ODE TO Palm Springs

 Ode to Palm Springs           

 Or

BLOWIN’ IN THE WIND

 We (the Joe Bonaduce branch of the family) arrived in  Southern California in the swingin’ 60’s.  We’d travelled from the east coast – as represented by Philadelphia, PA – home of so much of this country’s wonderful history – to the suburbs of HOLLYWOOD, home of the family’s glamorous dreams. There were six of us.: The required parents, Joe and Betty and four kids, John, Anthony, Danny and Celia 

We’d travelled in our much loved but under-achieving VW Bus. When I say much loved…that means by those of us IN the bus.  Those drivers caught behind us on an upgrade made it hard to ignore opinions to the contrary.

In its defense, let me remind you that the bus was the first iteration of the German gem, and, as I understand it, the bus with its full load of Bonaduces was still propelled by the VERY small motor that ran the little VW Bug! (I better tell you right now, these historic facts are being presented to you from the working of a 96-year-old mind.  Don’t put your money on it…it is, to say the most in its defense, the best I can do with dates and stuff like that.)

Knowing my competitive kids as I did, I’d gone to a pawn shop and purchased four important looking – but totally worthless – medals, and each day I awarded one to the child who had behaved most admirably on the preceding day. Three days out, I stopped and bought a fifth medal.  Yep.  Dad wanted to be noticed for his admirable self-control, and it was much easier to buy another medal than dispute its validity.

SO…Okay.  We got here.  We bought a home in Woodland Hills and settled in.

Wrong word.  The Bonaduces are, in my biased opinion, many fine things. However, settled has never been one of them. But we made it to Los Angeles.  And with all its faults we love it still.

But there was one place we failed to visit for much too long.

PALM SPRINGS!  

The words kept popping up among our friends and neighbors…and always with a glow. Everyone seemed to LOVE Palm Springs and Palm Desert and Palm…well, Palm everything.

The most self -controlled of our friend became absolutely airborne with admiration for the wonders of the area. The mountains were the most…well mountainy and the…

Enough!  You got the idea I imagine. But for some reason, except for one or two toe-dipping over-nights in a hotel with an aquamarine pool , I never got there.

Joe went a couple of times, and each of the kids spent a night or a weekend, but none of us really stayed long enough to know just what sent people into such a happy mood.

Celia was our first convert. When she shot for House Hunters, she often found herself in Palm Springs. And she got that same glowing look of the converted.

Lots of our friend started moving there – and many more threatened to go.  Even Jay, my friend and landlord talked about maybe one day getting a house there.

“But what about me?” I asked. “What will I do?”

“Get in the car,” he said.

Then there was Danny.  He’s been talking about retiring there (how is it my kids are old enough to even contemplate retirement?)– because, you know, everyone loves Palm Springs.

But I had still not visited long enough to “get it”.

UNTIL A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO.

Danny and Amy gave me gift cards for Christmas with the directive I was to go on vacation as soon as I was vaccinated. Of course, I had to wait for Celia to get vaccinated, too, but we spend a few glorious months deciding where to go. Palm Springs won by a landslide. We had friends there. Celia had people she wanted me to meet. She assured me there were great restaurants. And of course, my curiosity was off the charts by this time.

We stopped at Hadley’s for date shakes, snacks and drinks…including crème soda, which is getting impossible to find in our supermarkets! 

We stayed at Celia’s favorite hotel – The Old Ranch Inn.  Celia booked one of the 8 rooms on Hotels.com, but Tim, the owner, recognized her name from House Hunters, and he upgraded us to a beautiful suite.

Celia did not exaggerate – the food was wonderful.  We ate at the pretty-in-pink-and-white 849, took a décor time machine back to the good old days at Billy Reed’s, ate old-school Italian at Johnny Costas, felt very trendy brunching at Johnny Bongo’s. Celia had been talking up Copley’s – once Cary Grant’s estate.  It was as elegant as you could imagine.

And all in the company of old and new friends.

We didn’t make it to the snow – the tram seemed a bit daunting, but we did manage a lovely drive around the nature preserve of Indian Canyons. 

Lovely places, wonderful people.  Everyone seemed so perfectly at home…

EXCEPT!!!!

