Monday, June 30, 2014

Model's Adventures Part II

A new edition of that catalog arrived  today, and it's clear that since I last wrote you about this, they've changed camera operators, or dressers, or whoever it is that prepares the models for the sessions.  Instead of everyone wearing an engagement ring (the same engagement ring), this time  we're featuring the same super-cheerful young ladies, but they're clearly Playing Around.

Take this model -- and I show you here on the left that these are all  the same young lady.

 First we see her engaged with a lovely diamond solitaire.
On the next page she's evidently broken things off -- her ring finger is bare.  Or maybe she's just an independent single woman who likes chunky gold jewelry.

And by the last page of the catalog, happy ending -- she's evidently gone back to her husband; check out the wedding ring.  I'm becoming really interested in her adventures -- can't wait to see what happens next time around.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Henry David Warns

Here's the electrician, running a handy line for plugging in the new car.  What keeps running through my mind is  Thoreau's warning -- Beware of any enterprise that requires new clothes.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

D Day in Penn Yan

So yesterday I drove down to the Historical Society in my home town, to see if I could find out what, as an 18-year-old reporter, I had written in the Penn Yan Chronicle Express when I covered D Day.  That museum must have a remarkable endowment, for niece Amy and I met at least three staff persons, and we’re talking a village of maybe 5,000 people, seat of Little Yates, the smallest county in New York state.
An obliging gentleman brought up from the basement the bound volume of the 1944 paper, and there it was -- the June 8, 1944 issue (two days after the Sixth of June; we came out on Thursday mornings).   Looks like I didn’t have a byline – there were none in the whole paper, nor could I find my name or even the editor’s on the masthead.  But I remember him sending me out – on foot of course – to report on the village’s reaction to the momentous news that the invasion of Europe had begun.
What I remember today is what a beautiful sunny day it was and how silent the whole town was, all the church doors open, nothing being spoken, people just sitting unmoving, in the pews.  Writing today, that’s what I would report – the silence, the sunshine, the air filled with unspoken fears, hopes, prayers.  My report has absolutely none of that, and not a thing I remember writing. 
I started with a quote from “a woman whose husband is overseas” and ended with one from a junior high student whose “brother is in England.”  I wrote about flags being set out along the business district of Main Street [all two blocks] and private homes.  Parents of boys in England, I reported, now understood why they’d had no mail for weeks.  The Lutheran minister said “I hope they reach Denmark soon” [lots of Danes in Penn Yan] and we carried a statement from the Commander of the American Legion, which was big in those days.

At the Academy, junior and senior high schools held a meditation service that afternoon, led by the Superintendent of Schools.   In a small town, though, the churches are at the heart of everything and I reported that the Methodists, Baptists and Presbyterians had held a union service that evening.  St. Mark’s Episcopal had its own, as did the Lutherans, and St. Michael’s holy hour included a rosary, prayers and benediction.      
“Penn Yan worked Tuesday,” I reported, “making uniforms, army truck bodies, task boats  [I believe those were PT Boats, maybe even Jack Kennedy's], machine parts and other war items."

Not bad for a small town.



Sunday, June 22, 2014

It's Electric

               I know, it's unbearably cute -- anyhow, it's electric.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Emergency Post

No time for posting today -- I'm getting a new car, which is always -- for some reason -- a big event.  So, although I do think it's a waste of time to use this fantastic medium just to tell people what one has been eating, I'll show you the luncheon dessert I just finished (mostly) -- photo courtesy of Simon Pontin, who is also showing me how to start the new car.
The brownies had something crunchy in them and the whipped cream is real.  Wait till you're my age!

Sunday, June 15, 2014


Anna, 1954, Kodachrome
If you 've been with us a while you’ll remember I posted about The Cradle – the one we ran into at the Salvation Army in 1951 while looking for a used bookcase. 
Just before that bookcase search, our neighbor, who was a Mayflower descendant, had shown me a really old cradle handed down in her family, with the names of babies carved on the underside.  Lovely tradition.  So that day we bought not only the bookcase ($2), but also the cradle ($3), though I remember thinking regretfully, “It’s really too late to start a tradition, it’s 1951 and everything has already happened.” 

Since then our family and friends have written more than 30 names and dates on the tag we tied to this cradle.  It's travelled to Hawaii, it’s been to Canada, and today it’s in Milwaukee for  Athena, who's just a couple of weeks old. Years ago her grandmother made crib bumpers when Athena’s mother slept here, but those are no longer politically correct, so this time around she made a lacy liner.

