Frank Fax Facts

And Reviews


Volume XVIII. No. 3

April 8, 2012




I was, as usual, at 7:00 Mass at St. Catherine, of Sienna, with a new (which means, in this case, a brand new- and quite young- man newly ordained into the priesthood, with a very Germanic accent) I understood some of it, but very much missed Msgr. James Kee’s usual inspiring and beautiful homily.

After mass, I was turning to drive to McDonald’s for my usual sausage biscuit (which I always eat as soon as I get home, drinking a diet Dr. Pepper with it) but on the spur of the moment, I decided to have a change. I drove to the nearest Waffle House (which I had not eaten at since leaving the church job on Dauphin Island) and I have to admit, after more than a year and a half, ate most of the huge meal that consists of 2 eggs (I had them scrambled) three strips of bacon (rather than sausage) grits, with extra butter (not hash browns—after all, I am s Southerner!)  two slices of toast (of which I ate 2 and a half) and a gigantic waffle (of which I consumed three-fourths) plus almost all of a Diet Coke! Now, at 2:25 I am finally feeling like scouting around for my Easter Noon Meal!

I have a very special reason for great rejoicing today, since I went through quite a traumatic day last Tuesday. All I will publish here is the fact that I was passing blood, and had to leave my weekly bridge game, with friends, who are as family to me. I spent the rest of the day (about 10:30 to 6:00) getting some answers to the reason for my distress. Finding the Urgent Care Center my group had said was near my house and easy to find. It was anything but the latter, and finally I had to go to Pat Busby’s new Springhill Pharmacy (from whence he drove my car across the street, which is where it is located;  and after a lunch-less noon--for once, I felt no desire for food—another former pupil (Michael Walker) drove my car to Providence Hospital, where their excellent Urology staff, ultimately got to the real problem (basically a  prescribed two medications for an infection, and relief. It is a repeat performance (I had totally shut it out of my mind) of a similar problem, following two prostate surgeries at Providence Hospital several years ago. I am to see Dr. Coleman (my urologist, who performed both surgeries and their follow-up) a week from Tuesday; so I feel confident that he can, once again, get me past this problem.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday morning (at 7:30) I had to drive to Adorable Do’s for Ginger’s bi-annual grooming. She is so precious that neither I, nor the nice lady who gets rid of a lot of excess fur, can believe how docile she always seems during this procedure. I have to leave her for about 90 minutes, and shop across the street from the Beauty Parlor where she is being bathed, dried and trimmed, at a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Grocery Store. I always manage to have breakfast, as I shop. Tuesday, I sampled some Ginger Snaps I had bought for the first time (they are wonderful) and one of those small bottles of chocolate milk.

Easter always brings a whole plethora of golden memories: most involve my dying dozens of eggs (in the Easters at home in Richton and Ellisville); later, in this house, with Mobile friends: Mary Jane Scruggs, Dorothy Tansmeir and Thelma Perkins (all are gone now) and when Cora had her “House that Love Built”, it was hard to tell which of us enjoyed dying eggs and getting an Easter dinner on the table for George, Jimmy (minus Rosie), Helen and Tom, more.. That dear little cabin was the scene of so many wonderful memories, that I physically ache to remember them. And, always, Trudy was there with me.

Today, I will dine alone. But I prefer it that way. I can revel in the sweet memories of happier days.




Easter Egg Hunt in Richton

Today is my eighty-third Easter upon the earth. My doors and windows are wide open, allowing the sweet aroma of the remaining spring blossoms, as well as the loud and happy-sounding chirping of a bunch of birds, to filter through my thoughts.

There was a familiar pattern of bird notes, just now, that transported me back to Richton in the 1930’s! Just that solitary spattering of bird song; nothing more was necessary. I had walked out the back door from the kitchen. “Bye, Mama!” I sang out to the figure standing at the sink, filling big pans with water, which would be boiled, for dipping chickens in, after she wrung their necks. This made plucking the feathers easier. There was a plump hen, from which she would make soup, with rice. Then there were three smaller fryers, for baking with potatoes and onions. There was to be no pasta for tomorrow’s Easter Dinner. This, in itself, was unusual. Anna and Helen were trying to out do each other, with their tasty desserts (and I could hardly wait!)

The sisters had allowed me to “help” them, decorate six dozen eggs with three or four of the packages of dye that we sold in the market, I longed to be able to dye them like pictures I had seen of eggs covered with swirls of color (usually six or eight different ones to each package- which always seemed filled with useless items such as inky picture that supposedly could enhance the dyed eggs. I never learned how to avoid letting them smear any egg I tried to adorn with them. And there were always little wire hoops (though they were often triangular as well as bent-round!)

When the eggs were all dead (I mean DYED) and totally dried, they were placed in several pretty Easter Baskets (just part of the really lovely gifts that I, as the official Baby of the family, got from the Easter Bunny each year). My favorite extra was a box of Jacob’s chocolates, with soft centers. It was simply not Easter if I did not get this New Orleans specialty!

