Fayetteville native finds love letters, writes play

More than 35 years ago, Sally Gladden and her sister Nancy Gladden Dopp accepted the tender task of letting go. Their father had been long deceased and their mother had just lost her final bout with cancer. It was time to collect the tangible memories from their childhood home on Chapel Street in Fayetteville. In a trunk from the attic, they found family treasure -- love letters reminiscent of a time long before their own. Written in the 1930s during the early Depression, love-struck Parker Gladden found a reason to be happy -- Marie Hamilton.

Sally Gladden, a teacher by trade, wrote "Geepers, I love you" with her parent's love letters as the foundation for a play to premiere in September at The Rivoli Theatre in Sullivan County. While Gladden is thrilled her piece has found a stage, she would love to see it run in her hometown.

"It belongs in Fayetteville," Gladden said.

In Gladden's own words

What is the play about?

The play is based on love letters my dad sent my mother in 1932-33 while he was trying to earn a living as the sole barber of Fayetteville. His original shop was built where the "new" bridge on Genesee Street met the Genesee hill -- or Brooklea Drive. My mother -- Marie Hamilton Gladden -- was in Brooklyn taking advanced nursing courses.

What is the "drawing card" for both residents and nonresidents of F'ville?

This young barber, who is the sole bread winner for his family, should have followed his creative muse and he should have been a musician and composer. But then, during these hard times, someone had to work to put food on the table. Parker did.

The play shows that love is patient and kind. If he had been primarily a musician, I may not have been put on Earth to share this story with others!

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