Boy Scout Camp 2015 at Arrowhead and Fishing Spiders!

A few weeks back I blogged that I would be out of town due to attending Boy Scout Camp, and I posted some of Norman Rockwell’s wonderful portraits he painted of Boy Scouts through the years, doing scouting activities.  What follows is my account of surviving 3 and 1/2 days of roughing it, well, sort of roughing it, and experiencing what just is boy scout camp.

Camp ArrowheadCamp ARrowhead pic 2

June 7th arrived and  the 12 year old and I drove away in our giant van to meet the other boy scouts with Troop 81 in order to head to Camp Arrowhead, which is in Marshfield, MO; 4o minutes east of Springfield.  We had our gear in Rubbermaid tote boxes, a tip from some of the more experienced scouts in the troop-your stuff stays dry in case you are in a leaky tent, the bugs and critters are kept out of your stuff, too.  We had our sleeping bags, pillows, an extra sheet in case the weather was hot and humid-then the sleeping bag could be lain on top of and the sheet could be the blanket.  We had our cots, flashlights, water bottles, and being a mom, I brought along bug spray, sunscreen, aloe vera gel, bandaids, a broom(which proved to be very useful at the campsite!), extra batteries, a book to read, my son’s handbook,  my cell phone, rain ponchos,  trash bags, and camp chairs.

After the scouts loaded stuff into my van and the scoutmaster’s pick up truck  and the boys were settled in the two vehicles, we were off.  Heading west on I-44, hills and curves ahead(though pretty  smooth compared to a trip I took to Emminence, MO 2 years ago!!!!  Upset stomachs hit some of my kids on that trip!!! The Ozark Mountains aren’t to be ignored!)

We arrived at Camp Arrowhead around noon, and the boys ate their sack lunches while their scoutmaster had to wait in line at the Camp’s office to check in.  After watching the boys try to flip one another’s ball hats off of their heads numerous times, and me having the foresight to have our two scouts check in their medications with the Camp Nurse, it was off to the camp site.

We drove over to campsite Choctaw(I noticed that most of the campsites are named after Native American Tribes).  We also met two more troops who would be sharing Choctaw with us, one troop from West Plains, MO(they liked to tell Arkansas jokes) and the other troop was from Baxter Springs, KS.  (They explained that they were located in the far SE corner of Kansas and could see Oklahoma from their front door!)

lake at ARrohead

We all claimed a camping platform.   At each campsite there are platforms rising from the ground, made of wood or concrete.  The platforms were probably 6″-8″ high and fastened to each platform was a canvas tent, that could sleep two people.  My son and another scout agreed to bunk in one tent and I had a tent to myself.  One of our scouts, I soon learned, was very afraid of bugs so he brought his own nylon tent which he could zip up tightly and keep all potential bug visitors outside.   I tried to help him a set up his tent, and ended up watching.  I had never set up a tent before so I thought I’d better learn.  Then as a troop, we all worked to set up a nice canopy that covered our picnic tables area.  Scouts asked politely if they could borrow my broom to sweep the leaves off of their platforms.  We also picked up spare pieces of limbs and sticks lying around to place on our wood pile near the campsite’s designated campfire ring, and filled water into the required fire bucket.

Meals at Camp Arrowhead were all served in the lodge or Mess Hall.  Boys had to take turns being the server for their troop.  This meant an early rise for the scout assigned to breakfast duty.  The camp was awakened promptly each morning with Reveille sounding off at 6:00 am and lights out at 10:00 pm with the playing of Taps.  Since each campsite had a flagpole, our troop had a daily flag raising ceremony, which was good practice for my son and another of the younger scouts.

Mon.-Fri., except for Wednesday, which was Free Day, scouts had classes to attend to help them with earning  merit badges.  I went along with my son’s on Monday, which was an overview of First Aid.  It was a large group of Tenderfoot Scouts, moving up to the next level, Second Class, and I had to help remind them to stop talking and to listen to their scout instructors, who were high schoolers or college aged scouts.  I was so glad that I had on my poncho, a new product that the Rolla Scout Shop sells, Frog Toggs ponchos.  Several scoutmasters and assistants asked me where did I get that great poncho from?  I was pleased to tell them to give the Scout Shop a plug and I reminded them that if they didn’t live near Rolla, that the Scout Shop in Springfield carried Frog Toggs too!

