Category Archives: armed forces

Thursday’s Doors~ September 10, 2015

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The door today is on a house located on West William Street close to Curtis Street which runs perpendicular to the house. It almost seems like Curtis would run straight into the surrounding wooded area. The house disguised by the woods “hides” the possible past home of a famous Delaware, Ohio family.

The house is currently painted gray, has black details and a Victorian front door. The porch which leads up to the door is decorated with white painted lattice work which I generally say may be found on “gingerbread houses.”

The white door may not be the original door. It has four small windows at the top of this rather tall door. It has three sets of panels with wooden strips framing them, all painted white.

Again, picture a gray house, black outlines and white details. A door which seems looming in size, with more details seen close up than far away.

I wonder if the famous family had a taller male as head of household?

Do Victorian homes tend to have taller doors?

I would need a step stool to decorate around this door with strings of leaves on a vine, which I had done on my last home. I like the idea of getting this house ready for Halloween.
In September, I would hang a grape vine wreath on this door. It would have golden silk sunflowers with a pretty ribbon of fall colors coming to a bow at the bottom.

The door recently seen, has no decoration on it. The large picture window, opening over the porch, has many panes outlined with black painted wood strips. The woodwork has some cracks in the paint once you climb the five steps onto the porch.
The curtains were a deep blue which held anything behind them “hostage” in the hidden recesses.

A closer look shows a small placard with a wooden frame. It reveals the past homeowners. It is not on a historical registry. It was a stop along the road of many stops chosen by a film director who had one singular famous wife and child.

The outstanding porch chandelier which on a snowy night was lit,  had caught my eyes.

It seemed to beckon visitors. It may have meant the house was ready for company. I imagined a long lost family member, errant but expected to return.

It is the crystal chandelier which is the only sign this is a special house. It distinguished the house and set it apart. The door doesn’t have a door knob, it has one of those handles with a curlicue at the base. It looks like it is painted black but this makes me wonder.

Would stripping the black paint off reveal brass?

I was driving past this house often, back in 1991 and 1992. My good friend and fellow single mother, Lori, had 3 children close to the same ages as mine. She lived about ten houses from this lovely, old house.

The house once the light was left on, shone through the bare wooded area surrounding this home set back from a busy road.

Had the light not been shining brightly with the way crystal reflects, especially on snow and icicles hanging from the porch roof . . .

Had one of my children asked me a question, taking my mind off looking at the scenery while driving a slow paced 30 miles per hour down this snow covered familiar road . . .

I may have missed seeing this home. I may have not realized it’s “lineage.” So many times houses are missed due to their location.

The porch has a pair of white worn rocking chairs. They have left grooves on the worn gray painted wooden planks on the porch floor.

* 311 North Washington Street, Delaware, Ohio 43015
has the privelege of being a house on a hill which was designated the inspiration for “Meet Me at St. Louis,” a film Vincente Minnelli directed in 1944.

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When I suggested to my friend, Lori, that we walk down the sidewalk and head west from her house to Trick or Treat, she thought this was a great idea. We usually piled into her van and went to one of the nearby neighborhoods. Houses close by, easier to go up and down short driveways had been our plan a few years in a row. She had moved from a smaller house in one such neighborhood and on this particular long time past Halloween, now lived in an older, bigger place.

We got to the Vincent Minneli house around dark, it had taken us 45 minutes to cover 9 houses. These older homes have gracious hosts with kind offers to sit on edges of porches and eat marshmallow rice krispie squares, caramel apples and frosted cookies. Apple cider, Kool Aid and water pitchers poured into paper cups, to wash down the sugary treats.

When we got to the beautiful Minnelli house, we felt like the driveway was a mile long. I had Felicia up on my shoulders, she had her younger Jacob upon her hip.

The house had the elegant chandelier shining brightly as our feet crunched through the fallen leaves.

We were very excited to read the framed listing of residents:

Mr. and Mrs. Vincente Minnelli

Retired from film making,

Lived within these walls.

Whose first wife was,

Judy Garland,

Whose daughter was

Liza Minneli,

and half-sister

Christiane Minnelli.

I remember reading this aloud to our children while we waited for the people to arrive and answer the door.

There were only two children listed in family members names in Vincente Minneli’s biography, Liza and Christiane.

My son (age 11) said rather amusingly,

“As long as the people don’t have scary flying monkeys we will like this, Mom.”

The elderly couple must have been between 85 and 90. One was a tall, white haired gentleman who leaned on his cane and the other was a stooped, gray haired woman in a dress and apron.
We were not sure how many people had traipsed up this driveway but we were warmly received.

You may be shocked but we were escorted into a kitchen that had a fireplace blazing, treats in brown paper lunch bags with an orange gingham ribbon tying each one.

We will never forget this unusual feature in the kitchen: a dumbwaiter! It worked, too.

Last, but not least, the residents told us they were not relatives of any Minelli family members.

~Written by Robin Oldrieve Cochran

(9/10/15)

This is a part of Norm Frampton’s Thursday’s Doors and you may find his post where links to other blogs with Door posts are displayed through photographs, descriptions and history frequently given at:

http://miscellaneousmusingsofamiddleagedmind.wordpress.com


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This next part was my previously published post:

It was a Character Study of a homeless woman. If you have read it before feel free to skip it.

I decided to have a connection built in this practice in character development with someone famous. . .

When I started to write about characters, I chose to

begin with two homeless men. I mentioned that there

are a few different people who I have seen in

Delaware, through inclement weather and over a year.

