Friday, November 08, 2019

My antique lap desk ...

In my last blog entry I talked about my sister Peg who passed away 7 years ago.  It brought to mind the lovely antique lap desk that she inherited and sent to me requesting that I decorate it for her in any way that I thought appropriate.   I was very touched by her request.

The desk top was perfectly plain as you can see in the “before” picture. It was literally a blank canvas and I tried hard to find the perfect design to bring it alive. I have a huge library of Folk Art books and I leafed through them looking for an inspiration. I knew I had found my answer when I came across this sweet picture of two sisters in repose. 

The picture was painted in 1854 by Mary Ann Smith and is titled “Portrait of the Two Sisters”. I loved the colors and the stylistic folk art look. It seemed to be a perfect match for the desk and I felt like I was paying homage to the artist rather than just copying her art. I like to think that she had a sister as close to her as Peg and I always were.


Sunday, November 03, 2019

My “twin” sister Peg

This picture was taken in 1934. That's me on the right, age 1 year and to my left is Peg … born just 14 months earlier. It’s obvious that we were not actual twins but many thought we were and this is why...

...When it was time to go to school Peg went to Kindergarten and then to a sort of “trial” class called “transition” before first grade. It was canceled before I started school and, of course, that meant that Peg and I ended up in the same grade … and that's how it was for the rest of our lives. We were side by side, like twins, in everything. To say that Peg and I were close is an understatement.

Peg was extremely generous and loving and she was a great listener. I used to be jealous of the way the boys would flock to her side and often shared their hearts out as she patiently nodded her head in agreement and understanding, but I was never jealous enough to try to emulate her. I was more apt to be thinking “oh, for heaven's sake … get over it and move on !” You can see why they chose her … the sweet side of our twosome.

I actually introduced her to a college classmate who was to become her husband. They had been married just shy of 60 years when she died 7 years ago. I will, of course, never be able to replace her but at least I have a lifetime of memories that comfort me.

Monday, October 28, 2019

1944...I dream of being Esther Williams

75 years later and I still think that Esther Williams is the epitome of what the “all American“ girl should be. No shoulder pads needed here ! She was strong, healthy and beautiful ... not a bit like the scrawny females that seem to be the norm today. 

I was 11 years old and I absolutely loved going to the movies. I would have lived there if my parents had allowed it. In 1944 our theater would usually play a newsreel and then the featured movie. There might be a cartoon and a preview of next week’s film; but very little in the way of advertising as there is today. Also, the same movie would be shown over and over. If you missed the beginning it was no big just sat on and watched it again.

This was my favorite way to spend a Saturday. I would get my ticket in the morning, when it cost just 10 cents, and then stay on for the rest of the day. This was especially satisfying when an Esther Williams film was featured. Her beautiful underwater sequences were breathtaking and I could watch them forever. I would imagine myself as Esther, leading the rest of the girls in those choreographed water ballet moves. The camera would follow us under water and then switch to an overhead shot. The viewer would be enchanted to see a flower appear on the surface of the pool and would then realize that it was eight gorgeous bathing beauties perfectly spaced and moving in sync…their legs and arms intertwined to simulate colorful petals and leaves.

Then Esther would suddenly appear, rising up and out of the water in the center of the group like a bud unfolding. The music would rise to a crescendo and I would be riveted to my seat. She seemed to be suspended in air and I would hold my breath until she took her final graceful dive. 

Most of the films had weak plots but the water ballet sequences, usually choreographed by Busby Berkeley, have never been surpassed. My dream of being the next Esther Williams wasn't the least diminished by the fact that I could barely dog paddle across a shallow wading pool !

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

1949 I visit Filene's Bargain Basement

Our country is at such a low point as I write this and I feel powerless to do anything about it. It seems that the only way I can get some relief is to travel back in my mind to better times. If you feel the same way I invite you to join me.

In1908 when Edward A. Filene came up with the idea of selling surplus and overstocked merchandise in the basement of his father’s department store in Boston it was an immediate success. Filene's famous bargain basement was launched and in 1949 I made my first and only visit there.

Imagine a room with wall-to-wall females of all ages, packed in like sardines and each one vying for the best bargain available. I was 16 and it took all my strength to hold my own against the push of all those bodies. After elbowing my way to one of the tables I was thrilled to see a peach colored cashmere sweater. It was a brand name in my size and at an incredibly good price. I held it high to inspect for flaws when suddenly a hand reached out and snatched it from my grasp. I was so surprised that I didn’t even try to see where it went.

This was not an auspicious beginning and I decided to step back and reconnoiter. I saw that the savvy shoppers had large Filene shopping bags. They would quickly scan a table and shove anything that seemed of interest into the bag. When they had their fill they would retire to the end of the room where large mirrors were hung. Then they would take their time inspecting their choices…keeping everything close and out of reach from the other shoppers.

Now I had the maneuver down pat and, at the end of the day I’d spent very little and had quite a bit to show for it. However, I couldn’t help but wonder if it was worth it. I was exhausted and I realized that both my dignity and my body were bruised. I was glad to say that I’d visited the famous Filene’s Bargain Basement but I never went back.

It is interesting to note that Edward A. Filene not only devised a new way of shopping but he also introduced practices in the workplace that we take for granted today, such as: the 40-hour work week, Minimum wage, Profit sharing plans and Medical Insurance for workers. He was truly a pioneer in his field.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Wendy wraps it up ...

Well all good things come to an end and our journey with Wendy is one of those things.  She flies home on the 15th and will be here by the time I post this.   Here are some sweet memories of her very last day in Cesky Krumlov.   Enormous cheeses, corn husk dolls,  BBQ Czech style and paella in front of the fountain.

And here is my favorite picture of Wendy …she's in Prague and it looks like she can hardly believe she's there.  Thanks Wendy for taking me with you and WELCOME HOME !!

Monday, October 14, 2019

Houses identified by ornaments, not numbered.

Wendy writes: In Prague (and other places in this region), before houses were numbered, people identified their homes with various ornaments. For example, you might have said, “I live on Soukenicka Street at the House of the Five Petaled Rose”.

Here are some of the examples of the lovely old street 'addresses'.

                                                                  Two Suns
The Swan    
The Lobster   
The  Radish   
The Blessed virgin Mary with baby Jesus … keeping an eye on the Weed Shop


Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Wendy visits the Český Krumlov monastery gardens.

Wendy writes that her trip is rapidly coming to and end so she is “gobbeling up all she can.

I guess she got that idea while shooting these pictures of the Cesky Krumlov monastery gardens filled with herbs ...

.... and medicinals
…. and pears

…. and apples
…. and greens
…. and Roses