UWS Encounters: Alan Alda, Whoopi Goldberg, and a Good Kid

Alan Alda. Photograph by Alan Kotek.

“These two gave me faith.”

On a recent evening after Christmas, my husband and I were walking home along Broadway to our corner at 64th when we crossed paths with an affectionate older couple, walking with arms around each other at waist and shoulder. The man tall and lanky, the woman quite petite, were chatting away as they snuggled and laughed. It was a cold night, so entwined couples might not have been a rarity, but these two gave me faith. The love birds were long-time married couple Alan and Arlene Alda.

— Maria Hartmann

“So do I.”

So many encounters over the years when I was living on the UWS, but the best came with my old mini-poodle, Pringle. I think my favorite was when I brought Pringle home from a walk. We stopped to talk to the doorman and in came Whoopi Goldberg to visit a resident. While the doorman was calling up, Whoopi started petting Pringle’s lower back. I mentioned that he loves to have “his butt” massaged. Without missing a beat she said, “So do I.”

— Beth Senko (UWS 1998-2018)

“There’s Hope!”

On a very windy Columbus Avenue last week, I watched what I believed to be a brother (11-ish) and sister (9-ish)) walking home from school weighed down by oversized backpacks. Despite the burden and the biting wind, they kept up a rather animated conversation that I only caught snippets of as the wind whistled by. My impression was that it was a fairly earnest exchange laced with the occasional laughter. As lots of loose newspapers caught by the wind swirled around us on the sidewalk, a page got caught on the toe of the boy’s sneaker. Instead of pushing it off and moving on, he grabbed it off his shoe, carried it for a block and a half until he found a paper recycle bin on the corner, and dropped it in without missing a step or a word of the conversation. What struck me was how natural the action was to him. Someone taught him well.

— Nancy Cocola

UWS Encounters is a weekly column of stories set on the Upper West Side, written by WSR readers. See your byline in the Rag! Drink your beverage of choice from the WSR mug you’ll receive if you submit an encounter and we post it! Everyone has their moments. Send yours — 150 words or less, real names required — to westsiderag@gmail.com — Subject: Encounters Submission. Include your address, which we won’t publish, but need to deliver your mug.

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COLUMNS | 10 comments | permalink
    1. David Stone says:

      I have had the pleasure of seeing and briefly speaking with Mr. Alda twice while walking outside my home on the UWS. On both occasions I was taken by how nice Mr. Alda was when I saw him and said hello and thank you. He stopped, taking a moment to smile and chat with me. And then to my surprise just last week I bumped into Loretta Switt in a pet store across the street from Mr. Alda’s residence. She too was smiling and friendly when I spoke with her. Such a beautiful woman. How wonderful to live in a location where those who are interesting and talented live as our neighbors and yet could live anywhere. Thank you Mr. Alda and Ms. Switt you made my day.

      • UWS_lifer says:

        If I were you I would keep my eyes peeled for McLean Stevenson or Jamie Farr. It’s only a matter of time I guess.:)

        • Don Ford says:

          I do believe Col. Henry Blake died a number of years ago, but don’t give up looking…you never know who you might encounter on the uws.

          My first big encounter was while on liberty from the USS Missouri in 1950 with Mel Torme by Lincoln Center. A very friendly and polite gentleman

          Another encounter was Helen Mirren in Barney’s during the Christmas holiday several years. My Truly Lovely and Ever-Beautiful bride always claims I had too much vino at dinner. I can only dream.

        • jezbel says:

          I wouldn’t hold my breath for an encounter anytime soon with McLean Stevenson, he’s been dead for about 20 years or so.

    2. SnowBoid says:

      Re: “He’s a Bernedoodle.”


      A dog who supports Bern(i)e Sanders 2020 ?!?

      Hope he never runs into one of them TRUMPeter Swans; very large and quite obnoxious birds.

      • Tim says:

        Why must politics be injected into every UWS story?? Especially one which is about dogs being friends?! TDS is a real thing unfortunately. 🙁

    3. Pucci says:

      I took a flywheel class with Sting over a year ago! He seemed very down to earth and in great shape

    4. LW says:

      As a teacher working to teach my young students about environmental responsibility, it is empowering to read about what that young child did. There IS hope!!

    5. Nancy Caputi says:

      A few years back I was coming around the corner at 74th and westend walking my dog when I saw some lady stopped in the middle of the sidewalk talking, with her uncontrolled dogs blocking the way. The nerve! I was just ready to give an overloud “excuse me!” when I recognized the silhouette of Bernadette Peters with her unmistakeable curly mane. Oops. Ms Peter’s can block any sidewalk she wants as far as I’m concerned. I tiptoed around.

    6. Mel Miller says:

      Although Robert “Robin” MacNeil is Canadian, he has been an UWS resident and I would occasionally run into him. Once at The Viand, I offered to buy his lunch if he would run for President – he declined because he is a Canadian citizen. Another time walking on Columbus I expressed my disappointment in finding out that he was not the real DEEP THROAT – getting a loud chortle.