The latest installment of our Baristanet Profile series, where we get to know the people in our neighborhood:
Name: Susie McKeown
Where do you live? Verona, NJ
When did you move there? In 2003 while I was pregnant with my third child. I have 2 girls and 1 boy —Megan 17, Ryan 14 and Gracie 13. We used to live in the sweetest house at 108 Wildwood Avenue in Upper Montclair for 5 years. We bought it from friends who were here for a few years before moving back to Houston, TX. That house had lots of natural light and a deck with a tree growing up through he middle of it. We also had a huge vegetable and herb garden behind the garage that we kept up after our friends left. I really love our house in Verona now because it has more room inside, but I still miss that deep backyard and all of those delicious veggies.
Where did you grow up? I grew up on 5 Argyle Road in Montclair. (we later moved to 5 Glenside Terrace on the other side of the park when I was 9.) At our first house we had the most amazing neighborhood and all of the children always played outside. All summer long we used to run around between houses until we heard the bell at dinner time or saw the street light go on. Argyle is the cul de sac inside of Brookdale Park off of Grove Street. Behind the houses at the other end of the cul de sac were the Brookdale Park tennis courts. My parents and the neighbors enjoyed playing there all the time and we all would go out for pizza at The Town Pub in Bloomfield on Saturday nights. I loved it there.
How do you make a living? I am the owner of Susie McKeown Photography and I photograph children, babies, teens and their families. I also love to photograph weddings and bar/bat mitzvahs on the weekends. My clients are like family to me. It’s so rewarding to be present for all of those special moments in time. Tiny baby toes are the cutest, seeing a couple celebrate 50 years together is amazing, and being present for a couple getting getting married always makes me cry. I love my job!
Coffee, tea or … ? At home I make coffee every morning in a huge mug, but I love a pretty latte from The Corner so I can Instagram it!
What’s your idea of a perfect Saturday? Any Saturday when there is gorgeous light streaming through my bedroom window is a perfect one. I usually make waffles with strawberries and whipped cream for my family and then head out to Brookdale or Verona Park for a photo shoot with a sweet family. That’s a perfect morning. We walked The High Line last weekend and that was great too! A Saturday morning on Martha’s Vineyard are always a treat.
What’s your favorite local restaurant? I think Montclair has 86 restaurants! When I feel like being spoiled I have Eggs Benedict at Bluestone, Eggs on Avocado Toast at The Corner, A yummy lobster roll at Toast, or dinner with friends at DeNovo. My husband Tom and I love to go for dinner and drinks at The Highlawn Pavilion. We had our wedding reception there and it will be our 20th anniversary this June. I’m excited to go back soon!
What’s on your nightstand? There is always a Book Club selection and Bobbi Brown’s Beach perfume. Currently, I’m reading “All the Light We Can Not See” by Anthony Doerr. Another favorite is “Me Before You” by Jojo Moyes and her follow up “The Girl you Left Behind.” “The Girl on The Train” was our last book club pick. I’ve been in book club 16 years and counting —love you girls!
What are you listening to? I listen to a little bit of everything, but always go back to anything by Fountains of Wayne and The Eagles (a little hometown support here). I also love The Lemonheads and The Shins. Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, U2 …..so so many! Unknown Martha’s Vineyard bands are always fun to listen to while we’re headed to the beach!
What are your current addictions? My favorite blogger Ashley Hackshaw. She writes at Lil Blue Boo. She is extremely inspirational, funny, and honest. She an ex-banker, ex-clothing designer, mom, sister, wife, cancer survivor, amazing photographer and creator of everything good. I’m also addicted to Instagram.
Talent you would most like to have. I can’t sing a note so being able to carry a tune.
What’s the worst-kept secret about Montclair? Tierney’s Tavern. It’s where I met my husband 26 years ago! I was 22 and he was 27. We both went to Montclair High School and Montclair State University but missed each other by one year. It really is a place “Where Friends Meet.” And Buddy Tierney makes the best burger in town (Tip: Get The Buddy Burger on a hard roll!) So yummy! And the Corn Beef and Cabbage is also amazing on St. Patrick’s Day!
What do you hope they say about you at your funeral? I hope they say “Susie was fun and she was able to capture natural expressions in her portraits.” This year I lost my best friend, Owen Petrie. His friends and family took a few portraits I did of him and used those images in a slideshow to remember Owen at his service. He was such a warm, funny, smart and kind person. Another long time friend, Bill Maroni, said on Facebook that “Sue, really captured the essence of his soul.” That meant a lot to me, and what better compliment could you have? That and being a good mom, loving wife, loyal friend, kind, funny and patient person.