Suddenly much – not all but much – of the perfection that makes Palm Springs Palm Springs, is being lost in a hot argument about a pair of panties!  Not just any old body’ panties you understand, but 

MARILYN MONROE’S!!!!!!!!!!!! 

You’ve probably already seen them.  After all, they have been on exhibit for a bunch of years now in a lot of very public places, including a couple of years in Palm Springs.

However, right now there IS a lot of roiling of the waters about the placement of the statue in front of the Art Museum!

Pro- Marilyn folks say that the gargantuan statue is art, and what better place than an ART MUSEUM to show her off.

Anti-Marilyn (well, anti-statue) people claim that the statue will block a significant building – the museum being art in its own right.

Some even cry “SEXIST!   Sexist?  Marilyn Monroe?  No kidding.

Expensive? I think the price I heard was about a million bucks to bring her back to the so -far intended spot 

But you have to admit, there is some room for doubt about how the good taste of 26 concrete feet of Marilyn with her dress blowing in the wind is going to set a thoughtful mood for the little boys and girls being shepherded into the museum to study the beauty of the fine arts! Not to mention, when one exits the museum, you’re staring right up into her back side.

Moat people seem to be in agreement that A giant Marilyn definitely belongs in Palm Springs – it’s just a question of where. My theory? It’s Palm Springs and there is enough joy to go around.  So far as Marilyn is concerned.  I don’t hear her objecting! And she DID pose for it.

Come on. Meet me there and we’ll have a thoughtful discussion about it.

THE END

Writer’s B_____

 I really admire the phrase “Writer’s Block” – and I really, really want to hide behind it right now.  Because I can’t find anything I want to write about.  But I know in my heart that what I really mean is – I’m going for an easy out.  I know all the same words I knew before I got blocked but – back before the Corona virus, there was always life outside my Tiny House to report on.

So maybe…”Writer’s Boredom?” (I’m putting “Writer’s Boredom” out there, but I can tell it won’t catch on. Boredom makes it seem like it’s somehow my fault I’m not writing and we can’t have that!) But life IS different now, isn’t it?  I can’t tell you amusing stories about being the last person in a store that was bombed, or about wrestling with my conscience over reporting – or not reporting – those kids at the end of the aisle who are trying to get away with a couple of bags of candy.

The problem, as I see it, is that everyone seems to think his or her boredom is as bad as MY boredom.  Inch for inch I have to doubt that.

Example?  Well, when I go to my doctor, one of the first questions on their list is, “have you fallen recently?” But I am ready for it and I answer “No, I haven’t fallen in over a year. There isn’t room to fall down in my Tiny House.” Sometimes this gets me a puzzled stare.  Sometime a baffled smile and a delayed “Ha!” which is almost always followed by a warning that, at my age I must avoid falling “because I can do serious damage to my delicate 96-year-old self.” 

I resist the temptation to suggest that if I haven’t learned to be careful by 96, I’m a REALLY slow learner.

But back to boredom. Let’s be clear: I understand the importance of all of this. I wear a mask. I wash my hands to “Happy Birthday to You” (although I sometimes sing it very fast). But I can’t stand all the “rules of the day” – Can you eat outside? (You couldn’t yesterday); one-way aisles; only curb-side pick-up to “go inside and pay”; if you are lucky enough to find a tent to your liking, can you read from the scrunched-up menu you are handed? Or are you supposed to take a picture of the menu on your phone?

While confusion is the order of the day – these ever-changing rules at least give me something to write about.

My daughter, Celia, bought me a most amazing gadget to help me through the menu-reading bit.  It’s a little magnifying lens, about an inch and a half long, that will take you through almost any small print traps.  it also fits neatly in a purse or a pocket. 

Of course, Celia being Celia, has sewn a cute little cover for the thing which I, casually, leave on the table for others to admire. And they do, of course.

While I continue to feel sorry for myself – time is ticking and I want to go OUT, damn it.) I do feel very sorry for the merchants, whose very livelihoods hang in the balance of these crazy rules. Restauranteurs not only have to wrestle with just how much lettuce to buy or how much coffee to brew, but how many waiters to call in and whether or not to open the bar.

And that’s just the beginning.  The big, really expensive decision to my mind, must be, “do we put back the side tarps that we took down yesterday? And does a fuller tent mean we will need a lot of those expensive heaters? Or “Will anyone notice if we have one more person than is legal and do babies count?”

