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Patti, Kristen & Greg King

Last night I learned the tragic news of Rev. Greg King’s death.  He and his wife, Patti, were involved in a car wreck in South Dakota where they’d recently moved for a new parish.  Greg died at the scene, and Patti was in critical condition.

Their son, Greg, was one of my piano and voice students, and portrayed a very stalkerish, creepy “Jud” in OKLAHOMA! Their youngest child, daughter Kristen, was in marching band and good friends with my older son.

One of my favorite moments for senior night at the football games was seeing all the other parents bundled up in winter coats, and seeing Greg & Patti escorting their senior band child across the field wearing crowns and red royal robes/capes!  What a fun family!

The King family is terribly close, and has always served as a wonderful family-model.  They deeply love one another, and always seem to radiate the joy they share as a family.

The King Family - Jim & Patti, back row, surrounded by their children

I woke this morning, not remembering the news I’d heard less than twelve hours before. When I  was reminded, the dull ache from Wednesday night returned, flooding my mind, and soul.

When horrible things happen, we always tend to ask, “Why?”

Why do terrible things happen to good people?  When we truly analyze this question, we recognize that terrible things happen to good, and bad, alike.  There is no clear-cut answer as to why terrible things happen.  This is simply one of the items that accompanies us on our journeys.

Four grieving children are making their way to South Dakota.  My heart is heavy knowing these four vibrant, beautiful souls are making such a hideous journey.  All that awaits them is their mother, resting in critical condition, and now a widow.

Still, I know there is great beauty in this day.  Through the strength of the King family, and their solid vitality, humor, and joy in living, many of us will surely be touched beyond measure, beyond belief.  Though their hearts will deeply ache, I am confident their joy will conquer this moment, reminding us that life, despite its darkest night, will always be bright, and beautiful.

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1. I think part of a best friend’s job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.

2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you’re wrong.

3. I totally take back all those times I didn’t want to nap when I was younger.

4. There is great need for a sarcasm font.

5. How the hell are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?

6. Was learning cursive really necessary?

7. Map Quest really needs to start their directions on #5. I’m pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.

8. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.

9. I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t at least kind of tired.

10. Bad decisions make good stories.

11. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren’t going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.

12. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don’t want to have to restart my collection.. .again.

13. I’m always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page technical report that I swear I did not make any changes to.

14. I keep some people’s phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.

15. I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Lite than Kay.

16. I wish Google Maps had an “Avoid Ghetto” routing option.

17. I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.

18. How many times is it appropriate to say “What?” before you just nod and smile because you still didn’t hear or understand a word they said?

19. I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers and sisters!

20. Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever.

21. Sometimes I’ll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is.

23. Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey – but I’d bet everyone can find and push the snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every time!

24. The first testicular guard, the “Cup,” was used in Hockey in 1874 and the first helmet was used in 1974. That means it only took 100 years for men to realize that their brain is also important.

Ladies…..Quit Laughing.

DEAR ABBY ADMITTED SHE WAS AT A LOSS TO ANSWER THE FOLLOWING:


Dear Abby,
A couple of women moved in across the hall from me.  One is a middle-aged gym teacher and the other is a social worker in her mid twenties. These two women go everywhere together, and I’ve never seen a man go into or leave their apartment.  Do you think they could be Lebanese?

Dear Abby,
What can I do about all the Sex, Nudity, Fowl Language and Violence on my VCR?

Dear Abby,  I have a man I can’t trust.  He cheats so much, I’m not even sure the baby I’m carrying is his..

Dear Abby,
I am a twenty-three year old liberated woman who has been on the pill for two years.  It’s getting expensive and I think my boyfriend should share half the cost, but I don’t know him well enough to discuss money with him.

Dear Abby,
I’ve suspected that my husband has been fooling around, and when confronted with the evidence, he denied everything and said it would never happen again.

Dear Abby,
Our son writes that he is taking Judo.  Why would a boy who was raised in a good Christian home turn against his own?

Dear Abby,  I joined the Navy to see the world.  I’ve seen it.  Now how do I get out?

Dear Abby,
My forty year old son has been paying a psychiatrist $50.00 an hour every week for two and a half years.  He must be crazy.

Dear Abby, I was married to Bill for three months and I didn’t know he drank until one night he came home sober.

Dear Abby,
My mother is mean and short tempered I think she is going through mental pause.

Dear Abby,
You told some woman whose husband had lost all interest in sex to send him to a doctor.  Well, my husband lost all interest in sex and he is a doctor.  Now what do I do?

This has been an amusing several days for news.

  • Lindsay Lohan is sentenced to jail and rehab…
  • Mel Gibson has been acting up, again…
  • Touch Down Jesus will be rebuilt – full body from Indiana limestone…
  • The Barefoot Bandit has alluded authorities several times this past week…
  • And the big item this week… Lebron James…

Hmmm….

First off, I had no idea who Miss Lohan was. In fact, I almost thought they were talking about J-Lo (Jennifer Lopez). I did a quick search and found out she was a supermodel, an actress and a singer. OK… cool.

For several days I read, or heard about this mysterious announcement to be made by Lebron James. Since I do not follow sports, and only half listen to television news I figured someone was getting ready to announce their candidacy for the 2012 Presidential Election. I mean, isn’t it about time for the campaigning to begin?

The comments on Facebook, and Twitter, are downright hilarious to me! You would have thought this young guy was discovered to be one of the ten spies returned to Russia yesterday. It reminded me of the night the Baltimore Colts were whisked away in a bus to Indianapolis – fans appeared furious that a sports team leaving their community! You would have thought Michigan and Ohio State University had switched fight songs (if you are from Ohio, you would understand the blasphemy, and severity of such an action!).

The Barefoot Bandit, whose real name is Colton Harris-Moore, now has his own Wikipedia site, and has 55,587 followers (as of this Saturday afternoon) on Facebook. Darling Facebook fan, Eddie Smith of England, who could probably stand to gain from a basic grammar class, writes, “Man your a legend, your story is everywhere in England… Everyone thinks your great!….. Keep going man never let them catch you!!!”

These items seem to be plastering the media landscape, and I have to scratch my head, and ask, “Why the hell should any of this really, and truly matter?”

People are furious with Lebron James for switching to tennis, or marrying Tiger Woods future ex-wife, or trying to steal Morgan Freeman’s contract for the upcoming Broadway production, DRIVING MISS DAISY, or whatever it is he does (yes, I know he is a basketball star from Ohio).

I don’t know why THE TODAY SHOW was so concerned with talking to doctor’s, psychologists, lawyers, and fellow celebrities to dissect Ms. Lohan’s ordeal. Are ya serious, Meredith Viero? An Oregon boy is missing, we have a major oil spill, people are suffering from the heat wave hitting the East Coast, and so many other items of greater importance – and yet the focus is on a celebrity’s legal battles. So what else is new?

When it was announced in The Dayton Daily News that Touchdown Jesus would be rebuilt with Indiana limestone, the critical, even cruel, comments began pouring in! People are furious that Solid Rock Church is spending their OWN money for a blasphemous structure (like cathedrals throughout Europe and here) to glorify God.  “But we don’t even know what Jesus looks like?” wrote one complaining comment. Well, neither did Leonardo da Vinci nor Michaelangelo, or so many other great artists. Should we paint over their masterpieces, or chisel away at the sculptures? I am certain the complainers have

  1. attended, or still attend churches with Christian icons, or set dressing
  2. never attempted to do as much for charity as the parishioners of Solid Rock Church
  3. have no church affiliation, or
  4. a new GPS so they no longer need TDJ as a landmark to tell them when they are closer to Traders World or Kings Island

Why are these particular topics so valued by the masses?

Why is the nineteen year old Barefoot Bandit more an international focus and Bin Laden and his Al Qaeda groupies are not?

While waiting to put some groceries on the conveyor belt at Kroger last night, I glanced over at the Rag Mags, and learned:

  • Laura Bush is divorcing George W. Bush because he is having an affair with Joan Rivers
  • Justin Bieber really has begun puberty
  • Billy Ray Cyrus is a much better actor than many believe, and will be cast in the title role of HAMLET in a command performance for Queen Elizabeth
  • Will Prince Charles have to pin back his ears to wear the royal crown when he becomes king?
  • Television’s Sister Angelica is secretly carrying Pope Benedict’s love child
  • Donna Summer has been cast to play Michael Jackson in the television rock-u-drama about his life?
  • Broadway’s newest production of LES MISERABLES welcomes Great Britain’s star, Susan Doyle, to play Young Cosette

OK, those were actually headlines I made up, but we all know that those do seem to be genuine from the Rag Mags on shopping store racks.

I wonder how many readers will read the above items and take them to be true?

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

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As a child, I was never a big fan of ALL IN THE FAMILY. I can remember my grandfather howling at the brash, crass comedy that too often escaped me. The show, even now, seems to exude emptiness, a hollow tunnel where dreams remain dreams, and dead ends. However, the past month or so, I garnered a new appreciation for the show which often airs on TV Land.

The writing was brilliant, and the writers seemed to keep a firm grip on the pulse of 1971-1979. This one particular episode this evening is when Archie Bunker, portrayed by Carrol O’Connor, lost his job and searches for new work. I can remember, all too well, the mid-1970’s when unemployment had sky-rocketed.

The humor is incredible! I could go on, and on about this show, but it would require far more time than I currently have to expel the tons of thoughts I have about this show.

While returning from the Cincinnati Zoo Sunday, Jose and I decided to stop by Solid Rock Church to view the aftermath of the lightning strike, “the lashing out of Zeus” as many have dubbed it. We were not the only ones paying our respects to the charred remains, floating debris (burnt Styrofoam) and steel, skeletal structure rising out of the lake.

Saturday, I spoke with a friend who knew Rev. Bishop personally, and she explained how the Bishop family had personally funded the original $250,000 to build the sculpture, King of Kings, more commonly known as, Touchdown Jesus.

Sunday afternoon, I stood looking at the destruction with no particular emotion. I know there are Facebook fan pages now hurtling demands that the money proposed to rebuild the structure be used for other purposes – charity, mission work. However, I feel some disagreement with this sentiment. The structure was built, and funded by someone who owns the property. Would we wish for someone to come to our door and demand we paint our homes a different color, or change the landscaping of our yards? Heaven knows I would love to tell people with those concrete geese dressed up in bonnets and jackets to take a hike; however, that is their preference, their property, their right – not mine (but they should seriously consider goose therapy!).

And then there is the faction that condemns the Solid Rock Church of showing off their Christianity, paying homage to a graven image, etc.. Again, I have to step back and look at the entire picture.

For centuries, churches have been adorning their sanctuaries with Biblical artwork, even gaudy representations of Jesus, Mother Mary, Moses, and others from the long list of ancients. We have even seen Satin portrayed in artwork. I do believe there is a gigantic statue of Christ in Argentina, or at the tip of some cape in South America, and I have never heard anyone comment on it. In the Sistine Chapel, God and Adam are represented as a center-piece. Now, in its origins, the controversy was over God’s and Adam’s fingers touching – not about the fact that God was portrayed in art.

Again, I return to my thoughts: it is their business.

Last night there was yet, another article on the week old event, describing how the lightning strike has placed the church on the world’s media stage. There were a number of comments following the article, some understanding, others belligerent. Many, who claimed to be solid Christians, were casting more written stones than the elders cautioned by Christ as they prepared to execute an adulterous woman. I was not concerned, in the least, with those casting stones, but it did revive a thought of a popular wrist band: WWJD?

What would Jesus do?

One person wrote that Jesus would be appalled, even furious!

Hmmm… and this person knows this for a fact?

Would Jesus be amused?

Would Jesus just roll his eyes and utter, “Oy vey!”

Would Jesus high-five the Rev. Bishop, and then pose in front of the structure of Himself with three others to spell out, “O-H-I-O”? Or better yet, “H-E-E-B”?

