Monday, December 31, 2007

“Air Transport Command” restaurant….August 15, 1990

This is a memory that is almost too poignant for me to share.

It was 1990 and my husband of 32 years and I were on our way home to North Carolina from New York State. We found ourselves in New Castle, Delaware and happened upon this amazing restaurant, situated right across from the County Airport.

Dick wasn’t feeling very well. His diabetes was playing havoc with his body and we realized that he was in need of food so we decided to give this strange looking place a try. The restaurant was huge and situated quite far off the highway. As we drove in we passed a few WW II jeeps, two ambulances and a tank.

Then it hit us as we drew closer. This was a replica of a building on a WW II US Air Force airfield somewhere overseas. There were gaping holes in the side of the restaurant that could have been caused by artillery fire or bombs...and the strains of a Glenn Miller tune from the 1940’s completed the scene.

We couldn’t wait to get inside and, sure enough, it was the “real McKoy” there too…or as close as we imagined those days to be. The flying heroes and heroines of World War II were commemorated with old uniforms, pictures and equipment. There was even an exhibit about the WASPS (Women’s Air Service Pilots).

Even though Dick and I were too young to have served in the 2nd World War we were of the generation that could remember it well. The “Air Transport Command” restaurant took us back to those days. We could both conjure up images from our childhood, of black-outs and simulated air raids and streets filled with young men and women in uniform.

We soaked up every bit of the 1940‘s atmosphere. We ordered Prime Ribs and Yorkshire Pudding and ate slower than usual to make the evening last. Big Band music played continuously and then, just before we finished our coffee, it switched to a very soft version of “White Cliffs of Dover”. The entire room seemed to stop talking and I almost lost it. It was a powerful moment.

And why, you might ask, is this memory almost more than I can bear to re-live? It was to be the last time that Dick and I shared an evening out. I did manage to get him home the next day and he then took a turn for the worse. He died just 6 weeks to the day that we shared this memorable evening. He was 59.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

My aunt Hattie Jones...Post Mistress and Librarian

This bucolic scene is Windham, Vermont, circa 1920. It was the hometown of my great aunt Hattie. She was the sister of my grandfather who lived in Brattleboro, Vt. with his wife and two daughters...the youngest of these being my mother.

My memories of her are vague, to say the least, but she was a remarkable woman from all the stories that have been handed down in our family. She was the Windham Post Mistress for many years and the office was in her home. I don’t have the actual dates but she must have started her career around 1890.

My oldest sister, who is 81, remembers staying with Aunt Hattie and her son Paul when she was 12. That would make it 1938. She remembers the old white farmhouse that sat close to the road and the portion of the “parlor” reserved for postal needs.

Often, during her stay, meal times would be interrupted by patrons picking up their mail, buying stamps, sending packages or simply passing along the latest news. All the stamps were hand-cancelled then and, although the volume of mail must have been low enough that Aunt Hattie could handle it by herself, it was still a full time job.

However, it didn’t take all of her time because early in her days as post mistress she added a new dimension. She was a great reader and had an extensive personal library. She conceived the idea to catalogue and display her books with the idea of setting up a lending library so that her neighbors and friends could enjoy them too. Our family has been told that it was the first public library in Vermont, although I haven’t been able to confirm that.

I love the picture of the small library as my sister described it to me. She said that Aunt Hattie had hand-made wooden step ladders propped against the wall. The steps of the ladders made perfect shelves for her books and they were displayed in alphabetical order by author.

Aunt Hattie’s house must have been a busy and vital place and I can imagine my sister, at age 12, loving every minute of it.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

YES ... It’s me ... my first Christmas, 1933

You know I’d be lying if I told you I remember that day in 1933 but I came across this Christmas card that my folks sent out that year and I thought I’d use it to send my best wishes to each and every one of you reading this.

I was just 10 months old when that photo was in Plainfield, New Jersey with my four older sisters. My paternal grandparents lived there also and we visited back and forth very often. We didn’t own a car and I recall that the walk to Papa’s and Grandma’s house took about 15 minutes.

I do remember many Christmases as I grew older. We would usually go to their house on Christmas Eve for one of Grandma’s super dinners. They lived in a small home that sat close to the road in a highly populated area. It was a modest neighborhood but everyone seemed to pitch in to make the season festive.

The highlight of those visits would be the carolers who arrived just in time for coffee and dessert. They were local residents who yearly traveled from house to house singing the traditional Christmas carols. I have no idea if they ate at other houses, but I do know that they always seemed to have room for Grandma’s special three-berry pie and whipped cream.

After the carolers left we would help Grandma clean up and then we’d walk home…the frosty air helping to keep us awake.

No matter how late we got to bed we would be up before dawn. A Christmas stocking would be at the end of our beds filled to overflowing with tangerines, nuts, raisins and candy mints. Of course we ate our fill and that sufficed for breakfast.

The actual opening of gifts would come when Mother and Dad had joined us. We had far fewer gifts then and each one became a treasure. Dad would play Santa and Mother would collect the ribbons, bows and wrapping paper that could be salvaged for use the next year. It was a “waste not, want not” era and I find it hard, to this day, to watch anyone tear apart a gift so that nothing is reusable!

When I remember those Christmas days in the 30’s and 40’s I realize how simple life was then. We had seven mouths to feed. It was a time of our country’s depression and then World War II. We had few frivolous possessions but we lacked for nothing. Love, laughter and respect for each other were in abundance and it is those things that I wish for all of blogger friends.

