Barbara Garro is in the forum today to talk about her spiritual books and the fascinating and full life behind them. Please have a seat and join me in my discussion with this natural storyteller.
Tim Greaton: It’s great to have you here, Barbara. I know you have lived a full professional life. Could you tell us a little about your career before writing?
Barbara Garro: First, I had to make money to support my art, so as a teen, I went up the ranks in the corporate world, eventually became the Director of Risk & Insurance Management for Comcast Corporation in PA. Then, I had a life-altering accident and became the writer, producer and actor of “The Mother Goose & Gander Show” for children from 3-8, which ran up and down New York State during the 1990s and still runs in some markets. Altogether, I have had nine careers with the credentials to support them. For Risk Management, I have my Chartered Property & Casualty Designation. For my Personal and Business Coaching, I have completed Coach University’s Two-Year Corporate Coaching Program and Coach Training Institute’s Personal Coach Training Program. As an actress and singer, I have been trained by various singing coaches and for singing and acting by Joe Balfior who started The New York State Theatre Institute out of Troy, New York. For fine art, I have been taught by Master Artists Morris Blackburn at the Philadelphia Art Museum and Tom Vincent of New York City. I have my Master of Arts in Liberal Studies, and wrote my thesis on how children learn. I also create exciting sculpture, training currently under Patrice Mastrianni in Saratoga Springs, New York. I am also a professional storyteller and have been a Liturgical Minister teaching the Liturgy to children for over 40 years and still do it.
Barbara Garro: At five, I got picked up by the Police for soliciting on the street with my three-year old friend, Rosenn, the first and only time. When television was first coming into homes, I saw a beggar with a tin cup getting money from people. I had a tin cup, so I and my three-year old friend went up on Broadway in Camden, New Jersey, and said to passersby “Pennies, Pennies.” One lady asked me if it would be okay to give me a quarter. I couldn’t figure out how to divide a quarter in half, so I told Rosanne, I would give her an extra penny. I put one of the dimes we got into the gumball machine in Hurley’s Furniture Store and only one gumball came out. I complained. The clerk told me the machine did not know the difference between a penny and a dime and no, she would not open the machine and give me my dime back or nine more gumballs. After we left Hurley’s, a Police Car stopped and asked me if I knew where I lived. I told him I did and he told us to get in the car, he was taking us home. My mother sat me down and told me that, even though I saw a beggar on television begging on the street, it was not something nice little girls did and never to do it again. And, she took all the money in the tin cup, too. My friend’s mother came over and asked my mother if she had beaten me for doing such an awful thing. My mother said she had not, that I did not know I was doing anything wrong and we don’t beat our children. She had given Roseann an awful beating with the strap and told my mother she did not want to play with Roseann ever again. As a creative and curious kid, I had the perfect parents who taught me right from wrong and explained why something I did was wrong the first time I did it. Mother didn’t raise a fool, so I rarely did the same wrong thing again. Let’s just say I kept my parents and the angels on their toes the whole time I was growing up and as long as they lived. Anything I asked my parents about, they gave me information. Anything I asked my parents to help me do, they helped me. I learned to jump rope, ride a bicycle and do the Charleston by four, build a dinosaur at eight, tap dance and ballet at eight. Also at eight, I wrote my autobiography, albeit it was short. As a curious child with lots of freedom, I would go into the woods and see how things grew, how the animals lived, visit, feed the horses that lived on our Main Street in Maple Shade, New Jersey and ride horses when I got the chance. Once, I walked under the street through the sewer pipe to see where it went, and occasionally wander through neighbors houses who left their doors open-never got caught either. I saw a lot and did a lot, because I loved being outside, still do.
Tim Greaton: It sounds like you had a fascinating childhood and amazing parents. How have they influenced you over the years?
Barbara Garro: As a beautifully loved child within loving paternal and maternal large families, lots of people influenced me as a child, took exciting interest in me and everything I did and wanted to do. My parents probably influenced me the most, my father a successful entrepreneur who told me, “Babe, you can do anything you want to do.” At four, my mother sent me to the supermarket to buy Red Heart canned dog food at the supermarket several blocks away. I walked the wrong way on Broadway and finally realized it and turned around, found the supermarket, got the dog food and went home. My mother simply asked me what took me so long and I told her. At eight, I needed weekly allergy shots in Camden, a long bus from Maple Shade that was several big city blocks from the bus stop. I was really worried that I would not get off at the right stop, not be able to find the doctor’s office and not be able to find my way back to the bus. Yet, I did it all and both my other and I were really proud of me. My father owned a large service station and at eight it was my job to write up and sent all the reminders of service due on their vehicles each month. My mother, because my father worked long hours mostly seven days a week, taught me how to do carpentry, garden, paint, wallpaper, knit, crochet, cook, bake and create the most amazing arts and crafts. Both of my parents could draw well, just came natural. My father sang opera whenever he was home and could play by ear any instrument that he took in his hands. My mother and father were literary people and my mother recited the famous poets’ poems to me as a toddler and into my teens. My mother had an extensive library of the arts and the Master Painters and Writers influenced me greatly from before I could even read. I would draw, copying the masters whenever I was sick in bed, which was a lot, since I had asthma and allergies until puberty.
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