Monday, July 24, 2017

1973 .... James Cagney, the Consummate Showman !

 

In 1999 the American Film Institution ranked James Cagney as 8th among the greatest male stars of all time although his films were mostly prevalent in the 30’s through the 60’s. He is often misquoted but his raspy voice with high pitched inflections will always be his outstanding feature. The mimics of today still delight in hitching up their shoulders and squawking out the words; “You dirty rat…” (a line that Cagney says he never uttered, by the way !)

In 1961 James Cagney bought an 800 acre farm in Dutchess County, NY. It was in the same township where my husband, 3 children and I settled three years later. Although the farm was just over the hill from our house we never saw the famous man. He loved the country and would stay there whenever possible and finally retired there in the mid 70's. He was good to the county and everyone that met him was duly impressed. I, however, had never even spied him from afar.

One Spring day in 1974 I was grocery shopping at our little local store. My arms were full and, as I approached the door, I saw a small, hefty man holding it open for me. He was slightly hunched and had a plaid hat with brim covering his balding head. It was tilted to give it a rakish look, and as I turned to say, “Thank you”, he tipped it toward me and said, “The pleasure is mine, little missy.”

There was no mistaking that voice ! James Cagney was my doorman and his twinkling eyes told me that he knew it was a thrill for me. Even in his 70’s he was a captivating presence and you could tell that, as much as he loved his anonymity, he was still the consummate showman.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

THE CHESS GAME … circa 1972


In 1990, shortly after my husband died, I was looking through some old photographs and came across a wonderful one of Dick and our oldest son Mark playing chess. It really touched me because it was so reminiscent of how they used to spend hours at the chess board. Dick had been teaching all three children to play since they were toddlers.

The only problem was that it was a Polaroid shot and so faded that I could barely make out the expression on Dick’s face. I mentioned this to Mark and he agreed that it was a shame to lose that memory.

Then Mark did a wonderful thing. Unbeknownst to me he “stole” the photo when I wasn’t looking. He is an architect and has a very good eye for design so it wasn’t difficult for him to produce this wonderfully stylized version of that photo. He captured the moment exactly as it had been in the original. Framed and mounted it was his Christmas gift to me that year and I was thrilled. I had copies made and, in turn, gave them as gifts to all of my family members.

Mark and his siblings learned a lot from their dad as he taught them to play chess… not the least being tenacity and patience.

Friday, July 14, 2017

GRACIOUS IN VICTORY ...


Here we see two former U.S. Presidents… Clinton and Bush. They were at the George W. Bush Presidential Library in Dallas, Texas last week entertaining the audience with remembrances of their times in office.

What really caught my attention was when they both agreed that they were able to forge bonds of respect and friendship with each other because of the way they handled their victories … not criticizing those who held office before them or personally denigrating them. 

Bush said that while in office there were times he sought Clinton's advice and Clinton replied that, upon turning the presidency over to Bush he had told him he would offer help and treat him with respect.

Clinton said “If you want to be president realize it's about the people, not about you”. “The decisions you make have a monumental effect on people,” said Bush, adding “Humility is the key quality for any president”.

I seem to remember President Obama offering suggestions and help to our current President as he took the reins. It's sad to realize that the concept of
GRACIOUS IN VICTORY” is a foreign concept to Trump and totally beyond his scope of understanding.






Sunday, July 09, 2017

SHOCKING !!!

 




Do any of you remember this sexy gal? It's Betty Boop … a cartoon character made famous by Max Fleischer and Paramount Pictures in 1932. 

Her cartoon films stood out from the competition mainly because of the
musicians such as Louis Armstrong and Cab Calloway who provided her jazzy soundtracks. In one film Betty is threatened by a salacious ringmaster and, while swinging her hips, she tells her friend, the clown, “He couldn’t take my boop-oop-a-doop away!” That phrase became her byword.

But it wasn't an easy road for Betty. As incredible as it seems today in 1934 the Production Code censorship laws forced Betty to increase the length of her skirt and to cover up the revealing neckline. She was no longer a “risqué” flapper. She became a housewife with a little dog named Pudgy and the films fell flat.

It is ironic that Betty’s spirited sexuality would spell her doom even as it was making stars of the women who copied her antics. Can anyone forget the memorable performance by Marilyn Monroe in “Some Like it Hot”, the 1959 hit with Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis? Her song “I Wanna Be Loved By You” with the chorus of boop-oop-a-doop was a direct takeoff of Betty.

