Has anyone seen the L’Oreal T-shirt commercial making the rounds on TV. No, let me re-phrase that – the skin care company isn’t selling T-shirts these days, they’re still pushing young-looking skin. The commercial points out how wearing one of your old concert t-shirts can give your age away. It certainly hit home. It even sent me searching through my t-shirt drawer for
The reason I had to search is that I never wear it because……because. Well, keep the premise of that commercial in mind. One picture is worth a thousand words, or in this case one T-shirt.
As if the date didn’t give away the fact that the shirt is 35 years old, take a look at the price of the tickets?
But wait, there’s still the story of what I had to go through to get the tickets. Hint – it involved starting the car. But for those not yet born on that day, let me describe what life was like before Stub Hub and Ticketmaster. Hell, before there was an internet!
It was about 9:30 AM or so when the phone rang – the kitchen phone on the wall – before there was such a thing as a cell phone. It was the man to whom I used to be married. His boss had just received a call from his daughter who had a summer job at KOME, the rather edgy local San Jose FM station. Nope, no such thing as Pandora or streaming. It was either AM or FM. (as in radio!) But back to the story….. Said daughter had just gotten the word tickets for the upcoming Stones convert would be going on sale at Tower Records at 11. The limit would be 6 tickets. He wanted to know if I could take some cash out of a dresser drawer (sigh, nope, no ATM’s yet) and dash down to Tower Records which was in Campbell, about a 20 minute drive as the crow flies from our apartment in Los Gatos. I could and I did!
With plenty of time to spare I got on the relatively short line of people outside the door and chatted amiably with a woman ahead of me, as the line steadily grew behind us and snaked around the corner. Yes, fancy that – talking to a stranger. Remember – no cell phones, no texting!
Well I bought my limit of six tickets and we sold the other four tickets to friends (at face value, no scalpers, we) and a happy time was had by all.
In writing this I realize that 35 years was a really relatively short period of time for life to change as much as it has, thanks to technology. Or no thanks to technology depending on how you feel about the turn life has taken.
I also realize that that T-shirt is the oldest article of clothing I own.
The recent death of Muhammad Ali’s saddened me as I realized yet another icon “with me” since the days of my youth has preceded me to whatever awaits us all some day. On a happier note, it also brought me back to some of my earliest and most treasured of memories of times with my dad. But then whenever I think of boxing I always think of Daddy. Daddy loved boxing which he always called prize fighting, and its participants were, of course, always referred to as prize fighters.
This particular trail had its starting point way back before Cassius Clay became Muhammad Ali, and perhaps since it was 1950 or 51, perhaps even before he put on his first pair of boxing gloves. Other little girls might remember their fathers teaching them to dance. I learned how to box. We’d spar and prance about the living, he constantly reminding me to “cover my face.”You see, I was the son he never had, until he did, that is. After my younger brother was born, he must have realized I was the daughter he did have, because he taught me how to do the Charleston. After my youngest brother was born, I was old enough for him to begin to worry about boys and he was probably glad he’d taught me how to box.
But back to when I had Daddy all to myself – Back then boxing, oops – prize fighting – was on TV every Wednesday night. And although I was only four years old and it didn’t come on until 10 PM, I was allowed to stay up to watch with him, as long as I took an afternoon nap.
One prize-fighter always had on white trunks and the other, black, or so I thought. Now I realize this may have been because it was on black and white TV. If you know me, you won’t be surprised to hear that I had loads of questions to ask and when my curiosity had been satisfied, loads to chatter about. And so Daddy established the rule that I could only talk when the Cheese Man came on. The “cheese man” was a cartoon-like figure whose head suggested a wheel of cheese and was perched on a stool and directing a TV camera. But instead of ABC or CBS, the side of the camera was emblazoned with the Kraft logo, Kraft being the sponsor of the Wednesday Night Fights.
Memories inevitably morph with time and so I know that one day, the Ali frozen in Parkinson’s disease will fade into the early Ali: Ali the greatest, Ali, the prettiest, the graceful butterfly floater, the lightning-quick bee stinger, just as in my Wednesday night memories, Daddy was young and vibrant and it would be 60 years before he too would be taken away by Parkinson’s. Memories are funny like that.
