Sunday, December 14, 2014

Functional Fitness at the Supermarkets

Edgar and Selma Davis and their exercise routine which consists of long strolls pushing their shopping carts through their local Acme store in Bala Cynwyd. Here, Selma and Edgar in the Acme. (ED HILLE / staff photographer )
Edgar and Selma Davis and their exercise routine which consists of long strolls pushing their shopping carts through their local Acme store in Bala Cynwyd. Here, Selma and Edgar in the Acme. (ED HILLE / staff photographer )
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Edgar and Selma Davis work out at several gymnasiums: the Acme in the Bala Cynwyd Shopping Center; the ShopRite in Parkside; the Pathmark on Monument Road near City Avenue; and the Super Fresh on Lancaster Avenue in Wynnewood.
Yes, the Davises get their exercise while food shopping. Four or five days a week, they visit one of their favorite supermarkets, and while Selma, 75, searches for grocery items, Edgar, 87, pushes around a cart, sometimes succumbing to an impulse buy but mostly enjoying the cornucopia. They estimate their shopping expeditions keep them walking 20 minutes to a half hour.
"In supermarkets, you don't have to worry about uneven pavements or curbs," says Selma, "and the temperature is always comfortable."
Here is another example of functional fitness. The shopping trips get them out of the house, stimulate their senses, put them in the company of people, and, most important, get their bodies moving. This enables them to function better. At the same time, they are performing a function, accomplishing the task of acquiring food and filling the pantry.
  • How to stay fit in your 60s and beyond
  • Use the pool for joint recovery, overall fitness
  • "For a long time, our children thought we were nuts," Selma confides. "But you have to shop anyway, so you might as well take advantage of it."
    Edgar and Selma became regular walkers after a 1990 trip to Hawaii, one of more than 30 visits they have made to those enchanted islands over the years. While there, they walked every day, at a leisurely pace, from Waikiki to Diamond Head, around the famous crater there, and back, a round-trip of 12 miles, they estimate. The experience was so exhilarating they decided they would continue daily walks when they returned home.
    So they began walking around their Bala Cynwyd neighborhood. Then, they began hoofing it to the Acme on food errands. At the supermarket, the conditions were so pleasant they made the jaunts part of their exercise routine. For a while, twice a week, they drove to Atlantic City, where they walked from the Showboat casino to the Ventnor pier and back.
    Edgar grew up in Oak Lane and attended Central High School. Selma grew up in Bala Cynwyd and attended Lower Merion. Both went to the University of Pennsylvania and both will tell you, unabashedly, that they were and are nonathletic. No tennis or softball, no 5Ks or mini-triathlons. Edgar allows that he did swim a bit in college, but mainly because he didn't want to be a sofa spud.
    To supplement their walking, Edgar practices stair-climbing by walking up and down a few steps repeatedly. He also rides a stationary recumbent bike for about 15 minutes and lifts four-pound dumbbells, 10 to 15 reps, lowering the weight slowly during the negative phase. Selma walks on a nonmotorized treadmill for about 20 minutes, pedals a recumbent bike for 15 minutes, and lifts light dumbbells as well.
    Next Sunday, the enthusiastic couple will celebrate their 52d wedding anniversary. Edgar was a confirmed bachelor until age 35. Then he was introduced to Selma, and something happened.
    "Damned if I know," he says, chuckling. "My mother pushed me and wanted to get rid of me, I guess, and they all liked Selma."
    "His mother loved me," Selma corrects.
    For 38 years, Edgar worked for PGW marketing gas to new construction. After retiring in 1989, he began a second career as a photojournalist. The person whose work his photographs most often adorned was his wife, who went from composing summaries of scholarly articles to writing travel stories and profiles for local newspapers, as well as four crime novels.
    Among the prominent people she has interviewed are Lower Merion grads Alexander Haig and James Billington (Librarian of Congress) as well as actor Robert Wagner, football stars Tom Brookshier and Tommy McDonald, and the Tuskegee Airmen.
    Today, the Davises are healthy and vibrant, but, as Edgar observes, "when you get to be 87, you don't get there without some problems." Edgar has had bouts with melanoma and prostate cancer. Selma has had to struggle with spinal stenosis. By taking long strides when she walks, she has been able to stretch her muscles and alleviate the pain.
    "Never give up," she says. "Whatever you think you can do, do it!"
    When she turned 65, Selma learned that her blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure were high. Rather than take medication, she reformed her diet. Today, that means a breakfast of oatmeal sweetened with fruit, an egg-white omelet, and, throughout the day, no sugar, no salt, no fat, and nothing white (as in white flour, white bread).
    Edgar doffs his blue cap to reveal a thatch of hair.
    "Oh Vanity, thy name is Edgar," he quips.
    "My mind is still sharp," he says with a merry smile. "I never thought I was the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I enjoy a good life and I'm pain-free."


