Saturday, April 26, 2008
I was out of town last weekend and failed to highlight Jake's big day. My negligence and his dearness prompt me to go all out on this photo display. Jake was a History major at UVA, then traveled around the world "living his life", as I like to think of it, surfing, meeting people and gathering stories. Now he's a grown up, a writer and photographer. I don't get to spend enough time with Jake and would like to sit down and talk with him for a long time. Maybe I'm totally misreading him and, maybe I'm overstepping my bounds by speculating, but my blog gets to be my opinion so I'll just put it out there. I think he's a special person - perceptive, kind, intelligent and a thinker. I'm interested in a lot of the things that I think Jake knows about. History, reading, other cultures... Jake seems to have some of the same questions that I do (about exactly what, I'm not sure) and I wonder what answers he's come up with. When Mom was in the hospital last Nov., Jake came over often. He and Mom shared an interest in books and history and, as an observer, I felt that those were special conversations. I know Mom did.
Friday, April 25, 2008
This is a picture of Mary Beth's birthday party when she was turning about four. Mary is the one holding the doll. She looks particularly like her older brother, Jimmy, in this picture. Ellen Carver, Jake's aunt, on the far back right in the white dress. In front of Ellen is Michael Tschudy, son of my Dad's co-pilot, Bill and his wife, Janie. Gary Armstrong , Mary's first boyfriend, is right behind her. Loved seeing him and his family at Mom's memorial service. The Armstrongs lived across the street from us in King's Grant. Their dad reminded me of Dick Van Dyke and, coincidentally, they shared the same first name. He used to sing "Paddlin' Madeline Home" to me and, boy, I loved the attention! The day my dad and Bill Tschudy were shot down, I went over to the Armstrong's house. I imagine Mary, Michael and I were all sent over there to remove us from the scene at our house. We went to a bike store and, en route, the news of the first local pilots to be shot down came on the car radio. Mr. Armstrong quickly turned it off. Even an eight-year-old could recognize his kind motive and I was touched.
The many faces of Jake Denton. Pictured on the far right, with his brother, Edward (center), who is holding his (Edward's) baby daughter, Elizabeth Winship Denton. On the far left (no pun intended), we have my brother, Jerry, who is Jake and Edward's dad. Jake is wearing a VA-75 squadron hat - my Dad's squadron. Edward, by the way, is a great Daddy to Elizabeth, who's almost 4 now, and her baby sister, Anabelle. Not to divert from the Birthday Boy, but another side note... Elizabeth Winship is named after Jake's and Edward's mother, Winship. An absolutely great name, don't you think? I loved seeing Winship in December and appreciated her support and her wry humor in the midst of all the drama. I want to spend some time with her, talking about old times, the Carvers, and her Judgeship in Juvenile Court. All subjects dear to my heart. Don't get me started about the Carvers! Our families were close friends. I've thought for years that our mothers met in the hospital when they were having Mary and Ellen but I'm not sure that is accurate. Anyway, I loved spending time with them when I was little and Mom always passed on news of them over the years. One of the first pictures I posted on this blog, in honor of Sam Carver, was taken at their house on Thanksgiving in the late 60's. They had a beautiful old home with wood floors a couple of blocks from the ocean, on 54th Street, I believe. They had eight children to our seven and wonderful parents. Mary Cary Carver, Jake's maternal grandmother, was an amazing woman - so warm and funny and always made me feel so welcome in their home. A very special person. I'd love to have some pictures of her for my collection.
