Thursday, June 23, 2016

Before marriage … 1958

As I wrote in my last entry Dick and I met early in 1958 and married in August of the same year. We'd pretty much made up our minds about this after just a few dates and the next step was to find a place to live. We settled on what we could afford which was a small railroad apartment on the West Side.

These were exciting months for us. I was still working at WABC and Dick was enlarging his contact list of clients and of course we were making plans for our upcoming marriage. I remember one day in particular. We 'd both agreed that it would be smart to have a routine physical just on the off chance that something was wrong and could be corrected before our wedding.

On this day we'd just left the Doctor's office and Dick was saying how it was a breeze and he was glad we'd been pro-active. He then asked me why I was so quiet … was anything wrong? I turned to him and in a serious voice I said, “I'm glad too but I can't help but wonder why the Dr. had to have his hands all over me for just a routine exam.”

WHAT ?” yelled Dick, and he spun around and started running back to the Dr's office. I raced after him ...shouting that I was joking ... but I couldn't catch him. He was still yelling and I had visions of his barging into the Dr's office and decking the poor man before he could get a word out

Luckily the office was on the third floor and the elevator wasn't available. It gave me just enough time to thank him for caring so much and to, once again, tell him that it was just my crazy sense of humor. At first he looked aghast and then he started to laugh. I was so relieved but little did I know that, for the rest of our lives, he'd remind me of this every time I complained about one of his pranks!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Meeting Dick …1958

        The last two blog entries have opened up a flood of memories so, if you will bear with me I will bring more of them to light … starting with how I met my husband, Dick. 
About 6 months after I started working in New York City I was introduced to a new and invigorating group of New Yorkers. The talk was eclectic ... typically liberal and heavily concentrated on the Arts. As the evening went on a new man arrived and I found myself drawn to him.

Dick was a photographer who had just left a two year stint on “Life” magazine and was starting a free-lance business. He was attractive, in a rough boyish style and not very tall. His mother lived in the apartment one floor up and he had moved in with her while he launched his new career. Suddenly this thought came to my mind: “He’s too short for me, but this is the man that I’m going to marry !”

This was early in 1958 and it didn't take long for us to make my prediction come true. Dick and I tied the knot on August 23, 1958 and our marriage lasted 32 years until his death in 1990.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Another connection …

My ears perked up when I heard that many of the iconic photos of Muhammad Ali were taken by Gordon Parks. I never met him but my husband, Dick, worked with him at “LIFE” magazine and admired him greatly.

I met Dick in 1957, the year that he left his job as assistant photographer to start his own free lance business. He had worked with an array of well known “shutter bugs” at “LIFE”, such as Eliot Elisofon and Margaret Bourke-White but Gordon Parks was definitely his favorite.
Gordon had a great sense of humor and he loved to act goofy. If you were walking with him, Dick said, he would suddenly scoot over to the edge of the sidewalk and continue walking with one foot on the sidewalk and the other on the street … making it look like he was staggering. This would often promote barbed remarks and disgusted looks from those he passed but this just made him act even goofier ! My husband had a lot of this silliness in his personality too so they got along just fine.

Gordon Parks was famous for putting his clients at ease and portraying the “real” person in his photos. It makes me wonder what he said to Ali to elicit this reaction ?

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

I feel connected …

No, I never met Muhammad Ali but every time I hear about him it brings back memories of the other guy, Howard Cosell. I met him in 1957 in NY City where we were both working for WABC radio… he as a sports broadcaster and me as a lowly writer of promotional material. 

I was living in Tudor City, located on the East side of Manhattan near Grand Central Station and, although it was a hike to West 86th Street, I would often walk to work. However, after a long and tiring day it was a treat to share a cab with others who lived on the East side, or were taking a train home to the suburbs from Grand Central Station. One of the regulars who did this was a young man named Howard Cosell.

Howard worked on the “broadcasting” floor of our building so I never ran into him except on our rides to the East side. He loved music, especially opera and he never tired of telling us about the shows that he and his wife had seen. He would outline the plots of the operas and when and where they had been performed. He was a born teacher and we were avid students. His demeanor was always extremely proper and I had no reason to believe that he would become one of the most controversial figures in the world of sports reporting. The thing I remember most about Howard Cosell was his quiet and compelling voice. The nasal sound was there but I never heard the excited and almost-manic quality that were to become his particular trademark.

I left ABC before the amazing friendship between Muhammad Ali and Howard began but I followed it avidly as it progressed. I remember how he honored the man who became Mohammad Ali and was the first reporter to use his new name. He also stood squarely behind him when Ali refused to be drafted and was the one who broke the good news to him when the Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, voted in Ali's favor.

