Be My TV-alentine

This post is dedicated to Rickey Freeman- with the generous forbearance of his beauteous wife, Joan. A kindred spirit when it comes to old television shows, he’s sure to remember everything mentioned here.  Happy VD, my friend.

I hope yesterday was a very happy Valentine’s Day for all of you, Dear Readers.   And in honor of the event, I wanted to harken back to yesteryear to the time in my life B.B.**

**That stands for “Before Boys.”

When I was was an adolescent, my love life was uncomplicated.  Sure, I was infatuated with many handsome hunks.

But they were all in One D.

On tv.

And if I had to guess, I’d say that my heart stirred first at the cover boy that heads today’s blog post.

Tim Considine.  Specifically as “Spin” in the Walt Disney serial The Adventures of Spin and Marty.

Let’s join the boys of the Triple R around the campfire, shall we?

Spin could do everything. He was handsome, brave, a good sport, a great rider- the most popular boy in camp.  I was in love with this Mickey Mouse-endorsed male equivalent of Annette Funicello.

Uncle Walt must have agreed that he had a big star in Tim.

He made him a Hardy Boy.

And then he cast him The Shaggy Dog.

Fred MacMurray must have liked working with Tim, too, because from there he ended up as “Mike” on My Three Sons.

Truth be told, I had kind of a yen for the middle brother Robbie, too.  Played by Don Grady, he was real cute, and when older brother Mike got married…well, that left Robbie for me.

Well I remember the night that Robbie’s wedding aired.  Girls were glued to the common room television set- with their hair in rollers- waiting to get a glimpse of theses thrilling tv nuptials.

(As for yours truly, I had a real life date by now.)

But the boys of MTS didn’t take up all the room in my pre-teen heart.

There was this guy.

That’s Richard Chamberlain- in case you didn’t recognize him- and to me he will always be Dr. Kildare.

Here he is with Barbara Eden and another love of my life (but only when he was portraying Maynard G. Krebs) Bob Denver.

But I didn’t restrict my guys to the big cities.  I liked them on horseback, too.

Guy Williams as Zorro

Annette Funicello had a BIG crush of Guy, as well. For her birthday, Uncle Walt gave her a guest-starring part on Zorro.

Neat-O.

Another Disney serial gave me heart pangs, as well. I had a big crush on Buddy Ebsen as trusty sidekick Georgie Russell in The Adventures of Davey Crockett.

Then there was Robert Horton as intrepid trail scout Flint McCullough in Wagon Train.

And I liked my tv heartthrobs mysterious, too.

Spies and private detectives were very big with little ol’ me.

Let’s start with Ilya Kuryakin- David McCallum- in The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Sigh.

Here he is impressing Nancy Sinatra.

And I was nuts about Stu Bailey- Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.- on 77 Sunset Strip.

Check out the cool car and the cooler patter.

Doug McClure as Jed Sills on Checkmate captured my queen.

And even though I was a senior in high school by this time, I made room for my first real girl crush. Diana Rigg as the alluring- and lethal- Emma Peel on The Avengers.

Check out her very first meeting with John Steed.

Only too too FABULOUS.

Never going to top that.

Be still my tv heart.

BTW, I’ll always be in love with these guys.

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Posted in Nostalgia, Television | 14 Comments

Dance Party

That’s American Bandstand, Dear Readers.  It ran from 1952 all the way until 1989.

In 1956, after the emcee, Bob Horn, was fired for a drunk-driving arrest, Dick Clark became the show’s perennially-young host.

On August 5, 1957 ABC began showing it nationally at 3:30 Philly Time.

I could catch it on our basement Sentinel tv set right after grammar school.

Remember Kenny, Arlene, Justine, Bob and Carmen?

They were my heroes.

They taught me how to dance.

Starting around age nine, I started watching the gang intently trying to copy their unbelievably slick dance moves.

And to this day, certain songs bring back vivid memories of dancing in the basement all by myself à la Risky Business.

Author’s Note:  Just watching this clip reminds me of simpler, more innocent times when Tom Cruise was just plain adorable.  Not nuts.

Back to the music.

It’s time to Rate-a-Record!

