Friday, July 13, 2012

Grandma Jennie and Miss Darling's Secretarial School

The 4th of July had more surprises than fireworks this year.  Sitting in Karoun's condo in Springfield, Massachusetts, with an old friend who had returned for her aunt's funeral, Marash Girl heard that Chrissy's aunt had lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  "Do you think your aunt knew my mother, Jennie Vartanian?  She grew up on  the top floor of a 3 decker at 47 Vassal Lane in Cambridge."  "I don't know," Chrissy answered.  My aunt, Alice Darling (my aunt's pen name) wrote a book on English grammar which is in the collection at the Armenian Library and Museum of America in Watertown. . . She also had a secretarial school.  She called it Miss Darling's Secretarial School."

Marash Girl stopped cold.  Miss Darling's Secretarial School?  What were the chances . . . 20 years after her mother had passed away . . . That was the very secretarial school that Jennie Vartanian had attended after high school. . .  Marash Girl had always heard her mother proudly speak of that school . . . but Marash Girl had no idea that Miss Darling was Armenian!  

Imagine that . . . a secretarial school in Cambridge, Massachusetts, owned and operated by an Armenian woman, daughter of a genocide survivor, aunt to the woman sitting across from Marash Girl on the 4th of July,  the school attended by an Armenian woman, daughter of a genocide survivor, mother of Marash Girl, Marash Girl who had always assumed that Miss Darling was a fancy Yankee from Brattle Street.  

Checking the internet, Marash Girl found that Alice Darling Secretarial Services exists at 144 Mt. Auburn Street in Cambridge, a stone's throw from where Grandpa Garabed (Charlie) Vartanian, Jennie's father, ran his variety store.  The plot thickens!

P.S. Just learned from her niece, Chrissy, that Alice Darling's real name was Azniv Beshgeturian!


  1. This is amazing! I thought Miss Darling's Secretarial School was owned by a very proper spectacled older New England lady . . . probably looking and acting like our piano teacher, Beaula Bell!!!

  2. Mrs. Bell teaching piano, Miss Forte teaching violin, and Mr. March conducting the school orchestra, what a trifecta of names in our family music history.

  3. Niece of Alice DarlingJuly 25, 2012 at 5:47 AM

    Alice Darling
    Azniv Beshgaturian (I need to check on the spelling..I don't think that is cores t spelling of last name).

    She never married.