And I’ve discovered my prize fighting memories are not quite as they seem either. Take the Cheese Man. In Google fact checking my memory, I could find no reference of Kraft Cheese sponsoring Wednesday Night Fights, but I did find this on a website called Old Time Radio catalog
“The Pabst Blue Ribbon Bouts were Wednesday night fights from 1948 through 1955. The show was on all three major radio networks over the years and was a popular part of the television lineup. The fights broadcasts originated from several arenas around the country and featured a number of title bouts.”
That’s when I realized I had to wait for the bell, and not the Cheese Man.Waiting for the Cheese Man was my mother’s rule – when she was watching the Kraft Television Theater.
Before I run my suggestion to the airline industry past you, allow me to vent a bit about their stupendous stupidity. Well, may be not all airlines, but American Airlines in particular.
Last Tuesday I was about to embark on a trip to a place that had risen to the top of my dwindling bucket list – Santa Fe, New Mexico. In an uncharacteristic example of orderliness, I’d packed my bags and placed them at the door. I knew exactly where all my paper work was, and had even parceled out Marcel and Marceau’s freeze-dried raw food in 14 containers so that all the pet sitter had to do was add water. I’d placed these in a snaplock storage box so Marble couldn’t get at them,
and placed Marble’s special canned food in the cat carrier so he also couldn’t get at them, either. Yes, they were unopened cans, but I’ve learned never to put anything past Marble.
I had just fed them and was ready to rinse their dishes and head out when the phone rang. And oh yes, may I had it was about 5:40 AM. My plane didn’t leave until 10:00, but LaGuardia Airport is a little over an hour away, and I had to park the car at an off site parking lot before taking their shuttle to the terminal.
I was just about to run water in the sink when the phone rang.
Recording: This is American Airlines with a change to your itinerary. Due to a delay for your connecting flight, you will be leaving from Newark at 12:15.
Me: NEWARK?!?!?!? I can’t go to Newark.
First of all, given NY/NJ traffic, there was no guarantee I could make it to Newark. And even if I could, I already had parking reservations at LaGuardia, and my traveling companion, who was flying from San Diego, was meeting me in Albuquerque at 3:30. Since her plane was getting in at 12:30, she was already waiting three hours as it was.
Recording: Press 1 to accept this change. Press 2 to reject it.
Me: pound pound pound (on 2 of course.)
Recording: Please wait for the next available agent.
Well, luckily at that time of morning, the next available was instant. The good news was she managed to get me on another flight from LaGuardia and my new connecting flight at Dallas/Fort Worth would actually get me to Albuquerque an hour earlier (if I could make the connection in an hour) The bad news was it was leaving at 9!
Well, I grabbed my bags ran to the car, like a bat out of hell, and actually made it to the airport on time. Ah, all was going well ——— until the pilot came on the PA.
Pilot: I don’t like the sound of one of the engines so I’ve called for maintenance to come and check it out. They’re on their way.
My seatmate: We only need one engine. Let’s go.
After nearly an hour, I was ready to agree with him.
We finally took off, and luck was finally with me. When I got to Dallas/Fort Worth, I learned that the plane going to Albuquerque was delayed, and I still had a chance to make it, even though I was at Gate B, and the plane would be leaving from Gate E. This involved going up the escalator and taking the SkyLink train. At gate E, I found out that not only was the flight delayed, the plane was taken out of service and they were “looking for another plane.”
Well, they finally found one, and it got me to Albuquerque, but not much earlier than the originally scheduled flight.
Fortunately, all went well. We had a wonderful three days in Taos, followed by a wonderful three days in Santa Fe, and my flights back to NY went like clock work.
Now, as to what all airlines do wrong………
Don’t you think it would be better to let the people sitting in the back of the plane (like me) board first? This would do away with the back-up in the aisle as the front people jam their carry-ons into the overhead bins.
It would also mean that the big wigs and fancy shmancies in First Class wouldn’t have to sit there so long as we peons filed past.
What do you think?
