Miss Etta Lin was recently spotted taking her ease in the Cayman Islands. Here she is, gazing thoughtfully out to sea, clutching her trusty No.4 yellow bucket: Here Etta models the latest in leisure wear for the preschool set. She is clearly pleased with this delightful garment! (Note the color coordinated shoes.)
[Picture credits: Mom, Dad, grandparents - basically anyone present with a camera or a smartphone!]
Last month, we drove to Plymouth, Massachusetts for family wedding (with plans to continue on to Cape Cod, afterwards). West Orange lay directly along our route, so we decided to break the journey there, in both directions. This gave me the opportunity to revisit my past in that place.
On this pilgrimage, I had two specific destinations in mind. The first was a very long lived restaurant called Pals Cabin. The original eponymous “pals” were Martin L. Horn and Bion Leroy Sale. In 1932, they founded a modest eatery – literally a ten by twelve foot cabin – as a bulwark against the crushing forces of the Depression. Family lore has it that my parents stopped there en route to Orange Memorial Hospital, as my mother was about to give birth to me. In later years, the family would come here, from time to time, for a meal.
Today, Marty Horn’s descendants still own and run Pals Cabin.
On our way north, Lynn, my dear friend from college days, met us for dinner at this historic eatery. (Lynn lives in nearby Montclair, where my mother grew up. My grandparents had a candy store there.) On the way back, Ron and I ate there again, just the two of us. That evening, I chose the ‘foot-long’ frankfurter, described thus: ” The first item on our menu over 75 years ago, enjoy our famous frank with sauerkraut or grilled onions on request. Served with French Fries.” Ron had a hamburger, also with a side of fries and some extremely memorable fried onion rings.
As we were leaving, I inquired as to whether there were any members of the Horn family on the premises. “Oh, sure; Danny’s here.” I was directed to a young man who was setting tables. I went up to him and introduced myself. You won’t know me, I said, but my family has a history with this place…. He was warm and gracious. When I asked for several place mats, he gladly obliged, offering me a menu as well:
In the course of my research for this post, I learned that there are others who have a special feeling for Pals Cabin. In addition to the expression of affection, this post by Frank Gerard Godlewski contains some fascinating historical tidbits. More of the same can be found on Comestiblog, and on the restaurant’s own site.
And now, on to the house on Fairway Drive.
Over the course of this trip, the weather, to put it tactfully, had been variable. In fact, when we left Cape Cod, it was pouring down rain, and continued to do so all through Connecticut. However, by the time we got to New Jersey, it had begun to clear up. That evening we had our final dinner at Pals Cabin. And the following morning, before we got properly under way for the final leg of our journey, we stopped at the house on Fairway Drive. It was a gorgeous day.
You take Gregory Avenue to Mount Pleasant. Go left on Highland Place, then right onto Fairway Drive. Of course. Stop here, I said to Ron. We got out. The house number was not actually visible from where we stood, but of course, that did not matter. This was the place:
A girl named Sharon strides toward us, a mean look on her face. She hands us a piece of paper on which are written the words, SAY OFF MY LAND. “Off my land!” we shouted at her retreating back. “Off my land,” again, jeering at her.
We go house to house through the neighborhood, with a bag full of records: ‘Wanna buy some?’ (If memory serves, we were later ordered to retrieve the records and return any monies collected by our unauthorized sales venture.)
In the house that backed up to ours lived a boy named Frankie. He was a very kid with an impish grin and a mischievous look in his eye. In fact, he was continually getting into trouble and taking Yours Truly, a ready if not eager participant, along with him. Once he strung together several lengths of extension cord and blew the circuits in several adjoining properties. Frankie derived great amusement from the name of a particular brand of coffee and used to shout it out loud at every opportunity” Medaglia Doooro!!”
The memories were coming at me, fast and furious…and for the most part, unverifiable.