For the life of me, I cannot determine why the venom flows from fellow Christians. Are Christians supposed to be critical of other Christians? And do these critical Christians have Biblical artwork displayed in their churches, or homes?

If they do, I would gently caution them from casting stones, and to gallop their hypocritical holy horse to another Christian corral. Rather than using energy to cast stones at a structure already demolished, why not use this energy to pray?

We could all pray for the Gulf oil crises, the families affected, the wildlife threatened or destroyed, the BP and government leaders making these very difficlut decisions…

We could all pray for our soldiers, and other personnel overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as other military stations covering the globe.

We could pray for the economy, and those individuals, and families suffering? We could lend a helping hand to food banks, or other church or community efforts to comfort, feed and clothe the less fortunate.

And I have wondered how many of those bellowing about Solid Rock Church using $750,000 for charity or mission – are they, themselves, doing all they can for mission or charity?

We could pray for our schools, our teachers, our students.

We could pray for our families, our neighbors, our government leaders, those we know, and those we have never met.

We could pray that we, ourselves, are led to live a more Christ-like/God-like, spiritual perspective, and one less perceived by our own spiritual tunnel vision.

We could pray that, instead of casting stones, we could cast lovingly blown kisses of healing, humor, blessings, confidence, fellowship, understanding, peace, and love.

Yes, I found Touchdown Jesus to be gaudy, somewhat pretentious, but terribly amusing. However, I am well aware that to others it may have been a source of inspiration. For those of us who travel northbound from trips, the sight of TDJ indicated that those of us living in the Miami Valley were closer to home – much like the big blue arch is a source of “homeward-bound” for me as I travel to and from my native Hoosier roots. For those who have been touched, or inspired by TDJ, or will be with a newer structure… ENJOY!

For I would not want you telling me to not be moved, or inspired when I stand before historical sites of Lincoln, or the Wright Brothers…

As many already know – especially around the Midwest – the ample, gaudy, and familiar structure along the I-75 corridor, King of Kings, was struck by lightning and burned to the ground Monday night during a fierce thunderstorm.  Read Full Article

99% of the Facebook or blog posts I read throughout Tuesday stated relief, or amusement, that the structure, often the butt of jokes, was no more. To many, the structure was commonly known as, “Touch Down Jesus.” Another nickname was “Butter Jesus” – which I admit, was rather true, as it looked like a butter sculpture at a church bizarre or Methodist bishop conference.

There is now a great debate, waging on numerous Facebook sites, as to whether or not this “eye sore” should be returned (in 3 days), or whether the estimated $700,000 to rebuild Touch Down Jesus and the amphitheater, also damaged by fire. Many believe the church’s money should be used to build a homeless shelter, or to feed hungry children.

All these suggestions are great. However, the money does belong to the Solid Rock Church near Monroe, Ohio. They raised the original $250,000 to build the structure, and I am sure they will secure the funds to rebuild – but with no $50,000 contribution from HUSTLER Store owner, Larry Flint, as I jokingly posted yesterday (and many believed it!).

I, for one, could care less whether TDJ is resurrected near Trader’s World, or not. If they rebuild – great. If they use the money for charity – great. The money is the church’s to do with as the people, or teamster union running the church, decide.

To many from this congregation, the structure was actually referred to as their “Lord, and Savior” – as several indicated on news interviews. One lady sobbed that her children had been raised in this church (all before the structure was built in 2004), and that she couldn’t bear for them to return to see the structure they had grown up with destroyed! Ummm…. math skills? A young man of college age (who probably was not in college), stated that he had to come out to the scene to witness this catastrophe for himself, and then devastatingly added, “my Lord, and Savior is gone. He’s gone.”

Hmmm… perhaps the church should consider bringing in some grief counselors who are experienced in liturgical counseling, as well.

Whatever happens with TDJ, happens. I am sure the Solid Rock Church will decide the fate of this structure in a prayerful, Christian attitude that will make us scratch our heads, cheer, or moan.

Today, June 2nd, would have been my great-great grandmother’s birthday. Anna Greenlee Jones, the daughter of Andrew Taylor Greenlee and Prudence Anna Ball, was born in 1875 in Boone Township, Madison County, Indiana.

As young girls, Anna and her sisters, Carrie, Mary and Esther, were quite a tribe of pranksters and, in some ways, holy terrors. The stories passed down from my grandmother about her own grandmother were generally quite funny, but also somewhat unbelievable.

One story was of a young Anna and her sisters taking darning needles and piercing one another’s ears. They took a piece of straw to stick through the new openings. However, Anna’s ear became infected. Now, in 1890, this was serious, but Grandmother Greenlee (my third great-grandmother) took the opportunity to gently box Anna’s ear when she got out of line.

Anna was fortunate to marry a jokester, and prank-loving man, Joel Monroe Jones (1873-1946). Together, Anna and Joel were a fun-loving, jovial couple that instilled an incredible sense of humor in their own three children: Mary Bell, my great-grandmother, and her younger brothers, Alphie and Harry. Their brother, Henry, died at age two.

As a grown woman, Anna was known to have thrown buckets of water on unsuspecting farm-hands walking around a barn’s corner, or stringing a line of tin cans from the front screen door and up the staircase only to come crashing down on a timid maid coming home late in the evening from a date.

When my great-grandmother was a teenager, she held a Sunday school party at her home, the Vinson-Jones farm just south of Forrestville Cemetery, and down the road from the Greenlee farm in Boone Township. All the teenagers arrived in their horse and buggies – the kind where the wheels in the rear were larger than the wheels in the front. While the party was going on, Joel kept himself, and several farm hands busy reversing each buggy’s wheels. Considering the amount of work to change these wheels, it had to be an incredible task! So, when the party disbanded, the teenagers were forced to drive home barely able to see over the dash of their buggies! The funny thing is, Grandpa Jones was very stern looking, and the photos taken of him do not reveal his wit, and devilish humor.

Photos of Grandma Jones (1875-1950):

I am certain my great-grandmother, Belle Jones Clary (1897-1968), had a sense of humor, but it was surely eclipsed by the orneriness of her younger brothers, Alphie and Harry. I can only imagine the laughter, and many pranks in the Jones family home.

In 1973, my great-great uncle, Alphie Jones, died on his mother’s birthday.

Although Belle married the slightly witty, John William “Garrett” Clary (1898-1997), I don’t recall Grandpa Garrett being as much of a prankster as he was the target of so many pranks. His two daughters, Donna (1924-1992), my grandmother, and Aunt Joyce (1932) were forever creating a plethora of hilarious stories that still keep our family howling to this day. Poor Grandpa Garrett never knew whether he would find his shirt sleeves buttoned to other shirts, or his bed short-sheeted or filled with corn flakes. His standard response was a comical growl, “Those damned girls!” That phrase continued clear through the years when Donna and Joyce were grandmothers, themselves!

My Grandma Donna and Grandpa Leroy Barmes (1921-2004) maintained the legacy of humor, instilling it in their own three children: Diana, my mother, Uncle Ron (1952-1987) and Uncle Tom (1954). Grandpa Leroy came from a long line of practical jokers, as well, and the stories of my great-grandfather, Virgil Barmes (1900-1971), could fill a book! Grandpa Virgil, along with his brother-in-law, Harry Daugherty and some of the other Daugherty brothers, filled a completely separate treasure chest with memorable stories!

One of my most treasured impressions of my grandparents will always be their sense of humor. As a little boy, my earliest memories are filled with family laughter, mostly stemming from my grandparents. I often tell, and retell the hilarious moments that accompanied me through the years. Although my grandparents are no longer living, their spark of humor and laughter is eternal.

The one thing I have so enjoyed as a father is laughing often, and heartily! Fortunately, Jose has an incredible sense of humor, and there is scarcely a day that is not filled with three-fourths laughter. We have our serious moments, but we continually find them merged with chuckles, or outright laughter.

I am so grateful that part of my DNA has included a sense of humor. I do hope I will one day be remembered by my grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren for my sense of humor, and pranks!

I finished teaching this evening and asked Jose if he would like to go to Hothead Burrito for supper – of course, this met with a resounding, “yes!”

On the way, Jose commented that he needed to get his hair cut. I suggested that since it was a little before 8:00pm, the styling salon next to where were heading for supper might be open. And it was.

A tall, voluptuous blond, resembling the lovely Kristen Chenoweth, came to the counter to take Jose’s information. She was adorable.

Jose returned to where we were seated in the waiting room while the steaming stylist went to sweep up her area. Jose looked at me and said, “Wow! She’s nice. But she is pretty old for me.”

“Well,” I said, “maybe she is a coyote.”

Jose looked at me, puzzled, and asked me what I said. I repeated it.

And then, I knew I had screwed up. Jose began to explode with laughter… “You mean, COUGAR! Not coyote.”

Yes… that was the term I had heard before… cougar.

Why is it that we parents… ah… never mind…

Very funny!

“Top Ten Signs You Have a Bad Stockbroker”
10. Uses the opening bell as alarm clock
9. Tells you to put all your money in his pants
8. Each time he goes on the trading floor, he gets tased
7. He can guarantee you a billion zillion percent return
6. His advice — buy low, get high
5. Every time you turn on C-SPAN, he’s testifying
4. Your projected retirement age is 97
3. Every time you mention NASDAQ, he says, “Gesundheit!”
2. Your BP Oli stock divdends are paid out in Greek drachmas
1. He says his name is is Bernie and he can only talk for three minutes

The week was good, but seemingly long.

I am now, once again, a part of the Facebook community after finally convincing Facebook security that I was the legitimate DLJH. I have, however, received a number of comical notes from friends regarding my supposed trip to Drayton, Scotland!

As usual, I was wide awake at 4:15am – something I have been experiencing the past several weeks.

It is time to eat breakfast, feed the pets and get ready for Magsig Middle School’s career day.

Betty White was the host for SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE this past weekend, and was an absolute hit…

Betty White on SNL…

Erma Bombeck has been one of my favorite authors, and humorists since I was in the fourth grade.

Here are some quotes and videos….

A friend doesn’t go on a diet because you are fat.

A friend never defends a husband who gets his wife an electric skillet for her birthday.

A friend will tell you she saw your old boyfriend – and he’s a priest.

All of us have moments in out lives that test our courage. Taking children into a house with a white carpet is one of them.

Anybody who watches three games of football in a row should be declared brain dead.

Before you try to keep up with the Joneses, be sure they’re not trying to keep up with you.

Being a child at home alone in the summer is a high-risk occupation. If you call your mother at work thirteen times an hour, she can hurt you.

Car designers are just going to have to come up with an automobile that outlasts the payments.

Children make your life important.

Did you ever notice that the first piece of luggage on the carousel never belongs to anyone?

Do you know what you call those who use towels and never wash them, eat meals and never do the dishes, sit in rooms they never clean, and are entertained till they drop? If you have just answered, “A house guest,” you’re wrong because I have just described my kids.

Don’t confuse fame with success. Madonna is one; Helen Keller is the other.

Dreams have only one owner at a time. That’s why dreamers are lonely.

For some of us, watching a miniseries that lasts longer than most marriages is not easy.

For years my wedding ring has done its job. It has led me not into temptation. It has reminded my husband numerous times at parties that it’s time to go home. It has been a source of relief to a dinner companion. It has been a status symbol in the maternity ward.

Getting out of the hospital is a lot like resigning from a book club. You’re not out of it until the computer says you’re out of it.

God created man, but I could do better.

Guilt: the gift that keeps on giving.

House guests should be regarded as perishables: Leave them out too long and they go bad.

Housework, if you do it right, will kill you.

How come anything you buy will go on sale next week?

Humorists can never start to take themselves seriously. It’s literary suicide.

I come from a family where gravy is considered a beverage.

