—-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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Defeat


Blame it on the fact that the motherboard of my computer got fried when a  nearby transformer blew. Should have had a stronger surge protector. Who knew there were strengths? Anyway, while waiting to decide on a replacement, I’ve been forced to use my iPad which has its limitations.  Or else I have my limitations. Or else Word Press has suddenly gone rogue. Anyway last night I  wrote post  for today. Could neither save nor publish. Rewrote this morning. Same deal. Can’t bear a third attempt, so here is an abstract of sorts.

“The beach is my happy place” for real, not just a FaceBook click. Love the smell of the salt air, the rhythm of the tide, the sound of the surf, and the wide expanse of sky. Have been to many, many beaches, in many different places and have liked all, loved some, still miss “going down the (NJ) shore.”

Closest beach now at least two hours away and only a B- on the beach report card.  At end of street is a pond with a sandy apron. Set up my chair in sun to catch a few rays and then move to the shade to read and fall asleep. Once listening to ocean sounds on iPod, I awoke in a panic thinking tide was coming in, and I needed to move chair. That’s as close as I get these days.

Dorothy C. Judd         (c) 2017

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