Frank’s Fax Facts and Reviews
Vol. XVIII, No. 51
Sunday, March 3, 2013
Lent in the Catholic Church used to feel like it lasted at least six months! That was because even though we were not very good “Church Goers”*, our parents made us obey the Church’s dogma with a vengeance!
We were not, however, forced to “give up” anything for Lent (although I began being a martyr while a student at Mississippi Southern College-- to the fanaticism of one of my best music major buddies, James McComb. He was from the Mississippi Delta, and was a recently gung-ho convert to Catholicism.
I’d usually try to forego something like candy, candy or Cokes, etc. But eventually, I grew more rabid and decided to cut out all desserts! Now, my close friends will tell you that I was attempting the almost impossible dream (and I was not in La Mancha). Lois Turnipseed (and I swear that was her actual married name!) promised to make me a strawberry pie for Easter, if I had not fallen off the wagon. “But you’ve got to eat the whole pie—whipped cream and all—at one sitting!” I quickly agreed to these terms.
I was so determined to make my sacrificial offering that I made cakes and pies galore for the family, and never even tasted a one of them. So, Easter Sunday, Lois called and told me my Strawberry pie was ready, and she insisted I drive out to their house and let her watch me eat the entire dessert. I still find it hard to believe that I ate the whole thing, as she and husband, Tommy, sat and watched!
*Sadly, there was not a Catholic Church in either Ellisville or Richton (and still there is not), But we seemed always to be able to drive to Laurel or Hattiesburg when anyone from Sicily was buried! As the Baby in the family, I was always stuck with attending these lachrymose affairs.
Mama and Daddy always made each of their children, travel back to Ellisville (while we were living in Richton) to take Catechism lessons from a certain Mary Pettis, who was a matronly Catholic with no children of her own. This was to prepare them for their First Communions. Later, each one (even Sammy) had to repeat this procedure to take a second Name as part of their Confirmation as a full blooded Roman Catholic. Of course they had to spend a week of preparation both of these occasions. This week was spent in Laurel, with Aunt Grace, and her brood as their hosts. I couldn’t wait until it was my turn for this: all they talked about were the number of “Picture Shows” they had more than enjoyed!
I never understood why, when I was the right age, I was not sent to Mrs. Pettis’s classes, and it seemed as if my entire family had given up on the idea for me!
So, when James McComb asked me about this, and I told him I had never been in a Church except for funerals, he persuaded me to go there, in Hattiesburg, to Sacred Heart Church, and discuss my problem with the young Catholic priest (ironically, his name was Father Patrick Donahue. Later, as a graduate student at the University of Michigan, one of my dearest friends was Pat Donahue. He had an aunt who was a Catholic nun- Sister Mary Paul!)
I made my first communion the summer after taking instructions, and have been (for the most part) a devout Catholic ever since.
(To be continued)
“Make haste- slowly.
Old Movie Review
Just as last week’s best comedy ever made was Born Yesterday (in my book), I decided that this has to be the second greatest comedy on film I have ever seen! Dustin Hoffman was wonderful as “Dorothy” (in “her” role as one of the characters on a popular TV serial). He cannot find work, so in a desperate situation, he dons a wig and glasses, and dresses in lovely ladies’ garb and becomes a howling sensation! His girl friend (whom he tries to unload) is played by Teri Garr, while his real interest is in fellow-serial cast player, Jessica Lange. His room mate is delightfully played by Bill Murray, and Lange’s father (who proposes marriage to “Dorothy”) is played by Charles Durning,
The writing is brilliant, the camera work is sensational, and the entire cast is terrific! They seem to be having a great time, and so will you (if you happened to be living in a daze back when it was first released.) And the film made a whole lot of money in its day! (****)
The Color of Money (1986)
This movie has a special meaning for me, not because I have any great feeling for the film, itself, but the day I saw it is as fresh in my memory as that of my heart attack and triple bypass!
It was an ordinary Sunday in Lent, and I had been to the Village Theater Complex to see Paul Newman (whom I always enjoyed) and Tom Cruise (whom I have never liked, except for his magnificent performance with Dustin Hoffman, who plays a mentally challenged older brother).
After the film, I drove to Jack Morgan’s home, where I had been invited to come by for some Birthday Cake (it was his mother’s birthday). It was a beautiful cake, but I found it rather tasteless. I did not understand why, nor did I leave any of it uneaten. Later, back home, I warmed over some Spaghetti and meat sauce left over from the day before. When I tried eating that, it was as flat and tasteless as Jack’s birthday cake!
