Well, my darlings.......here I sit in my hospital bed trying to type on my laptop. I will make it short and sweet. On Monday I slipped on some wet bricks while watering the potted plants and my luck ran out....broke my hip......shit piss fuck. Had it repaired last nite and walked to the door and back today.....holy moly. No rest for the wicked.
Am doing well but willbe in rehab for severl weeks. Will take my laptop so don't despair. Plz forgive typos.
OMG. As if I didn't have enough trouble before I had to go be a smartass and offer to do a blog on my late husband, Pete.
Well, it is too late for regrets and recriminations, I guess, but all of you who encouraged me to do said blog will now have to suffer for your kindness. I have spent all my blogging time this weekend in wrestling with Pete's bio and in producing a series of blogs containing the pages of same. And you know very well what that means. Yes, not only did I not get to work on my taxes but I did not get to deposit any of my deathless prose on a posting for THIS site. Consequently I am riddled with double guilt......first over the taxes and secondly over depriving you, my beloveds, of any new goodies to munch on.
Well, I can go one of two ways with this and considering that I do not really need any more guilt I have decided to blame it all on you who encouraged me. However, being a forgiving soul I will not punish you too severely for your sins.....I have a bunch of drafts and will get around to adding to one of them within the next day or two so do not give up hope.
Hmmmm.....two blogs.........I surely must have been out of my mind......
I know I often sink into that treacly Pollyanna-glad-glad-glad and I realize that, for some, the cloying sweetness is somewhat gagging. My apologies if I make you urp. Trouble is that the little compartment in my being labelled "Gratitude" has somehow grown disporportionately into a giant size walk-in closet........I somehow cannot help being grateful for all the blessings that fall around, over, under and inbetween the inevitable ghastly periods. Consequently I seem to write an awful lot about stuff I'm grateful for...if my attitude offends, I am sorry.....I don't mean to suggest that you have to be grateful too.....(only that I think you oughta.) Anyway, here is my latest bow of gratitude.
Attention All Bloggers : Do you Know that You are the Luckiest people in the World ?
I just finished gorging on todays offerings of the blogs on my reading list and I realized that we bloggers are indeed the luckiest people maybe in the universe. Not only are bloggers the smartest people, the most evolved, the cleverest and the most interesting, but we have the most incredible social opportunity ever offered to mankind. Stop that hissing and booing......Hear me out, please.
I have always detested parties....especially cocktail parties and have resisted attending them for most of my life. Why would I want to go to an event where I have to stand up clutching a watery drink, balancing uncomfortably on stilletto heels, trying to look anything but disgusted and horrified at the mostly idiotic interactions going on around me? Why would I subject myself to the pain of trying to hold a conversation with someone who walks off in the middle of my sentence in order to "talk" to someone else who looks more interesting? And, why endure the agony of having to listen to the inane, pointless babbling of a half drunk or, worse yet, mentally challenged sober person and struggle to try to figure out some appropriate response out of deference to my host or hostess who thought they were doing me a favor by inviting me?
Why indeed any of the above and, consequently, I strove (is that a real word?) never to do so and, as you guessed, I got labelled as a sourpuss, an anti-social oddball, the world's worst party pooper and ceased to be invited to just about everything. And that was fine with me. Except that once in a while I would get a bit wistful over the fact that, like Shirley Valentine in that fantastic movie of the same name, (does anyone remember it beside me?) I found myself talking to rocks in order to not forget the art of conversation.
However, now all that is changed. I now choose to live in the Blog World for an hour or two daily....a parallel universe which is infinitely superior in many ways to what the uninitiated call the Real World. Now, at any moment of the day or nite, on any day of the week, daytime, nightime, rain, hail or moonshine I can attend a whole string of wonderful parties at the click of a Mouse. I can now bounce effortlessly around the cyber world and participate, on any given afternoon, in a hundred fascinating, witty, profound and/or thought-provoking chats and interchanges with fellow bloggers and their followers from all over the world.
Or not. That is not participate but still savor and enjoy.
Yes, I do not even have to exert myself one little smidgeon. And, far from wearing agonizingly painful stilletto heels I can go in my tatty ratty bathrobe or even straight from the shower clad in nothing at all but my bunny slippers. I am allowed to wander through and eavesdrop on all that is going on, sample all the delicious canapes, nosh to my heart's and tummy's content on the marvelous spread on the buffet and not contribute a damned thing if I am not inspired or inclined to do so. It is a free feast almost too vast and delicious to be borne. And if I DO want to join in, all I need do is Comment...... and practically anyone who is at this particular party will attend to my remarks, but most particularly, the host who, like all bloggers, adores comments, will pay attention and definitely not wander off in mid sentence.. It is called Browsing the Blogs and there is nothing like it in the whole friggin' world.
I am awestruck by this amazing fringe benefit of Blogging.......so much so that I invite all my readers to let me know whether this same idea has occurred to them, being that most everyone is a more seasoned blogger than me. I am not trying to take credit for this idea...just to share it in case no one has expressed it before me.
Please, do let me know. And thank you for your participation, (you lucky dogs, you).
One of my precious followers mentioned wanting to know more about my late husband, Pete Daily, the wonderful Jazz cornetist whose Dixieland bands in Chicago and Los Angeles brought joy and happy feet to a multitude of fans through the 40's and 50's. (It is very dangerous to encourage me in that fashion, as you are about to learn).
I have been wanting for years to develop a website for him but wasn't sure just how to do it. It just occurred to me that I could set up a Blogsite for him in the twinkling of an eye and have an immediate potential audience of at least 35, so that is what I have done.
I have not had the time to post more than the first page of a bio I wrote about him a number of years ago and I am having some technical difficulties which I will solve somehow, but I have posted the first page and if anyone cares to have a look and comment I will be thrilled. I pulled up page 1 of my stored bio and found that it shows on the blog page in much reduced form. However, I also found that if you click on the image you get a blown up version that is easy reading....almost too large.
I hate to whet your appetites and leave you in midsentence, so to speak, but I promise I will get all 20 some pages posted as soon as I am able, in case you want to "eat the whole thing".
This is a deadly serious request for info and advice. I have been intending to take advantage of the publishing service offered somewhere here and at least publish some of my family blogs to give to....who else....my family.
I saved the site when I first saw it and as I recall they offer some limited number of pages....20?.....for $14.95 and up and additional pages at .35 or some such. Sounds great to me. Have any of you dear bloggers ever done this? If so, did it come out to your satisfaction? I would be hugely grateful for any information you can offer on the subject.
Well, hell, since I have opened a window into my brain and invited you all to look inside I guess there is no use in being reticent about showing you some of the views outside my head.
I am not doing very well at all with my latest digital camera so most of these shots have flaws to put it kindly. However, they are better than the proverbial poke in the eye with a sharp stick so I will post them with apologies.
The photo to the left is out of the my kitchen window and shows my lovely little fountain which burbles comfortingly during the warm months. As is everything else in my little plot of land, the planting beds are all overcrowded and overgrown..................... I never know when to stop.,,,,,,I never can resist poking a broken off shoot into the ground on the remote chance that it will grow........and often it does much to my mixed delight and horror..
