Janet Lovell, who will retire at the end of July after 35 years of service at the Battery Park City Day Nursery, plans to return to her native Belize.
Multiple generations of local residents will gather this afternoon (Thursday, June 24) outside the Battery Park City Day Nursery to toast the retirement of Janet Lovell, known for decades to kids who enrolled there as, “Ms. Janet.”
Ms. Lovell was one of the first employees at what was then called Joy McCormack’s All Day Nursery, when it opened on South End Avenue in 1986. “I had been working at a childcare center on the Upper East Side, where Joy was one of the directors,” she recalls. “And then Joy wanted to open a new place in Battery Park City, where she saw unlimited potential. Her partners weren’t interested, so Joy struck out on her own, and I came with her.”
In those first weeks and months, the facility hosted only 10 to 15 children, she remembers — a figure that is now verging on 100 per semester. “I never imagined that I would still be here 35 years later,” Ms. Lovell reflects, “but I never doubted that Joy was right about how this community would grow, and how the business would grow with it.”
The very first student at the new daycare center was Daryl Kleiman, then less than a year old. Her father, Norman (a professor at Columbia University’s School of Public Health), recalls that, “before they even opened, when Joy was still building the space out, my wife and I stopped by. We were nervous first-time parents, and we were trying to decide whether we could entrust our baby to anybody. We spoke to Joy, and she said, ‘I’m going to let Janet handle this.’ And it was love at first sight. We knew immediately that we wouldn’t leave our child anyplace else, or with anybody else.” He adds that, “four and a half years later, when our son, Charlie, arrived, it was the same story.”
A decade later, when Ms. McCormack retired, she was succeeded by current owner Denise Cordivano (and her retired business partner, Karen Klomp), and the facility took on its current name. Ms. Cordivano recalls that, “Joy knew we would make some changes and warned us that if we wanted to be successful, ‘Keep Janet!’ Thankfully, we listened to that advice and have never regretted it. Janet has been our rock through many ups and downs.”
Ms. Lovell prizes the support and energy that children give to adults without ever knowing it. “Their hugs and their smiles are so powerful,” she observes. “The difference that can make in your day is one of the things that I will miss most.”
She will also remember fondly the small interactions that leave a deep impression. “Whenever I would change my hairstyle,” she remembers, “some of the children I was closest to would look at me quietly, as they adjusted to the new look. Some of them would ask to touch it, and others would move to see me from a different angle. And then, after a few minutes, they would be laughing and forget that anything had changed.”
In terms of the difference she made, Ms. Lovell observes, “the times we were able to counsel a parent that their little boy or girl needed some extra attention—maybe physical therapy or speech therapy—stick with me, because we could see the impact this made almost immediately. It takes a real bond of trust for a parent to be willing to hear that kind of advice. And that kind of intervention makes the most dramatic difference early on, so it was marvelous to witness how effective it was.”
Ms. Cordivano adds, “whether it was reassuring a mom on the first day of school or joking with a father to help him feel more comfortable at school events, Janet made everyone feel important. Her booming laughter will continue to echo through the Nursery’s walls. We will miss her more than words can say.”
Professor Kleiman seconds this notion, adding that, “our children are now both in their 30s, but we are still in touch with Janet, often stopping by the Day Nursery to check in and hear how she is doing. It says a lot about the kind of person she is that we, and so many other parents, still have a connection to her, decades after we our children had aged out of the program.”
Ms. Lovell estimates that she had taken care of more than 1,000 Battery Park City toddlers since 1986—including countless toilet-training sessions, story-book readings, and scraped knee ministrations. She won’t admit to having any favorites, but one candidate for the shortlist would be her son, Redverse, who attended the Day Nursery for a year and a half in the late 1980s, and now has two children of his own. He is one of a legion of lives touched by Ms. Lovell’s legendary smile and infectious laugh. She reckons that more than 100 of her former students (who have gone on to careers in law, medicine, business, performing arts, and politics) now have children of their own, and several have brought these youngsters to be cared for by Ms. Lovell, as they had been.