Monday, April 14, 2008
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Is this a beautiful girl or what? Sunkissed and smiling, that's Allie. She's her daddy's angel and her mom's best friend. Always on a trip, at a party, on the go, and she does it all with style. It's been amazing to watch her grow from a freckle-faced, almost strawberry blond toddler to a sophisticated college student with the world at her feet. I have so many memories of her - watching The Wizard of Oz with Maury, David and Micah, swimming, surfing, her love of animals, a little bit homesick when she and Maury spent a week with us when she was about 11, she and Micah playing board games on the top bunk, getting silly putty stuck in her eyelashes at Mom and Dad's house (FYI - The Center for Disease Control said mineral oil would get it out and it did. Eventually.), and my favorite memory - of her hugging Michael's neck last summer with the sweetest, most loving expression on her face. Oh, also, I really liked it when she was having a little boyfriend drama and I got to be there to watch it play out! Allie, I'm glad you're the happy girl that you are and I wish you a wonderful birthday. I'll be thinking about you all day.
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Micah is on the UT Ultimate Frisbee A Team, Melee. (The B Team is named Mayhem which is another cool name.) They are in Sectionals this weekend - a tournament in which they'll play local colleges - Texas A&M, Rice among others - before advancing to Regionals in Baton Rouge and Nationals in Colorado. Don't let Micah's size fool you. Anyone who knows her will attest to the fact that she's scrappy in any arena. Hook 'em.
I haven't made these grits but a girl born and raised in Mobile in the early 1900's, as Marnie was , probably knew how to make grits. Marnie was my mother's paternal aunt and very special to her. There's a romantic story about the way Marnie met married Bill Walters while visiting relatives in Texas then married him very quickly which I'll share later, after I find the notes I took when Mom told me the story. Bill was an Army Colonel in the Cavalry of Big Red One (the 1st Infantry Division) in World War I and a gentleman. Mom told me many times how Bill and Marnie met and how happy they were. Marnie visited us in France when I was a baby and Mom's journal is full of details of the happy times they had together.
David made this collage when he was 18, as part of a W & M application. The assignment was to submit something that represents who you are. I thought it summed him pretty well. I particularly like the amusing basketball picture and the poem. The tree is one on Fowl River where Terry, David and Micah spent an afternoon swinging over the water and dropping in. And I like the cloudy Costa Rican surf and the Behind Blue Eyes part. And the all-american muscle. I liked it all, as a matter of fact. David decided not to go to W & M, which was a tough decision because he sure loved those doors on the Wren Bldg.! Talked about them all summer that year - big, solid, wooden doors that have been there for a couple of hundred years. He's getting ready to graduate from University of Texas in a few weeks and is glad he ended up going there. William and Mary has been around for almost as long as any other college in the country so it'll be there if he decides to go to graduate or law school, I suppose. (Not to turn everything around to be about Mom, but I am very upset that she moved right down the street from W & M and would've absolutely loved to take a history course or two but never got the chance.)
As I write, Dad and his Alcatraz brotherhood are together. They, the elite of the elite in terms of POW resistance and leadership, which earned them the right to sit in a tiny, dark cell, solitary confinement - isolated and alone for what must've seemed an eternity, are having a reunion in Virginia. This is a picture of a few of the less than a dozen Alcatraz men. Left to right - George Coker, (Congressman) Sam Johnson, Mrs. Johnson, Louise Mulligan, Jim Mulligan, Micah, Dad, George McKnight and Mrs. McKnight. This was taken at a POW reunion in Dallas ten or 12 years ago. Even though, I've never been around these men very much, they're family. George McKnight and George Coker attempted an escape, one of the things that landed them in Alcatraz. Within a few months of the POWs return, some of us were treated to a week at the Waldorf Astoria in NYC courtesy of Ross Perot. At dinner one night, I drank a few Mai Tais, and flirted with George Coker like an idiot. He must've been horrified. Barely out of a POW camp and some sixteen year old throwing herself at him. One form of torture to another. Can you blame me though? Look how cute he is! I saw him at Mom's funeral. Still cute! And, Jim Mulligan is one of my favorite people ever. Good-natured, funny, Irish Catholic, big family whose boys went to Norfolk Catholic. Louise was a big part of the Wives group. The first time I laid eyes on Capt. Mulligan was in the hall of the floor reserved for the POWs at Portsmouth Naval Hospital a day or so after the men were released. He stopped me to tell me he'd watched me grow up. He was Dad's roommate (not in Alcatraz years, where they had no roommate, but during part of the some of the other years) and was probably the perfect match for him. The night of Mom's funeral, it was he who stood up and supported Dad when he needed it. No one else could've done it so well. The men are at a horse race in Richmond right now, arranged by Michael. Katherine went to Dad's house a few days ago and fixed it up all- fresh flowers, coolers of drinks, rearranged the furniture, made it welcoming, as she does so well, for this special group. I hope they're having a wonderful time this weekend, full of renewal and friendship.