    Friday, November 7, 2014

    We visited Kilauea Volcano in the 1990's

         Madame Pele lured us to the Big Island of Hawaii. We saw photos of the plumes of water created when the hot lava met the Pacific Ocean and we made airplane reservations for the next day.  We had been staying in Honolulu.  It's not as if we had to pack up from Philadelphia to get there.  Anyway, the memories of that trip have stayed with us since then.

         We rented a car, received a warning not to exceed the posted mph signs because there is very little crime and the police keep on the lookout for speeding cars.  We followed the map and the directions and arrived at Volcano National Park with no problem.  We were able to drive over the hardened lava and stopped many times, just to look.  At our first stop, two nene birds (protected geese of Hawaii) came over to us and would not move until Edgar took their picture.  It was almost as if they were posing for him.  They might have been looking for food but the posted signs warned not to feed them.

         We remarked that the surface looked like something one could find on the moon or in a science fiction movie. We later learned that the astronauts did indeed train there for moon walking.  We saw hot springs and  red fire through the cracks of the hardened lava,   And we smelled the ghastly sulphur odor that the volcano emits.  We walked as close as we could to the edge of the volcano to see the giant plumes of vapor, water, and steam that occurred when the hot lava hit the Pacific Ocean.(Edgar estimates that that height of those thick flumes, caused when the molten rock hit the ocean, was 60 to 70 feet)/

         The National Park Rangers had set up barricades that warned observers not to go any closer to the edge.  Almost everybody respected the signs.  But, there was one man who refused to pay attention and he crept closer and closer to the edge until the edge gave way and he wound up in the middle of the hot lava.  We also heard of a Park Ranger who got scalded while she fell asleep while enjoying a sauna in one of those hot pools of water.

         This momentous experience served as the catalyst to the research I did on Madame Pele and Hawaiian mythology and served as the impetus for my first crime novel set in Hawaii, Hula Kapu.

