It’s been years since former Kingston resident Barbara Goldstein Kline lived in Pennsylvania, but the best-selling author has never forgotten her roots.
“Where you grow up is so important to who you are and how you raise families. I have positive feelings about Northeastern Pennsylvania, what a wonderful place it was to grow up,” said Kline, who this afternoon will visit the Back Mountain Memorial Library.
Kline’s family owned Plymouth-based Golden Quality ice cream, which employed thousands of people in the Wyoming Valley. Unfortunately, after the 1972 flood, which put the ice-cream plant underwater, Kline said, Golden Quality never recovered. Her father sold the business, but it eventually closed.
“It was very painful to watch something that was a fixture in the community come to an end. It had been there 50 years or more,” Kline said. Nevertheless, her familiarity with the ice-cream business inspired her to open an ice-cream parlor in the Capitol Hill section of Washington, D.C. The Wyoming Seminary graduate had moved there with her husband, Richard, a real-estate developer.
But Kline decided to follow a different path after a frightening experience when her first child was only three months old. She had left the baby at home with her husband late one Sunday evening to help her employee close up the ice-cream shop, and nearly lost her life.
“I got held up at gunpoint. I was very lucky to survive that adventure,” Kline said
So she closed the shop and focused on something that had struck a personal note: helping match nannies with families in need of child care. Kline and her husband had a hard time finding qualified caregivers for their newborn, and Kline realized she was not alone. She founded White House Nannies, a child-care placement agency headquartered in Bethesda, Md. In business 24 years now, Kline’s clients have included Michele Norris of National Public Radio and Chris Wallace of Fox News.
Several years ago, with a head full of interesting and amusing true nanny agency experiences, Kline decided to write down her experiences for a book and gave the book an enticing title – “White House Nannies: True Tales from the Other Department of Homeland Security.” Published by Tarcher/Penguin in 2005, the book received good press and made the Washington Post’s bestseller list.
“I took 20 years of talking to families and wrote about it. The stuff in my book is real, not fiction,” Kline said.
The book got good reviews from critics and readers alike and earned Kline guest appearances with CNN’s Larry King and ABC’s “Good Morning America.” Kline modestly credits a good publicist at Penguin for the positive reception to “White House Nannies.”
“I got inordinately lucky,” she said.
But the luck did not stop there. With the popularity of nanny-themed books (including Hollywood-focused “You’ll Never Nanny in This Town Again” by Suzanne Hansen and Manhattan-focused “The Nanny Diaries” by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus), Kline’s book attracted television executives. The rights to the book were sold to a Hollywood producer who is developing a new television comedy based on the book.
Kline, who recently visited Hollywood and sat down to discuss the deal with an agent, quipped that she is not going to be “quitting her day job.”
“I think Hollywood moves very slowly. It’s definitely another world and plain old fun. But it’s TV, and they are very finicky. I think they are waiting to see how ‘The Nanny Diaries’ movie (due out this year) does,” Kline said.
Ironically, her son Matthew, for whom Kline had a hard time finding a nanny when he was an infant, landed an entry-level position at California-based hot talent agency Creative Artists Agency. He hopes to one day become a sports agent.
But Kline still manages to stay grounded. Although both her parents are deceased, and the number of relatives who have remained in Luzerne County has dwindled, Kline still gets a kick out of meeting people from Pennsylvania. Many of her nannies have been from the Wilkes-Barre area, and she is glad to help them out and chat with them. She even recalled a love match between one female nanny she had hired who hailed from Kingston, who eventually married a White House Nannies male employee who hailed from Pittsburgh.
Kline does not get back to the area often, but about eight years ago she was visiting with her daughter, Gillian, and on a whim decided to stop by the former Goldstein home on Butler Street, Kingston, and knock on the door. A local pediatrician now owned the home and graciously welcomed the Klines in and gave them a tour of the entire place.
“I have very fond memories of Butler Street. Very much of who I am is where I came from,” Kline said. “Washington is a very transient town, so nannies are important. There is no extended family to help raise children.”
Kline, now a Chevy Chase, Md., resident, will be the guest author at a Back Mountain Memorial Library luncheon today. Hospitality hour begins at 11 a.m., lunch at 11:45 and a program at 1:15. Call 675-1182 for more information.
“Where you grow up is so important to who you are and how you raise families. I have positive feelings about Northeastern Pennsylvania, what a wonderful place it was to grow up.”