An Uncomplicated Christmas

Seatrs Christmas CatalogIt was the year 1961 and we were planning our Christmas shopping.

There weren’t many choices for us living in a small town in the Pocono Mountains of

Pennsylvania. In those early years much of our shopping was done through catalogs. We would get the big catalogs and also the Christmas issues from Sears Roebuck & Co. and Montgomery Ward.

We would spend hours looking through those catalogs and try to decide what to get other family members. I had received many presents in my younger years from one of those catalogs. The presents were always delivered by mail. No UPS back in those days.

Continue reading

When Flying Was Fun for Thanksgiving

As millions crowd our airports for the traditional Thanksgiving trek home over the river and through the woods, the tension mounts at the thought of long lines, insufferable crowds, and the dreaded delays that inevitably await the weary and wary traveler.

Gloom is cast before the holiday even begins.

But for the Post-War population, the new air travel was a breeze.

For the modern mid-century family, the notion of flying home for the holidays was a novelty and a grand experience at that.

“Over the River and Over the woods. To grandmothers house we go,” this 1951 TWA ad announces gaily.

The gleeful modern family fairly bursting with pep and anticipation couldn’t wait to board their flight to visit Grandma. Why let old-fashioned distance keep a family apart?

“There’s a new road now to an old tradition. It’s the TWA high way home for Thanksgiving. And what a blessing it is to families separated by too many rivers and too many woods….and so many years!”“If you’ve let distance and lack of time keep you away too long, try traveling this high way. Find out how TWA can make it very near to someone dear- for even an ocean apart is only hours apart…by skyliner!”

TWA went out of their way to make flying a family affair! Flying was no longer just for Dad and his business trips. Once the airline, started their Family Budget Plan, “…parents have had cause to cheer'” boasts TWA in this 1949 ad. “for now they can take the whole family by air at down to earth prices.”

By traveling on a Monday Tuesday or Wednesday, they could save substantially. “As head of the family,” they explain “Dad pays full fare. Mother and the children under 22 go for only half fare each”…and best of all crying infants and toddlers under 2 could fly free of charge!

Tempting you further, TWA promises, “The flight is a delight, the service supreme, with delicious hot meals served free. Best of all…and oh how mother loves this!…you’re there long before the kids start to fuss or fidget!”

“Snowtime’s no time to give up flying! Vintage American Airlines Ad 1950

Compare the cheery disposition of Mr. and Mrs. Modern who have chosen the up -to-date way to travel to visit Grandmother with their neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Outdated who chose the more antiquated mode of travel- their automobile.

Hampered by a snow storm they are unable to dig out in time for the turkey. Mrs. Outdated, with visions of stuffing and cranberries dancing in her head, looks longingly at the speeding plane in the sky, carrying the wise Moderns to the destination.

Vintage ad American Airlines 1949

 

“Don’t Give Up- Go Up,” declared American Airlines in this 1949 advertisement , touting the benefits and wonders of the new air travel that most post-war families had yet to experience.

“Air Travel- and only air travel can often make the difference between the accessible and the impossible. This is especially true during the holidays when the earthbound are frequently snowbound. Hence, wise travelers plan to go by air.”

“Also, air travel is little affected by the challenge of distance and time. The miles on the map lose their menace- the hands of the clock become friend instead of foe when you use this modern means of transportation.”

“So when holiday travel plans seem likely to get ‘bogged down’ don’t give up- go up.”

A Day of Gratitude and Remembrance

Photo Dennis L. Page

My dad was a man who exhibited humility in all he did.He was truly a man to admire.

Many people who grew up during the Great Depression were poor and my father was no different. He resided in a mostly agricultural area. His home was basically a family compound with grandma and grandpa living in one house, my dad, his two brothers and parents in another and my aunt and uncle who owned a farm in yet another home.

Photo Dennis L.Page

I was given few details of this era and the role my father played in it. I do know his particular weapon was one of the deadliest…a .30 caliber water-cooled machine gun M1917A1. He talked about the headhunters and how he would watch their silhouettes with spears and shields as he pulled guard duty at night. The oddity in it all was that the headhunters knew who their allies were and they hated the Japanese soldiers. Dad mentioned how he would dig a foxhole and then set up for battle. During one particular fire fight, bullets flying and under a curtain of ungodly noise a little monkey climbed in the foxhole and wrapped its terrified body around my father. That little monkey….a ray of hope and sunshine during the time of tests for survival and bravery….that monkey stayed with dad until the war ended. He sneaked the monkey under his shirt as the ship sailed from Japan to Hawaii . There was a damn near mutiny on board as the naval officers wanted to throw the monkey overboard. The men in my father’s unit informed those officers, “This here monkey has seen more combat then you could ever imagine.” The monkey stayed until Hawaii and was left with a G.I. who was staying behind.