    Tuesday, October 7, 2014

    Investiture - we are very proud

    Professor's expertise provides strong foundation for real estate center at Rutgers Business School
    Former Federal Reserve Board economist will hold endowed faculty position, establish real estate education program and research center.
    NEWARK, N.J.Oct. 6, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Morris A. Davis, the first professor to fill the Paul V. Profeta Chair at Rutgers Business School, plans to create a Center for Real Estate Studies in 10 years that is on par with programs at Columbia, New York University and Wharton.
    Rutgers Business School Dean Glenn Shafer stands with Professor Morris Davis (center) and real estate investor Paul Profeta. Profeta's gift helped to fund an endowed faculty chair held by Davis.
    The real estate world is filled with big plans, and Davis is adding his own.
    He expects a board of advisors to the Center for Real Estate Studies to be in place within a year, to generate excitement about the program and begin offering classes in 2015. Ultimately, he wants "world class" and "Rutgers" and "real estate" to be part of a recognizable brand.
    His ambitions, he said, are fueled by the wave of support he has received from executives in the region during the past month as he laid out some initial plans for a center that will sit at the heart of the new academic program at Rutgers.
    "I'm facilitating something that people have wanted for decades," Davis said. "There's a thirst for real estate education and a desire by the industry to be involved. It's not a question of whether we can get something established, but how well we do it."
    Davis, 42, was formally installed as the inaugural Paul V. Profeta Chair in Real Estate during a ceremony on Tuesday, Sept. 23. In the endowed faculty position, he will be responsible for designing real estate curriculum for graduate and undergraduate students, hiring lecturers and branding Rutgers as a place of real estate expertise.
    Davis said he plans to build the center based on a hub-and-spoke model, with the center serving as the hub. Students, faculty, industry professionals and the community, he said, represent the connecting spokes.
    "When people talk about the center, the first thing they think about are what classes will be offered and what degrees will be offered," Davis said. "But that's not just what distinguishes a program. What makes a center great is being the focal point of all of these possible connections.''
    He has already put some of the pieces into place.
    James E. Hanson II, president and chief executive officer of Hampshire Real Estate Companies, will serve as co-chair of the board of advisors for the Center for Real Estate Studies. Real estate industry veteran Carl Goldberg, who spent eight years as chairman of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, will also serve as a co-chair.
    The selection of Goldberg and Hanson provides the center with two leaders well-known to the industry as well as to state lawmakers in Trenton.
    According to Davis, a great center focuses on educating the industry as well as students and enables interactions to occur among real estate professionals, faculty, students and the community. Ideally, those interactions, he said, result in a sharing of thought leadership, mentoring opportunities, internships and employment.
    Davis, a native of Philadelphia who studied at the University of Pennsylvania, spent six years working as an economist at the Federal Reserve. His responsibilities there included advising then Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan on a number of occasions during the peak of the housing bubble.
    The Federal Reserve was a "fascinating" place to work, Davis said. It was during his time there that he took an interest in the housing market and began studying trends and patterns that were playing out across the country. In the Washington D.C. area, for example, people were tearing down houses and building large, new homes. Davis looked at what part the tech boom played in that activity.
    "It was," Davis said, explaining how his focus turned to housing, "really just curiosity."
    His research got noticed by people within the Fed but also by academia, which led to his taking a job at the University of Wisconsin's business school in Madison. He spent eight years at the Wisconsin School of Business, home to the prominent, decades-old Graaskamp Center for Real Estate.
    After a few years of teaching, he was appointed to hold the James Graaskamp Chair in Real Estate and a year later, he was named the center's academic director. He expects to draw on the lessons he learned in Madison as he gets to work in Newark.
    "The question in Wisconsin was what can we do better?" Davis said. "It wasn't like building a program from scratch."
    During the ceremony to install Davis as the new chair, Rutgers University-Newark Chancellor Nancy Cantor spoke of him in the same way she has recently described the Newark Campus – "On the move."
    "We are launching a new trajectory with an extraordinary scholar who is already pushing hard and creating a whirlwind of activity," Cantor said.
    An investiture ceremony, which is held to formally install a faculty member into an endowed chair, is a time-honored tradition. Administrators and faculty members, dressed in robes and colorful hoods, filed into Bove Auditorium as a violin quartet performed.
    Glenn Shafer, the dean of Rutgers Business School, reminded the audience that the Paul Profeta Chair revives a real estate program that Rutgers lost in the 1990's when Richard Marshall, a popular real estate MBA professor, retired.
    Shafer touted some of the ways Rutgers Business School stands out among others in the Big 10, including its size and post-graduate MBA employment ranking. "We're hoping the real estate center gives us some additional bragging rights in just a few years," he said.
    Profeta, a real estate investor and Newark philanthropist who committed $1.5 million to fund the chair, (an anonymous donor matched Profeta's gift) said he could not be happier to have helped lure Davis to Rutgers.
    "Morris has a game plan for the Rutgers Real Estate Center," Profeta said. "He has thought it through and it is going to work. He intends to make the center the pre-eminent real estate center in the country within 10 years.
    "At the rate Morris accomplishes things," he said, "I think it will happen much more quickly."