Okay.  This brings me to the last bump in my road. 

I hate it that I can’t find an audience for my complaints.  I mean, what good does it do to complain to someone who mistakenly believes he/she/they are suffering just as badly as I?

Having Patience

Patience is a virtue – it just doesn’t happen to be one of mine.

I have to keep reminding myself we’re in a crisis and there are serious consequences to consider. I try not get annoyed that we can’t go to the movies or the theater, or the beaches. While very tempting, these places are full of people, and everyone knows, we MUST avoid crowds. (OK, I admit I hate the beach, but IT’S THE PRINCIPLE OF THE THING!) 

I seem to not have passed my impatience onto my kids. John just got his PH.D. – an exercise in patience if ever there was one. Month after month, year after year, researching, planning, explaining, writing. DEFENDING.  Every step required patience. I would have thrown my computer out the window the first day.

Anthony designs and builds apartment buildings in Oaxaca, Mexico. Waiting on construction crews requires the patience of a saint. But wait, he does.

 Danny is another whole story…or, to be more precise, a whole series of stories.  Judging from comments I hear from people meeting him for the first time, he is one of the nicest guys in town.  I’m inclined to agree but I keep wondering what they expected. One unfortunate lady tried to explain what she thought but she got all tangled up in the effort. It seemed to have to do with, and I quote,  “he was such a “smart as….you know, kid… on that show.” 

His patience seems heroic on occasions, like the time a man slid a piece of paper under the door of the men’s room stall, so Danny could autograph it.  Dan did.  And added a smiling face.

But I always felt like my daughter’s temperament didn’t fall far from the exasperated tree. Celia rails against traffic and Trump with an energy that exhausts me just to witness.  But during this pandemic, she’s demonstrating this weird Zen calmness when it comes to… her quilting. She will sit her down with a few thousand little squares of colorful cotton, and she turn into the patron saint of self-control.

“See. Mom?  If I can harness this inner calm, so can you.”

I’ll probably harness my inner calm before I take to my sewing machine, but if I were you, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

The LIP don’t STICK

       There are so many issues these days.  Almost any subject I decide to write about carries with it the threat of making someone very angry. 

       Example: I was introduced to a new doctor a while back.  She was thoughtful and kind and spoke with a bit of an accent.  She listened well and explained even better.  After about an hour, where I felt very at ease, I finally ask her about the accent – beautiful lilting tone I didn’t recognize it.

       “WHY?” she flared.

The word came out quiet and cold. It was more accusation than question.

       “Why do you need to know where I come from?”

       I was startled and confused.

       “You are a beautiful young doctor and I found the accent soothing.  So I asked,” I said.”  “I have a grand daughter who has just become a doctor and I am now really interested…”

       “So is she from India?”

       I honestly couldn’t think of an answer that sounded safe or sane.

       We ended the meeting quickly and I never went back…I even changed my insurance so I wouldn’t meet her again.

       And yet I keep reading about how it is not enough to have friends of all kinds of accents or colors or… pick your own adjective. We need to listen and learn.  I’m game, but mightily puzzled.  Listen, learn, but never show any interest in all the fascinating things that come with new friends or colleagues? How does that work?

       So…this is a rather long introduction to today’s blog on a subject I’m hoping will not find many – if any – opponents.

WHY DOES LIPSTICK STICK TO  EVERYTHING BUT LIPS?

       Seriously.  Have you ever tried to get lipstick off a white skirt?   Or your fingers?  Right.  It is madding adhesive.

OR…Have you ever watched a mystery movie where one of the big clues is the smudge of lipstick on a martini glass left by a careless murderer in the room of non-drinker?

       “Aha!  He had a guest, and the guest was a woman.” says the quick witted detective who obviously DOES watch murder mysteries.  Or, possibly, has no gay friends.

       Forget that last line.  I’ve got wonderful gay friends and they all know better than to leave lipstick smudges -or commit a clumsy murder. 

What is the longest time you’ve had lipstick stay  on your lips.  Two hours?  Give me the brand name…I’ll try it. I am told that really long lasting colors exist, but the dye required to ensure it is – uh – is there a non-threatening word for poison?

