I enjoyed Bob Gorman’s serendipitous story (“Former Fresh Air kids heartsick over lost NNY connections”) on Jan. 5. (Sometimes really good stories just drop from the sky.)

The story brought memories of our Fresh Air experience in the 1970s. Sylvia was the first. Shy, sweet, a biddable child.

She had never seen a plum, ridden in a car or slept in a bed of her own the first summer she came to us. The quiet at night made her uneasy. Her brother Ruben followed the next year, newly and proudly five years old. At home, he told us, he was a knife-carrying gang member. But oh, that grin and those brilliant blue eyes. He sprang up from sleep looking around for something he could turn into an adventure.

They went everywhere we did — beach, swimming lessons, camping, summer music theater. They told us they couldn’t play outdoors on 112th Street in Manhattan; their mother told them it was too dangerous. She took good care of them. Their clothes were clean, their manners good.

Time and divorce ended our relationship with them. Ruben stayed with a wonderful family in Madrid after that. I saw him once more. He and his father were making college visits — Dartmouth, University of New Hampshire, Colgate. Ruben had gotten a full scholarship to a private high school and hence, a path to college. He told me we had shown him possibilities for a different life, hope for a different future. I hope he realized those possibilities.

I wish I had stayed in touch. And I hope Bob’s story leads to renewed interest in the Fresh Air Fund. It may be more important than ever.

Betsy Baker-Whitney


Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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(1) comment

Holmes -- the real one

This is a fine letter, Betsy Baker-Whitney. Thank you for writing it and for participating in the Fresh Air Fund.

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