(Btw, these tunes have a real good beat and you can dance to them.)

This first dance was invented on Bandstand in 1958.  “The Stroll” by Chuck Willis.

This next dance came from Philly, too.   And it also debuted in 1958.   Come on, gang! Let’s do the Bop to “At the Hop” by Danny and The Juniors.

My favorite dance had to be the cha cha.  I was good at it.  And here’s my favorite song to do the cha cha to.

It came out in 1960.  Jerry Butler’s “He Don’t Love You.”

Our next record is by Joey Dee and the Starlighters.   Everybody on your feet for 1961’s”The Peppermint Twist!”

Freddie “Boom Boom” Cannon held the record for the most appearances on American Bandstand.

In his honor, how about dancing to 1962’s Palisades Park?”

Time for a slow dance now, I think.  One where that really cute boy could wrap his arms around you and you two would stand still and kind of sway to the music.

The Beachboys in 1964 with “In My Room.”

Sigh.

But who could ever forget jitterbugging to the great Dion and “Runaround Sue?”

Excuse me, guys. 1961 is calling and I’ve just to go to my basement and practice.

Later, Alligator.

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Posted in Childhood, Dances, Music | 6 Comments

Sex Tape

True confessions time, Dear Reader.

Somewhere floating around in the ether there exists a certain rather racy video of me and another person- a guy- and well…

Not to put too fine a point on it-

We’re in bed and we’re making out like crazy.

How did this indiscreet movie come to be?  Let’s climb into the Way Back Machine and set the year for 1967.  And the place?  Madison, Wisconsin.

I was a pre-frosh at summer school at the University of Wisconsin.

And even though I had to take two courses- P.E. and Italian as I recall- I was having an absolute blast.

Author’s Note:  If you’ve never seen P.C.U. (based on the political correctness of Wesleyan University) please go watch it.  It’s stupid but really funny and I still find some of the gags relevant to this cautious, squeamish anti-funny time.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s three guys who do. As far back as 2015.

Anyway, my summer school class load was not onerous, my dorm- Allen Hall- was extremely congenial, and my social life was in high gear.

I was seventeen and for the first time in my entire life, I didn’t have to be home by midnight.

I want to linger on this a moment.

My mother was afraid of everything.

Dogs, heights, strangers, airplanes, cabs, pizza delivery guys…yes, pizza delivery guys, and because she was so fearful, I had to suffer a 12:00 a.m. curfew.  At Madison, we were allowed to be out until 11:00 p.m. on weekdays and 1:00 a.m. on weekends.

And though the other gals in my dorm were livid with anger at this curtailment of their civil liberties, I was over the moon with freedom.  Imagine.  I could walk out of the dorm in the morning and not have to report in until 11 p.m. I was in heaven.

These days, of course, curfew of any kind is gone with the wind on every college campus.  No, scratch that.  On a hunch, I just checked the rules at Oral Roberts University.  They still have a 1:00 curfew for freshman.

…Anyway, while I was getting rid of the dreaded mandatory gym credit and minoring in Italian, I was majoring in fun.

And one day, some boy (I can not remember who) told me that for his student film class project, he had decided to a make a “A Man and A Woman” type short.  And would I do him a favor and play “The Girl?”

I was flattered.  AMAAW was one of my favorite movies and I fancied myself as a (très) junior version of Anouk Aimée.

Like I said, I can not remember who this budding Claude LeLouch was.  But I do remember the guy chosen to play my co-star.

Eddie Weber.

I seem to recall that Eddie was from Milwaukee.  And he was a Pi Lam maybe?  Does this ring a bell for anyone?  If you know him, let me hear from you, Dear Readers.

Eddie got on board and the next thing I remember was The Director telling us that the short masterpiece was also to include a tragic car accident (me, I think) and a bed scene.

Ooh là là.

I vaguely recollect lying down on some side street in Madison for the car accident scene.  Claude L. was going to use a lot of jump cuts and creative editing to piece together the montage of my demise.

But I have very clear recollections of Eddie and I rolling around in the sheets together.

No! Not like that.

“The Bed Scene” felt more like this.

We both had our underwear on and I remember that as we were rolling and rolling around the borrowed bed, right in the middle of our fake throes of passion, Eddie kept pulling the sheets UP.

