May 20, 2024

MEDIUM: "FINGERNAILS SCRAPING ON A BLACKBOARD: Do You HEAR What I’m Hearing? The loudness of living"


Do you have panic attacks of fight-or-flight when you suddenly find yourself walking through a jungle and think you hear warning cries emitted by a macaque monkey?

Or the frikkin' sounds of guinea pigs squealing in elementary school classrooms?

Or someone CHEWING on an ice cube?

Knuckle-cracking, jaw-clicking, gulping, sniffing, whispering, and for some people, even the sound of someone's breathing, can fall hard on hyper-sensitive ears.

It’s called misophonia and I have it.

Click here for "Do you HEAR What I'm Hearing?: The Loudness of Living"

May 17, 2024

My Family's Obsession with Buster Brown Shoes


My Family’s Obsession with Buster Brown Shoes

Saddle Shoes & Maryjanes reigned supreme

Photo by

A friend of mine once circulated this question on Facebook:

“Does anyone remember getting a new pair of shoes for the first day of school?”

My response: “Hell, yeah! I do!!”

She came to the right person. My father (David Kogen) was an executive with Brown Shoe Company for eons. They even named a shoe after him called “The Kogey.”

This is a photo of my father in his Empire State Building office in New York City. From the colorful array of shoes and sandals, we can surmise that this was a Spring/Summer line.
Courtesy of Author’s Archives

This is a photo of my father in his Empire State Building office in New York City. From the colorful array of shoes and sandals, we can surmise that this was a Spring/Summer line.

Turns out, when I hit first grade, I was “model size,” which was lay term for “shoe sample size.” Can you believe??? I was thrilled. My wardrobe of shoes suddenly expanded to a preposterous amount of shoes for any 7-year-old. The bounty, that I carefully lined up on the floor of my closet, included:

- Red pigskin loafers

- Green pigskin loafers

- Brown leather loafers with both a kilt on the vamp

- And another pair of brown loafers with a buckle on the vamp

- Black patent-leather Maryjanes

- White patent-leather Maryjanes

- Blue leather Maryjanes

- Black and white saddle shoes

- Brown and white saddle shoes

Raise your hand if you remember this cutie T-strap sandal for summer. I had it in RED, BLUE, and NATURAL LEATHER.

Courtesy of

Buster Brown Shoes reigned supreme in my childhood. Besides the Empire State Building, my father had an office at the house. Open the door, and WHOA!! There was his collection of Buster Brown lamps, old cartoons, watches, prints, rings, rugs, buttons, advertisements, posters, and more. It completely wow-ed my friends. Inevitably, they wanted to try on the rings and watches.

One summer night during a vacation in New England, my family and some friends were sitting on the beach around a campfire. My brother, sister and I were coaxed by our parents into singing the Buster Brown jingle, which we had memorized because, hey, it was our bread and butter. To sing along to this kitschy, catchy song, click here.

There are fashion reports galore on how people can predict, with a striking 90% accuracy, personality traits of strangers based solely on their shoes. Studies find that those who wear certain styles are more introverted or extroverted, emotionally stable, shlumpy, or fashionista. They can also reveal the owner's age, gender, and social status.

Summary: It's all about the shoes.

My father instilled in me a real penchant for shoes. God forbid, there were any scuffs or worn-down heels. (We kept the local shoemaker busy.)

So all those “sample pairs” lying on the floor in my closet? Was I making a statement at age 7? Could a trained eye tell the difference whether my patent leather shoes were polished with Vaseline and the leather ones with Kiwi Shoe Polish? Is there a personality split between the black-and-white saddle shoes and the brown-and-white?

Thus, it is no wonder that this daughter of a man who represented, and revered, The Brown Shoe Company of St. Louis, Missouri, believed heart and sole, in the phrase:

"You can always tell a person by the shoes they wear."

May 6, 2024

Remember the broach I wore to that party?

 This is the mirror on the back wall of the Music Room at Caramoor. According to Samantha Perkins, in the Rosen House Collections and Archives department, "The mirror is a XVI Century octagonal carved and gilt mirror from Florence. It was purchased by the Rosens from the Italian antique dealer Adolf Loewi. "We have yet to locate the receipt to indicate when It was purchased, but it has always hung in the location where you saw it in the music room. Walter Rosen designed the layout of that wall and placed it there." 


Music Room, east wall of balcony (Photo courtesy of Rosen House at Caramoor)

Doesn't it look like the diamond broach I wore to that party? Remember? The shape of it and the way it reflects light? You commented on how beautiful the cut was.  

I will never forget what you said next.

I will always remember what you said next.

(Two ways of saying the same thing.)

May 2, 2024

The Queen of Hearts: My Mom

 My sister, always "the little helper." 
Here she is helping my mother play cards. 

At 93, Mom may forget a lot of things in-the-moment but she continues to play a wicked game of Gin Rummy. A true winner!

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