I am referring to Diana Ross of The Supremes, not the late Princess Diana. These days people comment on how “skinny” I am. Whether it’s a compliment or not is up to interpretation but, if it is, I have to give Ms Ross some of the credit – or blame – depending on how you look at it; and also to the 60s British supermodel Twiggy, although I don’t think there was such a thing back as a supermodel back in 1966 which is when this journey began. I know there is much concern these days about the detrimental effect ultra-thin models have on young girls’ body images and self-esteem. I don’t know if that was true in my case, nor if at age 18, I could be considered a young girl.
I had gone through the typical weight gain that is widely attributed to freshman year dorm living. I’m not sure what the catch term is – Freshman 15? I also am not sure that I gained 15 pounds, but what got me started, I guess, was my mother’s comment when I arrived home for the summer. “You’ve put on some weight,”coming from someone who always told me I looked fine just the way I was, definitely got my attention. So did the episode in the Alexander’s dressing room a few days later. I don’t remember what the garment was, but it was a size 13, my usual size at the time, and it was too tight.
I watched my weight all summer, but really got into it when I went back to school, a place I really did not want to be. The college was Ladycliff, a small Catholic women’s school that is no more, but when it was, was located on the banks of the Hudson in a small town named Highland Falls. By day two of Freshman year I’d realized that it was not my cup of tea, as did many of the young women who became my friends. Some of them were able to persuade their parents to let them transfer at the end of Freshman year. Others like me, weren’t as lucky. The former waved goodby and went to school with a more 60s vibe the rest of us bonded and forged deep friendships commiserating. But eventually we accepted our lot and concentrated on fun, and oh yes, our education.
Meanwhile I know, you’re wondering what does this have to do with Diana Ross?
Technically, I don’t know if I became anorexic, it was more a cycle of bingeing and starving, so I guess it was a bulimia anorexia hybrid, although I never forced my self to throw up. Since then, I’ve read that eating disorders stem from a feeling of having no control over one’s life. And that’s how I felt back at Ladycliff for sophomore year.
I’d always loved the Supremes, and they were at the peak of their popularity, and since it was also the time of Ed Sullivan Show and weekly shows like Hullabaloo that showcased all the popular groups of the times, I had many chances to admire how thin Ms Ross was with the result that she became my poster girl for thin.
Speaking of poster girls, it was about this time, Twiggy hit the big time, appearing on the covers of Seventeen and Bazaar……..
………..and it all came together………
There’s no one here to make me eat. Ha ha.
It is my belief that as in the case of alcoholics, food disorders are never cured, but merely overcome, and then only by a hair. What happened in my case was I transferred my dependency to exercise. I started running in 1978 and when I moved to California ran in 10K races for years. I still run occasionally, but attend the gym religiously. Knowing I’m a gym rat, my niece gives me workout clothes each Christmas and truth be told she has better taste in that department than me. The pants she gave me this year were especially nice and I love that they have a long comfortable waistband so I don’t have to worry about plumber’s crack.gy
But what really caught my eye was this size comparison chart on the inside of the waist band.
Small here in the USA is LARGE in Japan? Oh my goodness, is Diana a large? How about Twiggy? Like I said – I’m recovering.
Last Sunday closed out the Winter 2016 skating season at Rockefeller Center. Luckily I’d passed this way several weeks ago and stopped to record it for posterity.
Whose posterity? Anyone’s and everyone’s. This is because I’m the only one who was involved in the tale I’m about to tell who’s still walking this earth. but I guess it’s a factor of living long enough to tell tales. Now that I think about it now, I’d rather me talking about them, than them talking about me.
As I recall my mother and I used to board the D train for the trip to 50th Street and Rockefeller Center every Friday evening. Although it was the same train I wrote about when I recounted my Macy’s woes, and the ride but two stops shorter, if I was asking “Are we almost there (?), it was because I could hardly wait to get there. There, being the skating rink where my Aunt Ginny would meet us after she got out of work. Aunt Ginny was my mother’s youngest sister. She worked for the New York Times and she loved ice skating. She also loved her little niece. So once I turned four, she’d walk over from the original Times Building which was about 6 blocks away.
