Thursday, November 30, 2017

1950's ad … and we bought it !

According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control) “Cigarette smoking causes more than 480,000 deaths each year in the US, more than HIV, illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries and firearm-related incidents combined.” WOW !

In 2006 the tobacco industry was court ordered to tell the public about the dangers of smoking. Now, after a decade of litigating (which must have cost them a fortune) they are finally out of options and are forced to post a series of TV ads that state the real facts.

All this information has made me look at my own past and I am happy to say that I never cared for smoking. I do admit that in the 50's I tried but, thank goodness, more cigarettes ended up burning in the ashtray than in my lungs.

The biggest shock for me was when, in the late 70's, I started working in a very active ER in our local hospital. I was amazed at how casual it was. Almost everyone smoked and ashtrays were overflowing at most stations.

The medical personnel would actually be exhaling smoke as they entered a patient’s room!! Luckily we had a doctor who specialized in pulmonary diseases and he started to complain. 

The first things to go were the ash trays in the ER ! Then, little by little the powers to be started to rally behind him and by the mid 90’s all smoking was banned inside the hospital, including in the cafeteria. However, it wasn't until 2010 that this finally happened …  HOORAY !


Saturday, November 25, 2017

FILIPPO...the “mad” Scientist/Inventor

Dick and I were married in NY City in 1958. It was a lovely affair but Dick's   eccentric best friend and ex-roommate Filippo was “missing in action”. He was a scientist/inventor and spent a lot of time out of town researching his projects so this wasn't unusual.
However I'd heard so much about him that I wanted to put a face to the name that my husband spoke of so frequently and this came about a few months later. Filippo was small in stature but his dramatic flair made him a daunting personage. He had been born and bred in NY City and was the prototype of the Italian male with sparkling eyes, a thin pencil mustache and a small, pointed goatee.
One of his passions was the stock market and one night we received a frantic call from him. He was “out in the hinterlands” and couldn’t get his hands on a “NY Times” and he asked Dick if he could read off the NYSE results for the day. I started to hand the paper to Dick but he shook his head at me and went on to give Filippo a list of the reasons why this would be extremely inconvenient...not the least being the fact that he would have to get dressed and go downtown to get the paper! After some further haggling Filippo agreed to buy us each a steak dinner upon his next trip home in return for Dick getting the paper and reading the results to him. He said he’d call back within the hour. After he hung up the phone I reminded Dick that we had the paper but he just laughed and said, “Oh, I know’s just something we do”.
It was more like 3 hours by the time Filippo rang back and when he did I was amazed to hear Dick say; “Well, Chappie, I have bad news. You know that our dog is paper trained and it took you so long to get back to us that I had no choice but to use that paper for Tiger. She’s sitting on it right now, as a matter of fact.”

Then he sat back with a big grin and held the phone away from his ear. I could hear Filippo fuming and fussing on the other end and every once in awhile Dick would throw in a sympathetic “Uh, huh” until I finally heard an exasperated sigh and Filippo caved in. “O.k., o.k….I give up“ he said, “ Get your damn dog off the paper and I’ll buy her a steak dinner too !”
This was just the start of a lifetime filled with good-natured bantering between Dick and Filippo and, although Dick has been gone since 1990 Filippo and his wife Mary have remained good friends. He's 89 now but I'm sure he's still stirring up trouble with a twinkle in his eye !


Monday, November 20, 2017


I was born in 1933, the youngest of 5 girls. We girls were all born during the great depression years but we managed. Our family was definitely middle-to-lower class with my dad working and my mother taking in sewing to make ends meet. Despite this the 5 of us all graduated from College. I won a 4 year scholarship which consisted of $1,000 a year and between that and living at home and working part-time I was able to get a BS degree from Boston University. That would be impossible today.

It was in the mid 70’s that I first became aware of the disintegration of the middle class. That was when the spate of millionaires sprouted up over night and the powers-to-be assured us all that the “trickle down” theory would be the savior of our economy. The only problem was that all the breaks were given to this newly wealthy class and they conveniently forgot to “trickle” anything down to the rest of us. Now it’s 47 years later and we're being fed the same tired line again.

If our government is truly interested in Tax reform they could start by closing loopholes that make it possible for large enterprises and rich people to “hide” their incomes. Inequality in our nation is at the worst level since the 1920's and giving the richest of our citizens a huge tax break is not only ludicrous but it's testimony to the heartlessness of the current administration.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if our representatives, while seated around their food laden Thanksgiving tables this week, could actually FEEL the needs of those who voted them into office ?

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A small token of appreciation:

In 2005, I heard about a local Dr. and minister who were teaming up to start a Free Care Clinic in our County. I became very interested and signed up just as soon as they put out the call for volunteers. I’ve been with them ever since.