I had plans only to get outdoors and down to the sandy stretch of earth that extended from the first (and safest) of three trestles, put there by a group of Richton business men, who owned and operated a gravel pit that was the culmination of the “Dummy” railroad that had been erected all the way across the part of Richton which was our home. Unfortunately, in the winters, there was likely to be at least one time that the engine would send sparks flying out into the dried-up vegetation between our barn and the colored cemetery. Then, we’d all have to go out and fight the fire to save our barn. We each wadded a bunch of “croaker-sacks” that had held cotton seed hulls and Meal for the cows to eat. We’d try stomping the fire out, and miraculously there was never any loss or damage to our property. Obviously, it was due to absolutely none of my doing: I was never any good at all when it came to physical labor of any kind.

There was even a really cute little “Toonerville Trolley” that George and I would see from time to time. We both thought it would be so much fun if the owners were to forget this transportation vehicle: but they never did!

Ours was the last dwelling on the short street (without a name) that began at the corner of B.M. Stevens “Super Store” (as it would be called today) and, on the other side, a Garage operated by the Walters brothers, Hebe and Hiram (Hebe, if I am not mistaken, was short for Hebron.). Our house, as well as the one that Lona Belle’s family had bought, were set back from the road by about the same size of the houses themselves; while those belonging to Cleve Odom and his wife; the Austin Odom’s (seven children like us) and then a smaller house that the McCrary’s lived in. They had a son we knew as “Snookie”, who was a little younger than I was-all three of these houses were in alignment with the run-down wooden shack where the Richton Dispatch printing press issued its weekly news of the “City” of Richton. A side street interrupted the symmetry, which concluded with the afore-mentioned Walters-Brothers’ Garage. How I used to love to walk past there after dark, when one or both of them would be using an acetylene torch for welding! It was the nearest thing we had to Fireworks in Richton back in those days! Great glowing golden sparks would fall in huge numbers, and they looked so very festive: while also seeming terribly infernal at the same time!

As I said, this led directly into Main Street (though, again, there was no street sign in all of our home town),

I moved along at a leisurely pace (I never liked hurrying anywhere for anything) just breathing in long lungs-full of glorious spring smells. Birds seemed to be singing their little hearts out this morning (the Irish would surely have called it “bonny”). It was an almost perfect day for Easter, as far as I was concerned.

Just as I was turning the corner of our barn, and the cemetery was only a few inches away, I heard a familiar voice singing, “Fran-cis!”

I turned to look back at the corner I had just turned, and saw Ann and Own Odom approaching.

“Well, I’m glad y’all came down here. I’m goin’ t’th’ trestle to catch me some tad poles.”

“Oh., Boy!” Owen said loudly. “Le’s see who can catch th’ most!”

“I’ll just watch. If y’all don’t mind.” Ann was usually quite serious. She was the youngest of a whole passel of daughters. Poor Austin Odom had to wait, while his wife presented him with six daughters, culminating with Ann. Owen was “The Baby”, just as I was in our similarly large family.

“I brought a glass jar t’put mine in,” I said, holding up my right arm which held a pickle bottle that Mama had been only too glad to give to me. “You can put yours in with mine till we get back home.”

“Now, you two’ve got to remember that today is Easter. Mama said we had to be home by twelve on the dot.!” Ann could be a real stickler when she wanted to.

We began moving a little faster. It was still early, but I had not been reminded to be on time for dinner.

“Ooooh, look!” Owen sounded surprised.

“What is it?” Ann asked him.

“Well, just look how much th’ water’s risen since that rain night before last!”

It looked absolutely the same as it always did, as far as I was concerned. But I did not want to seem to be always disagreeing with the Odom’s heir.

“I wish you had brought sandwiches, like the last time we came out here,” Owen’s monologue continued. I saw no reason for an answer. The thought had occurred to me, earlier this morning, to see if they would like to join me on my trek to the Trestle, but the very fact that it was Easter has deterred me. Even I had no desire to “Spoil” my always overly-eager appetite

“Yeah, Francis, those sandwiches were so good last time!” Ann was not usually so demonstrative. “What all did you put in ‘em?”

Even at that tender age, I was proud of my knack for turning out delicious dishes with very little trouble. I had discovered, early on, to let my imagination run wild: Really wild, and the people who tasted the “creation” was impressed, usually because they had never thought of whatever tastes I had dared put together. I gave a little thought to what I had taken with me the last time the three of us had visited this spot. “Well, now—let me see. I started with Spiced Lunch Meat (one of Daddy’s most popular sellers in his market), and then I added Mayonnaise and mustard. And then what did I add after that?” I had momentarily forgotten!

“It tasted utterly delicious---and different!” She licked her lips at the memory.