The men I gave names to, helping me to become ‘real’

and giving them character traits.

I used my imagination as a ‘springboard’ to create

some depth and authenticity.

After all, when we write, unless we are sticking to the

total truth of our own lives, we need to learn how to

develop characters. I will not be writing a memoir

someday, although many of you are or may.

I think I am destined for writing fiction, using partly

truths based on people I have met, while adding

details to create interest and variety.

These ‘character studies’ have been my way of

practicing and honing my writing skills.

Something important that is easy to accidentally do,

when we start to write, is to make the people in our

books into ‘caricatures.’ One’s aim should be to create

people who are able to ‘walk off the pages of your

book.’ After reading, over the years, a few books on

writing (another post’s focused on the ‘experts’ I have

studied) I did find out when it is considered

acceptable to incorporate some stereotypes.

These times can be when you are going for a broad

comedy, a science fiction or comic book type of style.

When you are creating sy-fy, in most situations you

wish the story to become believable and transport to

the foreign land of the future. It could be a stylistic,

polished picture that you may paint, like a top hat,

black tie book.

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s book, “The Great Gatsby,” comes

to mind where the characters are painted with rather

broad strokes… The character of Daisy’s husband is

abusive but she doesn’t seem to mind. She is

controlled by him, much to her friend, Gatsby’s

dismay. He may not have the appropriate lineage

to fit into the Jazz age, outlandishly extravagant upper

class picture that F.S.F. imparts. But Gatsby is the

most ‘real’ man, in my opinion, other than the narrator,

Nick Carraway.

I feel for both men’s tough situations. Gatsby tried so

hard to fit into society, out of love for Daisy. His

lifestyle, on the surface appears to be wealthy by his

buying a mansion and throwing lavish parties.

My character of “Billie” is a woman who has been

around Delaware,Ohio for over a year. She has been

seen by my youngest daughter and me, on a park

bench in Mingo Park, along the walking trail

between William Street and Winter Street and on the

sidewalk by a plaza on Sandusky Street.

I have noticed this woman’s wavy, sometimes

tangled strawberry blonde hair. It is not a brightly

colored shiny head of hair, but mostly a faded,

tarnished one.

She has a big backpack, which she may store

somewhere in the summertime, hiding it so she

doesn’t have to carry it constantly. It looks heavy.

Since we have seen her, wearing shorts, a tank top

and a sweatshirt wrapped around her waist. There

was no physical evidence, on that occasion, to appear

homeless.

Only once in the half dozen times where I have noted

her appearance, did I see her hair, woven into a loose

braid with a red rubber band at the end of it.

“Billie” makes me think of Pippi Longstocking, a

creation of the author, Astrid Lindgren. I imagine her

to have had a special life, once upon a time, like the

Swedish character.

The books about 9 year old, Pippi, were published

between 1945 and 1948. The chapter books are funny,

unusual and I would hesitate to ever try to imitate the

zaniness of the children’s story lines of those amazing

chapter books.

I can imagine “Billie” as a rebellious and interesting

person, who may have been a “hippie” in the seventies.

I tried to visualize her as an affluent woman, who may

have lost her path in life. I don’t ‘see’ that in her,

if my views on her are at all possibly going to be

realistic, I have to think she made some choices that

took her away from a traditional working life. I have

to hope she doesn’t have children, although her losing

them to foster care, then a financial struggle could

be part of her past.

“Billie” was wearing dirty and raggedy jeans, a khaki

Army jacket, and wore on her back, the brown rolled

sleeping bag peeking out of her knapsack. The last

time I saw her, she was standing out in the rain. She

had one hand in her pocket and the other raised to

push her loose locks back into the hooded gray

sweatshirt that was under her jacket.

The layered look was a necessity because the nights

were ranging in the low 30’s.

Although this Army jacket may seem to give a glimpse

of her Life’s choices and personal history which may

include she may have been enrolled at one time, we

can not be sure of this. The local Salvation Army and

Goodwill stores often have Army jackets, among their

donated coats.

I would like to envision a happier past for “Billie,” one

out in the country. Maybe she was a Girl Scout, a 4-H

member or her family went camping. This would have

taught her the skills to be able to survive all four

seasons here in Delaware.

I could visualize her skipping stones along the creek,

fishing with her father and maybe, if he were an

outdoorsman, going along while he pulled or checked

animal traps.

I wonder if “Billie” has an Army knife?

I wonder if she eats at the three different churches

that serve homeless or ‘down on their luck’ families?

Then, on the last week which is not covered by these

meals, does she go to Andrews House?

Has she ever slept there in one of the bunk beds?

That is the only ‘loft’ for homeless people we have,

usually with a long waiting list.

When I saw her last summer, “Billie” seemed to have a

wistful look in her eyes. She was sitting on a park

bench, watching a group of ducks on the tributary of

the Olentangy River.

She doesn’t have a hardened look, at least through my

eyes. I see her as not dissatisfied with her plight in

life.

Acceptance and courage resonate from her freckled

face to the way she holds herself. That jaunty hand in

the pocket, the once, braided hair. Most of the time,

the tangled mess of hair seems to shout,

“I don’t give a hoot what people think!”

Does she take a knife or scissors to the hair so that

she has less of it in the summer?

Did she ever stop and talk to “Joe,” last summer, the

younger man with his dog? (Who frequented the

library and I had hoped had made it South or out

West.) His tan face and sun-bleached blonde hair, had

given me a ‘surfer’ sort of impression…

I don’t see her liking that ‘cowboy’ or Irish looking

“Brian,” who was straddling the big dumpster. He

seems to be too odd to trust, maybe even a little scary

to the short, 5′ 3″ or so, woman.