    Monday, August 25, 2014


    Chocolate - wrap your tongue around the word and your saliva starts flowing.  Not only does chocolate taste good, and make you feel good; turns out that dark chocolate may be the new health food with its high content of anti-oxidants, flavenols, polyphenols, and theobromines.  Yes, chocolate could be the treatment for fatigue, cough, and anxiety.  Just ask Dr. H. C. "Skip" Bittenbender, Extension Specialist of the Department of Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.  He makes chocolate candy in  his lab and keeps it under lock and key so "the women students don't come in and steal it."
         Sharon Hurd, Economic Development Specialist, Market Development Branch at the Department of Agriculture for the State of Hawaii picked us up in Waikiki, at our Outrigger hotel.  After a pleasant 50 minute drive to the fabled North Shore, we arrived at our destination, the cacao tree fields of Waialua (near Haleiwa).
         We traipsed through 20 acres of ankle deep mire and muck to get up close and personal with the chocolate (cacao) trees.  The town of Waialua gets its name from the Waialua river that nourishes the fields with its silt when it overflows the banks.  Wai is the Hawaiian word for fresh water (Waikiki means spouting fresh water) and lua means (polite version) stinky and smelly.
         The State of Hawaii recognizes the importance of agriculture in sustaining and preserving its economy.  Just relying on tourism and the military is not enough for Hawaii to grow.  The coffee industry, with its famous and wonderful Kona coffee,  prospers and the Department of Agriculture hopes that chocolate (cacao) will become a strong money maker for Hawaii.  Until 1996, the 125 to 150 year old sugar cane industry helped fill Hawaii's coffers; but now, with no more sugar cane, and no more pineapple industry, Hawaii is counting on diversified agricultural products such as coffee, chocolate, bananas, vanilla, macadamia nuts, etc.
         Hurd watched and listened as Mike Conway showed us the cacao trees, the drying racks for the cacao beans, the fermentation buckets (half old wine barrels purchased at K-Mart), and the very tiny flowers that turn into cacao pods.  The midges that pollinate the cacao flowers are almost microscopic in size, like the no-see-ems, but, fortunately for people, their only job is to pollinate the cacao tree flowers and not bite humans.  Without these tiny insects, chocolate would not exist.
         The Waialua fields fell dormant for years, but the cacao tree is very forgiving, and survived years of neglect.  The rich volcanic soil of Waialua and the plentiful rain in the Hawaiian mountains nourished the trees, the midges pollinated them, the big cacao tree leaves shaded the gourds and when the leaves dropped, they acted as a perfect mulch.  Even the tree itself which grows many potential gourds recognizes that all will not develop to fruition and causes the unproductive ones to drop off.  The only natural enemy of the cacao tree is strong wind and the current owners planted bama grass  which grows over six feet tall, to act as wind breaks and protect the trees.
         As we sloshed through the cacao fields, led by Derek Lanter of Dole Food Company Hawaii, the workers stopped their planting of seedlings and picked a ripe gourd for us.  One of the men cracked the eggplant sized gourd on a tree branch to open it and encouraged us to eat the slimy white stuff inside.  No one would believe that the delicious chocolate that we all know and love comes from a collection of beans that look like white pearlized snails.  But even that slippery raw stuff tasted delicious.
         The cacao gourds come in different colors - from yellow to orange to green to variegated to dark purple - and have different textures - from ridged to pimpled to smooth.  The experienced workers know the ripe ones and pick only those that are at the peak of perfection.
         Europeans discovered the cacao tree in the very warm climates of Central and South America.  "Hawaii, the tropical American paradise, is the North pole of chocolate," said Bittenbender.  The harvest season is in the middle of winter and, according to Bittenbender, the enemy of the beans is moisture.  The beans have to be dried down enough so as not to reabsorb water because water leads to mold and that results in a useless bean and a ruined product.  Micro-organisms love it when the cacao products get wet and they produce the same toxins as on peanuts and other grains.
         Bittenbender's project is to produce 50 new trees; identical copies of each other, with high yield.  His goal is to plant 4 trees of each of 10 varieties in 10 to 15 locations in Hawaii.  Their growth would be monitored and correlated with altitude and environmental characteristics.  That way, the chocolate from the trees would be identical, with good chocolate attributes, have good yields, and be disease resistant.
         Guittard's, a famous chocolatier in Burlingame, California, has inspected the cacao trees and the chocolate process and makes the chocolate candy called Hawaiian.  Bittenbender's lab uses the Guittard recipe of 55% cacao, 10% cocoa butter, and 35% sugar (all by weight) to make the chocolate candy that he keeps under lock and key.  Cocoa butter, also called theobroma oil, is to the cacao bean what peanut butter is to the peanut.  Cocoa butter is the natural vegetable fat of the cacao bean and its inclusion in the candy recipe helps smooth out the candy and gives the candy its texture and sheen.
         Believe it or not, there is a proper way to taste chocolate.  First you put it on the tip of your tongue and let it melt a little.  Then you breathe in through your mouth to get all the taste notes and sort of slurp the confection further back on your tongue and let it slide down your throat.
         Or you can just enjoy it as you always have.
         Making your own chocolate candy requires an initial investment of about $1,000.00 for the equipment and then a lot of patience.  First, the gourd is cracked open and all the slimy white seeds are removed.  Then the seeds are fermented so they separate easily, are dried, then ground and the nibs are separated from the shells in a piece of equipment that looks like a foley mill.  The next part of the process is to liquify the nibs and then put the nibs, the cocoa butter, and the sugar in a food processor.  We tasted the chocolate candy at that stage by carefully dipping our very clean fingers into the mixture.  Mmmmmmm, delicious.
         Dole Waialua Estate 10g Bars can be purchased on the internet. is the website.
         The equipment needed to make chocolate, and the ingredients to make the chocolate candy are available on the internet.  Bittenbender recommended the site - chocolate is the website.

