A Letter from the Fried-Cassorla's - 2013


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Dear family and friends,

This was a busy and happy year -- hope you had one too!

This year was not as significant in terms of major life events as last, when Ben and Priya got married.  But all years are important, and I wouldn't skip a single one -- would you?


Trip to France in July!

Martha and I enjoyed a magnificent trip to France. We visited Paris, Arles, Avignon and other delightful cities and regions.....  For the full story, including magnificent photos and videos (why be falsely modest?),  please click here:

http://fried-cas.com/creative/Photography/France_2013/  Below, are just a few of my favorite pix, just to tease you into checking out the entire France page!


We celebrated our 40th!

Yes, Martha gets the International Tolerance Award for putting up with me for 40 entire years.  Add onto that 6 years where we were together previously, and you get a pretty ancient relationship.   Good thing I still have all my faculties and am not repeating myself or saying the same thing over and over and over again.  And to celebrate our four decades, we had a very nice soiree at our humble abode.


Emma sails at the Port!

Emma has been enjoying her new job at with the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation. There, she is communications manager.  They had a great series at a pier this past summer, and we attended many memorable events. In fact, as I write this, we're planning to head down to Penn's Landing )where most of the events happen) for fireworks. One memorable summer event a rap fest featuring local star Chill Moody.

Here is Emma (waving) at her "I Love Philly!" blitz blow-out!

And Ems still finds time to not only maintain her extensive blog, phillylovenotes.com, but also to host a related party at an extension of our local Arden Theatre. There, she hosted 2,000 of her closest friends!  She put together a huge list of sponsors, had live music, free food and beer and more.

Her activities are amazingly varied -- amazing at least to us oldies.  For example, she just returned from a trip to Kentucky bourbon distilleries, including a stop-over at relatives, the Grubor family. Not long ago, she attended a foam dance party, did Uzbeki dancing and participated in a session on Philadelphia innovation at local hot-spot Johnny Brenda's.

We're still proud of our Ems!








Mini-Vacations at Lake Keuka, NY, Thurmont and Baltimore, MD, and soon, Washington  DC and L.A.

Two Marthas!  Martha Fried-Cassorla (left) with Martha Ruffo.  Cap'n Dan is at the helm!

We had a great timer with our friend Dan and Martha Ruffo at their lakeside vacation home on Lake Keuka, a finger lake.  As usual, they were the consummate hosts, full of love and "welcome"-ness.  Is that a word?  If not, consider it your first neologism, of the year! Dan took us for a ride on his speedy motor-boat, right up to lakeside restaurant.  And Dan indulged me by portraying King Tut in a Mel Brooks-Carl Reiner (200-year old man) inspired improv.... as shown below!

King Tut was interviewed in August by Merlin.  Weren't they contemporaries?


We also had a great time at Brooklyn Bridge Park with Jean Kirk and Gail Winter.  It was a superb day in a cleverly designed park with ramps, river views, tug boats, the skyline, and best of all, the company of our friends.


Betty keeps on keepin' on at 91

My Mom continues to live at our ancestral home in Bellmore, Long Island, NY.  We talk almost every morning.  And while her mind is not as sharp as it used to be, we still have good conversations.  This past Thanksgiving, we had a family dinner with her, bringing a turkey and such. My brother Marshall and Christina brought the rest. 

Betty with cousin Meryl Annibale

It was a great occasion until.... my Mom fainted. Turns out she was very anemic.  Cousin Caryn Camhi, a nurse, got it together to insist we call for an ambulance. To make a long story short, Betty was hospitalized for two days and received two blood transfusions.  She ended up stronger for it and now will be more closely monitored.  So there's a sort of happy ending for her and us.

Despite all of this my Mom is in reasonably good health, with aches and pains of course. My brother Marsh sets up two and three-way Skype sessions for my Mom and brothers.  We have been singing to: "How do you do my partner," "If I were a Rich Man,"
and "Port Said" recently. If you want to hear my mom tell some of her stories, search on Youtube for Betty Cassorla, and you will find 9 or so.  Or just watch her tell about "Uncle Yusef's Crazy Dance" at

Betty welcomes visitors and phone calls from all who care about her, and these are legion.  In fact, give her a ring now why don'tcha at 1-516-781-3590.


Martha loves singing -- now in two choirs!

In recent years, Martha has developed her singing skills and found plenty of ways to learn and perform. Her former voice teacher, Cailin Matson, moved to New England, but she found a good instructor in Eleanor Macchia. She takes lessons with her every week.  Also, Martha sings with Germantown Concert Choir, and most recently has joined Singing City. 

Martha with her Singing City colleagues at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

That is a prominent choral group in Philly. She was very happy to pass her audition.  This year, she has performed at varied locations, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, St. Luke's Cathedral and elsewhere. 

Martha continues to enjoy providing psychotherapy to patients in Jenkintown, where she maintains a private office, and in Center City (downtown).


I, Albert, am still enjoying teaching and writing!

When things are going well, teaching can be wonderful.  The students I teach have colorful and interesting personalities. Almost all are willing to learn.... I learn from them, they from me, and all of us benefit from our often fascinating subject matter (sincerely said). 