I have a hat. It is graceful and feminine and give me a certain dignity, as if I were attending a state funeral or something. Someday I may get up enough courage to wear it, instead of carrying it.

I have a theory about the human mind. A brain is a lot like a computer. It will only take so many facts, and then it will go on overload and blow up.

I haven’t trusted polls since I read that 62% of women had affairs during their lunch hour. I’ve never met a woman in my life who would give up lunch for sex.

I never leaf through a copy of National Geographic without realizing how lucky we are to live in a society where it is traditional to wear clothes.

I take a very practical view of raising children. I put a sign in each of their rooms: “Checkout Time is 18 years.”

I was terrible at straight items. When I wrote obituaries, my mother said the only thing I ever got them to do was die in alphabetical order.

I was too old for a paper route, too young for Social Security and too tired for an affair.

I will buy any creme, cosmetic, or elixir from a woman with a European accent.

I’ve exercised with women so thin that buzzards followed them to their cars.

If a man watches three football games in a row, he should be declared legally dead.

If you can’t make it better, you can laugh at it.

In general my children refuse to eat anything that hasn’t danced in television.

In two decades I’ve lost a total of 789 pounds. I should be hanging from a charm bracelet.

It goes without saying that you should never have more children than you have car windows.

It is not until you become a mother that your judgment slowly turns to compassion and understanding.

It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else.

Like religion, politics, and family planning, cereal is not a topic to be brought up in public. It’s too controversial.

Marriage has no guarantees. If that’s what you’re looking for, go live with a car battery.

Most women put off entertaining until the kids are grown.

My kids always perceived the bathroom as a place where you wait it out until all the groceries are unloaded from the car.

My second favorite household chore is ironing. My first being hitting my head on the top bunk bed until I faint.

My theory on housework is, if the item doesn’t multiply, smell, catch fire, or block the refrigerator door, let it be. No one else cares. Why should you?

Never accept a drink from a urologist.

Never go to a doctor whose office plants have died.

Never go to your high school reunion pregnant or they will think that is all you have done since you graduated.

Never have more children than you have car windows.

Never lend your car to anyone to whom you have given birth.

Never order food in excess of your body weight.

No one ever died from sleeping in an unmade bed. I have known mothers who remake the bed after their children do it because there is wrinkle in the spread or the blanket is on crooked. This is sick.

On vacations: We hit the sunny beaches where we occupy ourselves keeping the sun off our skin, the saltwater off our bodies, and the sand out of our belongings.

Once you get a spice in your home, you have it forever. Women never throw out spices. The Egyptians were buried with their spices. I know which one I’m taking with me when I go.

One thing they never tell you about child raising is that for the rest of your life, at the drop of a hat, you are expected to know your child’s name and how old he or she is.

Onion rings in the car cushions do not improve with time.

People shop for a bathing suit with more care than they do a husband or wife. The rules are the same. Look for something you’ll feel comfortable wearing.

Allow for room to grow.

Some say our national pastime is baseball. Not me. It’s gossip.

Someone once threw me a small, brown, hairy kiwi fruit, and I threw a wastebasket over it until it was dead.

Sometimes I can’t figure designers out. It’s as if they flunked human anatomy.

Somewhere it is written that parents who are critical of other people’s children and publicly admit they can do better are asking for it.

Thanks to my mother, not a single cardboard box has found its way back into society. We receive gifts in boxes from stores that went out of business twenty years ago.

Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not coincidence.

The only reason I would take up jogging is so that I could hear heavy breathing again.

There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt.

There is nothing more miserable in the world than to arrive in paradise and look like your passport photo.

There is one thing I have never taught my body how to do and that is to figure out at 6 A.M. what it wants to eat at 6 P.M.

There’s nothing sadder in this world than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child.

There’s something wrong with a mother who washes out a measuring cup with soap and water after she’s only measured water in it.

What’s with you men? Would hair stop growing on your chest if you asked directions somewhere?

When a child is locked in the bathroom with water running and he says he’s doing nothing but the dog is barking, call 911.

When humor goes, there goes civilization.

When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, “I used everything you gave me”.

When your mother asks, “Do you want a piece of advice?” it is a mere formality. It doesn’t matter if you answer yes or no. You’re going to get it anyway.

Who in their infinite wisdom decreed that Little League uniforms be white? Certainly not a mother.

Why would anyone steal a shopping cart? It’s like stealing a two-year-old.

Youngsters of the age of two and three are endowed with extraordinary strength. They can lift a dog twice their own weight and dump him into the bathtub.

PBS Documentary – Erma Bombeck: A Legacy of Laughter…

ERMA BOMBECK: A Legacy of Laughter


Erma Bombeck quotation video…

Last night I told my son that I was officially a part of the Twentieth Century.

“But, Dad, this is the Twenty-first Century.”

Yes. That is true. But, I finally did a very Twentieth Century thing – I finally got cable television.

With the digital transition, I figured this was the time to investigate. I could have gone with just the converter boxes, but decided to give cable a shot. So, I set up Dish with AT&T. I paid them $99 for set-up and they sent the worker out. When he saw the line of trees bordering the easement between my yard and the high school’s property, he quickly assessed there was no way we could do satellite. The worker made a call into the company, and assured me there would be a supervisor coming shortly to validate this worker’s assessment. Three days later, there was still no visit from a supervisor.

On top of this, $40 was reapplied to my banking account. $59 was not returned from AT&T. This only tops the list of numerous grievances I have with this company.

So, I contacted Time-Warner. My God! Sales people can be vultures!

This cable – dish – anything fairly technical stuff – is very foreign to me. In fact, when I was investigating it a month ago, I sent a note to four different friends (and my brother) because I knew they would address my questions in layman’s terms, and in a manner I could comprehend. The vultures at Time-Warner, though not outwardly pushy, just could not seem to hone in on my needs, and could not assist me thinking through the process. It was always, “With what you described, you should probably go with this….” – always something that I knew was not what I wanted as I had the information pulled up in front of me on the computer screen.

My neighbor lady’s niece is in the customer service department at Time-Warner, and we set it up so she could contact me. Trying to get to Joyce through Time-Warner was more difficult than walking into the White House from off the street with no appointment. Finally, it was accomplished, and Joyce was wonderful.

So, last night, my home entered the Twentieth Century.

I never felt the need for cable, especially since I work so much from home. I did not want to become addicted to television. Now that WEST WING is no longer a weekly ritual, I stick mostly to TWO AND A HALF MEN, FAMILY GUY, and documentaries on PBS. That is pretty much my television line-up, aside from my Netflix documentaries and biographies. When I visit Mother in Indiana, I will stay up most of the night watching The History Channel – always returning to Ohio exhausted.

The cable guy had an easy installment since the house was already set up for cable, and the lines ran to every room but the kitchen.
 
After he left, I realized there was no menu indicating the new channels/stations. I heard Jose in the basement playing XBox, so I knew that he would not know the channels. I searched on line, and could find nothing. About 20 minutes into my search, Jose comes upstairs and says, “I bet you are loving channel 52.”  I asked what was on 52… “The History Channel.”  He then proceeded to identify me about 15-20 channels from memory! I asked how he knew them considering he was on XBox, and he said he just ran through the channels and memorized them.
 
Now, if he could only memorize his German, items from English and biology….
I decided I needed to get some work accomplished and I turned back to my monitor… within a few minutes I was channel surfing. Ugh… too many sports channels and why in the heck are there shopping channels?
I decided to delete some of unnecessary channels. It was rather easy to navigate. The televisions in my study and bedroom (from where I often work, as well) are identical, so they were simply. The living room’s television had the cable entering into the television; however, I placed it into the DVD/video machine so that the entire stereo system would also be connected. Wonderful!
I returned to my study, pleased with myself.
At age 44, I had adjusted the cable channels on three televisions, reattached the living room cable into the DVD/video machine… all without the assistance of my teenage son!

There are some days when I just don’t see myself being old enough to be a father. And other days, I feel as though I am the age of a great-grandparent. Being a father is certainly an experience – and more often than not, a delightful one. My life as a parent is not without the typical stress shared by most parents, but on the whole, I have been blessed.

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My youngest son, Jose, is seventeen, and is adorable as they come. We never sit down to a meal where he does not say, “Thank you.” I can probably count on one hand the times he has not said, “thank you” for seeing a movie, getting ice cream, going to an event, etc.. Jose is a very grateful child.

The best part is that Jose has a terrific sense of humor. He may not look like me, but he is, most definitely, my son! He never knows when he will open the front storm door and a bag of water will drop… or a piece of napkin shoved into his straw when we are out to eat (he often takes his straw with him when he leaves the table at a buffet).

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Not only is he great about being the recipient of jokes, or pranks, he also knows how to dole them out as well.

One day we were getting into the car, and I made some remark to him, and he responded with, “eine was für stumme Scheiße” (German: “What a dumb shit!”)

“Jose, you just called me a ‘dumb shit.’ I know enough German you stumme Scheiße!”

One night we were at Wal-Mart just after I had finished painting the kitchen during winter break. I was explaining how I wanted to do something on the cabinet doors – decals, or something decorative. I said that even something with wooden letters would work. Jose left my side and grabbed several wooden letters, laying them out in front of me: G A Y.

At Meijers I was trying to explain to an associate I was searching for Stitch Witchery – a glue tape that cements fabric. As I told the associate my intended use of making a valance for my kitchen, and some shelf drapes, I said, “It is the best thing since sliced bread.” Jose walked by me, and under his breath said, “My dad’s such a fag!”

Too often, when in public, we are forced to not look at one another when someone else says, or does something that tickles us. Jose and I are generally on the same page!

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I had the same relationship with my own mother, and my grandmother. In church, Mother would frown upon Grandma and I sitting next to one another because we often could not behave ourselves.

In a few years, the house will be quiet as Jose moves on to college. By the time he graduates, I will have only had him eleven years, and though I anticipate a wonderful relationship throughout his adult years, I know I will miss the daily humor we share.

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beverlyhillbillies

I got the first season DVD of THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES and watched at least three epsiodes last night. First off, the familiar theme song that opens the sitcom was not written yet. The opening montage  –  Jed shootin’ food, seein’ the bubblin’ brood, grabbin’ Granny in the cabin and headin’ for Beverly – Hills, that is – is underscored with guitars and a fiddle. About episode three, the main theme is introduced.

I laughed out loud, and heartily, a number of times per episode. They were hilarious.

My favorite part is every time they hear the door chimes, they look around trying to find out from where the music is coming – and then, there is always a knock at the door. Too funny.

If you get a chance, grab the first season DVD of THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES – truly a 1960’s classic!

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I have been blessed with numerous cousins on both sides of my family. Due to where I was born in the mix, most of my cousins are either older or younger, and growing up, I never felt as though I had cousins who were considered playmates. My great-grandparents, grandparents and parents were mostly elder children, and their siblings seemed to trail behind them. Therefore, my parents’ first cousins were mostly a little older than myself. Those 2nd and 3rd cousins who were my age always seemed to live far away.

Now, at 44, I have begun to know a number of my cousins, and communicate with them fairly regularly. One cousin, in particular, is Dana Barmes Kleumke. Dana’s father, Uncle Danny, is my great-uncle – the younger brother of my grandfather. Uncle Danny andmy mother are nine months apart in age; therefore, he was more like a brother to my mother. Dana is about four years behind me in age, and seems to me, one of the most remarkable individuals. Her blog wears me out as she escorts us on her journey each day as a stay-at-home mom who home-schools her two sons, Mat and Joey. I know Dana’s mother, my Aunt Bonnie, has always been resourceful, but Dana make’s Martha Stewart and all the great names of resourcefulness appear shabby and lazy. I am busy in my own way, and I can appreciate the differences of our lives – but there are some mornings when I shake my head at all she has accomplished by the time I have taken my sugar, used the bathroom, fed the dog and cat, and prepared my cup of tea. Her blog is definitely worth reading.