    Friday, July 25, 2014

    I have written 4 crime novels that take place in Hawaii

         Hula Kapu, Surf Kapu, Coffee Kapu, and ProBowl Kapu - the titles of my four crime novels that take place in Hawaii.  If you like my writing style, as evidenced in my blogs, you will probably like my novels.  They feature Madam Pele, the mythological creator of the Hawaiian Islands.  She lives in the volcanoes and is still, to this day, active.
         My books are available at and other internet book sites.
         The crimes unfold as the reader knows what happens.  A Main Line couple, on vacation in Hawaii, play an active part in the solution to the crimes and Madam Pele makes sure that the bad guys get their just comeuppances.

    Monday, June 9, 2014

    Sour Grapes

         I'm guessing that everyone, or almost everyone, knows that California Chrome did not win the Belmont, nor did that beautiful horse win the triple crown.  One of the owners was not happy with the outcome and wants a change in the rules.  That owner wants only the horses that qualify for the Kentucky Derby to be eligible to compete for the triple crown race.  Many of the columnists and commentators are calling this sour grapes.  It's not.

         Remember Aesop's fable.  The fox saw a bunch of grapes, too high for him to reach, and after trying and trying to snatch them, the fox decided that "those grapes are probably sour anyway," and the fox stopped trying.  Sour grapes, when used in today's language, means that the very prize that you were seeking is not worth the effort.

         This is NOT what California Chrome's owner had in mind.  He was angry that he lost.  He was angry that his horse did not win the triple crown.  He is now trying to change the rules so that, if those rules had been in place, his horse might have won.  He is the poster boy for POOR LOSER.

    Sunday, June 1, 2014

    I Sold My Cello

         I sold my cello the other day.  It had been my trusted companion since 1956.  I never named it.  I thought that it was silly to name an inanimate object, and I still do.

         My cello took me to many musical show productions from Bala Cynwyd Jr H S through Lower Merion Sr H S, through the University of Pennsylvania Penn Players and the Mask and Wig (all male except me) orchestra.

