By Carol Tannenhauser
Recently, when I needed a photograph of cherry blossoms for a Monday Bulletin announcing the start of this year’s season, I turned to West Side Rag’s resident flower-and-tree photographer/poet, Mildred Alpern. First, I went to our archive of photos and found — what I thought was — a cherry tree. Without telling her why, I sent it to Mildred, asking, “Is this yours?” She replied, “Yes.”
When I ran the photo with the cherry blossom story, a commenter named Frank noticed that the tree was, in fact, not a cherry tree:
Frank 1 hour ago Waiting for approval
FYI, the tree pictured is aa American Redbud, not a cherry tree.
“Is he right?” I wrote to Mildred, distraught.
“I think he is right,” she responded.
“I can’t win!” I wrote.
“Yeh…so it goes,” Mildred responded. “As Joe E. Brown says in the last line of Some Like it Hot “Nobody’s perfect.“
Did she mean to put the closing quotation mark backwards to prove her point, as she did? I’ll never know. Mildred Alpern died at the age of 91, on Tuesday, April 11, 2023. The West Side Rag has lost a talented contributor and dear friend.
We have long intended to profile Mildred, but foolishly took time for granted. Here is a bio she wrote for herself, at our request:
“Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Mildred is a graduate of Girls’ Latin School, Boston University, and Columbia University Teachers College. A former teacher of modern European History, she has served as a consultant and test developer for the College Board’s Advanced Placement Program, publishing articles and student guides. In the seventh decade of her life, as a New York Upper West Sider with a point and shoot camera, she charted the daily installation of Christo’s “Gates” in Central Park in 2005 and became a daily photographer. A camera upgrade became her tool on walks and car rides through New York city streets and on country roads. A contributor to the online local newspaper West Side Rag, she has had her photos selected for juried exhibitions nationally and internationally. She feels fortunate to have a passion that she so enjoys and can continuously develop at age ninety-one.”
To read and see Mildred Alpern’s contributions to the Rag click here.