I may seem a dreamer, maybe a woman with her ‘rose

colored glasses’ firmly in place, but I think that “Billie”

is not unhappy in this location.

Due to a bit of whimsy attached to that unmanageable

blondish red hair, I guess “Billie” caught my attention.

Once upon a time, Liza Minnelli with her mother, Judy

Garland and grandfather, Vincente Minnelli may have

visited Delaware, Ohio.

After all, Vincente’s paternal grandparents lived in

Delaware, Ohio.

Vincenzo Minnelli, had been a traveling piano

salesman, from Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. He was

working for the Knabe Piano Company, when

Vincenzo met Nina Pinket, his future wife in Delaware,

Ohio.

Although there is no proof in the biographical

information that I found, Vincente’s father, may have

taught music at Ohio Wesleyan University.

I would like to wonder, ponder and imagine that “Billie”

could have some famous roots. It would be interesting

if she had turned up her nose at those in her famous

cousins’ family.

What could the possibilities be for “Billie” were she

sought out by distant cousins, siblings or others,

finding her in this town, not far from where she was

meant to be?

If so, she isn’t in Kansas anymore…

“Capturing Camelot”

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In Columbus, Ohio many wonderful displays come to be shown at

“The Schumacher Gallery” located on the nearby campus of Capital

University. From January 19 through March 25, 2015, you may view

the artistic work of famous photojournalist, Stanley Tretick. This is an

exhibit I am going to try to see very soon.

Stanley Tretick was given the great and valuable experience of being

present at the White House during President John F. Kennedy’s

years in office.  John and Jackie Kennedy were revered for their

youthfulness, energy and attractive appearances.

They became what some would call, “American Royalty.”

Many still consider Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis one of

the historic American icons of fashion. She embodied the word,

“glamour.”

There was a serious, deeper quality of beauty shown in her face

and posture. Jackie demonstrated poise and class, while still

showing warmth in her smiles aimed toward her husband,

newspaper reporters and two children, John John and Caroline.

There was a combination of romance and storytelling in the

way the Camelot period is shown and told. It is a fascinating

piece of history, ending in tragedy. It captured so many of

our minds and eyes, while watching it unfold.  Finally, the

famous assassination and funeral were ones we could not

take our eyes off of either.

There are many movies I could recommend about the story of

Jackie and John Kennedy, including the piece in the recent

movie, “The Butler.” The film covered five different presidents

the butler served. In the movie, there is a poignant scene with

the butler concerned for Jackie and later, his bending down to

talk to Caroline, hoping to help her feel better by offering to get

her a snack or a toy.

We grew up watching the film, “PT 109” about John Kennedy’s

military service which included an accident. This played havoc

on his own personal ongoing pain that wracked his body. Cliff

Robertson did a fine job in his portrayal of JFK. I liked the

movie, “Parkland,” which depicts Jackie’s courage and ‘grace

under fire,’ when her husband’s bleeding head was in her lap

on her clothing. This is also a surprisingly well done piece of

history about the final moments at the hospital. Zac Efron

really redeems himself with this movie. It may erase his

horrible performance in the awful movie, “The Neighbors.”

The advertisement for the display of photographs come with

this riveting description:

“John F. Kennedy was elected to the White House and the

American people embarked on a journey of 1,000 days into

a mythical world that former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy

would recall as Camelot.”

Stanley Tretick’s Iconic Images of the Kennedy’s brochure

closes with these words:

“Capturing Camelot reflects the magic of an era that

continues to inspire affection and nostalgia.”

You may wish to check the hours and there is a Schumacher

Gallery Face Book page, as well as this phone number:

(614)-236-6319 or check out the website listed below:

http://www.schumachergallery.org

Seeing the exhibit is like seeing part of our own history,

the pieces we may wish to remember in this lovely way.

The personal photographs are ones which show the one

behind the fairy tale, give us their personal moments. We

all like to look at photo albums, famous or our own family’s.

There is a part of me, maybe possibly all of us who grew up

during the sixties, who will never forget the Kennedy family.

Remembering Camelot and all the possibilities, it seemed to

reach for the stars and into our dreams.

What’s happening where you live?

Do you like to look for exhibits and special events which come to

your area only once a year, like the “Home and Garden Show?”

This next weekend, Vanilla Ice is going to be at our “H and G Show.”

Have you checked out any local galleries or “One of a Kind” events?

Joyful, Cheery Sounds

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On my way into work this morning, while there was frost on my

windshield and rear window, I blasted my heater and I was once

again, thankful for the warmth and the sound of the air coming

out with a whoosh! The radio was playing one of the most cheery

songs, with a country twang in her voice, Brenda Lee was singing,

“Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” The radio announcer was

using a pleasant, vibrant sounding voice, “Good Morning and let’s

all say, ‘Happy 70th Birthday to . . . Brenda Lee!'”

The first recording of this rocking song was in 1958, written by

Johnny Marks, for Decca Records.

 

While driving behind the school bus, the air brakes squealing and

the door opening on London Road,  to admit busy and excited

high schoolers, (yes, I am up that early!) I felt the movement in

my feet tapping to the music on the radio and the emotions of

the students, too. I usually wish I weren’t ‘stuck’ behind a school

bus, since this means two stops on London Road, along with the

longer stop at the railroad where we ‘catch’ the train, having to

wait for it to pass by. The train whistle blew, the steam was puffing

out of the ‘chimney’ and I felt the rumbling of its approaching

and then listened to the rattling of the clickety-clack.  That is how I

would describe the repetition of the sound.