         Apparently, I was an accomplished cellist and musician (I also played the flute, the piano, and the cymbals).  One of my teachers, the Tchaikowsky prize winning Hirofumi Kanno asked me if it would be OK with me if he used my fingering in one of the cello repertoire pieces.  I told him of course.  The University of Miami offered me the equivalent of a football scholarship on the cello. My father had a fit and I went to the University of Pennsylvania.  That was not a hardship.  I played in the orchestra with the great Jimmy DePriest.  When my children played in the Penn orchestra, they arranged for me to sit in once or twice.

         I played in the local community orchestras until that became more of a chore than a delight. And I played in the Narberth Community Theater orchestra every time Dr. Herman Giersch asked me.

         But, infirmities of aging set in and tendenitis in my shoulders, arthritis in my fingers, and a broken wrist stopped me.

         I thought I would feel sadness and a loss.  But I don't.  Quite the contrary.  I felt sad every time I saw my cello case, holding my cello and bow, and knew I could no longer play it.  Now, I'm hoping it goes to a good home and will be able to burst into beautiful music when played by someone else who would love it.

    Friday, May 16, 2014

    YOU MUST REMEMBER THIS - review of the book

         Robert J. Wagner has had an unabashed, life long love affair with Hollywood and freely admits it in his new book, YOU MUST REMEMBER THIS, written by Wagner and Scott Eyman.
         The son of wealth, Wagner rode his own horses in the corral of his Bel Air house.  He always loved the buildings, the scenery, and the beautiful people - the men, and especially the women.  The men were his mentors, the women were the objects of flings, and marriages (4 of them, 3 different women).
         Wagner writes about the buildings with an eye for architecture, mentioning and giving homage to the architects and interior designers.  He admired also the famous restaurants of the long ago time and calls attention to their owners, chefs, and architectural designs.  The Brown Derby, in the shape of a hat; The Players, owned and run by Preston Sturges with a 3-level entertainment venue - dining on the top, theater in the middle, and supper club on the lowest level.
         Wagner knew he wanted to be an actor from a very early age and auditioned for every role and production that came around - from elementary school on.  He took lessons in dancing, fencing, and "every class that was offered," he told me in a telephone interview.  He got into movies right after WWII and has been working in Hollywood for 75 years.  20th Century Fox signed him to a contract in 1949 but before he agreed, he asked advice from Fred Astaire (for whom he caddied) and Astaire told him to grab it.  If one had acting as a career goal, there were not a lot of alternatives to the movies.  TV started its influence in 1960.  
         In 1928, Hearst built a house for Marion Davies.  As he did for San Simeon, Hearst bought entire rooms out of various European castles and installed them in Davies' house.  Jean K. Wolf, an expert in historic preservation told me that several houses in Lower Merion have elements of interiors from Europe.  The largest was the Percival Roberts property, Penshurst, built by Peabody Stearns of Boston for the estate in Penn Valley.  He tore it all down himself after being disgusted with LM Township on certain issues. The European sales occurred from the 19th century on until after the First World War, when war damage had left fragments and American dollars were important.  Usually it was Euro-American interior dealers who purchased the stuff and sold it to Americans.  
         Max Buten, documenting today's buildings for the future for the Lower Merion Historical Society wrote me that he could point to two buildings in LM with rooms imported from Europe:  Michael Karp's Lutheran Deaconess House, 801 Merion Square Rd., "Skylands" on the gatepost; and 379 Latches Lane, which was build by Albert Barnes to sell.