I do feel myself to be on somewhat firmer ground when I recall having as a neighbor, at the other end of Fairway Drive, a man known to us as Commander Duchin. This would have been Paul Duchin, purportedly the brother of pianist and bandleader Eddy Duchin. My older brother has the same memory; in fact, he remembers, as a youngster, playing with one of the Duchin boys. I have no recollection of ever setting eyes on this mysterious Commander Duchin (U.S. Navy – some connection to the Brooklyn Navy Yard?), but one thing I do remember vividly: his wife had been a polio victim and had to sleep in an iron lung. That is the kind of specific fact that stays with you. Nevertheless, it must be said that my efforts to verify this information have been in vain. (The fact that Eddy Duchin served in the Navy during World War Two, attaining the rank of lieutenant commander, is a matter of record. Eddy Duchin’s son Peter has had, like his father before him, a successful career as a pianist and band leader. I recently discovered that he is also the author of a memoir called The Ghost of a Chance (1998). I’m currently in the process of obtaining this volume.)
Driving around West Orange was an interesting experience. The place felt old, and it looked as though nothing much has been done to update the infrastructure. The road signs were hard to read; I saw no electronic signals at pedestrian crossings. In some places the traffic was ferocious. This was especially true at the intersection where Pals Cabin is located. But other places were very quiet, the greenery, lush. I saw once again the large rhododendron bushes that flourish there. My old neighborhood lay in a sun drenched stillness, looking more beautiful than ever. Bidding it farewell, I felt a sort of sweet, resigned sadness. With the passage of time have come the inevitable losses; still, I have been fortunate in life, in love, and in family, and I am grateful.
I have a substantial trove of photographs inherited from my parents that I have yet to sort through. Many of them are maddeningly unidentified. And if there are any of our family at Fairway Drive, I’ve yet to uncover them. Still, I felt that this post would be incomplete without some family photos. So here they are:
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
‘Little Gidding’ from The Four Quartets, T.S. Eliot
This just in from our Society Reporter:
Miss Etta Lin was recently seen at an upscale eatery in Jackson, Wyoming. She was tasked with selecting the proper wine to accompany the evening’s repast. In April, Etta will attain the age of one and a half years.
I knew that our granddaughter was acquiring valuable skills at her Montessori Day Care – but truly, this exceeds our expectations!
(Caption for this photo supplied by her ever helpful father.)
“Dance of the Mirlitons” from The Nutcracker, danced by the Kirov Ballet, now once again known as the Mariinsky.. Music is by Tchaikovsky.
Here is a concise history of the Nutcracker Ballet. (An advertisement must be endured at the outset, alas.)
The quaity of this video from the English Baroque Festival is not great, but the costumes and the music – Handel’s Water Music – are quite delightful:
I’ve long loved this video of Luciano Pavarotti and his father Fernando singing Cesrar Franck’s “Panis Angelicus” at the Modena Cathedral. They’re high up in the choir, while the celebrants below receive Holy Communion.
Here, Pavarotti sings the same piece, backed by two choirs, at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Montreal, Canada, in 1978.
Here’s Mozart’s “Ave Verum Corpus,” sung by the King’s College Choir of Cambridge University:
Click here for the “Gloria in Excelsis Deo” from the Great Mass in C, also by Mozart, sung by the English Baroque Soloists, the Monteverdi Choir, and conducted by Sir John Eliot Gardiner, whose lifelong service and devotion to this music deserves the highest praise and gratitude.
Another “Gloria,” this one from the Vivaldi work by the same name. We here Trevor Pinnock at the harpsichord and conducting the English Concert.
And once again we have John Eliot Gardiner, the Monteverdi Choir, and the English Baroque soloists in “Jauchzet, Frohlocket,” the rousing opening of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio:
This little family has brought us boat loads of joy this year!
I just have to slip this in: It’s Etta’s first school picture! She is currently matriculated at a Montessori School Daycare, where she is honing her social skills and even learning to dance (now that she’s up on her two feet).
