The Jailhouse Thespian

“Do you like cats?” That’s Lauren Shpall’s greeting when she opens the front door, one ebony and one ivory feline at her feet who are pushing their noses against the navy blue plush of her fluffy Chicago Bears house slippers. She steps into the living room, where the sun streams in through the cranberry curtain, the one the cats like to play hide-and-seek in. The room gets its rosy glow not so much from the hue as from Lauren’s bubbly theatrical personality. Lauren perches on the sofa, Shiva, the black beauty, snuggles in the chair and the …

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The History Buff

Alfred C. Ronzoni Jr. arrives at the Greater Astoria Historical Society right on the dot. He puts his black backpack on the floor and places his paper cup of Lipton tea on the Formica folding table. Everyone is in jeans and sweats. The 45-year-old Al, a barrel-chested bull who looks as though he pumps iron every spare second, is wearing a dress shirt and tie. Al — “I’ve always gone by Al” — is the society’s treasurer, and he’s come to the office to work on a lecture. He conducts the history roundtables and book discussion groups. “This is …

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The Sunshine Goddess

Life doesn’t always take a straight and narrow path; it often chooses a circular route, so let’s start in the middle of the story and see where we end up. Anne-Margaret Redding, cup of herbal tea in hand, curls up on the sofa. So intense is her smile that no sunglasses can block its warm, welcoming rays. She’s talking about intuition, that in-the-gut feeling that has been her guiding light. Passionate and persistent, Anne-Margaret, owner of The Giving Tree Yoga Studio, is life’s cheerleader. She’s a singer, composer, pianist, motivational speaker, yoga instructor, personal trainer, …

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The Master of the Mansion: 1927-2010

“I want to die in this house.” That’s what Michael Halberian, owner of the storied Steinway Mansion, declared late on Christmas Eve. Three days later, the house that brought Michael life took him back into its arms for eternity. Michael, who turned 83 in November, was a consummate storyteller. He had a million of them, and he loved to enthrall his listeners with every detail. He didn’t like to talk about himself so much as he did about the …

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