Critters at camp are to be expected.  At night, I could hear an owl hooting after Taps had been played. One night I swear that owl was right in our campsite hooting!!  Another night, I had to get up and use the restroom (there were latrines nearer but I made the trek to the pool and the proper bathrooms) and I saw a deer running through the camp.  Butterflies liked to alight on our camp gear that we left scattered around on the picnic tables.  A box turtle was discovered another day.  The worst critter by far, though, that we encountered was the Fishing Spider.  Not that it ever caused us any harm but it was very large, and made us uncomfortable with it’s presence in some of our tents!

Tuesday morning, two of our scouts awoke and quickly came out of their tent, to tell us that a huge spider was in their tent, up in the top corner, near one of the tent’s posts.  We all had to take a look and sure enough, there was a huge, black spider in that tent corner.  Now I’ve seen pictures of big spiders in books but I had never seen such a large one with my own eyes, up close and in person!  With the aid of my broom(a camping essential I tell you!), the boys and scoutmaster successfully brushed the spider onto the ground, and with the emptied fire bucket(my suggestion) over the spider, the boys ran to get the Nature Lodge folks, who were located near our camp site.  One of the Nature Lodge workers came back with a smaller, plastic container and the spider was successfully coaxed into that box.  The Lodge thanked us for the spider and said they’d try to figure out it’s type.  We all breathed a sigh of relief and shuddered a bit, glad that the critter was gone.  However, it’s buddy showed up Wednesday, in the early evening,in another boy’s tent!   Again out came my broom, and that spider was driven onto the  forest floor and it scampered away,  only to return when it was time for lights out!!!!   The fire bucket was emptied of it’s water, my broom was utilized, and I trained my flashlight on the critter as it was once again driven from the tent, and the bucket placed on top of it.  In the morning, it was taken far away from our campsite.   Camp Arrowhead patch

Wednesday at 10:00 am, my replacement came, another scouting mom with a son in troop 81.  She took over my tent and my stuff was packed and ready to be placed in my van and with a good-bye to my son, off I drove back to Marshfield, and eventually to Rolla, for a nice hot shower, and a good night’s sleep in my own bed.  I admit, I was cautious as I unpacked my Rubbermaid tote box, as I didn’t want to find any stowaway Fishing Spiders in there!!

Summing up , Camp Arrowhead, established in 1924, is a very nice Boy Scout Camp.  Improvements are happening, and the staff worked well together to make sure that the boys had a fun week, and an educational week working on merit badges in order to advance to the next rank.  I don’t know if I’ll go back to help next year but if I do, I am bringing a nylon tent, one that I can  keep  completely zipped up so that it’s interior is off limits at all times to any outdoorsy critters!!




For Sex!(Now that I have your attention) Blogathon: 1941’s Ball of Fire

A couple months ago, fellow classic movie fan and blogger, Steve, at Movie, Movie, Blog, Blog  posted that he was hosting an upcoming blogathon, entitled Sex!(Now that I have your attention), a look at classic movies that tastefully, skillfully, without being graphic or vulgar, hinted at that something that causes a man to seek his mate, so to speak.  I saw Steve’s announcement for the blogathon, I blushed, and decided that I wouldn’t be able to participate.  Then, 3 weeks ago, I received a personal invite to participate in this blogathon!  The first day of this blogathon, June 19th, happens to be  my birthday, and not just any birthday; I was born in 1965, so I’ll let you do the math.  I decided, oh let’s have some fun and I contacted Steve and told him I was in.  Be sure to visit his site to read about the other films getting the treatment this weekend.  Sex!(Now that I have your attention!) Blogathon

I decided to take a look at  1941’s screwball, rom-com, Ball of Fire.   This film is shown on Turner Classic Movies quite regularily, and I always ignored it!  This past winter, I finally gave in and tivoed it and viewed it.  The film is a gem!  Well-directed by the late, great Howard Hawks(here is a list of his award winning films courtesy of imdb), well-written by Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett, two gentlemen who excelled at getting those double entendres into their scripts, and well-acted by the two leads, Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck.  The supporting players are also great, but  more about them in a moment!  Ball of Fire poster 1  Barbara Stanwyck plays  Katharine  “Sugarpuss” O’Shea, a nightclub singer and dancer.  Sugarpuss loves her work but her problem is her gangster boyfriend, Joe Lilac(Dana Andrews in an early role).  Joe may have committed a murder and the District Attorney wants to question Sugarpuss about Joe, his whereabouts when the murder happened, etc.  Joe wants to marry Sugarpuss because then she can’t testify against him; it’s known as testimonial privilege in the US judicial system.

