Alan Chartock | I, Publius: A meditation on the lovely Roselle, as she turns 75


GREAT BARRINGTON — Happy 75th birthday to the lovely Roselle. She is one unbelievable lady. I really had no idea what I was getting when I married her in 1970, and here we are, going on to 49 years together.

Who knows anyone who stays married for 49 years? She often says, "It isn't easy being married to Alan Chartock."

She has had to live through many phases. She has suffered through so many different mashugana diets that she has lost count. She complains that, for years, the reminders of each individual diet have remained in the refrigerator until she takes the law into her own hands and jettisons whatever she considered dangerous.

Roselle is both an artist and an extraordinary author who has written five books, four already published and the one on Elvis Presley's love for Jewish people still in search of a publisher. She was a beloved teacher at Monument Mountain Regional High School.

Whenever I meet someone who had her as a teacher, they always say something like, "She was the best teacher I ever had." One guy wrote on her birthday: "I'll never forget our trip to Washington."

They shouldn't — she arranged to meet with Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas and U.S. Sen. Ed Brooke.

She never took any nonsense. She was fair but had standards, and old students often mention that she played the guitar in their social studies classes to make her academic points.

To understand her character, consider that while she was raising Jonas and Sarah, putting up with me and teaching full time at Monument, she drove up to the University of Massachusetts several nights a week to earn a doctorate in education.

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I want to take a second to remind everyone that Roselle and her late colleague, John "Jack" Spencer, started what turned out to be the very first Holocaust curriculum for high school students when they taught at Monument. This was so important that it was written about in The New York Times.

She had the guts to fight for what she thought was right when there was an organized attempt to shut the unit down. That unit led to the first of Roselle's (and Jack's) books that has now gone through four printings. You can get it at most bookstores in its latest iteration under the title, "Can it Happen Again?"

She picks wonderful subjects that people might think have no potential and turns them into gold. Her book "Windsor Mountain School, a Beloved Berkshire Institution" was a real page-turner and made the case for progressive and Freudian-inspired public education. We recently had a guest who picked it up and couldn't put it down. Pete Seeger stayed with us one night and couldn't put down the Holocaust book.

Most people, upon meeting Roselle, can't believe that she married me. We hear that all the time. People really like her.

Speaking of which, she is my biggest critic. She picked Bill Clinton out of a crowd very early, though now I think she has some reservations. Her greatest hero, and I really have to agree, is Barack Obama.

She can barely contain herself when it comes to the subject of Donald Trump. Now, I have real problems with the guy, to the point that I believe he is trying to lead us down the road to fascism, but Roselle keeps looking for other potential places to live if Trump wins a second time.

The point is, she is a truly wonderful wife. Happy 75th, Roselle. You don't look it.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of The Berkshire Eagle.


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