Sunday, December 27, 2015

1950 …my first taste of the “bubbly”.

I was 17 in 1950 and, believe it or not, I had never tasted alcohol. My folks were not drinkers and it just never seemed like the thing to do. I guess that's why I can remember my first drink so clearly. It was after a tennis game and I was exhausted and sweaty. My partner insisted that a cold beer was just the thing to fix that. This would have sounded ridiculous coming from one of my nerdy schoolmates but my partner was (sigh) a college man and that made it seem sophisticated and daring. We jogged over to his car and he popped the lid off a can of beer that he'd kept in his cooler. He poured it into a mug and handed it to me. I tried to act casual as I put the foaming drink to my mouth but the taste was ATROCIOUS and I spit most of it out … so much for my “College Man”.

Looking back I wish I could say it was the last time that alcohol was part of my life; but that's not true. Nor have I ever been able to pinpoint when my social drinking became a problem and turned into alcoholism. I was 56 years old before my husband finally faced what I could not. He and my children joined forces and held a family intervention which forced me to take action. That was the start of a long journey that started in June, 1989 at a treatment center in Charlotte, NC and continues to this day.

I won’t belabor my 28 days there but will say that it was a most frightening (and, finally, exhilarating) month. As some of you might know, most treatment centers rely heavily on the teachings of Alcoholics Anonymous, and this was no exception. I did not, at first, embrace their concepts. I didn’t even enjoy going to the meetings and I will always be in awe of those who find AA on their own and make it work for them. However, as my mind cleared and my body healed I found that I was open to a new way of life. I willingly became part of this huge fellowship.

If there is one thing I’ve learned it’s that there is endless love that floats around unclaimed. It may sound corny but I wish you could all see how this works in AA. Doctor’s, nurse’s, lawyers, executives, nuns, dock workers, janitors and even those who are freshly out of jail...they are all part of this amazing fellowship of love and tolerance. As it says in our Tradition #3 “The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking” and that opens the door to anyone who wants it.

My husband died in 1990 … barely a year after he set me on my AA journey. I've often wondered what would have become of me if he hadn't shown the courage to make me face what I couldn't see for myself. Thank you, Richard, you are my hero.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015


My granddaughter Amelia was 11 when she made me the sweet little bread board that I picture here. It was her Christmas gift to me in 2000 and every time she saw it after that she would say, “Oh, Grandma, when are you going to get rid of that old thing?” It is now 15 years later and I still have it !!  You might remember that it was just a month ago that I posted wedding pictures of Amelia and her husband Eligio. It makes me wonder if the day will come when her children will gift her in the same way and maybe then she will get that big “aha, now I get it” moment.

Here's another example ... my granddaughter Faye's gift to her dad when she was 6 years old.


There is something so special in each and every gift that our children present to us. I think it has to do with their ability to “operate outside of the box”. The imagination of a child is wondrous to behold.    

I feel sorry for the people who are too fastidious to post a child’s “masterpiece” on their refrigerator. I actually have an acquaintance who told me that “it would upset my decorator”. Can you believe that? My decorator (me) says, “bring it on”.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

1957 “West Side Story” on Broadway

When I read that Rita Moreno, the amazing actor, dancer and singer, was the recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors, an award that is given to artists whose work had had a major impact on American culture, it brought back a once in a lifetime remembrance. Rita was not directly part of that memory but she played the role of the feisty Anita in the 1961 movie version of “West Side Story” and that was all it took to take me back to 1957 and the original Broadway production.

I was working at WABC radio in NY City then and we would often be given tickets to new Broadway shows. That's how I was lucky enough to attend the opening of “West Side Story”. It was an experience I will never forget. Not only was it written by Leonard Bernstein, (the most famous conductor in the world at the time and leader of the New York Philharmonic), but he was there in person conducting the first showing of his production. The actors were mostly unknowns ...Chita Rivera, Carol Lawrence, and Larry Kent, and this show launched their careers. 

