FF XVI, 41


Frank Fax Facts

And Reviews

     Volume XVI, No. 41

Sunday, Dec. 26, 2010

Tuesday evening, I played host to Ken Williams and Gerald Kutzman as we watched USM lose by a field goal in our Bowl Game with Louisville. I served Chili and toasted cheese sandwiches (feeling the chili had brought us luck three other times---sadly this did not work) even though I had served Chili at my bridge party for the Decks last week. But the Eagles looked great and really should have won. The entire office with only one loss, will return for next year (including the number one kicker in the nation, and Austin Davis, who has now surpassed Bret Favre’s and Lee Robert‘s TD records, and is the only Quarterback at USM who also CAUGHT a TD pass!

Steve Moore had our mutual friend, Glenn Nobles, of Hattiesburg drive down here to get me and transport me to his home, where I spent a delightful Christmas Eve and until 2 PM yesterday. Then, Glenn and his friend drove  me back home so I could prepare for this morning’s mass at St. Edmund’s by the Sea.

Steve had a festive Christmas Eve party (I had prepared Italian meat balls and sausages in “pasta sauce”) and it joined freshly made hot tamales; lump crab meat (with artichoke heats and lemon juice)” shrimp; a very tasty sausage and cheese roll, prepared by Stephanie Beverly; all sorts of drinks and desserts.

Yesterday, after mass at Sacred Heart (it seemed eons ago that I last attended that church) we enjoyed Christmas dinner at Steve’s sister’s (Joanne Beverly) home, with her own children and two grandchildren present. Gina had done most of the cooking, and it was all excellent. There was turkey and ham, of course; lots of luscious dressing; squash casserole; sweet potato casserole; a delicious grape salad (worth getting the recipe) and again, all manner of desserts. My personal favorite was an Italian Cream cake, made locally. How I regret that I did not accept Joanne’s offer to bring a “chunk” of it home with me. But, as I was already bringing two different types of pound cakes (a lemon and another a chocolate and chocolate-chip one) I declined. It had been a wonderful Christmas, and over too soon!





Letters to Santa:

Dear Santa,

My sister, “Dixie Cup””, and I are absolutely appalled this year that Mommy has a "fake" tree!!!  We always enjoyed sitting under the live Christmas tree, enjoying the lovely smell.  We didn't even have fights while we sat there.  What's a girl to do with a fake tree?  I mean, the lights are pretty, but the ambience...it's just not the same.   As you know, we felines are so sensitive and refined. 

P.S.  be sure to bring the right brand of treats this year.  If you can just get it right this time, we'll forgive you for past mistakes.  Best regards, Elvira

This Santa letter was submitted by Patricia Gragg, and I felt everyone (cat lover or not) would enjoy her kitty’s clever epistle. FI



In the Good Old Summer Time
We walked to about the midway point in Ellisville’s Varsity Theater and sat on the three end seats. Helen sat between Mama and me. It was Wednesday afternoon, five till four, and the movie would start any time after 4:00, depending on the arrival of the projectionist. All the stores in our little town had agreed to close at noon on Fridays during the three and a half months the schools were out for summer vacation. Even Daddy was relieved to have a good excuse to go out to the surrounding neighborhoods, visiting wit friends and customers who might have a cow or calf for sale: or, at least, know of somebody who did.


The war was now in its third year, and our greatly reduced-in-size family had grown accustomed to staying as close to each other as possible. Daddy, and the three of us clung to each other jealously. He, however, did not accompany us on our daily late-afternoon walks, nor did he consent to join us at the picture-show very often. George was now stationed in India, where he was a chaplain’s assistant; Sammy had stayed in the States and was now stationed in Sioux City, Iowa He had recently married a beautiful young girl there. Herr name was Lorraine.  Anna was running Josephine’s theater in Richton, while she and her husband, Bill Sibley, moved all over the state of Louisiana as he worked as a Drag-Line operator. Jimmy, Rosie’s husband, had been sent to Attu, in the Aleutians, in what would prove to be his undoing as frostbite caused him to have his left leg amputated. He was in a veteran’s hospital, at this time and Rosie was with him. As soon as I was seated, I knew there was something different about the tacky old theater. Mrs. Bishop, a widow, and the mother of my Civics teacher (Mary Eleanor) had been having a long string of bad luck recently: Rats had began walking boldly amongst the customers during the movies at night, and would eat the popcorn that fell out of the bags and lay there on the floor. Finally, when one of the town’s most prominent citizens took off her shoes and drew her legs up under her on the seat, she let out a blood-curdling scream when she stuck her foot into one of the shoes, only to feel a huge rat had taken up residence there! Mrs. Bishop bought lots of rat poison, and it really did work: the only trouble was the odor of dead rats was so pronounced that even I had to stop going to the movies for two or three weeks until the air cleared a little.


