Archive for March, 2014

My Daughter Thanked Me and her Father

One of my thirteen year old twin daughters was invited to a classmate’s birthday party.  (Only one twin was invited?  Well that happens when twins are in some separate classes at school and make new friends not  from the pool of  friends they both know…it actually makes my twin girls even on birthday party invites as the other twin was invited  to another classmate’s party in the Fall.)  As we were driving home, I asked my daughter the usual questions: How many guests were there and what are their names?  What snacks and/or type of cake did you eat?  Did you play any games and what were they? Did you have a good time?  After my first set of questions were answered and my daughter said she had had a nice time, I asked about the adults who had been in the living room and kitchen when I arrived at the home when the party was designated to be over.  My daughter told me who the various adults were and then said that the gentleman in the kitchen washing up the dishes was not the father, as I had assumed but a stepdad of the student.  After a pause, my daughter commented on the sad fact that a lot of her classmates have divorced parents;  one friend has parents who have separated recently due to a big fight.  She summed up her comment by thanking me and her dad for staying married to each other.

divorce with wedding cake

Her comments got me to thinking this past weekend.  Divorce statistics remain high, too high, in my opinion, in the Unites States.  I have known many people who suffered when their parents, for whatever the reasons, announced that the marriage was going to be over and a divorce was imminent.  One friend could still recall the pain, at the age of 5, watching her father trying to leave the house with a suitcase in his hand, her older sister sobbing and clinging to him, trying with all her might to make him stay and he having to pry his daughter’s hands  from his person.

Divorce  hurts the children the most.  The innocent, who didn’t ask to be born, who now have to watch the anger, the bitterness, of the two most important adults in their lives go their separate ways.  These children  having  to experience  the bewilderment and fear  of their world being  torn apart.  The consequences of a marriage ending don’t resolve  until one of the divorced parents passes away.  One friend, who’s parents had divorced when she was a college student, and miraculously she saw them re-marry one another when her own children were in their teens, recalled the hurt in having to make two phone calls when a new grandbaby was born, the hurt in having to host one parent at one holiday and the other at another holiday.    I read years ago in a study that children who lose a parent to death actually do better in coping with  life than children who lose a parent due to divorce.   The child who loses a parent to death has good memories to dwell on but   the child of divorce often has the bad memories  to deal with, and the continuing angst and sadness  of two parents who didn’t stay married to one another.

A statistic I read in researching for this post stated that 40% of children before reaching the age of 16,  could expect to see their parents’ marriages end in  divorce.   That number is unbelievably high and very sad.  My point in writing  this post is not  to heap guilt on divorced parents. What’s done is done, and there are myriads of reasons for a marriage to fail.  If that has happened, here’s a helpful article I came across in my readings for helping one’s children cope with the divorce and good ways to handle visitations and to keep communication open between the children and both parents.

My advice to young married couples with children would be to focus on your marriage over the needs of the children.  Children are a blessing, I firmly believe that.  They require lots of care, nurturing, and love.  They need guidance, discipline, and your wisdom.  However, you musn’t put them at the top of the marriage…the first relationship, the husband and wife relationship, must come before the children.  Don’t make idols of your children!   Years ago when I atttended La Leche League meetings with my firstborn and was getting a handle on breastfeeding him, I also met other moms in the same boat as me in that we were all first-time moms.  One mom in particular, was putting her baby at the top of her life’s agenda.  The be all and end all of her reason for living was her baby.  She shared with us how her husband was starting to complain a lot about how she’d drop everything at one whimper from her baby, to the point that her husband was starting to sleep in the guest room!  She was adamant that that was okay with her, her baby and his needs came first.  I didn’t say anything to her and if I had  I don’t know if she would have begun to change her ways,  but I foresaw a divorce down her life’s path if she didn’t ease up on her attitude that her baby had to be first  in all aspects of her daily living, and if she continued to treat her husband like a second-class citizen in her marriage.  That’s my example of making one’s child an “idol”.

To young, married couples, keep that line of communication open with one another.  Find a sitter from time to time and go out on dates.  Let each other know how much you appreciate what they bring to the marriage.  As a stay at home mom, I relished the compliments  my husband would give me when our children were small.  I, in turn, have told him many times how much I appreciated his hard work at his career in order for me to be at home with our children when they were small and later, when I homeschooled them.

