Category Archives: Music

Earth Day/Birthday Redux

You may have seen this before, but I tried to write something new about my sister Judy.  And, well, this piece really just sums up who she was better than anything I’ve come up with since.

She’s been gone now for 16 years.  Not a day has gone by since that I haven’t wanted to talk with her, laugh with her, or, alternatively because she was my sister, smack her.  There really isn’t a relationship like you have with a sister.  Even long after they are gone.

*****

Today, April 22, is Earth Day!  It’s the  Anniversary of the very first Earth Day.  Here  is Walter Cronkite’s report on the first Earth Day, 1970:

It would also be my late sister Judy’s 64th birthday.

Whoever made the decision to turn Judy’s birthday into Earth Day chose wisely.  Judy was a born environmentalist and recycler.

On the first Earth Day, Judy was a new, very young mother who believed in saving the planet.  She was the first “environmentalist” I ever knew personally, and well, I thought she was nuts.  There was a recycling bin in her kitchen for as long as I can remember.  And this was back when recycling took effort.  She believed in gardens, not garbage, and she made life bloom wherever she was.

I’ve got kids,” she’d say.  “It’s their planet too!”  

But years later, Judy took recycling to a whole different level when she helped people recycle themselves.  In the 1990s, Jude, who was then living in Florida, began working with the Homeless, assisting at shelters.   Then she actively began trying to help homeless vets food, shelter and work — to enable them to jumpstart their lives.

When she died in early 2000, the American Legion awarded her honorary membership for her services to homeless vets.  A homeless shelter was named in her  honor.  So she’s still doing good works, my sister is.  That would make her wildly happy.

Jude also gave me the Beatles.  So it is very appropriate that they wrote a song for her.

You see, the night the Beatles were on Ed Sullivan, it was MY turn to choose what we were going to watch.  And we were going to watch the second part of The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh starring Patrick McGoohan on the Wonderful Wide World of Disney.  My four (all older and MUCH cooler) siblings were furious with me.  But I was quite insistent.  You might even say that I threw a Class I temper tantrum over it, but I wouldn’t admit to that.  But hey, I was seven.  And it was my turn to choose.  Fair is fair, especially in a big family with only one TV.

Somehow, Judy talked me out of my turn.  She was always very persuasive.  Thanks Jude.

Hey Jude, Happy Earth Day-Birthday.

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Filed under 2016, ; Don't Make Me Feel Perky Tonigh, All We Are Saying Is Give Peace A Chance, Beatles, Birthday, Childhood Traumas, Climate Change, Crazy family members, Family, Global Warming, Good Deed Doers, Growing up, Health, Heortophobia, Hey Jude, Holidays, Humor, It's not easy being green, Judy, laughter, Love, Missing Folks, Music, Peace, Plagarizing myself, Sisters, Stupidity, Taking Care of Each Other, The Beatles, The Blues

Home For Christmas Again

Does your family tell the same stories, over and over again?  Mine does.  Or my Mom and Dad did.   Oh and in case you haven’t noticed, I do too.

My husband is no doubt rolling his eyes and thanking his lucky stars.  Because  since I started blogging, he is forced to hear fewer repeats of my stories.

To me, the heart and soul of Christmas is Love.  And repeating traditions.  That is what this story means to me.  And even though Christmas is a sadder day than it once was, this story warms my heart.  And I tell it every year.

Here.  If you haven’t read it before, you may need this.

Handkerchief 2

Don’t worry; it’s clean.Google Image.

***

She told the story every year with a warm smile on her face.  Sometimes her eyes got a little bit misty.

“It was 1943, and the War was on, and your father was in the Navy, on a ship somewhere in the Pacific.  We never knew where he was.  Like all the other boys I knew, he was in danger every day.  We lived for the mail, we were terrified of unfamiliar visitors in uniform.  A telegram sent us into a panic.  And ‘I’ll be home for Christmas’ had just been recorded by Bing Crosby.  It was Number One on the Hit Parade.”

That’s how Mom started the story every time.

Of course I’ll Be Home For Christmas was Number One that year.  Everyone, or just about, was hoping that someone they loved would, in fact, be home for Christmas.  That all the boys would be home for good.  But all too many people were disappointed.  I doubt there were many dry eyes when that song came on the radio that year or for the next few.

Mom and Dad got engaged right around Pearl Harbor Day, but the War lengthened their courtship significantly because Dad enlisted shortly after the attack.  It was to be a long war, and a long engagement.  But Mom was in love with her handsome man.  If possible, I think that Dad was even more so.