Out this window is also the site of 5 of my 8 hummingbird feeders. As I stand there washing kitty dishes or chopping onions or veggies for my own needs I can watch the little devils as they feed and chase each other in their selfish attempts to lay claim to all the feeders to the exclusion of the rest of the flock. Mine are the variety called Anna's Hummingbirds I think..... In sunlight their backs are a gorgeous irridescent green, their heads are magenta red and there is s bit of black and white for accent here and there. In the shade they look nearly drab brown, but there is always a flash of the wonderful green or red as they whirr around and duel with each other. I will never forget the time I found one lying on the ground at the base of one of my sliding glass doors. He had flown into the glass and bonked himself silly. He looked dead as a doornail and I was wailing and moaning as I gently picked him up to see if I could give him CPR. (?) As it happened I noticed that his body was not limp and floppy like the dead birds that Gussie occasionally favors me with so I rushed into the house clutching him, mixed up a little batch of sugar water with a dollop of brandy and proceeded to trickle it into his beak with a toothpick. After a few minutes of my tender ministrations his little eyes snapped open and he began to struggle to get free so I carried him back out and gently opened my hand. He sat there for a few moments fluttering his wings and checking out the situation and then, without even a "thank you" or an I'll send you a post card" off he whizzed up to the top telephone wire. I watched him getting his bearings and probably wondering why the world was swinging around a bit in his head (that was good Brandy) and then off he went on his rounds. That was many years ago but I often wonder if it his descendents who are guzzling my sugar syrup are wondering when I am going to spike their nectar with some of the good stuff.
The photo below shows one of my resident hummingbirds feeding and, I believe, a second in the bush waiting his turn. It also shows, unfortunately, the flash in my kitchen window and probably reflections of some portions of Lois that were better not seen. Oh, no....that's OK it is only my hands. (I know I should have killed the flash but then the birds might not have been as clear.)
To the right is a rather amazing picture. I live in a very urban area even though it is given the bucolic name -San Fernando Valley. I have lived in this same house for 38 years and only once or twice did I ever see the type of bird called a raptor. Most of my clientele are songbirds, sparrows, doves and hummers with the great crows showing up fairly frequently. My favorites are the mockingbirds....I am crazy about that nutty dance they do on the top of the telegraph pole......leaping in the air about 3 feet, with much fluttering of wings and then drifting down to settle back on their take off spot. I don't know if it is a mating thing or what but it always makes me giggle. And I love their song. But I digress.
The bird to the right is sitting on my next door neighbor's roof right outside of my kitchen window and I swear it is some kind of hawk. Probably Troutbirder can tell me exactly what kind, but this guy showed up swooping over the rooftops one day in summer, looked over the terrain to see what might be on the menu for him and apparently turned up his nose at the neighborhood squirrels and kitties.....thank heaven. Then off he flew never to be seen again, but I was really awed and impressed that he had honored me with his presence. By George, you never know WHAT you are going to see out of that kitchen window......it is a veritable Nature's Peep Show.
OK, Blabby, enough, already. I must confess I am a total failure at doing cheating type Blogs. I am so addicted to this damned blogging that I am beginning to get a bit uneasy. Several times when I have wakened at 4am and don't fall right back to sleep I have caught myself sneaking around in a suspicious manner, tippy toeing (so as not to give my intentions away) into the den where the computer has been oddly left ON and adding a few sentences or a photo to one of my drafts for the next day. (Of course, I am not totally insane.....I do go back to sleep after a half hour or so of this nonsense....still.......the ominous signs are there. Dammit, no sooner does a person get rid of one Obsessive-Compulsive behavior than another one leaps up to take its place. Sigh. I have heard that Nature abhors a vacuum.....I used to wonder what she had against cleaning machines......(sorry....couldn't resist).
I will sign off with my usual threat.....More later.
Writing about my husband, Pete, the other day and the trials and tribulations of those who wrestle with Demon Rum brought back a wonderful old Dixieland Jazz song that I can't get out of my head. I wish I could publish the music so you could sing along, but I do not have it so I will simply quote the lyrics and try to give you an idea of the rhythm. Please remember that this is old fashioned stuff where the lyrics tell a simple story and the melody has.....well melody....many of you young whippersnappers may find it difficult to relate.
I was floating down
that old Green River
On the good ship Rock and Rye.
But I drifted too far,
I got stuck on a bar
I was left all alone
Wishing that I was home......
The ship went down with
the Captain and Crew
So there was only
one thing to do.
I had to drink
that whole Green River dry
to get back
home to yoooooou.
What a hoot!
I remember vividly the first time I heard Dixieland (or, as I prefer to call it, Classic Jazz. I was about 10 years old. My Mother, Dad and I were sitting around the kitchen table with watercolor paints and brushes, adding color to a stack of Christmas cards my Dad had just printed after carving the image into a linoleum block. (This was one of the few times that Pappy roped me into one of his projects that I was tickled pink to cooperate.) As was usual in those days, the radio was on and it began to broadcast a show that was entitled "The Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street." The host was Milton Cross, a very respected announcer and commentator of the weekly broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera House. The program started out very seriously as a spoof of a classical music concert and then the music began and it was glorious jazz with a fantastic little band of consummate musicians and a vocalist who was just getting started named Dinah Shore.
At the first driving phrase my heart pounded, I couldn't breathe and then I couldn't keep my feet from tapping......I was in love. It was a love affair I never got over. Almost 40 years later, after I had met Pete, I had the incredible joy of meeting one of the same musicians who had been a regular on that show. His name was Henry "Hot Lips" Levine, by then in his 70's or maybe 80's, and he was playing with his great little 5 or 6 piece band in a lounge in one of the big hotels in Las Vegas. Of course he knew Pete and was tickled to see him after many years so I got a hug and a kiss from this idol of my childhood and had the chance to sit and eavesdrop while they schmoozed about the good old days. What a double hoot.
I must be honest and confess that, even though I am faily well adjusted to this technological age, every now and then I wish for the days when you could turn on your radio and listen to the The Shadow, The Green Hornet, Fibber McGee and Molly and......Basin Street Chamber Music.
The drawing above is barely related to anything else on this page, but what the hell.........it is sort of related to music. It comes from my previous life as an Artist and while I often still do these scribbles for my own amusement or to celebrate some occasion in a friend's life I do not do it often enough. Perhaps the Blog will get me back to my roots and I can begin leading a double life for your entertainment.
This is one of my favorite roses a gorgeous thing called Sonrisa,,,,,the gang at Disney sent it to me when Pete died because they knew my heart would heal at the sight of a beautiful rose. That was 24 years ago and this magnificent bush has been pampering my heart ever since with profuse buds of love.
Below is a photo of my two precious Russian Blues....Minnie and Moe.....no longer with me but never forgotten. When the litter was born I threatened to name them Eeny, Meeny, Minnie and Moe and I carried through on the last part of the threat.
(Oh, I wish I knew how to control the placing of this text around photos.) To the left is a poor shot of my beloved Gussie, Senior Cat and affectionately referred as Gabby...(sometimes called "Oh, shut up will you, for the love of God.") It is Gussie for whom I immerse my hands up to the elbows in bloody beef liver each week as I apportion out the 3 pounds just purchased into daily rations for freezing and strip the skin the butchers so unkindly leave on the product when they cut it up for sale. While doing this I never fail to think of the many bloggers whom I follow who have delicate stomachs and are constantly going "eeeeewwwh" and "yuk" and "ugh" in response to things which I may have once considered a bit icky, but which no longer have the power to faze me.
