Old Lady Feeds Squirrels With Marionette of Herself

This photo taken by Nathalie Kalbach shows an 85-year old woman as she is feeding a squirrel with her own marionette version in New York City’s Washington Square Park. Amazing, isn’t it? And the story behind it is equally amazing.


It all started with when Ricky Syers, a talented street performer, met Doris Diether, a housing rights activist who had lost her voice. According to an article by Nina Golgowski for the New York Daily News, the two became instant friends:

It was while his marionettes were performing in the park on July 30 that Diether, who temporarily lost her voice a year ago due to an injury, first approached him. “One day she comes up to me and whispers, ‘I have something for you,’” he recalled. Opening a scrap book she revealed old newspaper clippings and articles she had written on marionettes back in 1974. Articles more recently added to her collection were ones she had seen on Syers’ work, which she cut out and saved for him. The gesture floored him. “This marionette thing has bonded us,” he said of their common interest, which inspired him to create the marionette resembling her “in honor of her.” …The charming little puppet featuring Diether’s short, white hair and rosy cheeks comes complete with a handbag, cane, and floral blouse and skirt.

Syers presented Diether’s mini-me in this short video:

Here’s a longer video about their friendship:

via New York Daily News, Laughing Squid


  1. This is how things should be!! Ya kno, like ‘back in the day’, such a buncha BS, why now now? If u find some1 or something interesting, go & let ’em kno! I do, 1 thing I’ve NEVER been cld is shy or quiet, ask any1 who kno’s me & they’ll 100% agree! Interaction w/others, esp w/1’s who share a common interest just makes our journey in life just that more worthwhile & interesting. A mind is just like ur body, if ya don’t use it, ya lose it!! I’ve ALWAYS chose the later & on my journey it has been quite eventful!! Like I ALWAYS say, don’t ask/say why, ask/say why NOT?!?

  2. That was great. thank my friend Myrna for sharing that video with me. I know that she like to play the drums like Ricky in the video.

  3. P.S., the woman in the photo, Doris, is now 93, I believe. Not 85. Unless the photo is from like 7 years ago. Doris and Ricky rock! I love the video of mini-Doris walking around and going into the supermarket and petting the cat. A classic. And poor old Stix sucking on his whiskey jug. But he can twerk!

  4. https://www.thevillager.com/2019/01/village-doyenne-doris-diether-turns-90-friends-fete-her-at-judson-bash/
    That’s my dear friend Doris Diether – the Queen of Washington Square Park & famous for being on the Community Board longer than anyone in NYC & her expertise in zoning. I organized her 80th & 90th birthday parties and both were amazing – she got 5 proclamations from top government officials. She’s pretty cool and still going strong at 91. The fabulous musicians in WS Park composed songs about her and performed for the party – it was such a beautiful community feeling and effort by many to make it a great party for a GREAT! lady.

  5. People just touching other people’s lives in a positive way, I live it. More people should live like this without judgement and negativity. It would certainly be a welcome change. As for the negative comments trolls will be trolls☹️. Try being nice, you might actually like it! Loved the store a beautiful example of kindness!

  6. I found this to be a delightful story. I found myself smiling, I was hypnotized for some reason. The talent of the marionette maker who was self taught is amazing to me.

  7. ‘Old Lady’ The choice of words is great journalism. Don’t you guys get it. ‘old Lady’ reflects that woman’s fantastic attitude perfectly. She loves being an ‘old lady’. Great article. I’m a very young 55 by the way 🙂

  8. Very enjoyable story. Loved the video! Hearing the voices of Ricky and Doris and seeing them in action, was the bonus! I’m 73. Age ain’t nothin’ but a number as the saying goes.

  9. I have news for you politically correct girls: most of us “old ladies” call ourselves old, senior, geriatric. We’re old enough and wise enough not to care about ageism or political correctness. So while I guess it’s thoughtful of you to stand up for us, please don’t bother – get over yourselves. You’ll be OLD someday and you won’t care either.

    • I totally agree, 70 year old lady! I’ll be 65 this year and I’m not afraid to say I’m old. It even gives me something to laugh about. Laughing at myself is one of my favorite things to do. Some people need to lighten up, get over themselves and cultivate a sense of humor. This was a delightful article. Just enjoy it.

    • Being old is an Honor. Being a lady is a choice. It’s perfectly wonderful to be both! Be respectful to the fact that Doris is an old lady! Thanks for caring about ageism and respect. But, really, it’s ok to use that term!!! I am a senior citizen, much to my surprise!!

  10. FYI: “Trump ends another Obama era program” ads appearing on your site [3 or 4 times on the same page]! Not sure how this site leans, politically, but for me, that’s a deterrent. Any reference to him turns my stomach!!

    • Ads served up on your own browser, is based on YOUR browsers, cookies, and history …and all the trackers hidden by other advertisers on your own computer….

      Other people will see other ads based on their browser cookies, history, and trackers hidden by advertisers on their computers!

      I don’t have ANY ads from this page!

      First – run an adblocker in each of your browsers
      2nd – run Ghostery extension in your browsers bcs it will find and block trackers

  11. Beautiful story and all the more beautiful because it is true! You’re always going to have the negatives out there. I am 80 and you can call me an “old lady”. I am old, but I am all those other ages as well. I am lucky and grateful for making it this far and plan to continue being an old lady for quite some time. I don’t see it as being a negative term, but an endearing one. Hugs to both of them.

    • That is such an honest and accurate response. I am my age but I am also all of those other ages too. Thank you. I saved it and am going to make some type of poster with is quoted.

    • I’m a few years older and completely agree with you. One of the hardest things to deal with is the ignorance of the young in terms of the joy of being older!

  12. Couldn’t miss all the comments made to correct other’s comments to ‘political correctness’. I loved the story just as it was written, and I am an old lady.

  13. I’m an Old Lady who finds this piece beautiful and flattering, just like the title old lady. I could teach a thing or two about a thing or two from My Glorious time on Earth to some whippersnappers!

  14. Love this, but I thought the term “old lady” was abandoned and deemed ageist. You need to rethink that attitude. I’m offended.

  15. I love this humanly possible story. I have a lot of unlikely friends and I love them, every one! This is just so cool. What an interesting trippy thing to connect so perfect on the same wave link or two. I am jealous.

  16. A couple of years ago, I was in Prague, where I wandered into a puppet shop full of gorgeously crafted and detailed marionettes. The owner told me lots of people don’t come into her shop because they’re freaked out by puppets and find them creepy — pupaphobia? All I know it that puppets like Ricky Syers just radiate personality and stories.

    • Was that shop near the Charles Bridge on the old side of river/town? If so… that is a totally excellent shop! So interesting!

    • Frank I still have one marionette and, I have 2 hand puppets. When I was volunteering at one of our hospitals, I would take one of the puppets with me to entertain the children that came for a test or visiting a loved one. I’m in my late 70’s but still a kid inside. I’ve never considered myself old.


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