Monday, December 17, 2007

JOE LEBERMAN…NY City ... 1958

Recently I’ve been reminiscing about my years spent in NY City. Two of my blogger friends have written recently about their days there (Bud, of “Paradise is Pinehurst” and Naomi of “Old, Old Lady of the Hills”) and it has sparked my memories. I was single at the time and had just been hired on at WABC writing promotional material for their “Live and Lively” radio shows.

A fellow writer had lived in the city for years and he introduced me to some of his friends. Among them was an actor by the name of Joe Leberman. He was much older than I but we often attended the same affairs and we enjoyed each other’s company. Joe was very excited because he had just been given the role of the station master in the play “The Visit”.

The play was to open at the Lunt-Fontanne theater in May in NY City and was set to preview in Boston. With Joe’s help I was able to get two tickets for the out-of-town performance for my parents and they were thrilled.

My Dad worked in Boston but a night at the Shubert theater was a rare treat for them both. Their seats were second row center in the orchestra and Dad said they were almost blinded by all the diamonds “aglitter on the bosoms of all those Boston blue bloods” who surrounded them.

After the performance my folks were invited backstage where they met Joe. They had a good chat and Joe told them he had been a character actor since the age of 21. He also introduced them to the other performers, including the stars of the play, Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne.

“The Visit”, a play in 3 acts, is written by Swiss playwright Friedrich Durrenmatt. I attended the Broadway opening in May and it was fun to see a friend on stage although the play was a bit too dark for my taste. However, the reviews were laudatory, the play had a successful run and I was happy for Joe.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Some of you may remember my blog entry a few weeks back about the Dog Chapel in Vermont. As I told you then it was amazing to see the walls of the chapel covered with hand written notes commemorating beloved pets who had passed on.

Today I was surprised and amused when a friend of mine gave me the picture above. He and his wife had visited the Dog Chapel and he got such a kick out of one of the notes that he actually photographed it.

(If you can’t read it, it says: “Bailey, you never bit or made me cry. I miss you everyday and know you’ll never be replaced in my heart. Why did you attack Daddy?”)

I don’t know about you but I want to know the particulars. Did Bailey die of natural causes or was the attack on “Daddy” responsible for an early death? Did “Daddy” provoke Bailey? Is the writer of the note a youngster and should he be wary of “Daddy“, too? Was Bailey accepted into “Doggie Heaven” or is he wandering in “limbo” because of his aggressive behavior? Has he repented or was it never his fault to begin with?????

Oh, it’s all too mind boggling to contemplate. Doggie-saint or Doggie-sinner … what does it matter? A beloved pet is gone and his owner has left a farewell message tacked to the walls of the “Dog Chapel”. Not closure exactly but certainly a comfort.

Friday, December 07, 2007

1959.…NEW LOGO and NEW PUPPY collide

1959 was a year of beginnings. My husband and I lived in New York City and we’d fashioned one of the rooms in our apartment into a dark room for his burgeoning free lance photography business. Everything seemed to be falling in place but we had yet to come up with a logo that satisfied us.

A friend of ours was the Art Director for Swissair and he designed the logo that’s pictured above. It was clean and simple and, at first glance, seemed to be a stylized camera. Actually it was my husband’s initials (RD) in lower case (rd), and we loved it.

We used it on all of our correspondence and even had little glue-backed stamps made up for us in rolls, such as you see at the Post Office. They included the words “Richard Dean Concept” and we would moisten the back of the stamp and adhere it to the finished photo before presenting it to a client.

Another new acquisition at that time was a miniature dachshund we named Tiger. She was a typical puppy and commenced to chew her way happily through most of our slippers and anything else she could get.

We were paper-training her and I couldn’t believe it one day when I found four cylindrical shaped turds wrapped in the words, “Richard Dean Concept”. The glue backing must have been too tempting to resist. You can imagine the ribbing that Dick got over that !

To bring this full circle…we bred Tiger a year later and one of her pups went to Zurich, Switzerland. Our friend, the Art Director at Swissair, took the puppy home to his children.

Monday, December 03, 2007


Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary defines ENTITLE as …”to give a right, to demand or in ‘his labor entitles him to his wages’ .” That makes sense to me work for a living and you get paid accordingly.

But that’s not what I’m hearing today. More often than not it means that someone has the belief that he/she is deserving of some particular reward or gift...regardless of the fact that they have done nothing to deserve it. This philosophy seems to be running rampant through the thread of our society in the United States and I’m afraid that it will be our undoing.

How many of you remember the thrill that it gave to our generation when President Kennedy asked us to “think not what your country can give to you; but, what you can give to your country.”? Granted, it was idealistic, but it was also uplifting and it brought our nation together.

Compare that feeling to what we have today. We have a mind set that seems to be “the world owes me a living and I want it now and I want it big.” Where, in all this, is the humility to realize that our lives are a gift? Where is the gratitude?

I can only speak from the American viewpoint; but, I’ll bet that the rest of the world is disgusted with our concentration on affluence and consumerism. And, while I’m at it, what gives us the colossal gall to tell anyone else how to live?

I can’t help but wonder where we would be today if we had taken the trillions of dollars that have been wasted in Iraq and offered even a small percentage of it for peaceful means instead? In 2001 we were still a nation with international friends. Today we are held in contempt by a large majority.

I am ashamed that we allowed ourselves to get here and I fear that if we don’t change as a nation we will bear the consequences. I pray that it’s not too late.