She loves her job!

She loves her job!  The sparkly outfit was designed by none other than Edith Head.

Enter the movie’s hero, Professor Bertram Potts, played by handsome Gary Cooper.  He is a nerd, a very serious linguistics professor.  He and his 6 professor friends, all bachelors, live in the same house near their college.  They are all working together on an encyclopedia of knowledge, and Professor Potts has taken it upon himself to learn about American slang amd then he’ll write that section for the encyclopedia.  He decides to go out daily to walk the streets of NYC and listen to the slang that is all around him.  One evening, he stumbles upon the nightclub where Sugarpuss works, and is fascinated with her language usuage.  Here are two clips, courtesy of Youtube, that show Sugarpuss entertaining the audience.  The legendary Gene Krupa has an excellent drum solo, as do other musicians in the band.  Cooper’s Professor Potts is writing down slang terms he hears Sugarpuss use in her song.  The second clip is fun, as Sugarpuss and Gene Krupa are called upon for an encore.  Note how Cooper, as the Professor, tries to use a new word, “Boogie”.   Fun scenes!

Professor Potts asks Sugarpuss to join in a roundtable at his home, so he can study slang in depth.  Sugarpuss turns down the invitation as she thinks the Professor is a bit of a nut and too dull. Sitting in her dressing room after the show, Sugarpuss gets a visit from her boyfriend Joe’s two henchmen, Joe Pastrami(the ever great Dan Duryea- a family man in real life, an expert at playing sleazy, no-good baddies in the movies!), and Asthma Anderson(Ralph Peters).   The two henchmen tell Sugarpuss that she needs to make herself scarce as the DA is looking for her.  She agrees to hide out and quickly finds Professor Potts.  She says she’ll be a part of his study, but that she needs a place to stay and before he can blink, she has it planned that she’ll stay at his house!

Some movie critics have compared Ball of Fire with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and I can see a tiny bit of that fairy tale in Ball of Fire.  When Sugarpuss arrives to live at the house, in her showgirl costume and her slang speech, with her very feminine charms on display, it shocks the old professors right on their keesters!  They awaken to how nice it is to have such a pretty lady in their midst.  They begin to spruce themselves up a bit, to remember old girlfriends, their courtship days; a few remember with sweet fondness their late wives.  Sugarpuss does have to contend with the grouchy housekeeper, Miss Bragg, who is appalled that a showgirl is living in the house with 7 men, so more modest clothing is worn; the flashy showgirl number is packed away.   Sugarpuss even teaches the professors  how to do a Conga line!   It is reminiscent of how the 7 dwarfs start to warm up to Snow White and grow to love her.   The professors are wonderfully acted by: Oskar Homolka, Henry Travers, Leonid Kinskey, S.Z. Sakall, Richard Haydn, and Tully Marshall.  Here is a clip of the Conga lesson.

Sugarpuss meets the Professors!  Look at those legs!

Sugarpuss meets the Professors! Look at those legs!

The Conga Line!

The Conga Line!


Professor Potts and Sugarpuss are thrown together due to his work studying her grammar and  her slang, but she also uses those  times to study him, and to find out what makes him tick.   There grows a chemistry of attraction between the two, and it explodes in the scene where Sugarpuss decides to give the Professor some “Yum-Yum”, er, kisses.  Here’s a great clip of that scene via Youtube.

Preparing for some Yum-yum!  Books are handy when the guy is so tall!

Preparing for some Yum-yum! Books are handy when the guy is so tall!

Professor Potts loves Sugarpuss and wants to marry her.  Joe Lilac, gangster on the lam in New Jersey, wants to marry Sugarpuss, too. What’s a girl to do?  You’ll have to find Ball of Fire to find out how all of the love and romance plays out, with good dashes of comedy strewn over all the happenings.  Turner Classics will be airing Ball of Fire on Sunday, July 12th, at 4:00 pm eastern/3:00 pm central.   It’s available to buy via Amazon and at TCM’s Shop.    To close out my post, here are some more stills from the film, the film’s trailer,  and a fun video tribute I found made by a fan of the movie, set to Jerry Lee Lewis’s hit song, Great Balls of Fire.

