Sunday, November 10, 2013

Basketball Season's on the Horizon.....

....I often find myself thinking back on the adventure which has been my life. Perched as I have so often been in my favorite old rocking chair (the one covered in zebra hide), I am reminded of how my dear Archer carried the fine chair through darkest Africa, determined to bring it home and find it a position of appropriate grandeur. It, like myself has seen the finest of days…and here we sit.....
….basketball is upon us and I am again reminiscing with my friend Mildred over a cup ‘o tea. Although I never myself played, I vividly remember my father following the sport. Always the liberal, and a huge fan of women in sports, I recall his outrage in 1929 when women’s b’ball, as they call it these days, had its "low low’s" and "low high’s". Most people in the states, especially in the East, were largely concerned with finances and jobs; the button business certainly dipped along with the clothing industry in general, but the family business carried little debt, so we were able to limp along without laying off at the plant.

Sadly, sports fans in Colorado were also robbed of women’s basketball, when the Colorado Medical something or other decided that sports were bad for women’s health and all girls competitive sports in the state were canceled. This was the “lowest of the lows” according to my father. (I know I quote my father a great deal, but he did have a way with words….and I fear I’ll entirely alter the essence of the conversation if I change his words……….)


That same year the national championships were revived in Kansas, adding a beauty contest to the event. At the time, I was 17, and found this quite exciting. My father, on the other hand, applauded the new life to women’s sports, but thought the beauty “thing”, as he called it, watered down the sport. He also thought it was a smack in the face to women’s athletics….this is what he called the “low high’s”.
I now understand. One step forward, a half step back…but I suppose one does what one must to advance the position for women….after all, it was nearly the 30’s….soon it will be the 30’s again, and I hope we can look back on a century and be proud. The states have done quite nicely, but I fear much of the world has a long way to go.....astoria
By the by, to go to the beginning and catch up on Astoria's adventures go to,

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I once belonged to the Palm Beach Cinematic Society......

....I often find myself thinking back on the adventure which has been my life. Perched as I have so often been in my favorite old rocking chair (the one covered in zebra hide), I am reminded of how my dear Archer carried the fine chair through darkest Africa, determined to bring it home and find it a position of appropriate grandeur. It, like myself has seen the finest of days…and here we sit.....
I once belonged to the Palm Beach Cinematic Society, a collection of socialites and eccentrics dedicating their time to the sharing and enjoyment of “all things film”. What really happened was we gathered at each others homes monthly to discuss films we had recently viewed. Now, what really, really! happened was we introduced the film “assignment”, chatted about it for a few minutes, and proceeded to eat, drink, chat, gossip and share vast amounts of knowledge of other subjects, including (but certainly not limited to) foods, travel destinations and updates of children and other friends and acquaintances.

Palm Beach Fashions
 I just adored these get-togethers, and I adored the ladies who frequented them. Such a collection of eccentric and loyal friends….there was Lorelei, the artist….most widely known for her photographs of insects, and weddings…..and perhaps insect weddings. Then there was Nora, the teacher and lover of nature….this year her assignment to her students was for them to take home frog eggs and watch them hatch in their bathtubs! Can you imagine!...weeks and maybe months of bathing out of the sink and then the slimy creatures might hop right out and into your beds! 
Movies of the time
 Anyway, Nell was involved in organizing the local youth to do “good deeds” and spent her off time like Katharine Hepburn, gallivanting around jungles and climbing mountains…imagine! There was Kate, our own resident “Martha Stewart”; Tuppence, who was studying to be a Lawyer (imagine that!); Lula, who loved to adopt lost animals and find them new homes; and of course Miss LaFontaine, who always showed up wearing exotic Asian robes and such; and in the midst of all of our lavish, stone mansions, she lived in a woodsy and charming home made of logs! Can you imagine! She was such a rebel!
Secretly, Vivian was designing and assembling ornate and scandalous garments, and Rose was her fit model… and the two would gather on occasion, trying on the pieces late into the wee hours, and drinking way too much wine! Sally always hosted the Christmas bash because she had the most gorgeous tree, and put it up the earliest. I also happen to know that she secretly dreamed of becoming a “long haul” truck driver, and was quietly practicing on another friend’s large vehicle. Seems whenever the group got themselves into trouble, Sally was at the heart of it….and, Annabelle always managed to get us out….she could dig a mean snow trench, and I once saw her directing traffic in a pinch!
Cybil was the proper one of the group. She had come over from England and was always trying to improve our manners….she occasionally made us wear hats and raise our pinkies, but I know that she was really from Pittsburgh and secretly owned dungarees! We played along and loved her all the same. Daisy possessed daring wit, something we shared, and she always made me chuckle, especially when she told jokes in English, but delivered the punch lines in Spanish….imagine that!
Several of the ladies came and went, some joining for a while, when in town, and others who just retired from us or simply found their lives changing and moving on. There was Jane, who was off having babies; Joan, who had taken a position with the Postal Service, efforting to improve their logistics; and of course Violet, who decided she liked books better than film….last I heard she had joined a Book Club! Imagine that! 

