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!

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ON GETTING MORE THAN YOU BARGAINED FOR

“Excuse me Ma’am…”

In a move rather reminiscent of the famous Abbott and Costello “Slowly I Turned” sketch, I turned toward the voice.

Surprise!

Not the smiling staff person one would expect at Macy’s.  Nope! Just four police officers – three male and one female, looking rather surprised to see me.

“Everyone else has left the store,” one of them explained.  Which didn’t explain much!.

Okay, I admit my timing was rather off, but I had just discovered a great Stefani blouse and I was reluctant to be disturbed

“Wait.  What? I tried to reach that blouse, but by now we were moving, slowly but inexorably away from my treasure. I looking around the store…empty by now except for me and the cops of course. Then I stopped walking

“Where’d everybody go?”

“There’s been a shooting,” the lady cop said.

“How are you with steps?” an officer asked and they all looked hopeful.

I considered.  “Not great. I really don’t do steps much.”

I paused then, but trying to lighten the moment I offered a happy thought.

“But this is Macy’s. They have escalators! I offered reassuringly.

“Turned off” said someone.  And we kept moving.

By this time we had reached the no longer escalating escalators. My leader handed me over gently to the first step.  She called something I didn’t understand and suddenly another group of smiling officers was staring down at me.  And from behind me one of my escorts yelled…”She might need help!”

But never one to quit in a crisis, I began the long climb.

About half way up I stopped.  And from above and below that triggered movement.

“Do you need help?” Someone called out, but I said no.

I told them I needed to stop to find my nitro. Silence.

“Nitro,” I repeated.  “It’s in my purse.”

Trying to find a very, very tiny bottle of medicine, in an unnecessarily large purse, while eight policemen wait, is – to say the VERY least – not an easy task. Especially when the idea of a shooting looms in the background. But find i, I did.  Of course then one must pause to give the miracle drug time to do its work.

Okay, either five minutes or an hour and a half later, the nitro kicked in and I climbed to the top. I would like to say there were cheers all around but that would be FAKE NEWS. Inevitably, we reached the great outdoors where a few hundred other folks had already gathered. My group scurried away to find a comfortable chair for me, and, even more surprising, they found a nice shaded spot in which to house me while we waited for…What ever.

Once settled, with my escorts free to do other things, I began to realize that this was a rather rare encounter of a scary kind. Guns. Officers, hundreds of people standing quietly, watching and waiting for their next clue . The big thing was, there was no panicking. Nobody tried to sneak out from behind the yellow police tape. I sat there, rather grandly I thought, in the comfy chair, which gave onlookers the incorrect idea that I was either a victim of something or a VERY IMPORTANT PERSON.

Then I noticed the news vans arriving.  Channel 5 was the first one I saw pull up.  I went back to fishing in my purse, this time for my brush and my lipstick just in case someone wanted to interview me!

No one did. Their loss.  I had a lot of amusing things I thought I could say.

So, okay.  I’m not going to be interviewed and I can’t call my family and scare them to death with exciting tales of being caught in a shootout.  And I can’t call LYFT because the street is close.

“I could die here in this parking lot, I thought. But even I knew I was being a Drama Queen.  Back to reality.  Keep calm and carry on!.

But damn all! I MISSED THE SHOOTOUT PART! But the rest of it was kind of fascinating. There was no screaming or crying or fear.  Not even a whole lot of impatience while a hundred or so people stood (mostly patiently,) while the officers did their work in quietly efficient and very polite fashion.

I had to admire a lady I later identified as Milly.  She was the Macy Store Manager, and it was obviously her assignment to keep everybody calm…which she managed to do in spite of some pretty scary circumstances. Milly saw to it that there was cold water available and gave out news bits as they became available. I noticed one woman working her way up to, but there was Milly, telling her calmly, but gently to get a grip, and the next time I looked, they were chatting.

Of course, one can’t be caught up in something like this without thinking FACEBOOK!  So decided I should take a selfie.  One problem.  I had never taken a selfie and had no clue as to how one got the camera to face the wrong way.  However, I hit something and it worked.  Not sure what or how, but that’s okay.

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Admittedly it isn’t a great picture of me but…oh well.  I’ll think of something exciting to explain the expression.

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POLICE CARS WAITING – TO DO CHASE.

As I tell and retell the story my part will undoubtedly grow. Stay tuned.

Music and Memories

Every so often, when I’m alone in my Tiny House, I will begin humming. It’s a kind of unconscious thing with me. Sometimes it takes a while for me to put words to the tune, but when the words show up, I’m no longer alone. The memories come flooding in.

The other day I heard myself humming a song from my long ago world. It was Sweet Little Alice Blue Gown. Never heard of it?  Not surprising…it was written in 1919…even I wasn’t born yet. But when I recognized the melody, my mind went back to my mother, Alice, who used to sing that song to me from infancy to teenaged impatience. My mother, as you probably gathered from frequent references, had a soft voice and a lovely way of singing me through a whole lot of troubles.

Everything seemed better. It wasn’t great music I suppose, but I loved it then, I love it still and I remember how we danced as she sang.

In my sweet little Alice blue gown,
When I first wandered down into town,
I was so proud inside,
As I felt every eye,
And in every shop window I primped, passing by.

