- Stories & Articles by Sonia
Articles and Stories by Sonia Pressman Fuentes
- Sonia's write-up of her experiences with Hurricane Irma in Sarasota in September of 2017 appeared in the Cornell Alumni Magazine of July/Aug. 2018 in the Class Notes for her class, the class of 1950, on page 69.
- On March 20, 2018, Mary Wilson, president of the Greater Orlando, FL chapter of NOW, put the following write-up by Sonia on her blog.
- In honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27, 2018, The Forward newspaper shared its readers' stories.
- Sonia participates in a one-hour webinar set up by the National Women's History Project (NWHP) on Jan. 13, 2016. 1) Click here to read about NWHP. 2) To listen to the oral comments and see the written comments, click on "webinar archive" toward the bottom of your screen. On the "webinar archive" screen, it is, however, very difficult to move the written comments up or down. 3) To get a clearer view of the written comments and to be able to move them up and down easily, click on "Chat Log." 4) Click on "Final PowerPoint Presentation" if you would like to see that.
- Sonia's article on the second wave of the women's movement: its origin, accomplishments, and the problems that remain--both in the U.S. and globally--appeared on June 14, 2015, on the website of the Institute for Science and Human Values.
- Sonia's write-up appeared on the Facebook page of the Red Star Line Museum commemorating the 81st anniversary of the arrival in the U.S. from Germany, via Belgium, of Sonia and the rest of her immediate family. (May 1, 2015).
- On Feb. 8, 2015, Sonia's article about her life went online on the website of Encore.org, a website that features articles by people about the second half of their lives.
- "The Night My Father Ran Away from His Own Wedding," the first chapter of Sonia's memoir, and "A Visit to Piltz," her article about her 2001 trip to the shtetl [village] in Poland where her parents were born, are on the website of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, which opened in 2014 in Warsaw. Click on "Show More" at the bottom of each screen until you come to the screen with Sonia's two stories.
- "My Jewish Weekend in Sarasota," sent by Sonia to her friends, Nov. 16, 2014.
- "History Without Hitler?", Op-Ed in the New York Times and its international edition, October 26, 2014. This Op-Ed was written by Sonia's friend, Timothy Ryback, and edited by Sonia.
- "End of Life Issue," October 16, 2014.
- “Top 18 Issues Challenging Women Today,” The Shriver Report, May 5, 2014.
- Sonia’s letter of April 16, 2014, to Bishop Frank J. DeWane, bishop of the Venice, FL diocese, is on the blog of Bridget Mary Meehen.
- "Eighty-five Years Old in Sarasota County, Florida," write-up submitted by Sonia on April 12, 2014, on her life as a senior woman, to Marjorie Penn Lasky, who is writing a book on senior women today and how their lives differ from those of senior women in the past.
- “The Second Wave of the Women’s Movement—Past, Present, and Future,” Women You You Should Know website, March 26, 2014.
- Sonia reminisces about her three British feminist friends, March 25, 2014.
- Three-part series by Sonia in the Sullivan County Democrat, a newspaper in the Catskill Mountains of New York State.
- Sonia’s submission to the book Mother Knows Better - Sense and Nonsense from American Moms by Patti Murphy is one of over two hundred momisms in the book.
- Sonia’s article about the travails of The Forward after Superstorm Sandy appeared in Der Bay (Vol. XXIII, No. II, Mar.-Apr. 2013, p. 12).
- NOW (National Organization for Women) Founder Sonia Fuentes Gives Back To Education.
- "A heart-healthy diet is easier to adhere to than it may seem, especially with plenty of grocery and restaurant choices in Sarasota," December 7, 2012. (To see this article, which first appeared in the online Sarasota News Leader, once the large picture appears, scroll down to the article.) On April 27, 2015, the article was published on the website of Vegan Everyday Stories. On May 22, 2015, a shortened version of the article appeared on the website of the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.
- “A Journey of Discovery,” Sonia’s article about her September 2011 week’s trip to Germany exploring Jewish life in Germany, published in two parts.
- "Finding My Identity as a Feminist" - This article appeared in the online magazine, Identity, on September 21, 2011.
- "My Story" - This article appeared in HavaMag, Issue 4, August, 2011.
- To access the article:
- Click on the arrow to the right until it takes you to the Table of Contents on the left.
- Click on the first item in the Table of Contents, which is the article about Sonia, on page 10.
