Friday, August 17, 2012

Elvis Has Left...

Elvis Presley passed away on August 16, 1977. While that wasn’t one of his best days, I happen to hold that date in particular fondness.

When my brother and sister were young, they often would visit for a week or so with my husband and I during the summer while they were out of school. It was a novelty for them to spend time in New York, where we lived at the time, and they were good company for us and our new baby boy. We loved having them around, they were fun kids.

The summer of 1977 was a memorable one. The Son of Sam was still at large. There was a blackout that July that lasted for days and resulted in horrific rioting and looting in the city. It seemed as though it was HOT all the time. The Yankees were in their 75th season and they were on their way to another World Series. So when my brother Tom came to stay with us that August, it was only natural to head up to the Bronx to catch a game.

Even though he was just 14, Tom was one of the funniest people I knew. On the train he kept up a running monologue that was hilarious, relating a complicated saga that involved my father, a pile of laundry and an alarm clock that had a short in it. I cannot for the life of me remember how these things were connected, but he had us laughing so hard we were crying. There was an older black lady sitting on the seat behind us, trying to pretend she wasn’t listening to him. She was actually shaking silently with laughter as he pricelessly mimicked my father.

The game itself was a nail biter. The Yankees were leading by 5 until the ninth inning when the Chicago White Sox pulled ahead and the score was 9 to 10. It looked like the game was over. But Chris Chambliss hit a two run homer in the bottom of the ninth and the Yankees ended up winning 11 to 10.

So we were in great spirits as we headed home. On the train, a man was reading the late edition of the Post. It was flopped over so you could only see part of the headline, “ELVIS AT”, but not the other two words. So Tom starts leaning over to try to read the rest. He kept sinking down and down until finally he was practically lying on the subway floor. At that point the man slowly lowered the paper and stared down at him. Without moving Tom looked up at us and said “DIES 42”. And the three of us got hysterical laughing. Poor Elvis.

Of course thirty five years on and Tom is a grown man now, with a family of his own. He is still hilariously funny and witty and I love him. But we had a disagreement ten years ago over my mother’s seventieth birthday party and he hasn’t spoken to me since. I’ve made overtures, without any luck. I miss him terribly.

I note the anniversary of Elvis’s death every year for a different reason than everyone else. I think of a fine, long ago summer evening and three people who no longer exist as they were. I gratefully remember my little brother, my handsome young husband and my sweet naïve self as we shared a few happy hours filled with fun and affection and innocent laughter.


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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Class of 1972

Photo courtesy of RBC website.

This coming weekend I will be attending my 40th high school reunion. ha ha ha ha  That is REEE-DICULOUS!! There is no way it has been FORTY YEARS since I graduated from Red Bank Catholic High School. Why, that would make me fifty seven years old.

Oh, wait. I AM fifty seven years old. How did that happen?!?!

In the past forty years I have gone through four years of college, married, learned to drive, had four children, moved nine times, traveled, graduated from nursing school, buried my husband, got my Master’s degree, built a successful career, lost my beloved grandparents, my best friend and my mother, fell in love and had my heart broken, converted from Catholicism to the Episcopal Church, bought my dream home, became disabled by multiple sclerosis, became estranged from almost all of my family and, finally, have focused once again on writing, which I have known since childhood I was meant to do.

I guess that is a way to make forty years go by quickly.

Those are just the most momentous occurrences in my personal life. That summary does not reflect all the wonderful friends I have made along the way and still have. It doesn’t include all the quiet, lovely moments that bring true joy to our lives: my children’s, and, now, my grandchildren’s laughter, good books, perfect cups of tea, impeccable martinis, shared confidences, spontaneous expressions of affection, bonds of understanding and empathy. There have been so, so many of these over forty years as well.

The classmates I will gather with are a big-hearted, kind, generous group of people. Some have been close for all these years, some of us have rarely seen each other, but the welcome is warm for everyone. There is no teenage angst, insecurity or need to be cool. That is, thank heaven, all in the past. Now we meet on common ground, veterans of forty additional years of struggles and accomplishments, with an appreciation of how short life is and what is truly important. I think it is safe to say that for all of us, it has been quite a ride.

Hooray that we’re still here to celebrate surviving and thriving.

In 1972:

The French Connection won the Best Movie of the Year.

The Candy Man by Sammy Davis was the number one song the week we graduated.

Gas averaged 55 cents a gallon.

Average new home cost $27, 550.00.

Average income was $11,000.

Wrangler jeans cost $12.00.

There was no Monmouth Mall, it was still the Monmouth Shopping Center.

Unemployment was 5.9%.

The Newark Evening News and the Red Bank Register were still being published.

Carole King swept the Grammy’s and won Record (It’s too Late), Album (Tapestry) and Song of the Year (You’ve Got a Friend).

First class stamps cost 10 cents.

Gallon of milk was $1.10.

All in the Family was the number one TV show.

And the Casey’s Class of 1972 entered history.


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Friday, August 3, 2012

BlogHer Conference

I am very happy to currently be in New York City attending BlogHer'12, a conference for women bloggers. The keynote opening speaker yesterday was President Obama himself, through live video feed from the White House. Today's keynote speaker was Martha Stewart, tomorrow will be Katie Couric.

Please check out my blog posts about the conference here:

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