Publicity Still for the film

Publicity Still for the film

Professor Potts does fight for Sugarpuss

Professor Potts does fight for Sugarpuss

Dana Andrews as Joe Lilac

Dana Andrews as Joe Lilac




For the Beach Party Blogathon: Whale Rider

Two fabulous classic movie bloggers,  Speakeasy and Silver Screenings announced weeks ago their intention of hosting a blogathon dedicated to nothing but Beach movies.  I decided to jump in and join  the fun, however, I decided to pick a different kind of Beach movie, which I’ll explain shortly.  For a fun series of posts to read this weekend, be sure to visit the two movie sites I’ve linked to.  It’s just the kind of fun reading that Summer time beckons us all to do!

Beach party Blogathon

I chose the 2002  New Zealand film, Whale Rider.   While it does have beach scenes, it isn’t the typical beach movie.  No rock and roll music, no  teens doing the twist in the sand, no surfer dudes;  instead it’s a film about family, traditions, and yes, whales, beached ones to be specific.  Please don’t begin to think that this film is a downer, though the family at it’s core does have some issues to work through.   It is a feel good film and I thought a fine, marked contrast with the other beach films the various bloggers are featuring on their sites.

Whale Rider poster

Whale Rider concerns itself mainly with Paikea Apirana(Keisha Castle-Hughes), whom everyone in her family and small community call  Pai(Pie).  The film opens with a voiceover by Pai, informing us about her traumatic entrance  into the world.  Her mother and twin brother die during the twins’ birth, her father, Porourangi(Cliff Curtis), is devastated, and her grandad, Koro(Rawiri Paratene),  is especially upset that the boy twin didn’t survive.  We learn that Granddad is a proud Maori leader, that he takes it upon himself to teach the preteen boys in the community about all of the Maori tribal customs, and that the oldest son is to take on that responsiblity and in turn, pass those traditions down to the boys when he, Granddad, is no longer able to do so.  Granddad was expecting his firstborn, Pai’s father, to carry these traditions on and that in turn, the newborn twin son would grow up and do the same.  Now that the twin baby boy is dead, Granddad is angry, and resents baby Pai’s surviving.  He is adamant that a girl cannot pass on tribal customs.

The film  jumps 11 years.  Pai’s father  left her in the care of his parents and he moved to Germany to pursue a new life and his art career.  Pai’s grandmother, Nanny Flowers(Vicky Haughton),   is a loving woman and the only person who can tell Granddad off when he’s getting too grumpy about the way life is turning out for his family members.  Pai’s father decides to come home to New Zealand for a visit and Granddad immediately tries to fix him up on a date with the local school teacher.  This forces Pai’s father  to admit that he has a girlfriend in Germany and that he doesn’t want to “date” the teacher.   Besides, his girlfriend and he are expecting a baby.  This doesn’t sit well at all with Granddad and soon the visit is over, with Pai agreeing to return to Germany to live with her father and his girlfriend.  At the last minute, Pai changes her mind and tells her father that she loves him but that she cannot leave her grandparents, so reluctantly, her father drives her back to his parents’ home.

Granddad riding Pai to school on  his bicycle.

Granddad riding Pai to school on his bicycle.

Maori legend is a big part of the film.  The term Whale Rider is based upon the Maori legend that the father of their people rode a whale from Hawaii to New Zealand to begin their new home.  Legend also states that the new leader of the people will also be able to ride a whale.  Granddad decides it’s time to teach the preteen boys in the village the Maori ways so they’ll grow up to be proper Maori men.  Pai wants to also learn the tribal ways and  Granddad kicks her out of the first meeting!   Not to be stopped, Pai  spies on the lessons to copy  the warrior steps, the sticking out of the tongue,  and  the handling of the fighting stick, but Granddad catches her and chases her away.  Pai then turns to her Uncle Rawiri(Grant Roa), who was a champion with the fighting stick at tournaments and he agrees to teach her what he knows of the art.  The boys that Grandad is trying to train mess up again and again, managing to even lose a precious whale tooth that he throws in to the ocean expecting one of the boys to retrieve it.  Of course, it is Pai who retrieves it, and Granddad isn’t happy to find this out.  He begins to glower more at Pai and to state that anything bad that happens in their community is because of her attempts to learn the tribal ways that only men should know.