Mom, Circa 1943

Mom, Circa 1943

 

My Dad was drop-dead gorgeous, and I have heard that in his single days, he was a bit of a ladies’ man.  Every girl in town, it seemed, had a crush on Dad.

Dad, Circa 1943

Dad, Circa 1943

 

In fact, my Aunt Sally once told me that she had been manning a booth at a church bizarre one Saturday in about 1995, when an elderly woman came up to talk to her.

“Are you Freddie E’s sister?” the woman asked Aunt Sal.

“Yes I am.  Do you know my brother?” Aunt Sal responded.

“I did,she sighed.  “I haven’t seen him since we graduated from high school in 1935.  Sixty years ago.  He was,” she stopped to think of just the right word, “… He was dream-my.”

“He still is,” Sally quipped.

One day not long after after Mom had passed, Dad and I were looking at some pictures I hadn’t seen before.

“Dad,” I told him with wonder looking at a particularly good shot, “You should have gone to Hollywood.  You’d have been a star.”

“Nah,” Dad said.  “Mom would never have gone with me.  And once the war was over, well, I wasn’t going anywhere else without her.”

Dad circa 1935

Dad circa 1935

Dad never quite got over feeling lucky that he had Mom.  And he never stopped loving her.

But back to Mom’s story.

“It was Christmas morning, 1943, and I went over to visit Dad’s mom and dad.  Grammy E’d had symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease for seven or eight years at that point.  She could still move around (she was later, when I knew her, almost completely paralyzed), but she could barely talk.”

Mom continued.  But your Dad’s mom was singing ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas.’  Well, she was trying to sing it, any how. She kept repeating that one line, over and over again.  ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas.’  I thought she was crazy.”

“You see,” Mom would say, “Your father had somehow managed to get Christmas leave – he was coming home!  He wanted to surprise me and wouldn’t let anyone tell me he was coming.  He was expected any minute, and there I was, trying to leave.  But I couldn’t stay.  That song made me cry; Freddie was so far away, and in so much danger.  I couldn’t bear hearing it.”

So Mom left after a while, she had other people and her own family to see.  Later Dad caught up with her and they spent most of Christmas together.  Both of them always smiled at the memory.  Dad was home for Christmas that year, just like in the song.  It was a magical year for them both.

Mom was always touched by Dad’s surprise and by his mother’s loving gesture in fighting back the paralysis that was taking over her body to try to get her son’s girl to stay.  To sing when she could barely speak.

“I’ve always wished I’d stayed.”

We lost Mom on Easter of 1997, and Dad really never got over her passing.

The song and Mom’s story took on an even more poignant meaning in 2000.  Because on Christmas of that year, Dad joined Mom again for the holiday.  He went “home” to Mom for Christmas again, joining her in the afterlife.

Even through the sadness of losing Dad on Christmas, I always have to smile when I hear that song.  Because I can just see the warmth in Mom’s eyes now as she welcomed Dad home.  This time, I’m sure she was waiting for him with open arms.

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Filed under Adult Traumas, Christmas Stories, Dad, Family, Growing up, History, Holidays, Love, Missing Folks, Mom, Mom Stories, Music, Taking Care of Each Other

No Satisfaction — No Sat-is-FAC-tion

When I look at today’s GOP, I just don’t understand why they are so fired up at tearing down stuff that helps people.

I mean look at them. They want to gut programs that have helped millions:

  • Social Security (Happy 80th, BTW!  Here’s to 100 and more!)
  • Medicare
  • Voting Rights
  • Immigration

.

Have you heard the latest?  Donald Trump proclaimed that the 14th Amendment — the one that grants citizenship to anyone born in the United States — is unconstitutional.

That Furball, The Donald, wants to pretend that rights that are in the Constitution are, well, unconstitutional.  And the rest of the clowns are falling all over themselves to agree with him!

Ummmmm, do they even have a clue that “Constitutional” means,well, in the fucking Constitution?

Apparently not.  Because, you see, these folks just can’t get no … <i?they can’t get no.  No no no…</i>

Of course, I found this at The Last of the Milleniums.  Where else?

And you know what?  I’m pretty sure these comedians in the GOP won’t stop until there is nothing left of what has made our country great.

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Do I Hear Five?

On May 29, 2011, I was fifty-four and a half years old.  And I was seriously irritated at the GOP in Congress.  You see, they had announced that they were going to take away Medicare from those then under 55 years old.  And that meant me.  I spouted off about it to anyone who would listen.

They’re gonna take Medicare from ME!  I’m 54-1/2!  That’s where they’re gonna start!

After the first 528 times I mentioned this fact to each and every person I could corner, I still felt unsated.  I wanted to tell more people of my irritation.  Whether or not I knew them.