Photo Dennis L. Page

So that was it. My dad had pretty much left the rest of his past behind, until a time years later when my father picked up my friend Paul and me at the theater after we had seen a war movie. Of course, my friend and I couldn’t wait to go home and re-enact what we had seen. Paul and I were in the backseat when Paul asked, “So, Mr. Page, how many people did you kill in the war?” The eerie silence was deafening as my father, my role model and my hero, took a moment, cleared his throat and adjusted the rear view mirror in the car. I watched one lonely, sad and sorrowful tear roll down his cheek as he looked Paulie in the eye and his exact words, in a trembling voice uttered, ” I would like to think I never hurt anyone.”

I was born in Fort Monmouth, New Jersey during the time my father had reenlisted during the Korean War. Years later my mom asked my dad if he wanted to be buried in Arlington. His response came as no surprise when he said, “Rose, Arlington is a place for people much more deserving than I am.” Instead, my dad is now laid to rest in a Veterans Cemetery on the same road where he grew up.

Even though our country is divided by political bickering and a lot of hate filled nonsense, there is one cornerstone we can always rely on and that is the sacrifice and service our military gives us. Please thank a veteran and appreciate them for keeping us free.

 

Celebrate Your Unique Talent Day: Nov. 24

Camille Farrell, Hoop Artist

For many adults, the sight of a hula-hoop brings back childhood memories of carefree days of rotating a round plastic tube around their hips. Gyrating a hula-hoop can be how many have learned the physics of force, propulsion, speed, and that irreducible buzz-kill known as gravity. Since its introduction by WHAM-O as a children’s toy in the late 1950’s, the hula-hoop has been instrumental in teaching persistence, patience, and the exhilaration of accomplishing a goal.

One of the goals of Hoop Tribe of Salem is to inspire a sense of unity within the community, one hoop at a time. Like many flow artists, their aim is to bring people together, making a positive difference by promoting a healthy, fun, and positive lifestyle. Camille Farrell, founder of Hoop Tribe, has been actively involved in producing hoops and performing at local venues since 2008. With their hoops as dance partners, the hoopers perform at various music festivals, public events, art shows, and also hold workshops at BushPark, Minto Brown Island Park, and at the Waterfront in Salem. The positive feedback from the community has been encouraging and rewarding for the group, spurring their desire to pay it forward.

Hoop Yoga

Flow arts are something that Farrell has been interested in since she first saw a young woman dancing with a hula-hoop. “Shortly after my father passed away, I discovered hooping as a way to channel my negative energy into something positive and creative,” Farrell said. “I’ll never forget the first time I saw someone dancing with a hula hoop – it was in 2008 at the NW String Summit festival at Horning’s Hideout, a wild peacock farm right outside of Hillsboro. I went home and made a hoop of my own (and one for my best friend). Here I am five years later still passionate about hooping. It’s a creative outlet to raise money for charities, encourage a healthy positive lifestyle, create a sense of community among local artists, spread love, and inspire others the way I was inspired that day at NW String Summit.”

Continue reading

Do Family Farms Still Matter?

Gaining Ground This article first came to our attention from our friends at I Support Farmers Markets, but originally published in Parade. We wanted to share this remarkable journey taken by author/farmer Forrest Pritchard.

As my friends headed off to graduate school, I pointed my dusty pickup toward the farm. My college advisors shook their heads with well-meaning disapproval. “Go ahead,” they admonished. “Get your hands dirty for a few months. But when you’re ready to decide on a career, the real world will be waiting for you.

But this is the real world, I insisted. It’s a world of sunshine and rain. It’s a world of physical work and sweat, and the sweet satisfaction of nurturing life from the earth. A few weeks back on the farm, I was sunburned and filthy and utterly blissful. Most importantly, I was certain that I had made the right decision.

I projected our bills for the coming winter, and knew that we needed ten thousand dollars to carry us into spring. That summer, we planted the farm with corn and soybeans, abandoning our traditional cow pastures for the quicker financial return of grain. The meadows were killed off with herbicide, and the rolling hills cultivated.

In October, trucks whisked away our glittering corn and soy. I was so proud of what we had accomplished: We had saved our family farm. Later that week, I received our paycheck and tore open the envelope.

