"If you're an at-home mom, there's a lot more pressure to do volunteering," says one returnee, Andrea McDonald ('80), who works as a Realtor. "I'm into the PTA up to my eyeballs." And her den of Cub Scouts recently disbanded because the fourth-graders were already burdened with so many other responsibilities -- sports, religious school, after-school programs (not unlike their peers in the city).
"It's sort of a split population," says Penny Bauersfeld. "There are a lot of dual careers, nannies, juggling and shuffling; it seems a lot more tense and stressful. Then there are still that group of women who play tennis, have their nails done, hang out at Hay Day and the Coffee Tree." She adds that it's difficult "if you teach your kids money isn't everything, but they see everybody going to Bermuda every year. There are people who judge other people by their level of affluence -- do you belong to a country club, have live-in help? But not a lot of the people who grew up here are like that."
Penny and Paul represent one big change from their parents' generation: They're a mixed marriage (Penny, née Feinberg, is Jewish; Paul is Catholic). The aspect of Scarsdale they hadn't anticipated, despite having grown up there, is how much of the community still defines itself by houses of worship.
"Temple and spirituality are very much on the increase -- there's a deep longing to connect, even by interfaith couples," says Rabbi Richard Jacobs of the Westchester Reform Temple, who estimates that 10 percent of the younger families are interfaith. "But usually by the time they come to temple, they've worked it out -- the ones who have the problems with it are their parents' generation."
"If anything blindsided us," Paul Bauersfeld says, "it was coming from the West Coast, where people are more open-minded. Our kids are Jewish, and we'll probably join a temple, but we don't know if we want a serious temple environment. There's definitely a clear division between Jews and non-Jews. We thought it had to have gotten better, but it hadn't. It made it harder for us to socialize and fit in." Yet ultimately, he says, "I feel very motivated being here. It's always been a very inspiring place for me, and I owe a lot to it."
For Mary Evans ('77), returning was "therapeutic. It's not our childhood, and never will be. I'm not reliving my youth. I'm middle-aged, okay? I'm changing diapers, doing shopping. Not pool-hopping and keg parties. If anyone's trying to relive it, that's pathetic."
Most say that experiencing the town through their children's eyes makes it new. That doesn't stop the occasional flashback: Penny Bauersfeld's troop of Brownies marches up the same street she did. Sarit Rozycki says, "At times I catch myself laughing. Someone was mentioning a house: I thought, 'That's where I had my first make-out party, listening to Elton John.' " She adds, "In a lot of ways, I feel we never grew up. I feel like I'm still in high school, but with a lot more responsibility."