Frank’s Fax Facts and Reviews

Vol.. XIV No. 10

Sunday, June 2. 2013

The Advent of Ginger, and  Sweet Memories of Chipper

       My dear friends, Charles and Georgy Horton were my next door neighbors. They  had a daughter, Ramona, who gave them twin grandchildren (a girl and a boy) whom they adored. As Neighbors, one might have wished for better ones, but these were as wonderful as neighbors ever get. Their tragic downfall was cigarettes: and both died of lung cancer. Georgy went first, and I felt so helpless, as I watched him grieving over his loss.   A few days after her funeral, I made some Chicken Cacciatori and took it over to help him through the week by getting a full meal or two. He returned the bowl I had carried it in, and said how much he liked it; so then and there, I determined to cook another of my “Specialties” for him any time he wanted me to. (After all,  I did cater for years with Steve Moore in Hattiesburg. We did only one party here in Mobile, because in order to get a license you cannot have a cat in the place where the food is prepared. That left Mobile totally out of the picture all those years ago)

         When Georgy died, I was at the funeral, and less than two years later, Charlie; who had his cancer (according to his Cardiologist) under control, joined his spouse in the hereafter, we were all grieved when on the morning after Halloween, he had to be put in an ambulance, with a massive heart attack, and carried to the hospital. Sadly, he was dead on arrival.

         The next time I went to his door,  the first thing I saw when he opened the door, was a magnificent half-grown kitty! I blurted out, “Where did you get that gorgeous animal?” He chuckled proudly and simply said, “Oh, that’s Chipper!” I have to admit, at that point, I would gladly have traded Trudy 2 for Chipper, but of course I said nothing except, “Well, that name surely does fit him!”

         Charlie had a riding mower, which I used to watch with envy because there has always been so much clutter in my yard, that a riding mower was out of the question. A few weeks after I first saw Chipprt, I was surprised to look across the fence, to see him riding his mower with Chipper sitting in his lap! I was happy to see he had the pet for company, and also was spellbound to see the cat enjoying his ride so utterly!  I knew that both he and Georgy loved their dogs  (there was always one or two in their yard) but when I saw the cat, I felt as if he suddenly had something he could really love! And his voice, when he told me, “This is Chipper.”: it pulled at my very heartstrings. I felt that this handsome feline would surely be a lot of companionship for any man, and Charlie’s delight was great when I told him how beautiful his pet was. It was the morning after Halloween that Charles  Horton had his heart attack and died. It was a stunning blow to all of his neighbors. I immediately wondered what would happen to Chipper; then I decided that Ramona’s twins would surely want him. And yet,l I wanted to make certain that he find a good home. That afternoon, Ramona was still there, trying to get things in order in the lonely house, and I had already seen the truck from the pound drive away from the house with both of Charlie’s dogs! My heard felt a pang for them, because I knew how much company they had been for Charlie and Georgy. And they were fine animals. I dialed the number, and Ramona came to the phone. I had been to the funeral, and had offered my condolences there, but I felt that I needed to get the question over and done with. “Ramona, what are you going to do with Chipper?”

         She hesitated a moment, and then said,.”Well, I can’t keep any of the pets: I am allergic to dogs and cats!” I  then said I would love to take Chipper off her hands and give him a home where he would be really adored.. She seemed completely happy that she had saved Chipper’s life, and made me happy at the same time. “There’s just one problem: I have not seen the cat since we got back from the funeral!” That had the ring of doom in the sound of it. “He could just be back there in the woods behind our houses….”

         “Oh, Lord, I hope so!” And I prayed as I watched the house till almost dark.

         Then I began to see something moving near the back door of the deserted house. I said a quick prayer, and almost ran to the fence that separated our lots. I could not see him. Where had he gotten off to? And what if it hadn’t been Chipper?” I was allowing myself to get upset over nothing, because just as I was about to give up hope, I walked through the gate and went close enough to the door to see that it was Chipper! I called his name I felt as if he knew who I was. But he still wanted his Daddy!