I have a number of cousins who are Mother’s age who were/are teachers. Judy Smith-Hallett, her husband, Jerry Hallett, and Stan Daugherty were always so appealing to me because they were teachers. I was always interested in Judy, but we only managed to see one another at weddings and funerals where lengthy conversations were difficult, at best. After my grandfather died in June 2004, I have gotten to know Judy more, and love how she always has a seeming calmness about her.

Stan Daugherty was a well-known basketball coach in Central Indiana, and was at Elwood Community High School for several years. Fortunately, he was there my last three years of high school and was my Algebra teacher. Stan was later to become an invaluable role model as he was great at providing 2-3 different options to approach problem solving so that each student would understand. Today, as a teacher, I will keep finding the right path for each student until the mission is accomplished.

My other cousins – Janice Smith-Kleyla and Susan Hughes-Cleaver, from Mother’s side, were my bubbly cousins. Though I do not see them often, I always feel as though no time has elapsed.

My grandmother, Donna Clary-Barmes, had a much younger sister, Joyce Clary-Riser. Aunt Joyce, who lives in Alexandria, Indiana, has two daughters, Kim, 42 (lives in Florida), and Debbie, who will be 39 this June. Since Kim lives in Florida there is no contact, but I do have email contact with Debbie. Although they are my mother’s first cousins, they always seemed like my first cousins, and I always enjoy any time with them, as well as Aunt Joyce.

The sad part is – all of us are busy with our families – children, and for a good number, grandchildren. Debbie has children a little younger than mine, and Dana, as well as her two siblings, Daniel and Dama, are busy with their little ones. I wish we would all make a pact that at least one day each summer we could all come together for a picnic. I did have a Barmes Family reunion several years ago, and due to the  hecticness of some trying family issues, I was forced to abandon the planning of a second reunion. Hopefully this can be done, soon.

When Mother was born, one of the first relatives to see her was Uncle Raymond andAunt Betty (Church) Daugherty. Uncle Raymond was actually my Grandpa Leroy’s uncle, despite the fact Raymond was four months older than Grandpa. Grandma Donna and Aunt Betty had grown up together near Summitville, Indiana. Two best friends married an uncle and nephew. When I was born, according to my baby book, one of my first visits was from my great-great uncle andaunt, Raymond and Betty, andtheir sixteen year old son, Steve. When I adopted my first son, who was from Texas, I called Uncle Raymond and arranged to visit them in Spring, Texas, where they were living – and still are – with Steve. So, they had the honor of welcoming a third generation of our family’s line.

When I was little, Steve was at Ball State, along with Letterman, Jane Pauley, and Joyce DeWitt. He moved on to radio and television, popularly known in Indiana as Steve Michaels. Whenever we would see him at community events I was always so excited, and proud, that the well-known radio and television personality was my cousin. At one point, Steve had his own television show that aired early every morning. I rose, a good 45 minutes before I had to get up for school, and eat my breakfast while watching Steve on television. I know the content of the interviews was beyond my understanding, but all that mattered was the fact my cousin was on television.

As I grew older, I realized that Steve’s accomplishments were well within my grasp, and it hit home when I was hired to appear in a television special, FRED WARING’S AMERICA. I had no idea who Fred Waring was, and could not understand why my grandparents were so thrilled. They had always rejoiced in my accomplishments, but the idea of their grandson appearing on a Fred Waring program was monumental. One comment stuck with me. Grandma was telling one of her friends about the impending program, and said, “Oh, he’s just like our cousin, Steve Daugherty, who was on television.”

The fact I was going to be on television in a Fred Waring special did not mean nearly as much as being compared to my cousin, Steve.

Since visiting Steve, andhis parents, I have been in weekly, almost daily contact with Steve – personal emails, family history, fond remembrances, and always, a healthy plethora of (naughty) jokes! Thank God my sense of humor matches Steve’s.

I had received several emails these past few months regarding the health of Uncle Raymond and Aunt Betty, and it is sad to learn that, Aunt Betty espepcially, are not in the best of shape. While tending to his parents, Steve was also battling health issues.

Earlier this week, Steve wrote and shared he has pancreatic cancer.

Upon receiving the news, I pushed it to the back of my mind. While working through my health issues with heart-related items, it just seemed impossible that this sentence would be given to Steve. This morning, during our weekly Sunday chat, I could tell Mother is quite upset, though, as always, she maintains her typical calmness. She knew more about Steve’s condition, and began sharing the details. I was all too familiar with the life expectancy of those who battle pancreatic cancer, but in my mind these past few days, I could not connect it with Steve. Mother said Steve reported to her that it would be six months to a year.

It was a struggle for me to continue the remainder of our conversation because my mind descended into a fog. After hanging up, I sat at my desk and sobbed. After a few minutes, I decided to write Steve, reminding him to be courageous, and strong, for at the age of 44, I still looked to him as a hero, and a role model. Steve responded with a grateful note, and some words I shall always cherish. I do fear that this will bring down the already deteriorating health of Uncle Raymond and Aunt Betty.

As children, our heroes are unconquerable in life, and it is a struggle when we realize they are human. Despite the fact I have rejoiced in Steve’s human qualities, it is still agonizing for me to be reminded of the body’s finite, and sometimes, frail nature. Even knowing the unconquerable power of the spirit, I still wish pain and discomfort could be avoided for Steve. I am certain that this new chapter, this new journey – though wholly unexpected and undesired – will be one of growth, and appreciation, serving as a purpose for more than what any of us can immediately fathom… one of the beautiful, and great mysteries of life.

 

cleavers

I have been laid up this past week with a terrible sinus infection, including a dreadful sore throat. While convelescing, I have been enjoying Netflix instant viewing, and got caught up in episodes of LEAVE IT TO BEAVER.

The main cast included:

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Hugh Beaumont, born in 1909, Lawrence, Kansas, died in 1992 at the age of 73. Once BEAVER ceased production, his career was pretty lousing and he was forced into community theatre productions.

mathers

Jerry Mathers is no longer in television, but has remained a familiar face on talk shows throughout the years. Jerry is also very involved in a number of issues:

Psoriasis

Mathers is a spokesperson for the National Psoriasis Foundation to raise awareness of psoriasis, educate the public about new biologic therapies, and generate hope for people with this serious, lifelong disease.

Diabetes

Mathers was diagnosed with diabetes in 1996. He took preventative action, lost 45 pounds and became one of the leading lecturers on living with and dealing with diabetes. Mathers has partnered with diverse organizations to bring awareness of this epidemic to the public and is currently the national spokesperson for Johnson and Johnson’s OneTouch Ultra2 System blood glucose monitoring system.

Other careers

Current

  • Frank Bank, who played Clarence “Lumpy” Rutherford on the Beaver show, is now Mathers’s investment adviser.
  • Mathers, who is an FCC licensed broadcaster, often guest hosts on national talk-radio programs and is trained in radio satellite broadcasting.
  • Mathers has also had recurring spots on The Tonight Show with host Jay Leno.
  • He is currently a speaker at business conventions, where he addresses the emotional state of the American family and the effects of television on society today, using the fabled Cleavers from his early television career.

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Tony Dow, born 1945, has remained active in television and motion pictures.

Dow was born to John Stevens, a designer and general contractor, and Muriel Virginia Dow (nee Montrose), a stunt woman in early westerns and Clara Bow‘s movie double in Hollywood, California. In his youth, Dow was a Junior Olympics diving champion.  He won the role of Wally Cleaver in a casting call with almost no previous acting experience.

Dow remained on the series until it ended in 1963. After the run of Leave It to Beaver, he appeared on My Three Sons, Dr. Kildare, Mr. Novak, and Never Too Young. In 1965, Dow briefly stopped acting and joined the National Guard. Dow left the National Guard in 1968[4] and returned to acting with guest starring roles in Adam-12, Love, American Style, The Mod Squad, The Greatest Show on Earth, The Hardy Boys, and Emergency!.

During the 1970s, he continued acting while working in the construction business and studying journalism and filmmaking. Dow’s most recent onscreen appearance was in the 2003 film Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star. Dow also served as the visual effects supervisor for Babylon 5. In 1996, he provided visual effects for the FOX TVM Doctor Who.

In the 1990s, Dow revealed that he has struggled and was eventually diagnosed with clinical depression. He has since starred in self-help videos chronicling his battle with depression.  He has been quite open about discussing it, even appearing in videos discussing his personal battle with depression, including Beating the Blues (1998), which Dow hosted and in which he talked about his personal struggle with depression.

Dow has become a serious, respected amateur sculptor, creating abstract bronze sculptures. In his artist statement, he says the following about his work: “The figures are abstract and not meant to represent reality but rather the truth of the interactions as I see and feel them. I find the wood in the hills of Topanga Canyon and each piece evolves from my subconscious. I produce limited editions of nine bronzes using the lost wax process from molds of the original burl sculpture.” One of his bronze pieces is on display in the backyard garden of Barbara Billingsley, who played his mother in Leave It to Beaver. Dow was chosen as one of three sculptors to show at the Societe Nationale Des Beaux Arts exhibition in the Louvre in Paris in December of 2008, representing the United States delegation comprising artists from the Karen Lynne Gallery. The sculpture that will be shown at the Louvre is titled “Unarmed Warrior,” which is a bronze figure of a woman holding a shield.

barbara-billingsley

Barbara Billingsley, born in 1915, has also kept an active career in motion pictures and television, often portraying her “June Cleaver” personna.

With a year at Los Angeles Junior College behind her, Billingsley traveled to Broadway when Straw Hat, a revue in which she was appearing, attracted enough attention to send it to New York. When, after five days, the show closed, she took an apartment on 57th Street and went to work as a $60-a-week fashion model.

As an actress on the silver screen, she had usually uncredited roles in major motion picture productions in the 1940s. These roles continued into the first half of the 1950s with The Bad and the Beautiful as well as the sci-fi story Invaders from Mars (1953). Her film experience led to roles on the sitcoms Professional Father and The Brothers and an appearance with David Niven on his anthology series Four Star Playhouse.

Billingsley became best known for her role in the 1950s and 1960s television series Leave It to Beaver as June Cleaver, wife of Ward Cleaver (Hugh Beaumont) and the mother of Wally (Tony Dow) and Beaver Cleaver (Jerry Mathers). The Cleaver household became iconic in its representation of an archetypal suburban lifestyle associated with 1950s America. In the show, Billingsley often could be seen doing household chores wearing pearls and earrings. The pearls were her idea. The actress had an unsightly surgical scar on her neck and thought that wearing a strand of pearls could cover it up for the cameras. In later seasons of the show she also started wearing high heels to compensate for the fact that the actors who played her sons were getting taller than her. [1] The sitcom show ran from 1957 to 1963 and proved to be very lucrative for Billingsley.

When production of the show ended in 1963, Billingsley became typecast as saccharine sweet and had trouble obtaining acting jobs for years. She traveled extensively abroad until the late 1970s. After an absence of 17 years from the public eye (other than appearing in two episodes of The F.B.I. in 1971), Billingsley spoofed her wholesome image with a brief appearance in the comedy Airplane! (1980), as a passenger who could “speak jive.”

She became the voice of “Nanny” and “The Little Train” on Muppet Babies from 1984 to 1991.

Billingsley appeared in a Leave It to Beaver reunion television movie entitled Still the Beaver in 1983, a year after her on-screen husband during the six-year original run of the series, Hugh Beaumont, died of a heart attack. She also appeared in the subsequent revival television series, The New Leave It to Beaver (1985-1989). In the 1997 film version of Leave It to Beaver, Billingsley played the character “Aunt Martha”.

Now in her 90s, Billingsley recently completed a role on NBC’s sitcom My Name Is Earl.