Last school year 2012-2013, was one of my best ever as a teacher... and this year, 2013-2014, has so far been just as good.  It is my 8th year of teaching overall and my 6th at Edison-Fareira High School, in a Latino area of Philly.   Developing a curriculum was a large part of my work last year, and I loved developing teaching units about (Everyman, Pygmalion and My Fair Lady. Dance, History of Movies, and Opera, History of Theatre and more. This year, I am teaching World Literature as part of English 2 to 10th graders.    Even though I have taught Julius Caesar and A Christmas Carol before, I am building on prior years....

Once students understood Julius Caesar's basic plot and relationships, and key passages, they were ready to appreciate a theatrical presentation in the form of a film.  Students were surprisingly gripped by the 1950's version of Julius Caesar, with James Mason as Brutus, Marlon Brando as Marc Antony and Louis Calhern as Caesar.  Usually, they cannot stand black and white films, but the power of Shakespeare and these fine actors kept them rapt.

In the balance of the school year, we have many skills to teach and varied readings and writing assignments. Here, in no particular order are some topics we will cover: non-fiction readings as per the new Core Curriculum, persuasive essays, autobiographies, short stories, poetry, Philosophical Chairs, Socratic Seminars, poetry, units or partial lessons on History of Literature, Philosophy and more.

I do not mean to minimize the effects of Pennsylvania's budget cuts. Please pardon me while I ascend my soapbox for a moment: The state has eliminated many teaching, counseling and nursing positions at the neediest schools, including mine. Governor Corbett and his cronies value fracking and their vested interests more than they do our children's future, despite lip service to the contrary. And President Obama with his conservative think-tank education policies has done more to destroy public schools in our city than just about any other American city.  Huge chunks of our enrollment tax dollars now go to charter schools, which are poorly monitored and which do no better than our public schools. We in the public schools accept the most disadvantaged, whereas they can reject these youth as unsuitable.  We need well-funded public schools with a full array of services. Enough said.   


Staging plays and making movies

During the summer, I had a reading of the third installment in my 3-part comedic saga about the Midthassel-Kazarnowicz family, Life in a Washing Machine.  My friend, Chris Hill, and relatives, Tom Petersen and Jesse-Fried-Petersen, all helped by playing roles.  Here's how the down-home reading looked:


A reading of Life in a Washing Machine at our local Creekside Coop in Elkins Park

Also in August, I made a 12-minute movie called Appreciation, about two young people jogging on South Street and taking about a particular secret.  Thank you, Jaclyn Kulchinski and Justin Perkins for participating in that fine adventure. The results of it are here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZYI_o3h0TFg

Jaclyn and Justin acting in Appreciation


In September, my play Two Harolds was treated to a powerful performance by two Johns at the Mermaid Inn in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia.  The show was kindly previewed in the press, well attended and enthusiastically received by the crowd. What a night!

John Colgan-Davis (right) and John Cameron, stars of Two Harolds

The crowd appreciated them!

John Colgan-Davis and John Cameron, stars of Two Harolds

As I write this letter, we are about to continue rehearsals for another performance at the Mermaid Inn, this one the first full staging ever of Life in a Washing Machine.  I am so looking forward to it!  My actors and director Ginger Agnew have been so into it and professional. I am fortunate to have them.


Our Bailey has passed away!

Here she was, ordering Omaha Steaks while we slept!

Our dear and noisy canine partner for 26 years, Bailey, has died.  She was a fine barker, good running companion, and a great lap sitter. She genuinely seemed to listen to our blatherings.  We miss her tremendously. 

No, we don't want another dog. Too much other stuff needs our time and attention.  But we are glad to have had "the dog ownership experience," and for that, despite my many complaints, we thank our Emma, who insisted we get a dog.  It made our lives richer.  If you like, see Bailey's memorial page here: http://fried-cas.com/Family_and_Friends/Bailey/Bailey.html


Our Melrose Park Philosophy Club continues to ponder concepts such as chaos theory, philosophy of science and more.   We have a wonderful group of folks gathering every two months or so for great conversation and camaraderie.  Interested in attending or getting on our e-mail list? Do drop me a line!

And the work of our Melrose Park Neighbors Association has been rewarding. Since 1990, we have been providing a good way to build the neighborhood, fight over-development, beautify the hood and more. Our new leader is the remarkably energetic and bright spirit, Caryl Levin.  This year, board members Ricki Lent and Debbie Posmontier ran a successful poster-making contest at local schools. This helped develop neighborhood pride. Here is one thumbnail of a sample:

For the full story, visit here: http://www.melroseparkneighbors.org/poster_contest_2013/


Also, we had a planting and weeding session on Earth Day at our $2.6 million train station (that we helped get built), and we convinced our local commuter rail system, SEPTA, to plant about twelveserviceberry trees along the embankments of their RR tracks, I recommend building or joining a neighborhood association as a great way to connect and accomplish much. 

I continue to talk, lunch and occasionally work off calories by running with my great and attentive friend Dick Goldberg!



Well, that's it for now!  Stay good and be as happy as you can possibly be!





Albert, Martha, and family!

7408 Woodlawn Avenue, Melrose Park PA 19027
e-mail: albert@fried-cas.com
Poems, movie reviews, biographies, photography, plays and more are at:
On youtube.com search for "Fried-Cassorla" or "playwrightguy"

phone: 215-635-5189