 

Once I got into my building, several people call out my name, some

who are going off to sleep, (third shifters) and those who are on my

own shift, greeting me. These are happy people since our bosses

had decided to pack our day with ‘heavy’ work and include our half

day’s worth of work we usually do on Friday and complete it today.

This means a three day weekend! Hurrah!

 

At first break, I told my two friends, Tammy and Karen, about Brenda

Lee’s birthday. We agreed the song was still a popular one, the way

it has a lot of joy and glee in its words. Then, Tammy told me she has

been enjoying listening to Harry Connick, Jr. and Lady Antebellum’s

Christmas albums. Karen stated she loves her older albums, now on

Cd’s which include those familiar voices which bring nostalgia into

her home and heart. She likes Bing Crosby, Dean Martin and Burl

Ives.

I started making a list in my head, of the songs and people they were

talking about and decided to also, include some of my own personal

favorite songs and carols, along with some memorable sounds of the

holiday season. This is a compilation of some of my favorites, along

with some coworkers’ suggestions:

SONGS:

1. Harry Connick, Jr. singing, “Sleigh Ride,” which begins with the

words,

“Just hear those sleigh bells jingling,

Ring, ting tingling too…” (Thanks to my friend, Tammy.)

 

2. Dean Martin singing, “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas,”

which was written in 1951, by Meredith Wilson.

 

3. Bing Crosby singing, “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.” This

makes me sad, thinking of those who are in the armed services who

may not make it home for Christmas. The thought of the Bob Hope’s

USO holiday celebrations overseas for years and years, quickly cheers

me up again. This tradition carries on still through the help of the

USO.org. There was a lovely photograph of Idina Menzel with some

military families representing the USO. I hope the troops have a lot

of fun and the jokes make them laugh out loud, like Bob Hope would

wish this to go. “Thanks for the memories, Bob!”

Here is a short schedule of locations they are expected to be

entertaining the troops:

Dec. 7-16, 2014:  Japan, Guan and Hawaii, with the Dallas Cowboys

Cheerleaders.

Dec. 13- Clare Bowen (Hostess) at Tinker Air Force Base,  Oklahoma.

Dec. 16- Anthony Hamilton (Host) at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina.

Jan. 3 – 9, 2015:  Robert Irvine (Host) at Japan and Okinawa.

(Thanks to my friend, Karen, for reminding me of both Bob Hope

and the USO, along with Bing Crosby and Dean Martin’s songs.)

 

3. Whitney Houston singing the hymnal carol, “Do You Hear What I

Hear?”

(Thank you to Melvin, my coworker, who suggested this version but

I enjoy Carrie Underwood’s ‘take’ on this lovely song also. )

Here is a bit of the history of the song:  It was written in 1962, by a

married couple who were moved by seeing children on the streets

of New York City (babies in strollers) and what the lamb might have

heard in the manger scene. This was on the cusp of the Cuban Missile

Crisis, which is why there are words imparting a message of Peace.

The lyrics were written by Noel Regney and the music was written by

his wife, Gloria Shayne Baker.

 

4. John Lennon and Yoko Ono, “Happy Xmas/War is Over,” which

begins with the words, “So This is Christmas.” It was written in 1971,

with tongue in cheek, by John and Yoko, in protest to the Viet Nam

War. It is also said they were thinking of their future children and

what children would ‘inherit’ in the world, with war still going on.

(Their son, Sean Lennon, was not born until 1975.)

When this song was produced, the voices of John, Yoko, the Plastic

Ono Band (with instrumentals) and the Harlem Community Choir

were beautifully blended together. The flip side of this single was

called, “Listen, the Snow is Falling.” The cover of this is ‘vintage’

looking in sepia brown and beige, with the children’s choir, ages 4-14,

included on it.

This song was also played a lot, after John Lennon was murdered on

December 8, 1980; 34 years ago this week.

*This is one of my own personal favorites.

 

5. Nat King Cole singing, “The Christmas Song,” also recognized as,

“Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire.” This lovely song was written

in 1944, by Bob Wells and Mel Torme.

*Another of my favorites, since my parents played this on their stereo.

 

6. Bruce Springsteen’s version of the old classic song, “Santa Claus Is

Coming to Town.” This is the 2nd oldest song on the list today. It was

written in 1934, by John F. Coats and Haven Gillespie. It was presented

for the first time on the Eddie Cantor’s Radio Show. Later, in 1935, it was

also recorded by the Tommy Dorsey Band. My parents listened to this

version on the stereo and radio.

*I love the way Bruce ‘rocks this one out!’

 

7. My friend Cheryl thought the carol, which to her sounds like it belongs

in a church with a choir, “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” sung by

Julie Andrews, is her favorite song of all time.  This hymn was written

by a Unitarian minister, Edmund Sears, in 1849. He lived in Wayland,

Massachusetts. There are various versions of music to go with his

moving words.

Here are a few unusual ones to share with you:

Sergio Franchi sang this in 1965. He was an Italian opera tenor, who

died in Connecticut.

Eric Burdon and the Animals used the music from “The House of

the Rising Sun,” to accompany these lyrics.

Stefan Borsch, (Sweden) performed this in his native language.

The Lettermen performed and put this on a Christmas album in

1987.

Darryl Hall and John Oates included this in a Christmas album.

Anne Murray sang this in 2001, which I feel this would be simple

and beautifully done.

