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Snapshot: Jane Cottingham

Occupation: I’ve been an antiques dealer for over 40 years, and I’ve owned four shops, including one in Newtown, in the 1980s. It was in the building on the corner of Pecks Lane, where the pasta shop is now. The building there then was Mrs Doss’s Antiques, and a hot dog stand before that. The fire department burned it down as an exercise, and then we built there. I still sell antiques, privately.

Family: I met my husband, Robert, at Young & Rubicam on Madison Avenue. He was an art director, there and I was a writer. We have three daughters, Reid, Molly, and Kyle, and three granddaughters, Charlotte, Rowan, and Maggie.

Pets: We have a 25-pound tabby cat, Big Boy, who runs the house. He was a rescue, and I’ve had him for about eight years.

How long have you lived in Newtown? We moved here from London, 36 years ago.

What do you like to do in your free time? I love movies in the theater. We love the experience of seeing a movie in the theater with other people. We also go to a lot of antique shows, art exhibits, and museums. And I do like the Elephant’s Trunk in New Milford. I do a lot of writing about my childhood growing up in Brooklyn and Long Island, and send it to my children.

Do you have a favorite book? I just finished a wonderful book by Philip Roth, Nemesis. He says it’s his last book. It’s about the polio epidemic in the City in the 1940s and 1950s. Both my brother and I had polio, so this book was very meaningful. Roth talks about this, and I remember this, how they closed the swimming pools [in the City] because they thought one of the ways polio was spread was through water.

Do you have a favorite travel destination? Last summer, I spent two months in Stratford-On-Avon in England. A friend let me use her house. I also love the Cotswolds in England. We have spent a lot of trips in Tuscany, and in Florence, where Molly went to art school.

What is the best thing about Newtown? It’s the little things, like the Antiques and The Arts Weekly publication; it’s amazing. It’s a town that still has so many beautiful, old trees; or the Ferris Farm, even just driving by it and not stopping for ice cream. Also, the volunteer fire and ambulance services: we are so lucky to have dedicated people like that here. And I love the Hawleyville Post Office! Mark, Laura, and Rich are incredibly helpful when you come in. Our kids went through the public schools in Newtown, and they are extraordinary. We would never move from here. I can’t imagine living in a better place.

Who has been the greatest influence in your life? That’s easy — my grandmother. Her name was Florence and she was Irish and sharp as a tack until she died at 97. She taught me how to have a good, meaningful life. She was wise, and she liked to drink a little shot of Irish whiskey and a beer. She used to give us Guinness, rubbed it on our gums. In England, Guinness is called “mother’s milk,” and she believed that! I think of her every day and miss her, and she’s been gone a long time.

Do you have a personal philosophy? I try to find something funny in every situation. It might seem frivolous, but I think it’s a good way to live. There’s usually something in every situation you can say, “That was funny!”

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