Saturday, January 31, 2009

“FANTASIA” at the Radio City Music Hall…1941

My oldest sister, Mary, gave me the gift of a lifetime in 1941. It was my 8th birthday and her gift to me was an enchanted afternoon at the world-famous Radio City Music Hall in New York City. We were there to enjoy the live stage show and the ground-breaking Disney musical, “Fantasia”.

The movie portrayed cartoon characters performing their skits to classical music. Leopold Stokowski conducted the Philadelphia Orchestra and I sat entranced as the music wrapped around me. It literally felt like I was being carried up and into the movie that was enfolding.

I particularly remember “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” featuring Mickey Mouse as an aspiring magician who gets himself into and out of a bunch of predicaments. At one sequence he is practically over-run by a battery of brooms carrying buckets of water.

Then there was the “Dance of the Hours” with lumbering hippos, crocodiles, ostriches and elephants ... up on tip-toes, twirling their huge bodies in time to the music. The juxtaposition between the clumsy animals and the dainty dance that they were performing was charming. We clapped with delight.

“Fantasia” never became a box office success but it was an enormous treat for me and I loved it. However, the memory that burns the brightest happened at the finale of the live stage show. Two comedians were sparring with each other and playing to the audience. At the end of their performance they came close to the front of the stage and one man said, “I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for being here”. His partner chimed in with, “and I thank you from my bottom, too” ... while proceeding to turn his back on the audience, dropping his pants and "mooning" the lot of us.

How shocking! How crude! How DELIGHTFUL!! My virgin 8-year-old ears were burning but I thrilled to the naughtiness of it all. I couldn’t wait to get home to share the experience (in great detail and with many embellishments) with all my young friend

Monday, January 26, 2009

ERNEST and his Dead Tree Memorial Garden

In 1980 I was living in North Carolina with my husband. Our three children were “out of the nest” and I was working in our local hospital’s Emergency Room. The Hospice program was in it’s infancy and I decided to give it a try. I took the training program and became a care-giver working on a team with a nurse and one other non-medical person.

Most of the Hospice patients had very short life spans so it was difficult to get a real close relationship. However, there was one exception, in my case, and that was Ernest. He lasted for six months and we became fast friends. He was a 74 year old black man who lived just 6 miles north of me, so it was easy to keep in touch and we did so almost daily.

Ernest, and his wife of over 50 years, lived in a small cement block house that he had built years before. It was primitive but very snug with a simple front porch. The house was situated to the rear of the property and overlooked the land that had been in Ernest’s family for centuries. His many acres of open fields were rented by nearby farmers to plant tobacco and cotton.

The most unusual thing, however, was his “memorial garden”. It was an acre of lawn in front of his house that was carefully manicured and with 8 or 9 dead tree trunks that had been artistically placed.

These were not random trees, but ones that had been picked because of their interesting shapes. All the bark had been removed and the bare trunks were then sanded and polished with oil. The final effect was, indeed, a “garden of memorial statuary”, somewhat resembling sentries on guard.

Ernest explained it to me one day as we sat rocking on his front porch. It seems that his grandfather had loved the gnarled and stark-looking dead trees on his farm. When he died and they couldn’t afford a memorial stone, they thought to cut down one of his beloved trees and to use that. It soon became a tradition.

Ernest told me the story of each of the “statues” and who was commemorated there. He said they were re-sanded and oiled yearly and that was what gave them their lovely patinas. The two small trunks with intertwining branches were in memory of his twins who had died 48 years earlier.

That was over 25 years ago and I’ve lost touch with the family but I pray that that beloved patch of land remains. I’ve seen many elaborate and costly memorials...but I don’t think I’ve ever seen one that exuded such peace and serenity.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

PHOTO out of focus…but get-together spot on !

Even though the photo is blurry you can still see what a fun time is had when blogger friends get together in person. That’s Judy of “Imagine…” and Bud of “Paradise is Pinehurst…”, and me, of course.

Bud lives in the same county as I do and has been a good friend for quite a few years. Judy, on the other hand, is a brand new blogger friend and lives barely an hour away, north of Raleigh. It just seemed to make sense for us all to meet and share lunch and a lively conversation.

Judy brought her husband, Jim, with her so that evened things out a bit … although knowing Bud as I do I know he would have been up to the task of two women at his table!

Bud chose the place for us to meet and he chose “The Holly”, an
1895 Victorian inn in Pinehurst. It is a registered historic building and a few years back it was faithfully restored to it’s original grandeur. “The Holly” is a delight and the food’s not bad, either !

We barely had our toes through the door to the restaurant when we felt like we’d known each other for years. That’s one of those things that I’ve found about blogging. We put our thoughts and remembrances into our blogs and the readers who relate become instant friends. It’s kind of like “small talk” without all the stress of the first few meetings.

Although our get-together ended too soon we agreed that it was lots of fun to meet in person and we hope to do it again soon.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Things I love … starting with the letter:

My blogger friend Judy at “Imagine…” introduced me to this challenge and assigned the letter “F” to me. Here’s what I came up with…

FAMILY…has to top the list…especially now that I am the oldest one in my immediate family. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would become the MATRIARCH !

