In Her Words
Candid profiles of strength told by the women of Northbridge
Throughout the month of March we have collaborated to celebrate Women’s History Month and the rich history of the amazing women living in our communities. Their candid stories are brimming over with love, happiness, passion, family values and the markings of individuals who have truly lived well and loved life.
Elizabeth’s Story (Resident of Avita of Wells)
What is your name?
Elizabeth- when I was a child I was called Betty, but throughout my later years in Theatre, I became more commonly known as Chase.
What are the names of your parents and brothers and sisters?
My mother was Elizabeth and my father was Captain Floyd of the United States Navy. I had only one brother who was much older than me, his name was Stewart.
How did your parents choose your name? Does it have a special meaning? Did you have any nicknames?
Elizabeth is a family name. I was a third generation Elizabeth following both my grandmother and mother.
When and where were you born?
I was born in October 1929 in Kingsport, Tennessee. As a young child still, we relocated to Bronxville, NY due to my father’s career in the Navy.
What kinds of things did your family do together when you were young?
I remember my family and I taking vacations together quite a bit. We would often go sailing. My father loved the sea and I remember staying at a place that cared for the children during the day while the adults would go out sailing. We would play games and have quite a bit of fun. We also would attend all the military parades and ceremonies. Always!
What did you love to do with your friends?
When I was young, we lived in a neighborhood directly across from the school in a community with a lot of children. It was a small, intimate community where all the children would play games together in the centralized grassy knoll. We would play all sorts of games such as “red rover, red rover”, “hide and seek”, “tag”, “hopscotch”, and really everything you could think of for the common games played by children. My best friend was named Betsy. We spent lots of time playing dolls and making up stories. I loved being part of the Girl Scouts.
What schools did you attend? What were your favorite subjects?
I graduated from Bronxville High School in New York. After high school, I attended Wheaton College in Norton, MA to study theatre and writing and also was a proud member of the Phi Beta Kappa organization. I loved theatre! I went on to obtain my Master’s degree in theatrical performance from Columbia University. Throughout my schooling, I never really had a favorite subject as I really enjoyed learning all subjects and loved to absorb everything I possibly could.
If married, what is/was your husband’s name? How did he propose?
When I met my recent husband, Clark “Mac”, we both had two children from previous marriages. We married in June of 1980 with a ceremony at Poughkeepsie Quaker Meeting in Poughkeepsie, NY. I’m not sure the details of his formal proposal, but I guess you could say at that point in our lives, we proposed to each other. Joining our families together with two children each we raised, Leonardo, Amanda, Will & Jonathan with all four children present as witness to our marriage vows.
What are your children’s names?
My two children are Leonardo and Amanda.
Have you had jobs? Who did you work for?
My career was in theater and acting. I worked in Avon, CT as a theatrical technician right out of school. My career started with Shakespeare Festivals, Broadway Production Tours of “The World of Suzie Wong” and other regional productions. I spent many years in television by staring in shows such as, “Search For Tomorrow”, “The Guiding Light”, “Young Doctor Malone”, and “Today is Ours.” I then taught at Oakwood School in Poughkeepsie, NY from 1978-1991 as the Theatre Director, in which I directed 27 performances, several in which won award recognition. After retiring from teaching, I returned to acting in my late 60’s and starred in shows like, “On Golden Pond”, “Driving Miss Daisy”, “Steel Magnolias” and others. Acting was my life, my love, my career.
What are your hidden talents?
I can remember this time when I had the ability to connect deeply through silent communication and a calming presence with an enormously sized eagle owl named Mandarin. It was so inspiring and he pecked through my hair around the crown of my head as a way of saying “thank you.”
What did you do to get through the difficult times in your life?
Persistence. I tell myself “one day at a time” “Let me just take care of today.” I have had many difficult times to overcome both on my own and together with my husband and our children. It was important for me to know that support is always there if I can reach out for it. My faith and friends, attending Quaker meetings and being able to accept the help gave me the strength I needed. When thinking about getting through my most difficult times, my dear friend Dorthea Bloom comes to mind. She was a guiding spirit for me and remained that way through many difficult times. She was a mother, sister, friend for so many years. Having somebody in my life to trust and talk out my feelings to and then repeating my mantra, “one day at a time” “what can I do today” was so important.
Do you have holiday traditions? What do you do for the holidays?
Holidays were something we always enjoyed. The family taking time to get together and spend quality time. My church was always very significant during the holidays.
What are some of your favorite things?
I love reading! My father worked for Kingsport Press in Tennessee so we always had books in the house. That must be the reason I have always loved reading. I enjoyed swimming and tennis and of course, acting. I would love to perform in plays because there was always a variety of people with so many different talents that we would just create our own little world and it was a world of choice these people made.
What are your favorite things to do now?
All my life I have enjoyed helping people. When I am in a group situation, people reveal different parts of themselves and I like to encourage them. One thing I like about living here is that I find people who need me and I will reach out to them to try and help. We are all in some way handicapped whether afraid, confused, or insecure and I enjoy trying to encourage changing someone’s day for the positive. That feels good to me and gives me purpose.
What are your favorite experiences to partake in at Avita of Wells?
Theatre club is fun. It’s another way to work collectively with a group of people. I also enjoy any programs that are educational or historical with discussions among the group. Any groups that encourage continuous learning and creative thinking where we need to make connections and share points of view. I also love the poetry groups. Words are beautiful.
What do you hope for your children and grandchildren?
My hope is that their lives can be filled with peace, serenity and freedom to try new things and to take risks in order to discover a whole new side of themselves.
What is your biggest piece of advice?
Stand still, look around, decide what you want to do and embrace it. Sometimes it may be scary or fun or even sad but experiences need to be embraced. Also, make people smile.
Sum your personality up in one word...
Curious. I love the explore new things and new people.