By 1939 it would seem that her cartoon career was at an end but you can’t keep a girl like Betty under wraps. She has been revived over the years in syndicated films and even had a cameo appearance in the Academy Award winning film “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” in 1988. 

Way to go Betty and keep on boop-oop-a-dooping wherever you are !!





Tuesday, July 04, 2017

And the winner is …


“1951. Dancing at the Totem Pole”. I posted that entry June 5th of 2007 and, 10 years later, I have yet to top it as far as the amount of comments that it garnered. It seems to have opened a nostalgic door for so many and, rather than repeat the entry, I thought it would be fun to share some of their heart-warming and informative responses instead. Here goes:

* Going through my HS years in Newton, it was pure delight to take a girl to the Totem Pole... so romantic, and such fond memories of our youth when we were so amazingly innocent! And the paddle-boats were delightful! We had no idea what made up a girl, but we sure loved 'em, and loved the music. Such nostalgia…

* Hi Ginnie, I am 82, I lived in Newton, MA all my life I worked at the totem pole from 1944 to 1958 first on soda fountain then ticket booth, and then the hostess in the ballrom where I met my later to be husband who was the manager. you can't even imagine all the memories and happy images you brought to me.

* Thanks for posting information about The Totem Pole ballroom at Norumbega. I grew up (I'm now 70) in Newton and was one of the very lucky teenagers that used to take my "special" dates for a night of dancing at Totem Pole. Your blog brings back wonderful memories of the blissful evenings dancing and listening to the big band music of Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, and the many other top-name bands that played there. I remember that I never had a problem getting a date to go dancing at Totem Pole! LOL


* I know just what you are talking about! I had a date that took me to the Totem Pole. He didn't have a car so we got there by street car, subway and bus. I lived north of Boston. The ballroom was beautiful, the band was great and the couches were cozy. I remember each couch had a lamp that was dimly lit. Some couples would shut the lamps off. There was an employee that would go around and have them put the lamps back on!!

And my favorite:

* I found a love letter tonight from my deceased husband and laughed because he said he just couldn't wait until Saturday night. It would be in the paper who would be at the Totem Pole.....it was Glen Miller's Band. We were going to Brockton High School and started dating at 15 & 17 after knowing each other all our lives and were married for 42 AWESOME years before he passed away from cancer. What wonderful memories of that place. We went as often as his pitiful little grocery store job paycheck would allow. Thank you for the memories. You made my day as I was sitting here missing him so much tonight.

Pure nostalgia !







Thursday, June 29, 2017

Call me naive … but,


if there were one single thing that could drastically bring down the deficit, rid us of poverty, give health care to all and still have enough to improve our infrastructure … wouldn't that be something that our elected officials, (the ones that we, in good faith, voted into office), would be clamoring to make the law of the land?

Well, it could be possible if they did nothing more than completely cut out all the havens and loopholes in our tax system. I know … it's an impossibility but just think about it for a minute. Wouldn't it be a wonderful way to bring back balance to our county … both fiscal and emotional?

In my 84 years on this earth I have never seen such disparity between the “haves” and the “have-nots”. It makes me ashamed when I hear it said that “we are the richest country in the world” and then see how little is shared with the needy. To be honest we should change our coins and bills to read: “In Greed We Trust”.

The fact that our current President will not show us his 2016 tax returns tells it all. So, yes, my idea doesn't have a ghost of a chance but, for now anyway, they haven't taken away my ability to dream


Saturday, June 24, 2017

A feel-good picture …


I love this picture of the “Big Bang Theory” crew and the amazing Stephen Hawking. It's like a breath of fresh air as compared to so much of the dark side that is portrayed on TV these days.

It has a lot to do with why I don't watch much TV but about 6 years ago my granddaughter, who has Asperger's syndrome, told me this was a “must see”. The program directors deny that the leading guy Sheldon has Asperger's but, as a cooky quantum physics genius. he displays many of the same symptoms and that was enough to draw her attention.

It's obvious that the famed physicist Stephen Hawking, (who has actually appeared on the show), is a fan of the popular TV show too. He proved it even more than usual this week at the Starmus festival in Trondheim Norway when he awarded the prestigious Hawking Science Medal that "recognizes the merit of popular science on an international level," to the long running CBS TV show.

Congratulations to all of you on the “Big Bang Theory” !