Wedding cake

I was humbled, happy, and pleasantly surprised when my daughter thanked me and her father.  I had not really given it much thought that due to our marriage succeeding, that there is an inherent stability that our children could count on, an inherent safety in their world.  Strive, young married couples, with children, to stay together for your childrens’ sakes.  You will probably get a thank you too, years from now.

Have Gun Will Travel Featuring Vincent Price

Today’s blog is for a great blogathon, Big Stars on the Small Screen,  and it’s found at  How Sweet it Was.  Be sure to click on the link to read great posts about Hollywood stars who decided to brave the world of television.

Big Stars on the Small Screen   In the late 1940s and into the 1950s, television was making it’s entrance into American homes.  Movie studios were understandably worried that this new medium would cut into their profits and keep potential movie goers from coming to the theatres.   Aging movie stars,  neglected or let go by their longtime studios, as well as up and coming stars,  gladly turned to this new medium as another way to keep on working in their chosen field of acting.

Vincent Price( who’s movie career began in the late 1930’s) by the 1950’s had begun to play in horror films which would become his trademark.  When I was a kid, I thought horror movies were the only movies Price appeared in.   From becoming a fan of classic movies I now know how wrong I was!   Price was quite a versatile actor.  Beginning with stage roles and branching into film, it was a logical step for an actor of his abilities  to enter  the medium of television with ease.  He did just that with the Season 2, episode 15 of the Western television hit, Have Gun Will Travel.

Vincent Price

Vincent Price

In 2011, my older kids and I watched the movie Stand by Me.  When the boys in the movie began to sing the theme song for Have Gun Will Travel, my kids asked me about the song.  I knew enough to tell them that  it was the theme song for a popular weekly western tv show that aired in the 1950s.  I decided to do an internet search on Youtube for the song and discovered that some kind soul had put episodes of Have Gun Will Travel on Youtube.  I began to watch the  episodes when I could and got hooked!

Have Gun Will Travel is all about a mysterious man named Paladin.  He lives in a fancy hotel, The Carleton, in San Francisco, circa 1870s.  He dresses in fine clothes, knows gourmet foods, wines, is well-read,  is a very clever man, and appreciates beautiful ladies.  He is also a gun for hire.  Paladin, played with exceptional skill by Richard Boone, would scan the newspapers from around the country, or would receive a letter, asking him for help.  The next scenes would revolve around Paladin, now dressed all in black, on his horse, with his guns, and a hidden derringer, riding into the countryside to his destination in order to solve a person’s problem, for a  fee.  Even though Paladin was a hired gun, he always used wisdom, common sense, logic, and made sure justice was done.  He wasn’t afraid to also quote famous poems or lines from Shakespeare’s plays to help him get a point across.

Richard Boone as Paladin

Richard Boone as Paladin

Have Gun will Travel card

Have Gun Will Travel aired on CBS from 1957-1963, making  the top 10 of television shows during those years.   Season 2, episode 15, The Moor’s Revenge, was the one that starred Vincent Price.   Vincent portrays Shakespearean actor Charles Matthews.  He is successfully touring the western part of the U.S. performing  Shakespeare’s Othello.  Miss Victoria Vestris(Patricia Morrison) is his co-star, his Desdemona, and his wife.   Paladin is at their performance in San Francisco and enjoys it immensely.  Later, at a dinner he has invited Matthews and his wife to, Paladin finds out that their next stop is a small, southern California town called San Diego. Paladin warns them not to go there as it will be the big Cattle Round-Up and the town will be full of cowboys who just want to drink, gamble, and be around the dance hall gals.  Matthews and Vestris scoff at Paladin.  After they leave the dinner, Paladin mails his business card to the owner of San Diego’s Opera House, a Mr. Bellingham(Morey Amsterdam, before he ever appeared on The Dick Van Dyke Show) and offers to protect the actors during their San Diego run.

