P&S Journal: Fall 1994, Vol.14, No.3
Carleen M. Hutchins
Catgut Acoustical Society Inc.
My first glimpse of Dr. Virginia Apgar was in 1956 when she dashed into my Harkness room for a pre-op visit. My surgeon, Cushman Haagensen, had suggested that I bring along one of the violas I had made to show to my anesthesiologist. After the checkup she played the viola in my room, much to the delight of the whole floor!
After several postop visits and much conversation about music and violin-making we discussed the possibility of getting the wooden shelf out of the Harkness 1 phone booth, since it was of curly maple and just right for a viola back. The replacement shelf was stained the same color, for we had come across the man who had mixed the stain for Harkness 27 years before-and it looked very nice. V.A. with her skilled hands and avid learning made a viola using the shelf wood for the back, the first instrument of her quartet that is to be played at the postage stamp ceremony.
Over the 18 years until her death, V.A. and I were good friends and had many fine times together. An avid gardener, she shared our Montclair vegetable garden and was never content unless the peas were in just before the ground froze in December and ready to eat in April or early May. Often of a spring evening V.A. would come from the hospital in her whites and change to overalls, revelling in working on her knees, getting covered with earth as she weeded. She enjoyed my husband and especially our two children and their friends, often playing ball or badminton with them in the yard. She was a whiz at baseball.
V.A. encouraged me to write the first technical paper on my violin research and gave me courage to keep going through many difficult years of trying to balance a home and three generations of family along with violin-making and science. Knowing Dr. Virginia Apgar has made all our lives immeasurably richer and more meaningful, and we are deeply grateful.