Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A promise to “Maffy” … 1967

Here is my son Matt, 4 yrs old, and my mother. They were great friends and loved to spend time together “fixing the problems of the world”.

In 1967 Mother came to stay for a few weeks. We’d moved to the country from NY City and had fixed up a nice room in the basement for her. It was cozy and if she wanted to read or take a nap, or just get some alone time, she would go down there. It was also where she could smoke. She knew that neither Dick nor I were smokers and that we wouldn’t be pleased to have the smell of tobacco in the main house.

Matt (or Maffy as we affectionately called him) would have been about 7 then and he was excited about her visit. He’d discovered fishing and he couldn’t wait to have her share it with him.

Sure enough she did love it and almost every day of her visit mother and Matt would wander down to the small stream that bordered our property. They would often take a lunch with them as well as their fishing rods and his little creel box complete with hooks and worms and a special place for Grandma’s cigarettes. I would love to have been privy to their talks. I’m sure they solved many of the problems of his little world, but I had no idea that they were discussing mother’s world, too.

One morning I glanced in to Matt’s creel box just before they were to take off for the stream and I realized that mother’s cigarettes were missing. When I asked about it Matt just smiled and said “Oh, didn’t we tell you? Grandma doesn’t smoke any more.”

I was amazed and when I asked mother about it she told me that Matt had tactfully and persistently kept after her until she had no excuses left ! She was to live for 31 more years and near the end of her life I asked her if she’d ever smoked again. She seemed shocked by my question. “Of course not”, she said, “I made a promise to Maffy, didn’t I ?”

Saturday, March 26, 2011


Spring is when your little girl wears pinafores,

When hopes are reborn and the rent is paid on time.

* * *

Spring is feeling ten feet tall and brand new,

A fairyland of green on green, where all things are

When my little girl, (who will be 50 this October !) was five I was inspired to write those words …

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

EGGSTRA ! EGGSTRA ! Read all about it …

“Walmart Egg Tossers Face Charges” is the headline in our local newspaper. I kid you not … I could not make this up and to top that the three young men involved are from my hometown !

Here’s what the newspaper reported:

“Three (local) men (in their 20’s) are facing multiple misdemeanor charges after a not-so-eggs-cellent adventure in Walmart. …. (and) have been charged with larceny/shoplifting and criminal damage to property after police say they threw raw eggs inside the store,

The incident, which was captured on store surveillance video, happened at about 2:30 this morning. “They went in the store, headed to the back where the eggs were and then they started,” said ___, Aberdeen deputy police chief.

When police arrived, they discovered the three men in the parking lot. After reviewing the surveillance video police took the men into custody. The men were not employees of the store.”

Now you can imagine what happened after that story ran. The reader’s comments poured in … 55 at last count … and here are just a few of them:

** They were not egg-sperts in getting away from the police

** I bet they scrambled when they saw the Police!!!

** EGGS! OMG ... I got in more trouble when I was a kid throwing eggs. But I was a kid (not in my twenties) and back in those days there weren't security cameras. Dumb, dumber and dumbest.

** Their brains must have been fried or scrambled when they decided to do this .....

** I hope the judge doesn't go over easy on them.

** I bet the Wal-Mart folks were eggstremely happy to see the Aberdeen PD. These kids were just practical yolkers, but Wal-Mart didn't seem to be in the mood for a good yolk

** It has all the makings of a classic hard-boiled crime novel.

( and my three favorites )

** Do they get the PULLETS-A-PRIZE for hatching this stupid idea?


** “Remorse, the fatal egg that pleasure laid.” ~William Cowper

Friday, March 18, 2011

Our “L’il Marco” at the Bocce Restaurant, 1959

I was married in 1958 and living with my husband in New York City. Our favorite eating place was an authentic Italian restaurant in Greenwich Village. You would pass through the bar to get to the eating area in the back where 8 or 10 small tables were set up. It was also home to an indoor bocce court and it was fun to watch the old men play while we ate.

I found this photo on the Web and it is reminiscent of those days but not the same place. This picture was taken in 1968 at the “il Vagabondo” restaurant on E. 62nd Street. It is still in existence today.

Sadly, “our” little restaurant is long gone but this memory will be with me forever: In July of 1959 our first child was born, a son we named Mark. When he was about a month old we decided that the three of us needed a night out on the town and we headed to the Village.

The bar was very crowded and we knew many of the locals by sight if not by name. Many of them were elderly Italian men from the neighborhood and their eyes lit up when they saw our baby.

“Whatsa ees name?” they asked and of course our Mark became “L’il Marco” to them and they insisted that we leave him with them. “Go…Go”, they said, “…you eat, we play!”

So that’s what we did. We felt very secure leaving Mark with these men since we’d often seen them lovingly care for other children ... and, even sitting a room away we could hear them “oohing” and “ahhing” over “L’il Marco” as they passed him gently around the bar.

When it was time to leave I remember that he started to cry. I was surprised and then I realized that in a very short time our "L'il Marco" had come to love those rough old men and he hated to leave. I felt the same way.

