Where are the Flowers?

It was 32 years since I was in the American Legion Hall in Madison, Connecticut. My first impulse was to look for World War I German helmets, or flowers on the mantle that now held other memorabilia and souvenirs.

My oldest daughter, Lisa and her husband, Matthew, planned to have a lawn wedding at our home, in June 1982. Lisa arranged for personal flowers for the family, but didn’t think that we needed flowers for an outdoor wedding with foliage all about. This was the year of the “hundred year flood”, and we experienced torrential rains for better than one whole week. We had ordered a large tent, for the reception, which fell down on the Thursday preceding the event. The proprietor assured us that if the rain stopped and the lawn dried before Sunday, he would put up the tent.

On Sunday, June 6, it was still pouring and everything was sopping wet. In fact, a neighbor was married in the yard of her home, on Saturday. Everyone took their shoes off and danced in the mud.

We called upon friends who found a dry place for the nuptials, the Madison Legion Hall. I grabbed toilet paper and paper toweling, just in case, when I went to check the hall out early Sunday morning. There was a portrait of President Ronald Reagan hung above the wooden mantle of the stone fireplace that displayed captured World War I helmets. There was a collection of rifles on the walls. I told my daughter that the room was rather dreary and needed some flowers. None of the local florists were able to help us. Lisa called Matthew and he drove up with a station wagon loaded with iris, peonies, and rhododendrons from his father’s garden. Lisa’s friends from Wales, Helen and Terrance, filled vases with flowers for the tables. They hid the helmets and covered the mantle and the entire room with flowers, transforming the space.

We couldn't hide the gun racks.

We couldn’t hide the gun racks.

 

About one hundred members of the family and guests, who were not discouraged by the weather, crowded into our living room for the ceremony. We served cold hors d’oeuvres in the dining room before adjoining to the reception.

The caterer pulled everything together; a tour de force, “The band played on”, and everyone danced. The weatherman provided sunshine, later in the day, and we were able to take pictures out of doors.

In the middle of May this year, on a beautiful spring evening, I represented Killingworth as a delegate to the State Senatorial Convention, held at the Legion Hall in Madison, to nominate a candidate for the State Senate. During the span of 32 years, the hall had undergone renovations and rejuvenation. The room is now is spacious and welcoming. It has the feeling of a community center rather than a shrine to militarism. I could only visualize the hall full of the flowers and helmets!

The delegates were enthusiastic about their candidate, Ted Kennedy Jr., nominated-for-12th-district-state-senate-race son of the late Senator Edward Kennedy. Ted reminds one of his father, minus the Massachusetts accent. Kennedy, an attorney, specializes in Health Law. Although he never held public office, he has actively, promoted improved health services. With his capability and commitment, he should be a strong force on the State Senate.AR-140519435.jpg&maxh=400&maxw=667

The newlyweds were excited about a new life, together, sharing their dreams.

The delegates were excited about the new candidate, who, if elected would see that his constituents had a voice in the Connecticut State Legislature.

 

Achoo!

Recently, our children helped Marty and I celebrate our 60th   wedding anniversary, with assistance from practically all the grandchildren and great grandchildren.

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The Klein Sibling Quartet

The Klein Sibling Quartet

 

Our children cooked a delicious lunch and Madeline; the family pastry chef supplied two scrumptious cakes that were devoured. They roasted and toasted us. They put on a multi-vintage slide show and ran a black and white silent film of our wedding.

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Although the cast of characters has changed, believe me, some things never change. On the day of our anniversary celebration, Marty and I were fighting fierce colds and I refrained from kissing the guests, especially the little ones. April 4th, 1954 was a blustery, cold day. After running around with bare shoulders I was coughing and sneezing in tune with the band.

On the first day of our honeymoon we drove to Macon, Georgia and visited old friends of Marty’s, Bunnie and Vera Godfrey.

After 60 years Vera reminds me of the beautiful onyx tray that I sent them from Mexico. After 60 years I’m still grateful for Vera’s gift of the box of cough drops that saved my life.

