life-long friends.

A favorite photo in our family album is of Noah dancing with a very young Samantha at his bar mitzvah party.

The Wheelers now live in California, but we keep in touch and see them on one coast or another.  Most recently they were in New York when Harold was honored at the Tonys with the Lifetime Achievement Award for Musical Theatre Orchestration!

Of course as a kid Noah also watched cartoons and some of the less kind and gentle TV fare,  and like all parents,  we tried to keep him from seeing the really bad stuff.

Once I came into the room and found him watching a pretty gruesome shoot-‘em-up.  Before I had a chance to reprimand him, he defended himself.

“It’s  the first violence.”,  said my six-year old.

And it seems Noah had other adult TV interests as well.  He was once watching TV when I was elsewhere in the apartment and I suddenly heard noises coming from the kitchen – a chair being scrapped across the floor,  drawers and cupboards opening and closing,  and the refrigerator door slamming shut.  I went to investigate and there was Noah back in the living-room,  sitting on the floor watching Julia Child.

He had a wooden spoon in his fist and my biggest mixing bowl between his outstretched legs, and on the carpet beside him were an open 5-pound bag of flour,  a carton of eggs,  and a scattering of broken eggshells.

“Look,”  he announced proudly,  ” I’m baking a cake ALL BY MYSELF!”

After some convincing,  Noah finally agreed at least to let me turn the oven on for him.

– Dana Susan Lehrman 

Profile photo of Dana Susan Lehrman Dana Susan Lehrman
This retired librarian loves big city bustle and cozy country weekends, friends and family, good books and theatre, movies and jazz, travel, tennis, Yankee baseball, and writing about life as she sees it on her blog World Thru Brown Eyes!

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Tags: Television, Julia Child, Electric Company
Characterizations: funny, well written


  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    Lovely story, Dana, both getting to personally know one of Noah’s TV show idols and finding him emulating Julia Child on the floor of the apartment. How adorable (if messy). Has his inspiration to cook continued, or was it a passing fancy? We started watching “The Great British Bake Show” while our London-based kids were here over Christmas. We are mesmerized by the beauty and detail that goes into the baking, but it has NOT inspired me to try my hand at any of it.

    • Thanx Betsy. It was wonderful having the Wheelers as neighbors and friends. Come to NY and we’ll see again and take you to Harold’s current Bway show, Aint Too Proud,

      And yes Noah still watches cooking shows and is himself. a very good and inspired cook, apparently not an inherited trait!

  2. Marian says:

    How sweet, Dana, that Julia Child could have such an impact on Noah. She is fun to watch to this day!

  3. Suzy says:

    Great story, Dana, and as usual, the perfect punch line. How did his cake turn out?

  4. Laurie Levy says:

    Dana, this is really poignant and funny. I shared your enthusiasm for The Electric Company, which taught my kids phonics, something they weren’t doing much in school back then.

  5. It’s fun getting to know Noah through your stories — he was quite a little character! And as Suzy mentioned, yes, the perfect punch line, as usual…I always look forward to those!

  6. John Shutkin says:

    Dana, to state the obvious, though the prompt was about kids’ TV shows, the star of your story is clearly your amazing Noah. And, indeed, his not-so-kiddie TV tastes. Thank you for sharing this delightful story about him with us.

    But I gotta say, as to “first violence,” don’t they play at the front of the orchestra? Sorry; couldn’t resist.

    • Thanx John, I really didn’t mean for the kid to steal the show!

      But truly, unlike you all, I don’t seem to have many memories of watching TV myself as a kid, other than running down the block to watch Howdy Doody at my friend’s house before my parents bought a TV!

      I’m sure I did watch as much as other kids, just don’t have the recall. But as an adult I did watch Sesame Street, Electric Company and Mr Rogers with Noah because I found them all so wonderful!

  7. Noah showed such sophistication in his t.v. viewing! Julia Child would be so pleased that her show was a hit with a young boy. And I love that he was preparing a cake. For your birthday?? Good Timing for this week’s prompt!!

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