On May 6, 2008, she was one of the panelists at the Academy Leonard Goldenson Theatre in North Hollywood, California, where the Academy of Television Arts & Science presented, “A Salute to TV Moms.” Besides Billingsley, other TV moms attended the party, such as: Marjorie Lord, Bonnie Franklin, Vicki Lawrence, Cloris Leachman, Doris Roberts, Diahann Carroll, Catherine Hicks and Meredith Baxter.

Billingsley was born Barbara Lillian Combes in Los Angeles, California. She and her first husband, Glenn Billingsley, a successful restaurateur, had two sons, Drew and Glenn, Jr. Since 1974, Drew and Glenn have owned and operated Billingsley’s Restaurant in West Los Angeles, in the tradition of their father, and their great uncle, Sherman Billingsley, founder of New York City‘s very fashionable 1940s-era nightclub, The Stork Club. Billingsley divorced Glenn Billingsley, but kept his surname professionally, and later married Roy Kellino, a director. After Kellino’s death, she married Dr. William Mortenson, who died in 1981.

Billingsley is related by marriage to actor/producer Peter Billingsley, known for his starring role as Ralphie in the seasonal classic A Christmas Story. First husband Glenn’s cousin is Peter’s mother, Gail Billingsley.

Film roles (credited)

  • The Argyle Secrets (1948)
  • Valiant Hombre (1948)
  • Prejudice (1949)
  • I Cheated the Law (1949)
  • Air Hostess (1949)
  • Shadow on the Wall (1950)
  • Trial Without Jury (1950)
  • Pretty Baby (1950)
  • Three Guys Named Mike (1951)
  • Inside Straight (1951)
  • Two Dollar Bettor (1951)
  • The Bad and the Beautiful (1952)
  • Young Man with Ideas (1952)
  • Woman in the Dark (1952)
  • The Lady Wants Mink (1953)
  • The Careless Years (1957)
  • Airplane! (1980)
  • Still the Beaver (1983) (TV)
  • Leave It to Beaver (1997)
  • Secret Santa (2003) (TV)

Television shows

And here are the Cleavers today. Barbara Billingsley is seated between her on-screen sons, Jerry Mathers and Tony Dow. Standing behind them are Frank Banks “Lumpy Rutherford” and Ken Osmond “Eddie Haskell”.

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Jose, 16, began a science experiment for his biology class last Friday. He placed an egg in a mug and filled it with vinegar. It was a pretty neat transformation into a gel-like form.

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Wednesday, I noticed the newly transformed egg was wrapped in a napkin in the refrigerator. So, I placed it in the “dairy” compartment in the refrigerator’s door, and replaced it with a regular egg in a napkin.

The next afternoon, after teaching, I noticed another egg in a mug of vinegar. I asked Jose about it and he said he took his egg to school and could not believe that the shell had grown back. The teacher tried to convince him that the could never have returned to its original form.

I sent a note to the teacher to explain…

When I was a teenager in high school, and throughout college, I did listen to rock music, but preferred the music of the late 1960’s and early to mid-1970’s. There was some incredible music written during that era. I was never one to listen to a good deal of the current hits, but in the mid 1980’s I did occasionally listen to Journey, Air Supply, Chicago and a number of individual solo artists.

This past week, I spent one of the most enjoyable weeks working with the Beavercreek High School Friend’s Show Choir. Awesome! Sharon Busch is an incredible director, and she runs a brilliant program. The students were warm, welcoming and a delightful bunch of teenagers. I could work with them forever.

While working with the camp I became exposed to Nate James’ “The Message” and two hits from a medley of Bon Jovi, “It’s My Life” and “Living On A Prayer.”

Friday night was the parents’ show of what the show choir had accomplished. Sharon Busch grabbed a piano, and man, can she jam! I was conducting the show choir instrumentalists, nearly dancing while conducting, and Sharon was even more energetic than me. Bon Jovi’s music can really grab you!

The lyrics to “It’s My Life” have fastened themselves to my brain:

This ain’t a song for the broken-hearted
A silent prayer for faith-departed
I ain’t gonna be just a face in the crowd
You’re gonna hear my voice when I shout it out aloud

It’s my life
If it’s now or never
And I ain’t gonna live forever
I just want to live while I’m alive
(It’s my life)
My heart is like an open highway
Like Frankie said, “I did it my way.”
I just wanna live while I’m alive
It’s my life

This is for the ones who stood their ground
For Tommy and Gina who never backed down
Tomorrow’s getting harder make no mistake
Luck ain’t even lucky got to make your own breaks

It’s my life
And it’s now or never
I ain’t gonna live forever
I just want to live while I’m alive
(It’s my life)
My heart is like an open highway
Like Frankie said
I did it my way
I just want to live while I’m alive
‘Cause it’s my life

Better stand tall when they’re calling you out
Don’t bend, don’t break, baby, don’t back down

It’s my life
And it’s now or never
‘Cause I ain’t gonna live forever
I just want to live while I’m alive
(It’s my life)
My heart is like an open highway
Like Frankie said
I did it my way
I just want to live while I’m alive

This afternoon, Jose returned from a six hour marching band rehearsal, and while getting ready to go to his job at One Lincoln Park, I asked if he could help me figure out how to download several songs onto my MP3 player. He happily agreed, enjoying the moment to assist his semi-technologically-challenged father.

Jose moved the cursor onto one of the songs and jumped back, laughing. “What the hell is this?”

I looked up at Jose. “It’s Bon Jovi. He was really big in the 1980’s and…”

“I know who Bon Jovi is. Why are you listening to him?” Jose asked as though he was a father catching his twelve year old son listening to Gangsta Rap.

“Well… I like it. Bon Jovi is just a little older than me.”

“You like this kind of music?”

“YES I DO.”

“That’s just out there.”

“When I was young, ‘far out’ was a popular little quip.”

“No, Dad, this is just funny to know you listen to rock music.”

“You’ve heard me listen to rock music before.”

“Yeh, but WICKED and hits from THE WEDDING SINGER [Broadway version] don’t count.”

“Jose, I listen to rock music, too.”

“But this is a little heavier rock than some of the shit I’ve heard you listen to.”

“I also like Meatloaf. The rock artist and not the…”

“I know who Meatloaf is…”

“Why is it so crazy that your father would like heavier rock?”

“You play Beethoven, Bach and Broadway. You don’t play Bon Jovi.”

“But I am at least still versatile in my musical tastes.”

A look of concern spread across his furrowed brow. “Are you attempting to be cool?”

“Cool? Excuse me???” I sat back in my chair on the deck and folded my arms. “Why can a 16 year old Mexican son be cool but a 42 year old Caucasian dad cannot?”

“You’re 43…”

“I know how old I am and I am cool, too!”

Jose gave me a tight-lipped grin, and nodded his head.

“Dad, it’s like this… it’s just messed up. My generation is into the coll rock music and guys your age want to listen to our music.”

“This is not YOUR music. Your grandmother listened to Rock-N-Roll when she was younger, and I can remember Mother listening to rock music when I was a teenager. She knew Air Supply and some of the other top bands. And another thing, when I went to pick up Molly Crouch for her lesson Thursday, I was telling Mrs. Crouch about Beavercreek’s show and when I said we were doing a Bon Jovi medley she said, ‘I bet one is LIVING ON A PRAYER.’ Mrs. Crouch is about four to five years older than me. Mrs. Branson even knew the songs and she use to like some of the heavier rock bands in the 1970’s. You make it sound like it is a sin for my generation to appreciate quality rock music.”

The tight-lipped grin appeared, accompanied by the chin extending from the neck in the familiar nod. Jose turned on his heal and went inside.

My MP3 player was loaded.

Around 6:00pm, I decided to go to Kroger to get some cucumbers to make some cucumber salad like my sister-in-law, Stacia, made the previous weekend (of course, the recipe from the internet was nothing like hers…). I plugged my MP3 player into the stereo, and as I backed out on to Shroyer Road, “Living On A Prayer” started. I nudged the volume a bit.

The song was still too soft.

The volume was pumped a little more.

At the stoplight at Lincoln Blvd a car pulled up beside me.

I was not paying attention. The music was a little loud.

Oh… I realized someone was shouting to me from the neighboring car.

“Mr. Haas!” screamed a former student. “When the hell did you start listening to Bon Jovi?”

“I’ve always liked rock music – and why is everyone saying ‘hell’ today?”

He laughed and abruptly left my side as the light changed to green.

I turned into the Kroger parking lot at Eichleberger Plaza, and as I slowly turned into a parking space, there was a gentleman approximately my age – his head began bouncing. I thought it was a seizure but then realized his head was pulsating to the music from my car.

“Wow! This is COOL. Someone my age is getting into this music.”

I remembered a few years back when rock legend Donna Summer was performing at the Fraze Pavilion near us. We walked over, the boys groaning with each step as the music got louder. We ran into Cathy & John Moore, parents of two wonderful sons who were former students (Jeremy and Dan). When “Last Dance” started, the area on the street outside the Fraze went nuts. Cathy was up dancing with others. How neat that was to see my generation, several decades removed from puberty, up dancing to a legend from our youth!

I smiled at that memory as I parked and got out of the car.

“That’s one helluva song!”

I turned to see the guy bouncing as he put his groceries in the back of his SUV.

“I saw him in concert,” the gentleman grinned.

“Bon Jovi?” I asked.

“Yeh. (Uncertain…) He was the one who recorded it. Sounds like you have the 2000 or 2007 version of his latest album.”

“Yip. That’s what I have all right.”

I turned quickly to head into Kroger, fearing he might as me more particulars. I had no idea what version I had. It was on Amazon.Com and I bought it for $.89, along with several other songs from the show choir medley.

As I traipsed through the aisles of the grocery store, I had a little more bounce to my step. Someone from my generation seemed to accept the fact that at my age I am allowed to listen to rock music.

“It’s my life…”

When I’m feeling down, I like to whistle. It makes the neighbor’s dog run to the end of his chain and gag himself.

A penny saved is obviously the result of a government oversight.

The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right time, but also to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.

The older you get, the tougher it is to lose weight, because by then your body and your fat have gotten to be really good friends.

The easiest way to find something lost around the house is to buy a new replacement for it.

He who hesitates is probably doing the right thing.

Did you ever notice: The Roman Numerals for forty (40) are ‘ XL.’

If you think there is some good in everybody, you obviously haven’t met ‘everybody’.

If you can smile when things go wrong, you must have someone else in mind to blame.

The sole purpose of a child’s middle name is so that he can tell when he’s ‘really’ in trouble.

There’s always a lot to be thankful for if you take time to look for it. For example, I am sitting here thinking how nice it is that wrinkles don’t hurt.

Did you ever notice: When you put the 2 words ‘The’ and ‘IRS’ together it spells ‘Theirs.’

Aging: Eventually you will reach a point when you stop lying about your age and start bragging about it.

The older we get, the fewer things seem worth waiting in line for.

Some people try to turn back their life’s odometers. Not me, I want people to know ‘why’ I look this way. I’ve traveled a long, long way and some of the roads weren’t paved.

When you are dissatisfied and would like to go back to youth, think of Algebra.

You know you are getting old when everything either dries up or leaks.

One of the many things no one tells you about aging is that it is such a nice change from being young.

Ah, being young is beautiful, but being old is comfortable.

First you forget names, then you forget faces. Then you forget to pull up your zipper. It’s even worse when you forget to pull it down.

Long ago when men cursed and beat the ground with sticks, it was called witchcraft. Today, it’s called golf.

 

Mouse Trap

Late one Saturday night I heard a pair of footsteps bounding up the basement stairs. I looked up at the clock and figured a commercial had propelled them from the depths of TV Land.

“Dad,” my sons cried. “There’s a mouse downstairs… it crawled down the wall.”