 

 

 

Dan, the Man from Thermopolis

If you are motoring to Yellowstone Park in Wyoming, in all probability you’ll stop in Thermopolis, a small town, southeast of  the park, for a swim or soak, in the ”World’s Largest Hot Springs,” located in Hot Springs State Park,  where there are two privately owned thermal facilities. We have been visiting Thermopolis for about twenty years, and enjoy swimming in the outdoor pool, where the water is approximately 94 degrees. In the cold of winter, it’s fun to duck in the hot water to get the icicles out of our hair.

It’s hard not to notice Dan Moriarty, part owner and manager, of the Teepee Pools, the facility we prefer.  Dan is not particularly attractive. He’s overweight with a grey beard. He was a former alcoholic and suffered many illnesses. Managing the pool requires knowledge, and is labor intensive. Dan and his crew are out in all kinds of weather to assure that the equipment is functioning. This fall, the roof of the Teepee Pools suffered damage from hurricanes and can’t be repaired until spring. Meanwhile, Dan has been conferring with contractors, state officials, and his partners, about replacing the roof. They decided on using brick red metal paneling that will be both attractive and able to withstand rough weather.

Dan had the habit of greeting us with brash “can you top this” remarks. I wasn’t offended. I’ve known people with harsh demeanors who were good -natured. It is my observation that the bravado is only a mask for a person’s insecurity. Marty and I are fond of Dan. We enjoy getting together for lunch or dinner. He’s intelligent, and is not reluctant to talk about politics. We’ve exchanged many heated discussions. Who else, but Dan, would keep us up to date on the news and gossip of Thermopolis? We can also depend upon Dan for information about good restaurants.

In the locker room at the pool, I overheard some women describing Dan as a womanizer, and disrespectful of the opposite sex. I have the impression that he is the first person a woman, or anybody, would turn to when help was needed. He has often been accompanied by a date, when we went out, and was always considerate. We recently met Dan at a restaurant with several women. He was with the local women’s basketball team and had treated them all to dinner!

Dan would discuss some of the problems caused by customers. There are those who don’t watch their children. There are others who bring small children into the hot tubs, ignoring signs prohibiting children under 14 from using the tubs, citing serious health risks.

One of the most bizarre stories, Dan told, is of George, an older man whom we knew. When he passed away, his wife approached Dan about having a special funeral at the pool, because George loved swimming and spent part of every day there. She suggested bringing George to the pool in his bathing suit, after nine in the evening when the pool is closed. Dan bellowed, ”NO WAY.” We can always count on Dan to entertain us with his stories.

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Say “Ah”

I hate to tell you how much it cost Marty and I to maintain our teeth during the past year. Although we’re not aging, our teeth are. Since we’re too young to have dentures, we’ve opted to have our teeth repaired or replaced. Our son also needs a dental implant and is using our oral surgeon. The Kleins’ have provided both the dentist and the oral surgeon with an annuity. In fact, they each can retire, but they enjoy their work. I appreciate their work too.

Dentists in several countries had the opportunity to serve us. When I was in Tunisia in 1989,  I developed some problems with a wisdom tooth. The Tunisian dentist labored diligently, and saved the tooth. It wasn’t until last year that I had to have that tooth extracted. I recounted the story to my dentist, and mentioned that I felt that American dentists are too quick to extract wisdom teeth.

On our last visit to Bolivia in 1991, my husband had a toothache and was referred to a dentist, who did his training in Argentina. Dr. Jimenez’s facilities were in an old factory or office building which I believe he owned. Jimenez practiced orthodontics as well as general dentistry and the suites for each of these specialties were beautifully decorated. Dr. Jimenez examined Marty’s teeth and the diagnosis was that he needed “rrrroot canal, post, and crown” at “$170.00 dollahs, cash.”  Marty asked him when he could start and he said “Right now!” We brought the payment and noticed that the drawer was full of greenbacks, even though most of the patients probably were not “Gringos.”

The work was completed in about a week’s time because Marty’s appointments were every working day, and sometimes, twice a day. When the crown was ready to be placed, the dental technician, who worked in the same building, joined Jimenez to make sure that the crown fit properly.

Shortly after my husband received his new tooth,  I had a problem with a tooth that he had fixed, and went through the same procedure.

