Augusta Chasan *

Augusta Chasan was born in Russia in September, 1902. Due to her exquisite penmanship Augusta was hired at 17 to be the personal assistant to the president of Lord & Taylor in NYC and to write all his personal correspondence. Later in life she painted all of the lettering in her husband Morris’s art work . They were married in 1920 and she became a naturalized citizen in 1921. On February 13th, 1936, she and Morris were among the very first to place a $500 deposit in the trust fund of Jersey Homesteads to secure their membership in the community.

On March 21st, 1937, she was officially elected as a charter member of the local volunteer Fire Company along with 14 men. Gus was thought to be the first volunteer firewoman in America and quickly nicknamed "The Fire Lassie" of Jersey Homesteads which led to her being interviewed on the Fred Allen radio show in NYC on the morning and afternoon shows on March 2nd, 1938. And then on December 9th, 1993, she was honored by Educational Equity Concepts along with Rosa Parks and eight other ground breaking women at an event hosted by Gloria Steinem.

Gus’s brother Arnold Sherman was an avid artist in his free weekend hours and encouraged her in the late 1960’s to get some brushes & paints and give it a try. She took to it with the same enthusiasm that had brought her baking and cooking much acclaim. On one of the days Gregory Prestopino dropped in to have coffee on his walk to the post office he discovered that she was a fine colorist and invited her to attend lessons he was giving in his studio. The next day Gus was at Presto’s and she was very soon feeling confident enough to chat about her canvases with her dear friend Bernarda Shahn who was regularly over for tea and cookies.

Shahn-mural-scan1-WEB_edited.jpg