My stomach sprang upward, lodging in my throat. One of my worst fears as an adult had been realized – a mouse had invaded my home. All throughout my childhood I heard others speak of these unwelcome visitors, but had never before experienced one personally. My mother had caught a mouse the previous year and still during our weekend visits my eyes con-stantly scan the baseboards.

Within forty-five minutes I had returned from Wal-Mart with an arsenal that rivaled Wyle E. Coyotes’ ACME collection. The boys busily set around little cardboard box traps and plugged in the pest repellent gadgets. They had pinned him behind my row of file cabinets and were doing everything in their teenage power to capture the little critter. Our dog, Flyer, was busy putting her Labrador pedigree to use and sniffing him out. The fury little creature did escape and ran to the other side of the room. Of course, Logan, our cat, and I, perched halfway up the stairs, observed him running as the trio shifted, sniffed and banged on file cabinets. Logan, a true hunter, seemed resigned to allow the others to do the footwork.

I pointed out the creature’s destination and the trio moved with lightening speed. My thirteen year old stopped and asked, “Father, why aren’t you down here chasing the mouse?”

How could I explain the truth to this young boy who looked up to me for strength, courage and guidance? Guidance! That was exactly what he needed!

“Well, any competent military man will tell you that you need a reconnaissance man to watch the movements of the enemy in order to guide the others.”

He bought it! The chase continued.

Sunday. All quiet on the basement front. No sign of the creature except for the cardboard traps through which he had chewed to free himself. Once more, with the conviction of Elmer Fudd, I hurried to Wal-Mart to purchase the old fashion mousetraps. My eldest son set three around the basement enticing the little fellow with peanut butter.

Sunday night. Traps still empty.

Monday morning. I moved aside the blockade and opened the basement door to let the cat hurry down to her litter box. She did not return within a few minutes. I woke my eldest soldier up earlier than his 6:30am wake-up call and sent him downstairs. I followed at a safe dis-tance. There sat Logan guarding the trap with the little critter caught by the leg and tail, and very much alive. Logan smacked it into stillness and looked up at us for approval and applause. My son picked up the trap and smiled at the little fellow as he took him outside.

Operation Critter was accomplished. I now rank myself with the likes of generals Grant, Marshall, and Eisenhower as an expert military strategist.

Ready, Set, Hike

Inside the veterinary office, Flyer, my new puppy, quickly sensed we were on a different mission and began a tug-o-war session. I greeted the receptionist with our names.

“You said her name is ‘Flyer?’ Did you go to the University of Dayton?” the receptionist inquired.

“I got her as I was beginning to write my musical on the Wright Brothers. She didn’t look like Orville and had too much hair to be called Wilbur.” I joked, lamely.

The receptionist chuckled. “Oh, aren’t you the guy who brought your cat in for…”

“Yes.” I politely interrupted. “I am that guy.”

In the examining room the new vet on the staff introduced himself. “Say, are you the guy who brought his cat in…?” I nodded. “What a great story! How embarrassing.” With that he turned his attention to Flyer.

Little did he know that I was so accustomed to these episodes in my life that I seldom, if ever, got embarrassed, especially after that one summer morning when my six- month old cat woke me with an incredible screech. I hurdled myself over sheets and bounded into the hall to find her half-crawling down the hallway, dragging her backside and crying out in agony. I threw on my clothes and a ball cap, and carefully wrapped her up in a bath towel. The entire time in the car, I held her snuggly in the towel, trying to comfort her from what ever had fallen and crushed her backside.

Fortunately the veterinary office was open to accept pets scheduled for surgery. I ran inside, carefully arranging Logan on the front counter.

“Something fell and crushed her back legs.”

The two sympathetic attendants began examining Logan as I filled out an appointment card. Within seconds Logan began her shrill, excruciating cry and the awkward crawl.

“I’m sorry, but there is not much we can do for her at the moment.”
The tears started down my cheek. In two months I had become so attached to this darling little tabby who, despite warnings from friends that a cat would never walk on a leash, go for bike rides in my back pack, ride in the car or learn the standard tricks of a dog. Logan could do it all, and more. I got her eight years before I adopted my first son and she was my first real living thing for which I was responsible. And now I had failed to protect her… Logan was dying. I wiped away my tears and asked the vet’s assistant what our next step should be. Put her down?

“Oh, no!” Both ladies burst into awkward laughter. How rude and insensitive! Realizing I did not grasp the moment, she placed her hand on my arm. “Logan’s in heat.”

I managed a smile, gathered up my furry daughter and walked out of the office with all the dignity I could muster.

“Well, Flyer is a healthy, sweet little thing,” said the vet as he played with Flyer, “and what a personality. Do you have any questions before I give her the first set of puppy shots?”

“Hmmm… well, the only thing that really concerns me is that when she urinates she doesn’t hike her leg.”

I saw the doctor’s lower teeth slowly rise to grab hold of his upper lip as his body began shaking. Without looking at me he playfully told Flyer, “Your daddy needs to learn about girls.”

Peggy Barbour Straughen (born Margaret Ann Barbour), 70, of Washington Township passed away unexpectedly at Miami Valley Hospital on Tuesday, July 22, 2008. Born in Chambersburg, PA on August 21, 1937, Peggy entered nursing school in Harrisburg where she met her husband, Bill (William Joseph) Straughen. Married in 1958, they had recently celebrated their 50th anniversary withtheir children and grandchildren. Peggy was active in many ways at Normandy United Methodist Church, where she was a member for 40 years. Over her life, she sang in the choir, taught Sunday school and was a lay leader. She had a deep and abiding faith. Peggy was very active right up until her death; quilting, genealogy and playing bridge were her favorite interests. Peggy loved her swim lunch bunch and enjoyed their company often. She enjoyed traveling to see family and friends, from a high-school friend in California to family in Pennsylvania and Florida.

 

Darin’s tribute….

This morning, many dear friends of mine, and parishioners of Normandy United Methodist Church bid farewell to an extraordinary lady, Peggy Straughen. I don’t believe I could say that Peggy was larger than life because she WAS life! She personified how I wish I could live my own life.

The service was absolutely beautiful. In the narthex were photographs of Peggy and her family, a slide show played on the large screen in the sanctuary, and the altar was adorned with quilts made by Peggy’s own hands.

The ministers, David & Elizabeth Brown, are still fairly new, and they are both remarkable, invigorating speakers. Despite the fact I have now witnessed them presiding over two funerals, I marvel at their spirit, their passion for their ministry at Normandy, and their love and devotion to this congregation. They are indeed, a true blessing for this congregation.

The music was beautiful, and the personal tributes delightful, insightful, and moving.

So… how do I say a few words about Peggy? Woa! Say a few words? Trying to say a few words about Peggy would be like trying to fill a bath tub with the ocean.

I sat in the Normandy sanctuary this morning, just like every one else sitting in the packed church…

shocked….

saddened…

and with a feeling there is now a hideous void in our world as we have known it.

While I describe this brilliant lady, it would be appropriate that my writing should take on a quality of haunting strings from something like Samuel Barber’s ADAGIO FOR STRINGS.

But come on… this is for Peggy…

She was not a symphony dripping with melancholy… Peggy’s life was more like a big marching band! Peggy emulated the liveliness, strength, excitement, bounce, thrill, passion, and drive of a John Phillip Sousa march!

For those who knew Peggy, answer the following statements with True or False…

  • Peggy had a big heart.
  • Peggy loved her family dearly and fiercely.
  • Peggy had a big, hearty laugh.
  • You always knew where you stood with Peggy.
  • When you asked Peggy, “How are you doing?” More often than not, she told you what neat things her children and grandchildren were doing.
  • Peggy had a hug that was the grip of a grisly.
  • Peggy loved all her friends.
  • Peggy loved her God, loved Normandy church and its people.

Do you notice all these statements were TRUE?

Well, so was Peggy.

It was 12 years ago I met Peggy when I first arrived at Normandy as the director of music. Following my first rehearsal, Peggy charged right up to me, passing the other choir members who were coming forward to welcome me.

Peggy wanted to let me know that she was the choir’s librarian and if I needed anything, please let her know. While I greeted other choir members, Peggy waited patiently, chatting, laughing, smiling… now, keep in mind – Peggy never did anything with half-hearted effort. Her laughter was big… her smiles were huge (but oh, so warm and inviting)… the sparkle in her eyes was tremendous…

Once the last choir member had left, Peggy walked me to the music office, and began my tutorial of how “her” music library worked. When Peggy was instructing, she was never demeaning, or bossy. As someone said this morning, Peggy had high expectations of her self, and encouraged others to be accountable for their own expectations. Although Peggy’s comments to me could have appeared critical, she was simply treating me like one of her own children – she wanted me to be the best I could, and should be.

Peggy gave me my marching orders for the music library, and I commented that once summer began I would take the time to go through the files – there was a ton of music to explore.

The following week I arrived for choir rehearsal and Peggy was waiting for me. She walked me to the music office and with words that were both business like, but with an air of girlish excitement, she pointed to two large storage tubs on my desk.

Peggy took the time to pull one copy of choir music from each file folder. Each copy was placed in the tub, in order of the file cabinets, and each drawer was labeled in the tubs so that I would know exactly where to search for the folders of music!

This was brilliant, and I hugged Peggy, thanking her for all her work.

Peggy told me, “There’s no sense in you wasting your time going through the drawers. You can take these tubs home and go through them at your leisure. Besides, we’ve run off a lot of choir directors and I can tell you’re a keeper.”

And with that, Peggy was out the door, greeting other choir members.

Later that fall, on a late stormy night, I was working in the music office. I heard the front door of the Grant House open, and slam shut. The footsteps came directly to my office. There stood Peggy, rain water dripping off her rain coat, her glasses speckled with water droplets, and her hair damp.

I saw your car in the circle and the light on.  Are you OK?”

I assured Peggy I was fine and that I was just finishing up some work.

Peggy quickly assessed the project at hand, and before I knew it, her coat was draped over the chair and without invitation, she was working along side me – chatting and laughing. But before leaving for home, she gave me a hug and said, “This was fun. Thank you for letting me join you.”

When I was preparing to travel with my brother and his students to Washington, DC, I was telling the choir at rehearsal that the year before our buses drove through this beautiful Pennsylvanian town enroute to Gettysburg just as the sun was rising over the hills.

Peggy leaned forward, grinning, and asked, “Do you remember the name of that town?”

“Yes,” I said. “Chambersburg.”

The rest of the choir must have already known what Peggy squealed out with pride, and excitement. “I’m from Chambersburg!”

After rehearsal, Peggy told me about the town, and I believe her mother was still living at that time. I know she loved visiting her beloved home town.

When I returned from the trip, I handed Peggy three or four photos I had taken of Chambersburg as we were passing through. Peggy was so touched that I would not only remember, but take photos for her.

This morning, my successor as music director told the gathered loved ones how Peggy never held back on “making corrections” in rehearsals. In one rehearsal, Peggy corrected me on something – politely, but with her, “Let’s get this correct” gaze.

When we agreed on the item, Ron Thie, one of the most hilarious, lovable men I have ever known, asked Peggy, “Is there anything you need to fix with the basses, Peggy?”

The room became silent, not knowing how Peggy would react. I think I was even standing a little taller. Peggy turned in her chair, looked directly at Ron and said, “Well, since you asked…”

Peggy led the choir in explosive laughter!

Another time I forgot to cue the altos on a cut-off. This cut-off had been one of my instructions, and we had even rehearsed it. Well, during this one rehearsal, I forgot that cut-off. When I stopped the choir for notes, Peggy’s hand shot into the air.

“Are you going to cue that cut-off or not? There’s no sense in us all looking up at that point if you aren’t going to give us that cut-off.”

Be assured, that cut-off was not forgotten!

One day, I decided to spruce up my office, and discovered an artificial floral arrangement across the hallway in a closet. I set it on the file cabinets in my office. Peggy saw it just before the choir’s next rehearsal, and asked, “Did you get permission to use that arrangement?”