Over the years, when either of us experienced dental problems, Marty suggested that we take a trip to Bolivia and see Dr. Jimenez.

With current airfares, I don’t think that’s such a good idea.

With great-grandson Azariah

With great-grandson Azariah

 

Bolivia Revisited with Jack and Jane

We met Jack and Jane Zeigler in Santa Cruz, Bolivia in 1991, at the Arenal Hotel, where we all were staying. We and the Zeiglers, were working on agricultural projects with VOCA (Volunteers in Overseas Cooperative Assistance.) Jack, the head of the Department of Food Science at Penn State University, was conducting a feasibility study on opening up a pork slaughtering plant in Santa Cruz.   Jane, the daughter of farmers, taught school and was assisting Jack. Marty and I consulted with poultry farmers, helping them to improve their skills in poultry husbandry.

We spent most of our free time with the Zeiglers, dining together, touring Santa Cruz and traveling to other areas in Bolivia. On some occasions we accompanied each other to various sites. Abraham, a farmer whom Jack and Marty visited, was extremely pleased with Marty’s suggestions. When Marty mentioned that his father’s name was Abraham, he said that he knew that Marty was sent by G-d.  When we noticed a group of school children playing soccer with a beat up ball, we scoured all of Santa Cruz for a new soccer ball, which delighted the children.

The Zeiglers invited us one weekend to visit a neighboring community, Samaipata, and look up an Austrian sculptress whom they heard about.  We trekked across the hot desert to find her home.  unnamed-2unnamed-4 I purchased a small piece of pottery and they bought a terra cotta figurine of a mythical female character. Since this was an intricate piece, they were worried about getting it home without breaking it. I suggested wrapping the “Lady” in their underwear.

Jack & the sculptress

Jack & the sculptress

When we stopped for coffee in Samaipata, someone brought the proprietor of the restaurant a bag of apples. She suggested that we return in a couple of hours for freshly baked strudel. We accepted her invitation and happily devoured her delicious strudel.  Jane was cautious about eating only foods that were cooked or could be peeled. She’d order bottled water “san hielo”, without ice, and no familiar with the restaurants in  Samaipata, stuck to their own rations of  bananas and granola bars.

One evening we treated ourselves to steak at a prestigious restaurant in Santa Cruz. The salad was mouth watering and Marty proclaimed that he was going to eat that salad even if we didn’t. We all ate the salad. The four of us enjoyed onion soup and banana crepes flambeau, at a French bistro in Santa Cruz.

Jack and Jane were very closely involved with their family, and in the community where they lived, and with their church. They were both extremely gracious hosts, when we visited them at their home in State College, Pennsylvania. Both had excellent culinary skills. Jack surprised us with creative breakfasts and Jane cooked everything else.

We’ve been in close contact, but it had  been quite a while since we were able to get together. When we visited them this January, Jack showed us the changes in State College. He is still involved in Food Science studies at Penn State University. Jack told us that with globalization and with food coming from all over the globe, much of the work that Penn State is doing is in analysis of imported foods.

Now Jane seemed to be almost completely dependent on Jack. She probably didn’t remember us. I so wanted to show her the beautiful hand knit alpaca sweater I wore that that I  had bought when we were all together in Santa Cruz.  unnamed-1

We Can’t Go Back Now: Tunisia, Egypt, Syria

When my husband, Martin and I served in the Peace Corp in l989, in Tunisia, we learned the language and studied the culture, while traveling through much of the country. Our sites included a tour of the ruins at Carthage. We became familiar with Mid-Eastern cuisine and were able to prepare a good Tunisian couscous. Stateside, we managed to substitute foods that were available for a Tunisian meal.  We are in contact with many life-long friends. But we can’t go to Tunisia now.

On a trip to Egypt, we immersed ourselves in Egyptian mythology.  At the museum in Cairo we saw the mummified remains of the pharaohs and other rulers of ancient times. While cruising the Nile between Cairo and Luxor we witnessed people swimming in the Nile River without any fear of crocodiles. There supposedly were thousands of crocodiles walled on the other side of the Aswan Dam. However, when we visited the Aswan Dam, not a single croc showed its face. We can’t go to Egypt today.

