Wednesday, February 27, 2019


Charleston, South Carolina, is affectionately known as the “city set in a garden”. It is a walker’s paradise and the small private gardens, most of them set behind elaborate wrought iron gates, bring an Old World charm to the city.

Most of the Charleston gardens are private. They are often of limited space and the owners maximize this by the inclusion of protective walls and the creative use of ornamental plants. Many of these gardens are “hidden” behind heavy gates and it is this decorative ironwork that fascinates me.
I did a bit of research and found that the oldest remaining ironwork in the city dates back to the Revolutionary War period. This was wrought iron which a blacksmith, using a forge, anvil and hammer, would mold and shape into scrolls, fleur-de-lis, leaf and floral patterns. These would adorn gates, stair railings, boot scrapes and decorative panels. During the mid-19th century cast iron was more commonplace in Charleston than wrought iron. This was mass produced by pouring the molten metal into molds and it allowed for more elaborate decorations preferred by Victorian tastes of the time.

Although cast iron is less susceptible to corrosion than wrought iron they both need regular cleaning and painting to avoid rust and general deterioration. This must be a lucrative business for someone in Charleston because almost all the decorative ironwork that I saw was in excellent condition. The wrought iron gates of Charleston and the “secret” gardens behind them are treasures not to be missed.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Remembering my Black Cow days

(Nope, not this black cow.) During the High School years I had an after-school and weekend job in a small restaurant in Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts. It had a soda fountain but no counter seats. Just small tables that made it look more like a tearoom except for the clientele. The food was very good and inexpensive so the town workmen and students were our best customers.

The owners, Mr. & Mrs. Perkins, never varied the menu and I remember the daily lunch special was always a “triple sandwich plate”...3 small slices of bread (no crusts) topped with Egg salad, Ham salad & Chicken salad, served with a pickle and fruit in season. It was a great favorite of our customers and they always ordered one of the soda fountain drinks to go with it. Frappes, Floats, and Milkshakes were dispensed daily but the favorite, by far, was the “Black Cow”. (Yes, this Black Cow.)
It was my favorite too and I prided myself on concocting the best “Cow” in town. To make sure that the foam wouldn’t overflow the glass I would put a small amount of vanilla ice cream in the glass first, then slowly pour in the Root Beer. I would then, gently, place a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. It would foam up and look scrumptious t but it wouldn’t make a mess.

I loved that job and Mr. & Mrs. Perkins were very good to me. When I decided to transfer to Boston University for my last two years of college I lived at home and, once again, I worked for them. This was in 1953 and ‘54 and it was the perfect job for a college student. I ate well, made a fair salary and
tips but best of all, I could have a “Black Cow” whenever I felt like it !

Sunday, February 17, 2019


I've been working on a project lately that concentrates on the years 1943 to 1958 and it's really brought back a slew of memories. Not least among them is when Dick and I married on August 23,1958 in New York City. We didn't have the time nor money for a traditional honeymoon but living in Manhattan was just as good. Here we are in one of our favorite places … Central Park. 

We loved it there and would sit for hours overlooking the lake, reading, talking about the future and just plain people watching. If we waited long enough the entire world would pass before us. Concerts were staged weekly and I remember that it was there that we saw Peter, Paul & Mary, The Mills Brothers and Johnny Mathis to name just a few.

The Children's Zoo was one of our favorite spots in Central Park and we would meet there often after our work was over for the day. Watching the children at the Zoo was almost as much fun as watching the animals.

I have so many fond memories of that time in my life. Just imagine … we had an ongoing honeymoon in Central Park and most of it didn't cost a dime.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

A thrill … the Cedar Waxwings return … again !

I couldn't believe my eyes when I glanced out my bedroom window this morning. For the 2nd time, since 1978, the elusive and decorative Cedar Waxwings came to visit. They (3 of them) had settled on a branch of my Scuppernong grape bush. I knew I would not have time to take a photo so I simply basked in their beauty.

Sure enough they were gone within a minute but it brought back this sweet memory from 1978. My mother, who lived in Massachusetts, was staying with us for a few winter months in our North Carolina home. At age 84 she was still very active and her mind was exceptionally alert.

I'll never forget the morning when I heard a loud cry of astonishment from her bedroom and I went running to see if she was OK. Thankfully she was but she quietly pointed out the window and this was what I saw. More than 20 Cedar Waxwings were settled to feed on the berries of a small tree in our backyard. The tree was just outside her window and we were not more than10 feet from the birds.

We watched in awe as these lovely creatures fed to their heart's content. I wanted to get my camera but Mother put her hand on my arm and said “Don't move. They'll be gone before you get back. Just savor the moment” … and she was right. All of a sudden the birds perked up, as if they'd heard a silent alarm, and within a minute they were gone.

That was 40 years ago and those 3 things, (my Mother, the waxwings and the little tree) are all gone now ... but it gave me pause this morning when the 3 Cedar Waxwings came to visit. Could they be reminding me that nothing is ever gone if you have wonderful remembrances of it?

Thursday, February 07, 2019

SPIRITUALITY ... AA and the sober life

Recently I listened to a young man lead a discussion on "Sprituality in my Life".  He was released from prison a little over a year ago but has had almost 4 years of living a clean and sober life. This means that he learned about sobriety while still imprisoned.  It made think of the selfless members of Alcoholics Anonymous that I know who week after week carry the message to the inmates.

The recovery rate of prisoners is very low.  However, the rate of recovery is low for all of us with only one in 10 staying sober according to some reports.  As a young friend of mine says, "I feel sorry for the 9 who  don't make it but I want to be the one who does."

The AA program is extremely simple...just 12 steps that, if practiced faithfully, will change a life.  It is almost impossible to explain the program to a non-alcoholic so I never try.  Everyone has to find their own path and I feel that I've finally found mine and have for the past 29 years.  I listened to a nun tell her story once and she had this great line.  She said, "If you spot it you've got it" and if you don't it's a pretty good bet that you're not "one of us."

I looked around the room at that meeting and marveled.  We were a group of perhaps  50 people from every walk of life represented by all colors, races and genders with an ex-prisoner leading the discussion.  Among our  audience were 4 doctors, 3 lawyers, a priest, a dog trainer, and 4 or 5 from the nursing profession. It also included a multitude of retirees  (like me), some ordinary working people and some seedier looking men and women who were just starting the journey.

I know that AA does not suit everyone and that there are other ways to get sober but it's worked for me and I  love the way that there are no restrictions and that "the ONLY requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking". 

Saturday, February 02, 2019


(I apologize to those of you who have read this before.  It's a repeat but a fun one)
1959 was a year of beginnings. My husband and I lived in New York City and we’d fashioned one of the rooms in our apartment into a dark room for his burgeoning free lance photography business. Everything seemed to be falling in place but we had yet to come up with a logo that satisfied us.

A friend of ours was the Art Director for Swissair and he designed the logo that’s pictured above. It was clean and simple and we loved it.  It was my husband’s initials (RD) in lower case (rd).  We used it on all of our correspondence and even had little glue-backed stamps made up for us in rolls, such as you see at the Post Office. They included along with the logo the words “Richard Dean Concept” and we would adhere one to each finished photo before presenting it to a client.

Another new acquisition at that time was a miniature dachshund we named Tiger. 
She was just a puppy but we were pleased to see that she took quickly to being paper trained.  However we never were able to stop her chewing her way happily through most of our slippers and anything else that she found tempting.  This wasn't a big deal until one day  we realized that she must have eaten a strip of Dick's promotional stamps.  She probably loved the glue backing and imagine our surprise when we found four cylindrical shaped turds wrapped in the words "Richard Dean Concept".