Granddad training the boys.

Granddad training the boys.

Pai spying on the boys training with the fighting sticks.

Pai spying on the boys training with the fighting sticks.

Uncle training Pai

Uncle training Pai

Finally, as Pai gives an award-winning speech at her school’s event night, a speech she meant to honor her Granddad with, the community is made aware, by Granddad who was late on his way to the school, that a number of whales have beached themselves near the town.  Residents run to the beach and attempt to move and coax the whales back  into the sea.  As Pai tries to touch one of the whales, Granddad orders her to stop and blames her again for the bad things that have happened due to her trying to learn Maori men’s customs.  As the towns folk return to their homes, Pai touches the biggest whale, manages to climb on top of his back, and the whale awakens and enters the sea!

Pai, in Maori costume, giving her speech at school

Pai, in Maori costume, giving her speech at school

I won’t reveal anymore of the film’s plot as I want you to find it and view it.  Will Granddad learn to really love his grandaughter, Pai, and get over his “Women can’t learn the Male Maori traditions” belief?  Will Pai’s father come back to New Zealand to embrace his Maori culture instead of trying to fit into a Western European culture?  Will Pai and her father grow to have a closer relationship?  What happens to the beached whales?

I watched the movie with my 12 year old son and he liked it.  He didn’t quite understand Granddad’s treatment and grumpiness towards Pai, but was satisfied with the ending, as was I.  When the movie came out in 2002, it was touted as a family film, but it is rated PG-13.   I think most of it would bore young children unless the children are 10 years or older, so take that into consideration if you want to rent the movie for a family movie night.

Whale Rider is out there on dvd and I had no trouble locating it at out local movie rental store.  It is available for purchase through Amazon or it’s instant rent program.   The film is also available on Netflix.     Here is also a link about the Maori people of New Zealand, in case you are interested in reading about them.  Lastly, the cast and crew of Whale Rider is listed here.  Here is also the trailer for the film from Youtube.    Whale Rider poster 2


Boy Scout Camp or Bust!

Tomorrow I will be off to Boy Scout camp with the baby of our family, our 12 year old son.  He’s finishing up his first year in Boy Scouts, and I volunteered to go along as a parent helper.  Our son gets to camp for an entire week, and I am only going for part of the week; another mom is arriving at the camp on Wednesday and she’ll take over as parent volunteer, which means I can drive home and take a hot shower and sleep in my own bed!

I know I will do some bird watching, and I am hoping to pick out some constellations in the nighttime skies.  One day of rain is predicted, 60% chance on Monday, but we’ve got our rain ponchos, so we’re ready.  Bug spray, sunscreen, aloe vera gel, bandaids, water bottles, backpacks, the Boy Scout Handbook, and a myriad of games are set to be packed and hauled to camp.  I hope to sneak along some reading material too, and can’t forget my flashlight and camp chair!

Until I get back, I will be in the land of very spotty cell phone service, and no internet, so my blog will be very quiet until I get back.  Then I will be busy writing for 3 different classic movie blogathons, and I do plan on sharing one post about my adventures at camp.  Before I sign off, I  thought I’d leave you with some wonderful paintings American artist Norman Rockwell did for the BSA through the years.  He became their official portrait painter for his covers of Boys Life magazine.  Enjoy these pictures he painted!

Scout saving a child

The Scout Oath

The Scout Oath

Rockwell painted himself standing with a group of boy scouts.

Rockwell painted himself standing with a group of boy scouts.

Rockwell painted this in 1963 for the World Boy Scout Jamboree, held in Greece that year.  Scouting isn't strictly  an American endeavor.  It began in England, in 1908.

Rockwell painted this in 1963 for the World Boy Scout Jamboree, held in Greece that year. Scouting isn’t strictly an American endeavor. It began in England, in 1908.

scouts preparing to hike

Scouts helping a dog

Fun cover-Scouts helping Santa!

Fun cover-Scouts helping Santa!