My father wrote a few songs himself, but they were only used in little local shows – in which he also starred.  Not long ago I heard me humming a song I THINK he wrote, but I could be wrong. It was a sad song, and was never heard anywhere except a show I saw him do.

I lost my faith in you

I found you were untrue.

You promised dream castle in Spain dear.

But brought only heart ache and pain dear…

I cried then and I cry now as I recreate the scene. My father wore his beautiful tuxedo and sang to a beautiful girl in a pretty gown (she had to use one of her own gowns, there was no budget for costumes). They danced as he sang and at the very end, he spun her off stage. The curtain closed on Act One with him standing alone, staring at the hand-painted grey sky.

My father entered into another song memory, this one where he saved me from facing the cold fact that, as time approached for my Senior Prom, I DIDN’T HAVE A BOYFRIEND! Oh, I knew a couple of boys, but they were all brothers of my girl friends, so they didn’t count. Realizing that my life practically depended on it, Father found me a man. Not just any neighborhood guy, but a real live Marine! WOW! His name was Lucky and he showed up the night of the prom with the required wrist corsage and wearing formal marines blues.  He was BEAUTIFUL, and every girl there wanted to meet him –  almost as badly as I wanted them to. To father’s dismay, Lucky didn’t go away. We dated for a while and the song that brings him to mind is I’ll Walk Alone.  He had me promise to “walk alone” until he got back from World War 2. The song was to remind me of my promise not to have any other guy take his place.

 I’ll walk alone because, to tell you the truth, I’ll be lonely
I don’t mind being lonely
When my heart tells me you are lonely, too
I’ll walk alone, they’ll ask me why and I’ll tell them I’d rather
There are dreams I must gather
Dreams we fashioned the night you held me tight
I’ll always be near you wherever you are each night
In every prayer
If you call I’ll hear you, no matter how far
Just close your eyes and I’ll be there
Please walk alone and send your love and your kisses to guide me
Till you’re walking beside me, I’ll walk alone
I’ll always…

Yeah.  Sure. It was wartime. I was 17 and there was a city full of lonely soldiers, sailors and marines. And Lucky was far away, apparently safe from combat but not from boredom. We both grew tired of walking alone.

But the song is still lovely.

Songs aren’t relegated to yesterday’s memories. A little over three years ago, I moved into my Tiny House in Woodland Hills. Even with the love and support of my new extended family, leaving all that was familiar for the unknown made me feel a little bit like Lili from the musical Carnival. Lili sings about feeling alone after a life in her hometown, Mira, where “everybody knew her name.”

A room that’s strange is never cozy.
A place that’s strange is never sweet.
I want to have a chair that knows me,
and walk a street that knows my feet.
I’m very far from Mira now,
and there’s no turning back.

I have to find a place.
I’ve got to find a place,
where everything can be the same.
A street that I can know,
and places I can go,
where everybody knows by name.

With 300 square feet, it didn’t take long to learn every inch of my new home. But I now feel part of the fabric of my new neighborhood as well. Yesterday, my Lyft driver remembered me. My hairdresser, manicurist, dry cleaner, Milo’s vet, assorted waitresses and waiters, not to mention the sales people at Macy’s, Target and Ralph’s all know me.

To paraphrase the composer, Bob Merrill:

 Can you imagine that?

Can you Imagine that?

Everybody knows my name.

There’s another song title from Carnival that fits my life these days – it’s simply called Humming.

Alice Blue Gown

WHATEVER THE QUESTION,  HATE ISN’T THE ANSWER

 

Most of my Blogs are relatively light.  I am not inclined to concentrate on things that make me unhappy.  But the climate in this country today is just too sad to be endured silently.

We will start with a general description of my approach – as honestly as I can describe it.

I am a Democrat and have been for practically ever. Ideally, for me, that means I think everyone has a right to think whatever they feel is best – NO MATTER HOW WRONG THEY ARE!

Okay.  So I’m not a Mother Theresa or a Gandhi. But what I am, I believe, is a person who is able to see how it is possible for really wonderful people to disagree with me.  What I am finding, even among some of my closest friends, is a lack of that particular talent – yes – talent.  It takes real discipline to look at someone and understand how they can have the same facts available as I have, and still disagree.

Obviously, it is possible!  And THAT, is what makes a Democracy a Democracy.  You have a right to be wrong!  And no one has a right to try to stop you.  But the level of hate that is being spewed around our country these days is beyond belief. It is one of the few emotions that is being sent out urgently by both sides of the arguments that separate us.

I do NOT think Donald Trump is good for this country.  I don’t know for sure who is.  But I know without a doubt that posting a sign that says “Republican lives don’t matter” will not make anything better.

Yes, I actually did see that!

Not only do Republican lives matter, but “Black Lives Matter.”  And White Lives Matter and Mexican Lives Matter as do all the other versions of humanity.  Some of us have never met a Buddhist or a Hindu but if they vote against what we believe, we are willing to write them off.

This can’t be good for anyone.

I will now ponder the possible reaction to this piece.  Possibly I will loose my nerve and never publish it.  Unless I can kill anger with a funny line, I don’t know what to do.  I fear hate, whether personal or wide spread.

I don’t expect love from the world, or admiration.  None of that good stuff.  But please, before hate becomes the acceptable answer, let us think about loving our neighbor…no matter what kind of a nut case he/she may be.

Peace out.