Friday, August 31, 2012

Another front yard garden …

As first glance this could be a cottage in the English countryside. But, no, its actually my sister and her husband’s home on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

When they bought the property it had a wonderful location but was basically a one-level ranch house. This didn’t curb their enthusiasm however because they envisioned an “English” garden behind a white picket fence and proceeded to make it all come true !

My brother-in-law is the landscape artist and he’s spent thousands of hours joyfully among his plantings. It’s basically a matter of maintenance now but he doesn’t have too much time for that since he spends much of his day with my sister at the Nursing Home where she stays. Luckily it’s in the same town and they do get her home every so often…

… where she has this lovely path to welcome her !

Monday, August 27, 2012

Will “dark money” buy your vote this election????

Remember this guy? Sure you do. It’s Karl Rove (George Bush’s “Architect”) and he’s up to his old tricks and loving it ! Just like in the past, as long as he keeps everything secret he’s on a roll.

Did you know that two “dark money” Pacs are outspending everyone else this election year? They are Crossroads GPS (Grassroots Policy Strategies), founded by Karl Rove and backed by anonymous big-money donors and the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity. Between them they have spent over $70 million so far on negative ads and they’re just getting started.

Does any of this scare you? Does it make you mad? Does it bother you that they believe we are so dumb that we’ll believe whatever they tell us … but won’t reveal who‘s telling it?

It sure bothers me. It shouldn’t be allowed in the United States of America for a handful of billionaires to buy the election and it surely shouldn’t be allowed for them to do so anonymously. A quote from Fred Wertheimer, who runs a watchdog group, Democracy 21, states “it shows how much desire there is for secrecy among huge donors who want to be able to spend money to influence this election without leaving any fingerprints."

My biggest hope is that this continual bombardment of TV ads will backfire. I find that they all become a blur and I, literally, tune them out. There is no way that we, the 99%, can compete financially with the “dark money” guys but we have lots of clout with our votes .

President Obama inherited a horrendous mess in 2008 and to think that it could have been fixed by him or anyone in 4 short years is naive. I feel very strongly that he’s on the right track so I’m casting my one precious vote with the Democrats this November.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Another amazing occurrence … thanks to the internet.

About a year ago I received a very interesting email from a man who had read a blog entry that I’d written about my Grandfather. He was writing to tell me the astonishing news that he had actually purchased my grandparents home in New Jersey in 1968. He’d bought it from my grandmother who had outlived “papa” by many years.

He also sent me this wonderful picture. Their house is the one on the right and I remember it well. I was just 7 or 8 at the time but I recall how my parents and my four sisters and I would take the long walk to their house on most Sundays.

One of my sisters was the same age as the boy, Elwood, who lived in the house to the far left in the picture and we all became great friends. As it turned out, according to the man who contacted me, he was the only one of the neighbors still alive.

With this in mind I decided to write to him and I did … explaining who I was and reliving some memories. That was over a year ago and, since I never got an answer, I figured either he'd never received the letter or he just wasn’t interested.

I guess I couldn’t have been more wrong because just a few weeks ago I received a heartfelt phone call from his nephew. He was calling to tell me that his uncle Elwood had passed away. He said he was sure I would want to know since he’d found my open and well-read letter on top of the table next to his bed where he kept his “important papers“.

It literally brought tears to my eyes and was a great reminder that we never know how our actions may affect others.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

This makes me sad …

Just in the last month two of these Sweepstake Internet Cafes have opened for business on route #1 within 5 minutes driving time from my house. It really makes me sad.

I have nothing against a venturesome entrepreneur starting a new business but I really balk when the place is blatantly rigged to take advantage of the customers. I don’t understand it all but evidently there’s a loophole in the North Carolina law that makes gambling in Sweepstakes Cafes legal whereas that’s not the case with their video machine counterparts.

As census data and visits to the sweepstakes cafes show, these businesses are set up to appeal to those who have little to spend and a lot to lose. To listen to the hype and see the signs you would think that everyone could be a winner … but ultimately its the house that always wins and few people will leave the premises with more money than they brought in. From what I’ve read this has led to many a dissatisfied customer and the consequences can be deadly.

Why is this a concern to me if I don’t intend to frequent them? I guess it’s because I resent these sleazy businesses popping up and degrading the lovely stretch of highway that I drive on daily. I realize that everyone has the right to gamble or not to gamble as long as its legal but that doesn’t make me condone it.

I guess it’s the same mind set that makes the lotteries so popular and, while I’m on the subject, I’ve never been able to understand why they have such enormous one-person lottery jackpots. Wouldn’t it make more sense to have a thousand people win ¼ million dollars each rather than just one person winning billions???? Oh, well, what do I know.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

33 years later … a British sailor returns !

Some of you have asked if my family kept up with any of the British sailors that we entertained during WWII and the answer is a resounding “YES”.