Howard passed away in 1995 at the age of 77. Among the many ailments that contributed to his death was Parkinson's Disease, the very same malady that was taking over the life of Muhammad Ali at this time. 
There will be tributes all week as we mourn the loss of Muhammad Ali and I'm sure that among them will be sound bites and stories about his friendship with Howard. Of course they will be of interest to me but, most of all, it will bring back memories of those magical years in the late 50's and the gentleman named Howard who insisted on always paying the cab-fare.

Friday, June 03, 2016

CI-VIL-I-TY … noun … politeness and courtesy in behavior or speech

I am so disheartened with all that is going on in our country. For more than 65 years I have watched as our politicians vie for election and, although I've seen some unbelievable things, I've never seen it go this far. The lack of civility is astounding, as are the ridiculous promises with nothing to back them up, and it will only get worse as we approach November 8th

Trying to be open minded I recently clicked on C-span because I knew they were airing the Libertarian Convention and I was interested in what they had to say. A lot of it didn't make sense to me but when I heard a delegate from Texas stand up at the podium and speak of the “mop headed tyrant in the White House” I turned it off in disgust.

My son Matt is extremely knowledgeable about politics. He listens to CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and the 3 Network channels. He tells me that it is the only way to get an overall picture of what is really happening and I know that's true but I find that I simply can't do it.

What is happening is disgraceful and puts us in such a bad light in the eyes of the world. I dread the outcome of the upcoming elections. If Trump wins I have visions of a foreign dignitary disagreeing with him and Trump telling him to “go home to mommy”, as he tells the dissenters at his rallies. When I mention this to Matt he agrees but he also tells me that he puts his trust in the American voter. 

I pray that he is right. 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

I LOVE this …

Today if you mention the Heimlich Maneuver most people know what it means. This was not the case in the early 70's when my husband and I attended a conference in NY City. One of the discussion leaders was an unknown surgeon from Cincinnati by the name of Dr. Henry Heimlich. We listened in fascination as he demonstrated his simple and easy way to dislodge food from the airway of a choking person.

Dick and I were both part of a Volunteer Rescue Squad in the small town of Clinton Corners, NY and we couldn't wait to get home and tell them what we'd heard. By 1974 the Heimlich Maneuver was launched and the rest is history. 
Now, fast forward to this wonderful true story about 96 year old Dr. Heimlich today. He is a resident of a senior center in Cincinnati and while seated for dinner recently he noticed a woman in distress. She seemed to be choking and he jumped to her aid, using his life saving maneuver, and successfully forcing a small piece of meat from her airway.

When asked how he felt about saving the life of his fellow resident the good Dr. said, “I felt it was just confirmation of what I had been doing throughout my life.”

It's interesting to note that Dr. Heimlich had demonstrated his technique for years but had never actually performed it on a living person until now !

Tuesday, May 24, 2016


At gatherings when I notice a person not drinking, or perhaps they say something that rings a bell with me, I ask, “Are you, by any chance, a ‘Friend of Bill W' ?” Bill Wilson was the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous and that is the universal phrase that we in AA use to identify ourselves to fellow members. My license plate, “FRNDOFBW” is a shortened version of this and I’ve had many interesting encounters over the years with people who understand what it means.  It's usually horn honks and lots of upraised thumbs but I’ve also had a few unforgettable adventures and this is my favorite.

I was at a Stop sign waiting for a large vehicle on the main road to turn into the street I was on. He didn't have enough maneuvering room so (without looking in my rear view mirror) I backed up. BAM ! I hit something and when I got out to look I was aghast to see that it was a Sheriff’s car. The Sheriff’s deputy turned out to be a really nice guy and he'd seen that I was trying to give the other driver a little more room so he didn’t charge me with anything. “Just be sure to look in your mirror next time”, he said.

I was getting back in to my car when he added, “By the way I’m curious. What does your license plate mean?” When I told him he said that he was a great fan of AA. “I’ve seen many of the driver’s that I’ve stopped turn their lives around with the aid of that organization,” he said. Then he proceeded to chuckle and he asked me if I’d been aware of what I hit when I backed into his car? I guess I looked bewildered because he pointed to the front grille and to the sign that was affixed to it. The placard read, “BOOZE IT & LOSE IT”
“Now you’ll have a good story to tell the next time that you go to one of those meetings”, said the deputy and I agreed. I’ve told it often and it never fails to get a big laugh.