Monday, February 29, 2016

Living it up at the FERGUSON … 1957

In 1957 I was three years out of college, had worked a variety of jobs and was finally in the “Big Apple”. It had been my dream for years to work in NY City and here I was !

The first thing that I needed was a place to stay however. I had very little in the way of savings and no clear idea as to what job was in the offing. When I heard of the Ferguson Hotel for Girls (billed as a “safe haven for young ladies new to New York”) I was thrilled. It was in a 6-story brownstone and not only was the location great (the upper East side in the 80’s and just minutes from Bloomingdales) but it offered both breakfast and dinner as part of the very affordable weekly charge.

My enthusiasm was dampened a bit when I saw the actual rooms.There were three of us sharing a small bedroom on the fourth floor; but, it was clean and the other girls were pleasant. The rules were stringent and included… no drinking, no smoking or cooking in our rooms & definitely NO MALES ABOVE THE FIRST FLOOR !

Little did I know that my roomies were out-of-work starlets and they thought nothing of breaking every one of these rules if it could help pay the rent ! I’m not sure how they got everything past the “house warden” but finding a strange male in MY BED was a shock to say the least. Actually it was the last straw and I asked to be transferred to the first single room that came available.

That room and getting hired to work at WABC Radio actually became a reality on the same day. I took that as a good luck sign then: but, looking back at it from the distance of almost 60 years I wonder how things would have been if I’d stayed with the starlets. I’ll bet my blogging memories would be a bit spicier!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Another ER memory ...1987

Does anyone recognize this guy?  It’s Chi Chi Rodriguez, the professional golfer.       The first Puerto Rican to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.        It was 1987 and he was in Pinehurst, NC playing in a Senior’s Tournament. This is also the locale of the hospital where I was working, (in the  ER), and we were all excited because Chi Chi had just signed the register ...wanting to be examined by the docs for stomach pains.     

It was still a few years before we became automated and we still had a hand-written sign-in log at the front desk. Imagine my surprise when the next name, directly after his, was that of my husband, Dick. He was having some breathing problems and decided to come in and get some relief. When he saw Chi Chi’s name above his the secretary said he laughed and said, “What do you know? Two great golfers in one day!” 

Somehow that message was not passed on to the Doctors who could barely be drawn away from Chi Chi, the “real” golfer, to tend to my husband ! Of course Dick was treated in due time and as soon as I saw that he was breathing easier I went to the front desk to see the log.

Yes, there it was...the signatures of the two great golfers, I was sorely tempted to copy that log page and have it framed for Dick but I couldn’t afford losing my job over it. HIPPA wasn’t enacted until 1996 but I knew enough not to break the “privacy rule” and I left well enough alone !

Friday, February 19, 2016

Happy Valentine's day in the ER...1979

In 1979 I was working in the emergency department of our local hospital. That's me on the right with one of the nurses and Dr. Jacques, the Director of the ER. I think this was some sort of promotion photo.

I was reminded of my time there this week as I viewed the creative, home-made Valentine's card that one of my blogger friends, AC, had made for his wife. It took me back to the day that I worked in the ER while my husband was a patient upstairs in the hospital. He was a very brittle diabetic and it was not unusual for him to run into trouble and get admitted but this was Valentine's day.

Luckily we were not busy and I decided to craft a Valentine's card from stuff in the ER. I was sitting next to Dr. Jacques but I didn't know that he was watching me. When I looked up I noticed him and his quizzical expression so I proudly held up the card which I had created. He shook his head and said “Wow. That is so ...” and I was sure he was going to say “...creative and loving.” Instead he said “Wow. That is so cheap. Why not buy the poor guy a card?”

I was crushed but the ER is a strange place to say the least and I, Virginia Lee Dean, should have known that. After all they were the ones who insisted I use my middle initial whenever I labeled something as my own. I guess “VD” on a Styrofoam coffee cup would cause confusion in any ER !

Sunday, February 14, 2016


A blogger friend nominated me for this award and I appreciate that but it comes with a challenge.   Here are the rules:

1.  Link to the blogger who has nominated you. 
2.  List seven random facts about you.
3.  Nominate seven creative, beautiful bloggers, and let them know about the nomination.

So, I'll take it in that order.  I was chosen by Bonnie of
She's been a blogger since 2007 and if you are a book lover you'll enjoy what she has to say. I don't always agree with her book choices but that is simply a matter of taste.  Her book reviews are wonderful.  Thank you, Bonnie, for the nomination.

Seven random facts:  1) I am an Aquarian, born in 1933 but I gave up having birthdays in 2013 !  2) Reading is a passion.  I can't imagine a day without a good book...and I mean "book", not those flat, electronic things.  3) I have 26 years of sobriety thanks to Alcoholics Anonymous and, although I am not religious, I do have a strong spiritual life based on the concepts of the program. 4) I exercise every morning ...nothing heavy duty, just 18 Tai Chi warm ups that take about 10 minutes.  I have been doing this for over 10 years and it has been a life saver. 5) Politically I am liberal and proud of it. I don't know when the word "liberal" got such a bashing but, in my estimation, we need to change that.  6) I enjoy blogging and have done so since 2006.  It is especially interesting to interact with bloggers all over the world and I intend to keep on with my little blog vignettes for a long time to come.  7) Although I love to travel I have realized that it is no longer an option for me so I rely on my blogger friends to take me along on their journeys.   Thanks to you all.

My seven "Beautiful Bloggers":  (sorry fellas,  you're not beautiful enough !)

My Little Corner of the World
Island Musings
The New Sixty
Mountain Musings
KGMom Musings
Just Ask Judy

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Schoolmates … senior year, 1950


Recently one of the “Jeopardy” questions was: “What poem ended with these last two lines… out of the ash I rise with my red hair and I eat men like air.” Believe it or not it was an easy one for me to answer correctly since I went to High School with the author, Sylvia Plath, and it's one of her most famous poems, “Lady Lazarus”.

Yes, that's us from the Wellesley High School yearbook of 1950 and you would never guess that the sweet girl pictured above me could be the author of those lines. I can't say that she and I were best friends but we were definitely companions. We sat next to each other in Mr. Crocketts English class and would often critique each other. We were also in the school play “The Admirable Crichton” by J. M. Barrie and on the same tennis team. So, if you had asked me then what her future would be I would have been hard pressed to answer, except to say that she would probably have some sort of writing career.

She had always been intense and, to the high school standards of the time, I suppose a bit peculiar too. (A suicide attempt in the early 50's reinforced her differences.) She was a very pretty girl, fun loving and flirty ...which I'm sure was a cover-up for the deeper feelings that she wasn't able to share with us, although she tried very hard to be accepted. I remember one Sunday in particular when our Unitarian church group set out on a picnic. When the boys spied Sylvia they made sure that she rode with us and I knew there was going to be trouble. She was up front between two of them and became more and more uncomfortable as they kept telling her how she made them feel and then, as we slowed down at a work area, she suddenly lurched forward and threw herself out of the car. We were so relieved to see that she only suffered scrapes and bruises but I've often wondered what it did to her soul.

After she committed suicide in 1963 the British critic A. Alvarez wrote these words: “It was only recently that the peculiar intensity of her genius found it’s perfect expression...she was systematically probing that narrow, violent area between the viable and the impossible, between experience which can be transmitted into poetry and that which is overwhelming. It represents a totally new breakthrough in modern verse, and establishes her, I think, as the most gifted poet of our time. The loss to literature is inestimable.”

53 years have passed since Sylvia died but I remember her fondly. I wonder if anything would have been different if we, her classmates, had made the small effort to get to know her better.