What a gent.

We did that scene a few times before The Director was satisfied that he had produced a masterpiece.

I promptly forgot all about it until the end of summer when we were invited to a screening in Film Class.

OMG.

I immediately covered my eyes.  I couldn’t bear to watch.

As the audience hooted and hollered and called for “More!” I wanted to sink through the floor.

I think we got a giant round of applause and I hope The Director went on to fame and fortune in Hollywood.

I was mortally embarrassed.

But if any of you can lay your hands on my screen debut…

I wouldn’t mind taking a peek.

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Posted in Memoir, pop culture, University of Wisconsin | 14 Comments

Cookie Monster

In the cookie beginning there was the Word.

And the word was Salerno.

Eating a Salerno Butter Cookie is probably my first lifetime cookie experience.  How well I remember those butter-favored pinwheels nestled in their plastic sleeves.

Their Art Deco factory on Division Street in Humboldt Park was (almost) a landmark.

Sadly, it was up for landmark status when in 2015 the order from the city came to tear it down.

But into my life also had come Oreos, Nilla Wafers and Fig Newtons.

    

I was saved.

Maurice Lenell was an old Chicago bakery favorite in our house, too.

But in 2008, their factory closed, too.  And by 2015, the small outlet that had still been selling the beloved pinwheels, jelly stars, Spritz, Powder Puffs and Almonettes had been shuttered, too.

Back in the late 50’s, when I was a girl scout in Troop 110, Samoa, Thin Mints and Trefoils were my jam.

And in 1976, Pepperidge Farm Lido and Milano cookies entered my cookie world- courtesy of my brand new husband.

In the 8o’s and early 90’s, I was ALL about William Greenberg in New York City.

Their black and white cookie was amazing.  (And kosher.)

But in 1997 I was introduced to Hemstrought’s Bakery in Utica, New York- famous on the East Coast for their delectable half moon cookies.  This intro was courtesy of a new husband.  (Not kosher this time. Neither the cookie nor the husband.)

These days I’ve been eating these.

These cookies are ethereally-light meringues with a heavenly almond flavor.  They crackle and crumble at one bite   If a macaroon and a really good fortune cookie had a kid, it might be this cookie.

Caution:  This confection is NOT for chocolate lovers.  It’s not too sweet or real gooey.

I’m sure I left out many of your favorites, Dear Readers.  Jog my memory if you feel there has been a terrible oversight.

Until then, don’t get caught with your hand in the cookie jar.

Here’s to many more happy cookie-devouring years ahead.

Let there by Light.

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Posted in Baking, Childhood, Cookies, Maurice Lenell Bakery, Salerno Bakery | 12 Comments

Was She Or Wasn’t She?

Okay, Dear Readers.  I need your help.  Something has been driving me nuts and maybe you can solve the mystery and resolve my problem.

See the blurry photograph that heads this post?  I want to know who that woman is.

Back Story:

When I got home from my Boston Christmas trip, TBF picked me up at O’Hare.  From O’Hare we went to Hugo’s in Naperville.

Yum Yum Sidebar:  Did you know that the Naperville Hugo’s has hamburger sliders?  The Chicago Rush Street version only has filet sliders.  The burger ones are terrific.

Anyhow…the restaurant was jammed.  Wall-to-wall people still holidaying it up.  We were one of a few two-somes in the joint.

As I happily surveyed the scene, I espied anther couple at a table over by the wall.  They were separated from us by a table of ten businessman- who by the looks of the ribeye and twice-baked potato-laden trays the waiters staggered under- had huge appetites bolstered by huge company credit cards.

But something about her caught my eye and I peered through the hearty men and their wine bottles and martini glasses to get a better view.

The woman looked exactly like…

Wait for it.

Helen Mirren.

Huh?

How could this be?  How could one of the world’s greatest actresses- and a personal favorite of mine- be sitting at a table at a restaurant in Naperville?

I was intrigued.

It was easy enough to check.  If it was Helen Mirren, the man she was with would probably be her husband, director Taylor Hackford.  I’d just take a quick glimpse at him and the question would be settled.

Damn.