- When you come to the article, double click on each page to make the type readable.
- To access the article:
- "First Woman: Sonia Pressman Fuentes," appeared at the end of July 2011 in Ms. JD, an e-zine for women law students and lawyers.
- “Judging Our Future: Supreme Women Move Up,” about the increasing percent of women judges on the U.S. Supreme Court and other courts, went online in the Café section of On the Issues e-zine on December 21, 2010. In February of 2012, the article was added to the featured news & comments section of the website of Cornell University’s Avon Global Center for Women and Justice.
- "Advancing Rights: 1964 Marks the Beginning of a New Era" - This article was published in On The Issues Magazine, Café section, on August 25, 2010, in celebration of Women’s Equity Day, the 90th anniversary of suffrage, August 26, 2010.
- Sonia has written articles for Scitable, a website for women in science, or been introduced as a resource on women and employment law for Scitable, as follows:
- Sonia decries American women’s ignorance of the legal rights they have achieved since the early 1960s and lists those rights. (August 13, 2013)
- Sonia discusses breast implant ruptures and leaks. (Mar. 21, 2011)
- "Sonia Pressman Fuentes on Pregnancy Leave, Parental Care Leave, and the Law" - Sonia explains the law on leave and benefits in connection with pregnancy, delivery, and post-delivery. (July 28, 2010)
- Correction to posting of June 3, 2010, introducing Sonia as Scitable’s resource on women and employment law. (June 4, 2010)
- Sonia is introduced as Scitable’s resource on women and employment law. (June 3, 2010)
- "My Life After Divorce" - Sonia discusses her life after divorce for a “Divorce and Women’s Success” series. (2010)
- "A Negative Experience, A Positive Outcome" - The lucky day Fuentes was fired. (2009)
- "First Wedding at the Fontainebleau," an unpublished anecdote, November 23, 2008.
- Added as a Luminary on inspiremetoday.com, Oct. 2009, and updated in Nov. 2013.
- “If You Build It, They Will Come—The Birth of A Yiddish Club,” published in Der Bay, The International Anglo-Yiddish Newsletter (Vol. XVII, No. 9, Nov. 2007). Sonia starts a Yiddish Club in Sarasota, FL. Also published in the Gantseh Megillah. (Nov. 14, 2007, Issue 8.10)
- "My Fortuitous Escape from the Holocaust and My Life Thereafter" - This article is published on a Web site called "Women and the Holocaust." (2006)
- “A Love Letter to Ostuni” (2005)
- "My Visit to Piltz" - A sequel to "A Visit to Piltz." (2005)
- "Three-hour Tour Turns Unforgettable" - This article, by Fuentes, recalling the saga of her trip to the Thomas Edison and Henry Ford estates in Ft. Myers, FL, appeared in The East County Observer, a newspaper in East Manatee and Sarasota Counties, Florida, January 16, 2003.
- "I Lucky Everything: The Story of a Real `Miss Saigon'" - Along with a manicure, a reminder of how immigrants revitalize our nation. (2002)
- "A Visit to Piltz" - This article is about Fuentes' August 2001 journey to her parents' birthplace, a village called Piltz in Poland. (2001)
- In 2000, Sonia lectured on “How Being an Immigrant Shaped My Life” at Cornell University and thereafter gave varying versions of that talk at other venues. Articles on that subject have appeared in: 120 HIAS Stories, a book published to commemorate the 120th anniversary of HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) (July 2002), Women in Judaism, a Multidisciplinary Journal (April 2006), the Sarasota-Manatee Jewish News (January 2007), the website of the Museum of Family History, and Der Bay, the newsletter of the International Association of Yiddish Clubs (Vol. XX, No. 1, Jan. 2010).
- "How I Built a Life in Retirement" - Sonia had a difficult time adjusting to retirement, and then she entered the best years of her life. (2000)
- "How I Published My Memoir: A Lawyer-Feminist's Story" - This is the story of the six years Fuentes spent in researching, writing, publishing and marketing her memoir and making the transition from being a lawyer to a writer and public speaker. (Also see: "How I Got Published in South Africa) (2000)
- "A Seder in Shanghai" - Fuentes participates in a seder in a most unlikely city, Shanghai, China. This piece appeared previously in JoyZine and on Harry Leichter's website. (1999)
- "HUD Goes to the Moscow Trade Show" - This article was originally published in Sparks 28. March - April, 1999. (1999)
- Breast Cancer and Ruptured/Leaking Breast Implants - The story of Fuentes' experience with breast cancer. (1998)
- "Three United States Feminists: A Personal Tribute" - This article is about Fuentes' most memorable encounters with Alice Paul, the Rev. Dr. Pauli Murray, and Catherine East (1998). Later that year, a slightly different version of this article was published in Moondance.