Continue reading

A Rhapsody in Blue, Red, Orange & Yellow

Central Park in Autumn

I don’t know why, but George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue has always reminded me of Fall. Watching the season’s colors burst forth in a dazzling array, while the temperature drops and the sky exhibits a dichotomy of gloom and brilliance all at the same time. The Fall season is a time for fresh starts, almost similar to New Year, with much less pressure; and also a time for the beginning of hibernation and introspection.

I love Fall. I love the clothing of Fall, the warm snugly sweaters, the scarfs, the jackets. It all seems so much more stylish than shorts and tank tops and flip flops.  I love the routine of Fall, no one is going on vacation – they are concentrating on work, school, business (or so it seems). I love the crisp air in the morning and evening, the shuffling sound of the leaves underfoot, and the cacophony of the geese above, flying south. I love the crackling sound and smell of fireplaces, oh how I love wood-burning fireplaces!

If only Fall could last forever! Enjoy this video by Gilda Tabarez with music from the Columbia Symphony Orchestra, directed by Leonard Bernstein. It is amazing!

 

Hero Is A Woman

Hero

The Last Watch of Hero by Frederic Leighton

Hero Is A Woman is the opening vignette in a in a new, delightful book of inspirational mini-biographies celebrating the heroic feats of courageous women, Heroic Vignettes by Tami Richards. If you would like the chance to win an autographed copy, just enter your name and email on our Facebook page in the tab Enter To Win.

“So the sun set and the dusk came. The first star shone; and as the gradual dark deepened, the torch glowed brighter, a signal through the night. About her, asleep, were the sparrows and doves, the birds of Aphrodite which it was Hero’s duty to feed. At the foot of the rocks the ocean boomed solemn and forbidding. Continue reading

Deserve A Glance Back?

Born In the 60s

Just finished reading two wonderful posts, America World Peace Keeper, by our very own contributor, Sally Edelstein, and Pushing America’s Reset Button by Maggie Van Ostrand. Both author’s reflect on our country’s “good old days,” when America garnered the respect of the world and was considered the Ambassador of Peace and when “Made in America meant the product might even outlast the buyer.”

There seems to be a lot of action on Facebook lately with postings like the image above, or this one:  “For Anyone who was born in the 50s, 60s, 70s or 80s…We are the last generation who played in the streets. We are 1st who played video games. We walked over a mile with no worries on being taken. We learned how to program the VCR before anyone else. We played from Atari to Nintendo. We are the generation of Tom and Jerry, Looney Toons and Captain Kangaroo. We traveled in cars without seat belts or air bags. We were taught to say please and thank you, and to have respect for our elders. We were taught to say ‘yes sir’ and ‘no sir’ and to lend a helping hand to those in need. We were taught to hold the door for the person behind us, say ‘excuse me’ when it’s needed and to love people for who they are and not for what we can get from them. We were also taught to treat people the way we want to be treated.” We did not have flat screens, surround sounds, facebook, twitter or computers. Nevertheless, we had a great time!”

Is it because we are becoming weary and frightened by the explosion of fast technology and the way the world may be headed, or are we just looking back through rose-colored glasses?  What do you think? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Graphic (not including words) by www.spreadshirt.co.uk

Love to Mom

 

Mother's Day 2013

Truth be told I work because I could never be a stay at home Mom. Don’t get me wrong, I have enormous respect for Mothers who stay at home raising their children. I truly believe God calls them to this vocation. A friend of mine once told me “It is easier to go to work than it is to be a stay at home mom.” She was right, I’ll admit it I am just a coward. A coward because deep down inside I am afraid I could never live up to my Mom and the numerous women who helped shape my life. These were undoubtedly strong women, women of opinion, courage and substance. Some describe me as quiet, meek, mild and sometimes even an anomaly, as my manager would say, since my profession is sales and marketing. But the key to my success is not talking but listening and this is what our Moms did so skillfully responding in insightful ways acting on their gut feelings. The last words I heard my Mom say to me were I love you as I boarded a plane from Rochester, NY to Boston. My last sight was of her pointing and pleading in a very stern voice to the flight attendants – “Take good care of my daughter and her son John!” Ever commanding she knew they were carrying her precious cargo not only me, my son John but her soon to be born grandson Thomas. We had just visited in early May, Mothers Day weekend and she passed away suddenly the end of the month 10 days before Thomas was born. I am so grateful to have had the chance to spend that time with my mom, reflect on what it was to be a new mom and ponder how my mother had really become a mother at a very young age to so many individuals. At age 13 she traveled to NYC during the Great Depression to work as a nanny commandeering a large household for a well to do family, cooking, cleaning and raising three children earning $15 a month. Ten of which was sent home to support her mother, father and younger siblings.