Helping a Cub Scout learn to tie specific knots

Helping a Cub Scout learn to tie specific knots

Receiving the Eagle Scout pin

Receiving the Eagle Scout pin

Scout and the flag

Delving “Into the Darkness” with #TCM #NoirSummer


Calling all Classic Film Fans! A free, college class is being offered via Turner Classic Movies and Ball State University beginning June 1st-via online. Be sure to read Aurora’s fabulous blog about it all, and be sure to tune in to TCM Fridays in June and July for Film Noir Movie greats!!!

Originally posted on Once upon a screen...:

It’s a bitter little world and I want all in!

Double-dealing dames, amoral cops, cynical, hard-hearted heroes all set against dark and dreary backdrops.  That is the world of film noir and Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is offering us a chance to lurk in its shadows.

In conjunction with the “Summer of Darkness” festival during which TCM will air more than a hundred film noir classics as part of its Friday Night Spotlight series that will run through the end of July, the network has partnered with Indiana’s Ball State University and Canvas Network, an open online educational platform to offer a nine-week, free, online Film Noir course set to begin on June 1st.


The “Summer of Darkness” series was first introduced by TCM in 1999 and as one of film’s most popular and entertaining genres, the scheduled film noir line-up this year will not disappoint.  The series will be hosted by “The…

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Our Ford Econoline Van

I was driving our 12-passenger, Ford Econoline silver/grey van  around Rolla last week, doing the weekly groceries shopping, stopping at the bank to deposit our working teens’ paychecks into their savings accounts since they were still in school and couldn’t get to the bank as easily as I could, and suddenly, I became all weepy!

There wasn’t a sentimental song playing on the radio.  No touching radio ad or news story had hit my ears to bring about the tears.  I simply started dwelling on our van and how many ways it had been a great vehicle for our family. The flood of memories, I think, just hit me at the right moment and the tears sprang forth.

It was Autumn of 1999 and we were a family of 6 when I went to the doctor to confirm that baby #5 was on his or her way.  That afternoon at the doctor’s office,  an ultrasound showed not one but two hearts beating!  After I got over my initial shock, I told husband and he, after realizing I wasn’t joking about expecting twins in April said, “We’re gonna need a bigger van!”  Up to that moment, we had a Ford Windstar mini-van, which worked fine for our family.  With my brother being an  employee of the Ford Motor Company, it was a  no-brainer to find out what Ford offered for those families that were too large to fit into a mini-van.  That search led us to the Econoline.  It’s the same size as those church or a daycare vans that dot our roadways in the U.S.  We eschewed the 15 seater and went with the 12 seater and we placed our order with our local Ford dealership.  We learned that part of our new van was going to be made in Canada and then those parts would be shipped to Loraine, Ohio and the final assembling of the vehicle would be finished there, but not until November of 2000, some  months after our twins would be born.  So until we were notified that the van had arrived at our local Ford dealership,  we were a two vehicle, caravanning family.

The day arrived and the kids were all excited about getting inside of this behemoth vehicle.   The twins were oblivious but I think they sensed the excitement of their older sibings!  The kids burst into the van, bouncing around on the bench seats, each claiming their spot, and the twins car seats were placed on the bench seat closest to the driver and front passenger seats.  It did take me a while to get used to driving it around town, to not feel like I was taking up the entire lane of traffic.  I finally did get used to it, so much so that whenever I rode in a “normal” sized vehicle, I felt like my seat was going to drag on the road!  The only detriment, we learned, is that it’s impossible to really see out the back of such a large, long van.  Hence, whenever parking it, we always, always look for a spot that we can drive forward out of, or park in a spot where there isn’t any place for anyone to park behind us.

Ford Van

Memories came flooding last week: the numerous trips to St. Louis Zoo, or any of the museums in Forest Park, or any of the homeschooling field trips we went on through the years, hauling the kids and their friends to Koch Water Park or Bangert Pool, or Fritz’s, or to a mall, or helping to drive kids from church out to High Hill Christian Camp.    Vacations taken via our van: Disney World, Busch Gardens, trips to OH to see the grandparents and other relatives, a trip to MI, a trip to NC,  a trip to Texas when it looked like we might have to move there, and trips now back and forth from Rolla to St. Louis or Rolla to Springfield, to Branson and back.

