Tuesday, October 28, 2008


When Halloween arrived in 1958 I was a young bride living on West 75th St., in New York City. We had been in our "railroad" style apartment for two months and I couldn't remember seeing any young children there. We were on the 6th floor which we reached via a dark and rickety elevator. This was basically a building of small apartments occupied by singles, gay couples and the elderly.

With these thoughts in mind I didn't even consider the idea of providing for "trick and treaters". My husband agreed and even felt more strongly than I that it would be a bad idea. "No mother in her right mind would bring a kid up that elevator", he said, "and, besides, we can't afford to be spending money on a lot of junk food for a bunch of snotty-nosed tots that we don't even know and probably wouldn't care to."

"Well", I thought, "he's in a fine mood", and I went to the kitchen to start dinner. He was still in a foul humor at supper time and it was apparent that his day had gone from bad to worse. When the doorbell rang he threw down his napkin in disgust. "I can't even get a few minutes of peace in my own house", he growled as he headed down our long hallway to the door. I heard it open and then... a profound silence. I waited a minute and then went to see if I could help.

I will never forget what I saw. There was my husband crouched down so that he was on eye level with a tiny imp dressed in a tiger costume. They were having a conversation and the little boy kept nodding his head and smiling. Then Dick reached in his pocket and I saw him put all his loose change into the Halloween bag that the child was carrying.

I quietly returned to the table and was sitting there when Dick came back. He was looking a little sheepish but he didn't give me an explanation. He said that he "had a little business to attend to" and he was out the door in a flash.

When he returned he had two bags filled with goodies. It was then that he told me about the conversation with the little boy. Dick had given him his change so that he could buy what he wanted, but he'd promised him that he would get some candy to have on hand for the rest of the "trick and treaters".

We found a bowl for the candy and then put it on a small end table near the front door. We even decorated the outside of the door to make it look friendly and then we sat back and waited.

Yes, you guessed it. Not a soul appeared. Our little Halloween tiger had been our only taker. "It's strange," said Dick, "I don't remember a grown up being with that little boy. You don't suppose........"

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


... a courageous and honest statement ... from an honest and courageous Statesman.

I was pleased to hear that Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama but that is not the theme of this blog entry. What really thrilled and impressed me when I heard his words was that someone finally had the guts to bring to the surface the underlying problem that faces our country today ... in my opinion.

For some reason we’ve forgotten that our nation is made up of as many ethnic backgrounds as are to be found in the world. This diversity was always our strength and our joy ... but no more.

Now it has become the norm to ridicule and even defile anyone who does not fit in to the “white, faith-based Christian” box. I don’t know how or why this happened but it’s very frightening as far as I’m concerned.

Here is the excerpt that I refer to in Mr. Powell’s speech, in
reference to Obama being called a Muslim:

“Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he's a Christian. He's always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer's no, that's not America

Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, "He's a Muslim and he might be associated with terrorists." This is not the way we should be doing it in America.

I feel strongly about this particular point because of a picture I saw in a magazine. It was a photo essay about troops who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. And one picture at the tail end of this photo essay was of a mother in Arlington Cemetery, and she had her head on the headstone of her son's grave. And as the picture focused in, you could see the writing on the headstone. And it gave his awards--Purple Heart, Bronze Star--showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth, date of death. He was 20 years old. And then, at the very top of the headstone, it didn't have a Christian cross, it didn't have the Star of David, it had a crescent and a star of the Islamic faith. And his name was Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, and he was an American. He was born in New Jersey. He was 14 years old at the time of 9/11, and he waited until he could go serve his country, and he gave his life.

Now, we have got to stop polarizing ourself in this way.”

Aren’t those amazing words? Colin Powell brings back, in a few simple phrases, what our country was and could be again. I pray that we have the courage to make it happen.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Favorite childhood meals … in the 40’s

My 76 year old sister e-mailed me recently and mentioned that she was making “Shrimp Wiggle” for supper. This is a favorite recipe that her 80 year old husband remembered from his past and that he brought to their marriage. In the 30’s his mother would make this simple concoction ... white sauce, cooked shrimp and baby peas. heat to thicken and serve over crackers.

It brought back sentimental memories of a favorite meal that my mother used to make. You have to remember that I was brought up shortly after the depression and “thrift” was our middle name. I don’t ever remember having a steak or roast beef or anything of that sort until I was in my teens and things were a little easier money-wise.

Anyway, this recipe was only possible during the harvest months since the main ingredient was ripe, right-off-the vine, tomatoes. We would cut them into cubes, combine with Russian dressing (or a home-made dressing of mayonnaise & ketchup) & salt & pepper to taste & put in the refrigerator to marinate. At supper time we would have two big bowls on the table. One bowl contained steaming hot, white rice with chunks of bologna and the other was the bowl of chilled, marinated, tomatoes.

It sounds strange in these days of plenty ... but that was a feast as far as we were concerned. We’d heap our plates and always came back for seconds.

Over the years I’ve tried to reproduce that recipe but it’s never been a success. I don’t know if our tomatoes tasted better then or if it was just the fun of us all being together. Whatever it was it was unforgettable.