I DID, at one time, care enough about long lasting lipstick to try, at the urging of a well meaning friend, TATTOOING.  A very hip (in my world) friend told me of a friend of hers who did wonderful work and could give me an (almost) permanently red mouth. I allowed myself to be talked into it, and the good friend did a beautiful job –  It wasn’t expensive…if you didn’t figure in the cost of an hour and a half of a needle going in and out of your lips…and it was ALMOST perfect…except for the spot where the needle slipped and made a nasty little scar above the lip line.

And 30 years or so later, what have I got? A faded tattoo and a permanent scar. 

Sounds like the title of a sad song.

A sad song that is sure to offend someone

Time On My Hands

This new freedom I have granted myself to write when I feel like writing instead of when the calendar says it is time, may to be a very handy thing to have during this isolation period. I am inclined to want to pity me for being stuck in the Tiny House when there are so many places I would rather be right now. But then it occurs to me: It would really be terribly self indulgent to complain. I have got a place to call my own and a dog that loves me unconditionally to share it.

When I am lonely, I have a television set that serves me comedy or drama on command. And when the days seem endless, I can brighten it up by indulging in so many gadgets. Of course, I do not understand how most of these gadgets works and I am still reluctant to connect those wonderful, fluffy white clouds in the sky with storage space in the sky deemed THE Cloud.

I no longer drive. My family finally won me over and I gave up my car…and of course, that $490 ticket I got helped me make up my mind. So now I Uber or LYFT anywhere I really want to be…except for right now when everywhere I want to be is closed.

What I do mostly right now is pick out a program on television that I really enjoy and watch it. Until I seen every single program in a series. I know I did not invent this way of viewing.  It is called “binge watching” (I keep up).

For me it all started with two of show business’ royalty. Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. I have watched – and mostly enjoyed – Frankie and Grace, And I have very definite feelings about both leading ladies. I think Lily Tomlin does a fantastic job as the nutter character, but if you watch too long at a time she gets to be a royal pain. But my complaint is with the writing, not the portrayal. I cannot believe that anyone as sensible as Jane Fonda would allow Gracie the freedom of her (their) home for so long. Because loveable as Lily is, she IS infuriating, and I have the feeling that Jane’s character would not welcome infuriating into her well controlled life.MV5BYWFhMjc3YTUtNTNlOC00NjVkLWI4YjEtZDg0YTJhMGYxNzI1XkEyXkFqcGdeQXRyYW5zY29kZS13b3JrZmxvdw@@._V1_UX477_CR0,0,477,268_AL_

As for Jane Fonda’s character I must admit that I am lost in admiration for the bravery of the actress who loudly, and proudly, announces that she is 80, and, not satisfied with just saying so, reinforces her argument by peeling off all kinds of artifices she uses to maintain her perfection. Of course I console myself with the knowledge that, even after peeling all kinds of gadgets like phony hair and lashes, she still looks like Jane Fonda.

What I’m talking about is the danger of too much binge watching. It seems to me that, like poker players, actors have their own “tells”, and, again like poker players, dedicated watchers pick up on those after a while.

I notice this mostly in the Brit mysteries I watch constantly,. After a while, the lead character gives away his – or occasionally her – Tell. A twitch, a raised eyebrow, a request for “a nice cup of tea”. Whatever it is, that character will telegraph it if you watch long enough. It’s sort of sign language for “Gotcha!”

The problem here is that once you know it, it either increases your enthusiasm because you are now “on the same page” as the detective, or a page ahead of the script. One make you feel really smart, the other makes you feel impatient.

Oh, yes, directors have TELLS too. If , for example, early on, the camera lingers over an empty bottle or two empty glasses in a room for one, you can depend on it. Those are clues, and if you work at it, you will probably know the killer before the camera confirms it.

Okay, it isn’t Brain surgery but it IS better than spending your enforced time at home cooking stuff you shouldn’t be eating….like the fudge in my fridge. I swear I will give it away to the first person who comes to my door, whether they or not they want it.

 

 

The Freed Spirit

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Okay. Here we go. I am about to write my first Blog using the new, carefree, deadline free approach.

As I’m sure most folks have noticed, there is almost nothing on anyone’s mind currently except the virus… and the list of “Don’t Do That’s” circulating. Just reading that list should keep us nestled snug in our beds for the foreseeable future…should we wish to abide by it.

The options? Well, actually, there aren’t many options.