Friday, April 11, 2008
Katherine, I love you! Happy Birthday! You're awesome! I appreciate your warmth, understanding, humor, style, loyalty. You're the best story teller I know and the absolute funniest. Who can forget the glue in the eyelash story, First Landing, the fling (I can't think of a better way to categorize that story but it's not what it sounds like)... ? David will know the one I'm talking about. I've don't think ever seen him laugh so hard! You are a talented decorator, a great cook and make me feel like a queen when I stay in your home. You've welcomed me in good times and bad and you'll never know how much your friendship and kindness have meant to me. I can't overstate it and am so grateful for it. I wish we'd spent more time together over the years, but we're making up for lost time now, aren't we? Life is funny. Who'd have thought, when we were in that little First Colonial sorority, that we'd be sisters for life?! But, I'm sure glad we are and I can't wait to see you again!
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Friday, April 4, 2008
Isn't this a great picture? Mignon looks like an angel in this shot that Uncle Leo me of he and Aunt Mignon, little Leo and Irene with my paternal grandfather in Texas. My grandfather, whom I saw so infrequently that I didn't have a grandfather name for him (my mom and I talked about him pretty often but just referred to him as "Dad's Dad"), lived in Spring Texas, only a few miles from where I live now and owned and operated an establishment of some sort out in the country. Judging from the background of this picture which I believe was taken out there, it was pretty successful. I think it had a swimming pool and a restaurant. Uncle Leo might want to add his two cents on this one since he's been there and since Uncle Leo is a regular contributor to my blog, making him very importanttomadeleine! Dad's Dad was married to a woman who, after he died, moved to Lubbock to live with her daughter. Terry is from Lubbock and we went out to eat and visited her home there right after we got married. All I remember about that is that her home was kind of dark and had brocade-y type material in it. I don't even remember what we ate there which is unusual for me!
How'd you like to have a pack of catahoulas after you? This isn't our Leila but this is probably what she'd do if she got the chance. I got this picture on the internet. I posted one of our catahoula earlier. Lei-lei-leila is an usual dog. Expressive, affectionate, sweet, but territorial and dominant. Just the kind of dog one wants to have in the neighborhood. Security is pretty tight, though, because if she gets out, she runs like the crazed beast that she is. I'm pretty fond of her but Terry absolutely adores her, carrying her around the house like a baby.
Thursday, April 3, 2008
David lived in this Austin house for two years when he first away to school. It's in the cutest old neighborhood that even has a tiny wood-frame grocery store with a screen door that has been open since the turn of the century. The grocery store has been open. Not the screen door. And, that's the turn of the last century. When I'm in such neighborhoods, it feels so warm and familiar that I almost begin to believe in reincarnation.
One Sunday afternoon, in 2001, David and Terry happened to catch the movie "Endless Summer" on TV. As a result, without ever even sitting on a surfboard, they bought surfboards and dove into surfing. While Micah and I went with my mom to see Mary in Paris, Terry and David went to Cabo for a week of adventure. From this balcony, they watched whales breach, rising out of the water then crashing back into the sea. Since then, they've been to CA, Costa Rica several times and spend a lot of time hoping for a hurricane in the Gulf. I love this picture of an early morning David, drinking his OJ and looking at the water.