I gazed at the screen and was amazed to see it changing colors like a Chameleon! Yellow, to green; then red; then blue and then the cycle would begin again. I turned my head and looked up and back at a small projector attached to the lower part of the balcony. The light emitted by this projector was given off as a circle of the different colored cellophane produced the colors on the screen. “How d’you like that?” I asked Helen.

“It’s right tacky,” was her matter-of-fact assessment.

Mama looked at it and smiled. “I sort of like it.” She said.

“I do, too, Mama!” Of course if it had yellow it was a lead pipe cinch that I would automatically love it.

“Francis, what’s that man’s name?” Helen asked now, as someone walked briskly down the aisle across from our seats.

I looked up and could hardly believe my eyes: “Why, that’s Garland Ross May!” I knew him instantly. He had been the manager of the theater in Richton before Josephine bought it. At that time, it had been owned by Mr. DeValle, who lived here in Ellisville.
“I thought he looked mighty familiar.”

I remembered we had him out for supper once, after he had told Josephine that George and I could have free passes any time, from then on.

“I’ll bet he’s Miz Bishop’s manager now,” I mused aloud.

Just then, the house lights went off and the projectors could be heard humming. I always felt a little bit of excitement at that familiar sound. As usual, there were the previews of coming attractions, but the projectionist had failed to turn off the colored disks, and it seemed so strange to see black and white movies advertised in colors!

Warner Brothers’ logo proclaimed that they were presenting Ann  Sheridan and Dennis Morgan in “Shine On, Harvest Moon”. It turned out to be a fairly entertaining musical loosely based on the life of Nora Bays (a nightclub entertainer of the 1890’s.)

“I’ll bet the finale is in Technicolor,” Helen whispered to me about halfway through the film.

“I’ll bet it isn’t!  I loved Technicolor and would suffer through almost any amount of boredom so long as it was colorful. I remember how disappointed I was when “How Green was my Valley” turned out not to be in color. I truly felt I had been deceived!

As usual, Helen was right. But I always felt that she had been told that little item by somebody who had seen it before we did.

We walked about a mile around our small hometown before going home.

“What do y’all want for supper?” Helen posed the eternal question.

“Girl, it’s too hot to cook,” Mama said.

“Let’s have sandwiches!” I said. I usually preferred these to hot meals in the summer months, too.

“Want me to make some pimento-cheese?” she asked.

“Oh, Boy! YES!”

Mama laughed. “That’s too much trouble, Helen,” she said.

“Not really! The only thing hard about it is cleaning the little grinder after we eat.”

”I can do that,” I would gladly do that small chore to get a pimento-cheese sandwich- or two!


Of course, before I could get around to keeping my promise, Mama had washed everything while Helen dried and put everything away. Daddy had returned just before we got home and had cooked a steak for his own supper. For once, I preferred that pimento cheese to a steak!

It’s a sweet memory from my childhood.


Frank Imbragulio’s School Days


Grade 8 (1949`-42)


Rosemary stood in the middle of the kitchen as I walked behind her, carrying the half-gallon pickle jug that Mrs. Cleveland had handed me as we left the classroom a few minutes earlier. I sniffed again and the unmistakable odor of pickle vinegar and secretly hope that would make the water undrinkable, I expressed this thought to my ”partner in crime” (I hoped). It was a roasting hot day, even though it was not yet 10:00, and our fat ugly teacher had a mustache of perspiration on her ever-snarling upper lip as she asked Rosemary if she would mind going home and “fixing” her a jug of ice water.

