Monday, June 25, 2012

My impending 55th HS reunion

My 55th HS reunion is scheduled for the end of September. I graduated from LM in 1957 and since my children and some of my grandchildren attend(ed) the same schools that I did, I don't have to "come back" to see the school.

I've kept in touch, more or less, with those who were friends in HS.

I know I have 3 months to make a decision, but, I can't figure out how to decide.

I am successful. I have appeared on local and national TV. I have written for and been written about in local and national media. I have had 4 crime novels that take place in Hawaii published and Robert Wagner himself told me that the stories would be perfect for Hart to Hart if the series is ever renewed.

We have been married almost 50 years (Dec 1962). We have travelled extensively from Key West to Alaska, from Puerto Rico to Hawaii. In spite of 3 major health issues (in the past) I am now more fit, healthier, and look better than ever. I don't dye my hair. I started turning silver when I was 23 and now people ask me if I use a rinse. I don't.

We work in our garden, weather permitting and our corner property is known for its lush blooms ad\ccording to the seasons - starting with forsythia and azaleas, moving through tulips and daffodils, peonies and roses, to sunflowers, rose of sharon, crepe myrtle, and to chrysanthemums.

I still butt in with local politics and nobody ever has any doubt concerning which side of an issue I support.

So, if any of my classmates want to see me, just let me know.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

My Friend Bonnie

I'm still having trouble wrapping my mind around Bonnie's death. We had known each other for ever. Bonnie remembered that our mothers used to walk us side by side in our strollers.

We were classmates at Penn and shared many cultural moments - from U of P football games, to Philadelphia Orchestra concerts, to every show that premiered in Philadelphia. And, after the shows, we'd go to the Russian Inn on Locust St. for a snack. One night, Lucille Ball came in with her fellow cast members from Wildcat.

Bonnie moved to New York. She rented an apartment in a 5-story walk up. i remember that Bonnie told me that, no matter what she forgot, nothing was worth the 5flights up and down. And, if it was critical, she'd buy another one.

She married, had two beautiful children, got divorced, got married again, and divorced again. After her second divorce, Bonnie motored across country, to California. She stopped here one morning on her way out West and said that she would call from California when she got settled.

She did, married a wonderful man, and involved herself in San Francisco's many cultural events - from the opera to the art museum, and even to political activities.

We visited her in San Francisco many times. She guided us through all the ins and outs of San Franciso streets - sometimes at slightly less than break-neck speed. When I couldn't remember someone's name, I asked Bonnie and gave her a hint out of left fielde - the same name as Artur Rubenstein's wife. Bonnie didn't even bat an eye or miss a beat "Nella" she said.

Bonnie always made time for us when she came back for her Friends Central reunions and, and of course, we always made time for her.

As strange as it sounds, we introduced Bonnie to a dear friend of ours, Shep Shepherd who lived in San Francisco. His story is in the Smithsonian Oral History of Jazz collection and, unfortunately, Shep was the one who called us to relay the sad news about our dear friend.

It goes without saying that I will miss Bonnie.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

June in Wisconsin

Every time we fly to Madison, WI, we fear the airplane ride but love the result. After all, we go to visit our three grandchildren and their parents.

Even though our American Airlines flight had a 45 minute delay, we still arrived in Chicago in plenty of time to catch the puddle jumper to Madison.

Our children and grandchildren gave us the kind of warm and welcoming greeting that typified the old TV shows like the Brady Bunch and Father Knows Best.

We toured the extensive stone-work landscaping around their house, put in to prevent erosion and promote environmental causes. Thousand pound boulders, cut to fit and mesh with each other by skilled stone masons, provided a beautiful sea wall that reminded Edgar of the photos he saw of the Mayan pyramids. It was a little too chilly to go swimming in Lake Kegonsa and much too windy. But not too windy for the water skiers that we saw on Lake Manona - the Mad-city water ski team performs every Sunday afternoon and this is their 50th year.

I asked if the "Mad" was short for crazy or Madison and the official had to think for a minute before he answered, with a smile, Madison.

They performed ballet-like maneuvers, pyramids, jumps and turns in spite of the wind. The Mad-city ski team has won many water skiing championships. Their web site is madcityskiteam.com.

Wisconsin, although known as the Dairy State, is replete with farmland. Corn grows like blades of grass as close together that only mechanical harvesters can handle it.

