Frank Fax Facts
Volume XVI, No. 22
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Richard Berry and I now have a standing date to play bridge every 3rd Friday of the month. Last month we came in next to bottom (our best co-effort to date; Friday, we finished 5th over all, of 11 N-S pairs! Things seem to be looking up (but in bridge-nothing seems to last. That was the only day I played this entire week.
Thursday, Father Gorman treated me and Steve Litner (from St. Edmund’s) to lunch at one of our favorite eateries: Banana Docks. Sadly, we were all very disappointed in the food, and the greatly increased prices. My HUGE hamburger was excellent, and the fries as good as any in Mobile (including my favorite: Checkers), but the bread pudding (which had ranked with the best in town) was dry and tasteless. We all had this and agreed on the taste, or lack thereof. That was my sole complaint, but my companions expressed disappointment in the gumbo and croissant sandwiches that they had ordered.
I have increased my visits to the Wellness Center for my physical therapy, and I can see improvement already.
George seems to be doing very well after his near-fatal accident of last week. Thanks for all of your prayers and messages of concern.
“ Dogs come when they're called; cats take a message and get back to you."
The Good German
I had never heard of this film, and recorded it solely because of the title. Imagine my surprise when (after two or three weeks not bothering with it) I found it full of surprises: not all of them good. The film- set in Berlin, in the days just after the end of WWII, evoked memories of “Judgment at Nuremberg” (to which it is highly inferior). Having been in Germany myself, in 1954-55, I always find movies about the era and locale fascinating.
George Clooney is the film’s star; his co-star is Cate Blanchett. She’s the wife of the title character, but plays a lot of hanky panky with Clooney, Toby McGuire and anyone else who has a thousand marks. McGuire is totally miscast as her lover, and is about as convincing a “tough guy” as Di Capprio an adult in his roles since he was Howard Hughes and Blanchett was Hepburn! McGuire actually has to beat up on Cate; kicking her etc. Believe me, his “Spider Man” roles are hard enough to take, but this left me limp with exasperation.
The film was the gritty, grainy look of a documentary (and it’s in black and white) and there are a few scenes that are almost believable, but not very many. (*)
(Song of Russia) or
A Chicken Fry for Doc
It was August of 1943. The war seemed as if it would never end to me. Helen and I had hitched a ride to Richton with the truck that had delivered that week’s single case of Coca-Colas to our store in Ellisville (we bitterly resented that we were limited to this lone case of Cokes, and Helen and I drank most of them ourselves; but, since they contained so much sugar, they had to be rationed, too). Mama and Daddy had not complained when we explained that we wanted to be in Richton tonight in order to help Anna have a chicken fry for “Doc” Guthrie, who was home on furlough. Doc was one of Sammy’s two dearest lifelong friends (actually more like adoring slaves, since they would do anything he demanded of them.) the other being Hobert Daniels. Sadly, neither he nor Sammy could be there tonight. They would be sorely missed.
The ride in the drink truck was hardly a luxury trip: we were jostled along on the overcrowded single seat of the big delivery truck, but the driver was polite and did not seem too put-out with having been talked into breaking company rules about No-Riders. But then, most men seemed only too happy to accommodate any of my pretty sisters. We must have stopped at least thirty times between Ellisville and Richton in order that Charlie (the driver) could drop off the rationed number of cases to (it seemed) about a zillion holes-in-the-walls that were allowed more cases than we were allowed in every tiny hamlet between Jones and Perry counties. Since Anna was car-less, we had to stay with the Cokes until the truck finally arrived at Lott’s Drug Store, where I was incensed to learn that “Sugar” Lott and her two sisters (“Sister” and Mary Beth) were to have three times the number of “Dopes” that we got!
Anna was waiting impatiently for our arrival. I could truly feel sorry for her, having to listen to Alma Lott talking her ears off about what her trio of (actually superb looking daughters) had been up to that week. Only Sister (the least beautiful of the girls) was there. Anna’s smile was as wide as her face, and she grabbed me and almost smothered me with welcoming kisses.’
