FF XVIII, 34
\Frank Facts and Reviews
Volume XVIII, No. 34
Sunday, November 11, 2012
Peggy transported me from here to the church where we play Bridge each Tuesday. I had made some chicken salad from a ten pound bag of chicken leg quarters (I did not use all ten pounds, but enough to make several sandwiches and luscious chicken soup--with vermicelli--for three more meals.) After the game, Peggy drove me to my voting post (I had been unable to find it the last time I tried to vote, and spent four hours driving in circles without finding it) where I cast my vote; then she brought me home, coming in to put some of the glass cats etc., as well as the many books that had to be replaced, after the carpet people left them all piled together. It still is not finished! I do what little I can each day, but it is getting increasingly difficult for me to do anything more physical than sitting and watching TV, writing Fax Facts, or napping. But the way the rooms are looking makes me believe it was worth all the trouble I have put everybody to. Thanks to all of you who helped us!
Draft Dodgers Anonymous
Maude Clark Pilgrim turned the motor of her 1939 Chevrolet sedan off (it had been dark blue at one time, but was now slightly lighter and more mottled. But there wasn’t a sign of dust or mud to be seen on it or in it) She opened the door and stepped out into the blazing mid-morning sunshine of Ellisville, Mississippi and dreaded the thirteen steps it would take her to enter the front door of the Methodist Church. She tried the door, and it was locked. Wonderful! She’d have the entire place to herself today! She could practice as much as she liked, with no criticism in the form of questions about the rhythms and tempi of Sunday’s hymns! She didn’t even mind the fact that she would have to endure two or three minutes of heat that it would take her to fight the door!
Just as she was about to enter the cool interior of the church, another car drove up and stopped next to hers! She glared angrily at whoever he was! It was Hubert Jordan. And he had that wretched son of his with him. They were getting out of their car and began walking briskly towards her.
“G’mornin’, Miz Pilgrim,” the father and son said in almost perfect unison.
“Mornin;” She replied. She did not bother to smile.
“Marcus, here, has a question he’d like to ask you.”
“Well, I hope I have the answer he wants,” she said. They both made a feeble effort to smile. It came out as a grimace.
“Miz Pilgrim,” Marcus began with a frown on his boyish young face, “We were just wondering if there is some way we could get ourselves called up for the draft right away.”
Well, that certainly was a switch! She thought she knew when he said, “We”, that he referred to the Imbragulio boy. “Listen, it’s too hot to stand out here,” she said flatly. “Let’s get inside where it is cooler, at least.”
They followed her obediently into the House of the Lord, trying to be as pleasant as possible.
She led them down the center aisle to the front row of the church before saying, “I do wish you had come to my office in the court house. This is slightly irregular.”
“Would you rather we go there now? Or do you want us to come by your office later in the week?” It was the boy’s father, Hubert, doing the talking.
“No, No,” spoken quickly had a rather ominous sound about it. “You have your mail to deliver, I am well aware of that.” She turned to face Marcus. Frankly, she was just about to burst with curiosity. Why would these two, all of a sudden, want to get into the Army, when they had both been dodging the draft for years (especially the little foreign boy!) “Now. You’re both 1-A, I believe?”
“Yes’m,” Marcus was trying very hard not to laugh. He had been doing imitations of Maude Clark Pilgrim for Francis and George’s amusement ever since he had tried to show them what she sounded like. And his whistling, “Fran-sisss” never failed to send them into paroxysms of laughter. Now, he was definitely treading on treacherous ground!
“Well,” she continued. “actually it is simply a matter of volunteering
for the draft: but so far, I have never had anyone who actually wanted to do this!”
“So, do we need to come to the courthouse and sign anything?” his brow always furrowed when he was nervous or self conscious (which was 9/10 of the time.)
“Oh, I don’t think that will be necessary at all!” And she actually almost smiled! “But be aware that we can only draft as many each month, as that particular month’s quota. And I’m pretty sure the quotas are filled for the rest of the summer.”
A big lump rose up in the younger Jordan’s throat, and he feared he might begin to cry! But he didn’t.
The two walked out of the church, got into their Ford and drove away.
Mrs. Pilgrim, glad to be rid of them, almost ran to the Wurlitzer console where she turned on the chimes stop and began playing her signature hymn: fortissimo as always: “The Old Rugged Cross”. Francis heard it, from his living room, as he always did, and wondered how Marcus had fared with the old girl.
Oddly enough, the two volunteers had post cards in their family mail boxes two days later, telling them that they were to be taken to Jackson on the following Monday Morning, by bus. There they would undergo pre-induction physical examinations, and other tests. Then they would be called up the very first time she saw an opening. She added that she hoped this would be agreeable to their wishes.
