Friday, September 29, 2017

The dream that never came to fruition

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Dick and I were married in NY City in 1958. We'd met a year earlier when he was launching his own career as a free lance photographer. He had just left “Life” magazine where he'd been an assistant to an array of well known “shutter bugs” such as Eliot Elisofon, Margaret Bourke-White. Alfred Eisenstadt and, his favorite, Gordon Parks

In 1956 his assignment for “Time” magazine (partner of “Life”) took him to Madison Square Garden. This shot, “The Relay”, was featured in the magazine and then won first prize in the 1957 edition of “Photography Annual”.
 
I never tired of the stories he told of his 4 years at “LIFE“ and it helped to open doors for him when he started his own business. Among his clients were Union Carbide, DeLaval, IBM, Time Inc., Met Life, ABC Radio and the NY based offices of Swissair. 
 
What should have been the start of an illustrious career was cut short in 1959 when he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. He was extremely brittle and it made it impossible for him to continue in a business that required odd hours and much travel carrying bags of large strobe lights, tripods and other heavy equipment.
 
I've often wondered what would have happened to Dick’s career (and our life together) had he stayed with “LIFE”, but it was not to be. He died on September 22, 1990 at the way-too-young age of 59. I have friends who are surprised that I never re-married but why should I ? Good memories make great companions.
 

 
 

 

 





 






 

 
 
 

 





 


Monday, September 25, 2017

Which road would you take ?

 “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I … I took the one less traveled by,  and that has made all the difference”.
                                                         Robert Frost, 1874 - 1963
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  I don’t think these were the roads that  Robert Frost  had in mind when he wrote those      words but it got me to thinking. Why have I chosen certain roads and left others behind and where would I be if I'd taken a different path? 
  It boggles my mind.



 
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

1950 … a night at the Boston Pops


In 1950 I was 17, on a first date with a college man (sigh) and attending the opening concert of the 65th season of the Boston Pops conducted by the world famous Arthur Fiedler. Who could ask for anything more?

During the Symphony Season this venue was very conventional but as soon as it became “Pops Season” it changed drastically ... the seats and risers were removed and small tables and chairs (reminiscent of the type that you might see at a curbside Bistro) were packed in. Everyone relaxed and waited in anticipation for the great man to appear.

The minute that Arthur Fiedler came to the podium a roar of approval erupted from the audience. He gave a low bow of thanks and then took up his baton. The lights were lowered, the talking ceased and the concert began. It was a typical “Pops” evening filled with semi-classical music and a few lighter pieces.

What really impressed me was that, at the end of each number, instead of going offstage, Arthur Fiedler took a seat at the front of the stage and beamed at us, while waitresses collected orders for wine, or lemonade. Then he would stand up...our signal to stop talking...and the next segment would begin.

I still remember the thrill of that evening and smiled when I read that in May, 1979 he conducted a concert to celebrate his 50 years as conductor at the Pops. He was to die of a heart attack barely two months later but he certainly went out on his own terms and with the love and admiration of his audience.








Friday, September 15, 2017

16 years ago … but never forgotten.

 

On September first 2001 my dream of a lifetime began. My friend Douglas and I were on a plane leaving Newark and heading to Italy. He was a retired architect and a world traveler so it was a great treat for me to be able to tap into his expertise. I had planned the trip with the aid of an informative book entitled “Lodging in Italy’s Monasteries” and Douglas was happy to go along with that. (The picture above is where we lodged in Florence.)
 
On September 11th we'd spent the day in Assisi and returned late in the afternoon to our monastery in the small town of Bavagna. The first inkling that something was wrong was when the people in the Piazza called to us and pointed to their little bar/coffee shop/ice cream parlor, insisting that we go there. The shop boasted the only TV in the square and it was just recording the horrific events of 9/11.

I can hardly put into words how this affected us. We felt totally shocked and helpless. A nice couple from Canada took us to their hotel and we tried to make calls to our family members in the U.S., but it would be 4 days before we could get through. When we left them and returned to the piazza a nun was waiting for us. She was from the monastery where we were staying and she led the way to an ancient church in the center of the town where she unlocked the side door and beckoned us to enter.
 
