Marita, always independent with a sense of purpose, has always had a love of traveling and adventures.
Once in a while we meet someone with whom we just click. That was the case when I met this dear woman. We just happened to be next door neighbors when I moved to downtown Woodstock.
Simply put, I was fascinated by her. She is quite a lovely lady. She has the most gorgeous blue eyes that are full of life, along with a sense of humor that would make anyone smile.
Her full name is Marita Hallberg Walsh. She’s an only child, born in Sweden in 1943. She remembers the food shortages resulting from the German blockades. Her parents came to the United States looking for a better life, which they found in Brooklyn, N.Y., where Marita was raised and found her love of art. Her father was a fresco artist; perhaps she inherited that flair early on.
Parsons School of Design accepted Marita and she graduated with a graphic arts degree. This is impressive since today only about 35 percent of applicants are accepted. Graphic arts led Marita into the advertising world. Her first job was in an advertising firm in New York City in the 1960s. Remember the television series “Madmen”? I asked Marita if the show was an accurate depiction of life then. Actually, she said the men were portrayed accurately; the women, not so much. Women were typists and stenographers. There was no room for a Peggy to become an advertising executive or for a Joan Holloway to become part owner of the firm.
Marita and her husband lived in the city’s West Village. She described her neighborhood as an area where the aspiring musicians, actors and young artists lived and socialized. She knew Bob Dylan’s girlfriend, Suze Rotolo; Rotolo and Dylan lived around the corner. Rotolo was pictured on Dylan’s 1963 album, “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan.” It must have been fascinating living there then. I can picture a young blonde, blue-eyed Marita walking along Bleecker Street and running into the famous couple.
Marita, always independent with a sense of purpose, has always had a love of traveling and adventures. She has been to 19 or 20 countries. With each move came a new adventure, and she mentioned that she has met Woody Allen and Woody Harrelson. With a bit of wistfulness, Marita mentioned she may not have actually worked FOR Andy Warhol but she was close enough to “touch his robe.”
Marita and her husband moved to downtown Woodstock about 6 1/2 years ago and she has had no regrets. Woodstock suits her lifestyle and she has no plans to move anytime soon, if ever. Today she paints and speaks humbly about her work as she points to a painting she was working on in the corner of her living room. The easel was beautiful, as was the painting.
I asked Marita if she had any advice for the younger people starting out in their careers. She was quick to answer. “Work hard and put down the phones!”
“Any regrets?” I asked. “Anything on your bucket list?”
Marita had to think. Maybe not a regret but a wish. She still wishes she had landed that job with Lou Dorfsman. She explained that Dorfsman was a graphic designer who was hired as the director of design for all of CBS in New York City. Marita said Dorfsman was responsible for everything that had to do with design (print advertising, marketing communications, etc.) for CBS, “down to the design of even the pencils.” We agreed she may not have had half the adventures in her life if she had landed that job!
As Marita enjoys everything Woodstock, we all should be happy to have her living among us. Cheers to her!
By Leigh Cutrone, contributing writer