- “Representing Women,” a 17-page article, originally published in Frontiers, a Journal of Women Studies (Vol. 18, No.3, Nov. 3, 1997), by the Washington State University Press, is available by emailing Sonia at email@example.com and asking her to email it to you or by purchasing it at jstor.org. This was Sonia’s first published article about women’s rights.
- "House of History" - A history of the Sewall-Belmont House, one of the oldest houses on Capitol Hill, is the story of the current headquarters of the National Woman's Party. (1996)
- "Magnolias" - A Washington, DC, love story. (1996)
- "Family Past Unfolds Like Detective Story" - Research Leads to Ship's Records, a Movie and Snapshots. (1995)
- “Impressions: The Status of Women in Southeast Asia,” published in the Common Law Lawyer (no longer in existence), Sept.-Oct. 1978. (To enlarge the print on machines using Windows, hold down the control button of your computer while moving the wheel of your mouse. If viewing through Adobe Acrobat, enlarge the text with the plus button, or use the percentage dropdown list.)
Sonia Pressman Fuentes
A Special Bond
by Sonia Pressman Fuentes
We talk about it every once in a while, but we cannot explain it.
It began for me in the winter of 2003-2004. I was planning to spend that winter, as I’d been doing for the last nine years, at my condo at The Meadows. I had been diagnosed with arthritis in my spine, hip, and right knee, and water exercises were recommended. I signed up for the water exercise class for people with arthritis at the Evalyn Sadlier Jones (ESJ) Branch of the YMCA on Potter Park Drive.
There are up to 25 men and women, with a predominance of women, in the class during the winter, who come from all over Sarasota as well as Venice.
When I sit in the hot tub before or after class in the gazebo-like structure right outside the pool, I’m in paradise. My body relaxes in the bubbling hot water while above me, a metal roof protects me from the sun, and to my right, I gaze upon an azure sky and gently-waving palm trees.
Melinda, who is about 30, is the head of the Aquatics Program and our principal instructor. In addition to teaching classes, she plans lunches at Sarasota restaurants for seniors on special occasions, such as Valentine’s Day, as well as reasonably priced trips, including cruises, to interesting sites and theaters.
Melinda has a great sense of humor, plays music for us while we exercise and keeps up a fairly steady patter of stories as we go through our paces. She is a big fan of singer Josh Groban, who sings both classical and pop, whom she refers to as “her husband,” and his baritone voice can often be heard in the pool area. We know all about Melinda’s minister father, her brother, her dog, her courses, her romances, and her classes in alternative medicine at the Sarasota branch of Everglades University.
We think that Sister Rochelle, our second teacher, may be the only nun who teaches water exercises to people with arthritis but have no way of knowing. She, too, has an excellent sense of humor, but, unlike Melinda, who stays at the pool’s edge, Sister Rochelle jumps right into the water with us. She is rarely without a pair of dangling earrings, which she herself has made. She is into crafts, often bringing her handiwork to our classes.
She enjoys a good joke, is a fount of knowledge about Sarasota restaurants and where to buy shoes for the pool, but is stern about our not talking amongst ourselves while doing our exercises. We disregard her constant injunctions and keep expecting a ruler across our knuckles, but so far that hasn’t happened.
Gerry was the first member of the class to reach out to me, and I reciprocated her friendship. Through sheer determination, she lost 75 pounds in the 1½ years beginning in December of 2004. She describes the diet that enabled her to lose this weight as follows: “You don't put anything past your lips that you remotely like.”
She is one of the few people I have met in Sarasota who was actually born here. Before her retirement, she was a district supervisor with the Sarasota School District for 23 years and a cellist with the West Coast Symphony for over 25 years. In 2005, she gave a free cello concert to the residents of the nursing and rehabilitation center where her mother resides. The concert was so popular, she now gives one monthly.
Judi is a perky 5’1” redhead who’s cute as a button and is partial to two-piece bathing suits. Her looks belie her 63 years. She has what has always seemed to me to be the ideal marriage: her husband does the cooking.
