Arts & Entertainment

Somers Author Takes a '30s Walk on the Upper West Side

Lyla Blake Ward Credits: Photo courtesy of Lyla Blake Ward

SOMERS, N.Y.--Today the Upper West Side is an eclectic mix of artists and affluence and homes there are some of the most desirable and expensive in the world. But it wasn’t always this way. 

For Lyla Blake Ward of Somers, who grew up in the West End during the 1930s and 40s, things weren’t much different. In “Broadway, Schrafft’s and Seeded Rye: Growing Up Slightly Jewish on the Upper West Side,” the 89-year-old author’s memories offer a unique and insightful look into growing up in New York’s “Gilded Ghetto.” 

Through a series of humorous essays, poems and vintage photos, Ward examines her childhood growing up in the 110th and 72nd area of Manhattan. From shooting marbles and visiting Schrafft’s confectionary to joining American Women’s Voluntary Service during World War II, she creates a vivid experience of what it was like growing up partly Jewish in New York during the Depression and early years of World War II. Friends and readers alike have noted the accuracy of her depiction of the Upper West Side during this time.

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“Someone once told me that the Jewish mother I’d described in ‘Reborn on the Fourth of July’ could easily have been their Irish mother or Italian mother from our neighborhood,” Ward said. 

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