The truth was, that Maude could hardly wait to send them to the army: and she hoped they’d have to go into the Infantry, where they would have to work hard all the time. She could not stand either one of the spoiled-rotten teen agers! Her boys had both had terrible experiences while in the army during most of World War II. Both of them had their health break down, and never fully recovered. Yes, she was bitter. Her only regret was that there was (at this time) no war that she could send them into.
Meanwhile, Francis and Marcus were excited about taking the first step towards their becoming G.I.’s!
The big air-conditioned Trailways bus stopped in front of Daddy’s Market where Marcus and I stood waiting. Mama and Daddy were both waiting with us. Marcus was by himself: his mother had passed away before the we had moved from Richton, and the U.S. Mail had to be delivered every day.
When the door of the bus was thrown open, I gave each parent hug and a kiss, and we both boarded the bus. I dared not look back, because I knew as well as I knew my name, that Mama (and probably Daddy, too) would be crying (even though this was just to be an overnight stay away from home, they were already considering me as good as “Gone!” So, I have to admit: I had a slight lump of my own, in my throat.)
As we entered the cool interior of the bus, we could barely see, so bright had the sun been, that now we were literally blinded by the darkness at first.
And then, from the back of the bus, a familiar voice cried out, “Well! Look who’s here!”
I would have known that voice anywhere! It belonged to one of the two boys who had made my life a living hell, from the time we moved back to Ellisville from Richton, in 1941, until the three of us had graduated from high school, in 1944: Jimmy Townley! His evil constant companion was Tom Anderson, whose father owned the Nehi Bottling Company that Daddy had owned at one time. Both of these boys had no use for me, mainly because I would have nothing to do with them, did not go out for football (they were both on the high school varsity team) and worst of all: took piano lessons! They never passed up any opportunity to make a joke at my expense. and always called me Dago, or a Sissy—or both!
I was struck by an inner voice that told me that just the presence of this loathsome creature might be a bad omen! One furtive glance assured me that Tom Anderson was not with his cohort! That made it a lot easier to bear. I even pretended to be glad to see him. And I managed a generic smile. as I waved mutely to the back row of the bus, as an entity.
“Do you know any of these other fellows?” I asked Marcus.
“A few, but not by name,” he replied. Marcus was well aware of mine and the football players’ mutual dislike of each other
“Same here. I know two or three that I recognize, but none of them were in any of my classes.”
Obviously, the stop for our boarding the bus, was the last to be made. There were only two or three vacant seats, and much to our disgust, somebody began singing, “On Top of Old Smokey”! I can never forget the first time I ever heard that song: I was in Miss Mildred Nicholson’s fifth grade class, when she asked, one afternoon (we had completed all of our assignments for the day, and the dismissal bell had still not sounded), if anybody in the class could sing a song for all of our entertainment.
Imagine my surprise when Ora Lee Burnet and her younger sister, Mary stood up. They were giggling like two simpletons (which they really were!) and Miss Nicholson asked them what they were going to sing for us. And then, with no accompaniment these two sisters sang, “On top of old Smokey”---Well, never having heard the song, as well as having no idea what “Old Smokey” was, all I could do was thank God the girls at least had fairly decent voices, and (astoundingly) were in perfect harmony without the benefit of a pitch pipe.
Now, with a distinct feeling of déjà vu, I listened in disgust as several other fellows on the bus, joined in the singing of this old ditty.
Soon, it seemed that everybody on the bus was making some form of racket or other, and I was reminded of what both of my brothers (who had been in the Army) told me when they learned that I was about to be drafted after all: “Listen to all of those fellas who make the most noise going somewhere, and then listen how quiet they always get on the way back home.” I kept this little nugget, and sure as the dickens, it proved to be true the following afternoon, on the return trip back!
Time we were inside the building, we had to strip naked. And we stayed that way until noon! Having been extremely modest when I began taking Physical Education in the 11th grade, I had (fortunately) become blasé over it. But we never stayed “In the Buff” for so long a period of time! We were poked, peered at and inspected beyond endurance! It was with immense relief that I got into my clothing and we were finally served a decent lunch!
The afternoon had us taking what I could only guess were intelligence tests. If your score were high enough, you would be allowed to become an army officer!
That was when Dr. Warren D. Allen’s parting advice to me, when I told him I was going into the Army was remembered. He liked me (probably because I was the only graduate student who knew anything about where to find the information necessary to write term papers!) Every Master’s degree in music, from Michigan State required that the student had passed a course called “Research Methods and Materials”. I never let him know how I abhorred the class, and just how Dr. Barber (who taught it) tried to convince me that it would ever do me any good!