And last but not least is a shot of my garden with a smidgeon of my glorious swimming pool and two of my dear mourning doves who come daily for their ration of birdseed and chatting with their friends. Please forgive the evidence of bird seed shells along the tile coping. When I tell people that I am fortunate beyond belief to live in paradise they sometimes look askance at me, but, believe me, my darlings, I have been around and I know what's what and I am telling you ................if this ain't heaven it'll have to do....
Oh, hell........it is tax time and I must get my fanny over to the dining room table, spread out my graph paper, check book and spread sheets and begin the wretched process of discovering how expensive it is to keep this old carcase going.
That means I probably will not have a chance to publish a blog today and I am ashamed and riddled with guilt.....also dreadfully deprived because I have become addicted to pouring out huge hunks of my inner self for your amusement and edification). I am ashamed because I feel that any well organized (ha....that's not me) and well meaning (that's me) blogger should be able to have a few blogs in the frig waiting to be thrown into a gap like this. And I don't. Oh, yes, I have a few drafts in process and a few filed away with just fragments of ideas that I intend to blog about but nothing I can simply toss into the breach to feed the growing (thank you God) multitude of my precious blog-hungry followers.
So I got this here idea while catching up on some of the wonderful blogs I follow....the realization that Bloggers can be Cheaters. I come across many of my favorite blogs with only a photo or a paragraph as the offering of the day. I guess there is no written Blog-Rule that says "Entry must be 200 words or more, preferably punctuated with photos and containing a minimum of two (2) LOL's. That is my own conscience and Jewish Guilt talking.
So without another word of apology, this is my Blog for the day. Before you judge me harshly think of this poor little'ol' white haired lady, hunched over a rat's nest of crumpled, tear stained papers, scratching out numbers in columns and having to add at least 38,570 individual entries to come up with her medical deductions for the year 2009. No, I am not that infirm....that is what it takes to KEEP me from being that infirm.
I promise I will be back as soon as possible, and I will toss in some kind of abbreviated Cheating entry each day till my ordeal is over. Meanwhile, sate your appetite and slake your thirst by visiting some of my blogger buddies.......their stuff is actually better than mine.....some days anyway.
OK...enough immersion in the Family history for a bit.....I suspect our appetites for more Blumenthal mishigoss are sated for the moment so I will return to another subject nearly as close to my heart.....Food, Glorious Food.
I just finished cooking up the most delectable corned beef, not so much for St Patrick's Day as in loving memory of my late husband, Jazz Cornetist Pete Daily. Pete was very damned Irish....born Thaman Pierce Daily.....with a devilish Irish grin, deep set eyes like black olives and a black forelock that fell adorably over his forehead not to mention a ton of the proverbial Irish charm. How he ended up with this plump Jewish Mother type is a long story and one so amazing as to be hard to believe, but that is for another blog. For now, back to corned beef.
Pete and I were an unlikely pair in many ways, but one of the things we had in common, besides a passionate devotion to Chicago jazz, was a love of sports so we often had our dinner by the dim light of the TV watching baseball (Pete's favorite...he had been a fantastic young pitcher and was on his way to join the St. Louis Cardinals Farm team when the train stopped at a place where the circus was in town ..... Pete wandered over to listen to the circus band and ended up giving up his baseball career to join the circus band.....typical hard nosed business acumen). We watched any sport available (not hockey, thank heaven...can't tolerate hockey) Basketball, football even Soccer sometimes, but I digress.
Getting back to corned beef.....sort of.......there is no use trying to sugarcoat a bitter pill......the truth is that Pete was an Alcoholic. During the time that we were together he was on the wagon for much of the time except for certain relapses, and the first time corned beef entered our lives was during one of these dismal backslides. I was working at Capitol Records at the time and Pete was home recovering from a broken hip. He could get around fairly well with either his walker or crutches so I gave him a task one St. Patrick's Day. I had bought a gorgeous corned beef and I put it in the pot with some cabbage, all the lovely pickling spices and a prodigous amount of water. "All you have to do", I told him before I left for work,"is turn on the burner at 4 pm and when it boils up turn it down to a simmer and put on the lid. It should be perfect when I get home at 6". And off I went went innocent as a babe.
When I arrived home at 6 and opened the front door my heart sank into my boots and I galloped into the kitchen to see if it was still there.....the kitchen that is. The upper 6 inches of the house was already swirling with black smoke so I grabbed all the potholders I owned and pulled the pot off of the stove and into the sink. After numerous cold water baths I was able to lift the lid and upon peering into the pot saw our dinner, a four by four inch lump of charcoal. There was absolutely no sign of the cabbage. I checked through the house for Pete but he was noticeably not there and I guessed that Demon Rum had somehow tempted him out between the lighting of the fire under the pot and my fortunate arrival. Sigh. Never mind......only the corned beef and cabbage died so no use getting your knickers in a twist, as they say.
The following St. Pat's Day I was home, having taken a leave of absence from work to nurse Pete back to health after surgery to remove the pins from his broken hip and I was determined there would be no more charcoal on the menu. I was going to handle this myself....no more fuck-ups, thank you. Into the cauldron went the gorgeous slab of corned beef, the pickling spices, bounteous amounts of water and then I went to the frig for the cabbage. Hell and damnation.......all I had was a head of red cabbage....no white. Well, why should that matter I thought....red cabbage tastes just like white cabbage to me.......pink corned beef and red cabbage......why not be flamboyant and use it. Into the pot it went in neat quarters and the burner was flipped on. We would have our feast watching basketball or something athletic. When the water boiled I turned it down to a simmer, popped on the lid and occupied myself with something else till the alarm went off telling me it was time to dish up the delectables. I lifted the lid of the pot and ......merciful heavens, faith and begorrah, fuck, piss, shit (thank you Dorothy) what the hell was that in the pot? I had put in beautiful pink corned beef and lovely red cabbage. While my back was turned someone had sneaked in and substituted a pot full of bright royal blue meat of some unknown variety and a similar colored ugly vegetable never before seen by human eyes. It slowly dawned on me that boiled red cabbage must be what the Persians use to dye their yarn royal blue for their oriental carpets........Who knew?
When my wildly beating heart settled down to a small roar I gingerly shaved of a slice of meat and a bit of cabbage and decided to sacrifice myself for the good of science. After nibbling fearfully I found that if I kept my eyes shut it tasted pretty damned good....almost like the real thing.....and I was really hungry......and a tightwad like me couldn't even contemplate wasting perfectly edible (?) food, could I? So, I bravely dished up two brimming platefuls, carried them into the TV room, turned out all the lights and Pete and I watched some game or other and devoured our blue corned beef and cabbage with as much gusto as if it had been real food, never daring to allow our eyes to stray to the contents of the plates till not a morsel of blue remained.
Afterward all Pete and I could talk about was what kind of veggie I could I have used to turn the potful a more appropriate bright Kelly Green. I decided it wasn't worth it to try.
