Central Park Conservancy 40th Anniversary

I was delighted when Lewis Bernard, the first member of the Central Park Conservancy’s board-in-formation and its vice-chairman for almost twenty years, invited me to sit at his table at the Central Park Fortieth-Anniversary Gala. Knowing that the organizers of the event were socially prominent, high-fashion members of the Women’s Committee, a critical force in the Conservancy’s  fundraising success, I realized that this would be the first time in almost two years that I had the opportunity to wear a party dress.  Shoving aside blue jeans and T-shirts, I started to rummage in the back of my closet to find one. As I looped the strand of pearls I had inherited from my mother around my neck, I began to reminisce. Forty years ago! Why, I was forty-six at the time, and as a Park Department volunteer employee, served as director of what was primarily a summertime youth organization called the Central Park Task Force. That one day this small crew of teenagers would become the seed that was sown to bloom unexpectedly into the Central Park Conservancy.  The improbability of this made me think back to that remarkable transition and, as I looked for the right pair of party shoes, I started to memorialize this anniversary occasion with a bit of comic verse.

Getting Dressed Up

Every day I look into the mirror and say
“Now what shall I wear today?”
I have a closet full of dressy clothes,
Well, no, I can’t put on one of those.
Covid style has changed my wardrobe scene
Since I made space for pants and tops from L.L. Bean.

Well, last night I had an opportunity to dress
In evening clothes – my very best!
For the fortieth anniversary
Of the birth of the Conservancy.

I looked at silk dresses and evening shoes
Debating which outfit I should choose.
I thought of course it must be something green
To match Central Park’s landscape scene.

Later stepping inside the big candle-lit tent
I was warmly welcomed to the great event
By Gordon Davis, who had appointed me
CP administrator and Lewis Bernard, first VP
Of the group that had come to help NYC
Become as clean and green as it was meant to be.

All through the celebration into the night
Chic designer clothes were everywhere in sight.
Emotions of pride brought me close to tears,
Remembering further back than forty years
The summer interns of the small Task Force,
The ones who started the ball rolling, of course.

Central Park Interns, Summer 1978


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