FF XVI, NO. 45
Frank Fax Facts
Volume XVI, No. 45
Sunday, Jan. 25, 2011
Monday, I finally was able to visit Janet Morris. Recuperating from a broken (right) shoulder in Springhill Memorial Hospital’s Senior Residence. She looks fantastic and says she has no pain from her therapy (which includes having her right arm moved slowly up and down, by machinery.). She has this procedure four hours each day. But even though it is torturously slow and monotonous, she declares there is no pain. I had taken her a card, a dozen red and white roses, two cannoli and some giant cookies from Fresh Market. Her daughter, Judy, came by on her lunch break (she works a short distance from Springhill Memorial) and it was so good to see her again, also.
It was an uneventful week, but colder than usual (which suits me just fine). Bridge Tuesday, Friday and Saturday (the pits Friday) and there will be a tournament next week (I no longer go to these) so the church game, Tuesday will be my sole losing battle with the game.
This morning, I took advantage of my opportunity to attend mass anywhere and any time I wished, so decided to attend 8:00 mass at the magnificent Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception downtown, There was a time when I went regularly to mass there, when friends Father Oberkirch, Gorman and Sullivan were there, but I had not attended mass there since the extensive renovation of over a decade ago. It was beyond my wildest expectations. I have visited a large number of famous cathedrals in Europe and America, but can honestly say that in my opinion, Mobile’s is as impressive as I have ever seen. Sadly, it is farther than I like to drive anymore, and there was difficulty with understanding one of the priests, so I will not be going back any time soon.
Another reason I chose the Cathedral today, was that on the return drive home, I had to go right past the building where Janet is having her therapy at present, so I stopped and we had a wonderful second visit. This time, I took her a large can of cheese straws. I know she loves those. She looks wonderful, is in good spirits, and hopes to go home in another week.
“ In ancient Egypt, killing a cat was a capital crime, punishable by death.” Sue Hanlein
August Rush (Warner Bros)
I had started as part of my History of Hollywood, a segment on Fairy Tales. But I never finished it. Hollywood, itself, is perhaps the biggest Fairy Tale of all. I admit to being more than a little taken aback after the first few minutes of this movie, and yet something kept saying, “Just you wait!” and I certainly am glad that I waited! The beginning was just too inane for my taste.
Last week, I had seen Keri Russel for the first time (as Brendan Fraser’s wife in “Extraordinary Measures”) and was very impressed with her acting as well as her beauty. Here, she is a talented New York Philharmonic Symphony cellist who meets young Irish Folk singer, Jonathan Rhys Myers. They fall in love, spend the night together, and create a Mozart-genius type boy. The film is all about him and his long journey to meet his parents. Keri’s father makes her give the child up. It is a glorified Fairy tale, with more than simply a nodding acquaintance to Dickens’ Oliver Twist. But the entire film belongs body and soul to Freddie Highmore. This film was made in 2007, but apparently was just released on DVD a short time ago. If the studio system were still in place (who can ever forgive our meddling congress which saw fit to destroy what they deemed a monopoly, and opened the flood gates to film stars’ being able to demand more and more money, and as a result we now have tickets costing ten dollars instead of the original nickel) this young star would have been cast in a dozen movies by now, and I very strongly feel, would have become a sort of male Shirley Temple. He is a real treasure, much as this long ago child star was. But he can act circles around Shirley! MGM would offer Fox (or whichever studio owned his contract) to lend him for the lead in something like a cinematic zillion dollar “Jack and the Beanstalk” (or perhaps yet another remake of “David Copperfield”).
So, if you missed this one when it was new, you might want to check out the DVD. Totally unrealistic, but I highly recommend this it. The music is a tasteful blend of the classics and today’s less offensive genres. (***)
Dead Gorgeous (PBS “Mystery”)\
Set in war-torn London, just after WW2, this little “Gem” is a little like a
preview to “Thelma and Louise” in that the two women are best friends, both trapped in miserable marriages, seeking a permanent solution to their problems. Helen McCrory is delicious as Rose Bell. For both women, divorce is out of the question. Antonia Ashley (Fay Ripley) devises a scheme: why not assist each other in murder? Unfortunately, problems arise; including a fishy alibi; a suspicious insurance policy; a nosy detective; an uncooperative funeral home; and a raft of unforeseen regulations from the coroner’s office, Fortunately, there is Hector’s (Antonia’s wealthy inventor husband) giant refrigerator, built by Hector (the largest in London) which comes in handy during the launching of Plan B. There is also a Plan C, which multiplies the number of victims while greatly simplifying the getaway- that is, for one of the desperate heroines. (**1/2)
THE SUMMER OF 1942
Daddy had redone the old house in Ellisville completely for the move back to where I was born. Helen, Mama and I made the trip from Richton the morning after I graduated from the 8th grade. I was not happy about leaving the town we had all grown to love the last ten years.
There were several last minute items crowding me on the back end of the tired old Chevrolet pickup, where I had to ride. I sat on the floor, and thoroughly enjoyed the wind rushing up and down my body. “Smutty Joe”, my solid black kitten, rode inside the cab with Mama holding him on her lap.