These photos are of Uncle Harry Bloomingdale (Blumenthal) the second oldest son of the family. One shows him with the patriarch, Louis, his father. (at least I think that is Harry...hope I am right cause there is no one to correct me if I am wrong.) (If I am wrong, it might be Uncle Barney.....I don't think it looks like Uncle William who was not as handsome and whose facial bone structure was quite different. )
I don't know if you can tell that I am going crazy trying to fit this text properly around the photos......I have never yet gotten the hang of doing this right, dammit, so please forgive these weird page arrangements.
The lovely lady is his wife, Essie. As I have mentioned before, in an earlier blog, when Uncle Harry went north to New Bedford, Mass. he changed his name from Blumenthal to Bloomingdale. I must assume that it wasn't anti-semitism on his part as much as a fear of possible negative sentiment up in New England, and in order to make his way more comfortably in the commercial world he made the switch. In the same vein he also married
Essie, a Gentile, (yes, a Goy) but no shame to him......she was a wonderful woman and a fine addition to the family.
They never had children, but their household was enhanced by a niece of Essie's named Flora Pearce who lived with them to the end of their long lives. Flora was a gentle soul who loved birds and nature and, late in life was active in the New Bedford Community in those areas, I corresponded with Flora for years after Harry and Esie were gone and I seem to recall that she told me that a Nature Walk in the area had been named after her. When they came to visit she was always with them....they treated her like their daughter and so did we.
Uncle Harry opened a very successful Department Store in New Bedford called Bloomingdales. I do not think that the current "Bloomie's" came from that store, but who knows. He may have been the most successful of the brothers and was quite wealthy, enough so that he was able to buy or build a vacation home on Horseneck Bay which was his pride and joy. Sadly, an enormous hurricane in the 30's or 40's totally destroyed the house and nearly did Uncle Harry in too. No, he wasn't there when it happened, but the loss of Horseneck broke his heart and he was never quite the same afterward. I have many photos of Aunt Jen, Mamie and my Mother which were shot, I believe,when they visited him and were taken to Horseneck. I will try to locate them and publish a few because they were so evocative of the romantic style of the period. Uncle Harry was also quite a photographer and had a darkroom and did all kinds of inventive things with his photos.
However, the most awesome story involving Uncle Harry, Essie and Flora came from much later when Harry was in his 80's and very ill and infirm and his wonderful women not only rose to the occasion, but almost surpassed the Blumenthal quality of sacrificing for Love. At this point in time all of Harry's wealth was gone. The three of them lived in the same house/mansion in New Bedford that they had occupied for most of their lives, but it was a very meager existence. Harry, at this point, was quite portly, but could not walk. The only bathroom in the large house was up a long flight of stairs on the 2nd floor where the bedrooms were so there was little use in relocating him to a bed or couch on the first floor. Consequently, each day the two women would somehow carry him on their backs, up the stairs to the bedroom and back down next morning so he could spend the day with them. I have no idea how they managed this incredible feat since both of them were very spare and had never done manual labor, but manage they did for I don't know how many years till Harry died. Wow.
After that they kept each other company, both incredibly hunched over from their labors, till Essie was well into her 90's I believe. And remained remarkable, resourceful and awe-inspiring. I remember calling one winter and talking to Flora who told me that Aunt Essie couldn't come to the phone right now as she was up on the ladder hanging the winter drapes to keep the house warmer, or outside shovelling the snow off the walkway or something extreme.
I visited them once in the 60's when I was sent to a seminar in Boston from one of my Computer jobs, and I had the time on the weekend to catch a bus to New Bedford. For years I had heard about the grand old house from my Mother and knew some of it from old photographs and I was thrilled to have the chance to see it. It did not disappoint except to break my heart at the signs of poverty where there had once been opulence. I took them a new little table radio because I had heaard that their had recently died and that they missed it. They, in turn, treated me to a wonderful lunch from Kentucky Fried Chicken and we had the most wonderful visit. I still tear up and get a lump when I remember Aunt Essie saying wistfully, " Oh, Edna." and when I gently said, "No, I am Lois." she was miffed and said, "Oh, I know that, I was just remembering your wonderful Mother." Sob, sniffle.
Of all my Grandma's brothers and sisters the most memorable was Aunt Jenny partly because she was so constantly There and partly because she was such an incredibly amazing person........strong, brave, dependable, loving and giving beyond descrription. When my Great Grandparents, Louis and Sarah were aging and fading she took it upon herself to steer the family ship and even row the boat herself if necessary.
I think she was already married to Uncle Bill and had one son, Bud ,when it became necessary for her (or someone) to step into the role of Family Guardian and Benefactor. Out of the seven children she was the only one willing to make the effort and the sacrifice. In fact, she had already made another sacrifice prior to her marriage. It is no secret that there were two Kapnek brothers who courted her......one was the elder, Jimmy, who had gone off to South Africa to make his fortune and had, indeed, done just that. He was the first to make his proposal but she realized that accepting Jimmy would mean abandoning the family and relocating to South Africa. I do not know if she was tempted by the new vista or horrified by it, but the idea of leaving the family was out of the question so she turned down the chance for riches and adventure and opened the way for Bill to make his case, and so they married and Jimmy retreated back to his diamond mines and plantations or whatever. Uncle Bill was an entrepreneur who never quite hit the big time and though relatively comfortable Aunt Jen never had the experience of being filthy rich and it was probably just as well....she was much too down-to-earth to have played the other role successfully. Her true calling was as Earth Mother and Caregiver and that she did superbly, not just for the needy parents but for all the members of the family. She was the mighty oak under which everyone sought and found protection and comfort and, sadly, she received little visible thanks for it. I think the older folks, though grateful, came to take her for granted and the younger members chided her for being a martyr and were critical of her constant self-sacrifice. I started a blog some time ago about her and the situation in which she found herself and one day soon I hope to finish it and publish it. I call it "In Defense of Martyrs" and I not only defend my dear Aunt Jen, but my sainted Mamma as well. The fact is, the world needs martyrs like them if martyrs they were. My contention is that, finding themselves boxed into relatively unfulfilling situations, they made the best of things by deriving their pleasure from helping the people they loved.....that will be developed and expanded at a later date.
For now, to round off my Kapnek expose I will publish a bunch of photos.......I do not have too many but what I have will have to do. Sorry kids.
The pic on the left is Uncle Bill and oldest son, Bertram (Buddy) at that same fake beach we all know. I love this picture...Bud looks like he is about to be eaten by a lion, at the very least.
The pic on the right shows Bud and Lew all grown up, and Lew's wife, Barrie with Uncle Bill and Aunt Jen.
This next one is of the expanded family including my Grandma and Aunt Mary. Left to right back row, Uncle Bill, Bud holding daughter, Debra, Aunt Mary, Aunt Jen. Front row, Lew's wife, Barrie, my Grandma Mamie, Bud's wife, Bibbie (Betty) holding oldest son, Bobbie (Rob) and middle son, Bruce in the foreground.