By the time I went to bed, that night, I had developed quite a case of indigestion and stomach ache. The first clue that told me I might be suffering from a heart-problem, was that I was sweating even though it was a very cool night. Then, I ran my hand across my forehead and found that the sweat was cold as ice.
I phoned my good friend, Gaines Thornton, who had to have bypass surgery barely one month earlier. I told him my symptoms and he said he would drive straight over here. He was so quick that I could hardly believe anyone could be so speedy; looked at me, and then ran his fingers over my forehead and said he was taking me to the emergency room at once!
Time we got to Providence Hospital (which was still near downtown Mobile) I was given several tests, and then one of the doctors told me I had a myocardial Infarction (which scared me half to death) but that it was a light one and they had gotten me just in time. I was put into a hospital bed at once, after they had fed me enough nitroglycerin tablets to relieve the “stomach ache”.
The following day, I was moved to a huge room, where the lady cardiologist (who sensationally gorgeous) tried to get through my clogged-up arteries with a balloon, had to tell me, regretfully, that she was unable to accomplish this, and that she suggested by-pass surgery. I had prayed the whole time they had worked on me (she had said the test would take about thirty minutes. She had worked on me for over three hours!) So, I told her, stoically, that anything she could do for me, would be gratefully appreciated. I was too young to die (I figured).
Sadly, when they had me ready for the surgery, this doctor had left the Providence and I saw the man who did the operation for the first time on the even of the surgery. I never saw him again! If I had, I would like to have told him how bitterly I detested the mess he had made of my chest! I have keloid flesh, which turns ugly as the very devil himself, when cut.
Two of my former male piano students worked in that hospital at the time, and were present at the operation, and visited me afterwards.
Dear Cora came to stay with me, as I lay there waiting for the surgery, and one thing I told her was that they had told me that I would be called, afterwards, and if I did not wake up quickly, something bad could be happening. Cora decided to tape the voice of Trudy II (who was the reigning cat at the time) and then play that tape when they were ready for me to wake up.
The night before the surgery, I had asked Father Gorman to come by and anoint me (just in case), but he said he was tied up and would send Father Oberkirch. So, he heard my confession; I was absolved; then someone covered my chest with something that was wet and red, and smelled just like iodine.
When they came to transport me to the Operating Room, I remember being rolled out of the room (I saw the top of the door as I advanced to the corridor, and that was the last thing I remember.
I awoke to the sound of Trudy, meowing, opened my eyes, and saw Anna smiling broadly near my face. “Oh,” she said, crying unashamedly, “He looks just like Papa!” I will never forget how happy I felt: I considered this the greatest compliment I had ever been paid.
The others were all there! I had caused the Imbragulios their very first Family Reunion! And, O Lord, it was so sweet to be alive!
Draft Dodgers Anonymous
Post Nazi Germany
That first night in Germany, still at Zwibruchen, the one movie theater at the Kassern was showing Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Lynwood and I had, of course, seen it when it was still new, but while in New York, had seen the brand-new How to Marry a Millionaire (one of the first pictures in Cinemascope) and howled with laughter all the way through that one! But after seeing them both, so close in time together, we decided that nothing would ever be as funny, or have better song lyrics, or be better, period, than this film! One of the greatest things about “Gentlemen” was the addition of Jane Russell! She was sensational; and she sang very well, too.
Several weeks after moving completely, from downtown Karlsruhe to Smiley Barracks we were overdue for a big Inspection. So, we paid our German maids a few extra bucks to make certain that we all passed with flying colors. George Caravasious said he thought we should help these women out by moving our Wall lockers so they could clean the floor around and beneath them. They were even heavier than they looked, and it was certainly no small task to move them. When I looked closely at the back side of my locker, I gasped! There was the first real Nazi sign I had seen. Each of the lockers had the dreadful interlocking pattern that was so very familiar to us, thanks to the movies. That was the first time any of us had moved those behemoths. It was also the last (at least as long as I was there).
Our unit, the Historical Division had no duties to contend with, but we did have the occasional “Alert”, which I came to loathe. The alarm would always go off just about the time we got into bed. Then we would have to rush to out our fatigues back on, then pile into jeeps and pretend to be doing certain tasks we each had assigned to us. As the librarians, George and I were responsible for burning (beyond all recognition) all secret and top secret materials. I had to pass my clearance tests for this, and later, found that they had actually questioned people who knew me in Mississippi, whether or not I was trustworthy. I got this added to my credentials shortly after Caravasious returned to the states, and I was put in charge of our library.