FLORENCE, Italy … the jewel of all cities in my estimation.

FOLK ART …most especially that of the 18th & 19th Centuries.

FLEA MARKET finds … I love to get a bargain and turn it into a “jewel”.

FICTION …I am an avid reader and my favorite books are those based on history.

FRIENDS … old, treasured ones as well as the new ones that I meet daily.

FILMS …now that I have Netflix I can get back in touch with the films of my youth. I enjoy those old films, as well as a lot of the documentaries.

FUN … I try to keep it light…you know the old saying “Laugh and the world laughs with you. Cry and you cry alone!”

FORTUNE COOKIES …. My favorite told me that I would gain wealth in my “golden years.” I’m still waiting! But, on second thought, maybe it didn’t mean money. Maybe it meant a wealth of new ideas and new friends … and I’ve certainly found that with all of you in the “Blogging World.”

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The GYPSY…Now you see her…now you don’t (1959)

My first child was born on July 3rd, 1959, in New York City at the Lenox Hill Hospital. I tell you this because it was also the setting for one of the strangest scenarios that I’ve ever been privy to.

I was having labor pains and the Dr. advised me to get to the hospital but it was no emergency. Therefore, when Dick and I got there we were told to wait in the Admissions office. We had just sat down when the doors opened and a group of at least a dozen people came in. The women and little girls were dressed in colorful long skirts and bright scarves. The men sported white shirts with ruffles, cowboy-style boots and hats with ribbons that circled the stiff brims and fell over their shoulders.

The central figure was a lovely young girl with pitch-black hair that cascaded over her ample bosom and extended belly. She was as pregnant as I, but I felt very dowdy compared to her and envied the amount of attention that was showered upon her.

It was becoming obvious that she was closer to giving birth than I was, so when the admissions gal came out of her office I told her to go ahead and admit her first. The group was effusive in their thanks and we chatted away like old friends until it was her time to go upstairs.

Now it was my turn to be admitted and I asked the clerk if she knew who they were? She gave me a condescending look and then explained that they were “gypsies”. She advised me to keep an eye on my belongings “if I insisted on communicating with them.” Her superior attitude and bias really annoyed me and made me all the more anxious to continue my friendship with them.

As luck would have it the gypsy girl was in the room next to mine and we both had uncomplicated and easy births. When her baby was less than 8 hours old she brought him to my bedside and we laughed as we patted his perfect little head covered with black hair. We were both breast feeding and the nurses would bring our babies to us about every 4 hours.

I guess it was about 8 pm when she brought the baby to my room and I fell asleep shortly after she left. When I woke I was surprised to see that all the lights were on in the hallway. There also seemed to be a buzz of activity going on and I realized that they hadn’t brought my baby to me yet. “What’s going on?” I called to one of the nurses and she stopped long enough to say, “Your “friend” and her baby are gone but don’t ask me how she managed it. They just disappeared.”

I learned later that this was par for the course with the gypsy community. I enjoyed being part of the intrigue, however, and never did tell anyone that my gold watch, which had been on my bed-side table, had mysteriously disappeared that night, too.

(This is a repeat and I apologize for that...but it still is a wonderful memory !)

Monday, January 05, 2009


It was a balmy April evening in New York City and my date was escorting me home after an early movie. It was a weekday and we both needed to be up early for work. As we crowded into the elevator I was surprised to come face to face with an old college schoolmate. I hadn’t seen Pete for 3 years and we were, naturally, excited to run into each other.

Pete was also on an early date and we managed to exchange eye signals that said, “Lets say goodnight to our dates and then meet in the lobby”. I’m not quite sure how we pulled that off, but we did, and about 30 minutes later Pete and I reunited. All of a sudden it didn’t matter that it was a week night. This was my old friend Pete from Upsala College days and we had lots of catching up to do.

My apartment was in Tudor City and Pete had friends who lived just two blocks away. “There’s sure to be a party going on”, he said and he was right. This was a 4th floor walk-up apartment and we could hear the music and the conversation long before we got to the door. We were warmly welcomed and I was introduced to a new and invigorating group of New Yorkers. The talk was eclectic but typically liberal and heavily concentrated on the Arts.

As the evening went on a new man arrived and I found myself drawn to him. Dick was a photographer who had just left a two year stint on “Life” magazine and was starting a free-lance business. He was attractive, in a rough boyish style and not very tall. His mother lived in the apartment one floor up and he had moved in with her while he launched his new career.

Suddenly this thought came to my mind: “He’s too short for me, but this is the man that I’m going to marry !” I guess Pete saw the hand writing on the wall because he kind of faded away after Dick told him, “Don’t worry, old buddy, I’ll be happy to see that Ginnie gets home safely.”

So there it is...three dates in one night. It was the only time that I ever did that, but I don’t feel guilty about it since my third date and I were married four months later. Dick and I tied the knot on August 23, 1958 and our marriage lasted 32 years until his death in 1990