The trip took just over an hour. The first thing Mama did, once we were inside, was to open a window, saying, “This paint odor is awful!” I rather liked it. I noticed that when she opened a window, she did not have to use a stick to hold it up. Hurray! We now had windows that stayed open and closed with weights! We were definitely getting more modern!
I was very pleasantly surprise to see the improvements to the old house since my last visit, and decided it might not be as bad as I had dreaded.
The familiar Hotpoint range and water heater looked natural in our freshly painted kitchen. There was a brand new sink, and I loved the way cabinets (with glass doors) were built into the walls.
I was especially happy with the way the carpenters and paperhangers had outfitted my room. I kept savoring that phrase: “MY room!” Neither Helen nor I had ever had a room of our own, but had to take “pot luck” with our nights divided between Anna’s and Josephine’s beds. The wallpaper of my bedroom was yellow (at my insistence) with dainty little bouquets of flowers. I had selected this from a huge book of samples Daddy had brought home several weeks ago. I selected flooring that matched. Mama said we would go to Sears in Laurel that afternoon to select a bed and all the trimmings for me. I was getting more and more excited, and I could see that this pleased Daddy immensely. Helen was to have the room next to mine. Her corner of the house room opened into the bathroom. And, the most wonderful thing of all, every room had its own gas heater! Even the bathroom had one! No more baths using zinc wash tub in front of a fireplace! In Richton, there were fireplaces in only two bedrooms (Josephine’s shared the same chimney with Sammy and George’s, which was back to back with the one in Josephine’s room. Mama would never allow Butane gas because of the odor; and that was all Richton had to offer. Ellisville not only had natural gas, but its water was light years ahead of the miserable rust-colored undrinkable stuff we had put up with for nearly a decade.
The little black kitten was sniffing around as he followed me from one room to another. The living room had swinging doors with small glass panes, and the door from the dining room into the long hall, was also a glass-paned swinging door. I felt as proud as a peacock over what I considered a very elegant house! Daddy had done a fine job,
At noon, when George walked into the house, I realized that I had forgotten all about the fact that he had been living with “Papa” as every one of my siblings called him, while attending freshman college classes at JCJC about a half mile from the house.
Later, Daddy went into the market (which was closed for the day) and sliced some boiled ham. Helen had made a trip into the market to get the ham and a loaf of Colonial bread and a large ripe tomato; a head of lettuce; and, much as she and both of our parents hated it, a jar of Kraft’s mayonnaise to put on George’s and my sandwiches. George seemed really thrilled that we were together again, though there were some big gaps without Anna and Sammy. We had more or less gotten used to Josephine’s absence, since her marriage, and Rosie was with Jimmy in Terry, Mississippi, where his WPA job had taken him.
I sat between Mama and Daddy as he drove us to Laurel as soon as we had eaten our improvised lunch. Mama asked if I would rather have a single bed (since my bedroom was not as large as the other three) and I said that sounded fine. As soon as I saw the little Jenny Lind bed (as they told me it was called) I felt as if it had been made for me! It was so pretty, the woodwork was beautiful, and the color was perfect. Daddy got a mattress for my new bed, and Mama promised to make me a bedspread (since all of ours were for double beds) tomorrow. She said the double sheets would have to do until she could make me some single ones. She made all of our sheets from flour and sugar sacks
I could hardly wait to go to bed, after we got back to the house. But Helen insisted on cooking a real meal for us that first night back in Ellisville. Daddy cut some veal cutlets, which Helen dipped in a mixture of eggs and milk, the turned them over in a mixture of cracker crumbs (made with a rolling pen) with grated Parmesan cheese, garlic, salt and pepper and parsley. This was one of my all-time favorite meals. I would have it often, much later, in Germany, where it is known as Wiener Schnitzel (or Viennese cutlets). We almost always had potatoes fried in the same grease, which gave them a special deliciousness, as well as the usual lettuce, tomato and celery salad.
We were all weary after what had proved to be a tiring day. George said he had some reading to do for the next day’s history class, so he retired to his room. Helen had my bed all made up for me, and I could hardly wait to try it out.
The mattress was so soft and wonderful that I had no trouble falling asleep. Nor did the blackness of the night bother me a bit. Daddy had said Smutty Joe could stay in the house that night (he never allowed any animal except Mama’s canary, “Lanny”- for Lanny Ross, one of Mama’s favorite singers of that time- to stay in the house over night,)
The next morning Mama came into my room, walked slowly over to the bed and sat down, taking me in her arms. She was crying. I knew something dreadful had happened, but was too afraid to ask.
“Honey, Smutty Joe is dead.”
At first I thought (hoped and prayed) that she was joking. But one look at those sad eyes and I knew it was true. I began crying, too.
“I should have known that paint odor was too strong for him, and that has to be what killed him.”
Helen gave me a shoebox that she had her one extra pair of shoes in, and even placed my kitty’s little body in it. Daddy dug a grave next to the fence that separated his garden from our neighbor’s yard, and I went sadly into the living room where George’s grand piano stood and sat down and improvised a dirge for my beloved pet. Of course, I did not know how to set the notes down, nor had I ever owned a sheet of music paper: so I simply wrote the letter names of the notes that made up my doleful little song of sorrow on a piece of wrapping paper from the market. I even composed an Elegy. And until I got my next kitten, I would play and sing this simple little tune, and weep salty bitter tears,