Josh Groban, who is known for singing operatic style, sang this in

2007. He does a fine performance of the song, “You Lift Me Up.”

 

Cheryl is feeling much better about her grandson’s recent death,

since she enlarged a favorite photograph of Christopher when he

was only 6 years old, with her mother, his great-grandmother. She

likes to say often, “Christopher is up in Heaven with my Mom.”

Last Christmas, you may have noticed, Cheryl had me write down a

short message/poem she had written in memorial of her mother’s

fifth anniversary of her death. We are close to one another in the way

we get emotional and are sentimental. She is my one coworker who

cried and held my hand, while we watched the first Inauguration of

President Barack Obama. If you did not read the one night I wrote,

“I have to go,” over and over on a post, you may not know that her

grandson died in his sleep, due to his weakened body, his having both

a combination of the flu and a cold. The autopsy of this fine 23 year

old graduate of Delaware High School and Columbus State student

will not be completed until after the first of the New Year. Cheryl takes

comfort that he had put up his Christmas tree the day of his death and

had also called her to tell her he was putting on some special family

ornaments she had given him when he turned 21.

 

Here are special sounds that are permanently etched into my own

memories:

1. A fire in a fireplace crackling. The logs making a ‘thump’ when they

fall into one another. There is peaceful serenity in listening to a fire.

2. A little child whispering in your ear. This almost makes the hairs

on my arms stand on end. It is magical, whatever words are told.

3. The ‘clink’ of a crystal or glass against another one, while a toast

is being given. The sound of the repeated ‘clinks’ at weddings, to get

the bride and groom to kiss, makes me smile.

4. Dogs bounding towards the door, barking or yipping loudly,

announcing the arrival of guests.

5. The door slammed. I imagine those who have little children saying

to themselves, “Oh, how annoying…” and following this with a lecture

to their children, “We never slam doors in our house.” Somehow, one

day it will come to this, you will wish to hear the door slamming with

the following sound of the words, “Mommy/Daddy. . . I’m home!”

Trust me on this.

6. Baby lambs in the country kitchen of my first babysitter, Mrs. Auble,

“Baa-ing” or ‘bleating’ for their milk bottles, followed by the slurping

noises of their drinking and pulling on the bottles, furiously tugging.

7. Hearty yells.  Across sledding hills, neighbors greeting each other

across streets and yards, and the one voice, that would bring you

running home for lunch (summer) and dinner (winter).

8. Leather boots or rubber boots crunching through the snow. The

sound of the crunch makes you stop talking and ponder in wonder.

9. Birds chirping and singing despite the weather. They always seem

to not be concerned with the cold, brisk air. Their songs echoing in the

early morning air. (Particularly, for me, the cardinal’s message.)

10. The sound of a familiar voice coming across the air waves, now

on cell phone. Back then, on a heavy, black rotary dial phone, of

loved ones (grandparents) far away.

 

Those are my carefully chosen Top Ten “sounds,” will you please let us

know what sounds make you happy, particularly around the holidays?

You may mention a song or a personal memory. . .

 

 

 

 

 

A Quirky Man

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Your roots can make you stronger, or they can ‘break you in two.’ This is the

story of Don Knotts, born “Jesse” Don Knotts. His birthday, July 21, 1924 and

the day he died was, February 23, 2006. This July, he would have reached the

landmark birthday of 90 years old.

Jesse was only four years ahead of my Mom, in age. But so far behind, from the

standpoint of his childhood background.

Jessie’s roots were in West Virginia where a lot of ‘hard scrabble folks’ were

born and raised. It wasn’t easy growing up in his family or that part of the

country. It was a rough time, for many people with the onset of the Depression,

not too long into Jesse’s life and all.

Jesse was raised by a father who was known to be a ‘brute’ of a man, with high

expectations of his son. (Some biographers have decided, from their research,

that his father may have been mentally ill.) He was rough on his son. So was

Jesse’s older brother. There have been stories of his father wielding a knife at

him and beating him.

The young boy, raised in the country on a farm, was often picked on at school

since he was so scrawny and his clothes didn’t fit too well either.

While in school, he was often sickly. Jesse got in the habit of becoming almost a

“hypochondriac.” Being ill deflected his Dad’s wrath and also, kept him out of

school. There were times his mother comforted and took care of him, helping

make him feel better about himself.  This and being a ‘day-dreamer’ managed

to help him survive school.

Jesse was someone who wanted to find a way to ‘fit in’ or get out of his life.

There were three brothers to be raised by his mother alone, once his father died.

One evidence of Jesse’s curiosity and use of imagination was shown in his choice

of reading and play materials. He developed a talent with utilizing sock dolls and

asking people for money for their entertainment factor. This meant they saw

him use the puppet, while throwing his voice, using varied tones to tell his

crazy stories and made up plays. He developed an early comedic timing, which

got some smiles and laughs. His hopes of being a ventriloquist was encouraged

by books on the subject he read.

One of the first jobs he got, sometimes he told people later in life, he felt he

‘deserved’ this pathetic job. He stood on a line at a chicken factory and his story

goes, plucked chicken feathers off dead chickens. This was helpful for saving his

money and purchasing a ventriloquist dummy.  Much nicer than the sock puppet!

This brought more money into his savings for his future.

Jesse graduated from high school and afterwards joined the military. He

persisted through sickness, getting recognition for his talents. Once he was

‘discovered’ to be quite lively and entertaining, he was put into the Entertainment

Corps. This helped him to become more confident. He was part of the United

States Army, from 1943 to 1946.

