Monday, October 28, 2019

1944...I dream of being Esther Williams

75 years later and I still think that Esther Williams is the epitome of what the “all American“ girl should be. No shoulder pads needed here ! She was strong, healthy and beautiful ... not a bit like the scrawny females that seem to be the norm today. 

I was 11 years old and I absolutely loved going to the movies. I would have lived there if my parents had allowed it. In 1944 our theater would usually play a newsreel and then the featured movie. There might be a cartoon and a preview of next week’s film; but very little in the way of advertising as there is today. Also, the same movie would be shown over and over. If you missed the beginning it was no big just sat on and watched it again.

This was my favorite way to spend a Saturday. I would get my ticket in the morning, when it cost just 10 cents, and then stay on for the rest of the day. This was especially satisfying when an Esther Williams film was featured. Her beautiful underwater sequences were breathtaking and I could watch them forever. I would imagine myself as Esther, leading the rest of the girls in those choreographed water ballet moves. The camera would follow us under water and then switch to an overhead shot. The viewer would be enchanted to see a flower appear on the surface of the pool and would then realize that it was eight gorgeous bathing beauties perfectly spaced and moving in sync…their legs and arms intertwined to simulate colorful petals and leaves.

Then Esther would suddenly appear, rising up and out of the water in the center of the group like a bud unfolding. The music would rise to a crescendo and I would be riveted to my seat. She seemed to be suspended in air and I would hold my breath until she took her final graceful dive. 

Most of the films had weak plots but the water ballet sequences, usually choreographed by Busby Berkeley, have never been surpassed. My dream of being the next Esther Williams wasn't the least diminished by the fact that I could barely dog paddle across a shallow wading pool !

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

1949 I visit Filene's Bargain Basement

Our country is at such a low point as I write this and I feel powerless to do anything about it. It seems that the only way I can get some relief is to travel back in my mind to better times. If you feel the same way I invite you to join me.

In1908 when Edward A. Filene came up with the idea of selling surplus and overstocked merchandise in the basement of his father’s department store in Boston it was an immediate success. Filene's famous bargain basement was launched and in 1949 I made my first and only visit there.

Imagine a room with wall-to-wall females of all ages, packed in like sardines and each one vying for the best bargain available. I was 16 and it took all my strength to hold my own against the push of all those bodies. After elbowing my way to one of the tables I was thrilled to see a peach colored cashmere sweater. It was a brand name in my size and at an incredibly good price. I held it high to inspect for flaws when suddenly a hand reached out and snatched it from my grasp. I was so surprised that I didn’t even try to see where it went.

This was not an auspicious beginning and I decided to step back and reconnoiter. I saw that the savvy shoppers had large Filene shopping bags. They would quickly scan a table and shove anything that seemed of interest into the bag. When they had their fill they would retire to the end of the room where large mirrors were hung. Then they would take their time inspecting their choices…keeping everything close and out of reach from the other shoppers.

Now I had the maneuver down pat and, at the end of the day I’d spent very little and had quite a bit to show for it. However, I couldn’t help but wonder if it was worth it. I was exhausted and I realized that both my dignity and my body were bruised. I was glad to say that I’d visited the famous Filene’s Bargain Basement but I never went back.

It is interesting to note that Edward A. Filene not only devised a new way of shopping but he also introduced practices in the workplace that we take for granted today, such as: the 40-hour work week, Minimum wage, Profit sharing plans and Medical Insurance for workers. He was truly a pioneer in his field.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Wendy wraps it up ...

Well all good things come to an end and our journey with Wendy is one of those things.  She flies home on the 15th and will be here by the time I post this.   Here are some sweet memories of her very last day in Cesky Krumlov.   Enormous cheeses, corn husk dolls,  BBQ Czech style and paella in front of the fountain.

And here is my favorite picture of Wendy …she's in Prague and it looks like she can hardly believe she's there.  Thanks Wendy for taking me with you and WELCOME HOME !!

Monday, October 14, 2019

Houses identified by ornaments, not numbered.

Wendy writes: In Prague (and other places in this region), before houses were numbered, people identified their homes with various ornaments. For example, you might have said, “I live on Soukenicka Street at the House of the Five Petaled Rose”.

Here are some of the examples of the lovely old street 'addresses'.

                                                                  Two Suns
The Swan    
The Lobster   
The  Radish   
The Blessed virgin Mary with baby Jesus … keeping an eye on the Weed Shop


Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Wendy visits the Český Krumlov monastery gardens.

Wendy writes that her trip is rapidly coming to and end so she is “gobbeling up all she can.

I guess she got that idea while shooting these pictures of the Cesky Krumlov monastery gardens filled with herbs ...

.... and medicinals
…. and pears

…. and apples
…. and greens
…. and Roses


Friday, October 04, 2019

Wendy meanders in Cesky Krumlov ..

Wendy writes: “When maneuvering over rough cobbles, you spend a lot of time looking down. And the reward is seeing the most beautiful manhole covers! The first one is Prague’s “lesser” coat of arms. There are three towers, and if you zoom in, you’ll see a hand with a sword emerging from the city gate. Apparently the arm symbolizes Prague’s effective defense of Charles Bridge against the Swedish army during  the thirty years war.    The 2nd one is the  Český Krumlov coat of arms. It shows the city wall with an open gate, and the five-petaled rose which is ubiquitous here and honors the Rosenberg family who were pivotal to the development of the town and castle.

Then Wendy visited a special exhibit at Cesky Krumlov's Regional museum & she writes

"Never, in my wildest dreams, did I expect to see an exhibition that would feature American Indians! Here is a quote from their poster".

The vast plains of North America, full of wildlife. The sun, setting behind the Rocky Mountains. The free life of the American Indians. This world fascinates us so much that it has become our lifelong hobby. We humbly admire the Indian way of life and their view of the world. We patiently look for methods, testing ways to process natural materials in the same way. We are fascinated by the connections of natural raw materials with the new materials imported by the white merchants, be they beads, fabrics, or horse harnesses. Most of all, we are interested in everyday life in a teepee. For a few weeks of the year, we renounce the achievements of civilization and live like the free Indians, closer to nature and to ourselves. This exhibition presents the life of bison hunters and warriors from the North American Great Plains in the period of 1840-1880.”
A bison ????