Micky can be recognized by the purple bathing cap that is always perched atop her dirty-blond hair. (She wears this cap on instructions from her beautician to protect her hair‘s highlights. The rest of us don‘t understand it because our exercises don‘t involve putting our heads under water, but it seems to make Micky happy.) She is unfailingly cheerful although her husband suffers from diabetes, two forms of cancer, and eye problems, and her 31-year-old son, who lives on his own, is confined to a wheelchair due to cerebral palsy.
Marge has a wry sense of humor, but one must listen carefully as her comments are always muttered under her breath.
New Nancy, a recent transplant from Atlanta, Georgia, joined us in the winter of 2005-2006. (I refer to her as New Nancy to distinguish her from Old Nancy, who was in our class when New Nancy joined it.) New Nancy knows more about Sarasota after one year here than I do after 11. New Nancy introduced me to the co-chairs of the Book & Author Luncheon of the Brandeis University Women’s Committee, Greater Sarasota chapter, as a result of which I will be one of two speakers at their February 9 luncheon.
Since most of us are seniors, much of our (forbidden) conversation in the pool involves our various medical problems. A number of us have osteoporosis. Sister Rochelle had hip replacement surgery and Gerry had knee replacement surgery. Two of us are breast-cancer survivors, two have scleroderma, and at least two have scoliosis. One had heart catheterization and angioplasty, and now has a stent in her heart; for nine months, she did her water exercises with huge black-and-blue marks all over her body, a side effect of taking Plavix following these heart procedures. Another one thought she’d need to bring her oxygen tank to class, but her doctor told her that wouldn’t be necessary. One of us has fibromyalgia, laryngitis, bronchitis, asthma, allergies, high cholesterol, osteoporosis, and within the past couple of years pneumonia and surgery for foot and sinus problems--and she’s the chirpiest one of us all. And, of course, we all have arthritis.
We also share complaints of other kinds. Mary, who, in her 90s, is the oldest among us, always complains that the water in the pool is too cold and often leaves for that reason before the end of class. We all complain about the shock of coming into the locker room, which is always too cold and about the fact that we sometimes have to wait for an available shower stall. We complain about our winter visitors, a sine qua non in Sarasota, because they interrupt our routines. We complain that Sister Rochelle doesn’t let us socialize when we should be exercising.
In 2006, we started having luncheons together at Sweet Tomatoes to celebrate special events. So far, we’ve celebrated Melinda’s and Sister Rochelle’s birthdays and the fact that I was leaving Sarasota for the summer (a celebration about which I had some questions.)
The class sprang into action when it appeared that I was facing a second bout of breast cancer in March of 2006. I’d had breast cancer in my right breast in 1990, which resulted in a mastectomy, followed by six months of chemotherapy. In February of 2006, a mammogram revealed a mass in my left breast that hadn‘t been there before, and a biopsy was called for. I was terrified. I didn’t know whether I could go through a second bout of breast cancer. Micky, who was familiar with the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute at the University of South Florida in Tampa because she has frequently taken her husband there, suggested I call that Center immediately for an appointment with the doctor who specializes in breast cancer, in case a biopsy showed that I did indeed have cancer again. She further offered to drive me there, be with me during my examination, and drive me home. Gerry said she would accompany me to the Sarasota hospital for the biopsy, be there while I had it, and return with me the next day to get the results. The entire class wished me well on the day I left the pool for my biopsy. Fortunately, the mass turned out to be necrotic (dead) tissue resulting from surgery I’d had the preceding September and not cancer--but I was not alone in going through the experience.
I suppose that’s what it is--we share our lives and are there for each other. But what made us that way when other water exercise classes some of us belong to up north are not that way remains a mystery.
I've been a snowbird for 12 years. Over a year ago, Gerry began pressuring me to move to Sarasota, shortly thereafter, New Nancy did the same, and finally Melinda joined in. As a result, I left the Washington, D.C., area, where I lived on-and-off for 50 years, put my Potomac, MD, townhouse up for sale, and moved to Sarasota full-time on October 31, 2006.
© 2006 Sonia Pressman Fuentes.This article was published in the February 2007 issue of The Pepper Tree, A Literary Magazine, published monthly "to celebrate and give recognition to talented writers and illustrators of all ages" in Sarasota, Florida.