There are also  the times the van has been extremely handy in hauling stuff: concrete and paints, mulch and plants, wood, tools, for various home improvement projects, new pieces of furniture.   Hauling college daughter’s myriads of stuff to the dorm and back again for school breaks.  It has also proved valuable on Cub and  Boy Scout campouts;driving scouts and equipment to and from camps.   Two summers ago, while on a Cub Scout camp out with our youngest, we were at Camp Arrowhead, about 40 minutes east of Springfield, MO.  A strong thunderstorm had been predicted to hit the second night of our camp out.  I told my Webelo son, that to be on the safe side, at 9:00 pm, we were going to move our gear from the platform scout tent to our van and sleep there for the night.  I was so thankful I thought to do that as a fierce thunderstorm did hit, the rains flooded the campsite, but my son and I were safe and dry inside our van.  I know some scouting parents would insist on “roughing” it during a thunderstorm but I fell back on the motto, “Be Prepared” and to the van we went!

The Econoline has another family vacation to take us on this summer.  It will again take our oldest daughter and all of her stuff  back to her college for her Senior year.  The van is starting to show it’s 15 years of usage, but we still aren’t ready to trade it in for a newer vehicle.  We’re hoping it can hang on through the August of 2016 when child #4 will be moving to his college for his Freshman year.

One weekend when my husband and I were highschool sweethearts, he related to me that as his parents were opening up their pop-up camper it was discovered that during the winter, water had somehow gotten inside of the camper and mold had grown inside and  ruined the interior.  He went on to tell me how sad his mom was, and that she actually broke down and cried about it.  When I asked why she had gotten so upset about a camper, my wise husband explained to me that their family had gone a lot of camping trips in that pop-up and that she was sad they wouldn’t be able to continue making memories with that camper.  At the time, I was a high school kid and didn’t understand my future  mother-in-law’s tears.  Driving around last week and dwelling on our reliable, yet old van’s travels, I found that I now do understand the tears.

Memories are made, families grow and change.  The trusty vehicles age and according to some law of Physics, the repairing over and over again will all be for naught.   Maybe it’s part of a mom’s heart to tear up at memories, to recall with fondness, smiles and wet eyes the passages of time via their childrens growth; the need for car seats of various sizes, then just a booster seat, then the seat belt, to the child driving the vehicle on their own with their own driver’s license.

Chalk it all up to memories and a mom’s heart, I guess, as to the reason why I was emotional as I drove around Rolla running errands.   I guess as I tool around town in my giant silver/grey van, I will need to keep a kleenax box handy, especially as our kids continue to grow up and time marches on .


The Major and The Minor: For National Classic Movie Day Blogathon

Today, Saturday, May 16th,  is National Favorite Classic Movie Day.  Since every day of the week nowadays seems to have a special attribute assigned to it, why not a day in which to remember with fondness a favorite classic movie?  I signed up to participate and this fun blogathon  is being hosted by Rick over at Classic Film and TV Cafe.  Please visit his site to read other bloggers’ choices as to which classic film is their favorite.

My Favorite Classic Movie Blogathon 2

For my favorite film I chose 1942’s romance/comedy The Major and The Minor.  It has a lot of pluses and few minuses: written by Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett, directed by Wilder, lead actor is Ray Milland, lead actress is Ginger Rogers, supporting actors and actresses are all good in their roles, too; Rita Johnson, Robert Benchley, Diana Lynn, Edward Fielding, Frankie Thomas, Raymond Roe, Charles Smith, Larry Nunn, Billy Dawson, and even a bit part played by Ginger’s mom, Lela Rogers!The Major and the Minor

Billy Wilder had come to America, via Germany and France, having found successes in the fields of screenwriting and directing.  With the rise of Nazism,  he left Europe behind, and decided to pursue his filmmaking talents in Hollywood.  In 1939 his work paid off with his screenplay for Ninotchka, the film that showed the world that Greta Garbo could laugh!  That film was quickly followed with two more screenwriting successes for Wilder: Hold Back the Dawn, and Ball of Fire.  In 1942 he got permission from Paramount Pictures to make his American directorial debut with The Major and The Minor.  I am so glad that Paramount gave him the green light for this delightlful movie.

Ginger Rogers portrays Susan Applegate, a midwestern,  small town gal who came to NYC in order to make it in show business.  She had saved up her money each week for train fare home as she promised herself to give it one year in NYC and if she didn’t make it, she’d take the train and head for home.  She finally has had her fill of NYC, and her year is up, but at the train station she discovers that the money she saved isn’t enough for an adult fare as the price has risen.  Dismayed, she gets an idea when she watches a mother at the ticket window purchase a child fare ticket for her daughter.  Susan realizes she has enough money to buy a child’s fare ticket.  Off she goes to the lady’s restroom to turn herself into 12 year old “Susu” Applegate.

