My Walks with Oscar
By Cynthia Price, San Diego, CA
Growing up in Doylestown in Bucks County was a true blessing and privilege that impacted my life in so many wonderful ways. Aside from the beauty and rich history of the area, I was constantly surrounded and influenced by incredibly kind, wise and talented writers, musicians and humanitarians. And most special of all to me was my neighbor, friend and walking companion, Oscar Hammerstein II.
I lived on Cherry Lane. Our house was one half mile from Oscar’s big white mansion on East Road. Swimming was my passion. Every summer morning I rode my bike to the Fanny Chapman pool up and over “Hammerstein Hill” as I called it. More often than not Oscar was out walking and writing.
Since the hill was so big and I so small, I needed to walk my bike to the top which is how Oscar and I became walking companions. We talked about everything from the weather, school, my swim team, his songs, my family, you name it and we covered it! What a pair we were – he with his pad and pencil always looking dapper and me in my swim suit, sneakers and towel, blonde pigtails flying in the breeze. With the Black Angus steer grazing on one side and a huge corn field on the other, it was the perfect peaceful setting for our walks and chats in the sunshine.
One day he asked what I thought about some lyrics he had written for a musical and sang, “The corn is as high as an elephant’s eye and it looks like its climbing clear up to the sky”. I told him I really liked it; he just smiled and said, “Thanks”. In 1955 at 9 years old, I had no idea how famous he and “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” already were! To me he was simply Mr. Hammerstein, my friend, who always had time to talk and walk with me on those hot summer days I would have otherwise walked alone.
Cyndi – Oscar’s walking companion