Price on Have Gun Will Travel

Price on Have Gun Will Travel

Matthews and Miss Vestris arrive in San Diego and are shocked and dismayed when they see that the “Opera House” is really a saloon and that the  marquee advertising their performance conveys the following message:  See ALL of Victoria Vestris…Beauty Unadorned!  With Comical Charlie Matthews.  That wasn’t what they were planning on presenting to the citizens of San Diego!  What will they now do?  Also, thrown into the plot for good measure is a surly, hulking cowboy, Ben Jackson(Richard Shannon)who is obsessed with Miss Vestris.  When he overhears that she and Matthews are refusing to perform their show in a saloon, he threatens to kill Mr. Bellingham.  Will Paladin be able to save the show, save the saloon from being torn apart by drunk cowboys, and protect Matthews, Miss Vestris, and Mr. Bellingham  from a cowboy stalker?

Patricia Morrison as Victorica Vestri

Patricia Morrison as Victorica Vestri

Morey Amsterdam as Mr. Bellingham

Morey Amsterdam as Mr. Bellingham

Richard Shannon as Ben Jackson

Richard Shannon as Ben Jackson

As I mentioned earlier, someone has put episodes of Have Gun Will Travel on Youtube and The Moor’s Revenge is one of those.  Click on this link Have Gun Will Travel Season 2 Episode 15 -The Moor’s Revenge and you can view the episode in its entirety.

Price is great as the sort of hammy Shakespearean actor who is stubborn, insisting that the works of the great Bard of Avon will soothe rowdy, drunken cowboys.  Morrison is also good as his “drama queen” of a type wife.  Amsterdam plays the bewildered owner of the saloon well, and Shannon is great as the menacing cowboy.  Of course, Boone is great too, as the very capable Paladin.  I also want to add that this episode was directed by Andrew McLaglen, son of the actor Victor McLaglen, who often appeared in John Ford’s western films, and won an Oscar for Best Actor in  1935 for The Informer.  I am assuming  Andrew probably grew up on movie sets and was drawn into the career of directing.  He directed some western films himself and a lot of the Have Gun Will Travel episodes.

A Townhall Meeting with Senator Claire McCaskill

I spent an hour today, March 18th, at a Townhall Meeting hosted by one of my two U.S. Senators, Senator Claire McCaskill.  The meeting was held in the St. Patrick’s Room at the Havener Center at University of Missouri Science and Technology, or MS&T,  to us locals.  Town Hall Meeting

I had written an email to both of my Senators in 2013 and promptly heard back from Senator McCaskill’s office.  I received  a politely written reply to my concern, but the Senator and I  failed to convince one another of the rightness of each other’s views.   Several weeks ago,  I was a bit surprised to receive a personal invitation via email  to attend this Townhall Meeting, so I decided to attend.  I would estimate that there were 100 people in attendance and we had to check in at a registration table.  Since I had rsvp’d, my name was on a check-off list and I quickly entered the room  and found a seat.  A student to my left had his laptop open so he could take notes during the Senator’s talk…probably writing something for the MS&T Student newspaper, I surmised.  A gentleman in front of me was an Army veteran, served his country for 20 years.  Senior Citizens, college-students, and me among the middle aged attendees, along with the Senator and her staffers, we were the population of this Townhall.   Dem. donkey

Rev. Timothy Lee, pastor at First United Methodist Church, opened the Townhall Meeting with prayer.  It was nice to see no one stomping off in anger or objecting to a prayer being said.  Senator McCaskill then asked us all to stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance, which all in the audience did.  Then, Senator McCaskill warmly greeted us all and said she was glad we could attend.  She asked how many of us in the room probably wouldn’t vote for her and a good number raised their hands.  She smiled and said that she was glad those of us who don’t agree with her politically are still willing to attend her Townhalls, which she has been conducting around the state the past few weeks.     Rep. Elephant

She had two charts on the dais behind her, “Energizing America’s Economic Recovery” was emblazoned across the top of one chart.  “Boosting Job and Business Opportunities” was the title of the other chart.  She began by boosting some good news: Missouri’s unemployment level is the lowest its been since 2008, public sector jobs-aka government jobs-have been cut the most and private sector jobs have risen, the deficit was $1.4 trillion in 2012 and now it’s down to $500 billion, still needs to get a lot lower she said.  She announced that she would begin a question and answer session and that when she did her first Townhall a couple years ago, she was accused of taking “planted” questions in the audience.  To combat that critique, we were given a paper to fill out with our contact info and a space to write a question.  These papers were put into a basket and the Senator chose a gentleman in the front row to hand one of her assistants a question and then the Senator would answer them.