My cousin Irene's oldest, Erica, with her daughter, Claudia. Son Elijah will be pictured soon! One of my best memories of Irene is when we sat in the boathouse talking while she crocheted (?) a blanket for Erica. I haven't seen Erica since she was about 12 when she came to visit us at The River. I'm looking forward to getting to know her better.
Christmas 1965, I think. The first Christmas after Dad was shot down. Mimi, my mother's mother, was there - to offer moral support, I'm sure. Those are her feet on the right. I'm proudly holding aloft the white mouse Jimmy gave to Michael and me for Christmas. That's mom's hand coming in from the left, probably trying to snatch away the rodent-gift. I remember being thrilled to "get" it but don't remember actually "having" it. Animals enjoyed a shorter than normal life span on Watergate Lane. Jimmy also brought home a dog from college and gave it to me. Pretty shepherd mix of some sort with blue eyes. Didn't stay around long. Later, he brought home a wonderful dog, Steele, (my paternal grandmother's name and Jim's middle name. Who names their dog after themselves?) that Michael cared for tirelessly until Jim reclaimed him. Ok, let's talk about pets! Now that I think of it, some of them deserve recognition. Jerry had a big hound dog on Cheltingham, in King's Grant (our house the first time we lived in Virginia Beach. About 1961) that laid in the middle of the street, making cars go around and gave the family a bad name because of other unmentionable things he did. Probably a good possum trapping companion which was Jerry's favorite pasttime. (He was so weird.) Maybe Jerry would like to post the story of the foxes he caught and the graves he found in the woods and the way Mom loved to open the freezer to find tiny little frozen possum faces staring out, wedged between the Morton's chicken pot pies and lima beans. Or Jim could delight us with the tale of Precious Kitty, Mary's pretty little cat that he found encased in ice when sliding on the frozen lake behind our house. I had a big gold cat that the Kirkpatrick kids liked. One night when they were over at our house, we decided to trade and they took the cat and I got their white toy poodle puppy named Beauregard (I bet Mom named that one, what with her fascination with anything French) who didn't make it a year. Poor dog died after eating dead fish from the lake. Every few years there would be a fish kill and hundreds of fish would die and float on the top of the lake. Something to do with algae eating up all the oxygen, I was told, but maybe it was just Denton animal luck spreading to the wildlife. The most memorable time this occured was when Don and Branwen got married. They and their friends came down from Bryn Mawr and Haverford, long-hair, no bras, VW bus, smoking pot and making me feel really cool by saying things like "what a drag" in conversations with me. Pre-A/C, on a sweltering day, the reception at the house was enhanced by our cat's death on the front lawn. Not to mention how the aroma of dead fish permeating the neighborhood lent a festive "air" to the nuptials. Writing this, I realize for the first time, that it would be odd for a pet cat and a poodle to eat smelly dead fish out of the lake. What really killed them? Then, there was the black cat that the surly 14 year old Madeleine named Satan and whom she has always believed ran away because Branwen didn't like him and repeatedly threw him out of the house, none too gently. No offense to Branwen whom I truly love to this day - maybe because she tells me it was she who talked my mother out of sending said surly teenager away to boarding school. Also, Jim found a crow on Little Neck Road and named him, guess what, Little Neck. That bird rode around on his handle bars and came when he called. Honest. Jimmy will have to post a comment describing that because I don't remember as well as he does. Maybe because instead of riding around with a crow on my handlebars, Michael and I, and the rest of the younger kids in the neighborhood, spent many of our bike riding hours following the Mosquito Man truck as closely as possible because it was fun to ride in the plume of poison. Probably why my memory isn't what it should be. Next time, I'll tell you about Morgan, Michael's block cocker spaniel who starred in the TV coverage of Dad coming back to Watergate Lane after being "in jail", as he refers to it. At the end of the joyous scene, after the camera records our reunion (with me, shamelessly self-promoting, front and center, always around when the camera lights came on), we all troop into the house, the front door shuts, and a moment later, opens again and Mike leans out and calls the dog. Gave it a nice familial touch, I thought.