Bel Kaufman


Yesterday was Bel Kaufman’s 100th birthday. I met her at the Dutch Treat Club, a luncheon club for people in the arts at the National Arts Club. The woman is an inspiration. She’s funny, smart, honest and beautiful. Bel is the author of Up the Down Staircase and a recent hire, the oldest ever, at Hunter College.

Just the other night at dinner, H. said, “My next girlfriend will be a model.” (I didn’t know he had a last girlfriend.)

“There’s too much emphasis on physical beauty,” I said. “Look around you and find beautiful people in your real world, like your Uncle Brendan or Laura from church. They’re beautiful. Make them your idols. Not models or superstars.” Like the rest of the world, my kids are way too in love with celebrities.

The great thing about living in New York is that there are so many amazing, old people. And Bel said, she prefers the term “old people” to “seniors” which sounds like they’re still in high school.

She’s my role model. I love the way she looks and commands a room. I hope that when I am 100, I will be so fabulous.

In this blog, I’ve written a lot about New York’s natural beauty and art. But there are many beautiful people too — as many beautiful people as flowering trees in spring and paintings in the museum.