Turns out, this choice of joining the Army changed his life. Knowing he was

not a ‘loser’ nor ‘worthless’ meant he could produce popular and interesting

character sketches. The more people laughed, the more original his material

became. He could “make fun of himself” and make money, too.

Jesse attended and graduated from West Virginia University.

Jesse’s star would rise, up into the sky, as Don Knotts.

Using his ‘hypochondria’ and his ‘paranoia’ to his advantage, this and his

skinny, slightly unattractive and awkward looks made him even more funny

to his audiences.

Don Knotts became a ‘hit’ in the true sense of the word!

Don was on a soap opera, he was the “Man on the Streets” where Steve Allen

would conduct “fake interviews” with him, as a nervous man on the sidewalk.

He was in the Broadway production, from 1955-57, of “No Time for Sergeants.”

Don later reprised his role in the movie version. This was where he met Andy

Griffith.

The movie, “No Time for Sergeants,” was filmed in 1958 with Don Knotts

and Andy Griffith.

Their television show, followed in 1960, where the two of them were partners,

of sorts.

When he got the part of “Barney Fife,” in the television show, “The Andy

Griffith Show,” he played the deputy sheriff to Andy Griffith’s role of sheriff.

This show lasted from 1960 until 1968. Don Knotts won five Emmy awards.

There were many more movie offers for Don Knotts.

My favorite role of his lifetime was as the fish in the animated children’s movie,

“The Incredible Mr. Limpet.” I did not know him from “Search for Tomorrow,”

nor did I really like the movie, “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken.” I did laugh at his

flamboyant role as landlord, in the comedy television show, “Three’s Company.”

Do you have a favorite role that Don Knotts played?

Did you like him best as the shaky, nervous Deputy Barney Fife?

He was sixth cousins to Ron Howard, who played the character, “Opie.”

Andy Griffith and Don were known to be close friends, throughout their

filming the t.v. show and later years.

Don Knotts was married three times, his first marriage lasting from 1947-1967.

He had two children, a daughter named Karen Knotts and a son, Thomas Knotts.

His last marriage to Frances Yarborough was from 2002 up until he died in 2006.

 

Making millions of dollars over his lifetime, being a ‘household name’ and his

having the record of the most Emmy Awards for television shows sure showed

his father and those bullies who picked on “Jesse” Don Knotts!

 

 

Pause to Reflect

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I have had a wonderful day, half of it working. It went by quickly! The other half

of this beautiful June 6th day,  I spent walking around the unique and incredible

“Schnormeier Gardens.” This is a place to feel peaceful and harmonious with

nature. The owners allow people to visit only a short time every year. They have

a lot of Asian influences in their sculptures, the beautiful gardens and pagodas.

There is a Japanese garden house, a Chinese pavilion and 75 acres to explore!

Ted and Ann Schnormeier say this simple welcome to people,

“It has been said that a garden can have a soul… but only if it is shared with others.”

While my friend and I sat and reflected upon D-Day today and its being 70 years

ago, we thought: we are so lucky. We don’t have this drama, the horrors and

conflict of that particular WWII to live through. The honest, serious show of

strength that young men and women who were participants in this war is

amazing.

The fight to save our integrity and defend our freedom from the tyranny of

Adolf Hitler is one that cannot be easily comprehended.  The French people

still praise our efforts in the invasion of Normandy. We left a positive mark,

at least in this corner of the world!

Out to eat, with my good guy friend, Bill, he mentioned that I should include

President Eisenhower, then General, during this period of time. Bill considers

Dwight D. Eisenhower the ‘mastermind’ behind the WWII invasion of Normandy.

When I asked my good friend who had driven me to the special gardens

what she would have done, had she been alive during this time.

We were silent, watching the fountains of manmade waterfalls, splashing and

filling the air with its negative ions.

Breathing deeply and serenely relaxed, despite the serious subject at hand.

When the silence had lingered on for quite some time,  I decided to say,

“I would have volunteered to work on the home front, making factory life

my choice of supporting the war effort. I don’t think I have the fortitude or

inner strength to fight and kill people, even if my family’s lives were in danger;

or my own. I would try to talk my way out of death. I would have wanted

Peace to be the result, but not been brave enough to fight.”

While at work, I asked Melvin what his favorite movie about the D-Day part

of history would be. He reminded me that his overall favorite movie with

war is, Clint Eastwood in, “Heartbreak Ridge.” His second favorite is,

“Flags of our Fathers.”

After thinking for a few moments, Melvin replied, “Patton.” He reminded

me of some of Patton’s character and personality traits were. He also

explained that Patton had a grasp on historical wars, including the Romans.

He also said that while stationed in Chicago, he saw at Fort Sheraton,

a huge portrait of General Patton. He felt that George C. Scott did an

excellent acting job.

He also introduced me to another fact I did not remember or comprehend

its significance. This was that Omar Bradley was the last of the Five Star

Brigadier Generals. There had been only eight others. He led millions of men,

been the head of the United States Army and was a fine and outstanding

example of service to our country. He lived to age 88 years old, a life well led.

The two Generals , Patton and Bradley, had been important to WWII in so

many ways, but hearing Melvin wax on about them, filled my own pacifist

heart with pride.

I am so glad that Melvin was able to remind me, on a personal level of

the impact that having good men to lead the armed forces, meant the

difference in winning the war!

Melvin,  having met General Bradley, when he was older at an Army event

said he took the time to shake many men’s hands.