And so I heard a voice inside my head (something I rarely admit to):

Go forth, it said,  and start a blog.

Oh and give it a stupid name to keep yourself humble.

And so I did.  Both of those things.  FiftyFourAndAHalf was born with this post.

Blogging has been a completely different experience than I expected.

My original plan was to do a political/humor blog.  But in spite of a never-ending source of fodder, I found that I wanted to write about other things, too.  That part didn’t really surprise me.

What surprised me was that blogging, and Word Press, became a place where I met new friends, discussed topics important to me.  Where I laughed and cried along with folks I will probably never meet.

Thanks, everybody.  And while I’ve been writing less than usual and reading less than usual, I love the special place that is the ‘sphere.  So, yeah, thanks for being out there, for reading, and for giving me stuff to read too.

From Daily Kos.com

From Daily Kos.com

 

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Lovely Rita

Lovely Rita meter maid,
Nothing can come between us,
When it gets dark I tow your heart away.
Standing by a parking meter,
When I caught a glimpse of Rita,
Filling in a ticket in her little white book.
In a cap she looked much older,
And the bag across her shoulder
Made her look a little like a military man.

How can you live in America, be named Rita, and have never heard “Lovely Rita”?

It was 1979, and I worked at the office of the International Tax Program. (WAKE UP!!!! I’m not gonna talk about tax, I promise.) The ITP was a pleasant place to work part time, as I was in my freshman year of college. The people who worked there were an incredibly kind bunch of folks.

My desk sat right out front in the area immediately inside the doors to the ITP’s offices. My desk was right next to Rita’s, the receptionist.

Naturally from the moment I met her, and from the instant I walked into the doors of the office every day for a year, I could hear the song.

Lovely Rita, Meta Maid …

I often called her “Lovely Rita” which is unlike me, and was even more unlike me when I was 21. I hummed the song and sang it softly all the time. The ear worm lasted the whole year I worked in the office.

My lovely Rita was an older woman – about 40 at the time, which seemed as ancient to me then as it seems young to me now. She’d emigrated from Germany, some years before, and was not at all familiar with English-language pop music.

It was some months after starting to work there that I learned Rita had never heard her own song. How could that be?

Naturally I went home planning to take the record into the office. But I couldn’t find my copy of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Anywhere.  It had vanished.

Nobody in the office had it, either. Nor did any of my friends.

I searched a couple of used record stores in Boston, and enlisted the help of my roommate, Elizabeth who was a record-store junky. Somehow, there were no copies of the album anywhere.

Unwilling to be completely defeated, I enlisted some talented friends – folks I’d been performing with in amateur musicals. Together, me, Erik and Terry serenaded Lovely Rita with her song.

We sounded something like this:

Well.  Kind of like that.

My friend, my lovely Rita loved it.  For the rest of the time I worked there, she would hum along with me when I sang it.

*     *     *

This is my entry in Knocked Over By A Feather’s Beatles Contest.  The rules are pretty simple — tell a story using the lyrics to any one of several Beatles songs:  Across the Universe, Baby You’re a Rich Many, Good Day Sunshine, Hey Bulldog or Lovely Rita.  Guess which one I chose.

Go and enter.  It’s fun.

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Filed under Beatles, Boston, Geneva Stories, Humor, Music

Home for Christmas (Reprise)

She told the story every year with a warm smile on her face.  Sometimes her eyes got a little bit misty.

“It was 1943, and the War was on, and your father was in the Navy, on a ship somewhere in the Pacific.  We never knew where he was.  Like all the other boys I knew, he was in danger every day.  We lived for the mail, we were terrified of unfamiliar visitors in uniform.  A telegram sent us into a panic.  And ‘I’ll be Home for Christmas’ had just been recorded by Bing Crosby.  It was Number One on the Hit Parade.”

That’s how Mom started the story every time.

Of course I’ll Be Home For Christmas was Number One that year.  Everyone, or just about, was hoping that someone they loved would, in fact, be home for Christmas.  That all the boys would be home for good.  But all too many people were disappointed.  I doubt there were many dry eyes when that song came on the radio that year or for the next few.

Mom and Dad got engaged right around Pearl Harbor Day, but the War lengthened their courtship significantly because Dad enlisted shortly after the attack.  It was to be a long war, and a long engagement.  But Mom was in love with her handsome man.  Dad was even more so.

Mom, Circa 1943

Mom, Circa 1943

 

My Dad was drop-dead gorgeous, and I’ve heard that in his single days, he was a bit of a ladies’ man.  Every girl in town, it seemed, had a crush on him.