You might go out to dinner or to a movie of course Except that restaurants are closed – and yep, so are the theaters. And Bars! And clubs – and that includes my piano bars!

And most of our favorite stores like Ralph’s and Trader Joe’s etc, are rapidly running out of things we already have a lot of but suddenly feel the need to stock up on, which explains why so many hall closets are stuffed with 48 rolls of toilet paper.

I almost understand the toilet paper…but why are people buying so much bottled water? We don’t have a plumbing problem…at least not yet.

I went to Ralph’s the other day when they opened the doors early for older folk and the handicapped. Admittedly that sentence is redundant…being really old IS a handicap. I got to the store a little late, but the line was fairly short – and impatient. Well, the line wasn’t impatient, but the folks standing in it were (you probably figured that out, but no dangling participle will make its way inadvertently into my blog)

However, I can do a fairly pathetic old lady and the guard at the door let me in. I headed straight for the paper aisle…the one where there should have been, but were not, stacks of toilet paper, paper napkins, paper towels…all that good stuff. Instead there were vacant aisles of aisles.

Next real need…eggs. The aisle was shorter, but just as empty.

However, the one shortage that got my attention, was encouraging…It was the lack of impatience and rudeness that I’d heard folks were enduring during these early days of deprivation. Not once did one of the “older generation” slam into my cart or try to grab a prized item from my hand.

Instead folks taller than me volunteered to get things from the top shelves that I couldn’t reach and once a gentleman offered to let me have the last package of Miso Soup. I didn’t accept, but I was pleased to find out that good manners are NOT dead. One woman who watched me search for some fruit specials mentioned that bananas were running low so I ran over and managed to get a nice bunch in various shades of yellow to green. There were shortages of things I’d come to buy, so I bought a few things that look interesting instead. I ended up with a basket filled with things I hadn’t planned to buy. But that’s a good thing because it will require some thought as to how to plan meals made up of something I never tried before.

I wish I were one of these people who love to knit. Or Sew. Or paint lovely pictures. But I’m not. The only way I would like that is if I could just decide to do it and be marvelous at it. I have no time for a learning curve.

I have been touched and delighted by the number of friends who have called to warn me about – everything.

But mostly about washing my hands. I expect my hands to just fade away if I don’t stop scrubbing them, but it DOES make me feel like I am doing something positive to help me through this mess.

Whoops. Almost forgot the thing that inspired to post this Blog right now. Since I reached this advanced age, I have become accustomed to the idea that I am nobody’s target audience. I’m no looking to paint my nails purple or maybe yellow…I’m not where the designers go when looking for inspiration.

But when it comes to medicine, by god I SHOULD BE part of a huge target.

So. Can anyone explain to me why the powers that be have decided to cap almost all medicine bottles with a little drawing and a message that reads:

PRESS DOWN AND TURN.

Are they kidding me?

I have in my kitchen drawer about five devices that are meant to help open things. They can turn them, or pull them, or bang them on the counter to loosen them. BUT THEY CANNOT PRESS DOWN AND TURN!

Yesterday I found one of those Press Down tops on my salad dressing bottle. I gave it a good try for about 20 minutes. It did not give. But then neither did I. Instead, I pick up the freaking thing and tapped it –okay, I slammed it – on the sink.

Unfortunately, the bottle was made of glass and it finally gave up the fight. There was salad dressing all over my little home and my littler dog – who objected loudly. I must admit, all the self control I had left went flying too…along with a bit of blood from my hard working, but very clean hands.

As for the bottle cap…it remained in place. It was still attached to the top of the bottle, touting its message:

Push down and turn.

I plan on sending out a warning: if I ever find the guys who came up with that cursed cap, I plan to sentence them to life in a factory, trying to open bottles.The rest of what I would like to do to them is highly illegal so I won’t write it here.

 

 

 

Now Is The Time

Today’s blog begins with the simple statement of a fact of life.  My life.

My Blog is late.

Despite all the times I have told you about how important it is to be on time, I have now decided I can be late if I want to.  Or if I can’t think of anything to say that I believe you all will find amusing.  Or interesting.  Or Surprising. Or any other emotion that my writing might provoke.

When I was younger and writing involved a whole lot of people beside myself, hours, minutes, seconds all mattered. If my story was a few minutes late, the paper went out without it. If a script was two seconds off, I didn’t have a job. I just want to write when I believe that something I want to tell you will be interesting or amusing to you…or maybe both if we’re lucky.