The Old New York Times Building
We’d buy our tickets, and go into the dressing room, and although I didn’t change into a cute little skirt, my skates did have pom poms on them. Aunt Ginny would change out of her work clothes and my mother would lace up my skates and layer me with sweaters, and off we’d go; Aunt Ginny and I, to the ice, and my mother, to take up her observer post by the rail.
See the little girl in red? That’s where my mother would stand, and the door just behind her, to the right, was the dressing room
We kept this up week and after week and I took to the ice naturally. By the time I was five, I was able to skate around the rink by myself without holding her hand or the rail.I still remember how I loved being part of the circular whir of skaters, and and how exciting it was to skate in the midst of all the skyscrapers, fancy stores with the lights of Manhattan blazing and sparkling overhead.
Our weekly excursions ended the winter I turned six. I’d ceased being an only child in July when my brother Jimmy was born. My father, a podiatrist, had evening office hours and my mother couldn’t very well bundle up the baby and stand there with him in the freezing cold. So Aunt Ginny went straight home to Brooklyn after work, and we stayed home in Manhattan and watched Friday night TV.
After a five year hiatus, we did try to resume our sessions, on Sunday afternoons instead of Friday night. But it was never the same. I was eleven, and after skating with my friends on Saturday afternoons at the huge Wollman Rink in Central Park which was about ten times larger than the Rockefeller Center rink, fifty times more crowded and much rougher, I’d become a flawless skater, not a figure skater, but one who never fell. Rockefeller Center seemed very tame by comparison.
Jimmy was the pupil now, and he was not only much clumsier than I had been, also much bigger. I guess Aunt Ginny got tired of being pulled down on the ice, and soon my skating was confined to Central Park, which was fine with me. I went skating a few times in college and once or twice in my twenties, but it had become mechanical, and as my friends laughed and wobbled and held on the the rail, I became bored with it.
Jimmy resumed skating as an adult, but only to take his daughter skating whenever she wanted. His stride was a kind of a sharp-elbowed hobble. If you are old enough to remember the TV show, The Real McCoy’s, you’ll understand why we called him Grandpappy Amos on Ice; his style of skating, reminiscent of Walter Brennan’s skippy type limp with elbows held at an angle.
As for me, I went on to bigger, better, and scarier things – like sliding down Vermont mountains with skinny strips of fiber glass and wood attached to my feet. I never became bored with skiing, probably because I never stopped fearing for my life! As my more skilled friends paralleled and schussed their way down the mountain, I’d follow at my own pace and style, probably equivalent to Jimmy’s Grandpappy Amos style of skating.”Please, please. I’d pray”, as I picked up speed, navigating through the turns, retreating to the prayerful deal-making of promises of my childhood years. “I’ll be good , I promise I will if you just let me get to the bottom alive.”
Then I’d arrive at the bottom and ski-step back to the lift line, thinking Wow! that was fun. Let’s do it again. No I never got bored with skiing, but I got my own apartment which meant I couldn’t afford going to Vermont every weekend. (or any weekend, for that matter.)
Now I never miss a chance to walk by the Rockefeller skating rink when I can. I make my way through the crowd to gaze down at the skaters. Am I feeling nostalgic because I’m sole survivor of those long gone days? No, I’m just waiting to see someone fall down!
I know Macy’s has great sales, not only because my friends rave about the bargains they find there, but because I used to partake of them over the years. What stopped me was a problem with my Macy’s card. The problem was not my credit, but for some reason I was unable to activate my new card over the phone. That alone tells you how long ago that glitch occurred since if it were today, I’d have activated it online. Eventually they stopped sending me their sale fliers and coupons, and we parted amicably. I never looked back because for some reason I was never crazy about shopping there. Maybe it was the waiting in line at the cash registers scattered around the various departments. Or maybe it was the necessity of having to go to the mall. I am not a fan of malls.
Well I was recently on 34th street passing THE Macy’s yes, the one from the classic movie, Miracle on Main Street; the one that hosts the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade, floats, and balloons; the original Macy’s famed for being the largest department store in the world. Needless to say it can not fit in a mall since it takes up an entire square block.
