Saturday, August 28, 2010

Hand-painted Wall Murals … circa 1814

In 2002 I spent the month of August in Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire. My research with Historical Societies, museums and tourism offices before my trip enabled me to map out a route that shunned the highways in favor of the seldom used but picturesque back roads. It was a relaxing and stress free vacation.

My only regret is that I did not see the wonderful murals that I picture here. When I arrived home I found a letter from the Hampden, Maine, Historical Society inviting me to visit them and to view their latest acquisition ... the murals.

They were believed to have been painted by a British Soldier in 1814 and were on the walls of the 200 year old Hampden home of Ada and John Senter. The family donated them in 2001 to the Historical Society for their safe keeping. The society hired a professional conservator from Portland, Me., who painstakingly removed the wallpaper paintings and had them framed.

These murals would have been of particular interest to me since I‘ve painted many a wall scene myself. However, I doubt if I will ever have the pleasure of actually seeing them ... after all Maine is a “fur piece” from North Carolina ... but I did write and thank them for the invitation.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

1946...”The VOICE” and the “Bobby Soxer”

In 1946 my sister Barbara was 17, a senior in High School and a typical teenager. We lived in the Boston suburbs.

It was also at this time that Frank Sinatra , “The Voice”, was fast becoming a teen-age idol. Barbara and her schoolmates were “Bobby Soxers” ... wearing the universal attire of all Frank’s young fans ... the poodle skirt and the socks rolled down to the ankles. (As an aside, I believe this is where the term “sock hop” comes from, meaning a dance, usually at the High School gym, where the girls took off their shoes and danced in their socks.)

Sinatra fever was running very high on the East Coast and one day Barbara and her friends were in a frenzy because they heard that he would be appearing in Boston soon. The fly in the ointment was that it was a one day “gig” and that day was in the middle of the school week. Not to be deterred ... the girls put their heads together and soon a plan was hatched.

On the day of Frank’s appearance over a third of the senior class females in 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. He hated to call them liars so he just decided to let it drop.

It would have been a perfect plan but ... the same afternoon that the girls returned to school “cured” the Boston Globe ran a front page picture of Frank’s concert. The picture was taken from the stage and showed the back of Frank crooning into a microphone and the first few rows of his adoring fans!

Yes, you guessed it ... there they were with Barbara in the center.
Busted in black and white. !!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Let’s take a spin in the BUBBLE CAR !

Is this about the cutest thing that you ever saw? As most of you readers know my daughter and her husband are in the antique business in NY. This is a far cry from their usual acquisition but they couldn’t resist buying this little gem the minute they saw it.

It’s a 1956 Kabinenroller (Cabin Scooter) … a three wheeled bubble car that was (according to my research) designed by the aircraft engineer Fritz Fend and produced in the factory of Messerschmitt, the German aircraft manufacturer from WWII. It was forbidden for them to build more airplanes so they’d turned to making cars.

In 1956 the Suez Crisis caused fuel prices to soar so cheap transportation was a necessity and Bubble cars became an overnight sensation in Europe. Since these vehicles were three wheelers they qualified for inexpensive taxes and licensing in many areas, just as did motorcycles. As a matter of fact they are just a shade larger than a good sized motorcycle.

As I studied the picture above I kept wondering how you opened the doors and then I realized there weren’t any ! Entry to the car is through the aircraft-style bubble canopy that’s hinged to the right side of the vehicle. (Hmmm … I guess that lets me out. Not a pretty sight to contemplate.)

Actually this little Bubble Car started the craze for low cost and fuel efficient small vehicles in Europe. Competition was strong and this one didn’t last long but it wasn’t for lack of style.

I’m sure my kids won’t be the proud owners for long … after all they are in the “buying and selling” business … but maybe they’ll take the chicks for at least one “spin” before it’s gone.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A poignant memory of my Dad …

Recently I turned on my TV and up popped the Greenbrier Classic golf tournament in White Sulfur Springs, West Virginia. I am not a golf enthusiast so that wasn’t what caught my attention. It was the fact that it was being held at “The Greenbrier” and the memory that it evoked.

In the mid 50’s my Dad was working for an Ad agency in Boston. He was the Production Manager and seldom called upon to make presentations or to interact with the public. That was the dubious honor given to the Promotion men of the company. Dad was a quiet man and perfectly happy to stay in the background.