This new freedom is one of the few perks of ageage.  Just about everything else about being 95 is a real big pain in the…absolutely everything.

Are there things you would like to ask me about this long, long trail I’m following? Or questions about some of the things I’ve reported during the few years I dedicated to the Blog?  How about YOUR long, long trail?  Have you a story I might want to follow a while?

Are you a friend from long ago?  Maybe as far back as Philadelphia when Wanamakers and The Eagle were big? Since starting my Blog, I’ve reconnected with my cousin Harry’s son Harry Jr and it’s been wonderful. Are there any more of you out there?

I have to tell you, I’ve loved doing my Blog. It makes me feel like I’m keeping up with what used to be MY world.., and I intend to keep on writing, but I would appreciate a bit of feedback. I’m not a genius at all this digital stuff, but if you want to send me a FB post (NOT an FB message, which confuses the hell out of me) or an email – erbonaduce@gmail.com or write a message at the end of the blog with any ideas or comments, I think that will work.  If it doesn’t, I’ll call on one of the many long suffering family members who are asked to repeat instructions over and over again.

*       *     *     *     *thinker

There are occasional bonuses to my age-related deficiencies.  Not for me…but for the folks around me.

This one worked for my daughter Celia, who was taking me for a ride to yet another doctor’s appointment. She made a sudden, very sharp turn and sighed deeply before telling me that she was sometimes very happy that I have no sense of direction because she had just driven several miles beyond her intended turn off…and basically she didn’t want to hear about it. Happily enjoying the ride, I had nothing to say.

See you next time…whenever that is.

WOW!  Freedom after all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

THE NIGHT THE MUSIC STOPPED

 

It’s three o’clock in the morning and I am preparing myself for what I believe is referred to as A Celebration of Life . We are gathering to honor Lori Donato, and let me tell you – Lori led a life that is well worth celebrating.  No, she isn’t listed among world leaders – good or bad, so don’t whip out your cell phone to look her up.

I’m about to introduce you to Lori and tell you about the joy she brought to me and so many of my friends.

Lori was – and if you are a believer in an after life – still is – a musician!  She was a pianist and my most recent connection to her was at Oil Can Harry’s where she reigned supreme a couple of Sundays every month.

It doesn’t sound monumental when you say it like that. But her talent wasmonumental – not just as a musician, but as a selfless artist who shared her skill with every singer who got up at Oil Can’s and sang his or her little heart out.

I was one of those singers. And it was such fun. And if you really nailed it, it was an amazing rush.  And all because – THERE WAS LORI.

She had this gift!  Not just her facility at the piano, but in her patience – and some time, if you arrived unprepared or without your music – her impatience.  She really did believe the audience deserved your best effort.

They always got hers.

I watched in total fascination as she played by the hour, wearing a great big beautiful smile, like you were the new, underappreciated Judy.

There was nothing casual about her show bizzy appearance either.  Lori sparkled!  She Dressed For The Occasion. There was never any doubt hat Lodi Donato was in the room.

Lori was casual about her talent, but she gave you her all.  Enthusiasm? Yep. There she was propping you up when you needed it or just gentling nudging you along if you got lost.  It helped make life a little more glamorous for a few minutes.

Sometimes singers would arrive with some special request…like a big ending they’d heard their favorite “America’s Got Talent” winner do.  And Lori would just give the audience a quiet wave,  while she did “Arrangements while you wait.” But by God, if you wanted a big ending, you got a big ending!

Lori got her own big ending on the last night she performed at Oil Cans.  She wasn’t well, and she’d struggled to get through the night. Most of the audience didn’t know that. Yep…she was that good.  She’d carried on as usual.

The place was quiet. Most of the crowd had gone home, but for those of us who stuck around, Tommy Young, the talented bartender at Oil Cans, came out from his base behind the bar to sing one song…which he did with his usual flair and his own special yodel.

But then, just as the song ended, the keyboard fell apart.  Straight down onto the ground.

The show was over.  The music stopped…and a few days later…so did Lori.