Here is Ron, taking pictures during our England sojourn in May. This is the man who always puts himself in the background while cheering on his (occasional drama queen) wife. I sometimes kid that he’s “the wind beneath my wings,” but the fact is: He is my everything.
And no, I have not forgotten – as she sits patiently awaiting yet another food bowl refill – the dependable provider of comic relief around here (and lots of affection too):
I feel deeply blessed and just as deeply grateful. Thank you to the great artists of the past and present, to my wonderful family.
On Saturday October 8 Miss Etta Lin celebrated her first birthday among friends and family at her home in Chicago. Present were her parents, three sets of grandparents, and numerous friends of widely varying ages. (Etta has expressed particular pleasure at having so many grandparents, feeling quite certain that this happenstance will result in bonus amounts of gift giving, not to mention a large quantity of unquestioning adoration. So far, her expectations have been richly borne out!)
Festivities commenced at noon on a glorious sunny day. Temperatures were in the eighties, a rare occurrence for that time of year. (Etta felt quite certain that this was a sign that Providence was smiling upon the event. Your Humble Reporter cannot but concur in this assessment.)
For this distinguished occasion, Etta wore a lovely dress of turquoise and white, with a large bow fetchingly placed at her shoulder. Here, her parents are making some last minute adjustments to her outfit, in order to assure maximum visual impact: .
Food and drink were plentiful and were consumed with gusto. As the older guests socialized, the younger ones were entertained at an ad hoc preschool set up by Etta’s Grandma Dorothy, whose prowess as a party planner had Your Reporter completely awed:
The older children also enjoyed the monkey-faced pinata, which finally released its payload of sweets and treats:
(The party had a monkey theme, in honor of Etta’s long standing fondness for a stuffed monkey, mysteriously named Bear….)
At any festive anniversary such as this, the opening of presents is invariably a highlight. Here we see Etta surrounded by gifts so generously bestowed upon her small person:
Etta received a green tutu with matching green hair ribbon barrettes from us. I was out with some friends who have granddaughters and they urged this purchase on me. “Little girls love these!” they enthused. Many thanks, O wise friends!
A true child of the twenty-first century, Etta takes every opportunity to acquaint herself with the latest trends in electronic gadgetry:
Our heartfelt thanks go out to Etta’s Mom and Dad and Grandma Dorothy for this splendid entertainment. Thanks also go to the guests, who were so generous with gifts and good cheer. And of course, thanks also to Etta for – well, just being Etta!
On August 28 I wrote a post entitled “First an earthquake, then a hurricane…” The first line of the post is “What next?”
I now have the answer that question: what has come next is rain – drenching, deluging, unremitting, unceasing rain.
The historic district of Ellicott City is five or six miles away from us It consists of a few blocks antique stores, eateries, and various other independently owned small retail establishments. There’s the B&O Railroad Museum and a recently opened hotel, the Obladi.
Most importantly to Ron and me, it is home to our favorite restaurant, Tersiguel’s.
Old Ellicott City is bordered by the Patapsco River; a smaller river, the Tiber, runs behind some of the shops. Nestled in a valley, it is in its way quite picturesque, and normally a pleasant place to stroll, dine, and shop. However,Old Ellicott City can also be described as geographically unfortunate. Over the years it has been plagued by both fire and floods, making it a somewhat Biblically resonant place. On Wednesday it got walloped yet again, as shown in this video, which was apparently screened as far away as Brisbane, Australia:
(Tersiguel’s can be seen intermittently; it’s the white building in the far left corner.)
We’ve been lucky so far – no loss of power, no leaks or floods. But because of uncertainty and continuing rain, we had to cancel our trip to see the excellent small person and her equally excellent Mom and Dad:
Instead, we will go next month and help celebrate her first birthday.
