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Some unexpected benefits

October 30, 2011
By KATHRYN SPIRA , For The Leader Herald

I recently received a letter from a man with the same last name as mine. Thing is, he saw my name on the 11 p.m. weather news out of TV station WTEN in Albany, where I am a weather watcher for the Caroga Lake area here in Fulton County.

My adoptive father, Joe Spira, once told me the story that when his family came over from Europe, their name was Shapiro and it was anglicized to Spira. Since it is a made-up name, there seems to be a good possibility that anyone with that name is related to my adoptive father. We plan to get together some time in the spring and find out what we have in common.

That is just one example of connections I've made through media I never expected to be involved in when I started my pursuit of acting at Indiana University with majors in voice, theater and dance way back in 1978.

Since I was diagnosed with MS in the 1980s, after 10 years of remission, the MS took hold and forced me out of my original plan to be an actor. You could say that MS served as my ticket out of L.A. I already was getting fed up with all the posturing and ego-serving attitudes of those "in the business" of entertainment. Since I had a goal of acting, I couldn't rectify just leaving without a good reason, and the MS gave me that reason.

So, instead of voice, theater and dance, I now find myself voicing opinions and reaching out through this column, my website and being the weather watcher for a local TV station. It was not how I imagined myself being on TV, but it has had some unexpected benefits.

A case in point: A few years back, I noticed my physical therapist was wearing a sweatshirt with sewn-in mittens called "WA-HA," short for "warm hands." After I wrote a column about wondering how I could find these sweatshirts, I got a surprise visit from the mother of the original sweatshirt designer, which was no longer in production. She presented me with two varieties of the sweatshirt design (with and without hoods) having read my request. One is gray and the other maroon and I enjoy wearing them to this day.

Another contact came from a couple who were planning to move to this area when they retired from the NYPD. I helped them get in touch with reputable services and contractors in the area, and in thanks wound up with official NYPD turtlenecks and sweatshirts and a genuine detective's coffee mug with my name printed on it as thank-you gifts. I can now boast official NYPD shirts and a mug with the link to the Detective's Association Inc. from Nassau County.

My website also has brought some people to contact me, such as former members of the Girls Glee Club/Men's Chorus of Cleveland Heights High School. Other high school connections came about through people finding me on my website as well.

But I have to say, I never expected my name on TV to be connected to a weather report. Steve Caporizzo at WTEN in Albany is the chief meteorologist and I send him daily reports and occasional photos of weather-related interest here in the southern Adirondacks. It's great to have some local attention even if my grand plan for fame and fortune didn't quite work out.

I'm happy to take this as an alternative. It seems a whole lot less fake and ego serving than the pursuit of acting I once coveted.

Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland who pursued an acting career in New York City and Los Angeles, now pursues freelance writing from Caroga Lake in Fulton County. Previous columns and contact information may be accessed at her website at



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