Many of these admirers will gather this afternoon to say thanks to a woman who has left an indelible imprint on the community she served for more than half of her life. The Day Nursery will host an outdoor meet-and-greet under the South End Avenue arcade, outside its front door, at 215 South End Avenue (near the intersection with Rector Place), from 3:00 to 5:00 pm, where Ms. Lovell will be available for final hugs. (The nursery requests that parents and children who attend please wear masks.)
News Analysis & Opinion
Housing Costs and Predictability in Battery Park City
At the Battery Park City Authority, we make it a point to regularly communicate with our community’s residents—renters and owners alike—about our role in managing, maintaining, and improving this world-class neighborhood.
We do so at Community Board meetings and public events, during public board meetings, in our regular community newsletters, and via our Strategic Plan—and even as we encounter each other during our daily routines (as we hope to be doing more of soon).
In this letter, I’d like to talk to you about our role in addressing a concern we hear frequently—housing costs and predictability—and what we’re doing about it.
State Legislature Passes Bill That Offers Path Forward on Affordability
Whoever is elected to the various offices representing Lower Manhattan residents today, they will have to grapple with a legacy policy failure that may yet reprise itself.
For more than a year, as local hotels emptied due to the pandemic, and various Downtown real estate projects stalled, Lower Manhattan leaders have urged elected officials to consider whether (and how) to convert commercial properties (such as hotels and office buildings) to use as residences. To read more…
Thursday June 24
The Battery Conservancy
Take a free tour of The Battery Urban Farm and learn more about how produce is grown in the heart of downtown New York City. RSVP is required. battery.org
Autism And Disability In Nazi Vienna
Museum of Jewish Heritage
People with mental and physical disabilities were among the first targets of the Nazi regime. Several years before the Nazis devised a “final solution” for Europe’s Jews, they had already begun sorting their citizens by ability and claiming the Reich had no place for people who were different. Nazi doctors and psychiatrists led the charge, endeavoring to mold certain “autistic” children into productive citizens while sending others to be murdered at Special Children’s Wards throughout the Reich. Join the Museum for a program exploring this dark history with prize-winning historian Dr. Edith Sheffer. Sheffer’s 2018 book Asperger’s Children: The Origins of Autism in Nazi Vienna exposed the story of Hans Asperger, a pioneer of autism and Asperger syndrome who played an active role in the Nazi project. Sheffer will be in conversation with educator, disability rights activist, and film producer Dr. Timothy Shriver, who serves as Chairman of the Special Olympics. $10
As Above So Below is a collaborative project that reveals connections between sacred and historic spaces of the African Diaspora in Lower Manhattan. The project will have special emphasis on the African Burial Ground Commons and Historic District featuring the African Burial Ground Memorial, Black Lives Matter Plaza and the Triumph of the Human Spirit Monument. Throughout the Festival and through a series of walking tours and podcasts by Kamau Ware and Rodney Leon, As Above So Below will create an interactive multidisciplinary set of experiences to engage, inspire and educate the public about the impact of the African Diaspora on the establishment and development of New York City.Tour begins 192 Front Street. Free
The Beary Brothers is a supergroup of three emigre musicians from the former Soviet Union. Psoy Korolenko, one of Russia’s leading contemporary bards, is joined by the spellbinding multi-instrumentalists Zisl Slepovich (Litvakus/Folksbiene) and accordionist Ilya Shneyveys (Forshpil). As The Beary Brothers, this eclectic progressive folk trio explores a diverse range of cultures, languages, musical styles from the Renaissance through modernity, and geographies from Andalusia to the Maghreb and the Russian steppe. Free
Why did over 600 Native Americans from dozens of nations meet in Pittsburgh? Just how bad did it smell inside the hull of a prison ship in 1776? Who was the only woman listed on the Declaration of Independence? In this lecture, historical novelist Karen Chase will explore lesser-known figures, facts, and realities of the American Revolution. This lecture will take place via Zoom. Free
The Chinese pickle jar is a simple, yet ingenious tool that the Chinese use to make naturally fermented vegetables—a staple in most Chinese meals. Food expert Clarissa Wei stumbled upon many versions of these jars in her treks across 21 provinces in China. She will share the secrets of the jar and explain why this tradition matters in a rapidly modernizing country. Free
EYES TO THE SKY
June 14 – 27, 2021
Milky Way of summer stars with streaming fireflies
As evening twilight deepens, a cosmos of blinking earthly stars attracts and mesmerizes stargazers in areas a distance from street and house lights. Fireflies are connecting our joy in the celestial with breathtaking wonder close around us. In the dark, over gardens, parks, backyards and countryside meadows and forests, our attention is lured away from the starry heavens by undulating streams of countless fireflies flashing. Floating, glowing ribbons of curved light drop from the treetops and move above the ground.
