The wheel of time never ceases to go 'round and, a couple of times a generation, we are blessed with extraordinary beings. Who do you know that is extraordinary? I was fortunate enough to have found one of those gems, here, in the heart of Northeast Ohio—a person whom was never afraid to walk in the shoes that were laid out for her or scale peaks that sought to impede her.
Mary Bricker is a well-traveled individual with an abundance of abiding advice and anecdotes. Ms. Bricker allowed me to sit with her and unfold but a fraction of her cherished reverie. Not only did I learn quite a bit, but I was in awe at her resilience, vigor, and splendour.
In this article's Elloparley, I asked Mary:
Who does the world see you as & what do you do as you?
"I've gone through many different lives. I've had three wonderful careers. As anyone—I change—I adapt. I was a beautiful, young lady trying to be the actress-singer out in LA. People saw me as a lady, not just a woman. Impeccable manners. They either liked what I had to say or didn’t, and that's okay.
You can't please everyone. But I was honest. I was a lady. Properly, brought up with manners and they could see that. And I was very active; I was active in theater on stage. And, when it got to the point where I couldn't remember lines anymore, I got backstage. I spent 50 years in the theater, in this area.
They see me in a lot of different lights, because a lot of different lights are what I am. There's the artistic side of me. I was even in sales for most of my life. I'm into that. You know, I had the business side. I'm also a creative person. Whoever meets me under whatever circumstances, sees me in a different light, so I cannot categorize. …Except that I hope that they all see me as a well-brought-up lady."
Who do you see yourself as & what would you like to be doing?
"Once I moved down to LA, I found I never had confidence in my looks and that was foolish because I was beautiful.
I see myself, now, as an accomplished person who didn't scale all the mountains that I wanted to—but, when found I couldn't scale those mountains, I found another mountain to climb and I succeeded. That's who I see myself as. I'm retired now. I'm happy with retirement. I don't have the need for the attention I used to have—which I used to get a lot of, because of the jobs I had—because of my involvement in the community.
At this point, I feel I've done my duty. I've done what I needed to do to be satisfying to me and everyone else. It's time for somebody younger to take up the flame and run with it.
I'll never have regrets.
I wanted to be married and have children. The children thing, I found, at age 19, was impossible. My body could not have children. No matter what. I would've liked to have been married. The whole thing that most people grew up with was a nice house with the two children and white picket fence. I never had that. But I don't look back as being, 'Oh, I wish I had it,' in the sense that it's a regret; it's not a regret, because I ended up—first—being as far as great jobs—a travel agent. And then I was in sales—and I was involved in the theater. And, when I retired, I traveled all over Europe.
Now, I just want to sit back and enjoy the memories. They were great memories I had. I had wonderful parents. I have a brother and he's a nice guy. I'm not super close—certainly not estranged from him—but I had great parents who taught me a lot in life, and I've gone my own way and made the best of my life with what life was given to me."
What is Present-You most proud of?
"That I adjusted all through life. I didn't say, 'Oh, poor me—I can't have children,' and, 'I can't do this,' and, you know, 'The right man hasn’t come—' No. I just went on to the next thing. I survived. And I don't mean that in a term like I was fighting; I found other outlets for my creative side, my business side, my social side. I just found a way to make a fulfilling life."
What is your vision for change and how motivated are you to do as such?
"On a grand scale, I would love to see it go back to where people were nice—were friendly—were neighborly, and helped each other out. And it isn't just COVID. It may be the straw that broke the camel’s back, but it's been going on for 20 years. I have watched the world become meaner—nastier. You smile at somebody that you don't know and they look at you like you must be a freak.
As a rule, you can't just start a conversation in a grocery store with somebody about—whatever. And… I want that friendlier time back in the world. And I don't think I will ever live to see it. All I can do is be the person I am. And do what I think is right. What is natural for me—which is to be friendly and to try and help people, if I can, and that's it. That's all I can do at this point. I am physically not able to do a lot of things that could have helped more. And there's nothing I can do about it.
You have to accept the things that have changed in your life. And that has nothing to do with age—the physical problems—that has to do with a lot of other weird, klutzy accidents that have happened in my life. And you adjust… but I can't do some things anymore. So, I'm limited by just being myself and trying to do what I can."