Below we have the Bud and Bib Kapnek youngsters......Rob, the eldest, Bruce, and Debra the baby. To the right are Bruce and Bobby. In a lower shot Bib is holding Rob (I think) and Bud is definitely holding Rob....Bud was one of the "lucky" (?) guys to be drafted first in the 2nd World War but he was really lucky in being sent to a base in northern California for the entire duration. The photo shows him in uniform with Rob...who was still "Bobby" then.
So there you have it.....my beloved Aunt Jenny and her precious bunch. To say I love them madly would be silly...mere words are not powerful enough.
OK, OK, I know..... in my previous blogs about my adventures in Panama I promised to tell the tale of how my Father attempted to teach me to swim and I always try to keep my promises. Sadly, I have been unable to find a single photo of the episode of my life as a fish, but I will try to draw an accurate picture with words alone. However, before I launch into my expose I really must explain a bit about the personal dynamics between my Father and me lest I come off as being the world's worst wimp or, worse yet, the world's most monstrous masochist.
As I have mentioned before, my Father was a brilliant, talented but very immature and unstable person and I think I knew it even before I emerged from the womb. Consequently while other infants were busy filling their days with guzzling milk and pooping and testing out various screams, roars and bellows to find out how to best get their way I was wrestling with the problem of how to deal with Pappy without becoming the first infanticide victim on Christian Street. My Father had no time for children in general (they couldn't pay their way, they couldn't held an intelligent conversation, were totally useless at Bridge and the worst part was that this infant that had moved into the house and threatened to trap him in a boring middle class existence was not even a BOY.)
I think I always knew that my prime mission in life was to NOT irritate Pappy. I am sure I did my share of bellowing and screaming initially, but I am told I was really quite restrained for the first few years. Then when I was about 2 there was the defining incident when Pappy told me to do something which was, to me, totally unacceptable and I remember vividly that I drew myself up, stamped my little foot and shouted, "NO". There suddenly appeared at my eye level an enraged purple face with veins throbbing at the temples and eyes bulging from their sockets, and a strangled voice hissed, " If you ever say no to me again I will kill you." And I knew then and there that I had to adjust my approach. After all, my Mother, with all the good intentions in the world, try as she might, could not be expected to protect me every moment of the day and nite. Obviously the wise path would be to never intentionally irritate this dangerous madman again. And you must remember that we lived with my grandparents so the welfare of 3 other people was also contingent on my executing flawlessly my effort to become invisible and non-irritating. This worked fairly well for the next 14 or so years (until I learned to type and suddenly was seen as a useful commodity). Unfortunately, the plan had a huge flaw in that one could not always tell what in the hell would set the wild guy off and consequently there would be unexpected explosions, fireworks and demolitions which would cause us to rush madly through the rubble for cover and send me back to the drawing board to try to refine the methodology of Not Irritating Pappy.
So......when we confronted this gorgeous Olympic size free swimming pool in the Clubhouse in the Canal Zone and my Father proclaimed that he would teach me to swim I groaned inwardly but knew that I would have to cooperate while finding some way to avoid ending up stretched out lifeless and blue at the side of the pool with everyone gathered around staring down at my waterlogged corpse. I had no idea how I was going to accomplish this, but I was brave and confident in my ingenuity and my ability to absorb an enormous amout of psychological punishment before giving up the ghost.
My Father and I proceeded into the shallow end of the pool , my Mother, (who could not swim) with a watchful eye and some uneasiness took a seat in the stands. For about 2 minutes my Father demonstrated the art of holding on to the side of the pool and kicking one's legs forcefully and suggested I copy his actions, which I did with great vigor and many misgivings. Then he showed me the proper method of stroking with one's arms as he paddled across the shallows. Next he seized me by the waist and ordered me to put the 2 lessons together while he supported my body horizontally in the water. I managed that part fairly well considering I was stiff with terror already.
Next, feeling that I had had sufficient instruction and practice he ordered me to swim whereupon I naturally sank like a stone and rebounded off the bottom spluttering. My father was frowning, but it was not a dangerous frown...yet....it was the ruminating frown. "This is not working", he muttered. I have another idea......I will teach you to dive and you will learn to swim in the process." Whereupon we adjourned to the side of the pool at about the 4 foot depth level and I was told to bend at the waist, arms outstretched, and to fall gently into the water. Yeah, sure. There is no "gently" in a belly flop and that was all I could manage. This process continued for 10 or 15 minutes with me totally unable to "relax and fall gently" into the pool but at least I could touch bottom with my feet and climb the ladder to the take off point each time.....tummy smarting a bit from all the flops but still breathing on my own. Finally, I bgan to get a bit tired and unknowingly relaxed and accidentally did it right. And promptly went straight to the bottom head first in a perfect dive and bonked my head on the floor of the pool with a dreadful thunk.
"Aha", he exulted, "you've got it.....but this is too dangerous in the shallow end.....let's have you dive off the diving board in deeper water." "But", I protested feebly, "I can't swim". "Never mind that", he responded. "You will probably learn along the way and in the meantime I will be there waiting and will grab you by the bathing suit straps and pull you up if you don't pop up on your own." I was still seeing stars, but dutifully shlepped to the diving board, leaned over, stretched out the arms, said desperate prayer and fell in with the most exquisite of belly flops ever executed. True to his word, as I flailed around under water Pappy found me and pulled me up to the surface. "Let's try that again" he said......."I think we are getting somewhere."
I will not prolong the agony for you and force you to experience with me the subsequent 4, 327 belly flops from the diving board as the afternoon continued without success. At this point I was praying a different prayer. "Oh, Lord, please take me now !" There were still a few hours of daylight and I was really, really tired and smarting mightily. Then a miracle happened. No, I did not properly execute a dive off the diving board.........this ain't the movies. My Father got bored. "That's enough for today", he said brightly. "We'll try this again next weekend."
Ah, reprieved ! I would live to see another day and so on the following blessed day I signed up with the swimming coach, Mr. Greiser, for his class on learning to swim. By Wednesday I was graduating from the class with honors, leaping into the deep end of the pool and swimming across and back, arms flailing and feet kicking...not the prettiest stroke in the world, but no longer sinking like a stone......By George, I could swim!
Nothing could stop me now.
I realize that I am digressing from my stroll down thru the generations, and I promise my family that I will get back to that history as soon as I get Panama out of my system. Having once stirred up these memories I feel that I had better continue to the end. I am living right now in a strange condition.....part ecstacy and part misery and I don't want to have to return to this riccochetting back and forth between pleasure and pain. Of course the pleasure part is because I can almost reexperience those halcyon days when I think and write about them....the pain comes from my character flaw of always wanting MORE. There are not that many periods in my life that I would chose to relive, (not because they were awful but because I don't think you should try to change your life in retrospect.......what's done is done and you "done" just fine under the circumstances) but I think I would love another go round at the Panama Affair.
However, this is as close as I am going to get to nibbling at that marvelous feast again so..."Thank You, Blog for this chance".