With the “Alerts”, I was supposed to drive one of the warrant officers on all of these occasions. Of course, I could not drive. Back home, the last automobile we had was a green, 1938 Chevrolet, which Anna, Daddy and
Sammy could drive. I had no desire, whatsoever, to learn this tedious chore. Neither did any of my other siblings. They tried to get me to learn how it was done, but I admit to faking my failure to comprehend it. I would even pretend to be unable to hold the vehicle on the road. That was my stroke of genius! Finally, after scaring the Warrant Officer Officer half to death, it was decided that he would drive me. Now, that was much more to my liking! I finally learned to drive after Daddy bought his last Chevrolet (the year I taught for George). Sammy and Helen’s husband, Tom, patiently taught me very carefully, and I turned out to be a good, and careful driver. When George came home (after his Fullbright year in Italy) he bought his own first automobile, and I taught him to drive!
After learning to drive, that memorable year, I’d ask Daddy for the car at nights, and then drive to Hattiesburg to pick up Ann Nunnally, and we would got to one of the drive-ins and eat supper or go to a movie. That was the beginning of the end for my being car-less. I simply could not wait to buy my own automobile. But that was after my military career was over.
We eventually were given a half day off every week, but we were supposed to exercise with this free time. We had some ping pong tables and the where-with-all for a game, and one Saturday morning a month, we were driven a short distance from Karlsruhe in Jeeps, where we usually rode a ferry across the Rhine River. I felt as if this were a dream come true! I had read so much about this body of water in literature and geography that I felt as if I had been there before! I could literally see Dr. Barber, at Michigan State, telling the music literature class about the Rhine River, in Wagner’s Ring Cycle; and how real it looked on the marvelous revolving stage at Beyreuth. We would walk around and maybe play a few games, and that was it. That was our excuse for doing nothing that was in anyway unpleasant. We would then ride back to the Barracks, where we usually played Scrabble, or ping pong (I got fairly proficient with this, having dabbled a bit at FSU).
Now, with our extra half day off each week, Bob McDonald and I would walk downtown and visit the Zoo (which took a large amount of imagination to call that). There was a ragged old dirty-white peacock (but it was at least fairly rare) and there were lots of chickens, and other more than ordinary animals. But the scenery was gorgeous, and the grounds extended to a charming Japanese Building. We might drink a Coke (which cost a mark at this time-while they were still sold for a nickel everywhere else!) or sometimes, when we just did not have that extra quarter, we’d get a cold Afra-Cola. It was not as bad as it sounds, and after getting accustomed to ignoring the implication, it was certainly worth the few pfennigs that it cost.
We could also walk in the opposite direction, until we came upon a structure that was very interesting, although there was never anyone around that we could ask what it’s reason for being was. We would climb the stairs all the way to the top, and from there, the panoramic view was awesome. Also strangely, we never encountered anyone else there!
(Continued next week)
Old Movie Trivia Quiz #73
1. Which popular movie star played Stella Dallas in the original version of this film?
2. What singing star reprised the role last? (there are only 2 versions)
3. In Tootsie, why does Dustin Hoffman choose to work in drag?
4. Who played Young Abe Lincoln?
5. ` What was the title of RKO’s 1939 film about “Honest Abe”? This time he was played by Raymond Massey.
6. Which Daniel Day-Lewis film was based on a James Fennimore Cooper novel?
7. What Oscar nominated star’s first movie was The Color Purple?
8. Who played her husband in the same film?
9. How many “Oscars” did this Spielberg film win?
10. What “Richest woman in America” TV star was also introduced
with The Color Purple?
Answers to TRIVIA QUIZ #72
1. In Lassie, Come Home, Elizabeth Taylor played the daughter of the man who bought Lassie for his own kennels.
2. Roddy McDowell was the boy that Lassie ran to meet each afternoon at the school house.
3. Elsa Lanchester was the boy’s devoted mother.
4. Lassie had to walk all the way from Scotland to get back home.
5. The Yearling starred Gregory Peck as the father whose son has a pet deer.
6. Jane Wyman (Ronald Reagan’s first wife) played the boy’s embittered mother.
7. The teen aged boy (Claude Jarmon, Jr.) was outstanding as their son.
8. The “Baby” that is Brought Up was a Leopard.
9. Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant were the couple with this pet.
10. Zoology was the Grant’s special talent. He is making a skeleton statue of a dinosaur, using the actual bones!