Saturday, July 27, 2013
My brother, Michael, and his three friends all walked away from this plane crash a week ago.  The many, many people that love him are grateful beyond words.  He pointed out that his wasn't the first  such event within the family.  My husband, Terry, has made two emergency landings - one in a field and one at Ellington Air Force base.  My brother, Jerry, had to land his banner-towing airplane on the beach during a surfing competition in Virginia Beach.  My dad, winning the uncoveted prize for most  dramatic (to say the least) unexpected departure from the skies, had to ditch his A-6 Intruder over Vietnam after it was hit by enemy fire, resulting in an almost eight year stay at the Hanoi Hilton.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Colington Cafe

This restaurant, Colington Cafe, belongs to my parents' godchild, Carlen.  Her parents were my godparents, as well, and our two families were good friends.  I've not seen her in forty years, but  lifted these pictures from her North Carolina restaurant's website, so I could put them in my family file.  Isn't it beautiful?  Visit if you're ever in the Outer Banks.  Bon appetit.

Virginia Beach

… with Carlen.  In matching bathing suits.

Family Friends

The anticipatory joy on Carlen's face as she reaches for her plate is absolutely adorable.  As I've mentioned, food features prominently in many of my memories, so I totally get that expression!  I had only a vague recollection of what her family members looked like so when I saw this on Colington Cafe's website, the immediate recognition made me gasp and memories of her kind, garrulous Irish father and beautiful French (bonus points!) mother flooded my heart.

It was Helen Sullivan that helped my mother paint the old, heavy, round kitchen table that my mother had bought at a junk shop and which is my favorite piece of furniture in my father's house today.   They painted it yellow and Helen painted fruit all around the border.  (Then my brother Jimmy defaced it by carving his initials in it.  He maintains that he was framed.  Sure.  He also wonders why the hell can't I let it go and stop telling the story.)

As a child, I sensed, and was grateful for, the support that our family friends provided us while (and after) my Dad was a POW.  The Carvers, Armstrongs, Beattys, Wengers, Kirkpatricks, Bordones among others...  (Not to mention the other POW families.  Sharing that experience is pretty damn bonding.)  Maybe that's why I feel tremendously sentimental about them and spend more time than might be normal thinking about them.  What's normal anyway, right?  The Sullivans are right up there at the top of the Beloved Friends list.  My parents had exceptional taste now that I think of it.  Wonderful people all.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Comtesse Du Barry

Ah, the week days and weekends blur together during the summer.   Every day last week I lounged in and around in the pool at my friend's house reading about Louis XV's last mistress, Comtesse du Barry.  I'm getting attached to her.

This likeness was painted by Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun and is believed to be of the Du Barry.  It sold at Christie's for $9,493 in 2010 according to the Christie's website.  I'm shocked that the price was so low.  That's below my credit card limit.  Probably past the limits of my husband's patience, so tempting though it might've been, I'd have had to pass on it.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Thinking about my parents' place on Fowl River

My parents grew up in Mobile and retired close by, on Fowl River.  During the thirty years my parents lived there, we visited at least a couple of times a year and our children's childhoods were transformed by the exposure to that world.  

Sometimes I long for those days, so was really happy last month to visit the area with my brother, Michael, and sister, Mary.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

"Oh! If thou wilt not give thine heart, Give back mine own to me..."

Memories from Barton Academy 

My maternal grandmother grew up in Mobile.  Years ago, my mother gave me her scrapbook.  Even though, unfathomable to me, my grandmother didn't "journal" in it, one can get a sense of her life as a young woman in the first quarter of the 20th century through the invitations, newspaper clippings, photographs.  The most poignant discovery I made is this poem written by a young man named Bennie Cosio (he signed it "B") who'd once been my grandmother's "beau," as she would've called him.

En Passant

Oh!   If thou wilt not give thine heart
Give back my own to me
Or bid thine image thence depart 
And leave me lone, but free.

Yet no!  This mournful loss of mine
I would not from me cast!
Let me but dream t'will win me thine
By its deep truth at last.

Can aught so fond, so faithful live
Through years without reply?
Oh!  If thine heart thou wilt not give
Give me a thought, a sigh.

Underneath the poem, he wrote, "I am reminded of the verses I wrote in your Graduation Book. Do you recall or have you forgotten?"

I knew about Bennie before I got the scrapbook, because my mother gave me a pearl necklace that he'd given as a gift to Mamie Clark (known to her grandchildren as "Mimi").  Besides the poem, there are dance cards (some of the dances were held at the Battle House) with his name on them, with their tiny pencils still hanging from their tiny strings, and this picture of Bennie, croquet mallet in hand.

My mother told me that Bennie's mother hadn't allowed him to marry her, because she was Catholic.

Left to right:  
Carolyn Falck, my grandfather, James F. Maury, Jr. and my grandmother, Mamie Clarke Pugh.

When my mother gave me a handful of my grandmother's pictures from, I'd guess, the mid-1920s, and I asked her to tell me about the people in them, she said, of this one, that my great-grandmother had wanted  her daughter (my grandmother, Mamie Clarke) to marry Jim Maury.  Mamie Clarke wasn't particularly interested, so her mother (my great-grandmother, follow me?) talked her daughter's friend, Carolyn, into flirting with Jim and getting him to like her to make Mamie Clarke jealous.  I guess this little bit of manipulation paid off, because Jim Maury was my grandfather.

This is my great-grandmother.  She looks like a woman accustomed to being obeyed.  They called her The Club Lady.  I'm not sure who "they" are, but that's what my mom said.  The portrait was in my Dad's dining room for awhile, but he had it taken down. I think The Club Lady made him nervous.  My husband and son had kind of the same reaction.  'Fraidy cats.

