Rena Stutman Rice

Memories of growing up in Brighton Beach in the 1950s and 60s

Rena Stutman Rice shares stories of growing up in Brighton Beach in the 1950s and 60s. Born in 1946, she lived on Brightwater Court and later on Ocean Parkway. A clip from her father's home movie of her as a baby appears in the documentary The Boys of 2nd Street Park. Among her memories are playing in 2nd Street Park and on the beach as a young child. She also recalls her mother's stories of Brighton Beach in 1932, when Brighton Beach Avenue was not yet paved, and stores and delis patronized by her family such Mrs. Stahl's Knishes and Zei-Mar Delicatessen. Stutman Rice is a graduate of Lincoln High School, where she studied French and Russian. While still in high school, her French language skills led to an opportunity to study with the Centre d'Art Dramatique and an invitation to join the French Art Theatre repertory company. After working at Shorefront YM-YMHA as a kindergarten teacher in the early 1970s, she was hired as the director of their nursery school in 1979, where her Russian language skills helped her communicate with newly arrived Russian Jewish immigrant families.