Lori pic

Family and a Few

My birthday month is coming to an end, but the memoires will go on! While I have no pictures of my son Anthony and his daughter Emily, who came all the way from Oaxaca, Mexico, nor a picture of Danny’s son, Dante, all four of my kids and four of my grandkids (plus a newly minted grandson-in-law) made it to my elegant sit-down dinner at Maggiano’s.

Celia made it happen – she also made my red and gold dress out of sari cloth she’d bought me twenty years ago.  I have carted it around all these years, because she assured me an event would present itself worthy of the silk.

She was right.

95 years can take a lot out of person. But it can also fill you up with almost a century of love.

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THE GRAND ENTRANCE

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I think I remember looking like this. But I haven’t come to terms with danny looking all grown up. Bryan Titen picked out our wines and Ron made the wine-pairing cards.

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My lovely Celia and our good buddy Gilmore

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The Bonaduce-Legget families – in perfect harmony.

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The second party and second dress designed and made by Celia

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The Bonaduce Boys bring their shiny new act to Oil Cans.

THE GHOST AND PHILADELPHIA

Welcome to Birchrunville. And our beloved schoolhouse where we Bonaduces spent three of the greatest years of our lives. Birchrunville, as we knew it, was a tiny town of about 75 families – some of the people we knew were relatives of the families who built the original schoolhouse, over one hundred years previously. Unbelievably, just down the road from cosmopolitan Philadelphia, Birchrunville was a magical, beaucolic kind of hamlet. Once you found it you never wanted to let it go. So, while now, as Los Angeleans, we are about as removed as we can be from that quaint country town, there is no denying, we left large chunks of our hearts there.

When the invitation arrived from our very, very good friends, the Shoemakers, asking us to come back to Birchrunville to share in the joy of a wedding for their daughter, we (Celia and I), hopped on a plane – a journey of either a couple of thousand miles – and in its own way, an eternity.

Unknown.jpeg The Corner Store

Things have changed, of course.  After all, we’ve been gone for decades…but the corner store is still there, and the single pump gas station. And the wild collection of automobiles that help form a town where doctors and lawyers and farmers and teachers share equally in its beauty. There weren’t too many of our original friends left…after all, the old folks we knew got older and the youngsters got restless and left, looking for their own little piece of heaven. Pretty much the way the Bonaduce clan did all those many years ago. I iwsh we could let the restless spirits know that, whereever they found themselves, they’d be carrying this little piece of heaven with them. But the “welcome home” feeling was there.  Even though the schoolhouse is now an office building and the county store is a rather famous restaurant that enjoys an “it’s worth the trip” reputation.

We stayed in Center City Philadelphia at the Bellevue Stratford Hotel, a very old fashioned, wonderful hotel where I spent some great evenings in rooms labeled The Barrymore Room or The Library.  The Library had the requisite red leather chairs and bookshelves and the Barrymore Room (does anyone remember The Barrymores, other than Drew) was as ornate as memory thought it was. The Library is now “the bar” and the Barrymore Room now goes by the non-majestic “19.” But it’s still beautifully ornate.

IMG_8851.jpg The chandelier at ’19’ – once the Barrymore Room

Now, a brief explanation about the “Ghost” in the title.

C’est moi!

I originally got the title when I visited my son, Anthony and his family in Oaxaco, Mexico  We were invited to a baptism and when I went to greet the three year old guest of honor, she screamed and ran to hide behind her mother. The embarrassed mother explained in a mix of Spanish and English, that the little one thought I was a ghost. She had never seen anyone so white.

Okay, not the best reaction, but cute.

Several years later, when I met my grand daughter, Celia, Jr. for the first time after I’d spent a number of years back in Philadelphia, she ask my daughter “How come Grammy looks like she sleeps in a coffin?”

Now come on, I may be pale, but I’m not ghostly.

Image-1 (1).jpgmy good friend Terry.

Image-1[1] (1).jpgyou know who is standing behind me, right?

Well, whadda you know?  Pictures never lie.  And I, I must admit, am one solid ghostly presence.

But here’s a really concrete picture of today’s Philadelphia. In my day, buildings were not allowed to be taller than Billy Penn’s hat atop City Hall. Now, skyscrapers stand guard around him like gigantic sentinals. The young business people in the towering buildings probably have no idea that not very many years ago (at least to me), their offices would have been an impossibility.

My daughter stopped traffic on Broad Street to get this, so admire it!

IMG_8869