Monday, June 27, 2022

Albert Camus

In a remote cemetery on the outskirts of the quiet village of Lourmarin, Provence, is the final resting place of author Albert Camus.

Nobel prize winning author Albert Camus is one of the greatest French writers and philosophers of the 20th century. In 1958 he bought a house with the Nobel prize money in the sleepy French town of Lourmarin.

He, his wife and two boys loved the town and he became deeply involved with the Lourmarin football team.  They still play today on a simple field overlooked by the town’s chateau.  Sadly, (in 1960) he was killed in a car accident. He was only 47.

In 2009 French President Sarkozy initiated plans to have Camus exhumed and reinterred at the Pantheon in Paris, the last resting place of such illustrious French names as Victor Hugo, Rosseau, Saint-Exupery and Voltaire.

However the plans never came to fruition because Camus' son declined the offer. He knew that his dad, despite his stature in French culture, would choose to stay put with a simple-carved gravestone telling where he was.  

Camus remains buried in the town he so loved and where his wife now has joined him ... both coffins having been lovingly carried by the players of the village football club.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Ray Bolger in Las Vegas…….1957

Ray Bolger is best remembered as the scarecrow in "The Wizard of Oz",

but, that wasn’t his only claim to fame. He was a song and dance man of star quality and his 1948 Broadway performance in the musical “Where’s Charley?” was proof of this. His softshoe rendition of “Once In Love With Amy” was the hit of that show and it became his theme song. 

In 1957 a friend and I drove cross-country from California and we made a brief stop in Las Vegas. When we saw that Ray Bolger was the featured performer at the Hotel Sahara we decided to attend and we were so glad we did. 

Ray was so loose that you’d swear he didn’t have a bone in his entire body. His routine was comical and fast-paced so we were completely unprepared for the finale.  Suddenly Ray stopped and stood as still as a statue in the spotlight. A hush came over the audience and when it was perfectly quiet the orchestra began to play “Once in Love With Amy”. 

Ray had not moved a muscle during this whole time, but now he slipped into his soft-shoe routine while, very softly, singing the words to the lovely song, "Once in Love with Amy." Then he asked us, the audience, to join in and he continued to dance while tossing the lyrics to us one line at a time. We sang along as he danced and I doubt there was a dry eye in the house.

It's one of my favorite memories and, although most everyone will remember Ray Bolger as the timid scarecrow "without a heart" I will always remember him singing to his beloved  Amy at the Hotel Sahara in Las Vegas.

Friday, June 17, 2022


In1909 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. He named it "Filene’s Automatic Bargain Basement”  and it was an immediate success.

I was 16 when I made my visit to the famous discount store. This was in 1949 and I waited in line until the doors opened. It took all my strength to hold my own against the push of all those bodies.

Once inside I elbowed my way to one of the tables and 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 in front of me to inspect for flaws & before I knew it 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, although glad to say that I’d visited the famous Filene’s Bargain Basement I never went back. 

Monday, June 13, 2022



In 1950 the Jergens Co. chose neighbors of my grandparents in Brattleboro, Vt. to be the poster family for one of their magazine advertising series. It was entitled “Four Youngsters to Feed, Daily Housework & Chores on her Vermont Farm”, and depicted the faithful and ever dutiful-wife Bertha, husband Herman and four children.
I don’t have the pictures but I do have the script and it is incredible to see how we were back then. 
To illustrate:
Ad #1. (Bertha gazing dreamily into camera). “My secret for pleasing Herman is always to be cheerful and prettied-up when the day is done. I take a shower, put on an attractive dress, fresh makeup and, of course, Jergens lotion in case we might hold hands across the table.
Ad #2. (Bertha with daughter) “Mary and I love to wax & polish and it doesn’t bother my hands at all because Jergens lotion keeps them so smooth & soft. Herman says they look as if I were a lady of leisure”.
Ad #3. (Berth washing dishes) “Those hungry wolves of mine make every meal a production, but I don’t mind the dishes. Jergens lotion gives my hands a ‘never put them in water’ look. I keep a bottle in the kitchen”.
Ad #4. (Whole family seated for dinner. Bertha & Herman holding hands across the table and gazing into each other’s eyes.) Herman beams at Bertha and gives her Jergens-soft hand an extra squeeze that seems to say, “We’re just about the happiest couple in the world, aren’t we?”
The 1950’s…….a wondrous time…when a bottle of Jergens’ lotion, and lots of hard work and blind devotion on the wife’s part, could solve all our problems ! And guess what? I bought into it…lock, stock & LOTION.

Wednesday, June 08, 2022

My Peanut Necklace … 1939 World's Fair


Every time I hear the resonant tones of “Finlandia”, by Sibelius, I am transported back to the 1939 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows, NY. I was only 6 at the time and I don‘t remember how we got there or what we ate or even much of what we saw but certain memories have stayed with me over the years

I recall standing in a long line in front of the Planter‘s Peanut exhibition. They were giving away necklaces with a little peanut attached and I made everyone wait until I had mine. I have never seen another like it and wonder if this was the original Planter’s trademark before the little peanut guy of today with the cane and top hat.

"Progress" was the theme of the Fair which depicted futuristic techniques such as television and the interstate highway system. It introduced new materials, new ideas and a new spirit. It also displayed the crafts and products of the day. It was a “vision of tomorrow” which sadly came to an end when it was announced over the loudspeaker that we had declared war on Germany and the Fair was closed down.

The most indelible memory for me was the Pool of Industry. This was the famous musical fountains display. It contained 1,400 water nozzles, 400 gas jets with a mechanism that caused the flames to change color and fireworks that were shot from over 150 launchers. Music was played live by the fair’s band and broadcast by large speakers.

Each night, as the sun went down, the crowds would gather at the pool. This was the finale of the day. I remember being hypnotized by the haunting strains of “Finlandia” as the enormous jets of water sprayed rainbow colors higher and higher into the sky. This was all topped off by a barrage of fireworks. 

A nighttime spectacle almost too grand for one little girl to absorb.

Wednesday, June 01, 2022

THE GRUNION RUN….on a Southern California beach, 1952


One of the most memorable nights that I can remember was at a beach just north of Ventura, California. My friend Gayle and I were there during our summer break from college back east and were working as waitresses at The Pierpont Inn.  

Luckily it wasn't all work. We had some fun escapades too and this one topped the list. It was close to midnight and a group of us had lit a blazing bonfire on the sand. There was a full moon and the waves were very active, crashing rhythmically on the beach. A feeling of tension was in the air. We had no idea if we would be lucky enough to see the grunion, or if it would be another night climaxed by disappointment.

Suddenly a great cry went up, and was heard to echo down the length of the beach: “the grunion are running”...and there they were. Thousands of small, silvery fish were riding a wave to the shore. As the wave receded back into the ocean, the grunion remained on land, the females drilling grooves into the sand as they twirled on their tails, depositing eggs. The male grunion would curve around her in order to fertilize the eggs and the spawning was speedily accomplished before the next wave appeared to return them to the depths of the ocean. It was a sight to behold.

Suddenly all bedlam broke loose as old and young alike raced for the fish, trying to catch them by hand. (the only way then that California allowed them to harvest the fish.) They were considered a great delicacy and it was a challenge to capture any since they were on land for such a short time and were very slippery too. However, the smell of fried fish soon filled the air and I realized that those bonfires were used for more than just alleviating the chill.

Observing the grunion, however, was more to our style than trying to catch them. Gayle and I watched in fascination as the show played out in front of us.. As I understand it, the southern coast of California and the Baja Peninsula are among the very few places where the grunion run so we were fortunate indeed.