Monday, March 14, 2011

UNC School of Dentistry ……… GOES WILD !!

About 6 months ago I finally qualified to be a patient at the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry. This means that I get my own student (2nd year) who will oversee my treatment. As you can tell by the picture the setting is very professional and serene. Each student has a cubicle and the Staff Dentist is ever present to teach and grade the students. It is a tedious process but the cost is about 1/3 of what it would cost for me to go to my regular dentist and, with no insurance, it is well worth the effort.

On March 11th I drove up to Chapel Hill for my 2 0’clock appointment and arrived about ½ hour early. The waiting room was full and the TV was tuned to the UNC-Miami basketball game. UNC was 19 points behind Miami and the mood of the watchers was glum, to say the least.

It was at this point that “my dentist”, student Rob, came and got me. We settled down in his cubicle and he proceeded to get me ready for the procedure. Classical music was playing and, although you could hear the murmur of the other students and their patients, it was all very low key and professional.

Then, minutes later, the calm was shattered. A fever-pitched roar broke loose in the room and, for a minute, I thought we were under siege from some unknown terror. “WHAT was that?” I said to Rob and, with a grin that nearly split his face, he said, “I think we won !”

Sure enough, in the ACC battle No 6 UNC had stormed back to beat Miami by one point at the buzzer, and …

…though the atmosphere in the room quickly reverted to it’s original calm the grins remained and I was reminded that these future dentists were, after all, still UNC students and it was fun to be part of their joy and triumph.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

POPSY lights it up at BASIN STREET EAST, 1959

They called him Popsy because it was near impossible to spell, remember or pronounce his long Greek name. He had been the long term band boy for Benny Goodman, the “King of Swing”.

In the early fifties the “Big Band Era” had come to an end and Benny broke up the band but he didn’t leave Popsy high and dry. He set him up in his own photography business in New York City.

Popsy would be the first to tell you that he was no artist when it came to taking pictures but he had the basics and his studio was conveniently located near the theater district. The actors and actresses flocked to his studio because of his proximity to famous musicians and because they could get promotion pictures for their portfolios quickly and at a low price.

My husband, Dick, was working as a “Life” photographer in 1956 and he and Popsy became fast friends. When Dick started to free lance he would use the studio and darkroom when needed and, as payment, he taught Popsy some of the finer points of photography.

When Dick and I married in 1958 he had left “Life” and was free lancing full time. We would often meet Popsy in his studio and enjoyed many a take-out meal with him.

Early in 1959 we received a call from Popsy. He was very agitated and asked us to hurry over. It seemed that Benny Goodman was on his way to New York with his 10-piece ensemble that had been touring Europe. He was booked at “Basin Street East” for a three night gig and was offering Popsy the chance to take all the publicity shots.

Popsy was fit to be tied. He didn’t want to let Benny down but he had no idea how to handle the lighting for candid shots of this sort. I knew why he had called Dick, because this was his expertise.

The two of them formulated a plan and on opening night we arrived early and Dick set up his big strobe lights. We were seated at a large table in front of the stage and Popsy met us there.

When Benny came on stage with his ensemble the crowd went wild, the strobe lights came on and Dick and Popsy rushed around the room taking pictures from all angles. When the night was over we couldn’t wait to get back to the studio and process the film.

The pictures were wonderful, Benny was very happy with the results, Popsy was vindicated … and me? … I was just thrilled to be part of it all … especially when Benny and his 10 musicians sat at our table between sets !

Saturday, March 05, 2011

My bedroom continued …

I’m sure that my love for painted furniture started years ago with this bureau. My mother designed and painted it back in the 1930’s or ‘40’s. I’m not sure of the exact date but I remember it always being in our house and I was born in 1933. It has been in my bedroom for years now and I treasure it.

A few years ago I was up visiting my daughter and her husband and I spied a sweet little child’s play bureau for sale in their antique shop. It was very similar to my “for real” one but just measured 12 inches in width and about a foot and a half high. It had three small drawers and the idea came to me that it would make a perfect spot for my jewelry.

When I arrived home with it I couldn’t wait to start my project and here it is finished …

It will take years for it to acquire the antiquity of my Mother’s bureau; but, it’s a fun addition to my bedroom, it serves a useful purpose and it is a daily reminder that my fascination and love for painted furniture started long before I was able to hold a paintbrush.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

A mural for my bedroom…

I have a small house … just 5 rooms and a big central hall. The rooms are large, however, with the exception of the smaller back room that was my office until a few weeks ago.

It was then that I decided to switch rooms and turn that office area in to my bedroom and I’m thrilled with my decision. It is cozy and warm and all it really needed was a bit of color to bring it alive. Not having a picture to fill the bill I decided to paint another mural.

Some of you may recall that I have a little business called “Snowflakes” (custom painted furniture) and, in the past I would also paint murals. I don’t do that commercially anymore since it is very hard on my back. BUT…I couldn’t resist one more challenge in my own house.

So now I can wake to a bright and cheerful “stained glass” window and, although I miss my Italian scene from my old bedroom I can go there whenever I want because that is my new office space !