The first thing that surprised me was the actual NEED in our community for a Free Care Clinic. On the surface our area looks to be quite affluent and I had no idea how that masked the underlying reality. In order for a patient to qualify for free care at the Clinic they have to prove that they are a member of the County, have no medical insurance and are living on an income that is equal to or less than 200% of the federal poverty level.

For the beginning years we operated out of a large room in the Health Dept. It was quite a challenge to say the least but now we have this lovely location, complete with 4 exam rooms. We are funded by contributions and Grants and, although some of the staff is paid, it's the volunteers who make the whole project possible and it warms my heart to be part of it.

It's a very friendly atmosphere and the walls are aglow with lovely hand painted art work by members of our community. I was especially proud a few days back when our Director, Tony, told me that new pictures had arrived and they had chosen a special one to hang over my desk. I couldn't wait to see what honor awaited me. Hmmm ...

12 years of hard work. I wonder what they are telling me !

Saturday, November 11, 2017

“Waking Up Is Hard to Do”

In 2009 I heard Neil Sedaka being interviewed. He spoke of the joy he found with his five year old twin granddaughters Charlotte and Amanda. They accompany their renowned granddad on his album for children entitled “Waking Up Is Hard to Do”. I thought it was sweet and posted a blog about it.

Now it is 8 years later and the whole atmosphere of the country has changed. A dismal pall seems to have settled over us and we badly need a bit of fun to cheer us up. Sedaka is a legendary pop singer and songwriter and he's taken eleven of his hits from decades past and revised them. The tunes are the same but the words are changed to tickle a child’s fancy.

“Breaking Up is Hard to Do” (his 1962 hit), wouldn’t mean a thing to a toddler but they could certainly relate to “Waking up” being hard to do ! Neil performed it during the interview and I couldn’t help but sing along as he played and sang the words:

They say that wakin’ up is hard to do

Wear a smile and don’t you be blue

Just wipe the sleep from your eyes

Instead of going back to bed

You’ve gotta stretch and face the day

Just listen to the Birdies sing

And the flowers that await the Spring

Rise and shine, your dreaming’s through.

Wakin’ up is hard to do.

Some of the other parodies on the album are “Lunch Will Keep Us Together”, echoing “Love Will Keep Us Together”, “Where the Toys Are”, a takeoff of “Where the Boys Are”, and “Dinosaur Pet”, a variation on “Calendar Girl”...(“I love, I love, I love my dinosaur pet”).

I guess it will depend on your age if you remember these tunes as well as I do, but one thing is sure. If you have small children and you play this album for them you will find yourself captivated too. Just remember that singing and dancing is definitely permitted. Who knows? Maybe your children will write a blog entry about it 70 years from now!

Monday, November 06, 2017

Aunt Emma's diary … #2

You're right AC. I do have one more highlight from her diary but this will be the last.

I was born on February 15th, 1933 … the youngest of five girls. My mother sketched this picture of me while we were both still in the hospital. We were living in New Jersey at the time, far from elderly & austere Aunt Emma in Brattleboro, Vt. As I mentioned in my last entry I was given many of her diaries after she died and I was pleased to see that I had the 1933 one. 

Of course I was interested in reading what she wrote about my birth. Surely she would wax a bit poetic about such a huge event. I quickly turned to Feb. 15th and was surprised to see nothing written there but the weather report and her expenditure of 6 cents on two postal stamps.

So I turned the page and there it was … not quite the glowing report that I had hoped. Instead she wrote: “phone call from Jimmie this morning told us that Ruth had a 5th girl. Her name is Virginia. We had no idea that Ruth was pregnant”.   

Oh well … as Arkansas Patti commented on my last blog: “Perhaps she left out the good stuff as in those days it might not be seemly”. That is a small comfort but I bet she just left out the “sweet and precious” part that my dad was sure to have said !

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Aunt Emma's diary … #1

I mentioned my Aunt Emma from Brattleboro, Vt. in my last entry. She was still alive when I was born in 1933 but quite elderly and not very communicative. After she died I was given 12 of her diaries and I couldn’t wait to read what she’d written. Maybe I would finally get to know my mysterious great aunt.

I knew that she was a spinster and a very frugal one at that; but I had no idea that her life was so devoid of enchantment or just plain fun. Page after page recorded nothing but the weather conditions for the day and the exact price of everything she bought but not much else of interest until … imagine my surprise when I read, in her diary of 1912: “I stood on my front porch and waved to President Taft as he rode by on the trolley.”

I couldn’t wait to research this and, sure enough, here is a picture of the trolly tracks and a caption that reads: “In the early years of the 20th century, the town built a trolly which traveled the length of Main Street and out Western Avenue to West Brattleboro.”
And here’s the big man himself speaking at a town just North of West Brattleboro. So I guess Aunt Emma had a special treat that day ... even if her New England stoicism made it hard for her to express it!