I look dumbfounded.

Just be sure you check with someone before you use things. People here at Normandy are kind of funny about their areas in the church.”

I asked Peggy, “Who should I ask?”

She smiled, laughed, and said, “Me, of course.”

One parishioner this morning said she and Peggy would have contests on who knew their hymns. The lady said, “As I proudly started to sing the first verse to prove I knew a hymn, Peggy would start singing the second verse.”

One of my first Sundays at Normandy, I was seated on the angle of the first row, and I noticed Peggy kept looking at me during the hymns. After service she strolled up to me and said, “I am proud of you. You didn’t crack open your hymnal for any of the hymns.”

Truth be known, I often get the first verse of a hymn, but move my mouth throughout the remainder of the hymn.

Peggy gave hugs that could weaken a quarterback. I once joked that after my first Peggy-hug, I had to go to the ER with four cracked ribs, a collapsed lung, and smashed vertebrae. Peggy never squeezed the life out of you, she squeezed her love into you.

 

 

So here I am on a Saturday night, writing about a woman that obviously touched my life in a big way… in a great, and loving way.

I hope that each of us will continue to use many of Peggy’s wonderful attributes as a guide for our own lives.

Just like Peggy…

…keep working hard and with tremendous devotion and a big passion.

….keep serving others with deep love and a big passion.

…keep loving others with sincerity and a big passion.

….and when you see someone who needs a hug, give them a Peggy Straughen hug and let them know you truly love them.

God bless you, Peggy, and thank you for touching my life… for hugging my life in a big way!

 

Estelle Getty was a very good mother.

The actress, whose knack for being cast as a maternal unit paid off handsomely when she was cast as Beatrice Arthur‘s no-holds-barred mother on the long-running TV hit The Golden Girls, died early today at her Los Angeles home, her son Carl Gettleman said.

Getty, who was three days shy of her 85th birthday, succumbed to Lewy Body Dementia, a disease with symptoms that mimic Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

A perennial award nominee for The Golden Girls, which ran for seven seasons, from 1985 to 1992, Getty won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for her work as Sophia Petrillo, the shuffling octogenarian with the muted self-censor button who was never without her handbag—or a wisecrack.

Arthur said today she will miss her former costar.

“Our mother-daughter relationship was one of the greatest comic duos ever,” Arthur said in a statement.

The onscreen relationship worked so well, in fact, that the casual viewer never suspected the offscreen truth that was masked by Getty’s granny wig and glasses: The TV daughter was older than the TV mother. (Arthur was born, depending on the source, in either May 1923 or May 1922.)

Cast as the most senior of the show’s Miami women of a certain age, Getty wasn’t even the second oldest cheesecake-eating Golden Girl. Betty White, who played naive Rose, also was older than Getty.

Age 62 at the time of the show’s premiere, Getty was the least-well-known member of the gang of four, which was rounded out by Rue McClanahan as the hot ‘n’ steamy Blanche. While her costars had all been prime-time fixtures on The Mary Tyler Moore Show (White) and Maude (Arthur and McClanahan), Getty had been but a bit player whose screen career had begun seven years prior.

Theater audiences, at least, were familiar with her work. In 1982, Getty earned a Drama Desk nomination for Torch Song Trilogy, the groundbreaking Harvey Fierstein play that put the middle-aged Getty on the road to “overnight” success.

In Torch Song, Getty played Fierstein’s in-denial mother. Getty, by her own account, played the mother to “everyone but Attila the Hun,” including Cher (Mask) and Sylvester Stallone (Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot).

More than anything, Getty played Sophia.

NBC deployed her and her character seemingly whenever one of its shows needed a little Golden Girls ratings magic. In all, Getty showed up in Sophia guise on Blossom, Empty Nest and Nurses.

In the fall of 1992, months after The Golden Girls finally expired, Getty, White and McClanahan reteamed for the spinoff, The Golden Palace, which moved the franchise from NBC to CBS and their characters from Blanche’s home to a hotel. It lasted only one season.

Getty continued to work until 2000, when her dementia became more pronounced. Her illness forced her to miss more than one reunion with her signature costars, including the 2003 TV special, The Golden Girls: Their Greatest Moments.

Born Estelle Scher on July 25, 1923, Getty set aside early acting ambitions to become a “housewife in Bayshore, Queens,” as the New York Times put it in a 1982 article.

Getty, then 58, told the newspaper she thought she was too old for Broadway. But given a chance meeting with Fierstein at a party in the 1970s, the novice turned positively Sophia-esque .

“I said to him, ‘If you’re such a hotshot playwright, why don’t you write a play with a mother in it—so I can play it,'” Getty said. “A year later he sent me this play to read. He had never seen my work, but decided I could do it.”

And she could.

In my research on the Wright Brothers, I have often come across references to Darius Green and his Flying Machine (1868), and finally took the time to read this delightful tale.

The chief rival of the Wrights, Glenn Curtiss, considered the father of naval aviation, grew up in Hammondsport, New York on the banks of Lake Keuka. Glenn’s grandmother was a good friend of John Townsend Trowbridge (1827-1916), the author of Darius Green and his Flying Machine. I am currently pulling in some references for the musical to be sung by the character of Glenn Curtiss.

Darius Green and his Flying Machine

If ever there lived a Yankee lad,
Wise or otherwise, good or bad,
Who, seeing the birds fly, didn’t jump
With flapping arms from stake or stump,
Or, spreading the tail
Of his coat for a sail,
Take a soaring leap from post or rail,
And wonder why
He couldn’t fly,
And flap and flutter and wish and try –
If ever you knew a country dunce
Who didn’t try that as often as once,
All I can say is, that’s a sign
He never would do for a hero of mine.

An aspiring genius was D. Green;
The son of a farmer, age fourteen;
His body was long and lank and lean –
Just right for flying, as will be seen;
He had two eyes as bright as a bean,
And a freckled nose that grew between,
A little awry – -for I must mention
That be had riveted his attention
Upon his wonderful invention,
Twisting his tongue as he twisted the strings,
And working his face as he worked the wings,
And with every turn of gimlet and screw
Turning and screwing his mouth round too,
Till his nose seemed bent
To catch the scent,
Around some corner, of new-baked pies,
And his wrinkled cheeks and his squinting yes
Grew puckered into a queer grimace,
That made him look very droll in the face,
And also very wise.

And wise he must have been, to do more
Than ever a genius did before,
Excepting Daedalus of yore
And his son Icarus, who wore
Upon their backs
Those wings of wax
He had read of in the old almanacs.
Darius was clearly of the opinion
That the air is also man’s dominion,
And that, with paddle or fin or pinion,
We soon or late shall navigate
The azure as now we sail the sea.
The thing looks simple enough to me;
And if you doubt it,
Hear how Darius reasoned about it.

“The birds can fly an’ why can’t I?
Must we give in,” says he with a grin,
“That the bluebird an’ phoebe
Are smarter’n we be?
Jest fold our hands an’ see the swaller
An’ blackbird an’ catbird beat us holler?
Doos the little chatterin’, sassy wren,
No bigger’n my thumb, know more than men?
Just show me that!
Ur prove ‘t the bat
Hez got more brains than’s in my hat.
An’ I’ll back down, an’ not till then!”
He argued further: “Nur I can’t see
What’s th’ use o’ wings to a bumblebee,
Fur to git a livin’ with, more’n to me; —
Ain’t my business
Important’s his’n is?
That Icarus
Made a perty muss —
Him an’ his daddy Daedalus
They might ‘a’ knowed wings made o’ wax
Wouldn’t stand sun-heat an’ hard whacks.
I’ll make mine o’ luther,
Ur suthin’ ur other.”

And he said to himself, as he tinkered and planned:
“But I ain’t goin’ to show my hand
To mummies that never can understand
The fust idee that’s big an’ grand.”
So he kept his secret from all the rest,
Safely buttoned within his vest;
And in the loft above the shed
Himself he locks, with thimble and thread
And wax and hammer and buckles and screws
And all such things as geniuses use; —
Two bats for patterns, curious fellows!
A charcoal-pot and a pair of bellows;
Some wire, and several old umbrellas;

A carriage-cover, for tail and wings;
A piece of harness; and straps and strings;
And a big strong box,
In which he locks
These and a hundred other things.
His grinning brothers, Reuben and Burke
And Nathan and Jotham and Solomon, lurk
Around the corner to see him work —
Sitting cross-legged, like a Turk,
Drawing the waxed-end through with a jerk,
And boring the holes with a comical quirk
Of his wise old head, and a knowing smirk.
But vainly they mounted each other’s backs,
And poked through knot-holes and pried through cracks;
With wood from the pile and straw from the stacks
He plugged the knot-holes and caulked the cracks;
And a dipper of water, which one would think
He had brought up into the loft to drink
When he chanced to be dry,
Stood always nigh,
For Darius was sly!
And whenever at work he happened to spy
At chink or crevice a blinking eye.
He let the dipper of water fly.
“Take that! an’ ef ever ye git a peep,
Guess ye’ll ketch a weasel asleep!”
And he sings as he locks
His big strong box: —

“The weasel’s head is small an’ trim,
An’ he is little an’ long an’ slim,
An’ quick of motion an’ nimble of limb
An’ ef you’ll be
Advised by me
Keep wide awake when ye’re ketchin’ him!”

So day after day
He stitched and tinkered and hammered away,
Till at last ’twas done —
The greatest invention under the sun!
“An’ now,” says Darius, “hooray fur some fun!”

‘Twas the Fourth of July,
And the weather was dry,
And not a cloud was on all the sky,
Save a few light fleeces, which here and there,
Half mist, half air,
Like foam on the ocean went floating by
just as lovely a morning as ever was seen
For a nice little trip in a flying-machine.
Thought cunning Darius: “Now I shan’t go
Along ‘ith the fellers to see the show.
I’ll say I’ve got sich a terrible coughl
An’ then, when the folks ‘ave all gone off,
I’ll hev full swing fur to try the thing,
An’ practise a little on the wing.”
“Ain’t goin’ to see the celebration?”
Says brother Nate. “No; botheration
I’ve got sich a cold – a toothache – I
My gracious – feel’s though I should fly!”
Said Jotham, “Sho!
Guess ye better go.”
But Darius said, “No!
Shouldn’t wonder ‘f you might see me, though,
‘Long ’bout noon, ef I git red
O’ this jumpin’, thumpin’ pain ‘n my head.”
For all the while to himself he said: —

“I tell ye what!
I’ll fly a few times around the lot,
To see how ‘t seems, then soon’s I’ve got
The hang o’ the thing, ez likely’s not,
I’ll astonish the nation,
An’ all creation,
By flyin’ over the celebration!
Over their heads I’ll sail like an eagle;
I’ll balance myself on my wings like a sea-gull:
I’ll dance on the chimbleys; I’ll stand on the steeple;
I’ll flop up to winders an’ scare the people!
I’ll light on the liberty-pole, an’ crow;
An’ I’ll say to the gawpin’ fools below,
‘What world’s this ‘ere
That I’ve come near?’
Fur I’ll make ’em b’lieve I’m a chap f’m the Moon;
An’ I’ll try to race ‘ith their ol’balloon!”
He crept from his bed;
And, seeing the others were gone, he said,
“I’m gittin’ over the cold ‘n my head.”
And away he sped,
To open the wonderful box in the shed.