He looked like Taylor Hackford.  I was screwed.

Now my whole evening was going to be a game of “Helen or Not Helen?”

I didn’t want to be a jerk.  I didn’t want to be rude.  I didn’t even want to take a picture of them.  But I could not stop glancing over there.

She noticed.

I felt like such a douche.  If this person was in fact, H.M, wasn’t she entitled to eat her dinner in peace without dumb a-holes like me staring at her?

And if she wasn’t H.M., she had to wonder why some random woman kept gawking.

But I just couldn’t help myself.

Dame Helen is an idol of mine.

My love affair with her started in 1987 when she played real life criminal Alma Rattenbury in Cause Célèbre.

But that was only the beginning.  In 1991 came Prime Suspect.  As DCI Jane Tennison, she had me at “I arrest you in the name of the Crown.”

Then came The Madness Of King George, Painted Lady, Greenfingers, Gosford Park and Calendar Girls.

And then in 2006-

The Queen.

OMG.

This bravura performance won her the Academy Award.  It also happened to be the last movie I ever saw with my father.  We were both riveted by her magnificent portrayal of Q.E. II.

But H.M. had more tricks up her cinema sleeve.

Just watch Hitchcock, The Hundred-Foot Journey, Woman in Gold or Trumbo to see what I mean.

She has won the Brits’ triple crown for acting: The Academy Award in 2007 for The Queen, the Olivier Award in 2013 for her stage performance of The Audience and the 2015 Tony Award for the New York production of The Audience.

And she can rap!

As you can see, I’m just wild about Helen.

But with all my gaping and staring, TBF could see that my mind was not on my sliders.

“What’s up?  Why do you keep looking over there at that table?”

“I know I must be crazy but I think that’s Helen Mirren.  Why would she be here tonight?  It makes no sense.”

And then the Mystery Woman got up.

There was a large family party celebrating something at the table next to hers and instead of walking right past them, the lady in question stopped, spoke with them and gave her congratulations to the woman at the end of the table.

Would a regular person do this?

That was it.  I HAD to find out who she was.  Our waiter, Brian, had been taking care of their table as well, so I wondered if he knew something.

“Who are those other people you’re waiting on?   Do you know anything about them?” I casually queried.

“They told me that they are from Minnesota.  They have family in the area,” he replied.

Hmmm.  Now I was more suspicious than ever.  Would an ordinary person from Minnesota radiate charm and be an irresistible magnet to the eye?

Would an ordinary person from cold, undemonstrative Minnesota stop at a tableful of strangers to chat them up?

This woman looked so out of place at Hugo’s in Naperville.

But when I saw her as a presenter at the Golden Globes, she looked right at home.

You be the judge.

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Posted in Actors, Helen Mirren, Movies | 4 Comments

Ave Atque Vale


(Photo courtesy of Bruce Robbins a.k.a. Ribs)

You may know some of these guys, Dear Readers.  They were Glencoe’s Active Screw Softball Team champs in 1966.

(As I recall, the team motto was “There’s no screw like an active screw.”  Very daring for those innocent times.)

I knew many kids in this photograph.  (I dated some. I even married one.) But the kid I want to write about today is to the right of the guy holding the trophy.  His name was John Barnard.

And he passed away on January 22, 2018.

I’m saddened by this news.  He was a sweet guy.

No, we weren’t real close friends.  At New Trier, John had been in the class ahead of me and I probably hadn’t seen him for fifty years.  A couple of years ago we reunited on FaceBook.  He would read the blogs that I posted there and every once in awhile, he would write a flattering or encouraging comment.

Like I said, sweet guy.

Little did he know it- he probably never would have remembered it- but John had inadvertently played an important part in my personal history.  With his untimely passing went a vivid link to my childhood.

John had been the driver of my first ever (double) date in a car.

It was June 1964 and the night after school let out for summer vacation.  Our phone rang and it was Ricky Gutstadt- my freshman year history class crush.

“Do you want to go out tomorrow night?” he asked.  “My friend John Barnard is a year older than us and he has his license.  He’ll drive.”

I was excited but…

“I have to ask my mother.”