Unaware of time, I find myself alternately looking up to my favorite summer constellations, then stealing time to lower my eyes to the pulsating world of lightening bugs in the landscape all around me. Close above the west-northwest skyline, planet Venus makes a brief appearance at dusk today and is visible until nightfall by next week. To read more…
CLASSIFIEDS & PERSONALS
Swaps & Trades, Respectable Employment, Lost and Found
The Battery Park City Authority asks that the public not interact with or feed the urban wildlife in the neighborhood’s parks and green spaces, and at the waterfront.
9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Report
More Survivors than Responders Now are Submitting Claims
The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) has released its annual report for 2020, which documents some significant developments.
Over the course of its ten years of operation thus far, the VCF has awarded $7.76 billion to more than 34,400 individuals who have suffered death or personal injury as a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and their aftermath. The vast majority of these injuries take the form of illness caused by exposure to toxic materials that were released by the destruction of the World Trade Center.
Juan Manuel Fangio came to be known as “the maestro”. Born in Argentina, he was the son of an Italian immigrant and had his first taste of racing while riding as a mechanic in a Chevrolet driven by a customer of the garage where he worked. He won five world titles and 24 races from 51 starts.
451 – 10th recorded perihelion passage of Halley’s Comet
1441 – Eton College founded by Henry VI
1497 – John Cabot claims eastern Canada for England, believed he found Asia in Nova Scotia)
1664 – The colony of New Jersey is founded.
1778 – David Rittenhouse observes a total solar eclipse in Philadelphia
1794 – Bowdoin College is founded in Maine
1863 – Planning an invasion of Pennsylvania, Lee’s army crosses Potomac
1901 – First exhibition by Pablo Picasso, 19, opens in Paris
1916 – Mary Pickford becomes the first female film star to get a million dollar contract.
1931 – USSR and Afghanistan sign neutrality treaty
1939 – Pan Am’s first US to England flight
1947 – Flying saucers sighted over Mount Rainier by pilot Ken Arnold
1951 – Persian army takes over nationalized oil installations
1957 – The U.S. Supreme Court rules that obscenity is not protected by the First Amendment in Roth v. United States.
1961 – Iraq demands dominion over Kuwait
1964 – FTC rules health warnings must appear on all cigarette packages
1976 – 1975 movie “Rocky Horror Picture Show” released in Germany
1982 – US Supreme Court rules president can’t be sued for actions in office
1992 – John Gotti begins life sentence in jail
1993 – Arab terrorist group planning bombing of Holland and Lincoln Tunnels caught
1993 – Yale computer science professor Dr. David Gelernter loses the sight in one eye, the hearing in one ear, and part of his right hand after receiving a mailbomb from the Unabomber.
2004 – Capital punishment is declared unconstitutional in New York
2012 – Female athletes will be allowed to compete for Saudi Arabia at the Olympics for the first time
1771 – E I Du Pont, France, chemist/scientist (Du Pont)
1797 – John Hughes, archbishop, founded Fordham University in the Bronx
1895 – Jack Dempsey, “Manassa Mauler”, heavyweight boxing champion (1919-26)
1911 – Juan Manuel Fangio, racing driver (1995)
1935 – Pete Hamill, Brooklyn, NY, journalist (NY Post) (2020)
1944 – Jeff Beck, Surrey England, singer/guitarist (Jeff Beck Group)
1945 – George E Pataki, Peekskill NY
1908 – Grover Cleveland, 22nd & 24th US President (1885-89, 93-97), dies at 71
1987 – Jackie Gleason, comedian (Honeymooners), dies of colon cancer at 71