         I guessed he had not been fed in quite a spell, and was bound to be starving1 I picked him up (and was scared to death that he would scratch or bite me), but he settled back in my arms, almost as if he knew his master was gone. I never did learn if Chipper had been there when Charlie had the heart attack that killed him. Chipper must have seen the whole dreadful thing. I can almost see him as they took the man’s body out on a stretcher! It was the end of his entire world, as he knew it.

         I walked with   “Chipper” into the kitchen of my house, and there was greeted by a naturally puzzled cat of my own. She had been the last (as it turned out) of four gorgeous black and white cats in a row that had brought so much happiness into my solitary life. These are known as “Tuxedo Cats” because of their unique black and white patterns. I held Chipper down so that Trudy could see and smell him. I was not in the least impressed when she growled menacingly, and spat a few times, as she wriggled out of my grasp and flew under the nearest bed!

         But, happily they grew to love each other. I think they began to realize just how much fun it is to have a brother or sister. I can certainly testify to the validity of this supposition. I would not take a boxcar loaded with diamonds in exchange for having for most of my happy life, my four sisters and two of the best brothers anyone could ever ask for! When Ann McGowan  saw the “Brother and Sister”  pictures together (I made a million or more snapshots, because I, too, was finally able to enjoy two cats. We always had lots of cats for our barns, because barns just naturally attack rats!) Ann went to work on a project for my two darlings (she always was extremely gifted at making cute things out of nothing). When the hu-mongus cardboard box she had mailed to me, arrived, it was so big I opened it (slowly and carefully) in the anteroom just inside my back door, to find enough play-pretties to keep them both happy for days!

            But I had my camera ready for their first reaction to the “Magic” box and its pretty toys, and I had that, combined with the student’s performances, and my only pictures of dear Cora Fairley, several piano students playing their contest pieces, and a dozen or more other priceless treasures. Paul McGown (no kin to Ann) saw the whole film, and because he was one of the students who had performed so well, I let him talk me into taking the film home in order to copy his performance (and I knew only too well how risky this was) but he was one of my best students, and I felt more like his father than his piano teacher. This was the first time he had ever let me down!

         Trudy and Chipper had been  like two movie stars, acting as if they knew exactly what I wanted, as I talked constantly. I tried not to miss one single cute movemeny that they made! When I had photographed far more than I had intended to, I stopped. But they continued their games until much later. So, even though I still have lots of photographs of the two feline friends together and apart, I will always mourn for that home movie: I had cut a round hole in the cardboard box in order to get everything out without breaking it, and before I knew what was going on, Chipper was lying down on his side (inside the box) and Trudy stood, outside the box, trying to poke her paw through the hole and hitting at her ”Brother”. The photographs (which I still have) were so cute: In the one taken in the living room, both are stretched out on the carpet,  sitting upright with their back paws folded neatly underneath them. It looked to me, like two friends, having a serious talk.. I called the picture, “A Political Discussion”. Yes, it’s silly, but I loved them both so very much, that they could do nothing that did not seem, at least “Cute”.

         Both of the darling cat’s ashes, are out here in the studio. I’m leaving directions that on my death, I be cremated, and their ashes mixed with half of mine (the other half will go in the family plot in Ellisville, where I was born and lived for a long time

         (Next week, I  adopt Ginger: the Lord certainly saved the best for last in this case!)

A Sicilian in Italy

Rome and Naples

         I arrived in Rome in the morning and went immediately to the American Express office. The  young man who came forward to assist me, told me of a nearby reasonably priced room, and he described it to favorably that I told him it sounded as if it were made for me. He asked for my name, and I began spelling it out. If the person has never heard of our name, he always says, “Would you spell that for me?” and I am more than willing to accommodate him. But this fellow was remarkable: before I was able to “Accommodate him, I saw that he had already written “Imbraguglio” and was about to ask for my first name!