Anyway, back to my parting with old Warren D.: He took my hand and held it while looking me straight in the eyes, and said, “Good luck, You’ll be just fine. But don’t let them turn you into an officer: be a private. But make sure you’re a Private First Class.” I remember how sweet I had found this advice! I never even considered going to Officer’s Training classes.
After a good evening meal, we were sent back to the barracks, where we had stored our over-night bags, and told to get a good night’s rest. We were advised not to leave the premises.
Marcus and I were two of the first to take showers. Afterwards, as we decided that I should have the lower birth (I had never slept in an upper-birth, while Marcus and his older brother had always insisted on telling his sibling to take the upper) since I probably would have ended up on the floor!
We were lying on top of the blankets, in our underwear, when Marcus said, “Uh oh! You’ve got company!”
I glanced up to see Jimmy Townley, walking towards us and grinning like a jackass eating briars (one of Helen’s favorite phrases). “How about us all taking a bus downtown to a movie?” He asked me.
“I’m all for that!” I said, ready to let bygone be bygones. I figured that he really wasn’t so bad, without his side kick.
“But, Francis---they said we must not go off tonight!” The history of the differences in our attitudes on military regulations were just beginning to make their appearances.
“So what do you think they’ll do to us?” Jimmy turned to Marcus as he
asked this question. “Put us in front of a firing squad?”
I smiled and began getting dressed. “I saw that Young Bess is playing at the Paramount. Do you wanna see that one?”
He wanted to see it, too. Three others came over and asked if we would mind it they came with us. So, we left Marcus with the conformists and went outside where we were lucky enough to catch a bus within five minutes or less.
We all enjoyed this thoroughly entertaining (albeit not too accurate) of how Henry, the Eight’s daughter, became the Queen of England when he died.
I will admit. I had a few bad moments, on the bus ride back to our barracks after the film—but they were unwarranted. Everything was in darkness, and the sounds of snoring made me doubt that I would be able to get a wink of sleep. But I was more exhausted than I had realized, and in no time at all, I was sawing logs with the best of them!
I was awakened by Marcus, whose head was grinning down at me from his aerie above. “Good morning!” he greeted me jovially. I glanced around the huge sleeping area. “Good morning, Glory!” I answered, without too much enthusiasm.
“How was the movie?”
“Oh! I’m sure you would have loved it. We all did! It was Jean Simmons, playing a young Queen Elizabeth. You remember her from Hamlet and Great Expectations. She is always good!”
“You know I don’t get to n’yilly as many films as your Dad allows you to see!”
“Well, you must see this one, if it gets to Ellisville before we are inducted!”
Cat Naps Quotes
“Dreams are only thoughts you didn’t have time to think about during the day.”
When he told me, after we knew each other a lot better, that his birthday was October 31, I almost died laughing! “Well, that makes you a male witch!”
“Warlock!” his laugh was low and deep throated.
By this time, I had tears of laughter running down both cheeks! Ed Kohler and I just clicked the very first time I saw him!
He had come into my studio at the University of South Alabama the day after registration for the fall term, carrying two or three beginning piano books. He had taken his piano instruction from Alma Fisher (a German lady, who was really quite elegant), but it seems that she and Ed never grew to appreciate each other. “So, just as soon as she heard that you were coming and would be teaching with her this fall, she said if I wanted to give you a try, she would not be insulted.” He then went on to tell me a few reasons he couldn’t stand her another moment,
“I wouldn’t have cared if you looked like Count Dracula, I just wanted to be out of her reach!”
Alma had been in a Nazi concentration camp during the war, and so had her husband, Tony Fischer; but it was not the same camp, and they met in America after the war was over. Alma spoke with what (to me, at any rate) was a beautiful German accent. Her straight gray hair, she had dyed blue, and she wore it in a “Page Boy” style. Ed found this hilarious! He called it her “Blu’paa j’Buoy” and would sign this name (or some similar spelling) to the weekly afternoon recitals all of the students were required to attend and sign in.
After I had been here a few months, I happened to be in the office, chatting with Dr. Jones’ (head of the Music Dept. at the time) secretary and she asked me if I had any idea who this strange sounding person could be. I glanced over at the list of the signee’s of the previous week’s recital she was showing me, and almost gave Ed’s secret away! But I recovered and asked the secretary how she thought the name should be pronounced. She laughed and said she had never seen anything like it.
I did venture this comment: “Well, whoever it is---I’d like to know what the nationality is!”
I left her shrieking with laughter. By the way, the secretary’s name was Frances! We, too, got along famously.