I asked.  She assented- with the proviso that I be home by 10:30.  I had never been allowed on a car date before.

“I can go!” I told Rick.

I picked my outfit with care.  Culottes, a nothing blouse and a charm bracelet.  I thought I looked fabulous.

And the next night, Rick and John and Peggy Fridstein- John’s date for the night- drove over to my house.  From there we went to play miniature golf at Fun Fair.

And then we drove over to see the brand new model car that had just come out.  The car was proudly displayed on a turntable revolving high above Fergus Ford.

The 1964 Mustang.

Wow!  She was quite a looker.  I remember how we all ooohed and aahed at this fabulous new car of the future.

Bucket seats!   Neat-o.

Before I knew it it was getting near the witching hour of 10:30 so John drove me home.

Rick- under the scrutiny of Peggy and John- walked me to my door.

There we politely shook hands.

“I had a very nice time,” I said.

“I’m going to Camp Thunderbird soon but I’ll figure out a way to see you before I go,” Rick promised.

And the rest, as they say, is dating history.

John’s safe driving started me down the road to… well, everything else that ever happened to me romance-wise.

It seems like yesterday.

Rest in peace, John.  You were nice and our double date ended much too soon.

Just like this little life of ours…

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Posted in John Barnard, New Trier High School, Nostalgia | 4 Comments

What’s New(s)?

In case you don’t recognize him, that was “the most trusted man in America.”

Walter Cronkite.

For nineteen years, he helmed the CBS Evening News and we got the scoop on all the world’s doings straight from him.  He was my one source for what was going on.

But these days, I am bombarded with news (real and “fake”- aka real) all day long.  I get it on Twitter, from my AP and UPI feeds, I get alerts on my phone from The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The Huffington Post and I get it on Facebook from just about everywhere else.**

**News Flash: Mark Zuckerberg has just announced that Facebook will now turn its emphasis to the stories we run about ourselves.  I guess that means more kittens playing with big dogs and many more photos of cuddly grandkids.

But still News is big news.  And it’s been  24/7 for a very long time now.

But as I am bombarded constantly daily with screaming headlines about s-holes and the political a-holes who aren’t concerned about anything but restoring white supremacy to our country, it seems to me that most of our current news is straight out of Macbeth.

“… A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing.”

IMHO, I have experienced only TWELVE great and world-shattering news events in my lifetime. All the rest? Not as earth-shaking.

These are the top news stories of my life. (To date.)

1. The assassination of President John F. Kennedy November 22, 1963

2. The assassination of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. April 4, 1968

3. The assassination of Senator Robert Kennedy June 5, 1968

4. The United States puts a man on the moon July 16, 1969

5. The Manson family kills Sharon Tate and others in California August 9, 1969

6. Burglars break into the Watergate Complex in Washington D.C. June 17, 1972

7. President Nixon resigns from office August 9, 1974

8.  The Viet Nam War ends April 30, 1975

9. The assassination of John Lennon December 8, 1980

10. The Berlin Wall comes down November 9, 1989

11.  Students massacre and terrorize high school at Columbine High School, Colorado April 2o, 1999

12. Terrorists attack the World Trade Center and Pentagon September 11, 2001

(I can make a case for the #METoo movement but only time will tell if that’s going to be meaningful change or if sexual politics will revert to business as usual.)

Dear Readers, you might vehemently disagree  Perhaps other news struck you as more world-changing.

Meanwhile, I let the sound and fury swirl around me.  I hope- and pray- that I never have to add another really important new story to my list.

And that’s the way it was.

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Posted in News, Walter Cronkite | 14 Comments

Here Lies…

Do you read obituaries?  I do.  The habit started in childhood with the “Milestones” section of Time Magazine and I’ve just kept it up.

But over time- like everything else- obituaries have changed.

Newspaper obits used to be straight forward.  The deceased’s name, dates of birth and death, spouses, children and siblings were mentioned.  They usually included the time and place of the funeral service and where to send to send flowers.  (Or not.)

That was about it.  Short and utilitarian.

But these days, an obituary seems to have tuned into some kind of Facebook posting- the printed equivalent of “the ego wall.”