Sixteen questions were pulled from the basket before the Senator’s time was up(this Townhall was only set for one hour.)  One question was confidential and the Senator agreed to meet with that gentleman after the meeting was over to discuss his concern.  Four questions were about the Military: What more can be done to help veterans in finding jobs within their skills set that they learned  while serving? How can Missouri keep veterans in Missouri instead of seeing them leave the state for jobs elsewhere? Corruption at Fort Leonard Wood, was the Senator aware of that? PAL’s (Private Army Lodging) has problems and was the Senator aware of that issue?  Since Fort Leonard Wood, a large Army base, is only half an hour away and employs a lot of folks in the Rolla, MO area, I shouldn’t have been surprised by the questions pertaining to Military interests.  There was a question about the unfairness of educational statistics of other countries(who don’t educate all of their children)in comparing those stats to public education in the U.S.   The Senator agreed that organized labor has done great things in this country and she credited it with the rise of the Middle Class.   Why can’t gas prices be lower?  The Senator and I agreed on this issue, as she is in favor of the Keystone Pipeline and wants it to go forward as it will provide jobs and it would  better for our country to benefit from it and we’ll be more careful about the environmental impacts of it than China would be.  I started to raise my hand and then decided not to.  I was going to ask the good Senator then why oh why can’t she convince the President to approve this project?  We hear how he wants to create jobs and energize the economy and when Canada is continually put on hold over this project, when we have this project that will do what the President “claims” he wants, he does nothing!   On January 31, 2014, the State Department even released the results of their study that said the Pipeline wouldn’t harm greenhouse gases and still, nada is happening!  Here is the link to that article from the Washington Post.   Another question about the EPA and the Senator and I found another topic to agree upon.  She stated that some regulations are necessary but that when she gets wind of ridiculous ones, she is quick to pounce on them and has succeeded in getting them dropped.  Two examples of the ridiculous: stricter regulations on the scaffoldings to be used in home construction which would have added higher costs to the prices of new homes for a specific, expensive scaffold that  the EPA insisted construction businesses had to use, and the EPA wanted to punish farmers for putting too much “dust” back into the air when they ran their farm machinary in the fields or drove their trucks down dirt roads.    She urged anyone to contact her about any EPA regulation that we felt was detrimental to the way a business or livelihood was operating.    Libertaririan symbol

Obamacare came up, of course, and she admitted that she is frustrated by it, that the roll out was done horribly.  One gentleman challenged her as to why she voted for it when 60% if Missourians didn’t support it and many still don’t.  That question got a lot of loud applause.  Senator McCaskill didn’t really answer his question and danced around it with some commentary about how when she first ran for the Senate that the number one item she was asked about was from uninsured farmers, and how could they afford health insurance?  From her commentary, I began to wonder if all the farmers in the state are uninsured and if farmers were all she talked to, because I found myself skeptical that that was the number one issue in the state when she was running  for the Senate for the first time.   A lady asked her why has so much of the ACA(Obamacare) mandates been pushed further back from starting, and why were some industries exempted?  Again, the Senator nimbly danced around those questions and really didn’t answer them.Green Party

In closing out this Townhall Meeting, Senator McCaskill stated that,”Local solutions are better  in solving problems than relying on DC.”  She thanked us all for coming, and as she began to talk one on one with constituents who lined up to approach the dais, I thought back to all I had heard.  Senator McCaskill is a skilled speaker.  She is good at eye contact and talking to her audience in a familial way, not as a stranger, not as one too high up in the stratosphere of the political world to speak to citizens.  She pointed out that in the ranking of the 100 U.S. Senators, from liberal to conservative, she is right in the middle, at #50.  As nice as she was, I still don’t see eye-to-eye with her on many issues and find her comment about local issues better solved by local folks, to ring hollow, as she obviously thinks the government forcing Americans to buy a product is the way to “save” healthcare in America.

My Classic Movie Pick: His Kind of Woman

Film Noir is a genre of movies that usually have the feelings  of negativity, sadness, pessimism, and danger.    The French coined the phrase to describe American detective stories made in the 1940s-1950s.  I like a good Film Noir, with it’s hero working against the odds to figure out who the baddies are, often dealing  with a beautiful femme fatale out for her own preservation and, and lots of  interesting  side characters who add to the plots.  My movie pick, His Kind of Woman is a Film Noir, but with a difference.  It has  some comedy thrown in for an unusual mix, and the comedy is supplied by Vincent Price, the King of Horror films!

