Barbra: The First Decade
The films and career of Barbra Streisand by James Spada. What else do you need from a book? This is my favorite book of all time.
John spotted it sometime in the fall of ’74. He used to wait for a connecting bus coming home from high school and spotted this book, the book, in some bookstore window.
The book cost $12. I cannot give you a comparison of what things cost at that time but I remember thinking this was a lot of money. See, if movies were $2 a pop this cost six movies, not counting snacks of course. We didn’t know how we were going to put so much money together in one place so that we could buy this book. John has a very strict attitude towards money. I remember in grammar school he did not chew a piece of his own gum because if he did that would be chewing three cents, so he would chew it later and make his pack of gum last the entire week. I on the other hand, with the backing of my parents’ grocery store, was probably passing out sticks of gum in exchange for other favors to be called in later.
But John and I loved this book, Barbra: The First Decade. We used to read it standing up in different bookstores. We would try to take it all in and memorize as much as we could with each reading. Remember, we were just coming up to our “one year anniversary” as her fans so this book was amazing. What a great way to catch up on all that had happened to her in the first ten years – years that were “lost” to us, that we knew nothing about. And it was also a practical book – a great source of information for knowing how to arrange her albums in the proper order. I love that book.
Anyway, I was out Christmas shopping with my mother, my sister, and our neighbor, “D” Curley. This was December of ’74. Mrs. Curley is our family’s adopted grandmother. She and my mother have been friends for years, for as long as I can remember, since my mother first came to this country, and she was then and still is, in and out of my mother’s apartment all the time.
So I was in the bookstore at the Cross County Shopping Center and of course I was reading Barbra: The First Decade and my mother told me she needed my help in another store and I had to go with her. Really? So I had to leave the book and go with my mother to the hardware store and I forget know what it was she needed my help with. A few minutes later Mary and D join us in William Tell Hardware and I announce I’m going back to the bookstore.
So I can continue reading the book, I want to have it memorized by Christmas.
With that, D put out her hand and gave me a package, “Here, if you’re going to finish it before Christmas you might as well have your own copy.”
Can you guess what was in the package? My very own copy of Barbra: The First Decade by James Spada.
I could not believe it; I could not believe they fooled me and I could not believe that I now owned this book. And here’s a lesson I’ve carried forth with me my entire life – Christmas does not have to happen on any designated day. I mean, Christmas is Christmas for the religious aspect of it, but if you have purchased something for someone to commemorate the season, why wait until the Holy Day to give it to him or her? Let’s say it is a nice leather jacket or piece of jewelry – wouldn’t they have enjoyed it all season attending all the parties and whatnot leading up to the big day? I always give people the option of receiving their gifts the moment I’ve purchased them. Doesn’t do me, or them, any good hidden under my bed waiting to be wrapped. And I always let people know that if they have something for me they can just hand it off to me whenever they feel like it. I don’t need a tree and twinkling lights to put me in the Christmas spirit.
A few years later while in high school I took a course titled “Woman in History”. I won’t bore you with the details but you can gather who some of the woman were – Harriet Beecher Stowe, Florence Nightingale, Eleanor Roosevelt. Possibly Betsy Ross. Most certainly Madame Marie Curie. I approached the teacher and asked if possibly the curriculum couldn’t be stretched to allow for one more woman in history?
Well, whom do you think?
No, Joe, the women we are studying are substantial women of history with complete lifetimes that we can study –
That’s my point. Barbra Streisand is so substantial that just one decade of her life has an entire book devoted to it, see, right here – I brought the book –
I lost. Sorry Barbra. Sorry James Spada. I thought it would be good for sales.