Saturday, August 31, 2013

1943, Entertaining British Sailors in New England

In 1943 my father asked me what I would like for my 10th birthday. "A British sailor" I replied...and that's exactly what they got for me.

I was the youngest of five girls and we ranged in age from 10 to 18. Our home was a big old Victorian in Wellesley Hills, Mass...nothing fancy, just lots of rooms full of love.

Dad and I went to the Union Jack in Boston and came home with 2 British officers...a big mistake. They were exceedingly dull, snobbish and unappreciative. We almost gave up but decided to try our luck again and this time we hit the jackpot.

One of the boys was just 16 and terribly homesick. He and his mate took to our family like a duck into water. The first night was spent in playing jokes on each other...short-sheeting the beds, etc. and just becoming acquainted.

I remember that, after I went to bed, I heard a sound like sobbing and tip-toed downstairs to see my mother cradeling the young sailor in her arms. I'm sure he got a good night's sleep after that.

During the war years we entertained over 126 sailors and one of them and his wife even came back in 1976 for my mother's 80th birthday celebration. I will never forget those years and the joy it felt to be part of their lives.

Monday, August 26, 2013

An “oldie”, but a “goodie” … 1907... MY MOTHER AND TEDDY

In January, 1907, this adorable picture of my mother and her pet rooster were featured in a “Boston Globe” newspaper article. It reads as follows: 

“Roosters are not unknown as pets, but little Ruth P. of West Brattleboro, Vt., has an exceptional rooster, Teddy, in that he will allow her to do anything she may wish with him.

The way this little mistress manages her bird playfellow is extremely interesting. She never punishes him because he never needs a rebuke. She speaks to him in a quiet tone, but there is in her eyes a certain power of the will, a power which is rare in children, which forces him to submit to her kind, though sometimes odd, treatment.

In the morning he struts into the kitchen and with a jolly “crowing” he mounts the low table at Ruth’s command, steps into the washbowl and patiently submits to a sponging with soap and water. After shaking his feathers a bit he is dried off with a towel and then brushed until his coat shines bright and clean.

Then follows another of her favorite pastimes. She hitches Teddy to her small doll-cart and drives her noble steed by “gee” and “haw” out through the woodshed, down the front yard to the sidewalk for a jaunt... both child and bird with tiny white hoods crowning their heads.

Ruth has had this strange comrade for several years and has trained him entirely herself. Teddy shows a great fondness for his mistress and obeys her without the least hesitancy.”

(I apologize to those who have read this before but I thought it much kinder to repeat a pleasant blog entry than to write a miserable one about my newly diagnosed case of Shingles. !!! I find my mind as well as my body is on shut-down mode and the pain meds make me loopy so this will probably be the first of “repeats” for a few weeks. )  

Thursday, August 22, 2013

"Beam me up, Scotty..."

I’ve let everyone know that I am looking for ideas for my Unlimiters blog site and my good friend Bud was one of the first to respond. He even supplied pictures along with the idea … and they fit perfectly into the theme of what I write for that website … namely highlighting things that make it easier to accept the challenges of aging.

 So here he is. My friend Bud looking every bit like Captain Kirk waiting to be transported back to the Starship Enterprise; but, in actuality he is simply enjoying an evening of TV wearing his brand new headset, commercially called TV Ears.

Bud says that losing some of his hearing crept up on him. Since he lives alone he would simply rev up the TV volume and it wasn’t until he had visitors that he became aware of how annoying this could be to others. Luckily the solution was simple and nowhere near as costly as a pair of hearing aids.

Bud tells me that the TV Ears come in a variety of styles and prices and are very easy to install. Just plug the small antenna to the back of the TV and you’re good to go. Bud says that his has a range of 500 feet. He can even wear it sitting on his deck where he listens to news or music channels.

Family members and friends are thrilled with his device. Bud can control the volume on the headset to suit his needs and the rest of them can simply enjoy the program normally.