Athena, 2014, E-mail
Now that we have the Internet, I’ve done a little research – this cradle may not have been at Plymouth Rock, but it does date back to the 1800s.  And I'm wiser now -- I know that not everything has already happened.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Real Letters

My father liked to work in metal --he made that brass plate.
     It’s hard to break the habit of a lifetime.  I still look forward to the mailman (okay, the postal carrier) every day.  Don’t know what I expect to find in the box.  Who is there to write to me?  It’s years since I’ve had a letter from any of the kids.  Mind you, that’s not a complaint – one skypes, one IMs, one emails – sometimes I’m in touch with all three in one day. 
     But I never learn – watching the clock, checking the mailbox, and then the same letdown every time, pulling out – I don’t have to tell you – nothing but catalogs, brochures, and bills.  Talk about save a tree!
     It’s somewhat better since I added back the street address to the end of my column.  Older readers  a) still read the newspaper, and  b) don’t know how to reach the web site or email address.  So now I hear from them a few times a week, and yesterday brought some excitement -- not one but two snail-mail envelopes!
     The old folks are really with it – both letters look as if they were composed on computer.  But they have everything the sixth grade teacher drilled about -- heading, date, salutation, the word 'I' still capitalized (perfect spelling and spacing if it comes to that), body of the message, complimentry close and then – it wouldn’t be right to show you -- real signatures.  In blue ink, with cursive Palmer method penmanship.
     All is not lost.  Not for a few years yet. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


   Seeing the words “Laryngeal spasm” in a newspaper headline was so exciting!   I’ve never found any useful advice on the Internet about those seizures where the throat abruptly shuts up tight.  Every scientific paper I found mentions the word “terrifying” – which is pretty accurate.  When I get one, there’s nothing to do but try to relax, which is impossible, sit or lie down in case I’m going to pass out, and wait a minute or two.  You’ll be happy to learn that so far I haven’t had a fatal one.
The newspaper’s medical column is carried Mondays on the comics page (not really a good location), written by a Dr. Roach (not really a fortuitous patronymic.)  But the question sent in by a reader looked useful – this guy started having them in his 30s, just as I did.  And the only comment he got from his doctor was “My mother gets them too.”
     Wait a minute!  Is that a standard line they teach in med school?  Because that’s what my doctor said, so many years ago.  At which point I looked at the signature – the letter came from E. L.  Oh well, I must have written to Dr. Roach, and maybe not so long ago.  For once I’m on the other end of a q&a column!  
     So what useful information did I get from the good doctor, whose email  address, which I must have used, is at Cornell University?  He says he can reassure me “that people seldom die or even lose consciousness from this.”  Do you think it’s being picky to find the word “seldom” less than reassuring?   He goes on to say that if it happens while I’m driving, his advice is to “pull over the car safely” – duh!  That’s why I already try to stay in the right-hand lane.  And, he suggests, I should then “pant”.  Last year an EMT specialist advise me to “whistle in.”   
     Both fairly difficult when one can’t breathe at all. 
     There seems to be a singing group called The Laryngospasms and here’s their melodious youtube number called "Breathe" -- it's a slightly different situation – but yes -- it includes the words “think you’re going to die.”

Thursday, June 5, 2014

I Covered the Longest Day in 1944

Seems as if I’ve written about this before, but I don’t see it when I look back in this blog, and it is what I remember every year when D Day comes around.  I was 18 then, and thanks to a severe labor shortage during The War, I was a full-time reporter on the local weekly newspaper, as well as county correspondent for four city dailies, for three summers.
   Not sure I realized just how desperate the situation was, how near England was to being conquered, that it was possible this country could lose that World War.  But even as a teenager I knew the significance of The Day, as boys my age, boys from my small town, finally waded ashore to invade the continent of Europe.
     So yes, I covered D Day.  The editor sent me out to report on the Village of Penn Yan’s reaction to the news that the invasion had begun.  How did I do that reporting, I wonder?  Certainly not by car.  I wouldn’t have a driver’s license until five years later – no automobiles manufactured for years past, gasoline rationed, tire replacements the biggest problem – for my generation, fresh from the Great Depression, even owning a bicycle was exciting. 

Silent open doors like these.

What I remember is walking the village streets on that sunny June day, and being struck by the quiet.  All the church doors were open.  I came to the Catholic Church on Liberty Street – the big front doors opened wide, dimly lit sanctuary with many candles burning, people here and there in the pews – and complete silence.  I walked to the Lutheran Church (lots of Danish immigrants in Penn Yan) – doors open, heads bowed, total quiet. On Main Street at the Presbyterian Church (where I often sang alto in the choir) – doors open, nothing happening, not a sound from the men and women sitting there.  Mostly women; the men were away at war. 
I remember it looking like this.

The whole town was silent, but I can still feel the waves of prayer, memories,  desperate hopes that flooded our town that sunny day. 
What do you suppose I wrote about it?  I have no clippings, no idea.  


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Voice of the Chainsaw

is heard in the land, and it wakes me every morning.  The young man who bought the house next door has every right to cut down trees in his back yard, but he doesn't read this blog, so I have every right to share my heartache with you.  With every tree that falls I die a little.
During our first cordial over-the-no-fence chat, the eager householder asked me if it’s true he may cut down whatever hangs over and do I know where the boundary is?  I’m afraid I don’t know, having mostly concentrated on trying to plant stuff that would block his back deck from my office windows…  and maybe my 60-year-old foundation planting hangs over onto his lot?
                                  Oh dear.  Better get out there with a tape measure.

One good thought, though -- maybe he'll get rid of that blue paint?

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Rejoining the Work Force

As the theme of this blog is supposed to be Being Old, I can't resist posting this five-second video, just received from my brother- and sister-in-law: it's titled "Back to Work After 30 Years"