Saturday, December 30, 2017

“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 friends.

................ Apologies to my regular readers. This is a repeat but I ran out of ideas ! ..........................

Monday, December 25, 2017


The winter of 1974 my husband and I took a trip to a small “out-island” in the Bahamas. We knew it was remote and with few amenities but it was within our budget and we agreed that it would be good for Dick who's diabetes & asthma were acerbated by the cold weather.

After a flight to Eleuthra and a short boat ride we found ourselves in a picturesque fishing village on the island of Spanish Wells. The people were very friendly and the island was so small that we were able to see it all on the first day. The fishermen were on shore that week so the local “watering hole” was really hopping and they were thrilled to have a new set of ears to listen to their folklore. We also met the only other visitor to the island. He was a man in his 40’s, casually dressed in beach garb and we could tell he was a regular and very well liked.

We found that we had a mutual interest in cards and spent the night playing penny-ante poker and trading stories. The next day was raining and we took up the card playing again. It was fun at first but then we realized that Dick was starting to have a hard time breathing. Our new friend became quite concerned for him since there were no phones, no doctors and no way to get medications quickly. He told us that he had a good friend, a Scottish doctor, who worked at “Treasure Cay”, a resort on the Island of Abaco. He said he would make all the arrangements and that we could transfer our next 5 days in Spanish Wells to the resort in Abaco.   He was as good as his word and we soon found ourselves on a small private plane heading to Abaco. When we landed there was a chauffeur driver waiting for us and he whisked us off to our beach-front cabana at “Treasure Cay”. We were still in shock when Dr. Hameish Fraser arrived. He told us his friend (and ours) had contacted him and that he was at our disposal. It was such a comfort to have this friendly man welcome us and it was just in time. Dick was getting in trouble with his breathing again and the doctor put him to bed and started him on medication. It would be three days before he was able to get up and Dr Fraser visited every day.

During that time I wandered the beach and marveled at the white sand and the teal colored ocean that lapped the shore. It truly is a paradise on earth, I thought, but can we afford it? The day before we left I went to the office to settle our bill. “What bill?”, said the manager. I explained about the transfer of funds from Spanish Wells and she just smiled. It seems that our card-playing friend was a co-owner of “Treasure Cay” and both he and Dr. Fraser refused payment. Of course I wrote a heartfelt letter to him but I never got an answer. I have thought of that so often over the years and still marvel at the generosity of those two amazing men.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

A story worthy of the Christmas season ...

I had read about this before and was thrilled to see that it got the national attention that it deserves. The woman in the photo is Amy Wright. She is the recipient of the 2017 CNN hero of the year award and says she owes it all to these two children that were her inspiration.

Amy and her husband had read that 70% of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities never get jobs and they decided this would not be the case for them. Amy's brain storm was a coffee shop with a unique staff made up solely of those with disabilities. They named it “Bitty & Beau's Coffee” in honor of their two children with Down's Syndrome.

They opened their shop in 2016 in Wilmington, North Carolina and it became so popular that they had to move to a new and larger location. They now employ 40 people with disabilities, as well as two managers who have degrees in special education.

The success of “Bitty & Beau's Coffee” is a prime example of the gifts we can give and receive if we just open our eyes to the possibilities. And to make it even more exciting all the profits go to Wright's non-profit, Able to Work, USA.


Friday, December 15, 2017

A happy man ..

I live in a very small town in North Carolina. Our Seaboard Street has a post office, a library, a hardware store and a few small businesses. They are all on one side of the street as you see here.

The other side of the street is heavily wooded and looks over the single train track that cuts through the town. The trains have to be scheduled very carefully since there is only one track. We used to get 3 or 4 CSX freight trains and an Amtrak one heading North during the daylight hours and another Amtrak passenger one heading South after Midnight.