Dad, Circa 1943

Dad, Circa 1943

 

In fact, my Aunt Sally once told me that she had been manning a booth at a church bizarre one Saturday in about 1995, when an elderly woman came up to talk to her.

“Are you Freddie E’s sister?” the woman asked Aunt Sal.

“Yes I am.  Do you know my brother?” Aunt Sal responded.

“I did,she sighed.  “I haven’t seen him since we graduated from high school in 1935.  Sixty years ago.  He was,” she stopped to think of just the right word, “… He was dream-my.”

“I hope you told her I still am!” Dad quipped when he heard the story.

One day not long after Mom had passed, Dad and I were looking at some pictures I hadn’t seen before.

“Dad,” I told him with wonder looking at a particularly good shot, “You should have gone to Hollywood.  You’d have been a star.”

“Nah,” Dad said.  “Mom would never have gone with me.  And once the war was over, well, I wasn’t going anywhere else without her.”

Dad circa 1935

Dad circa 1935

Dad never quite got over feeling lucky that he had Mom.  And he never stopped loving her.

But back to Mom’s story.

“It was Christmas morning, 1943, and I went over to visit Dad’s mom and dad.  Grammy E’d had symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease for seven or eight years at that point.  She could still move around (she was later, when I knew her, almost completely paralyzed), but she could barely talk.”

Mom continued.  But your Dad’s mom was singing ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas.’  Well, she was trying to sing it, any how. She kept repeating that one line, over and over again.  ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas.’  I thought she was crazy.”

“You see,” Mom would say, “Your father had somehow managed to get Christmas leave – he was coming home!  He wanted to surprise me and wouldn’t let anyone tell me he was coming.  He was expected any minute, and there I was, trying to leave.  But I couldn’t stay.  That song made me cry; Freddie was so far away, and in so much danger.  I couldn’t bear hearing it.”

So Mom left after a while, she had other people and her own family to see.  Later Dad caught up with her and they spent most of Christmas together.  Both of them always smiled at the memory.  Dad was home for Christmas that year, just like in the song.  It was a magical year for them both.

Mom was always touched by Dad’s surprise and by his mother’s loving gesture in fighting back the paralysis that was taking over her body to try to get her son’s girl to stay.  To sing when she could barely speak.

“I’ve always wished I’d stayed.”

We lost Mom on Easter of 1997, and Dad really never got over her passing.

The song and Mom’s story took on an even more poignant meaning in 2000.  Because on Christmas of that year, Dad joined Mom again for the holiday.  He went “home” to Mom for Christmas again, joining her in the afterlife.

Even through the sadness of losing Dad on Christmas, I always have to smile when I hear that song.  Because I can just see the warmth in Mom’s eyes now as she welcomed Dad home.  This time, I’m sure she was waiting for him, with open arms.

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Filed under Adult Traumas, Christmas Stories, Dad, Family, History, Holidays, Love, Mom, Music, Taking Care of Each Other

Way Too Many Ducks

A little while ago, my husband, John, nearly made me vomit.

That’s no easy task, as I have a really strong stomach — it makes up for my shittier lower GI system.

Did he make an unappealing meal?  Drive around curves like a maniac?  Take me out on a boat in choppy water?

Nope.

He read the news today (oh boy).  And he felt compelled to share.  That’s when I got nauseous.

Maybe I need to back up here.

You don’t know this, but John loves the theater.  Drama.  Shakespeare.  Comedies.  He loves to go to plays.  He has, in fact, penned a couple of them himself.  But he hates, hates, hates, musicals (with the notable exception of Les Miserables).

So today, after reading the news, he informed me that we have to go see a new musical that will be coming to Broadway.

I was immediately suspicious — once again proving that I am smarter than the average bear.  It had to be different from the usual musical fare to get John’s interest.

And different, this musical certainly is.  The musical that John wants to see on Broadway is called

“The Duck Commander Family Musical.”

It is the rags to riches story of the Duck Dynasty folks.  On Broadway.  The cost of barf bags will no doubt be included in the ticket price.

First, however, it will play the Rio, the Las Vegas theater where the Chippendales normally perform (with significantly less unsightly hair).  Because, you know.  Vegas.

Is it too much to ask that this group of hyper/pseudo Christians will have a special audience?

 

Lions would do nicely, thank you very much.

Am I the only one who simply doesn’t understand the fascination with these vile humans?

NY Times Photo:  Credit Zach Dilgard/A&E

I bet Maria Von Trapp would puke, too. NY Times Photo:
Credit Zach Dilgard/A&

 

 

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