“Can Francis go with me to hep me bring it back?”

She pondered this, raising her faded gray eyes to make sure it was me Rosemary was asking for. “Well----I reckin’ so.  But you two better hurry back: I’m about to pass out, I’m so parched!”

We got out as quickly as possible, and once we were out of her hearing. Rosemary said, “We gotta do some-thin’ to this jug-a water!”

“Like what? Put rat poison in it?”

She guffawed at this. “That’s not such a bad idea!”

But we both knew we did not have the guts to try adding even an innocuous substance to the Dragon Lady’s water.

Everyone in that classroom hated the new teacher. Where Rosemary’s father had found her, nobody knew. She was as ignorant as any person I ever saw anywhere attempting to teach school. Let me give you just one example of her stupidity: last week, when we were studying about Pompeii, she had actually called Mt. Vesuvius, “Mount Visus Vasus”! And I am not kidding!

On another occasion, she had managed to say, Versa Vice” rather than vice-versa.

Well, my personal grievances against her went back almost to day one. She was canny enough to figure out that I was a far better reader than she was, so I became the ex-officio reader. I had been standing in front of the class, doing what she should have been doing for at least half an hour, when she suddenly interrupted me by saying to the class, “Now, I don’t want the rest of you kids goin’ home and telling your parents I got this little eye-talian boy as my pet!”

Every nerve in my body jerked at this.

Rosemary, who sat on the front row, got up and walked to Mrs. Cleveland’s desk and whispered something in her ear. “Why, I ditn’t mean no insult,” she said lamely.

I really wanted to scream at her, “Why didn’t you just go ahead and call me a ‘dago’ like all the other ignoramuses do!” But of course, I was too well bred for that.

”Oh, DITH!” Rosemary’s voice was sharp as a butcher knife.

“Whats-a matter?" She had been so proud of herself when she had invented this little “cuss word”. It certainly sounded harmless enough, but the four letters stood for, “Damn it to Hell!” How we had laughed when she explained this to Jackie and me!

“We cannot just make that old she devil a jug of ice water and take it back and watch while she enjoys it!”

“OK, so what can we do?”

She walked around the kitchen, opening cabinet doors, looking in the icebox, which was almost as bare as Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboard. Suddenly she spun around and went back to the cabinet. She opened the door again, and pulled forth a box of Arm and Hammer baking soda from the shelf.

“What good would that do?” I asked.

“Have you ever had to drink this mess in water?”

“No, but it can’t be as bad as Epsom Salts” (which I had never had to take, but my sister, Anna, took it quite often- and she hated it!)

“Well, I don’t think we can trick her into drinkin’ Salts, but I just betcha she’ll swallow this and not even know the difference!”

Her enthusiasm was contagious, and suddenly I felt a thrill of impending revenge!

“Well, we better get back       quick,” I said, “Or she’s gonna know we’re up to something.”

We had already filled the pickle jug with water- and Richton’s water was horrible! It was so full of rust that Mama had been making Sammy drive the truck all the way to Coulter’s Spring for years, where he filled several garbage cans with spring water, as well as every wine jug we owned for our drinking water!

Rosemary took a tablespoon out of a drawer, and filled it with soda. She shook the jug and saw that it had dissolved. “You can’t even see it!” she laughed, and added a second big spoonful! She ended up virtually emptying the entire box of Bicarbonate of Soda into Mrs. Cleveland’s pickle jug of ice-cold Richton water.

We ran like two mad things to the door of our classroom, and then we both took a deep breath and walked in. I strolled as nonchalantly as possible, and set the jug down on her desk. Her eyes narrowed as she took it all in. The she poured a tall glass that she kept on her desk at all times, to the brim with that soda water. We watched with racing hearts as she drained that entire glass. She leaned back in her chair, wiped drops of water from her mustache, and said, “I know that has to be the best water I ever tasted!”


(To be continued)




Monday, January 10, 2011