Melvin also told me that he would have liked to have been involved in

the war in Europe. He was blessed to have been a cook, in many places

traveling the world, from Hawaii, Germany, other jaunts in Europe with

day passes, along with asking to be in a quiet place in the Mid West to

complete his Army time, before retiring.

As we were on the subject of military service, Melvin shared that his older

brother had served during the Viet Nam War. He had been stationed in

Thailand, where his mail was postmarked. But, later, the family found out

he had been in Cambodia, in the ‘thick of things.’ It was not a pleasant time,

not many memories have been shared between the brothers. Melvin has

asked him to tell him more, one retired Army man to another, brother to

brother.

Melvin was so surprised that he and his family were never allowed to know

exactly what his brother’s experiences had been.

Melvin says that his brother was in Special Operations, in the Army. He

had sworn an “Oath of Secrecy.” The fact that he continues to be silent

about his participation in the Viet Nam War, along with being vague about

where he was during most of his time, impresses Melvin.

It also made a big impression on me! I know, for a fact, that I would not be

able to make a promise of keeping a secret from my loved ones, like his brother

did!

I would not recommend “Celebrating D-Day.”

The word “celebrate” doesn’t seem like the right choice.

I would hope that you would take time to pause and reflect.

If you were active in any military service or married to a member of the

Armed Forces, I salute you!

I hope and pray you did not lose a member to any war or skirmish.

In that case, I sympathize and honor the dead.

And, sincerely thank you.

One Who Served and Many Who Serve

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Today, May 21, 2014 is a day set aside for “Wait Staff Apreciation.”

By celebrating servers in the food industry we may improve their

self images and produce great service. It is always a wise choice

to be friendly to the ones, going in the kitchen to pick up your food

orders! Smile!

So, please appreciate all those men and women who try valiantly to fill

your food orders. They do, most of the time, try to act pleasantly and

give you time to look over the menu!

Tomorrow, is a day to remember Mr. Rogers. Fred started his long run of

being a kind neighbor to the younger ones in our world, back on May 22,

1967. Now, Wikipedia doesn’t have the correct date, as I found this in a

reliable source!

His show, “Mister Roger’s Neighborhood,” continued until 2001. Fred

passed away in 2003. In his lifetime, he received the Presidential

Medal of Honor, over 40 other special awards and the Peabody Award.

I felt Fred’s gentle soul, soft spoken ways, his daily routines were

quite soothing and comforting to my toddler children. I realize that

these days, with high technology and such fast-paced lives, most of

the small ones would find his show, “Boring!” I liked his changing

his jacket into a sweater, his puppets in the Land of Make Believe

and his male role model in a society, that even when my children

were little, did not have many male adults on television that tried

to ‘reach them.’

Another man who served his country well, is my good friend and coworker,

Melvin. He was walking out of the building today, telling me a funny

story about the Jack Russell terrier that lives next door to him, out

in Delaware County. It was a great one, where I wished (and he does, too)

that he could have captured this on film!

The story of his neighbor’s dog, “Ignat” is interesting and such an

amazing story that you may not quite believe it. I would not, if I

didn’t know this fine man, Melvin, who served his country from 1975

until 1997. His Army days have been fun to listen to, including his

serving in Germany, (maybe you remember he bought me a special wine

that they serve on the streets of Germany, warmed up in little cups

for the shoppers at Christmas?) You may remember his annual trips to

meet his Army buddies and the time he paid for a bunch of them to

have lobsters and crabs in Massachusetts. Also, he is the man who I

‘chase’ and he ‘chases’ me, around the area on the second floor of

our warehouse, called the Mezzanine.

Before you ask, ‘Why aren’t you thinking about Melvin as a future partner,

Robin?’ I will tell you that he is a very devoted boyfriend and lives

with a woman who has had serious surgery, sometimes he has cleaned out

colostomy bags or helped bathe her.

The best parts of Melvin, are his incredible patience and heart!

Oh, and having served as a cook, he is an outstanding guest at our work

potlucks! Melvin is getting geared up to be the caterer of a good pal’s

daughter’s high school graduation. He was out, recently, pricing pork.

I may or may not have told you, a weird thing is, most places don’t

keep the skin on the pig! So, he had a ‘heck’ of a time locating one

that he could put on a pit!

Another part of my ‘verification’ of his abilities to not only work hard;

but be truthful is that he has always ‘called them like he sees them,’ no

matter what. In any conversation, whether it is about “Duck Dynasty,”

musical tastes or whether or not he likes a certain movie or song, he

will impart his ‘wisdom.’ I sometimes will include him in my ‘lunch time’

survey of opinions to include in my stories about work.

Anyway, Melvin was out in the yard, looking around the barn where he had

seen a large, lumbering raccoon go into. He also was looking out at the

field, where he had just seen a young doe. He was smiling, while recounting

about seeing the white tail bobbing up and down, as it leaped over some of

the remains of weeds that had grown up in the neighboring farmer’s fields.

He says, that he shouted to “Ignat” (possibly the shortened name for

Ignatious?) We cannot figure out why this dog has this name and Melvin

is sure of it, since he has bent down to feed him a dog biscuit and

read the little brass circle that holds his name. Melvin calls him

“Little Big Man,” in remembrance of Dustin Hoffman’s portrayal of a

wizened, stooped version of a Native American and why that makes him

think of that, I am not sure…

Anyway, I digress again!