probably wrote this before, but our sisters got tired of having everyone call us ImBRAGlio, or Imbra-GOOG-lio, so they dropped that second D that seemed to be the culprit. I can’t say that it stopped the mis-prononciations , but it did help a bit. Uncle Phillip and his brood thought it was such a grand idea that they adopted it for themselves! I assured him that this had never before happened in my lifetime, to which he responded, “Oh,  but it’s quite a common name, especially the farther south you travel.” I rather floated out of the office and walked the short distance he has drawn on a city map to make it easier on me. I got there with no trouble, registered and asked the man at the desk if there were any operas to be seen at this time of the year. He told me there were no operas in Rome in the summer months. Of course I. was very disappointed: I was still smarting over my disappointment of La Scala in Milano. That was nothing compared to my wrath when (having been told that no operas were available in the summer, I heard (when taking a bus tour of this magnificent ancient city, our young tour guide pointed out an open-air facility where we were told that just the night before- and I had been in the hotel at this time) the opera Aida, was given its last of three performances. This production is known all over the earth because of its magnificense! “The Triumphal March’, just for starters, has live elephants; an on-stage band, and lots of other beasts in the performance) I asked the tour guide if there might possibly be some other opera that I could see, and he said Porgy and Bess was being done that night! I managed to get a ticket to that; and since I had never seen Gershwin’s great opera, and I had seen one other very ordinary version of Aida.  

         Porgy and Bess starred American singers in most of the roles, and it was a thrilling performance, When Porgy sings his final aria, “O, Lord, I’m coming home!” I could not keep from crying, And the soprano, who sang the incomparably beautiful, “Summertime” was equally wonderful.

         After making sure I had seen most of the important sight-seeing suggestions, like the Coliseum and a couple of art museums, I had not been able to find the Trevi Fountain! Since the movie Three Coins in the Fountain had been so popular (though I did not see it until recently on the TCM Channel) It was when I decided to return to my hotel from another part of the city, and there it was! Not more than fifty feet from the entrance!      

         After three days, I felt I had covered as much territory as was good for me and checked out the next day, and departed for Naples.

(Continued Next Week)

Cat Facts

         “I named my kitten Rose—fur as soft as a petal, claws sharper than thorns.”

Astrid Alauda


Movie Review

Love Crazy (MGM 1941)

       I saw the last half of this, quite by accident late one night, and I just loved it! So, when I saw that TCM was showing it again, just weeks later, I recorded the entire comedy. The part I saw first had leading man, William Powell, in an insane asylum! It was very funny, and Powell was never better (except in Father Knows Best.) Jack Carson chases him, in one scene, and when he catches him, makes kitchy-koo sounds and hand signals that say, “You’re NUTS!”

       Well. I couldn’t just leave “Father” without seeing how he ended up on a Funny Farm

       He and Myrna Loy are married, in the first half, but Myrna gets burned up with the idea that her totally innocent hubby is having an affaire with none-other-than Gail Patrick (and I wish I had a nickel for every time she was “The Other Woman”!) Powell is devastated that she is divorcing him, and vows that he will go to any extreme to get her back.

       I won’t tell too much more, because, if you like a real screwball comedy: they just do not get any better than this little gem.  And apparently Turner does not wait too long between “Return Films, so be forewarned. (***)

Movie Trivia Quiz                                                                                                                                                           

1.     Who played Flo Ziegfeld in MGM’s block-buster musical, The Great Ziegfeld?

2.     What European beauty won an Oscar as his first wife?

3.     What American beauty portrayed wife No. 2?

4.     Who was the male singer, who sang, “A Pretty Girl is like a Melody” in the (at that time) costliest production number ever staged? Here’s a hint: You probably would not remember his name in this film, but later, when he became one of Warner Bros. biggest and most popular stars.

5.     Which of Barbra Streisand’s roles was that of one of Ziegfeld’s biggest discoveries? She was so fantastic in the part that it won her an Oscar!

6.     What Radio Persona was created by this gifted comedian? Hint, one of her frequent quotations was, “I’m only three and a half years old!”

7.     The composer of what Favorite Broadway musical and film, was the orchestra conductor on this radio show in which the comedian-singer often appeared?

8.     Name three other films with ZIEGFELD in their titles.

9.     How many did the same star portray him?

10.                 Which of these “other” Ziegfeld film starred Lana Turner, Judy Garland and Hedy Lamar? This little information should be self evident.

Answers to last week’s Quiz

I forgot: there WAS no time to work up a quiz. So sue me!


Tuesday, June 4, 2013