“Hey, Nanny!” Helen greeted her between my shower of kisses.
Anna released her death-hold on me and embraced Helen. “Girl!” (Lord, it was so wonderful to hear that familiar greeting that was always used whenever any of the quartet of sisters spoke together!) “I finally managed to get three fryers, but I know that’s not goan be enough!”
“Who all’s gonna be there?” I asked.
”Well, now, let’s see: we’re havin’ it out at Marguerite’s place—“ Both Helen and I had prayed we would not have to have it at the Guthrie’s house. There had been a rather traumatic Easter egg hunt there a few years back, and none of us wanted to risk that again! “But I spec’ her mama and papa’ll be in bed by the time we get there.” We would have to wait until at least one complete showing of tonight’s movie, and just pray that nobody come much after it started so Bub Shannon would have to show it twice. The film for the evening was MGM’s Song of Russia, starring Robert Taylor (whom George and I more or less detested) as (of all unlikely things) an orchestra conductor: as in symphony orchestra! Just last week, I had a letter from George, who was now stationed in India, in which he lambasted and criticized every absent nuance of Taylor’s travesty of a“performance”. I envied the fact that men in the service got to see brand new films long before I did--and free! But I rationalized that their sacrifice should be worth something.
My mind had wandered and now I had to listen more carefully as Anna reeled off the guest list: “So, that’s Doc, Marguerite, “Jug” (Morgan, one of Marguerite’s brothers) Mary Jane (I could detect Helen’s wince at this guest’s mention and Anna saw it, too. “Now, Helen, Mary Jane has been a lot of help and company for me: you have no idea how lonesome it is down here with you all together up there!”
“Oh, that’s aw-right. I don’t mind her” (she lied) “But, tell me, did she ever hear from her husband- what was his name?”
“Eugene,” Anna stated flatly. “And I’ll tell the world that poor old soul is as lost as a babe in the woods without her husband!” Anna looked at both of us as if defending her odd friend. Then, she suddenly laughed, covered her mouth and said, “Yeah! She finally did get a letter: not a Dear John, but more like a Dear Mary Jane! First of all she brought the letter to have me try to read it to her (you know neither of them knows P Turkey about readin’ or writin’)-and girl! I could just barely make any sort of sense out of it- he must’ve gotten some total illiterate to write her that mess! She pointed to the postmark and asked me what it meant. She knows what the letters are, and could see that it said ‘RI’, but had no idea what that stood for. When I told her he was in a camp in Rhode Island, she asked me what country he had been sent to!” Try as she might, Anna was unable to suppress her amazement and amusement!
“But, Nanny, when you say ‘Dear John’ letter, that means---well, did he say anything about another woman?”
Anna was suddenly as sober as a judge. “You got it! That dirty devil has gone and found himself a younger woman up there, and asked Mary Jane for a divorce!”
Helen and I were both shocked out of our prehistoric minds! Remember, these were the days when divorces were expected of movie stars: not people like our country customers and friends. “That poor old soul!” Helen actually sounded more like Mama or Rosie than herself. :”Of course we’ve got to have her, and try to cheer her up a little!”
“Well-- getting back to the guest list: Joe Davis (who worked at the theater as ticket taker and popcorn tender), Essie Mae, Ruby (Doc’s sisters)- and I guess we will have to put up with Sonny: and “Bobbie” (Marguerite’s son and Essie Mae’s daughter—both of whom I loathed at the time. Both would be called children of single parents today. Folks were not as accepting back then. “There goes my good time!” I wanted to scream- but managed just barely- not to give voice to my emotions.
“Listen, le’s go on t'the house and start getting everything ready to go, so we can dash out there as soon as the movie’s over,” Anna ended.
“Have you made the potato salad and dessert?” Helen asked.
“How do you think I spent the morning?” was the sassy reply. I grinned in anticipation: it was a toss up as to which of my sisters made the best potato salad! And I was going to resist asking what we were having for dessert. With the limit on Cokes, I’d settle for a couple of Barq’s root beers, but they’d need to be ice cold!
(to be continued)