These were the ladies of Palm Beach…the heart and soul of the community…and my friends….what would our town have been without them…..certainly a lot less interesting!.......astoria
For the top 50 movies of the 1940's see:
For more on Palm Beach in the 1930's-1950's check out :



Astoria might have worn one of these lavish "ladies lunching" jackets to one of the Society meetings.......jackets available at




Friday, March 1, 2013

The Most "Manly" Race of All......


As you might expect, I was not the only one to chronicle our various adventures. Below is a page from my beloved Archer's old, well travelled, leather journal. The cover itself brings tears to my eyes. Worn, touched by his hands, stained through the oil by his perspiration, it was an old and trusted friend who kept close company with the man I loved.......
Laralu, Siobahn and myself (right) 1935
I suppose most men have a “need for speed” of some sort. While Astoria never quite understood the quest for bigger, better, faster…she still enjoyed the wind whipping through her hair as the speedometer needle crept ever upward…to a point.
So it was not unusual that whenever we were in the wide open spaces of the great Southwestern United States or the winding, windswept, empty roads of the U.K. that we should seek out a motorcycle. My preferred motorbike was always a Norton, but we’d ride whatever we could find…sometimes an Indian, occasionally even one of those wonderful Italian Moto Guzzi’s.
It was no wonder then that we were drawn helplessly to the TT Race on the Isle of Man. It was the perfect combination of speed, fumes, adrenaline and oh yes, evening after evening of outrageous celebration and parties!
The “TT” stood for “Tourist Trophy” and it seems everyone who participated and filled the tiny island had to be a tourist, because no one in their right mind would ever live in such a remote place. Every year though since the race began in 1907, they’d close down the public roadways for a few days and watch the competition grow and grow.
In the 30’s when we rode those tiny, snarling, snake like roads I think the grand event was really coming into its own. Astoria would round up her girlfriends and gloriously ride the countryside and down along the shore, with scarves and hair flying behind them.  My chums and I were far more serious preparing our bikes for the sometimes lethal racing on the real course.
In the early days the racers were pleased with speeds approaching 40 miles an hour on their old single cylinder machines, but we could get up in the 70’s ever reaching for that elusive 80 mph mark through tiny villages with names like Castletown and Ballacraine. We would fly through the mountains on the Manx Course past the fans lining the tiny roads, in places like the deadly Birking’s Bend.  You’d often be close enough that you could touch the fans if you dared take your hand off the controls and some riders did!
 I always found a Norton to ride in those days. In ’35 they took the dreaded “hump-backed” bridge out at Ballig, and we hoped for good weather that would have us flying down the roads faster than ever. Some of the boys at that point were playing with super chargers on their engines, but I always felt the key to winning or at least surviving was in a machine between your legs that just handled better.
That year my old chum Stanley Woods surprised everyone and jumped over to Moto Guzzi. A tremendous racer, known for his daring, Stanley skipped his final pit stop for fuel and blasted right on through the grandstand area to capture the title over Jimmie Guthrie by all of four seconds! Poor Jimmie would die just two years later on one of our beloved Nortons, while racing in Germany, but God…35 was a great year to be alive!
 As for myself in ’35, I survived the race and the celebrations afterwards with dear Astoria thinking I’d all but lost my mind for the pleasure I found in embracing two wheeled speed, almost as great as the pleasure I found embracing her.....Archer
The TT race continues today. Some call it the "most dangerous race on earth", some say it's a "dangerous addiction". I think it looks like great up to 200 mph through idyllic's going on my bucket list....check it out...........