“Basil Toutorsky” part 2 . . .
Living in this social media age, a few individuals commented about their own experiences with the Toutorskys. As a result, I shared a 26-page booklet of “Reminescences” about the Toutorskys that was sent to me from Johns Hopkins/Peabody Conservatory of Music about a decade ago when the Toutorsky Scholarship was still active. Now defunct, Johns Hopkins indicated they would still like to have contributions in Toutorsky’s name but that the monies might go for teacher salaries and the like rather than scholarships for budding pianists. Be that as it may (time moves on, doesn’t it?) a handful of us have been in touch with each other and shared fond memories of the Toutorskys.
One of them wrote to me recently and gave permission to include this remembrance:
Have I already shared with you how I collaborated with several friends to create a pleasant and safe walled garden behind the Toutorsky mansion for the Professor and Mrs. Toutorsky to enjoy, since by the time I met them, he was a bit unsteady on his feet and the neighborhood had deteriorated to become not all that safe for any vulnerable-looking older residents?
We had the existing garden walls raised and broken glass embedded in the top to make the space more secure, created formal garden beds and pea gravel footpaths, installed park beds, shade trees, bedding plants (perennials and annuals) spring bulbs, and even a central, lighted round garden pool with a gurgling jet fountain, complete with custom-cut limestone curbing stone. It was a lovely, peaceful, and safe haven for our dear friends which they both thoroughly enjoyed sharing with family members and friends.
When I was working outside Philadelphia and commuted back to my DC home on weekends, I usually stopped in to a well-stocked plant nursery along my route off of the Interstate to stock up with more plants for the Toutorsky’s walled garden. I recall how the toll gate attendants on I-95 near the PA-MD border always remarked on my ‘mobile garden’ because I had the back seat of my large company sedan loaded full with beautiful flowering specimens, such as Japanese anemones.
When I read this, I was touched by the breadth of affection this garden project represented for the Toutorskys when they were elderly. I’m thankful for the contributions this fellow and his friends made, way back then and also now, for relating it here. There may be so many more people scattered all over the globe with affectionate ties to the Professor and his wife. Truly marvelous, don’t you think . . . in the best sense of the word?