SALISBURY — The COVID-19 pandemic has created anxiety and uncertainty for many, but a local woman has spent the past four months making the quarantine easier for families by becoming a Facebook Live phenomenon known as “Auntie Nancy.”
“If you ever told me I’d be going to Facebook Live just to read children’s stories with no makeup on, I’d say you’re crazy,” Nancy Gorman said. “There’s no way I would have done this before. But, even if I’m saving one family from insanity, it is all worth it.”
Gorman works for Aramark at the Middleton Jail and has also run a small makeup business, Makeup by Nancy, for 16 years.
Although the Elmwood Street resident has done a few makeup tutorial videos for private Facebook groups in the past, she decided to read children’s books on Facebook Live soon after the lockdown began in March.
“I was watching my Facebook newsfeed and all of the negativity and uncertainty that was going on,” she said. “All these weddings and events and flights had been canceled. So, I said, ‘You know something? These people need a boost. I’m going to do this.’”
Gorman, 50, said she happened to have two children’s books, “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” and “Llama Llama Red Pajama,” lying around the house and “Story Time with Auntie Nancy” was born on Facebook Live.
“The Salisbury Police Department was doing this and Michelle Obama was doing this,” Gorman said.
She is not a mother herself but went ahead and read her children’s books anyway and said she received an almost instant response.
“People were saying, ‘Oh my God, I needed this’ or ‘You saved me from my kids,’” Gorman said. “But the biggest reaction was, ‘Do it again! Do it again!’”
Gorman was happy to oblige and converted her home makeup studio into an impromptu TV studio.
Soon “Auntie Nancy” was well on her way to racking up roughly 500 views per video, four times a week, on Greater Newburyport area Facebook pages such as The Nice People of Newburyport, Amesbury Squawks and Salisbury Talks.
“‘Auntie’ is a title that I hold dear to my heart,” she said. “I have many nieces and nephews. My mother was also an ‘Auntie Nancy.’ It’s a proud title. I have crates and crates of books on loan to me and I have people who have donated books to me. My neighbor also has grandkids and she had about a thousand children’s books.”
The “Berenstain Bears” series is a big hit and so is “Make Way for Ducklings” and “The Giving Tree,” according to Gorman.
Gorman said her Facebook travails have also gotten her noticed while in public.
“I can go to Market Basket and I can see little kids whispering when they look at me,” she said. “I ask them if they know who I am and they say, ‘Yeah!’ I also get adults who tell me, ‘I don’t have kids but I watch it sometimes.’”
Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.