What has been your most negative experience in your field and how did you overcome that?
"Hey, I just worked the flow and made the best of whatever was given to me. There wasn't anything that was so negative that I didn’t reverse course or change course and made it fine. Honest. I mean, that sounds weird—I know it sounds weird. But I cannot think of anything that was so negative that I could not bounce back from. I rolled with the punches. I said, 'Okay, this isn't gonna work. I have to do something else. What am I gonna do now?' And I found what I was going to 'do now.'"
What is the best part about being you do that the average person may be envious of?
"I had wonderful parents. I had supportive parents—not always agreeable with my way of thinking, but they would sit down and discuss with me. They influenced me immensely.
I was also very young when I retired and I found the world of cruising. A lot of people say, 'I won't get on a ship!' but there are a lot of people out there that say, 'Wow! You have got to see all these places!'
You'll have to take a look at that map. All the little dots are all the places I've been through cruising. I’ve seen the world. And I don't go just the places they said; I would 'walk the streets,' as they say, and meet people, and talk to them, and get to know the other cultures—which was amazing. I've had wonderful experiences in my travel."
How much work would you say you put into your profession and process?
"Everything. Everything I gave 100% at least. And I succeeded. And that's something to be proud of. I did well.
I have a couple local acting awards. I have a lot of satisfied customers as a travel agent—which was before I left for California—that are still my friends to this day. I always try to do my best."
If you would’ve never started down this journey, where do you think you’d be today?
"I can't answer it. Honestly. Because I did. I took the path that was available to me and I ran with it—and I've had a good, fulfilling life— very fulfilling in almost any aspect; the creative end—the business end. As I said earlier, there was one point in time when I was very active in so many things here; I was very well known and my name carried some weight. I didn't look for that, but it happened. So, I can't see where I would've gone. I mean, if I had children as I wanted to as a little girl growing up? Who knows? I could have married somebody very successful and been a multimillionaire.
Honestly, I cannot answer, because I took everything that was given to me and tried to make the best of it."
What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard?
"Be true to yourself—that’s the best. And, also, just be kind to others—treat others as you would have them, which is a nice way of saying a biblical quote. Live the best life you can."
What would you say to someone whose fear prevents them from starting the journey to their wildest dreams?
"Don't be afraid. Be apprehensive, perhaps, but just say, 'I have to do this; this is what I want and I have to give it my all.' And I say that because I was a college graduate from Youngstown, Ohio, but I wanted to be an actress. I knew I didn't have the talent for Broadway, but I am a singer. I did for television and movies. I just finally said, 'I'm going out there and I'm going to try it.' And it was a little scary, in a sense. I moved out with a friend to LA. I knew one person in the LA area—which happened to be her brother. This was a family I grew up with. I did have a job, but I had no place to live except to stay with him until I found an apartment. I didn't know good neighborhoods from bad neighborhoods. I knew nothing. Yes, I had an employer, but I didn't know him.
I didn't know how to make the first inroads into meeting the right people in Hollywood—in the entertainment industry. I just did it. And I am very lucky that I don't have to sit here now and say, 'I wish I had done it.' I did it. I did not succeed but I did what I could and I'm satisfied that it was not meant to be. I gave it my all for five years. I know my parents thought, 'Six months and she’ll be back.'
I made an impact of my own; I really grew up by moving across the country by myself."
Is there anything you’d like to let the readers know?
"I think it goes back to the two questions ago. Be true to yourself. Be good to others and do your best. And don't be afraid! Because all you're going to do is have regrets. Try to reach your dreams. If you don't reach them, but you've tried and you've done your best, you will have no regrets when you're old. I have no regrets in life that's and I think that's the most satisfactory life you can have."
Simply impressive! It can almost be daunting knowing that someone who resides right next to you has survived and thrived through countless feats and victories of their own—especially someone as grand as Ms. Bricker.
Mary's words and buoyant attitude will continue to resonate with me for the rest of my life—hopefully translating into victories for us all. Continued thanks to her for her kindness as well as boldly showcasing her talents, achievements, and experiences to the world.
Enjoyed this Elloparley? Want to be interviewed next? Know someone just as talented who is rising to the top of their industry in the Youngstown area? Contact me HERE and let’s set something up! The future is now.