Back to the rest of Melvin’s story, he whistled to the neighbor’s

roaming dog, and he would not come to him. He was gazing off into the

distance at the doe, sure enough, there was a blurring motion of the

dog, as it took chase after the doe. Melvin says that they would go

‘aways,’ the dog’s energy would start to wane, and “Ignat” would slow

down. The doe, he insists, would slow down to ‘wait’ for the dog to

catch his breath. Melvin insists that the doe even stopped from entering

the nearby woods, turning her direction to head a different direction!

“Ignat” would then zigzag and head off, speeding up to catch the doe!

Melvin says he would ‘swear on a Bible’ that this was a true incident!

When he got tired of seeing if “Ignat” would catch the doe, he looked

up at the window of his barn and lo and behold!

Another ‘minor miracle’ occurred!

Melvin saw four little baby raccoons with their tiny little paws up

on the window pane! He did not see that for too long, since the Mama

Raccoon must have ‘shooed them away from the window.’

“Melvin, are you sure, double sure, that you aren’t pulling my leg

now?”

He repeated the part about ‘swearing on the Bible.’

Wasn’t this more than enough to entertain me,

and you, today?

May Flowers

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May, 2014

Monthly Calendar Time is Here Again!

Sending you bunches and bouquets of May flowers.

Flavia, poet and artist shares these words with all of us,

“Our time on earth is woven of infinite moments,

Each holding a promise and its own exquisite beauty.”

The flower for May: Lily of the Valley

The birthstone of May: Emerald

How appropriate that one of the sweetest, yet most delicate

flowers, with its tiny cups give us the fragrance for the

month! The color of green, is bursting in every direction

which makes the gem of the month, Emerald, also appropriate.

May 1st-

May Day is celebrated with live flower baskets or little

braided, woven paper baskets with tissue flowers, placed on

the porch of someone, a neighbor, possibly elderly… then,

press the doorbell or knock on the door and run! If you are

old enough to have been taught this custom, let me know!

(Oh, did you ever wrap ribbons around a May Pole?)

This is also, National Day of Prayer.

Also, in Mexico, it is considered their celebration of

Labor Day.

May 2nd-

This is in memorial to the first major protests of the

Viet Nam war or skirmishes. This took place 50 years

ago, today in:

New York Times Square, over 1000 people gathered.

San Francisco, Calif. over 700 protestors gathered.

The other locations where there were reports of this

were in Boston, Mass., Seattle, Wash. and Madison, Wisc.

May 4th-

Orthodox Easter

May 5th-

Get out and celebrate with a margarita, Sangria

or Cerveza!

!Cinco De Mayo!

The Battle of Puebla Day (Mexico) remembered.

May 8th-

Victory in Europe.

Veteran’s, we salute you for your service!

May 11-

Happy Mother’s Day!

I have composed a humorous, but respectful list

of what some may consider qualities or ‘jobs’

or the many “hats” that mothers wear:

1. Sit down at the kitchen table and ‘shoot the breeze.’

2. The kitchen smells like “home.”

3. The beloved story teller and keeper of traditions.

4. Lunch, snacks and dinner-maker.

5. Chief ‘bottle washer.’

6. Big giver of hugs and kisses.

7. One who gets ‘away with’ licking her fingers and

smoothing your hair!

8. Singer of bedtime songs, teller of bedtime prayers.

9. Source of unconditional love.

10. Hemmer, mender and sewer.

11. Nagger: “Don’t forget your boots, lunch…”

A nicer way of putting it, “Reminder” of things.

12. Rules maker and enforcer.

13. Chores list maker and giver of allowances.

14. Tooth Fairy and other magical moments.

15. Phone home.

16. Homework Officer.

17. Schedule Secretary.

18. Nurse.

19. Taxi service.

20. Knows our flaws and bad habits, but would

be our defender till the end!

May 14th-

Full Flower Moon.

May 17th-

Armed Forces Day.

Raise your flag, salute veterans and our current Army,

Air Force, Navy, Marines and other Armed Forces personnel.

Delaware Arts Festival. Downtown, for about

four crossroads and two blocks, art, music,

fun and neighbors circulate, purchase and

admire original artwork. Creativity abounds!

Festival food is also available! Yummy!

The Delaware County District Library takes

advantage of the large crowds and has their

Annual Book Sale, fundraiser on this day, too.

May 18-

Whit Sunday, Pentecost.

May 20-

Victory Day in Canada.

Victoria, Canada.

May 22- National Maritime Day.

May 26- Memorial Day

In the United States, we celebrate by having a three day

weekend, filled with parades and memorials for the ones

who have gone before us. We honor not only the military,

but go to the gravesites of our loved ones who have passed

away. We place plastic, silk or living flowers on those we

have loved’s graves. We put flags on the graves of ones who

served our country. I remember enjoying being in the Marching

Band, playing John Phillip Sousa marches. The song, “Taps,”

sometimes is the final, somber song at the cemetery played

on this Memorial Day.

In the United Kingdom, they celebrate with a Spring

Bank Holiday.

In the small book, with precious illustrations by

Joan Walsh Anglund, called, “Love Is a Special Way

of Feeling,” (1960, Harcourt Brace and World, Inc.)

“Love is a special way of feeling.

It is the safe way we feel

when we sit on our mother’s lap

with her arms around us tight and close.”

Flavia adds a quotation,

“Love lives forever and belies the passage of time.

It is what we take with us, wherever we go.”

I like to include a few thoughts along with the calendar,

which I hope makes this post both meaningful and interesting.

I also am aware that the world celebrates many more holidays

and welcome some suggestions or additions in the comments’

section. Thanks for contributing to May’s Monthly Post!