During MY years of trying to stretch the weekly budget I invented a dish that my kids dubbed “Mom’s mish-mosh”. It was merely combining all the leftovers in the ‘fridge and adding rice or pasta. Baked with a liberal topping of cheese seemed to make it palatable ... but I’ve noticed that none of my children have sentimental memories about it ... nor have they ever tried to replicate it !

Sunday, October 12, 2008


I had a very strange thing happen to me recently. I was having lunch with a friend and a woman who I would judge to be about 40 approached our table. She excused herself for interrupting us and then asked if I would mind if she took my picture?

Of course I was a little taken aback and I asked her, “Why?” She said she couldn’t wait to send my picture to her mother, “because you are a dead ringer for my mom”, she said, “even to the way that you use your knife and fork.”

On questioning her further I found out that her mom was about 65 (this pleased me greatly since I‘m 10 years older) and that she was a widow and lived in Canton, Ohio. It was also interesting (and a little eerie) that she was the youngest of 5 children as am I. However she did have brothers, where all my siblings are sisters.

I did let her take my picture and then my friend and I commenced with our lunch. We conversed on many subjects and it seemed that we had forgotten the incident ... but something kept nagging at me even as we chattered away.

Suddenly it came to me. I remembered that my Grandmother,on my father’s side,had originally come from Canton, Ohio! I couldn’t wait to share this with the woman who had taken my picture. Perhaps we were actually related!

However I was disappointed to find that she and her party had already left the restaurant. Now I will never know is there was an actual connection between us or if it was just a strange coincidence. I’ve read that everyone has a “clone” somewhere ... and I guess this was mine.

I’m interested. Has anything like this ever happened to you?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

MEMORIES……”Brown Out” in 1944

The house in this picture is not where I grew up ... but it is very similar in style. Ours was more of a 3-story “white elephant”. It was in need of a coat of paint and was very hard to keep warm in the winter months; but, I have some very fond memories of it nevertheless.

I was 11 years old in 1944 and World War II was in full swing. As you will know if you’ve read my earliest blog entries our family had opted to entertain British sailors. (That’s me with Ron and Paddy, in the picture.) We lived in Massachusetts, about 30 minutes from Boston, and many of the boys who were our guests were stationed at the Fargo Naval Base.

These boys would come out by train on the weekends. It was not unusual for us to have 4 or 5 of them at one visit and we loved it ... and them.

It was also the time of the “brown-outs”. This meant that outside lights were forbidden and just the bare minimum of light was allowed to be turned on inside our houses. We also had to cover the windows (and any other area where light could escape to the outside) with heavy black shades.

The way that our house was designed you would come into a small entry first and then through another door into our main hallway. There were no windows in this area and it was the perfect place to gather during a brown-out.

We were a very full household in those years. All four of my older sisters were still living at home, as well as an elderly school teacher who rented a room from us and, of course, my parents. So you can imagine how crowded it was in our hallway. We would gather on the steps of the staircase as well as on the chairs that we would drag in and, of course, on the floor.

We were able to share stories and anecdotes about our lives. It was also the time that we ingested gallons of tea. We couldn’t wait to swallow that last drop and then we would hand our cups to Paddy. He had convinced us that he was a master fortune teller and all he needed to foretell our futures were the tea leaves left in the bottom of our cups.

Paddy would turn the selected cup over onto the saucer and give it a good twist. Then, after many dramatic shakes of his head and a long study of the leaves, he would proceed to tell us our upcoming fates. Strangely enough it was always good news! The “war was nearing an end”, we were all going to “find our true loves” and “bluebirds would definitely fly over the White Cliffs of Dover again”.

It didn’t matter ... for a short time the war receded and we were united under the light of our one candle. Paddy, and all the rest of the boys, gave our family an intimate view of the world as it was so many miles away. It was a memory that has never left me.

Friday, October 03, 2008


Many years ago I heard a TV announcer interview Paul Newman. I don’t remember the emcee but I clearly remember something that Mr. Newman said. He expressed the opinion that he, and his wife Joanne, believed very strongly that they needed to put a cap on the amount of money they needed in order to live a full life.

He went on to say that a person, or persons, could only have so many “toys” and, in a world that was overcome with poverty and hardship that he felt it was a crime to just keep on getting without giving back. He said he intended to live by these words.

Well, he certainly has lived up to his promise. Of course he will be remembered for his acting career but the real legacy that he will leave is that of the world-wide philanthropist.

In 1982 he founded “Neman’s Own”, selling everything from his famous salad dressing to popcorn and wine. All the profits from this venture have gone to charity worldwide ... to this date it totals more than $250 million.

Perhaps his best known charity is the “Hole in The Wall Association”, a network of 11 summer camps around the world for children suffering from life-threatening illnesses. My favorite image of him is when, at the age of 79, he flew to Britain to entertain disabled children. He performed as a clown in a special version of Zippo’s Circus.

Paul Newman lived to the grand old age of 83 and he did it with dignity, humor and an open heart and pocket book. Can you imagine what life would be like if we all followed his example ... can you imagine the change that it would bring to our world?

The motto of Newman’s Own is “Shameless exploitation in pursuit of the Common Good”. That’s what his life was all about and we owe him a tremendous vote of gratitude.