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Entertaining Hope for Haiti


Since the devastating earthquake happened in Haiti on Tuesday the 12th of this month I have been literally glued to the television as I’m sure most of you have been witnessing the horror. 

From the very first reports that were transmitted through Skype, which I’m not that familiar with, the images looked horrendous. I must say the video feed from Haiti to here was initially so shocking and heartbreaking (not to mention very broken up on the live computer generated feed with reporters).

My mind was drawn immediately to my dear friend Mary Woltz.  Mary and I worked together when we both were living in New York City in the late eighties at a restaurant called  Formerly Joe’s.  Mary was the hostess at the restaurant and I was a waitress.  This is also where I worked with fellow waiters Michael Chikliss and Edie Falco.  I’ve written to you guys pretty extensively about the hilarious times the four of us had in the past.  This is also the same restaurant where we all worked with Anthony Bourdain as well.  You might recognize Anthony Bourdain from the Travel channel and his show “No Reservations.”  Needless to say as you can well imagine we all got into hilarious trouble together. Mary always tried to rein us in. I’m sure that was in part due to her southern charm roots in Mt. Airy, North Carolina.

I include a picture of Mary and I when I visited her in New York City along the East River in November 2000.

As Mary and I became fast friends living blocks away from each other, she on West 10th Street and me on Barrow Street in the West Village of New York City, we always celebrated our birthdays together mine being on the 12th of April and hers being on the 15th of April the same year. Ironically, Formerly Joe’s was also on West 10th Street at the corner of West Fourth Street. 

So these upcoming birthdays where we will both be turning 50 has my head spinning because we will have 100 years between us. I e-mailed Mary an invitation to my 50th birthday party in hopes she could celebrate with me. Our communication is listed below.

(By the way, Mary is the only person other than my mother who is allowed to call me “Kath.” I prefer to use my full name.)


Mary-I am so trying to get in touch with you as our birthdays are coming up - mine April the 12th and yours the 15th! Can you believe we're turning 50?! I'll be having a party April 10th at Lanzi's On The Lake on Route 30 in Mayfield, NY at 2 pm and would love to have you come and celebrate with me.

Please e-mail me back give me an update!

By the way, with the earthquake in Haiti, I seem to remember you used to have contacts there and get baskets made from Haiti?  Do you still have contacts down there? It's so terribly sad what happened down there.

Love, Kathryn


Dear Kath,
Thanks so much for the email!  It was great to hear from you!  I've continued to enjoy your column, and can't believe you've been writing it for 15 years!  Wow!
The best thing I can say about 50 at this point is that it appears to bring friends together.  I've been hearing from friends from high school I hadn't spoken to in decades probably, all lamenting our next birthday.  And now you.  It's wonderful!
Yes, you're exactly right, I did do business in Haiti, and have grieved over their ongoing misery.  And now this.  The only bright spot might be the support they receive to rebuild in a sustainable way, as long as the world does not once again grow tired of them before that can begin.  It is a very special place that I will always love.

It seems like famous people often do outreach to people in third-world countries during a crisis like this. Let’s hope, as Mary said, they don’t “grow tired” of the rebuilding process so the future can have more hope for Haiti than the past seems to have had.

About Kathryn Spira

Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland, OH who pursued an acting career in NYC and Los Angeles, now pursues freelance writing from Caroga Lake in Fulton County, New York. Previous columns may be accessed at her web site

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