“It seems like it was radishes!” I said, really asking, rather than telling.

“Yeah! That was it!” She sounded almost triumphant,

“But I don’t like radishes!” Owen proclaimed.

“Well, as I remember it, you sure did seem t’enjoy those sandwiches at th’ time!” I sneered.

Ann and I had taken off our shoes, but Owen was, as usual, bare footed. Ann stuck a toe gingerly into the water. “Oooooh! It’s cold as ice!” and she hopped back onto the sand.

Owen and I walked boldly into the water, At its deepest, it hardly posed any problem at all, Lord knows, if it had, Mama would never allow me or George to wade in it, It was almost as docile as the pond in the pasture on the other side of our lot.

The sand below the water was literally covered with the sleek black tadpoles! I had taken the lid off my jar, and now, as I bent down, I submerged the top and forced seven or eight beauties into the container. Owen was reduced to trying to catch the tadpoles with only his hands, but he seemed to be doing well.

Ann had sat down on the dry sand and offered advice to both of us from time to time. “Do y’all see any minnows?” she asked.

“There’s always lots ‘a minnows,” Owen assured her.
“But they’re much harder to catch,”

“And they are not n’yilly as much fun t’watch. Just seeing how these little snaky looking tadpoles turn into frogs is one of the most fascinating things I have ever seen in my life!”

And over seventy years later, I feel the same awe! Truly, the Lord does, indeed, work in mysterious ways!

Although none of us had a watch, we managed to get home in time for dinner. Mama’s delicious chicken-heavy dinner was made even more wonderful by a lemon meringue pie (which Helen often made because it was Sammy’s favorite) and Anna’s Pineapple sherbet certainly did  hit the spot, too.

Most of the adults took the baskets with their beautifully colored eggs, and hid them, as Sammy, George and I waited to go out and see who could find the most of them. As usual, when all of us had given up any hope of finding another single egg’. The ones we had found told us that we would all be uncovering Easter Eggs until the following Easter Sunday!





Cat Facts

Ginger underwent her semi-annual “Makeover” last Wednesday, following my traumatic Tuesday, The appointment had been made for weeks, and as shook-up as I still felt (after Tuesday’s nerve racking events) I felt better for having taken Little Baby for her grooming, She looks so much more comfortable, with (literally) several pounds of fur trimmed off, She always gets a good back, and something that smells like perfume (or talcum powder).

Frank Imbragulio (proud owner)

Old Movie Trivia

Quiz No. 31


1.    Mary Tyler Moore co-starred in what 1967 Julie Andrews smash hit, also starring Carol Channing?

2.    The first screen version of State Fair was black and white and not a musical. Kudos if you can name the two famous stars of the early 1930’s.

3.    Who was the great dancer-director who created such early spectacular movies as 42nd Street, with groups of people making all sorts of geometric figures.

4.    Mississippi gave Hollywood one of its most popular leading men of several decades ago: He was Gene Tierny’s leading man in her biggest hit, Laura. What was his name? He was from Collins, MS.\

5.    What Hollywood studio made the first all color film?

6.    Who produced (and starred in) a version of Macbeth, in 1948?

7.    Room with a View had what later Oscar winning star as Helena Bonhom Carter’s fiancé?

8.    What have Maurice, Howard’s End, and   in common?

9.    Who directed the finished Gone With the Wind?

10.             What actor was Sidney Poitier’s traveling companion in The Defiant Ones?

Quiz # 30 Answers

1.                                                                                                                                                                  The Magnificent Ambersons was the Booth Tarkington novel was the basis of Orson Welles’ follow-up to Citizen Kane for RKO.

2.                                                                                                                                                                  Katherine Hepburn (who won more Academy Awards that any other actress) had the title role in Alice Adams.

3.                                                                                                                                                                  Richard Burton played The Spy Who Came In From the Cold.

4.                                                                                                                                                                  Hollywood legends Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty bombed out with Ishtar.

5.                                                                                                                                                                  Elaine May wrote the screenplay.

6.                                                                                                                                                                   Ingrid Bergman and Gary Cooper were paired in the screen version of Edna Ferber’s Saratoga Trun.

7.                                                                                                                                                                  The Garden of Eden was an early Technicolor film from David O. Selznick, that starred Charles Boyer with Marlene Dietrich.

8.                                                                                                                                                                  Beau Geste (1939 version) had three great male stars as brothers in the Foreign Legion: Ray Milland and Robert Preston were the two younger siblings. Gary Cooper (*) again, was the eldest son.

9.                                                                                                                                                                  The same year, RKO’s most expensive film to date was also about the Foreign Legion. Cary Grant and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. were just two of the all-star cast. Gunga Din was this film.

10. Laurel and Hardy also had a Foreign Legion film about      

 this time. It was called The Flying Deuces They were      certainly not ACES!





Sunday, April 8, 2012