I enjoyed everything about “West Side Story” but it's the role of Anita, as played by Chita Rivera, that most captivated me. Especially when she and Rosalio sing out their opposing memories of the land they left behind: (Rosalio: “Puerto Rico, You lovely island . . . Island of tropical breezes. Always the pineapples growing, And the coffee blossoms blowing” ) and Anita's skeptical answer: (“Puerto Rico . . . You ugly island . . . Island of tropic diseases. Always the hurricanes blowing, Always the population growing . . . And the money owing, And the babies crying, And the bullets flying...”)
It was magnificent !
Of course there is nothing to compare to seeing the show on Broadway but this is one movie that comes close and Rita Moreno is a superb Anita. It's timeless and if you've never seen it I can guarantee that you are in for a treat.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

1946 … Sinatra fever brings on the “flu”

The spotlight is on Frank Sinatra once again. He would have turned 100 this year and when I read about all the hoopla being planned in his honor it brought back this memory.

In 1946 Frank Sinatra, “The Voice”, was fast becoming a teen age idol. At every appearance he would be swamped by screaming teenaged girls who were called “Bobby Soxers” because of their attire … poodle skirts and socks rolled down to the ankles. My 17 year old sister Barbara fit the description perfectly.

We were living in the Boston suburbs then and when Barbara and her friends read that Frank was going to perform there they were in a frenzy. They couldn't possibly miss this opportunity to see him but it was a one day “gig” in the middle of a school week.
What to do? 

Strangely, on the day of Frank’s appearance over a third of the females in the senior class of our small High School were home “sick”. It must have been a 24 hr flu because all the girls were back in school the next day ... complete with forged excuse notes. The Principal was at a loss and, being a nice man and a little overwhelmed, he just decided to let it drop.

It would have ended there except for one thing. That day's edition of the Boston Globe ran a front page review of his show… complete with a picture taken from the stage. It showed the back of Frank crooning into a microphone and his adoring fans, including Barbara, in the front row cheering him on ! Ouch, busted in black and white. !!

Monday, December 07, 2015

“Once in Love with Amy...” 1957

I've always loved that song and when I heard it recently on an “oldies” station it brought back a wonderful memory. It was 1957 and a friend and I were driving cross country from California to the East coast. We made a brief stop in Las Vegas and when we saw that Ray Bolger was the featured performer at the Hotel Sahara we decided to attend.

We were not disappointed as we watched Ray on stage. The show featured his famous Scarecrow role from “The Wizard of Oz” and many dances that made it seem like he didn't have a bone in his body. However it was the finale that absolutely floored us.

Suddenly the stage went dark. A hush came over the audience and when it was perfectly quiet a single spotlight picked out Ray. He never moved a muscle until the orchestra, very softly, began to play “Once In Love With Amy”. He then slipped into his soft-shoe routine while quietly humming the tune. After a minute or so he asked the audience to join in and he continued to dance while tossing the lyrics to us one line at a time. 

It was magical and I doubt if there was a dry eye in the house. I guess most people will remember Ray Bolger as traveling the Yellow Brick Road in search of a brain...but I will always cherish my memory of him in 1957, as the lovelorn Charley singing to his Amy on the stage at the Hotel Sahara in Las Vegas.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015


This is a picture of Serge Kovaleski, a man who lives with a neuro-musculo-skeletal disorder that affects his joints. It has not affected his brain, however, and he has become a Pulitzer prize winning investigative reporter, now working for the NY Times. It was he who co-authored the Washington Post article after the 9/11 attacks that Donald Trump refers to when trying to legitimize his ridiculous claim that “thousands in Jersey City cheered on 9/11”. Mr. Kovaleski has denied this. He states that he remembers nothing like this and the only reference in his article is to this paragraph:

"In Jersey City, within hours of two jetliners' plowing into the World Trade Center, law enforcement authorities detained and questioned a number of people who were allegedly seen celebrating the attacks and holding tailgate-style parties on rooftops while they watched the devastation on the other side of the river.”

This is a picture of Donald Trump at a rally in South Carolina recently. He was fighting back from a statement by Mr. Kovaleski that he recalled nothing about “thousands cheering” in New Jersey. Trump then went on to mock the man ...jerking his arms in front of his body while giving his imitation of how he would sound, “Now, the poor guy — you’ve got to see this guy, ‘Ah, I don’t know what I said! I don’t remember!’”

Donald Trump also denies knowing Serge Kovaleski, despite documented proof that he has been interviewed by him many times.  Isn't it strange then that he could so accurately imitate the man and his disability?