Doris Mare, Designer/Psychoanalytic Administrator

Resident at Westbeth since 1970

My husband Emil and I moved into Westbeth in March 1970. I was 24 years old, five months pregnant, and working full time. We had been married for almost five years. So many of my husband’s schoolmates (already with families) moved in that it seemed like a School of Visual Arts dorm. Since many of them were our friends, we had to institute a phone-first rule to halt the doorbell ringing at all hours. Instructors became our neighbors too.

Our son Andrew was born on July 13. I think he was the second Westbeth baby. When Andrew was 2, Sue Binet asked me if I’d like to join a playgroup. I didn’t even know what that was, but I said yes. The playgroup met in the space that became the Flea Market. The following year, a group formed the Westbeth Co-op Nursery School. It was wonderful. An amazing teacher was hired each year, and we ran classes for 3s and 4s. Neighborhood people enrolled as well, so it was quite diverse. This was the foundation for so many of our Westbeth kids. It only lasted for two years because it could no longer be held in the Community Room.

Alas, concurrent with the amazing parenting here, the grownups were growing up too. There was quite a lot of partner switching, a lot of tears, and a lot of midnight handholding. I think the pressure had built up for some young marriages—having kids, all to avoid the draft. Anyway, after the end of the first year, a good portion of the parents were splitting up. I can’t imagine how they worked out who got to keep the Westbeth apartment. The HUD leases did not require that the artist remained. I am sure that the glue that sometimes kept couples together, like Emil and me, was not wanting to lose this wonderful home.

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