Today there always seem to be the dearly departed’s flattering (and of course much younger) photograph.  And then there is the list of  fabulous lifetime accomplishments.  (The grandiosity most times in inverse proportion to reality.)

These overblown sentences reek of desperation as they strive to prove how truly special and fabulous and unique and gifted and talented and clever and successful and beloved the late lamented subject was.

And nowadays, people ALWAYS die surrounded by their weeping and devoted families.

Nobody, it seems, croaks in peace alone at two a.m. any more.

In many of today’s obits, I’ve spotted exaggerations, conflations of the truth, and outright lies.

Fake wives made out of mistresses, careers that have suddenly become distinguished, marriages that were notoriously contentious but now are shining examples of marital love and fidelity.

SPIN IS IN.

So in the new spirit of complete fabrication, this is the obituary that I want.

Caveat emptor.

The New York Times OBITUARIES Sunday, January 21, 2046

ROSS- Ellen
1949-2046. An epic woman. An epic life. Devoted wife of the late William for 60 years.  Passed away peacefully at her mountain-top eyrie in Aspen, Colorado surrounded by her loving children, daughter Natasha and son, Nicholas, grieving son-in-law Zach and daughter-in-law Melissa, and her distraught grandchildren, Sam, Caroline, Hendrix, Nora, Ben, Olimpia, Justin, Margaret, Anne and Harrison.

Ellen was an outstanding writer and won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Blogging.  But her true passion was her family.  She was dedicated to their happiness.  She could light up her grandchildren’s faces just by entering a room.

Her life was a shining example of loving kindness and a deep commitment to all mankind.

Ellen was also a Girl Scout Troop leader in her hometown of Winnetka, Illinois, former president of the A.S.P.C.A.   She was also on the boards of the Metropolitan Museum, M.O.M.A. the Lyric Opera and Ravinia.

She had been a co-chairwoman of the Red Cross Ball in Palm Beach, and was a member of the Bath and Tennis and Colony and Piping Rock Clubs.  She was Ladies Golf Champion at the Maidstone Club and also belonged to the Myopia Hunt.

Services were private but a public memorial will be held at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. at a later date this spring.

Contributions in her honor may be made to St. George’s school of Newport, Rhode Island and the Audrey Hepburn Fund at U.N.I.C.E.F.

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Posted in Fake Obituary | 13 Comments

Darwin


(Photo by Natasha Tofias)

That’s yours truly, Dear Readers, being “Gran” on my annual Christmas trip to Boston.  And those are my grandchildren- Carly (Caroline) age one and a half in my lap and Sam age three and half on the floor.

A swell time was had by all.  The kids were sweet and Sam actually knew who I was this time.  (As opposed to his paternal grandparents who live only two miles away and are a constant presence in his life.)

Sadly, I am the OTHER grandmother.

Sam and I spent the days playing hide and seek, hide and seek tag- a game that Sam invented- basketball, soccer and tic tac toe – which I taught him when I became exhausted from all that running around.

In return, he taught me a new game.

Don’t Break The Ice.

In case you’re not familiar with the rules, each player gets a mallet and taps out the ice blocks one by one.  The first player who makes the penguin fall through the ice, loses.

Meh.

After two days of this, I had to change it up a little.  And the penguin was my inspiration.

I picked up an imaginary telephone.

“Hey, Sam, this is the owner of the Boston Bruins and we’re having a home game at the Garden tonight.  Can you deliver me some ice for the stadium?”

Sam got on board right away. Pretty amazing considering he’s never seen a hockey game and has no idea who the Bruins are.

“I can’t,” he said.  “I have other people who need the ice more than you do. ”

Huh?

“But this is important,” I explained.  “The game is being televised and I NEED that ice.  You have to deliver it right away!”

“Sorry.”  He was obdurate.  “You will have to wait.  Other people are ahead of you.”

Hummph.

“But I can’t wait!  This is a game against the Stanley Cup champions- the Pittsburgh Penguins.  This is a crucial game.”

“No, I’m sorry.  You can get on the waiting list.  I have other people that are waiting for that ice.”

“I simply have to have that ice.  The Garden is sold out.  Look, I’ll pay you three times the going rate if you can have that ice here this afternoon.”