I haven't forgotten that I promised you the tale of how I learned to swim, but in looking for pics from Panama I found several that are integral to my bliss there and the photo on the right deals with one of my joys. There was a wonderful Library in the Zone and having always been a voracious reader I immediately got a Library Card and it was there that I made one of my most wonderful discoveries.....the Legend of King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table. I was totally smitten by the entire myth and gobbled up every word I could find on the subject and then daydreamed myself into the plot. Some friend of my parents took pity on me and helped me create a cardboard helmet and shield and he even went to a wood shop and had a wooden sword crafted for me. Please do not ask why I did not identify with Queen Guinivere instead....I had no time for such nonsense....I was a tomboy of the worst or best kind and if I couldn't be a knight of King Arthur then I would just be a cowboy riding with Tom Mix but I wanted nothing to do with satins and laces and such tomfoolery. Anyway, I spent weeks galloping around Amador Road fighting dragons and evildoers before the attraction palled and I hung up my shield and helmet.
It was in Panama that I also learned to fish. There was wonderful fishing everywhere off the coast and one day my parents and a group of friends who were avid fishermen decided we would all go out one evening and have a fishing party.....the experts would teach us landlubbers (who had never cast a line and and who flinched at the sight of a worm) and we would all have a jolly time. Next thing I knew about 6 of us were all in a good sized rowboat rowing across some bay to a dock way over there somewhere and upon arriving the men in the bow proceeded to tie us firmly up with a huge rope. I was handed a coil of fishing line with a hook on the end and some unfortunate creature impaled thereon and told to toss the hook over the side and keep the coil around my hand. Of course, I obeyed. To be honest, I never expected to catch a fish....in fact I almost hoped I wouldn't catch a fish because I was quite shy in those days and really didn't want any attention. I would have been content to just sit there clutching my coil of rope and watch the others haul fish in all nite long. The Gods heard my prayer and laughed themselves silly. They had other plans for me. Before I knew what was happening I felt a tug on my line and then a strong jerk and pull and someone yelled, "You have a bite, Lo, pull it in." so I dutifully pulled and, lo, a good size fish promptly flopped into the boat. I was congratulated and given a new bit of bait on my hook and back we went to waiting for a strike. Hardly 5 minutes passed before I felt another tug on my line and then some more commotion under the boat and someone yelled, "You have a bite, Lo, pull it in" and so I did and another fish plopped in and flopped around our feet. I swear to you that what I am tellling is the God's honest truth. We sat there for several hours and no one else got even a nibble, but I could hardly drop my hook into the water without some damned fish grabbing it and trying to pull me in. I was in agony because I knew that the other men were getting really irritated with me hoggging all the fish in the Pacific (I didn't blame them....it was boring for them AND annoying....I would have gladly shared all the fish in the Pacific with everyone) and what was worse, my Father, who was a notoriously bad sport was really getting pissed at being so outshone and if there was anything I didn't want to do it was to irritate my incendiary Father so I sat and prayed that the fish would go to any other hook but mine and even considered dropping my line into the water when no one was looking so I would be spared having to pull in yet another fish. and avoid having even my Mother hate me.
Suddenly when I was considering jumping overboard and trying to drown myself we all noticed the weirdest thing.....we were all sliding off of our little wooden seats. Thank heaven, attention was diverted from me but what was happening? A brief examination showed that the line which we had tied up to the dock several hours earlier was now stretched tight and somehow, the water level seemed to have dropped about 3 feet so the bow of the boat was pulled high out of the water leaving only the stern half afloat. Everyone had forgotten that the tides in Panama were extreme to say the least and, obviously, the tide was going out! There were many moments of panic, ill concealed, while all the men clambered up to the bow and tried to climb up the rope to the dock to unattach us. Somehow, someone succeeded and in a little while we were once more level and floating. However, everyone had lost their taste for night fishing so back we started to the point of departure. I was all for pulling my line out of the water but was told to leave it and just troll, so, of course, I obeyed trying frantically to put a curse on my hook so no self respecting fish would come within a yard of it, but when the fishing Gods single you out for a bunch of laughs at your expense you might as well just impale yourself on their tridents as fight fate. Suddenly I had not a tug on my line but a jerk so monumental that it nearly catapulted me out of the boat. I screamed and tried to hang on while the coil of rope around my hand tightened and threatened to remove those fingers permanently. The pull was so strong it actually pulled the boat around despite the rowers and everyone was shouting and screaming either advice or curses. Whatever was on my line had to have been at least a whale and I can only thank the fishing Gods for taking pity on me and finally enabling it to break my line and escape. We made it back to the shore in silence and I don't remember whether much was said on the way home. I do know that was the last time they invited me to go fishing and, holy mackerel (if you will excuse the expression) was I glad !
Not sure if you are ready for this, but in perusing my messy photo files I came upon this rather marvelous photo of My Mom, Dad and Me taken in 1936 when we spent 6 months living in the Panama Canal Zone. Aren't we gorgeous?
(And don't forget, my Mamma had the most exquisite bright red hair, just a shade darker than copper wire and just as electrifying.)
I had not intended to go into this subject right now, but, having found the photo at enormous effort I decided I had better fetch it out and stuff it into a draft blog while I had it in my grasp so to speak. And now that I am gazing at it fond memories keep erupting all over the place so I guess I am stuck with doing a feature on our idyllic 6 month stay in, what was for us, a very exotic and exciting place.
In 1936 my Dad was given the opportunity to relocate to The Panama Canal Zone to participate in a project to build a settlement for some of the Canal Workers in Panama. (My Dad was an Architect, Engineer and Naval Architect and was sent down by the Navy Yard In Philly where he was employed). The whipped cream and cherry on the cake was the fact that he was encouraged to take his family with him as part of the arrangement...(transportation via a 6 day journey by ship was free). Being extremely ingenious and aggressive, Pappy was able to locate an American resident of the canal zone who was about to return to the US on a sabbatical and arrange to rent their house while they were gone. Naturally he had managed to find one of the more senior residents whose seniority entitled them to a fantastic near mansion in the nicest part of the Zone. Holy Moly.....not only a sea voyage (my first ever), but a posh residence and, for us, the most exotic local imaginable.......a heavenly gift for sure.
I was in the 4th grade at the time. Fortunately, because I was very bright and at the top of my class, leaving before the semester was quite finished and attending school in Panama in the fall until we returned was no problem. Off we went in May just after my 9th birthday and I was out of my head with excitement over the prospect of this amazing experience. For someone who had hardly ever been out of West Philly (not counting brief excursions to Pittsburgh and Atlantic City....max distance 200 miles) it was like being transported to the Moon or Mars, and the reality was hardly less fantastic than interstellar travel. The Canal Zones on each coast of the Isthmus of Panama were U.S territories. Panama City which abutted the Zone on the Pacific side, which is where we were bound, was just a few miles journey by car or Jitney (the taxis of the area) and was almost primitive and totally exotic by our standards. And, a few miles by car in a different direction plunged you into the Jungle....no, I mean a real jungle with wild animals (mostly monkeys were seen) and gorgous wild birds. trees festooned with wild orchids and hanging vines ala Tarzan and leaf covered paths where you had to be nimble in order to avoid certain threats like snakes and armies of huge ants which, when they crossed the path could cause you to wait for 10 or 15 minutes till their ant caboose finally passed and you could safely continue on. Those ants were biting fools and were NOT to be messed with epecially in the numbers making up their formidable 12 or 15 inch wide moving column (many carrying bits of cut leaves on their backs). We would tramp for hours (with a knowledgable guide to keep us out of trouble) through thickets, over streams and along various paths hacked out of the brush with huge machetes......the Panamanian curved swords. It was so different from West Philly it might as well have been on Mars and I was in 7th heaven.