Susan entering the ladies restroom, and Susu emerging!

Susan entering the ladies restroom, and Susu emerging!

Susu gets her ticket, gets on the train, but when  she goes outside onto a viewing platform to sneak a cigarette, the conductors, who are suspicious about her being a “child” catch her.  She flees from their clutches and dives into the first overnight compartment she can find and it belongs to Major Philip Kirby, ably portrayed by Ray Milland.

Susu meets Major Philip Kirby.

Susu meets Major Philip Kirby.

Major Kirby is itching to get into WWII.  He badly wants to serve his country.  However, he’s stuck teaching at a Boys Military Academy.  He had been in Washington D.C. to see if he could get his military status reactivated, without his fiancee knowing of his plan.  His fiancee,Pamela- a real schemer-played by Rita Johnson, and her father, Colonel Hill, principal of the Academy, -played by Edward Fielding, have no idea that Kirby wants to be on active duty.

Once the Major meets this minor, he feels protective of her.  Susu is immediately attracted to the Major but she keeps up her ruse of being a child of 12, and lets the Major treat her as he would a niece.  He lets her sleep in the lower berth of his compartment and during the night, unbeknownst to them, the train has to stop its travel due to flooded tracks further down the line.  Pamela and her father manage to drive in to rescue Major Kirby and it’s quite a funny scene when Pamela bursts into his compartment and finds Susu there in her nightgown!

Susu has to keep this act going as she gets a ride back to the Academy.  Due to the flood, Susu will have to stay at the Academy until her family can come and get her.  It’s decided that she’ll bunk in with Pamela’s younger sister, Lucy. Lucy figures out  quickly that Susu is really Susan.  Lucy and Susan make a pact.  If they can get Major Kirby’s status activated, then he won’t have to marry Pamela, who Lucy thinks is a “stinker”.  She doesn’t want the Major to marry her sister.

Lucy doesn't fall for Susan acting 12.

Lucy doesn’t fall for Susan acting 12.

Susu meets Pamela's little sister, Lucy.

Susu meets Pamela’s little sister, Lucy.

Susu is also the new “catnip” on campus for all of the cadets and there is a hilarious montage of different cadets trying to kiss Susu while giving her a tour of their campus.  If anyone ever puts an arm around the back of your neck and clutches one of your  shoulders, then describes the “Maginot Line” with their other hand watch out!  It’s a clever way to grab you and pull you in  for a kiss!

Susu has a lot of fans at the Academy!

Susu has a lot of fans at the Academy!

There’s another fun sequence at the school dance, which Susu has to attend, and the guest girl attendees all try to look like Veronica Lake, peekaboo hairdo and all.  Robert Benchley, who plays a cad at the film’s beginning and  tried to make a pass at Susan, happens to show up at the Academy’s dance because he’s the father of one of the cadets!  Susan has to avoid him as he could spill the beans as to her true identity.

Major Kirby has by  now realized he doesn’t want to marry Pamela, and there’s something “funny” about Susu that he can’t quite put his finger on.  Milland does a really good job of playing the caring Major without coming off as a “creeper” to put it in my twin daughters’ vernacular.

Like all good romance comedies, this film has a happy ending.  The Major and the Minor is such a fun movie: charming, witty dialogue, clever plot development, I highly recommend it!  If you are fortunate to have loved ones in your life who were teens or young adults in the 1940s, and they’re still sharp as a tack, you should rent this film and watch it with them.   I bet they’ll enjoy that time with you and they can explain some of the pop culture references made in the 1940s, too!  Here are a few more fun pics from the film.

The "Veronica Lake" hairdo-so popular at a school dance!

The “Veronica Lake” hairdo-so popular at a school dance!

Ginger and her mother, Lela, who plays Susan mother in the film.

Ginger and her mother, Lela, who plays Susan mother in the film.

Studio still of Milland and Rogers

Studio still of Milland and Rogers

Another studio still of Rogers and Milland

Another studio still of Rogers and Milland


The Major and the Minor poster 2


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