“No, I’m sorry. You are going to have to wait your turn,” Sam countered.

I knew how to handle this. I was going to have to be firm.

“I’d like to speak to the boss, please.”

“I AM the boss, ” Sam replied.  “Sorry. No ice.”

I knew when I was licked.  I am only too well acquainted with those genes and that corporate behavior.

Paging his OTHER grandfather.

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Posted in Grandchildren, Grandparents | 2 Comments

The Gift of The Magi

Happy New Year, Dear Readers!  Hope 2018 is a fabulous, happy, healthy year for all of us.   And to get us in the spirit of things, let’s start off with a holiday tale.

A 2017 Christmas Fable

… So a few weeks before Christmas, TBF got himself an Echo Dot.

Do you have one?  They’re fun, right?  We liked horsing around with it.  He got a big kick out of asking Alexa what the weather was and I enjoyed having another know-it-all around the house just in the (rare) event that I didn’t know the answer to some trivia question.

Ahem.  Very rare.

And then we found a really great use for it.  We started requesting songs.

And faster than you could say, “Jeff Bezos,” this thing would connect with a satellite dish in space or something and BAM!  There was music- ANY music we could think of- playing right in his kitchen.

Amazing, right?

Sure replaced this as my favorite music device.

TBF and I took turns.  First he’d suggest a song.

Then I would.

We did this for hours as we decked his halls with boughs of holly.

Speaking of that, does anyone remember Pogo?

And, as we were wrapping up, (pun intended) I requested a WOW finish.

Great.  And we both looked forward to hours of more fun playing with Alexa.

Then disaster struck.

As I went to move an electric broom TBF had used (for the record, I am allergic to all forms of housework except cooking) I didn’t notice that its cord was entwined with Alexa’s umbilical cord and…

Crash!

Alexa fell right on her head onto his kitchen floor.

Poor Alexa.

Poor Ellen.

“Alexa! Alexa! Are you ok?” I beseeched her as soon as she was rescued and re-plugged in again.

Poor Alexa gamely tried to answer.  Her blue light lit and blinked but there was no sound coming out her voice box.

“Talk to me, Alexa!  What is the weather in Chicago, Illinois?” I begged.

Nada.

Thereby followed an hour of direction-reading and re-booting and praying and faith-healing and finally striking Alexa sharply on her noggin.

But to no avail.

Nothing worked.  Alexa could not be revived and as hard as she tried, not one single note came out of her dot.

Finally, with me devastated and thoroughly shaken, TBF unceremoniously dumped Alexa into the garbage can.

Poor, poor Alexa.

RIP.

I felt awful.

“I killed Alexa,” I wailed.  “How can you ever forgive me?”

“Don’t worry about it,” TBF soothed.  “It’s no big deal.”

“But I broke her and you loved her and she was brand new and…”

“Forget about it,” he commanded.  “It was just a toy.  I don’t care.”

But I couldn’t forget the sight of Alexa upside down is his garbage can. So pitiful.

But I still had time to set things right.  The next morning I rushed over to Bed, Bath and Beyond and lo and behold- there was another Amazon Dot in shiny black!

I took her home and wrapped her up- along with some coconut chocolate chip cookies I had baked to serve at the old Alexa’s funeral.

(Okay.  So I’m not so hot at wrapping, either.  Sue me.)

I was going out to dinner with TBF and his family in a couple of nights and I thought the gift of the new Alexa would be a great surprise.

Until he called me.

“Listen to this,” he crowed.  “Alexa, what is the weather in Chicago, Illinois?”

“The weather in Chicago is currently 42 degrees and…”

“What!  You got her working again?  How? Why? What made you fish her out of the garbage?”

“You know me, “TBF said.  “I had to see if I could fix her.  So I took her out and looked for some way to open that case.  There wasn’t any.  So finally I just smacked her hard on her bottom and all’s well.”

“Impressive- except now we have two,” I confessed.

“I knew you were going to buy me another one! I’m way ahead of you.  Keep it.  I’m giving it to you for Christmas.”

Aww.

Alexa, play “My Guy.”

And just in case you don’t have one yet, here’s a primer on how to work it.

Alexa, say Happy New Year!

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