Wednesday, September 9, 2015


(Reworked old reruns week--originally published 7/6/12)

How many of you can say your grandmother once posed nude for a calendar? Let’s see a show of hands.  Just as I thought—nobody but me!!  Picture this:  Russia.  Around 1900.  Poor but beautiful young girl with blond, wavy hair down to her waist.  A photographer comes to her village & wants to put Bubby (Yiddish for grandmother, but she was “Bella”, not “Bubby”, at the time) on a calendar he was shooting.  She’s embarrassed but her family needs the money, so she agrees.  She is nude, but you can’t see anything.   Her hair is artistically draped over the “good” parts.  She was ashamed because this sort of thing wasn’t done by nice young ladies in those days, so she never kept a copy.  How I wish I could have seen it!!

The responsibility for supporting her family fell to my grandmother when my grandfather became ill.  She took a job sewing in the garment district of Los Angeles.  She elected to get paid by the piece instead if going on salary--she was so fast she made almost twice as much that way.  She was also an extra in a couple of Mack Sennett's "Keystone Kops" movies.  I can't prove it, but I was told that she was the first woman to get a driver's license in California.

This ring is the only thing I have of hers.  I wear it on my pinky & I never take it off.   The red stones are ruby chips.  Bud doesn't like it--he says it's too old-fashioned.  I can't go into a new jewelry store without being asked if I want to sell it!!


When our oldest son, Matt, was first married he was the Assistant Travel Director for the San Francisco Giants baseball team.  He had to go to all the games, both home & away, & his new bride missed him when he was on a road trip.  His mind works like mine (I’m sorry, Matt) & he came up with a solution.  They should get a large dog, like a boxer.  He figured that the dog could lay on the couch & sleep, snore & drool--with one paw on the remote.  That way, she’d never know he was gone!!

Speaking of grandparents (well, I WAS, earlier) my father-in-law used to be the leader of the house orchestra at the Saltair Hotel in Salt Lake City.  The hotel had a publicity photo made with his picture—handsome devil that he was, in his tux--& the words, “Ladies!!  Get a free autographed picture of Phil F------!!”  Matt, who was about 10 or 12, was visiting his grandfather with a friend.  Phil showed the boys the picture & they said, “Big deal!!  A free picture of Grandpa Phil!!”  He smiled his devilish smile & said, “I wasn’t always Grandpa Phil!!”  He was quite the dude.  He liked to wear a grey pinstripe suit, white shirt with French cuffs, a silk tie--& red socks.

This is Phil (second from left, with the violin) at age 17 or 18.
It was his orchestra--he was the leader!!

I can’t leave out my mother-in-law, Audrey.  She was brilliant.  She graduated high school at 15, went to college & law school--& had to wait to take the bar exam because she wasn’t yet 21.  There weren’t very many openings for female attorneys in those days, so she decided to take the civil service exam so she could get a job as a court clerk.  The exam consisted of many, many questions—most of them having no bearing on her prospective job.  She was not prone to sarcasm or profanity, but I guess she had had enough when she got to the question: “If the distance from the earth to the moon is approximately 1,256,640,000 feet & a ball of string has 750 feet of string, how many balls of string would it take to reach from the earth to the moon?”  Her answer was “Balls & balls & balls--& that goes for the rest of your damn questions, too!!”  I guess she was right.  She got the job.

Bud & I started dating shortly before I was 16 & married when I was 20.  We became engaged when I was 18.  Many mothers feel that no girl is good enough for their son.  We spent many nights at his folk’s house watching TV.  Audrey would say, “You shouldn't just sit around the house.  Why don’t you go to a movie--go bowling--get married?”  Do you remember hope chests?  She gave me a gift for my hope chest every month that we were engaged.  She gave me almost all of our sterling silver & I have service for 12.
My mother-in-law Audrey:

Bud was in the Army & stationed at Fort Ord when we were married.  I worked as a dental assistant on the post.  My boss was Dr. Joe Stewart, who was from Anniston, Alabama.  Languages & accents are fun for me.  I tend to “parrot” them without realizing it.  Bud told me that I was beginning to speak with a southern accent.    I told Dr. Stewart what Bud had said & he responded, “So what?  Why’s he complainin’?  Y’all talkin’ right fo’ the first time in yo’ life!!”

A little more on Dr. Stewart: He used to do dental work under general anesthesia on Wednesday mornings.  One day he asked me if I’d like to watch.  I told him I would.  I got scrubbed & gowned, went in & stood a few feet from the table as he started to work.  He told me I couldn’t see well enough from there & that I should move closer.  I did.  He said that I still wasn’t close enough.  I moved again.  Not close enough. I moved again & by this time I was right next to the patient’s head.  Dr. Stewart said that if I was going to stand that close I might as well help & slapped a suction hose into my hand.  I assisted him in surgery from that Wednesday on.

I wasn’t planning on writing this much about Dr. Stewart, but I just remembered this:  Almost all of our patients were children.  Their parents could be with them while we worked if they wanted.  When he was about to start, he would usually say, “Open your mouth & let’s take a peek.”  Usually.  One time, however, with the mother there, he slipped.  What came out was, “Open your mouth & let’s take a leak.”  It broke the two of us up—mommy didn’t hear it. 

This is the way my brain works:

Y’all come back now, heah?----fishducky



  1. If anyone finds a missing brain I would be glad to give it a home. And this one I am going to lock in...
    I do love your stories about your family. All as awesome as you.

  2. I think I'll re-gift my brain, although I doubt I'll find any takers.

    1. If science doesn't want it, how about Goodwill or the Salvation Army?

  3. If you haven't done so, you need to write a book about your family. What an unusual bunch! I think mine are pretty boring in comparison....great people, but not so adventurous.

  4. Wow, what an interesting bunch of relatives you have. I see a novel in there somewhere.
    I worked briefly for a dentist also but I kept passing out. He practiced hypnotism. Wish I had hung around long enough to learn that.

    1. I'd love to be able to hypnotize people. As for the novel--I think I'll just stick to writing my blog!!

  5. I LOVE that working brain gif image you have up there!! I watched it for ages before moving on.
    Your family is so interesting, I love reading about them.

    1. That image sort of reminds me of my mother-in-law's answer--balls & balls & balls!!

  6. The ring is beautiful. I wish I'd been photographed in the nude for a calendar before my boobs headed south. My (former) mother-in-law found out we were engaged, and she told my ex-husband, You just march right over there and tell that girl you can't marry her. God, if only he'd obeyed her.



Your comments make my day, which shows you how boring my life has become.