— Taking John along with you.
UU liFE: Where was you raised, and how?
Jane: I was raised as a Roman Catholic only child in Old Bridge, New Jersey – which is in the central part of the state – and more oriented to New York City than Philadelphia. My parents and both sets of grandparents were mixed Catholic-Protestant marriages. My father went along with the agreement that any children of the marriage would be raised Catholic, which was a condition for my parents being married by a priest. However, I attended public school and then attended Catechism classes after school all through my school years. I waxed and waned over the years in my devotion. In high school, I began to question some of the theology and pronouncements of the church. One of my predominant objections was to the church’s prohibition against any form of birth control. When I was about 21 years old, I broke with the church and stopped attending weekly Mass when I was home. This was somewhat painful for me and my mother, but it was tolerated.
How have you made your living?
Since 1990, I have been working in public libraries. I started part-time in Prince George’s County Memorial Library System and after I moved to the shore, I landed a part-time job in Caroline County Public Library in 1994. In 1996, I was promoted to full-time and that’s where I’m still working. Before that, John supported me while I was a stay-at-home mom.
At the library, I feel my calling is linking people to resources. I listen to requests for information and either do some research, or sometimes I am aware of just the organization that addresses a particular need. It’s a plus to me when I can offer just a little bit more than the customer expects. Sometimes I am helping people in their “search for truth and meaning.” And I am frequently challenged to respect “the inherent worth and dignity of every person”. It is not always easy to live up to that principle.
What’s the most remarkable thing you’ve done?
The one unexpected thing that I’ve done, that has made a longer lasting impact in my life, has been getting involved with community theatre. Since high school, I had always wanted to be in a play- it was on my bucket list, but I had not attempted it in college or in adult life. In between the blizzards of February, 2010, when I became 60 years old, I took a workshop offered by Tred Avon Players on how to audition for a play. The late David Foster, of our Fellowship, was the leader of the workshop and he encouraged me to pursue theatre. I didn’t audition for that next play that TAP was putting on, but later that year, I auditioned and got a part at Church Hill Theatre. Now, six years later, I’ve been in seven shows at Church Hill Theatre (one as a last minute substitute), four shows with ShoreShakespeare, one show with Caroline Association of Theatre plus I’ve done one monologue for Hugh Gregory Gallagher Motivational Theatre and participated in a Caroline County Council of Arts Literary Dinner.
A related remarkable thing is that my husband John has also gotten involved in theatre. He’s been in five productions with ShoreShakespeare, starting with their very first show. He also videotapes the productions and helps that way as well. Since the preparation for a show takes months, it’s great that we can both do that together.
What’s the most fulfilling theatrical role you’ve played?
My favorite role was Emma Cristano, an Italian grandmother from Hoboken, NJ in Over the River and Through the Woods at Church Hill Theatre in 2013. The role offered lots of comedy plus romantic aspects as well as poignant moments.
At the moment, my primary theatrical role is that of producer. Caroline County Public Library is sponsoring a theatrical adaptation of this year’s One Maryland One Book, All American Boys, by Reynolds and Kiely.
This is the ninth One Maryland One Book program of Maryland Humanities. We are planning to bring this story to life on the stage and we’re having plenty of challenges. I also have two small parts in the play and also hope that John takes two other small parts. Performances are at 7pm at Colonel Richardson High School on October 7 and 7pm at North Caroline High School on October 14th.
What role would you like to play?
There’s no role that I’m hoping to play, but when a show is announced, I usually study the possible characters and I pick a favorite. However, when I’m cast in another part, I generally grow to love it. And I’ve even loved roles as servants with no lines. I had a lot of fun and involvement as a servant in Romeo and Juliet.
What’s the Next Big Thing for you?
There are two big thing looming for me. One is becoming a grandmother this fall by my son and daughter-in-law in China. It’s a bittersweet blessing because they will be so far away. Technology can help a bit, but I’m a “Reluctanttechie”.
The other big thing is retirement in 2017. I think it will be a challenge to me to find meaningful ways to stay connected with the community which comes so naturally as part of my job in a public library.
How do you serve UUFE, and why?
At the moment, I think the best thing I do is to attend services almost every week. I’ve been a member since the fall of 1993 and have served on the Board several times, as Financial Secretary when I could use my own computer at home, as an RE Teacher, as a coffee maker, as a helper at yard sales and a few other small jobs. I’ve been the Chair of the Personnel Committee for a long time and agreed to be on the Nominating & Leadership Development Committee again. When I go out and about, especially in the Easton area, I’m always proud of seeing a lot of UU members at events and leading worthy projects such as Talbot Interfaith Shelter.