A few days ago. at the Post Office. it occurred to me that I never saw the freight trains anymore. A chat with an old-timer verified this and he and I had great fun recalling when things were very different.
Only 8 or 9 years ago we had a fun loving conductor who would actually slow his freight train down as he approached our town. Then, as his train idled he would hop down and scale the small hill that led to the street. Once there he would jog across the street and disappear around the corner. According to “those in the know” he was on his way to the “Subway” eatery located in the BP Service Station one street away. “He does this once or twice a week at lunchtime” they said, “It's been going on for years.”

I remember actually witnessing this once and was trying to take it all in when the man reappeared carrying a large bag with the “Subway” logo on it. He had a big grin on his face and was thoroughly enjoying himself. He then disappeared over the edge of the bank and a few seconds later we saw him board the train.
As the engine gained speed he stuck his head out and gave us a last wave. “Now there goes a man who loves his job” I thought and the sheer audacity of his action makes me laugh even today. I want to believe that he's still breaking rules in this delightful way and certainly hope he hasn't disappeared along with the freight trains !

Sunday, December 10, 2017

1987 … Kenny keeps his "Eyes On The Prize"

Last night I read an article about the opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and it brought back this memory. We had moved to North Carolina in the 70's and my husband had a small remodeling business. In 1987 he hired a 20 year old black youth named Kenny to help with the heavy stuff. Kenny had no carpentry skills but Dick told him that he would teach him the business if he were reliable and trustworthy.

Kenny had a sharp mind, was quick to learn and had a Southern accent that you could cut with a knife. They would often end the day back at the house and we would all share dinner. After each meal Kenny would say, "Mizzrus Richard, that was real good."
This time also coincided with the airing of the award winning documentary “Eyes on The Prize” America's Civil Rights ... 1954-1965". It was unbelievable to me to realize that Kenny knew little about his own history. He had been born and schooled in North Carolina but he said that he had never been taught ANYTHING about the Civil Rights movement. Naturally he was as excited to watch the show as we were.
As we nightly watched the segments Kenny became more and more agitated. This was completely new to him and he was amazed at what he was seeing. He even began to take notes and would ask my opinion on what we had seen. The part that affected him the most was when Gov. George Wallace stood on the schoolhouse door in Alabama and blocked the entry of the black students.
I could see the conflict of emotions that were roiling inside of him as he watched and suddenly he turned to me and said something that I'll never forget. He said, "Mizzrus Richard, do you know what? Someday that Governor is going to get real old and used up and he's going to spend his last days in a nursing home. And do you know who's going to take care of him? WE ARE !"
It wasn't meant as a threat...he was simply stating a fact ... but it gave me a chill. Yes, I thought, the day of reckoning may come to us all. I was glad that I could tell Kenny that Gov. Wallace had a change of heart and had begged forgiveness of the many people with whom he had clashed.
That was 30 years ago. After my husband died Kenny went on to form his own company in another County and has become quite prosperous but he has never forgotten me. He still calls to say "hi" and always ends the conversation by giving thanks to my late husband Dick for the life that he enjoys today.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

How does this guy deserve a pass …???

When I read this morning about Trump endorsing GOP Senate Candidate Roy Moore I felt sick. It doesn't matter to our illustrious President that there are credible sexual accusations about Moore … his concern is not about the man's character, he just wants to get him elected.

But here is my deeper frustration. What has become of our legislative body, the men and women Senators and Representatives that hold our future in their hands? Are they so thin skinned that they can't stand up to Trump? They were, just a few weeks ago, calling for Moore to step down from this election and now that Trump has given his endorsement they are, once again going right along like the good little sycophants that they are. 

 I can not believe that Trump gets away with his lies, his double talk and his demand for “loyalty” and almost none of his fellow GOP members have the guts to bring him to task. He may be President but he is not God almighty … although I'm sure he thinks of himself that way. Have you ever seen him display one bit of humility or, for that matter, genuine concern for anyone but himself ?

Men in high places are falling like leaves due to allegations of sexual misbehavior and yet Trump just blithely rolls along adding layer after layer of confusion to his checkered past in order to deflect the attention away from himself. And if he doesn't want to be questioned he can always head to his favorite get-away … the golf course (most probably one of his own.)