One day, however, his boss informed him that he had booked three presentations to promote his agency and, due to circumstances beyond his control, they all fell on the same weekend. Because of his lack of personnel he advised Dad that he would have to do one of them.

Of course Dad couldn’t say “no” but he was extremely nervous. As it turned out he had good reason to be. Here’s what he told us when he got home …

“I took the train to “The Greenbrier” and was met at the station by a representative of the hotel. After we dropped my bag in the room he gave me a tour and showed me the banquet room where the meeting would be held the next day. I couldn’t believe how ornate it was. There were three huge windows on the back wall and a low platform with the speaker’s dais in front of the middle window.

Needless to say I got very little sleep that night but I managed to make it to the meeting on time and with my presentation memorized. After the introduction I made my way to the platform & before I had a chance to even give my name the audience broke into spasms of laughter. I was devastated and more than a little hurt. What had I done to provoke this?

I almost stormed off the stage in frustration but then I noticed that a lot of the people were pointing to the windows. I looked behind me and watched in fascination as a huge tree seemed to walk it’s way from window to window until it finally disappeared. Since the windows were above ground level all we could see was the “walking tree” and not the gardeners who were transplanting it. I guess it was hilarious seen from the audience’s viewpoint but it nearly killed this poor old production man. Luckily it broke the ice and my presentation went on without a hitch after that.”

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Isn’t this a lovely card? It was sent to me from my niece in St. Johnsbury, Vt. Her mother is my oldest sister Mary, now in a Rest Home in that area and I visited with them last month.

The words on the card are from a Danish Proverb and read:
“A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.”

That really touched me because it described our relationship in a nutshell. My niece is a very talented woman who has sacrificed the last two years to caring for her mother and seeing that her teenage son gets the best education possible. This is all very commendable but it has left little time or energy for her to pursue her own dreams.

When we were together we spent a long time discussing her options and trying to open doors that had, of necessity, been shut for a long time. Now she has taken a month’s leave from her job and is concentrating on bringing back “the song in her heart” . She truly had “forgotten the words” and it was thrilling to me to watch the spark being ignited again as we talked.

I enjoy getting emails but there is nothing, in my estimation, that can replace a thoughtful card with a hand written note and posted with love. This will go up on my mantle where I will enjoy it daily !

Monday, August 09, 2010

U … unwanted T … tawdry I … irksome

I apologize for the long interval since my last blog entry but I have a good excuse ! The blame goes directly to a severe UTI, (commonly known as a Urinary Tract Infection.)

I had no idea that something as common as a UTI could make me so sick. I was under a Dr’s care but the darn E-Coli in my system turned out to be resistant to all the different meds he tried. I finally had no choice but to go to the ER, which culminated in a 3 day admission to the hospital.

As the admitting doc said, “It’s time for the Atomic Bomb approach”. This sounded promising but the fact that I’m allergic to Penicillin made it a challenge. The Pharmacist and Dr. finally agreed on the med however and I was hooked up and “fed” for the length of my stay.

Now I’m home, none the worse for wear, and thankful to be back with you all.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

BING …O !!

Although I love my computer and am able to post blogs and do other things with it I am still a novice at mastering this new hi-tech language. So when I tell you that I have a new “search engine“, and that I am completely enamored with it, I hope I’m saying the right words.

I have no idea how I got to this but one day when I clicked on Windows Internet explorer (that little blue E with the orange circle around it !) up popped a thing called “Bing“. At first I was annoyed. This wasn’t what I was used to.

Now I can’t wait to see what they have in store for me every day. Here’s are three examples of what it looks like:

Evidently Bing is Microsoft’s version of Google but I much prefer it. You still get easy access into the news that you seek but the format is user friendly and very appealing.

Every day they post a breath-taking picture such as the one’s I’ve shown. It’s fun and informative and if you scroll your cursor arrow over the picture it brings up 4 hidden boxes. Just click on these and it gives you a complete explanation of the image; what the picture is of, where it was taken and anything else of interest pertaining to it. Definitely a fun way to learn new things about this amazing world that we live in.

I highly recommend it and would be really interested to know if
others of you in the blogosphere have discovered “Bing” and do you like it as much as I do?