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See Party On, p. 48 for
Meet a Spree writer:
We’re trying to remember how long you’ve written for Spree—it’s
been at least a decade. Do you recall some of your first submissions?
Forever? Certainly at least two decades. I really don’t remember my earliest
submissions, but I’d come from the Buffalo News, where I was a feature writer, so I
stayed in that vein. For a while, I wrote mostly about people with unusual jobs, like
a rabbi who certified foods as kosher.
Tell us a bit about your professional background. We know you
were a reporter for the News; what was it like then?
After college, I went to work as a copywriter for a local ad agency, and then
I got hired at the Buffalo News in the only editorial opening they had, writing
wedding announcements for the society pages! As soon as I was able to, I wriggled
my way into the features department, where I was much happier. This was back
in the day when we were the only sizable urban newspaper in the country that
was not computerized. We used manual typewriters and carbon-copied our stories.
Dark ages in more ways than one. I helped start a Women’s Caucus, and we were
successful in getting the administration to assign women to beats traditionally
reserved for men—like police and the courts—and also got equal pay for women
reporters who’d been shortchanged despite having comparable experience to male
You also have a very interesting and multitalented family—both
immediate and extended. Give us some highlights.
My in-laws, two remarkable and outstanding citizens, died this year, both in
their nineties. My brother-in-law, Richard Lipsitz, was a long-time labor lawyer,
and his wife, Rita, was assistant to the chair of the UB English Department during
the heyday of that program. Perhaps you’ve seen my husband, John Lipsitz,
on billboards and TV commercials with his partners at Lipsitz & Ponterio—they
represent people exposed to toxins in the workplace. John and I have a daughter,
Raina, who’s a freelance writer in New York, most recently writing about politics for
The Nation magazine. Our son Devin is a preschool teacher who just moved back
to Buffalo with his wife Kayleigh. She’s a medical social worker; they both got jobs
here and are excited to be living in Buffalo, where they pay much less for more
living space than they ever had in Brooklyn. Our youngest, Harry, stayed in Buffalo
after graduating college in Pittsburgh. He has been working as a producer and also
helping to cast films in the burgeoning Buffalo film industry. I come from a family
of nine, and, at the risk of alienating the rest of my siblings will mention just one,
my brother, Dr. Stephen Scrivani, who is a partner in Limestone Primary Care—only
because, he, too, appears on one of those billboards you can hardly miss, a giant ad
for Independent Health. I have never been featured on a billboard of any kind.
You also have completed some book projects. Which have been
I’ve written and co-written a few books on historic preservation in Buffalo,
but my favorite is a children’s guide called All About Buffalo, illustrated by one
of Buffalo’s premier artists, Michael Morgulis. The book came about after a visit
to what was then my son’s preschool classroom in Brooklyn. He told the students
there was time to ask me three questions about his hometown, and all
three questions were weather-related. I promised to send the kids some
books about Buffalo, the second largest city in the state. I could not find
any that were age-appropriate, so I decided to write one, and had the
brilliant idea of asking Morgulis to join me. He did, and the result is not
only a great guide to our city for little kids, but a real work of art.
Neither you nor your husband seem retired, but you do
have some free time. What is your favorite way to spend it?
I guess we are semi-retired. John has started to wind down his law
practice. We hope to increase our commitment to organizations like
Planned Parenthood, Just Buffalo Literary Center, and the Coalition for
Economic Justice. We support the local arts/cultural scene; we love to
go to museums and galleries and extend our collection of local artists’
work. We are long-time subscribers to Irish Classical and Torn Space
theaters. This year, we’ve signed on to Jewish Repertory Theatre. We
also love movies and are fans of Grant Golden’s Old Chestnut Film
Society. Traveling is a passion; we are frequent visitors to New York City.
This year, we have plans to join a fall food tour in Croatia and hope to
spend part of next summer in Italy.
Reasons you love Buffalo (just 3):
I love Buffalo for its history and architecture, fantastic food, and the
feeling of hope that has persisted through many ups and downs—more
of the former, now, it seems!
Of the 106 public statues in Buffalo, only a few
depict women, including Spirit of Womanhood, which
is along the Scajaquada, and a plaque for the Joan Fuzak
Memorial Garden at the Erie Basin Marina.
That’s about to change. The Erie County Commission
on the Status of Women and the Monumental Women
of WNY Committee have announced a new program
to highlight the achievements of Western New York
women. Monumental Women of WNY will recognize
trailblazing women of WNY through the placement
of a series of public monuments and plaques that will
highlight the “hidden history” of women in our
public life and help to raise awareness of the
many contributions that women have made to
“We are hoping to have the first three
monuments completed by 2020 to mark the
100th anniversary of the women’s suffrage
movement, and we invite the public to be a
part of this exciting project” says Karen King,
executive director ECCSW.
The first monument recognizes Louise
Bethune, the first professional woman
architect in the United States, who includes
Lafayette Hotel among her significant and
enduring architectural achievements. The
second monument recognizes civil rights
leader Mary Talbert, a founder of the Niagara
Movement that was a precursor to today’s
If you have an idea of which monumental
woman should be recognized and celebrated,
Spirit of Womanhood, by Larry Griffis Jr.