         William Powell loved gadgets and modern technology.  He installed push buttons through the house to open doors, turn on lights, and move things.  However, the switches were mislabeled and instead of opening the kitchen door, a fully equipped bar would swing into the room.
         In their house in Holmby Hills, Bill and Edie Goetz collected and displayed spectacular Impressionist art.  Cezanne, Bonnard, Renoir, Picasso, Degas, Van Gogh, and Toulouse-Lautrec adorned the walls of their home. When sold, in 1988, the collection brought 80 million dollars.  But, compared to Lower Merion's own Albert Barnes, their collection paled.   Barnes  commissioned one of his former high school classmates, the painter William Glackens, who had been living in Paris, to buy several "modern" French paintings for him. In 1911, Barnes gave Glackens $20,000 and. Glackens returned with  20 paintings that formed the core of Barnes' collection.   With money, an excellent eye, and the poor economic conditions during the Great Depression, Barnes was able to acquire much important art at bargain prices. Barnes's collection grew to include 69 C├ęzannes — more than in all the museums in Paris — as well as 60 Matisses, 44 Picassos, and 178 Renoirs. The 2,500 items in the collection include major works by Henri Rousseau, Modigliani, Soutine, Georges SeuratEdgar Degas, and Vincent van GoghToday, the collection is estimated to be worth between $20 and $30 billion.  
         On the phone, Wagner told us that he purchased some art, but nothing like Goetz or Barnes.
         Wagner used to entertain his friends by doing impressions.  He was told that Hollywood already had a James Cagney and that they needed him, a unique individual..  He was emotionally moved when in "What Price Glory,: he died in Cagney's arms.
         Golf became Wagner's go to method of relaxation.  It taught him patience and perseverance in the face of failure.  At one time, Wagner had a 2 handicap and Sam Snead never forgave him when, in the Shell series of Golf, Wagner defeated Snead.  Wagner's father, a west coast representative for the east coast steel mills, joined the Bel Air Country Club and later, he took over his father's membership and eventually bought Howard Kiel's membership for himself.
         Restaurants played an important part in furthering actors' careers.  In 1937, restaurants placed telephones on the tables of their "important" diners.  Mike Romanoff called Wagner "The Cad."  I asked him why during our telephone interview, and Wagner laughed and said "I still laugh at it.  He thought that described me."  i can understand that -  a very handsome young man, with money, who must have showed up with a different gorgeous woman every night.
         His favorite restaurant, was Chassen's since his father first took him there when he was 7 years old.
         And Jen Leon carried and permitted him to run a tab.  I asked Wagner what happened to his money that he was broke.  Again he laughed and said that he "spent it."  I asked if he had fun and again a laugh and "I sure did."
         His first check for the movie "the Happy Years" was $76.00 and he took his parents to Dan the Beachcomber.  His mother always believed in him and thought his father's doubts were not viable.
         I asked what he would have done, if acting became a nonoption. and he said that he would own horses.  He has always loved them and even owned a thoroughbred that was a winner.
         Wagner was part of the major Hollywood glory years.  And now, he and his wife, Jill St. John, perform Love Letters and have been doing that for 9 years.  When I asked him who his favorite character was, he replied immediately, "Alexander Mundy."  It Takes a Thief was written specifically for him.
         I asked about future projects and without naming names, Wagner told me that he has several in the works and though he enjoys the restful and relaxing vacations with his children and grandchildren, he has no intentions of retiring.  All his fans can breath a beautiful and terrific sigh of relief.
         YOU MUST REMEMBER THIS is an interesting, entertaining, and even educational read.