A three- day excursion to Damascus, Syria, was included in a visit to Jordon and Israel. We combed the shouk, hunting for special spices that friends and relatives requested. Marty and I walked through the entire old city and quenched our thirst with marvelous mango drinks. When people learned that we were from the U.S., we were welcomed.  We can’t go to Syria now.

A Day Trip to LaJungus, Bolivia, 1970

In January 1970, my husband Martin was invited to counsel Peruvian and Bolivian farmers in poultry husbandry for the International Executives Service Corp. (IESC). He worked with William Hannan, an English farmer with poultry operations throughout Latin America. Hannan was the regional distributor for Highline Hatcheries and provided extension services in poultry raising for his clients.  Although provisions were made for me to accompany my husband, my children were quite young and it was difficult to have someone stay with them for about two months, the length of the assignment. I was able to join Marty for ten, exciting days.

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On one memorable occasion, six of us were scheduled to visit farmers, in LaJungus, the jungle, in the most southernly region of Bolivia. Our group included Hannan, Kevin McCauliffe, a former Peace Corp Volunteer and assistant to Hannan, Dr. Tao, the veterinarian, Carlos, our driver, Marty and me.  We had flown from Lima, Peru, to LaPaz the night before, and began our trip to LaJungus, at daybreak, in an International, double cab pickup truck. LaPaz nests among mountains with the highest elevations in Bolivia, (13,500ft.) and it is common for travelers to get “sirochi” or altitude sickness in that area.  While the hotel provided oxygen to help the guests cope with sirochi, there was none available in the car and we were all affected in some way, with either headache, nausea, or vomiting. As the only woman in the group, I experienced “sirochi” in a way no man could. I got  my period, completely off schedule  and was hemorrhaging, profusely. I had anticipated traveling through areas with extreme climates in the course of one day. When we left LaPaz, it was quite cold, and I wore a black quilted raincoat over white silk pants, and kept the raincoat on for a good part of the day, even when we were in warm areas. I was determined not to let my discomfort and embarrassment prevent me from enjoying the culture and scenery observed.

Herds of llama and alpaca grazed throughout the Andes. We saw trucks carrying crates of bananas from the tropics. The workers, people of all ages and possibly from the same family, sat on top of the crates. On the way back we noticed trucks carrying supplies to the jungle, with the workers, again, perched on top of the cargo. We stopped at a mountain village and saw people squatting close together, chewing on cocoa leaves and drinking cocoa tea. The cocaine in the cocoa numbed the peoples’ senses making them both immune to the cold and to pangs of hunger. I tried the cocoa tea but it didn’t seem to have any effect on me.

The Andes are known for avalanches. Think of any mountain pass and imagine any of these passes with shear drops and no guard rails or warnings. This is what we encountered on our route to LaJungus. We got out of the truck and walked around. My husband who is not phlegmatic by nature, was exceptionally calm; while I was wondering if I would ever see my children again. Out of nowhere, people appeared with shovels, and dug our truck out of the avalanche. Carlos, our driver, took off his coat , climbed into the cab of the truck and announced that we were “Ready for Oction”.  We all climbed into our seats and were on our way to LaJungus.

It was hot in the jungle of LaJungus and I was still wearing my black raincoat. We tried to locate the party who would meet us and learned that he was in Caroica, several miles away. While we were having lunch we met a young Diocenes priest from the U.S., dressed in hiking boots, jeans and a plaid shirt. After hearing about our escapades, he casually remarked “Oh, we lose a few each month over those mountains.”  It was still early in the day and we decided that if we got some rest we could make it to Caroica that afternoon. The five guys and I entered a hotel, and Marty told the desk clerk that the “Senora would like a room.” I wished the floor would open up and swallow me. We did get three rooms though, and Marty and I were able to shower and nap.

Caroica is a town in the mountains, known for coffee production, and the  aroma of the roasting coffee embraced the entire community.  Our hotel was previously a school or a monastery. Again, we were in a climate with cool weather. I was in long pants, shoes and socks and a beautiful handknit alpacca poncho. The women in Caroica, wore Derby hats, full skirts and were barefoot as they carried their babies in blankets on their backs. To this day, when I smell roasting coffee, I’m reminded of Caroica.