Lois Keating Learned

The last of six children, I was 5 years younger than my sister. She and my four older brothers were all born within eight and a half years; thus I’m an only child in a big family. The older five were born during affluent years, while I arrived in the middle of the Great Depression. My father was a stock broker and a member of the New York Stock Exchange, not the best profession for those times. He had earned a degree in engineering from Yale in 1913 and designed and built the large Tutor-style home in which we all grew up. It was located in a prosperous middle-class village on Long Island, called Garden City.

Even though the public schools there were highly rated, my siblings attended a private elementary school in Lawrence Long Island, about 40 minutes away from Garden City. They all went away to boarding school for the high school years and then attended Yale University in New Haven, CT. World War II interrupted their schooling, so they immediately went into business after 1945. Nancie, my sister, attended various high schools and spent a year at LaValle U. in Québec, Canada, finishing up at a secretarial school before getting married in 1952.

During the eighth grade the Garden City students were given various tests for a tracking system in the high school. Quiet little me, with a late October birthday, tested, surprisingly high and it was recommended that I also should go to a private high school for a more challenging education. Even though this was a financial burden for my father, off to Massachusetts I went to attend Foxhollow School in Lenox. The scenery won me over as well as Miss Farrell, the headmistress and English/History teacher. The work was challenging but very interesting and coordinated. English History and literature of the same period – i.e. Queen Elizabeth I and Shakespeare – were taught together and Art History and Music Appreciation also covered the same historical time.

My mother’s family did not aspire to higher education, but my parents were persuaded to send me to Connecticut College (then only for women) in New London, CT. I thoroughly enjoyed those four years and am still active in alumni affairs.

After college I worked in New York City at an advertising agency as a ‘Girl Friday’ doing all sorts of work, but soon tired of this humdrum existence and commuting from Garden City. My father’s retirement and the sale of our home, forced me to make some changes. I found a job teaching nursery school in Locust Valley and an apartment in nearby Oyster Bay. To my pleasant surprise I discovered I loved teaching and went on to get an MA from Hofstra University and began teaching second grade at Buckley Country Day School in Manhasset, eventually teaching Fifth Grade at the East Woods School in Oyster Bay, retiring after more than 15 years there.

During the summer vacations I travelled. First to South America – Peru and Chile – and managed to get a year off to teach in Nagoya, Japan, traveling home the long way around the world.

Though I had been engaged to be married soon after graduating from college, I didn’t take that big step until 1972, when I married Leslie Learned. We had known each other for years as his first wife also taught at Buckley. Some months after her death we met again at a friend’s house and cupid got busy with those arrows! Les was a bit older than I and retired six months after we married. We had 15 marvelous years together. I’m still in touch with his son Stuart and wife, Sherry, who live in Florida and their sons and their families. Christopher and Doreen live with their son and daughter in California and John and Linda are on Long Island with their two girls.

Eventually I sold our large home in Centerport and moved to a smaller cape-style house in nearby Greenlawn. With most of my family and friends gone from Long Island, in 2009 I moved to a continuous-care community in Southbury, CT. One niece, Libby and her husband live close by in Newtown, and two others, Mary and Suzy live with their families on the shore in Rowaton and Greenwich. It’s a great community and I have made many friends here, but I do miss Long Island, my old friends and especially its expansive beaches and the Atlantic Ocean.

Lois Learned
Southbury, CT ©2012


Lois' stories on Story Chip

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