His brothers had walked but a little way,
When Jotham to Nathan chanced to say,
“What is the feller up to, hey!”
“Don’o’- the’s suthin’ ur other to pay,
Ur he wouldn’t ‘a’ stayed tu hum to-day.”
Says Burke, “His toothache’s all ‘n his eye!
He never’d missed a Fo’th-o’-July,
Ef he hedn’t got some machine to try.”
Then Sol, the little one, spoke: “By darn!
Le’s hurry back an’ hide ‘n the barn,
An’ pay him fur tellin’ us that yarn!”
“Agreed!” Through the orchard they creep back
Along by the fences, behind the stack,
And one by one, through a hole in the wall,
In under the dusty barn they crawl,
Dressed in their Sunday garments all;
And a very astonishing sight was that,
When each in his cobwebbed coat and hat
Came up through the floor like an ancient rat
And there they hid;
And Reuben slid
The fastenings back, and the door undid.
“Keep dark!” said he,
“While I squint an’ see what the’ is to see.”

As knights of old put on their mail –
From head to foot an iron suit
Iron jacket and iron boot,
Iron breeches, and on the head
No hat, but an iron pot instead,
And under the chin the bail,
(I believe they called the thing a helm,)
Then sallied forth to overwhelm
The dragons and pagans that plagued the earth
So this modern knight
Prepared for flight,
Put on his wings and strapped them tight
Jointed and jaunty, strong and light —
Buckled them fast to shoulder and hip;
Ten feet they measured from tip to tip
And a helm had he, but that he wore,
Not on his head, like those of yore,
But more like the helm of a ship.

“Hush!” Reuben said,
“He’s up in the shed!
He’s opened the winder — I see his head!
He stretches it out, an’ pokes it about,
Lookin’ to see ‘f the coast is clear,
An’ nobody near; —
Guess he don’ o’ who’s hid in here!
He’s riggin’ a spring-board over the
sill!Stop laffin’, Solomon! Burke, keep still!
He’s a climbin’ out now — Of all the things!
What’s he got on? I vum, it’s wings!
An’ that ‘tother thing? I vum, it’s a taill
An’ there he sits like a hawk on a rail!
Steppin’ careful, he travels the length
Of his spring-board, and teeters to try its strength.
Now he stretches his wings, like a monstrous bat;
Peeks over his shoulder; this way an’ that,
Fur to see ‘f the’ ‘s any one passin’ by;
But the’ ‘s on’y a caf an’ goslin nigh.
They turn up at him a wonderin’ eye,
To see — The dragon! he’s goin’ to fly!
Away he goes! Jimminy! what a jump!
Flop — flop — an’ plump
To the ground with a thump!
Flutt’rin’ an’ flound’rin’ all ‘n a lump!”

As a demon is hurled by an angel’s spear,
Heels over head, to his proper sphere —
Heels over head, and head over heels,
Dizzily down the abyss he wheels —
So fell Darius. Upon his crown,
In the midst of the barn-yard, he came down,
In a wonderful whirl of tangled strings,
Broken braces and broken springs,
Broken tail and broken wings,
Shooting-stars, and various things;
Barn-yard litter of straw and chaff,
And much that wasn’t so sweet by half.
Away with a bellow fled the calf,
And what was that? Did the gosling laugh?
‘Tis a merry roar from the old barn-door.
And he hears the voice of Jotham crying,
“Say, D’rius! how do you like flyin’?”

Slowly, ruefully, where he lay,
Darius just turned and looked that way,
As he stanched his sorrowful nose with his cuff.
“Wal, I like flyin’ well enough,”
He said; “but the’ ain’t such a thunderin’ sight
O’ fun in ‘t when ye come to light.”
I just have room for the MORAL here:
And this is the moral — Stick to your sphere.
Or if you insist, as you have the right,
On spreading your wings for a loftier flight,
The moral is – Take care how you light.

 

 

 

Leaders

Potential

Success

“I am prepared to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.”   ~Winston Churchill

Top Ten Hillary Clinton Campaign Slogans
10. “Read My Lips — No New Interns”
9. “Reward Me For Putting Up With Bill’s Crap For So Long”
8. “Isn’t It Time You Were Disappointed By A Different Clinton?”
7. “Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You, Ask How You Can Illegally Contribute To My Campaign”
6. “Vote For Me Or My Husband Will Nail Your Wife”
5. “You Give Me A Vote, I’ll Get Vernon Jordan To Give You A Job”
4. “Still Not Indicted As Of Early ’99!”
3. “From Perjury To Albany”
2. “Building A Bridge To The 21st Century, And Pushing My Husband Over It”
1. “Oh Lord, Please Don’t Make Me Go Back To Arkansas”
Top Ten Hillary Clinton Internet Screen Names
10. Soon2BeSingle
9. NoDNAHere
8. CarpetBagger99
7. 2Powerful2Go2Jail
6. BiteMeTipper
5. Mad@bill.com
4. Good@lying.com
3. RudySux
2. I’veNeverHeldElectedOfficeOrSetFootInNewYorkButIStillHaveTheGallToRun4Senator
1. Secrets2China
Top Ten Skeletons In George W. Bush’s Closet
10. Fathered half the players at this year’s Wimbledon.
9. Once killed a Lenscrafter clerk when his glasses weren’t ready in about an hour.
8. The “W” Stands for “Winky.”
7. In 1988 told dad, “I think Quayle would make a great vice president.”
6. He’s also married to Barbara Bush.
5. On April 9, 1968 actually had an opinion.
4. Calls brother Jeb “the one with the hick name.”
3. Recovering “Opraholic.”
2. From 1986 to 1991: Nothing but Nintendo and hookers.
1. Borrowed a skeleton from a local museum, put it in his closet, never returned it.

Top Ten Signs There’s Trouble in the Barbie and Ken Marriage
10. Ken overheard at bar saying he’d like to find “a woman with bendable elbows.”
9. Years-old feud about who can go longer without blinking.
8. After sex, she said, “You ain’t exactly Stretch Armstrong.”
7. Ken’s extensive collection of gay porn.
6. While Ken’s asleep, Barbie covers him with bacon grease so neighbor’s dog will chew him to shreds and bury him.
5. They’re arguing over custody of the Beanie Babies.
4. She wants the kids raised as dolls, and he wants them raised as action figures.
3. He’s been coming home late at night reeking of Silly Putty.
2. Personal ad reads, “Curvy blonde seeks anatomically-correct guy.”
1. Lewinsky!

Top Ten Other Disney World Attractions Being Closed for Renovations
10. It’s a Small, Vermin-infested World
9. The Lion King’s Litter Box
8. Mickey’s “Loose Bolts” Roller Coaster
7. Spinning Tea Cups Full of Scalding Coffee
6. 101 Dalmatians Get Spayed and Neutered
5. The Country Bear “When Animals Attack” Jamboree
4. Computer Software Pirates of the Carribean
3. Journey through Goofy’s Pancreas
2. Hall of Presidents of the Hair Club for Men
1. Robert Downey Jr.’s Wild Ride
Top Ten Things That Would Be Different if Clinton Had Been Our First President
10. Instead of “President,” highest office in the land is called, “Burger King ”
9. Indiana and Ohio known as “East and West Bubbaland”
8. Preamble to Constitution contains 23 references to cheese fries
7. His early morning jogs would have been enough to scare off the entire Indian population
6. The first amendment: “You have the right to get, like, totally stoned”
5. Schoolchildren learn about how Clinton chopped down a cherry tree, then ate it
4. The term “Father of Our Country” would have an entirely different meaning
3. Instead of man wearing powdered wig, dollar bill features man holding powdered donut
2. Washington Monument would be anatomically correct
1. Our national bird: the Chicken McNugget

Top Ten Signs You Won’t Be Getting Into College
10. On visit to campus, you accidentally kill the school mascot
9. Instead of a cap and gown, your high school gives you a McDonald’s uniform
8. After four years of Spanish, you still can’t place an order at Taco Bell
7. You took an S.A.T. preparation course that was advertised by Sally Struthers
6. Your list of school activities includes words “Comet Hale-Bopp” and “castration”
5. You tell admissions officer you’re looking forward to “some good, honest book-larnin'”
4. Instead of application, you send in a Where’s Waldo? book with all the Waldos circled
3. You insist interviewer call you by your nickname: “Glue-Sniffin’ Eddie”
2. Last time you picked up a book, Michael Jackson was black
1. Your classmates voted you “Least Likely to Get into College”
Top Ten Signs You’re at a Bad Camp
10. Lifeguard is a mannequin with a whistle
9. Many of the counselors are still wearing their prison uniforms
8. At the end of the tetherball rope is a sun-bleached human skull
7. Bonfire fueled entirely by documents from old lawsuits
6. At meal time, they send you into the woods with a hunting knife and say, “Bon appetit, you little bastards!”
5. Baseball clinic is run by last place New York Mets
4. The strange-looking kid who keeps biting everyone turns out to be a giant mosquito
3. Dead horse + 1,000 volts = 8 seconds of horseback riding
2. They give you a special repellent to prevent bites by Mike Tyson
1. Camp motto: remember Waco
Top Ten Good Things About Rooming With the President’s Daughter
10. Bitchin’ motorcade from history class to language lab
9. She shows up with beer coasters hand-knit by Betsy Ross
8. Your summer job next year: Ambassador to Belgium
7. Secret Service guys always available to buy you beer
6. Her care packages always include a tray of dad’s “special” brownies
5. You become fourth in line for Presidency
4. At some point, you find yourself playing “quarters” with Ted Kennedy
3. When ordering from Domino’s, you can take advantage of the President’s volume discount
2. If you receive poor mark on test, you can have professor slapped around by Janet Reno
1. Somehow, you’re not so embarrassed about your own father
Top Ten Things The Founding Fathers Would Say If They Were Alive Today
10. “Remember that electoral college thing we made up when we were drunk? They’re still using it!”
9. “Maybe that ruthless monarchy thing in England wasn’t such a bad idea after all…”
8. “Good to see Florida is still using the same old voting machines”
7. “That’s odd — in my day, we also had a senator named Strom Thurmond”
6. “So that’s the Washington Monument? Yeah, in his dreams”
5. “Giuliani has really wrecked Times Square”
4. “We risk our lives to form this great nation and you wanna let George W. Bush run it?!”
3. “Back in our time there certainly wasn’t anyone as man-tastic as Ricky Martin”
2. “He did what in the Oval Office?”
1. “Screw this, we’re going to Canada”

Top Ten Signs You’ve Hired A Bad Easter Bunny
10. Costume is made from rabbits he hit on the interstate
9. Not really a hop — more of a drug impaired stumble
8. Before kids get candy they have to sit through a presentation about timeshare condos
7. Keeps saying, “Jesus? No doesn’t ring a bell…”
6. He’s been wearing the suit since November
5. Easter basket is filled with menthol cigarettes
4. Hides five eggs and the body of a drifter
3. He’s wearing a yarmulke
2. Tells you for an extra thousand bucks he won’t rat you out to the New York Post
1. He disappears for hours with Whitney Houston
Top Ten Most Popular Shows at the Vatican
10. “Friends…Of The Lord”
9. “World’s Scariest Popemobile Chases”
8. “Kids Say The Darndest Things and as a Result Go To Hell”
7. “Platonic Love Boat”
6. “Live! With Jesus & Kathie Lee”
5. “Sabrina, The Teenage Witch Who Was Burned At The Stake”
4. “Beverly Hills IXOCCX”
3. “Everybody Loves Praying”
2. “Virgin Mary Tyler Moore”
1. “M*A*S*S”
 
Top Ten Things Overheard Outside “The Da Vinci Code”
10. “So what other movies has Da Vinci done?”
9. “Would Jesus prefer Good & Plenty or Raisinets?”
8. “I’ve seen a fair number of codes in my day, but that was the Da Vinciest!”
7. “I couldn’t see anything over the Pope’s crazy hat”
6. “They want us to believe fishsticks were served at the last super?”
5. “Can I get a discounted ticket if my name is Vince?”
4. “Nine bucks a ticket, now that’s blasphemy – – am I right, people?”
3. “They could have done without the cameo by Larry the Cable Guy”
2. “Are you sure L. Ron Hubbard didn’t have anything to do with this?”
1. “One senior citizen ticket, Mr. Letterman?”

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