One year of teaching second grade, I had a little boy who, every day, would dash into the classroom holding up two skinny fingers saying, “Mrs. Judd, I have TWO things I wanna tell you!”
Well, today I have two things I wanna tell YOU!
First of all, today is my birthday, and I am 79. Reverting to an old childhood practice, beginning tomorrow, if asked my age, I am saying, “I’m going on 80.” To me it just sounds way more impressive than boring old 79!
Second of all, I am announcing that this is my last blog post. Years ago someone said, “Be sure to leave the party while you’re still having fun.” So that is what I am doing.
I began this adventure four years and 342 posts ago. Not sure at the time exactly what the blog would be like, I can look back and see that it has contained the personal, the controversial, sometimes the comical, the unusual, and often the timely or the seasonal. It has been a very satisfying adventure, encouraging me to write, to explore memories and feelings, to pay attention to the world around me.
I thank everyone who has taken the time to read this blog and give special thanks to regular readers and to those who have taken the time to respond, either through blog comments, separate mail,or phone calls. Bless you for encouraging me.
And now, happy trails to all!
Dorothy C. Judd (c) 2017
When the weather was inclement or during the off-season, my father puttered around the house. My mother claimed he walked around fixing things before they broke. Or he worked in the cellar, organizing hardware in jars whose tops had been fastened to the ceiling by a nail or two through the underside of the lid. Every tool hung in place, and his workbench held only a current project. Come early spring, he would begin making cardboard collars for the tomato seedlings or working on stakes for the tomato plants.
During those off-season weeks, he baked bread – 3 loaves and a dozen cinnamon rolls- every Monday. He had been a baker in the Army, it seems. There was nothing like a slab of his white bread toaster and then slathered with butter – or a sandwich on thick slices of the bread. He also liked to play dominoes, learned as a child. He would hang out in the local firehouse where, he said, the fireman played dominoes so much they had worn grooves in the table from shuffling the bones (tiles). He liked to do jigsaw puzzles and listen to the radio. His favorite book was “Andersonville”, but it was the Bible, and particularly the New Testament, that he read many times over.
My father was a story-teller, and I loved listening to him. A favorite story was that during the time of the Spanish American War, he was about 4. In his hometown of Millville, NJ, folks would ask him to stand on the town hall steps and sing, “Hurrah, hurrah for Dewey (the American Naval hero in the war), surpass him if you can. He won the mighty battle and never lost a man.” When he was finished, they would pat him on the head and squash his porkpie hat.
Years later when he was stationed in the Philippines, there was a monkey that would seek out my father’s bed in the barracks and curl itself around his head. When working on oil tankers, a crewman would hold my father over the side by his ankles to paint, and often he was the only one who would go up in the crow’s nest.
My father often talked about his family, and every once in a while he would say that his own father had a saying: “Die in the morning before you put in a full day’s work.”I was reminded of this advice when on that last day of his life, he got up early and went out and worked in the garden. Back in the house, he turned on the coffee and went in and laid down before heading for his job atthe Paul Revere House. Alerted by the fact that the coffee was still perking on the stove and my father was nowhere in sight, my Aunt Dot went in and found him on his bed around 7:30 AM.
R.I.P., GTC. Love you forever!
Dorothy C. Judd (c) 2017
When my father left the house in the morning, he carried a black canvas shopping bag which had just a sandwich in it: usually cheese, egg salad, or a fried egg. On the way he would add the Boston “Post” which he read carefully each day. On the way home, the bag was at least half full: the Boston evening paper -the Traveler- , some interesting item he had scavenged, perhaps an empty bottle he would later use for root beer, plant seedlings,, and whatever groceries he bought that day – meat from Blackstone Butchers, fresh items for the pushcarts in Haymarket Square, staples from Gray’s Market. Over the years he also brought home four different cats in that bag, and once even a dog.
In the spring, summer, and early fall, we ate supper very early so my father could, ashe did after breakfast and before leaving for the Paul Revere House work in his garden. What started as a”Victory Garden” became a forever garden of tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, onions, beets, and Swiss chard. Someone recently looked at a photo and commented, “A weed didn’t have a chance in that garden!” In addition to the vegetable garden , there were prize dahlias, iris, salvia, marigolds, roses and other flowers in beds along the house foundation along the fence and other places.
But the lawn was his pride and joy, attracting passersby and neighbors.You might say he groomed the grass so that it was a plush carpet. More than once my mother called me over to the window saying “Look at your father surveying his estate,” as, hands clasped behind his back, he walked slowly around the property.
At nightfall , my father would take down the flag from the flagpole in the center of the yard, and with help from neighborhood kids or one of us, fold it in perfect military style to be put away until the next day.
——————-to be concluded next week————
Dorothy C. Judd (c) 2017
6 days a week, 50 weeks a year, for 30 years my father (Garner T. Corson) went to work as the caretaker of Boston’s famous Paul Revere House. My mother was already in charge there when they met in 1932, having gone to work in 1917, and she hired my father to take care of the furnace, an old coal one at the time. Over the years my father assumed more and more duties, top executive: a dress shirt when my mother retired due to illness in 1945, he just took over full responsibility. Among other things this included doing the hiring, making nightly deposits and filing weekly reports, making sure the house was in perfect repair, and keeping souvenirs stocked.
Each morning he would set out for work dressed as a top executive: a dress shirt and tie and a suit, usually a three piece one. In one vest pocket he carried a watch and in the other a pen knife. His shoes were always polished.
Oh, and he wore a hat, always a hat: felt fedora in the cooler months and a Panama straw hat in the summer. He always wore a hat when he was outside, even when working in the yard, but you can be sure he never wore a hat inside. He would be horrified these days to see hats worn in school, even in church, and worst of all at the dinner table. A gentleman removed his hat upon entering a building, and in movie theaters and other auditoriums- including Tremont Temple Baptist Church, there was a special rack on the underside of each seat to accommodate a hat.
Now once he got to work, he took off his suit coat and put on what he called a dust jacket, blazer-type that could be washed. His first job was to make sure that everything inside was ready for the day, and then he might go outside to sweep or shovel the sidewalk. Back inside, he would open all the wooden shutters and put the American flag outside a second-story window.
Promptly at 10 o’clock he would unlock the front door, ready to admit one of the many visitors of the day.
———————————————–to be continued—————————————-
Dorothy C. Judd (c) 2017