His Kind of Woman poster 1

Robert Mitchum is the hero of this movie.  He is Dan Milner,  a down on his luck gambler.  He’s been approached to live in Mexico for 1 year, and  he’ll be paid $50,000 for his troubles, and is given $20,000 to start his journey.   Dan is curious as to who wants him to live in Mexico for a year, thinking it is a pretty weird request.  Since he’s currently broke, he decides to do as he’s been asked, and takes a flight to his first stop, Nogales, Mexico.  While waiting in the airport bar for his next flight, Dan is happy to listen to a beautiful singer, Lenore Brent(Jane Russell).  Lenore seems irritated by Dan’s attention and  manages to keep him at arms length.   Dan is  delighted to find out that Lenore will  be flying on the same plane with him to his final destination, Morro’s Lodge, in the Baja region.  Lenore tells Dan that  she is an heiress and a singer and that he doesn’t interest her as she has a “friend” she’s meeting at Morro’s.His Kind of Woman Mitchum and Russell have chemistry

Once at Morro’s, Dan figures out who Lenore’s friend is, movie actor Mark Cardigan(Vincent Price).  Price is an absolute joy to watch in this movie.  He is excellent in his  portrayal of  a hammy, full-of-himself actor who just happens to be a great hunter.  Later on in the movie, he saves Dan’s bacon when the bad guy’s henchmen show up to kill Dan.  Cardigan also has romance troubles, as his wife shows up at Morro’s to tell him that she doesn’t want a divorce.  His agent has also come along to tell Cardigan that a divorce could give him negative views in the public’s opinion.  Cardigan is adamant at keeping a positive image so he breaks things off with Lenore.  Lenore confesses to Dan that she’s not really an heiress but she is a singer, and she  thought a rich husband would give her the ticket to the good life.   Dan is quite ready to show Lenore that a rich husband isn’t the be all and end all of life.

Cardigan telling Dan about his love of hunting

Cardigan telling Dan about his love of hunting

The main bad guy in the movie is Nick Ferraro(Raymond Burr-a far cry from his Perry Mason and Ironside days!)  Ferraro is a gangster who had been deported 4 years before.  Living in Italy, he was getting worried about his monetary holdings still in the U.S. and came up with a crazy plot to get back into America: find a guy who is the same height and weight as himself, a guy who is a loner without a family, and with the help of a plastic surgeon, kill the loner guy and have his face surgically put upon Ferraro’s face!

The baddies trying to inject Dan with a drug

The baddies trying to inject Dan with a drug

Cardigan deciding he can help Dan

Cardigan deciding he can help Dan

This brings about Bill Lusk(Tim Holt) who is able to inform that he is an undercover agent with the Immigration and Naturalization Service.  He tells Dan about Ferraro and that the Service knows the Ferraro is itching to get back into the country and that they think he’d try to disguise himself in some way and that Dan may have been brought to Morro’s to be the victim of Ferraro’s plans.

Bill Lusk telling Dan what he knows about Ferraro

Bill Lusk telling Dan what he knows about Ferraro

There is a minor subplot of an unhappy bride on her honeymoon watching her new husband gambling away their money to a vacationing banker, Myron Winton(Jim Backus-Mr. Thurston Howell III himself!!) Dan steps in and helps the husband regain his lost money and gives the newlyweds  advice to  stay away from the gambling tables.

Helping the Newlyweds

Helping the Newlyweds

His Kind of Woman was directed by John Farrow, written by Frank Fenton and Jack Leonard, and produced by Robert Sparks.  It was distributed by RKO Studios, but Howard Hughes, who had taken over the running of RKO in 1948, meddled in the production of His Kind of Woman and after Farrow’s work was done, Hughes had director Richard Fleischer re-direct many scenes in the movie!  The film was finished in 1950 but sat on a shelf until it’s release in August of 1951.  Despite Hughes’s fiddling with the film, it was a box office hit for RKO.   His Kind of Woman is available at Amazon.  It is available as a single dvd or in a dvd set with 3 other Film Noirs.