I had (for all too brief a period) a cute little apartment in Laurel just before Daddy died on Father’s day, 1963. I had bought some gorgeous sheer material (white with pale green) and moved out and back home with Mama after the funeral. Mama had made some simple drapes which I put in the living room of my apartment (the first I ever had).
After a couple of weeks in the basement of the Administration building at USA, I grew tired of the monotony of the walls of my studio. I asked Dr. Jones if he would have any objection to my putting up draperies to cover the bare and ugly walls. He seemed amenable, so when Ed came for his next lesson, I showed him the material. He immediately took it upon himself to hang the drapes for me.
Now, at this point in our relationship, I had no idea just how talented this young man was. I was later to discover that his ability had no limit. None, whatsoever!
Each student who came in after he had put up those drapes; Alma Fisher and the entire music department all said it was the prettiest thing they could imagine!
By then, I had Ed working on some very interesting pieces of Kabalevsky, Bach, and Schumann. He really enjoyed practicing piano for the very first time (he told me). I’d make up words (usually bawdy) to each of his pieces, and would sing them as he played the tunes. He always cracked up, laughing heartily, as did I. Then he would play the same piece a second time, this time with his own words. His lessons were soon among my favorite.
He worked in the mail room (down in the basement, next to my studio) and would often drop in, between my students, just to chat. I was allowed to teach to teach private students after school (the job itself paid next to nothing) and he came to know all of these (mostly children) students.
Also in the basement, was a snack bar, where we often ate our lunches. I can still fairly taste the delicious shrimp sandwiches we could get there. He had told me about the woman who waited on us most of the times we ate there. Her name was Mrs. Hall. Ed called her Mrs. Corridor, and because he swore that she always stuck an “uh” at the conclusion of every word she spoke, he called her Missis Core-a-do-RAH. He swore that she always asked if we wanted our sandwiches “Good to eat”. Or would we rather have them “Pretty-UGH?”
We both seemed hell-bent on creating our own private language. I would take any name that had more than one syllable, and repeat one of the syllables: this Kelly Moore became Kell-Kell Moore. It was certainly silly, but it kept us amused. It worked with almost any word, also. We would congratulate each other when we deemed something super-silly (or sill-sill).
I had a black student whose name was Clare Mason. One of my dearest friends in Mobile, at the time, was Marie Allen (who worked forever- it seemed), at Broussards’ Music Store. Marie had a lovely apartment in a huge apartment complex nearby. This complex was called Maison de Ville (do you see where this is all leading?) Bear with me a little longer: At Michigan State, I had a friend (John Irwin, pianist) who was a professional accompanist. He often accompanied the lady who taught violin. I find that I have forgotten her name This fine musician had the bothersome habit of swaying back and forth as she fiddled. We used to gripe that her swaying made us so seasick that we had to have Drammamean. John told us, also, that this violinist loved reading Peanuts, in the Funny Papers. But that she pronounced “bleagh” as two syllables, “Blee-ah”. So when Ed came out with this composite title, I really thought I would die laughing!
Claire Maison de Ville, et noir, blee-ah!
Ed disliked, also, the band director at USA; Lacey Powell. Now, I very much liked Lacey, and told Ed that. But he simply could not stand the man. According to Ed, Lacey used to pronounce “Schedule” in the British manner. Since I never heard Lacey use the word, I cannot agree or disagree.
Movie Trivia Quiz #59
Biography Time (2)
Which Actor or Actress portrayed each real or fictional famous person in a screen Biography:
1. Livingston in Stanley and Livingston?
2. George Sand in A Song to Remember?
3. George Gershwin in Rhapsody in Blue?
4. Leo Tolstoy in The Last Station?
5. De LeLesseps in Suez?
6, Marie Antoinette in MGM’s Marie Antoinette?
7.Captain Bligh in Mutiny on the Bounty?\
8. Abraham Lincoln in Young Abe Lincoln?
9. Charles Lindberg in The Spirit of St. Louis
10. Emperor Maximillian in Warner Bros. Juarez,
Answers to Quiz #58
1. Clara Schumann: Katherine Hepburn
2. Dr. Doolittle: Rex Harrison
3. Marie Curie: Greer Garson
4. Lon Chaney, Sr.: James Cagney
5. Henry VIII, in Young Bess: Charles Laughton
6. Elizabeth I, in The Private Lives of Elisabeth and Essex: Jean Simmons
7. Queen Victoria in The Mudlark: Irene Dunne
8. Queen Christina in the film of the same name; Greta Garbo
9. Edison in Edison, the Man: Spencer Tracy
10. FDR in Sunrise at Campobello (Extra credit if you can name his Eleanor): Ralph Bellamy (Greer Garson* Again!)