Gladys Ellington

(Brownsville Recreation Center)Gladys Ellington

My name is Gladys Ellington. I was born in Currie, North Carolina, and was raised there for eighteen years. To me it was a beautiful place. Some people say it was hard, but I found it beautiful because we knew nothing else. We played and we enjoyed ourselves as we grew up. We knew how to really play, that was one thing. We used to be so glad when someone came to visit our mom, that way we didn’t have to do any chores. She told us to get out and go play! And you’d just play play play and enjoy yourself—until you became a teenager, then you had to work on the farm. You had to pick blueberries, pick strawberries, pick cotton, do tobacco. And in the fall, after the tobacco was “cooked” as you would say, you had to help pick the bad leaves out to go to the market. To me it was just a joy. It was a pleasure because you didn’t know any different and everybody was doing the same.

So I grew up, I graduated, I came to New York after I was eighteen, and I’ve been in New York ever since. Most people say, “You’re not going back? You’re retired and everything!” I say, “No, I’m good,” because most of the neighborhood people have passed—the older people. And the younger people don’t know you anyway. So, you stay where somebody knows you, that’s the best thing. But I enjoy life in New York. I say life has been good because, thank God, I’m healthy. It seems to surprise people when they ask me, “What kind of medicine do you take?” I say, “I don’t take any kind of medicine,” and they say, “What?! No medicine?” I say, “No medicine at all.” I was asking the doctor why are people surprised at my age that I don’t take medicine, and he said because most people at sixty-five take five different medicines a day. So I’m blessed to be here and to be able to move. I can run a little while, not much, but I can still run.

I have two daughters, two grandsons, and I’m a widow. I have one daughter named Annette and one daughter named Suzette. Annette works with computers and Suzette is a secretary with Queens College. My oldest grandson works with TSA, and the youngest grandson is getting ready for his last year of high school, hoping to go to college. They’re doing pretty good. It’s been a pleasure. And I live right here in Brownsville. I’ve been living in Brownsville for the last twenty-seven years. I worked in a printing factory, where you print the books. I was able to get a job and I worked until I retired. Now that I’m retired I like to be busy and I like to go places. I don’t do a lot of out-of-country traveling, but I do short trips around the states. I come to the recreation center three days out of the week, because I come to two classes and sometimes I get a day in at the gym. I hear a lot of retired people say they get bored but I don’t. If I’m in the house and I start feeling a little bored, in my mind I say, “Get up and go!”

Dancing in the Tempest is a new experience for me. I’m not a dancer. I always tell people that I’ve got two left feet. I always say when I’m supposed to go left, I’m going right. But I’m trying, and I hope I get the dance good enough so I don’t distract the other dancers. It’s enjoyable and I look forward to my Wednesday classes. Our teacher Chanon is a beautiful little lady. So much patience!


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Founded by Joseph Papp as the Shakespeare Workshop and now one of the nation’s preeminent cultural institutions, The Public is an American theater in which all of the country’s voices, rhythms, and cultures converge.
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