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
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
Summer, oh glorious summer. So many memories. Here’s a special one from the 1940’s, early ’50’s: my father’s home-made root beer.
It might have been the last week of June that he started the first batch but for weeks before he scavenged glass beer and tonic (soda) bottles as six days a week he walked back and forth between the subway and his job at the Paul Revere House in Boston’s North End.
Finally it was time. Earlier in the week he had sterilized the bottles, twenty I think, and on a Sunday afternoon he put on a baker’s apron and set out the equipment and the ingredients. He poured large amounts of water in a very big vat which he then set on the stove to heat. At the right temperature he stirred in sugar, yeast, and root beer extract. When all that had blended, he let it cool, and then began the bottling operation. I can’t recall how he filled the bottles from the vat, but as each bottle was ready he let me use a special gadget to secure a cap on the bottle. How I loved that job.
Next he would carry the bottles to the basement ( or the cellar as we called it), a few at a time, and place them in a wooden crate that was sectioned and had once been used commercially . When the crate was full he turned it on its side and covered it with an afghan which I can still picture. Made by my Aunt Carrie, it was knitted rectangles of various colored yarns, joined and edged with black yarn.
During the next five or six days, he would uncover the crate, turn the whole thing over, and recover it. Each day I would ask, “is it ready yet, Daddy?” When it was, he would bring one bottle up to the kitchen where my mother and I watched as he ceremoniously uncapped it. He would pour just a bit in a glass, and after approving it, he would pour some for each of us.
The supply was carefully rationed out over time, usually “straight” but sometimes with a scoop of vanilla ice cream to make a brown cow. (Root beer float.) Once the last bottle was left too long, and we heard a loud bang from the cellar as it exploded. After the last bottle was gone, he would soon start the whole process again, making two or three batches a summer.
Any root beer I’ve had in my life I’ve compared to that brew. Some has come close, but none has ever been as deliciously perfect as that brewed by Garner T. Corson, my father!
Dorothy C. Judd (C) 2017
I C U M I
I C UM I = In case you missed it A texting acronym
A man aged 48, died on the day of the home-opener of the final season at Shea Stadium. A childhood friend with whom he had attended many, many Mets games traveled across the U.S. with the friend’s ashes, flushing a portion of them away in each of 16 ballparks. One self-imposed rule was that the game had to be in progress.
NY Times 5/2/17
Nordstrom’s is selling men’s jeans that are coated with cracked, caked-on mud. The price: $425. Is the buyer pretending to have a dirty job?
Seen on FaceBook 4/25/17
A New York court was asked to determine if a chimp is legally a person.
Cats can suffer whisker fatigue from over –stimulation of whiskers. This can happen, for example, if feeding dish is such that whiskers repeatedly touch the rim.
Widely reported recently.
There is a new documentary, developed by Carl Reiner , featuring interviews with well-known people over 90 still living productive lives. Think Betty White and Dick Van Dyke. Title of this HBO show is “If you’re not in the obit, eat breakfast.
Valley News 6/4/17
Dorothy C. Judd © 2017
Memorial Day… I remember when it was always May 30th and not just the last Monday of May so there would be a three-day weekend. I remember when it was a solemn day for remembering those who had given their lives for this country , when it was not just about sales and when BBQ’s were a rarity. I remember when it was a day for a patriotic parade and a time to visit family graves and perhaps leave a plant or wreath.
I remember that each year of elementary school the biggest occasion of the year was a Memorial Day program. It being suburban Boston and late May, lilacs were in full bloom, and bouquets of them were packed blossom to blossom along the edge of the stage. We kids had been taught “My Country ’tis of Thee,” all the verses of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” and all the verses of “America the Beautiful,” and of course our national anthem. . Encouraged to dress in white, we wore cross-shoulder sashes of red , white and blue and proudly stood to sing these songs.
There were kids -three I can call by name even now- who had solos: ” Just Before the Battle Mother,” and “We’re Tenting Tonight on the Old Camp Grounds” were all favorites., and we joined in on “When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again.” We especially liked the “Hurrah, hurrah” of that song.
Each year one student was chosen to recite “In Flanders Fields” a WWI poem about the poppies and crosses on the once battle field.
Veterans from the different services attended , and I have
a memory of someone in uniform helping an old, fragile, shaking soldier to the podium and introducing him as from the Civil War. Of course this was probably only possible the year I was in first grade and the old soldier had to have been a young drummer boy in the war.
These are old memories. When I was in first grade, 1944-1945 , the United States was still at war, and there was a universal feeling of patriotism and solemnity which lasted for several years. All I know is that when I smell lilacs I am transported to the Fulton School in Medford, Massachusetts, and hear patriotic music ringing in my ears.
Dorothy C. Judd (c) 2017