I was a British-American Educational Foundation student at King's. The first from a US public school. I was the black sheep in my family of six children. My three sisters had all attended Harvard right after H.S., but I had the high ambitions to move to California with a friend and become a waitress. My father, a Greek immigrant who put himself through Cornell was not having that. I agreed that being in a different country for a year might be more fun than waitressing. There was a choice between King’s and a nearby all girl’s school. Having grown up with three sisters - all one year apart - a grandmother and mother in the house - you can understand why I made the choice to go to King’s.
The reason I was chosen for the BAEF program was my love of English Literature - specifically DH Lawrence and Thomas Hardy. The idea of going to the UK and studying literature near the place it was conceived was an amazing dream come true. And so off I went. My first memory of King’s was walking up the staircase in the headmasters house and into the girl's quarters. It could not have felt more surreal and I, more a foreigner. There were 24 girls in 6.1 and 6.2 in 1977. It felt straight out of a movie; the towering cold stone building, the single bathroom we shared and then the lesson I got on how to properly make a bed. A bed in a room I shared with Francis Plant. It was freezing and I remember that the blankets weighed a ton! That night I thought - what have I done! Lights out at 10pm while my friends were at university in the US having sex, smoking pot, drinking etc. I was here in this well protected attic space with a curfew. It was quite an adjustment. And the memories of the entire year that I treasure to this day. I made a couple life long friends at King’s and had so many adventures they could fill a book…or make a movie perhaps?Back to Stories
I loved being with everyone in the lunch hall. Toast, toast and more toast was my mainstay. At lunch the younger boys brought us our mail. Since I had two little brothers I was very friendly with the younger boys and it wasn’t long before I became a favorite (2nd always to the school beauty, Louise Smart). One day they arrived with a long package. When I extracted a two foot long salami hall broke out into laughter and the phallic jokes did not stop. My sister and her boyfriend had sent it from Katz’s Deli in NYC who still had a slogan 'send a salami to your boy in the service…' from WWII. That was in my first month or two and it was a real ice breaker.
I loved grabbing my dearest friend Louise Smart and walking arm and arm into town for a tea or coffee.
I loved visiting friends at their welcoming homes nearby in the countryside and seeing first hand how different our cultures are.
I loved it when two younger boys brought me a Jackdaw who had been pecked naked by some bigger birds, we named him Fred. I guess they thought of me as a nurturer (I still am thought of that way) and we fixed him up, the boys brought him food daily, he lived with me until the last day of school when someone’s parents took him to a different part of the countryside for release.
I loved the art class where for the first time in my life, I had a time to sit down and learn to draw. I was terrible but the art teacher was patient and not judgmental.
I loved being the bassoon player in a trio for a school performance. Unfortunately, due to nerves, I was a beat off the entire piece, but I got a lot of compliments on my vibrato (also due to nerves).
I loved visiting the OAs in the area. They were always so glad to see us.
I loved the week it snowed and the entire city of Taunton (probably the whole South West) was shut down and it was quiet and even more beautiful than normal.
I loved my 6-1 and 6-2 English classes. Thank you to Mr Wood who had to spend many an afternoon in the library teaching me how to write a proper English essay. I got a B on my A-level so it paid off.
I didn’t have an official prominent position at the school, other than being 'the American Girl.' I was raised with teachers and knew how to speak with adults so several times I was guest at the headmaster’s table when he had visitors he wanted to impress or entertain I guess.
Leaving King’s was a very hard time for me. I had so many friends, so many memories and I loved it all. I spent the next year at Boston University but found that a love of literature wasn’t the basis for a paying job so I left and moved to NYC. There I worked at a niche Newspaper called The Soho News. I started selling personal ads but graduated to space ads for night clubs which really appealed to my punk rock style. Soon I dated a man who was at NYU film school and he enlisted me as actress, camera assistant, driver, craft service…whatever he needed to get his films made. That was it. I got the bug for film production. Luckily I had great typing and secretarial skills (this was before computers) so I typed my way into the position of a production coordinator, graduated to a production manager and have been an executive producer (line producer) since the early 90’s. Somehow I managed to graduate from NYU Film School by taking courses between films. I concentrated on working with independent and auteur directors. And have been very lucky to work with some of the best. I had my son in 1997, John Gittens, who is now 21 and a Junior at Pitzer College in Claremont, CA. He’s studying environmental science and, of course, loves film.
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