Upon seeing the entrance, I had a flashback that revealed to me the root of my Macy “problem”. This store was the bane of my early childhood existence! Back in the early days when I was still an only child, which meant younger than five, my mother would regularly drag me down to 34th Street to “go shopping.” We’d have to walk nine blocks to the subway, (but that wasn’t the part I hated) then ride 129 blocks underground. That’s eight stops if you’re counting. I wasn’t, but I was asking “Are we almost there yet.” (Nope, that’s not what I hated either.)
Finally we’d emerge into the daylight of Thirty-fourth Street and make our way into the store. It seems like it was always crowded, even though it was usually a weekday morning. (Nope the crowds didn’t bother me either). It was the fashion faux pas, my mother visited on me.
As soon as we emerged from the revolving door, she’d take my coat off, but leave my leggings on. Leggings back then referred to the heavy wool pants that were part and parcel of the matched set that also included a matching hat. That’s what I hated – I wanted to keep my coat on like all the grownups, but there I was walking around with my dress stuffed into a suspendered overall type pants. But my mother had a theory. If I kept the coat on, my body would get used to it and when we went out into the cold once again, I’d feel cold. But I noticed she didn’t mind “getting used” to her coat.
This looks like a Sunday coat, and since stores didn’t open on Sundays back then, it couldn’t have been a shopping coat, and I’m probably younger here than the days I’m talking about – but look at the leggings. Get the picture?
If walking around unfashionably clad was the beginning of my, as she liked to put it, crankiness, (a word often applied to me, especially at nap time and bedtime), it was reinforced by having to wait until she’d bought everything else before going up to the fourth floor or the fifth floor. One held the children’s shoe department and the other, the toy department. I regarded them both as sources of joy, and perhaps enjoyed buying shoes even more than a toy. (Some things never change!)
But n-o-o-o-o. I had to wait until last. Another one of my mother’s theories was I’d be less of a pest if I had to wait. Pest was another word often applied to moi. The reasoning behind this was, once I had what I came for, I’d suggest “Let’s go have lunch”. Well, maybe it was more like whine, so if she saved my shopping until last, she’d be able to shop in peace.
Once her mission was accomplished, we’d either have a hot dog and orangeade at Nedicks, an indoor stool and counter. If I recall, that’s all they sold; at any rate it was a New York icon in the Fifties and Sixties.
No more Nedicks! Today, it’s a
Sometimes we’d go across the street to the 5 & 10, as we called Woolworth’s, where we’d also have a hot dog, but a coke instead of an orange drink.
No more 5 & 10. Today, it’s a
Although lunch was fun, it remains overshadowed by the shopping. But you know how they say misery loves company ? Well, about thirty years later I discovered I was not alone. The man to whom I was once married, upon hearing my tale of woe, assured me that he was there too and he was very surprised I hadn’t seen him.”I was the one tagging after my mother,” he told me crying.” the one crying.”
I wish I’d asked him if he had to take off his coat!
People of a certain age, my age, may (or may not ) remember the fear of 27 that was prevalent among the earliest wave of baby boomers in 1970. I wonder if there’s a name for the fear of 27. I know there’s a name for the fear of 13. It’s triskaidekaphobia. If you think that’s hard to pronounce, try spelling it.
(Since I went to the trouble of googling fear of 13 to find the term, I might as well share where it stems from. Wikipedia lists several sources, The Last Supper, being one. Judas was the last one seated at the table – the Twelve apostles, and then Mr Iscariot.)
As for 27, it was an age we feared reaching because of the “trouble comes in threes” deaths of three of our most beloved rock stars:
Jimi Hendrix on September 18, 1970
Janis Joplin on October 4, 1970
Jim Morrison on July 3, 1971
Since they were all 27 when they died, we Baby Boomers were sure we’d never survive that dreaded year either. I know it sounds dramatic, viewed this many years later, but hey, it was all about us. Wasn’t everything about us? Even though it would be another three years before we started to turn 27 in 1973, and we’d lost no one else in the intervening years, we all breathed a sigh of relief when we turned 28.
The deaths of David Bowie and Alan Rickman last week at age 69 brought it all back. Ironically those of us who were the first to blow out 27 candles are all 69 now. Just saying.
Keep in touch!