Correction

Correction for “Two Things.”

Blog was actually published for FIVE years, not four.

 Dorothy C. Judd

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Two Things

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

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GTC concluded

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

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———–GTC still continued——-

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

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—-GTC — continued

Sometimes people were waiting at the door of the Paul Revere House when my father opened it at 10 o’clock, but after that visitors would knock on the heavy door with the knocker. Sometimes a group would arrive all at once as the house was a stop on the Gray Line Sightseeing tour. Visitors might come in knowing only that Paul Revere made a famous ride, but they would leave knowing the he was a silversmith, a coppersmith, a copper engraver, and one of the leaders of the Sons of Liberty, a strong group of the Revolutionary time. In addition, my father would tell them it was the oldest frame house still standing in Boston and go on to point out features of the house as well as furnishings and portraits.

People were interested that Paul Revere was married twice and had 8 children by each wife. Visitors asked many questions about family life, the customs of the times, and many questions about Paul Revere and his family and political activities. My father had read extensively and enjoyed answering questions . He also enjoyed chatting with guests, finding out where they were from, where they had visited and what else they planned to do in Boston.

The Paul Revere House closed at four, and my father tallied up the number of guests, a record of souvenir sales and prepared the night deposit which he would make on the way home. After taking in the flag and closing the shutters and making a final check of everything, he would close and lock the front door and head to the subway to make his way home.

At the supper table there were often tales of the day. Once, when my father was upstairs with the souvenirs, one of the other workers came rushing up saying, “Corson, Corson, there’s an old bloke downstairs with a gun. Without stopping to think, my father ran downstairs only to find that the “old bloke” was one of the trustees, and the gun was an antique musket he was donating for display.

But here is the story I will never forget. It was the mid-50’s when an advance team advised my father that Christine Jorgensen, one of the first well-known transgender persons, would be visiting that day. That evening at the table my father told about her and her entourage and with a mischievous look said, I was hoping to get her alone so I could slip her a quick feel!” My very prim and proper mother could only gasp, “Gar-ner.”

—————————-to be continued—————

Dorothy C Judd  (c) 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

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GTC

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

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Cursive Writing

Four years ago, cursive writing was all but declared dead. About 42 states had dropped its teaching from the required curriculum. Instead instruction focused on keyboarding with the goal that students be proficient in that skill at least by the end of second grade.  The media came alive with arguments for and against teaching cursive writing.

There were questions: How would non-learners read letters written when handwriting was such a part of daily life? What about certifying documents, even something as common as a check? What about reading personality by studying a person’s handwriting?

After the initial flurry of pros and cons, I started noticing reports of studies showing a strong relationship between learning cursive writing and mental development in children since it activates unique neural pathways. It may even make learning easier.

Such reports made me more interested in the role of cursive writing. Until that point, I was just not passionate about the subject which is why I started and rejected many posts over the four years. I realized that over my years of teaching elementary school, when they tried to take away the teaching of phonics and basic math facts out of the curriculum, I continued their instruction as a subversive activity. It would be more difficult to do that with handwriting instruction.

The jury is still out on the value of  cursive writing, but it is interesting to note that its teaching is returning to more and more schools across the country. It reminds me of when I wrote a post bemoaning the fact that there would no longer be “Twinkies.” Within months they were back on the market with even greater popularity. Let’s revisit opinions on cursive writing as time passes.

Dorothy C. Judd  (c) 2017

 

 

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In the Meantime

Have been working on two posts, but neither one is ready to be shared. So…in the meantime, here are some random thoughts and reactions I’ve had recently.

While reading Elin Hilderbrand’s “The Identicals,” recognized myself in this sentence: “She doesn’t enjoy food that is aggressively healthy.

And again in Gail Godwin’s “Grief Cottage” – p. 164  “The family name wasn’t one you hear every day…When I remember I will write it down for you. These days, Marcus, I have to put in requests to my brain, as one does at the library, and then a little worker takes my slip and disappears into the stacks. It may take him a while, but he always comes back with the goods.”

And then there’s advice: From the NY Times, July 20 “Pick reading that will engage but not deplete you.”  At least for a time I will not be reading about the holocaust,  abused children, tortured lives.  Yet oddly one of the best books of the summer was “The Bright Hour” in which a young wife/mother talks about facing death (Nina Riggs) within months. Could have been terribly depleting but was so beautifully written, so honest that it was inspiring.

And my own advice which I have spotty success in following: “Ring Your Own Bell.” Quite a few years ago I was in a handbell choir. All of us were novices, but some of us at least had experience reading music. The person standing beside me did not. I found myself watching to see if she would ring her bell when she was supposed to, only to have that at attention screw up my own part. Thus, ring your own bell.

Dorothy C. Judd  (c) 2017

 

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My Dad

My Dad

Writing about root- beer-making recently unleashed a flood of memories about my father. One of the first must be from when I was  two or three (and I know it was then because we were still living on Hancock Street in Boston.) First thing in the morning, my father would carry me into the bathroom and sit me on the toilet – or as he called it, the hopper- and then sit on a low radiator or such to wait for me.  Invariably he would jump up saying, “Gee roozey, that’s hot!”

Sitting in the living room he often sang, “You are my sunshine” to me or sit me on his knee,  as he sang, “Pony boy, pony boy, won’t you  be  my pony boy? Carry me, carry me, far across the across the plains. (Begin bouncing at this point.) Giddy up, giddy up, my pony boy.”  He also had a little trick where he would pretend to take his voice out and put it in his pocket, leaving him with the barest of whispers.  Then when I begged, he would put his voice back. Even years later I would ask him to repeat this trick.

Still today when I play the game of Sorry, when I land on a slide, I often say, “Slide, Kelly slide” as he did. Or when sending a player back to start, it was “So solly.”

I have filled pages of descriptions and recollections of my father but the above are memories that directly involved me.

Dorothy C. Judd   (c) 2017

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Bixby

Bixby   9/2001  3/2008   RIP, Bixby

Bright golden eyes look out at me from a small triangular face.

    Bixby pounces down from his cat tree and growls fiercely as he chases fat old Barnum.  His super long tail twitches as he watches out the window.   Birds flutter by. A bug lands daringly on the screen.

Bright golden eyes look out at me from a small triangular face.

  Bixby hears the rattle of keys and beats me to the door to race down the long, forbidden hall. Me, exasperated chasing. Will he never learn ? Will I?

Bright golden eyes look out at me from a small triangular face.

      Tired from his day’s adventures Bixby curls contentedly on my lap.I        stroke his sleek black fur and gently tweak his ear. His mouth smells        slightly fishy but his fur smells of the warm sun.

Now the eyes are closed in the small triangular face and Bixby’s purr grows slow, then quiet as he gives himself to sleep.

Dorothy C. Judd      (c) 2017

 

 

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