So, for any of you with hearing loss, do as my friend Bud did. Buy yourself a TV headset.

Don’t you wish all of our problems could be solved so easily ?


Sunday, August 18, 2013

KATRINA … remembered.

8 years ago this week my friend Karen and I were anxiously looking forward to our week in New Orleans. It would be a first for both of us and the B&B that we chose was smack in the center of town so we wouldn’t miss any of the charm and fun of the city. We’d even paid our down payment.

Of course it was never to be. The hurricane Katrina hit hard less than a week later and wreaked havoc on that lovely city and the surrounding areas. It was humbling to realize that we’d missed the disaster by a few days.

Less than a month later I came face to face with one of the victims of that day. Her name was Louise and she was at our small Tuesday noontime AA meeting.   She had literally lost everything and had called a friend in Pinehurst and asked if she could bunk in with her for a bit. Of course her friend agreed and also assured her that we had a good AA community here in Moore County.

From the minute we all met we were amazed at her positive attitude and her thankfulness at being a survivor. She never complained and before long she decided to do some volunteering and became a valuable member of the Red Cross organization in town. She even spoke to local groups...reliving her Katrina experience for their edification and helping to raise money for those remaining victims.

Her cheerful and humble persona was a great addition to our AA meetings and our lives were enriched by her presence. She attended 3 meetings a week and it never occurred to us that this wouldn’t continue for years. Then the unthinkable happened. Her cancer, which none of us knew she had, came out of remission.

The first half of her second year was spent with radiation and chemotherapy treatments and she became bald as a cue ball. She still attended her meetings and never once complained. Our little day to day misfortunes seemed to fade away in comparison as we watched her face each hurdle. She was our brave and beautiful AA Angel.

The time came when she could not drive anymore, but she insisted on making her meetings and all of us took turns getting her there. Barely 24 hours after her last meeting, she quietly passed away. She had literally blown into our lives on the winds of Katrina and she taught us acceptance, humility and an abiding love. Those of us who were lucky enough to have known her will be forever blessed.

We will never forget you, Louise

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Getting the courage to cut back … and out !

This picture of a wall-mounted soap dispenser is the closest I could find to the one my psychiatrist brother-in-law had in the bathroom of his home-based office back in the late 1960’s. I remember being quite impressed with it and it plays a prominent part in this little story.

My sister and he were married for about 35 years before she got the courage to finally divorce the SOB (Scathingly Obnoxious Brother-in-law). That was in the 1990s and she moved to a small house crammed to the ceiling with “stuff” from her past. She knew she had to get rid of much of it, but that seemed impossible to her. We’d been brought up with the philosophy of the Depression years … that you never throw out anything that might be of use “some day”. This included the gallon jug of liquid soap that was used to refill the dispenser in her ex-husbands office. In her mind it would be a “sin” to discard it because it was still half full of perfectly usable soap, although the dispenser was long gone and just looking at the jug brought up painful memories.

Her “ex” had completely undermined her self worth and it would actually be four years before she could summon the will and the energy to tackle her mess. But healing was taking place and the day did arrive when she took the first tentative steps. I was overjoyed when I received a letter from her telling me that she was in the process of cleaning out, cutting back and reorganizing her life.

 I knew she had it licked when I read her last sentence that said: “Guess what? I finally threw out that gallon jug of liquid soap. I’M FREE AT LAST … THE SOAP AND THE BASTARD WHO HAD IT IN HIS OFFICE ARE BOTH OUT OF MY LIFE !!”

PS: she went on to get her Masters in Social Work and held a prestigious position in that field well into her 70’s . The “ex”? he faded away but I’m sure his ego kept him afloat somewhere !





Saturday, August 10, 2013

Two precious years …


A blogger friend recently wrote these words: “I lived at home during college …which, in retrospect, was a poor decision” and it immediately sparked this memory of the two precious years when I lived at home during college … which, in retrospect, was one of the best decisions of my life !

