BY FRED CHERNOW
Photos courtesy of Anne Rapp
WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?
My parents were immigrants from Hungary
who came first to Manhattan’s lower East
Side and then the Bronx. I graduated from
Evander Childs High School and went on to
Hunter College, which was then an all-girls
school. My goal was to become a pre-med
major. But lab work, which included cutting
open frogs, turned me off.
DID YOU HAVE A FAMILY OF YOUR OWN?
Yes, I met my future husband on a blind
date. He was a student at the Parsons School
of Design with an unusual first name: Cullen.
He explained when he was born his parents
wanted a name which began with the letter
“C” and chose Carl. This was shortly after the
United States fought World War I and the
doctor who delivered him remarked “Carl”
was too Germanic a name. He suggested
naming our son after popular American
poet, William Cullen Bryant. His parents,
proud naturalized citizens, named him
We started our married life in a Bronx
apartment house. Four years later, when I
was expecting my third child, we moved to
a garden apartment in Kew Gardens. In five
years, we had three children, Gerald, Ellen
and Tina. Next came our house in East Hills,
where we stayed for 23 years.
DID YOU HAVE A CAREER?
Yes, when the children were in school
full time, I enrolled in Queens College and
prepared for a teaching certificate. When I
graduated, the Harbor Hills School on Glen
Cove Road opened and I was hired. I taught
there for 17 years. It was a career I loved. In
addition, I enjoyed volunteer work. Cullen,
by then, was a successful graphic artist and
owned an illustration agency, representing
some famous artists. He shared his enthusiasm
for art with me, and I served as a docent
at the Roslyn Museum of Art. We also began
to collect Americana pieces.
I had heard about a group, called the
Literacy Volunteers of America. They enlisted
tutors who worked with foreign-born and
others who wanted to improve their skills
in English. After training, I was assigned a
Japanese woman whose husband was an
executive with a large Japanese company
(Kikkoman) and sent to the U. S. on a threeyear
assignment. She had some English training
but wanted to improve her reading, writing
and speaking skills. We worked together
every week for 90 minutes. At the end of her
husband’s three year assignment, she was
thrilled with her progress and asked if she
could give my name to another Japanese wife
who was coming here. This began a chain
which went on for 20 years. I still correspond
with these former “students.” Once, when
I was visiting Japan, we held a reunion in
one of their homes. One student refers to
me as her “American mother.” It was a very
WHAT WAS YOUR HUSBAND’S METAPHOR
Not all of our family life was wine and roses.
We suffered, and somehow overcame, the
death of two of our adult children. Cullen,
ever the optimist, agonized quietly. When
I questioned why these tragedies befell us,
Cullen would remind me, “In life you only
sink or swim… and we, Anne, are swimmers.”
HOW DO YOU MANAGE LIVING ALONE?
My husband is gone and my one surviving
child lives in San Diego. She keeps in
close contact but lives hours away. My 9
grandchildren are a joy and I just learned
that #10 will join the family later this year.
I’ve made many friends at NST and I have
a six-foot Native American protector in my
apartment who started life as a wooden
cigar-store Indian. I’m part of a group of 8
ladies who are news junkies. We meet the
last Wednesday of each month to discuss
politics and world affairs. It is a spirited
discussion. I also play Bridge regularly. We
enjoy an occasional meal at Café Cardini or
Luigi on Union Turnpike. For special occasions,
we go to Kyma or Limani in Roslyn.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE PIECE OF
AMERICANA IN YOUR APARTMENT?
No, but one of the most functional
pieces is my Wooton Desk made in 1870
in Indianapolis by William Wooton. It’s a
compact piece of furniture, pictured here.
It has dozens of drawers and small nooks
and crannies. I use all of them.
Collector of Americana
For collectors, Americana refers to artifacts related to the history and cultural heritage
of the United States. Anne, and her late husband, Cullen, bought, sold, and collected
Americana. A visit to their apartment in Building #3 is a nostalgic visit to our country’s
past. The orderly displayed items range from a six-foot tall cigar-store Indian to an actual
carousel horse on a pole and smaller items artfully arranged and maintained.
Anne Rapp at Wooton desk
Ann with husband Cullen
4 NORTH SHORE TOWERS COURIER ¢ June 2018