With Russell and Mitchum as the movie’s center, a puzzle of a plot, action, and the fun that Vincent Price brings to his role, His Kind of Woman is an unusual Film Noir, worth a viewing, and it’s one of my favorites.  Here’s a trailer that audiences would have seen in 1951 for advertising purposes for His Kind of Woman.

His Kind of Woman movie poster 2

April 8th is Coming…Getting Ready to Vote!

I view my opportunity to vote with  great enthusiasm.  When I lived in Florissant, I volunteered to work two elections as an official, checking voters’ addresses off of large books, having them initial their names, answering their questions, even calmly dealing with some strange complaints a few  voters  would make.  I remember  being very glad for the presence of our wonderful  head judge  who gladly took on  the “strange complaints voters” aside to talk with them and soothe their ruffled feathers.

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April 8th is approaching and that day means I have an opportunity to vote in my new city of Rolla.  There are quite a few items to vote on: pick a new mayor, pick school board members, and whether or not to vote on a sales tax increase for the Parks Department.

Three people are  running for Mayor and I know nothing about any of them.  I need to roll up my shirt sleeves and try to find out who they are and what they believe in politically and why should I vote for any one of them to be the new Mayor?  What are their plans for Rolla? There will be a Mayoral Candidate Forum on March 20th and I plan on attending that so I can listen to each candidate speak and answer questions presented by the voters.

The school board had planned a question and answer session with the 4 candidates  running for the board on March 3rd but that was postponed to yesterday, March 10th, due to bad weather on the 3rd.  The local cable channe Channel 16,  aired this session yesterday afternoon so I tuned in.  Of the 4 candidates for the school board, 3 are incumbents, and the 4th candidate is running to be elected for the first time;  only 3 seats are open for filling this election cycle.   As I watched, I felt that  one of the  incumbent’s  answered questions fairly and calmly.  One of the incumbent’s is a former teacher and I think having someone who actually worked in a classroom would be a good skill set to have on any school board.  One of the other incumbents kept criticizing the “newby” candidate’s points…it gave off an aura of “I have been on this school board and since you haven’t been, you really need not apply for a seat” and that struck me in a very negative way.

The most controversial issue  facing Rolla voters is whether or not to approve a sales  tax boost that will  benefit the Parks Department.   The sales tax proposal is very small,  1/4th of 1 percent tax.  Why is this proposal, called Prop A, so controversial?  It is due to the city’s Recreational Center, known as The Centre.  It was built 8 years ago and at the time it was built, I believe from what research I’ve been able to do, that taxes were raised to fund the building of this Centre.  Voters were told 8 years ago that by 2013,  The Centre would be financially self-supportive.  That hasn’t happened.  The Centre has never ran in the black budget-wise.   Some people in the community cannot afford to pay for the exercise classes offered,  cannot pay for a membership at The Centre, so is it fair to once again tax  the consumers who shop in Rolla to continue to pay for this building?  Some have asked why not separate The Centre from the Parks Department as the parks do need upkeep and improvements and that a sales tax increase  just for the parks would probably pass.   The anti-Prop A forces have had signs popping up all around the city with The Centre featured prominently on their signs.    The Centre is sort of like a YMCA for Rolla.  There is a nice indoor  pool with a section for lap swimmers, a regular swimming area  for kids, and  a low-entry area for little kids.  Swimming lessons are offered throughout the year.  There is an indoor track for runners and walkers.  Weight-lifting , treadmills, stationary bikes, etc.  Gyms for basketball and volleyball.  Fitness classes are offered and one can even sign up for personal trainers.  On Tuesday afternoons during the school year, PE classes are offered to the home schooled children in the area.  Afterschool activities are offered for school kids too old for daycare yet not old enough to stay at home alone until parents are home from work.   I do appreciate The Centre and what it is trying to provide for the community, and our family has participated in some of these offered classes.  On Prop A, our house is a divided one.  I will probably vote for the Parks Department, but husband is anti-taxes no matter how small the proposed increase, so our votes will probably cancel each other’s out on this issue.

This post was just a glimpse into voting, and issues my community will be deciding upon in April.  I encourage my fellow citizens in Rolla, to be sure you are registered and to vote.  It is a right of all Americans, 18 and older, to make their voices heard.  Don’t ignore your civic duty!