 
      
The interior of the church was cool and musty and we were completely alone. It didn’t seem to matter that neither Douglas nor I practiced any type of formal religion. We sat quietly absorbing the atmosphere, each lost in our own thoughts, and in about an hour the little nun came back. We tried to show our appreciation although we knew very little Italian and it was hard to speak without crying. She kept nodding her head to show that she understood and then gave Douglas a pat on the back and me a warm hug.
 
Now it is 16 years later and that day still haunts me, as I know it does for so many others. It also reminds me of the compassion and love that were shown to us...not only by the townspeople of Bavagna, but from all the Italians that we encountered during our month’s stay in their wonderful country. It is a memory that I will cherish forever.

 
 
 
 


 

Sunday, September 10, 2017

GREGORY PECK takes me under his wing!

 
(My granddaughter Faye is enamored with many TV and Film stars and I'm always embarrassed when I have to admit to her that I have no idea who they are… so this is my payback to her. Have you ever heard of this guy, Faye?)
 
In 1955, after 4 yrs. in college and working in a Radio Station and an advertising agency, I decided to leave the East Coast and went to California in search of a job. I was very lucky to be hired as head of the Publicity Dept. for KEYT…a small television station in Santa Barbara.
 
I was barely 23 and in on the ground floor of the burgeoning TV era…but I was a complete novice as to the workings of a publicity department. I couldn’t believe it when my boss told me that the MGM movie “Moby Dick” was going to premier in Santa Barbara and that our TV station was hosting it and my job was to act as liaison between the stars of the movie and the press.
 
The big day arrived and I went down to meet the train that would bring everyone to Santa Barbara. Of course the place was packed and it was all I could do to stay at the front of the line to welcome the cast and crew. Then all of a sudden there he was, stepping off the train… Gregory Peck …he seemed bigger than life to me and I felt my legs quake and I was afraid I was going to faint. I pulled myself together and managed to get his attention. In a very quivering voice I introduced myself and explained that I was brand new at KEYT and had no idea how to proceed.
 
I will never forget what happened next. He put his arm around me and started walking with me into the crowd of reporters. Of course they started to bombard him with questions but his only answer was, “Sorry, you’ll have to clear that through Virginia. We are guests of KEYT and she will arrange it all for you.” This was not technically true but it certainly worked like magic for me….and he was true to his word. I don’t know about the rest of the cast, but no one talked to “Captain Ahab” without clearing it first with me!

Moby Dick” is a John Huston film classic that is often replayed today. Gregory Peck’s masterful portrayal of the crusty Captain Ahab is spellbinding…but nothing compared to the actual man. He truly was, and is, my only filmdom hero.

 
 



Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Harvey brings back memories of our AA Angel...


In September, 2005, I met an outstanding woman. Her name was Louise and she was a victim of the horrendous Katrina Hurricane. She had literally lost everything. She was also a long time member of Alcoholics Anonymous. From the first minute we met her we were amazed at her positive attitude and her thankfulness at being a survivor. She never complained and fit right into the AA way of life attending three meetings a week faithfully.

Before long she decided to do some volunteering and she became a valuable member of the Red Cross organization. She even spoke to civic 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 it never occurred to us that this wouldn’t continue for years, but then the unthinkable happened. Her cancer, unknown to any of us, 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 went to her meetings and never once complained. Our little day to day misfortunes seemed to fade away in comparison as we watched her bravely face each hurdle.

In year three she had another remission but it lasted less than 3 months. Not once in that time did she bemoan her circumstances. She told us over and over how lucky she was to have survived the storm and to have found refuge with all of us. In the fourth month she became extremely fatigued and short of breath, but she insisted on making her meetings and, barely 24 hours after her last meeting, she quietly passed away.

She was an AA ANGEL who literally blew into our lives, in the wake 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.