The state also has abundant fruit crops and we went strawsberry picking at Lutz farm. The seven of us managed to pick about 30 pounds of delicious, juicy, sweet, red, ripe strawberries. What to do with them besides eat them right out of the rinsing bowl. They were very sandy. Strawberry flan served as dessert; strawberries sweetened the breakfast oatmeal; and strawberry jellies would fill the freezer.

The farmer said that birds did not bother the strawberries but raccoons were a nuisance. He catches them in traps that entice them because raccoons have a natural curiosity.

The town of Stoughton, founded by Norwegian settlers, sports both flags from the United States and Norway. The quaint stores include a bakery, a cheese shop, a movie theater/pizza parlor where the patrons sit at tables in regular chairs, eat, and watch the movie. There is a U.S. Post Office, a shop that sells hunting equipment and fishing supplies, a frame shop, and so forth. But the economy has taken its toll and there are many empty stores now. A new development is under construction and there is hope that the new owners will bring money and revitalize the town's economy.

The landscaping around Lake Kegonsa deserves to be in House and Gardens. Each house has blooms of various sizes, shapes, and colors, ranging from bright yellow marigolds to orange tiger lillies to cleamtis vines in vivid purples, pinks, and whites, to fragrant roses. A street-side walk refreshes the mind and the emotions.

We enjoyed our stay and were not the only ones who were sad when it was time to leave. Our grandchildren gave us meaningful hugs and kisses and said that they wished we could stay even longer. A funny thing happened on the puddle jumper from Madison to Chicago - the flight attendant told Edgar that he was from Philadelphia and went to Central High School too and the copilot said that he went to Cardinal Dougherty and LaSalle College. "what a small world."

BTW, without trying, I sold two of my Hawaii crime novels - one in the Chicago airport and one on the plane from Chicago to Philadelphia. So glad that Edgar made me take them along.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Edgar, Deadman's Box, and the Ghostly Dirigible

Mhy encounter with the Hindenberg. It was 1936. Kida had to amuse themselves with whatever was on hand. No X-Box or Tech Games.

I was playing in the street on 68th Avenue in Oak Lane in Philadelphia. The game, as I recall, involved shooting bottle caps at a circle marked in chalk. I used caps from Canada Dry Ginger Ale, my parents' favorite soda. The game was called Deadman's Box.

It was a bright sunny fall day and I was on my knees, in my corduroy knickers when suddenly, a large shadow put me in darkness. I looked up and saw the silent dirigible. As I watched, awestruck, it glided by. On the tail was a swastika. Although I was only 8 years old, I knew what that hateful symbol meant. I had heard a radio broadcast from Germany with a screaming Hitler threatening the world and especially Jews like me.

The massive Hindenberg, ghost-like, disappeared and I resumed mhy bottle tops game.

Incidentally, that was not its last flight but, shortly after, it burned and crashed in New Jersey. These many years later, I still have a vivid recollection of that experience.

Friday, June 1, 2012

League of Women Voters

Let me start with a little bit of history. My mother was a New Yorker, through and through. She moved to Philadelphia when she married my father, and the New Yorker in her moved with her to Philadelphia.

Eventually, one of her New York friends also moved to the Philadelphia area. Her friend had been and remained active in the League of Women Voters and this puzzled me. I had met very little gender discrimination in my life. Once, in fifth or sixth grade, when I thought I would run for class President my mother scoffed and said, "you don't have a chance. The girls will vote for the boys and the boys will vote for the boys. Save your energy." So I did - save my energy that is - and never ran for a class office.

And then, not until I applied for graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania and had already been granted an NIMH fellowship, did gender discrimination raise its ugly head again. At the interview, I was asked, "why should we give a spot to you, a girl, when you're just going to get married and not use it when we can give it to a man?" I was incensed, gathered my dignity, and said, "because I'm smarter than all the boys who have applied." I was admitted, got my MA, and have been a happy degreed person since.

Now to the League of Women Voters and I have to admit that I see the necessity of this organization. I never thought that we would see the day when the politicians are trying to deny the right to vote to women and are trying even harder to deny women the rights that we have struggled to obtain - the right to preventive health care, the right to equal pay for equal work, the right to be free from violence in our homes and in the workplace, and the right to our privacy.

And, in the name of preventing a mythical voter fraud, the politicians are trying to disenfranchise many, many voters.

My only conclusion - vote for the DEMOCRATS.