    Wednesday, April 9, 2014

    Airplanes and us

         So glad to read that airline satisfaction has improved.  during the course of our lives, we have flown on every U S airline except Pan Am, Jet Blue, Southwest, and Alaska.
         I don't remember what airline we used on our honeymoon flight to Miami Beach in 1962.  I just remember that the snow caused our flight from Philly to switch runways and the only way we could get there was to run across the tarmac and airport officials helped us find the right plane.
         The next flight we took was the 6 of us, to Tampa/St. Pete.  My mother, in a wheelchair because she was fainting if you Looked at her wrong.  Our oldest child, with a very high temperature was being pushed in an umbrella stroller.  Our youngest, less than 2 amused himself by pushing the light on and off while standing on Edgar's lap in the plane.  Our male flight attendant offered all of us pieces of chewing gum to help with the ear pressure pain caused by the landing approach.
         A side note on this flight.  The man sitting behind us invited, pleaded, and tried to bribe us to continue on to Miami Beach as his guests.  He said he was Jackie Gleason's band leader and he permission to invite whoever he wanted to the New Year's Eve party and put his guests up in the Presidential Suite.  We did not go.
         On one of our winter vacations, the 6 of us flew home on Delta and I got asthma from the wafting cigarette smoke.  The flight attendants were caring and solicitous.  They took us off the plane in Atlanta, put us up in deluxe Atlanta airport rooms and eventually we continued our flight back home to Philly from Florida.
         We did not fly again until Northwest Airlines banned all smoking on its domestic flights.  This was years before the federal no smoking law was enacted.  We flew to Hawaii, Seattle, Anchorage, and Montana many times on Northwest and would have continued but they played around with the schedule so that our inconvenience overpowered our loyalty.
         we flew on American many times, United, Continental, and U S Airways.  We even flew on Hawaiian and Aloha on interisland flights  in Hawaii.  These interisland flights are more like bus trips than airplane flights.  If you miss one, the next one is almost ready to leave.
         We flew American to Wisconsin with regularity and although there was no trouble getting there, the flights home, through Chicago, were always "iffy."  American canceled the Chicago to Philly flight on more than one occasion and put us on alternate carriers.  On United, the flight attendant loved my pocketbook (Gucci) and paraded around the cabin with it on her shoulder.  On Continental, we had to switch planes in Cincinnati.  The waiting area there was like a high school cafeteria or gymnasium.
         And on Delta, we had to switch planes in Memphis.  When the plane landed in Philly, there was no jetway.  And after we climbed down the ladder we had to wend our way along the tarmac, through the underground passages, up the elevator, and finally out to the street.
         U S Airways took us to Puerto Rico twice and to Hawaii.
         Mostly our trips resulted in pleasure and our saying "It's great to get away and great to return home."
         We had one heart pouncing ride on one of our 35 trips home from Hawaii, on a red eye flight.  It was dark, we were asleep, and suddenly the lights went on and the pilot announced that we were about 150 miles East of San Francisco and headed back for repairs.  Then came the announcement that the fire engines and ambulances on each side of the plane were "SOP."  RIGHT!!!
         We all got off the plane, waited in the airport for 4 hours, were told the plane could not be fixed, got on another one for Dallas.  Then, more fun.
         We took any seats available for our trip from Dallas to Philly.  Bulkhead for us.  Edgar had the window.  I had the middle.  and the aisle was empty until the last minute when a breathless young man sat down and squirmed and squirmed.  In an effort to calm him I asked him why  he was going to Philly.  "I'm going to Atlantic City."  "To gamble?"  "No, for training."  "To be a dealer?"  "No, with the FAA."  I nudged Edgar.  "Oh, are you an air martial?"  "Yes."  "Are you squirming because of your gun?"  "Yes, I usually wear it at my side, but I have it in my back now and I can't get comfortable.  Do you want to see it?"

    Saturday, January 4, 2014

    Edgar and Buster Crabbe

         Flash Gordon started as a comic strip character, drawn by Gene Raymond, in the 1930's.  Flash Gordon became a movie serial and Buster Crabbe played Flash Gordon.  Crabbe wore a blond wig.  In the movies, Flash Gordon and his companions, Dale Arden and Dr. Zhukov rocketed off to other planets. Each week's episode ended as a cliff hanger (or as Richie Ashburn used to say, a cliff dweller) and the next week's episode began with a rescue or a miraculous escape, an adventure, and another cliff dweller ending.

         The movies thrilled Edgar and his imagination accompanied the explorers in his day dreams.  Many years later, Edgar finished lunch at John Wanamaker's Crystal Room, and as he left the elevator on the main floor, he found Flash Gordon's rocket ship.  It had landed on the ground floor of Wanamaker's flagship store.  However, Buster Crabbe, no longer wearing his blond wig, had turned into a gray haired middle aged man.  He wore a rubberized under shirt which promised to give the buyers an athletic appearance.

         Flash forward to this morning when a TV infomercial promoted a "new and revolutionary" T-shirt.  It looked just like the one that Edgar remembered from Buster Crabbe and Wanamakers.  And no, we didn't order it.

         The more things change, the more they seem to stay the same.