Going without the sun for days on end has been one of the hardest aspects of this siege of stormy weather. Day after day of waking up to a sky the color of dirty dishwater can be profoundly depressing. Meanwhile, they’re calling for more precipitation. As one forecaster plaintively put it: Somebody turn off the rain machine! Actually as I write this, the Blazing Orb, so long hidden from view, is trying to emerge from its cloudy obfuscation. (Well, really, I have to have just a little bit of fun with this!) Go Sun, go! We’ll take what we can get. But alas, it is already in retreat….
I was just there, you see. I took many pictures and even some video footage, to store up until my next visit. So, here goes:
Etta has been working on her boogie dance technique – this is just the beginning!
I just have to share this:
…as I emerge from a weekend of intense immersion in Baby Love:
Efforts to feed Etta mashed bananas met with only moderate success (see above). Fun was had by all parties anyway. Rolling over practice went better, with parents and grandmother cheering her on from the sidelines. (Video to follow, at some point.)
Okay. I’m done. Except for missing her powerfully, from the moment I left for the airport on Sunday.
As a result of this delightful interlude, I have fallen behind where adding content to this blog is concerned. No, I didn’t stop reading – I never stop reading – but the experience took on a fragmentary nature. I need to get back on track, if only to keep myself grounded until I see my granddaughter again.
I have a confession to make: until Etta was born, I was often times impatient with people whose brains seemed to get mushy as soon as they became grandparents. But when I first took Etta Lin in my arms, I was astonished at the sudden uprush of feeling. I know now, as I should have known at the outset, that as long as you live, life will keep teaching you things. The lesson this time? It is difficult, if not impossible, to know in advance how you will feel about an event you’re experiencing for the first time.
Oddly enough, I find myself reflecting on Ebenezer Scrooge in The Christmas Carol. This powerful fable shows us that grace and enlightenment can come at any time in life. In Scrooge’s case, it arrived just barely in time. He became a sentimental lover of life in general, and of Tiny Tim in particular, and he didn’t care who knew it:
Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.
Blog posts on the following are in the works:
In the meantime, I’d like to recommend several articles:
From The New Yorker of February 14: Middlemarch and Me: What George Eliot Teaches Us, by Rebecca Mead. I so enjoyed reading about George Eliot’s life and work in Phyllis Rose’s Parallel Lives. At the time, I was reminded of the riches I’ve encountered in her novels: Adam Bede, The Mill on the Floss, Daniel Deronda – and of course, Middlemarch. Now Mead’s marvelous piece has evoked in me a desire to revisit Eliot’s masterpiece.
From the March issue of The Atlantic, a magazine whose coverage of books and the arts remains superb, I learned of the publication of this landmark work on the architecture of Dankmar Adler (1844-1900) and Louis Sullivan (1856-1924).
I’ve become interested in the buildings of Chicago since my son Ben took up residence there in 1997. I have another reason to be interested in Louis Sullivan. He was a principal designer of the Harold C. Bradley House in Madison, Wisconsin. Built in 1909, ownership of this domicile passed to the Sigma Phi Society in 1915. While attending the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Ben was a member of that fraternity and enjoyed the privilege of living in that gracious abode, along with his fraternity brothers, for nearly all of his time there as an undergraduate. Devastated by a fire in 1972, the building was completely restored and 1976 became the first National Historical Landmark in Madison (a delightful city which I miss visiting).
Benjamin Schwarz, author of this review, has this to say about Louis Sullivan:
Along with his protege and one-time chief draftsman, Frank Lloyd Wright, he is universally hailed as the greatest architect to emerge from Chicago, the city that has produced America’s greatest architecture.
Finally, in “Those Things with Feathers,” writer Mark Bowden chronicles his experience trying to raise guinea fowl in accordance with advice gleaned online. How does it turn out? Here’s the article’s subtitle: “The author’s guinea fowl defy the internet and stage a comeback.” Read it. Really! And be sure to watch the accompanying video.
Here I am, sitting in front of my brand new Sony VAIO L Series all-in-one touchscreen PC, accessorized with what just might be the world’s cutest mouse pad. (Yes, I know – She’ll do anything to sneak in yet another picture of the granddaughter!)