And there was more....much more. The weather was balmy, the sky was an incredible cerulean blue, breezes ruffled the palm trees and the tropical foliage and to put it mildly, life was good. The Canal Zone enjoyed a number of lovely Government amenities, not the least of which was a large pleasure center which featured a cafe with a fantastic old fashioned soda fountain, a Commissary where you could purchase all your groceries at fab prices and an Olympic size swimming pool, the use of which was free to residents. At the time I did not know how to swim, but I was crazy about the water and had already spent hours frolicking in the shallows of the Atlantic ocean getting shrivelled by long immersion any time we went to Atlantic City. I could hardly wait to get into this huge pool and frolic thererin.....meanwhile, I spent time in the lesser heaven of the soda fountain imbibing incredible chocolate sodas and dreaming of dashing back and forth with gay abandon in the deep end of the pool. Incidentally.....the weather was always warm and tropical so swimming season never ended. The months from around November thru March were the rainy season and the rest of the year was very dry but it was always comfortably warm.
I can already see that this narrative is going to need several blog chapters so I am going to publish this section and go see if I can locate some other photos from that idyllic period and I will pick up the story with my incredible experience of learning to swim......which, as you may have already guessed, was not in any way ordinary or normal..........mainly because my Father decided he would undertake the project of teaching me to swim and you should already know enough about my Father to be properly terrified on my behalf. You can stop trembling.....I can reassure you that I did somehow survive.
My beloved cousin Rob just had knee surgery and Jess, his wife sent an email to update interested parties about his condition.
One of the advantages of being such an ancient person is the fact that you usually get to experience a lot of different things in a long life and can therefore empathize, sympathize and share about many aflictions and joys that your dear ones experience. Also true regarding Knee Surgery so I decide to reply and offer a tip or two that I had learned during my own knee surgery a few years ago.
There are one or two difficulties one encounters when living alone as a sort of hermit. There are also innumerable advantages, but, on the minus side, one of the very worst has been when I am on crutches for one reason or another and realize that I need a third if not a fourth arm and hand. You never question the design of Humans with only 2 hands until you are on crutches and realize the degree of your helplessness.
Anyway, in my usually ruthless fashion I decided to give advice whether it was wanted or not and wrote the following email to Rob. For anyone faced with the Crutch in their future it might be helpful to make a mental note of my suggestion.
Incidentally, my letter contains a brand new Family Note....I finally figured out something about who falls where among the generations of our family. It only took me 82 years to figure out that, rather than really being an only child, I have had symbolic brothers and a sister for years. Oh, happy day !.
The photo shows Herself, Rob and my Mamma.
Hi Jess and Rob
Thanks so much for keeping me in the loop on Rob's surgery. I am so glad it is over and that he is home and shlepping around, crutches or not. Oy, the sore armpits....I know, I know. I had knee surgery some years ago and the crutches were the worst part of it plus the inability to CARRY anything. Since the cats are absolutely worthless at bringing one glasses of water I had to devise a sort of bottle canteen hanging around my neck on a string in order to get available water to my bedside or chairside. (I have since substituted a fanny pack which can also carry spectacles, a pencil, book, phone and kleenex) In case Jess is not available, Rob, you should remember this ploy.....it is better than plucking helplessly at the coverlet and with swollen tongue calling piteously for Gunga Din. As I recall from my own experience, you will be mending soon and off to physical therapy in no time.
Good luck, darling and thanks for your lovely letter and compliments....I am touched and both proud and humbled that you think so highly of me. Incidentally.......I have just figured something out and it tickles me. When struggling with who came first, Evan or Oszcar or Max, I realized for the first time that you and I are actually of the same generation.....I just arrived a lot earlier than you , Deb and Bru. I have been saying that I feel like you guys are my children, but actually you are my brothers and sister and that is just how it feels. That is how my Mamma and your Dad and Lew felt about each other too.......she was just about the same number of years older than they were (15). An interesting little side note to ponder on.
So there I stand at the kitchen sink, washing kitty dishes and getting ready to face the day with brain only one quarter stirring and engaged when I think I hear the sound of a jet engine in the little outside nook beyond my kitchen window. Even one quarter brain registers this as highly improbable so I scrunch up my eyes to try to see better and I observe that it is NOT a plane nor is it Superman.....it IS a bird....in fact several birds.........hummingbirds, to be exact and they are whirring around and dueling like crazy with their rapier-like beaks, trying to establish which one of them actually owns the feeder that is affixed to my kitchen window. The fact that there are 5 more feeders within a 6 foot radius doesn't matter to those voracious, contentious little beasts. Each one of the flock seems to want to own all of them......there is, apparently, no loving kindness among hummers........just greed. But they are so remarkable and so beautiful that I must forgive them. I love watching them. The picture below is not me....don't I wish....but one has to sit still for hours or days to get this to happen and I no longer have the patience. However....ain't it grand?
When even my fat, but still hungry cats, batting me about the face and neck with their paws and leaping with concrete-clad feet on my unprotected tummy cannot get me up to feed them, my thoughts that the hummingbirds are probably flying in circles and bashing into walls desperate for their nectar usually galvanizes (?) me into action and I stagger out of bed and into the kitchen. Right now I have 8 feeders hanging at various places around my house and when I peer out each morning most of them are quite empty even though they all had contents when I went to bed the night before. (Of course, the fact that I am one of those loathesome creatures who watches TV or reads until 4 am and consequently does not stir until at least noon probably has something to do with it. I have not been able to train the hummers to keep the same schedule.) But what I have done to somewhat solve the problem has been to send away to Ebay for an extra set of feeders so that I can fill at least the 4 extras at night before I go to bed so that they will be all ready to be plunked up on their hooks the moment I am ambulatory.
It usually takes 10 or 15 minutes after I hang the full feeders before the little hysterics calm down, decide they cannot defend all the feeders at once and grudgingly settle down to feed at just one or two of them. From that point there is generally at least one bird outside my kitchen window guzzling away every 5 minutes or so throughout the daylight hours and even into the twilight.
I often wonder what the hell they did before I started my Hummer Smorgasbord and somehow convinced all the neighbors to do the same. These damned birds are now obviously the Rockefellers of the bird population due to our largesse.....were they on Welfare before I showed up?? Did they perch pitously on street corners with teensy signs that said "Will Hum or Whirr for Food"? Somewhere I read that humingbirds cannot walk though I recently saw a documentary that showed one variety that hops like hell all over the flower strewn field to find their meal. I also learned that they cannot survive on nectar alone and must get some protein via ingesting tiny bugs. I must admit, I have never been able to observe them doing that and it is probably just as well because I might be driven to go out with some tiny net and attempt to capture some goodies for them. My life as a handmaiden to critters is complicated enough without that, thank you.
One of these days I will stumble upon the photo I shot out of my window with one of my very own tribe and when I do I will publish it. In the meantime, these will have to do. Now I must go back to washing and filling feeding bottles. Hummers don't come cheap, you know.