As a matter of fact the actual idea for a huge celebration of my mother’s 80th birthday was sparked by a letter from one of the boys, Bert Entwistle. He wrote that he and his wife Dora would love to use that as an excuse to come visit.

Some of you may recall that I posted back in October of 2010 about Bert. He was the father of John Entwistle of the “Who”. He was still married to John’s mother Queenie when we first met him and John was just an infant. After the war the marriage fell apart but Bert remained close to John.

Having Bert and Dora, his 2nd wife of many years, at the celebration was such a treat for us all. He was the only British sailor to actually come back to the U.S. but we had cards from at least 10 others.

The year was 1976, the month June, and we rented a lovely compound called “Chatham Crest” on Cape Cod for two days and a night of festivities. As I look back I think it was the only time that our large family was ever together at one time. There were 29 of us in all, which included our honorary family members, Bert and Dora from England.

It was an event to Mother’s 80th birthday. I can’t believe that, as I write this, I am just six months away from that same age !!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Bless this house …

My blogger friend Syd posted a sweet picture a while back showing the type of love letter that he and his wife often leave for each other. It reminded me of when that would happen to me almost daily.

This was in the late 80’s and Dick’s health was worsening by the day, but that didn’t stop him from keeping a positive attitude. He had a hard time getting to sleep and sometimes actually spent the night dozing off in his lounge chair. I, on the other hand, had to be at work in the ER by 6:30 in the morning so I’d go to bed early. (We used to kid that we were like ships passing in the night)

He was almost always asleep when I left for work but few mornings passed that he didn’t leave me one of the comic drawings that you see here. They would be part of a note telling me how he’d fared medically during the night. I often wrote back to him and then he’d check in with me later in the day.

I wish I had saved more of them but he usually threw them out once he’d read what I’d written. However, this little collage featuring Dick (age approx. 40, on his beloved horse, Thunder), and the cartoons and the wonderful words that he wrote, ("Bless this house for relaxation, recouperation and restoration") are really all I need to remind me of his amazing spirit.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Three nickels in a slot…and Dinner is Served

The first time I went to the famous Horn & Hardart Automat in New York City it was 1941 and I was eight years old. I was fascinated with the bank of tiny glass windows that protected an array of delicious food dishes. It seemed like magic to me. I’d make a selection, insert a nickel and the glass door would pop open so I could retrieve the food.

For a few nickels you could get the equivalent of a small dinner. Specialties of the house would be Macaroni and Cheese, Boston Baked Beans or Chicken Pot Pie. Rice pudding was a favorite, as were all types of pies and cakes and my Dad told me it was the best place in town to get a fresh cup of coffee.

When I moved to NY City in 1957 and got a job at WABC Radio I couldn’t wait to see if the Automat was still in business. To my great delight I saw that it was ! I had forgotten that there was also a cafeteria line, as well as the machines that dispensed the food, and I had a great time getting reacclimated.

As you can see from the picture of the front entrance to Horn & Hardart’s the ambience was Art Deco. It was a fun place and a nice change from the stuffy, “old lady” dining rooms such as “Schrafts”. Self-service was a boon and you didn’t have to contend with tips or a staff of waiters or waitresses hovering at your table.

Although the prices had increased it was still a great bargain in 1957 and most entrees were under a dollar. Nickels were the only coins accepted and the tinkling sound of them being dropped into the slots made a pleasant background. The clientele was eclectic and the “haves” and the “have-nots” all assembled to partake of the excellent food...prepared fresh every day.

As I understand it, the Horn & Hardart Automat in NY City was the longest hold-out and stayed in business until 1991. It is now a “Gap”. It’s nostalgic to realize that we will probably never again see a time when a handful of nickels and the twist of a wrist is all that was needed to buy a good square meal.

Friday, August 03, 2012


My brother-in-law who lives in Connecticut, came across this picture recently and sent it on to me. That’s me, my husband and our three children in our apartment on West 94th Street in NY City. It was our Christmas card picture for 1961.

As soon as I saw the photo the memories started flooding in. I remember the layout of that apartment. It had a large living room, two bedrooms, two baths, a small study, a dining room and a kitchen.

You’d think that would be more than enough room for our family of 5 but my husband was a free lance industrial photographer and we’d turned one of the bedrooms into a studio and office and the bathroom into a darkroom. We needed the dining room because client dinners were a necessity so that left the small study for the children. It was crowded but they loved it.

I often wonder what my husband would think of photography today. I remember all the equipment he’d tote with him … strobe lights, wires, 3 or 4 different types of cameras, tripods, etc. He would then come home and we would spend hours and hours developing film, cropping and printing photos and then washing the prints in the bathtub. We would then hang them up to dry (using clothespins !) on the lines we’d strung across the studio.

Kind of a Rube Goldberg set-up to be sure but the results were pretty amazing and it kept us in rent money ! Ah … to be that young again !!