A Serendipitous Journey
Childhood play should never be underestimated as setting the stage for one’s life. Sadly, adverse childhood challenges can play a pivotal role in deciding one’s future. A difficult experience can turn out to be strangely serendipitous.
At seven years of age, Judith Blau had just such an experience when she became ill with rheumatic fever, needed surgery on both legs, and was confined to her bed for two years.
With her Dad, a dentist and philosophical man of science; her story telling bagel baker grandfather, who visited often to entertain with humor and magical tales; and her Mom, a fun-loving, “out of the box” thinking attorney, she had quite a support team!
Early on, Judith recalls her mother telling her, "Just because you can't leave your bed does not mean your bed can't leave the house."
The oldest of four children, Judith spent hours trying to entertain herself in her bed, her only playground, situated in the side yard of their Bronx, NY home, under the oak trees.
Equipped with paper, crayons, scissors and yarn, she drew pictures of the surrounding trees, her best friends, and all the "life" they embodied. She made small wearable yarn dolls, and created her own paper doll fashions.
Each day at three o’clock her Mom moved her bed to the sidewalk, where she set-up shop selling her work to children and passersby for a nickel each. She was in business.
Her bed was even taken to Girl Scout meetings.
Indoors, she created her own world. She filled cardboard box lids with soil and landscaped them with small tree-like plants and toothpick buildings she constructed.
To attract her siblings to her bedside she created entertaining stories and made puppets to help animate the show.
Once well and free, her school years were filled with more puppet shows, scenery design, school newspaper cartoons, as year book art editor and other projects that used skills she had developed while confined in bed.
At 18, Judith met Larry, her amazing nuclear physicist, husband-to-be. They discovered they had both been delivered by the same doctor and during their lives, they had lived within several blocks of each other as their parents moved from home to home. Then both families joined the same beach club and they met.
One day in the 1970's, when finances were low, Judith began to hand paint designs on denim jeans and kaftans to sell at boutiques in addition to exhibiting and selling her paintings.