I am the youngest of 5 girls, all born within 8 years. It made for a very full household. In the 50’s we were living in Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts and the pictures you see are my parents as they looked then. It was a loving family and my only real complaint during that time was that I seldom had the complete attention of my parents. This was not their fault … there were only so many hours in a day and it was always divided by 5 (or 4, or 3, etc. as the girls started to leave home.)

In 1950 it was my turn to leave home and I moved to New Jersey where I attended Upsala College for two years, living on campus. When I decided to transfer to Boston University for my final two years I found that campus living there was very expensive. My parents, however, came up with a solution. They would give me the top floor of our old Victorian house to live in and set up exactly as I wanted. I could then commute to BU which was just an hour away by train.

Wow. I was thrilled. I got to work and actually cut through one of the walls, converting the attic area into an L shaped studio apartment. I had all the privacy that I wanted but, most important, since the other 4 sisters had moved on, I also had the undivided attention of my parents for once in my life !

My mother and dad never invaded my private space unless invited ... which was often.   Then they’d arrive at my apartment just as they would have if I were living someplace other than in our own home. For the two years that I attended BU we spent many evenings together and forged a friendship that few children ever have with their parents. They knew that I craved to be on my own but they also knew that a firm foundation came first and those years gave it to me.

It was one of the happiest times in my life and I am grateful to Judy (my blogger friend) for reminding me of it !


Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Ebay shrinks the world …

This is a portion of a two page promotional biography for the radio personality Johnny Pearson. It was written in November, 1957 and has little value. So, why was I quick to buy it from Ebay when a friend pointed it out to me?      Because I wrote it !!

Yep … 56 years ago this November and it feels like yesterday. I have my internet friend to thank for alerting me that it was for sale on Ebay. For less than $15 I now have tangible evidence that I worked in NY City grinding out promos for ABC radio in the late 50’s. For many years it’s felt like a dream memory and these two pages bring it into focus for me.

I mentioned my internet friend. He is the son of Scott Vincent who was the staff announcer at WABC for many years and, although I didn’t know him personally, I wrote material for most of the shows that he hosted.

His son contacted me about a year ago. He was just a toddler in the 50’s but he remembers visiting his dad at the WABC studios and was anxious to hear if I had any memories of him at that time. His dad died in 1979 and he is in the process of gathering material for a memoir of him. If any of you reading this have information about, or memories of, Scott Vincent please let me know and I will send them on to his son.

BTW: Scott Jr. is a much better sleuth than I am. He is intrepid and continues to conjure up bits and pieces from a myriad of sources. Slowly, like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle, they seem to be coming together. Thanks so much, Scott, for including me in your search !

Friday, August 02, 2013

Not cheap…just thrifty !

I’ll bet this looks like a well-worn paper backed book of puzzles to you and you would be correct ! However it’s much more than that to me.

This gem is one of the best bargains I’ve every found. I am an inveterate worker of crossword puzzles … averaging at least one a day for many years. Not only do I enjoy them but I am convinced that they help to keep the mind active and, hopefully, stave off a bit of the aging process.

About two years ago I saw this book on Amazon and quickly did some math. Including shipping it cost approx $17 and, considering that there are 1001 puzzles featured, it ended up costing about a  penny and a half per puzzle !!! That was enough to convince this tight fisted New Englander to buy it.

However I was pleased to find another benefit to owning this book.. As you see here there are 4 puzzles to each 8 ½ x 11 inch page …

The paper they are printed on is a sturdy, matte finish and I found that I could easily tear out a page or two, fold them and carry them in my purse. That way I would always have a puzzle on hand when caught in a waiting room with nothing to read but “Golf Digest” or “Field & Stream” !

These 1001 puzzles are the first ones that Will Short edited for the New York Times, from 1993 to 1997. He states, in his introduction, that “this book will last a looooog time” and I concur. It’s given me many hours of enjoyment and I still have over 300 puzzles yet to solve !