I have received some lovely encouragement regarding my musings about the earlier generations of the family and on the basis of that I am going to dig into my messy files and see if I can continue to reveal the Blumenthals in all their glory. My brain is not of its usual tacklike sharpness tonite so I will coast along and try to let the pictures do most of the talking.
Incidentally....I think it is ironic that I received no encouragement from family members directly or as comments on my blog.....but nooooooo......that would be too simple I guess. One lovely bit of stroking came via email from Mary, a friend of my cousin Bruce Morton (Goldman), Aunt Mary's grandson. She is a wonderful and remarkable lady who apparently takes more interest in Bruce's family than he does and I am tickled to be able to feed her interest and curiosity. The other shout of "more, please" came today from my cousin, Shoshana, who is granddaughter of Aunt Jenny's Bud and Great Granddaughter to the sainted Aunt Jenny. She also happens to be the mother of the firstborn of the newest generation ***........Shosh and Mike Di Bennedetto have produced Max who was just 1 year old a bit ago and who happens to have been the first baby I have ever held in my long and adventurous life. I must look for that photo of me holding Max to see if I can publish it here some day....such a milestone deserves to be preserved. If I have lost it I hope that Shosh can supply me with a new copy.
The picture on the right is Aunt Mary and Uncle
Sam Goldman, either at the beach in Atlantic City or at a fake beach in some photographer's studio. Don't know if they were already married or just courting, (I notice the rather proprietary arm of Aunt Mary draped across Uncle Sam's manly (or rather bony) thigh so I suspect married or almost) but there they are for all to see.......in their bathing costumes yet.
Below on the left is Aunt Mary..........she was the prettiest one of the girls....I don't think anyone will argue about that and she had a sweet nature with a teensy bit more wildness than either Jenny or Mamie....I said just a bit. After she and Uncle Sam married they moved to Atlantic City.....reasons unknown......and were not such frequent visitors as the members living in Philly, but A.C was only 60 miles away so they were present for all holidays and important occasions. Uncle Sam was an accountant....I do not know much more about him...... and they produced two children, first Selma and then Marcus (Later to become Mark Morton). One of the most enormous family tragedies occurred when Selma, on her honeymoon, contracted Spinal Meningitis and died after only a brief illness. Aunt Mary never completely recovered, though she did quite well and thereafter poured all of her adoration into Mark. He was a maverick like me. First, he was absolutely gorgeous (unlike me). Then he got hooked on body-building long before it was any kind of sport or lifestyle. While a teen-ager in Atlantic City he became a Lifeguard and began lifting weights. Then he took himself off to New York City to go to college at NYU..........acquired an equally gorgeous buddy named Hank and the two of them went about layering on as many muscles as a body could comfortably support. They were really something to behold and I can only weep over the bodies of (figuratively) slain womankind that they surely left strewn in their wake as they swashbuckled around New York and Philly. Somewhere around this time Aunt Mary and Uncle Sam moved back to Philly, a few blocks away from us and Aunt Mary would get all excited whenever Mark was coming home for the weekend. "I've got to go to the Butcher, Mr Singer on 60th Street and get a big Pin Bone Roast.....Mark will be here for the weekend and he won't eat anything but roast beef," she would mutter. (I still don't know exactly what a Pin Bone Roast was.....maybe a cross between Prime Rib and Sirloin) Anyway.....Mark always got his beef. Aunt Mary was a good cook and often would bring pans of some delectable doughy stuff to our house, put in on the radiator covers to rise and bake scrumptious goodies in our oven. Oy, I can still smell it....... and taste it.......heaven. She also made a mean Sponge Cake and some incredible muffin or bun type things that were savory not sweet, filled with ground meat, onions and spices. Sigh, Gasp, Slobber.
Mark played the field and we wondered if he would ever find anyone he wanted to marry, but he happened upon the gorgeous Ruth. It would be easy to say that it was just the combination of beauty, brains, charm that did him in, but I heard that her parents owned a deli and it is my hunch that the lure of all that corned beef may have had something to do with it too. That pairing produced two lovely boys, Ken and Bruce.......the very Bruce whose pal, Mary, has encouraged me to write more about the family, so, Mary, consider that this is for you and Bruce.
On the right is a picture of the three sisters, Mary, Mamie and Jenny in their teens or perhaps early twenties. When I said that Mary was the prettiest I forgot that in this picture Aunt Jenny also looked lovely........after all, she and Mary, though not identical twins, were twins nevertheless. My grandma was not a beauty but she had all the family warmth and kindness.
This photo above is a rare and wonderful one. It shows 3 generations of the Blumenthal women including a younger generation of offspring. The younger generation includes my Mamma- Edna Kauffman, Selma Goldman, Charlotte Blumenthal (Uncle William's daughter) Mark Morton Goldman and Bert (Bud) and Lewis Kapnek - Aunt Jenny and Uncle Bill's boys.
Back row from left to right:
Selma Goldman, Charlotte (Uncle William's daughter), Aunt Rae (Uncle William's wife), Aunt Mary Goldman.
Middle row: My Mamma Edna Kauffman, my Grandma Mamie, GreatGrandma Sarah, Aunt Jenny Kapnek holding baby Lewis.
Seated in front are Mark Morton Goldman and Bud Kapnek.
This is the only picture that has nearly the entire Blumenthal matriarchy and most of the children up to that time which I am guessing was around 1920. As you will notice, my Mamma, Selma and Charlotte were much older than the Goldman and Kapnek boys. I am guessing Mamma was about 14 here, Mark would have been around 7, Bud about 4 or 5 and Lew under 2. The 3 girls of my Mamma's generation were tragically ill fated. Selma, as I mentioned died on her honeymoon while in her twenties, Charlotte died of cancer in her early 30's and my Mamma died of cancer in her mid -fifties. The rest of the family was remarkably long lived, most of them into their 80's and 90's. One never knows what's in store for you and that is undoubtedly a good thing.
Now I must go and weep a few gentle tears for all of my beloved ancestors.
***Footnote: I was dreadfully mistaken when I said above that Shoshana had produced the first of a new generation. I apologize abjectly to Bruce Morton whose adorable and remarkable son Evan is about 16 at this moment in time. He was so far ahead of the new babies that I nearly forgot about him....but not for long.
Please forgive my lapse........Oy....so much to remember.....
Maverick of a weird, but wonderful family. Have managed to stay alive for an astounding 86+ years kept alive by a passionate interest in many things and a sense of humor.
Have led 2 or 3 separate lives,the first 40 years as a starving artist, ceramist, and graphic designer. At age 40 a matchbook cover that said "Be A Computer Programmer" inspired me to go back to school and emerge as a binary fanatic. Loved my work, had a wonderful 20 year career as programmer and trouble shooter. At the same time I had the chance to meet, befriend and marry Jazz Cornetist Pete Daily,an idol of my youth, whom I had worshipped in my young life. Lost him to cancer after 11 wonderful (and sometimes awful) years. Retired in 1989 and had 20 years of fantastic travel adventures all over the world. Now I crochet afghans, tend my garden, my 3 cats, the neighborhood birds and squirrels, a flock of voracious hummingbirds and assorted wildlife like possums and raccoon families who come nightly to my Porch Buffet. A great life, and it ain't over yet !....(after all, I have just discovered Blogging....)