My Aunt Helen, nine years her junior often told me my mom being the oldest girl in their family was also the bossiest! She was the 2nd in command after my Grandmother. My grandmother was also a very adventurous women having come to America the turn of the last century at the tender age of 16 on a steamer ship from Hungary with her father all as a result of a bet with her girlfriends. They bet she would not venture to America but she came, saw, fell in love and lived the rest of her life here as a mom, teaching herself English, taking in boarders, doing laundry for other people, raising 5 children and still giving, always giving at Sunday Mass, much like the widows mite. She was truly a woman of grace, living modestly, working hard and praising God. What a life of courage and fortitude! I was very fortunate to have my grandmother live with my family from the time I was 14 years old until the year I was married at age 26. Those years flew by and were filled with laughter, awe, stories I will never forget and something I long for my children to have in this fast paced world we live in, a sense of family and roots. We are all knit together in our mother’s womb by the hand of God but are shaped by the mothers we live with or are exposed to in our lifetime. Women of this magnitude die to self each day for us, the greatest form of love. They attend to us in their own time, own way through their physical presence, time, treasures and talents or in their prayers as they are always there for us.

It is true I will never be a perfect “TV” mom but I have been profoundly influenced by many great women over the years… My Mom the best care giver, home maker, baker, advocate & listener. Grandmother – story teller and grace filled adventurer! Sister – entrepreneur, dreamer, & business woman. Numerous Aunts – one who owned a children’s clothing store and gave me my first job at age 14 in retail, co-owned restaurants, were stay at home moms, professional singers and models. Mother in law – inspirational angel. Sister in laws & their mother‘s – many who are artists, talented seamstresses & unbelievable cooks. Friend’s & their mothers – lawyers, scientists, engineers, marketing professionals, artists, and some suspect Martha Stewart’s clone! Cousins and cousin in –laws who are professional bakers, Evangelists, teachers, social workers, nurses, and coffee / artisan shop owners. They do it all and more because they love us.

I once had a picture book when I was a child entitled I Can do Anything Almost… With love and devotion these women encouraged me to be the best that I could be, challenging me to shoot for the stars and do anything I chose to accomplish. I have been truly blessed by their presence in my life.

Maya Angelou, the poet / writer once said – I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

Wherever you are close your eyes for a moment and remember your how your mother made you feel – enclosed by your mothers hug, the first time she kissed you on the forehead or smiled and made you feel like you were the most important person in the world, her favorite.

Now go and see, call or pray for your Mother and the women in your life wherever they may be. Don’t text, don’t e-mail, and just really be present for them! Wish them a Happy Mother’s Day and let them know how much you appreciate them being in your life.

Abundant flowers my mother gave to me many years ago surround my house, transplanted from NYS to MA – peonies, tiger lilies, blue vinca, snow on the mountain and Lilly of the valley. When I look at them I picture her enveloping my world as she loved flowers and caring for flowers, tending to them and us, her garden of life. May each of you feel the warm presence of your mother everywhere this beautiful Spring and may God bless mothers everywhere on earth and in heaven!  Love Mary V. Valentino

 

 

I’m Dancing As Fast As I Can

 

Art of Jeanie Tomanek

Artist: Jeanie Tomanek

As an entrepreneur one can become quite disillusioned and disenchanted with social media, especially for all its time-robbing ability, unintentionally I am sure.  But, one does get the feeling that if you are not in the newsfeed, or reading the newsfeed, or conjuring up ways to get in the newsfeed, then you have missed out on something. This week we have slowed down a bit with posts to try and get back to reality. However, one amazing thing happened this week because I connected with an artist who ‘friended’ me on Facebook. I looked at her profile page, and her work, and really felt connected with it, so I accepted. I prefer to keep personal and professional relationships separate, but there was something about her work that really drew me in, especially the piece included here. The caption of her piece also intrigued me as that is how I was feeling, especially with the difficult week that I had just experienced. This wonderful artist, with the beautiful moody images turned out to be an old high school friend – a friend I didn’t know by her current artistic name. So, we have a lot of catching up to do.  As much as social media can seem so draining, it also has some inexplicable worth – like connecting with your long-lost community and friends and sisters. She doesn’t know that I have written this post, but I am sure you will love her work as much as I do. Check out her FB page here, then share the love.