Donald Freed
International Playwright
and Master Teacher

A New York Snow Storm

In the summer of 1947 I was doing a play in summer stock in Falmouth, Massachusetts. The play was directed by a talented young man, Bob. I had a heavy cold the last few days and Bob had been bringing me breakfast in bed on a tray. He was warm, sunny, smart and very anxious not to let anyone know that he was gay. He asked me if I didn't have to get back to New York after we closed on Saturday night, would I wait and drive back with him on Sunday. It sounded good and on Sunday morning we took a long walk on the beach.

He was walking ahead of me when suddenly he stopped and said, "You know, everyone in the company thinks we are having an affair."

"Bob," I said, "NO ONE in the company thinks we are having an affair."

I sensed that my saying that made him feel that we would definitely be friends long after the show had closed. He lived at the Westbury Hotel on West 58th Street and I had some nice dinners with Bob and his partner. He called me one evening in the fall and told me that his mother was coming from Washington DC to visit the day after Christmas and he wanted me to come and have a drink.
"Please put it in your calendar," he said. "I don't want you to forget."
I woke up the morning of December 26 to A New York completely blanketed in snow. There was more coming with each hour that passed. Around 2:00 in the afternoon I realized that if I was going to Bob's, I better hire a car, as there were no taxis on the street. I called all the car companies in the phone book and none of them had any cars available. I suspect that if I was going to the airport they might have but I was going from 75th and Central Park West where I lived to 58th and 6th. I finally called Bob at about 3:00 and told him that I was snowbound and unable to come. His voice sounded panicky, he begged me to try, and said that they would definitely get me home. I realized then that I was The Beard! His mother would probably think that if a nice girl like Gloria would come out in this weather, she must really like her Bob… Might even be his girlfriend! I didn't want to let Bob down. So I put on my snow boots with the nonskid soles, my warmest coat, a wool scarf, lined gloves and a hat that pulled down over my ears and I set out. I had never experienced anything quite like this. The snow was the kind that would stick, not melt and the piles on the street were getting higher and higher. There were no cars, buses, taxis or people around. It was unearthly quiet. When I reached what I imagined to be the corner I discovered that I couldn't see the curb and I didn't know where to step down. But I figured out that the streetlights were at each curb, so I hung on to them when I gingerly stepped down and, by some miracle, I did not break my neck.

I got there slightly the worse for wear and Bob's obvious gratitude made me feel damply heart warmed that I had made the journey. We had a lovely cocktail hour with enough food so that dinner could be skipped. His mother was lovely and they did, somehow, manage to get me home in something they rented with four wheels. Thank goodness the party wasn't held the next day, December 27, as by days end, New York's Central Park had been covered in 26.4 inches of snow, the second largest snowstorm in New York's history. I would never have been able to go out. I couldn't stretch a friendship that high.