I Wish I Knew Their Stories

The first of these three pictures is interesting, to me, because included in the group of friends in Mimi's scrapbook are my father's mother (Irene Steele) and father (Jerry Denton) before they were married.

The Battle House

I love the Battle House in Mobile, because its old, there are a few great family connections, there's a strong French influence (Louis XIV's likeness is in the lobby,) it's said to be haunted, and it's beautiful.  I was so excited to meet my sister, Mary, and her family, and my brother, Michael, there for the weekend, that when I checked in, I left my laptop on a table in the lobby.  I didn't notice it was missing until the next day, but it was in lost and found.  That would've been a disaster.

They are the Champions

My dad's brother, Leo, and his family are huge Alabama fans.  My brother, Michael, was given an Alabama National Championship game ball, signed by all the players and coaches.  Being Michael, he decided to surprise Leo with it as we were eating pizza at our cousin Joe's house when we visited them last month.  Also, being Michael, said presentation was accompanied by a heartfelt, teary, sentimental speech about how much we love their family - which we do, because they're much nicer and more civilized than my family.  Unbeknownst to Michael, it was extra special because that game happened to be the first game that Uncle Leo ever attended and he attended with his son, Joe.  The ball barely made it for the presentation, because at the airport, en route to Alabama, Michael, being Michael, stopped to do some last minute financial business for my dad, set the ball down, next to a trash can, while he wrote some checks, then rushed to the plane, forgetting the ball sitting by the trash can.  But, being Michael, he called God and everybody from the the plane and although airport security and the airline rep both told him they'd checked next to the trash can and it wasn't there (Liars!), he got some young customer service rep to run down and look.  Of course, the ball was sitting where he had left it and the kid overnighted it to our hotel.  The ball gifting was totally Michael's doing, but I'm so happy that it's going to preside over the War Room where my wonderful uncle and cousins watch the Red Tide roll.

Long story, but it's just not in me to cut corners where words are concerned.  More may not be better, but it quiets the voices.

At Tainie's

My mother's first cousin, Marion, and her family are my favorite relatives on my mother's side of the family.  I idolized Marion when I was a little girl.  She would visit us, bestowing kisses, laughter and joy everywhere she went.  We all loved her.  One of my oft-repeated childhood memories, that sounds less memorable when repeated, is that she took me to the toy store and told me to pick out anything I wanted.  I chose Mr. Potato Head although Marion was pushing for a bike.  I loved that Mr. Potato Head with his many possible facial expressions!  The other enduring Marion-memory is that she taught me to smoke when I was about twelve, encouraging me to inhale by pointing out how much prettier the exhaled smoke looked if it had gone through my lungs and left behind all that unattractive tar and nicotine.  She didn't mention the tar and nicotine part, but it's a possible reason the smoke streamed out in a more delicate cloud, so I'm going with it.

Marion's daughter, Fontaine, is one of my favorite people, in or out of the family, in the whole world.  It was at her home that we spent the afternoon.  I want to be her best friend, because she's incredibly warm and funny and strong.  I want to go to one of her girls' weekends and ride one of her horses, with her, through the lakes and woods and fields of her land like her thirty other best friends who post the pictures on fb.  Tainie, as we call her, is pictured pointing out some stream creature or another to Denton and also in the picture with me where, sadly, the tops of both our heads are cut off.

George, Tainie's dad, came by and still as cool as ever.  It was he to whom Winston Bloom dedicated his book, Forrest Gump, and he who was the original Gerber Baby.  He's a player, polo and otherwise. I mean that in the most complimentary way possible!  As I walked away from his truck, that day, he said "Madeleine…  you still have that look in your eye." - words that I'll live on for the rest of my life!  Whew.

Yes, those Mobile relatives with their debutante parties, mint juleps, and polo know how to have fun, as evidenced by the massive amount of crawfish and the picture of Marion teaching Denton bar tricks.  Our Bartlett spent the night with Fontaine's boys, Sandy and Rad, and maybe some other people, who knows, so I suspect the education of cousins continues.  Although, Bartlett, being an eighteen year old  southern boy himself was probably no stranger to the Mobile way of life.

Renewal of Vows at St. Mary's

Mary and Mike had their marriage blessed in the church my father attended as a child.  Michael and I were honored to be a part of this special day.

Then, we went to lunch

I got to sit next to Bartlett.

Bridge to our (tiny) island

Mike hadn't ever seen The River, the property on which my parents house once stood, and where so many memories were made, so that's where we ended our weekend.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Private Property, No Trespassing - Signs, Signs, Everywhere the Signs

The shrubs on the left divide the lot in two and weren't there when Mom and Dad lived there.  Mary and I are standing about where the carport stood.  It's not cool to post pictures of us acting like we own the place right in front of signs telling us we weren't allowed to be there.  Funny about horses and property - once you've owned them, they always feel as if they belong to you.

Mary showing her husband, Mike, the property

Despite the fact that this picture is reminiscent of a scene in Forrest Gump, Mary didn't throw any rocks.

Madeleine, Mary, Michael

We are the M Society.  


This was the last picture I took the last time Mom and I went to the River.  It seemed like a sign that a pelican showed up and swam in circles right at the place where our little inlet connected with the larger part of the river.  Terry loved those pelicans and only, perhaps, an osprey or bluebird would've been a more fitting friend to bid us goodbye.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Little Did She Know

When Micah was in about 1st grade, she competed in a meet at Bela Karolyi's ranch.  He, surely the most legendary figure in women's gymnastics, was the U.S. Olympic coach at the time, and a couple of his gymnasts, Dominique Moceanu and Kim Zmeskal, helped hand out ribbons.  When I took this picture of Dominique and Micah, Dominique had yet to learn about her sister's existence.  The incredible story is outlined in a link on the top right side of this blog.

I don't know this guy

I don't know Macklemore, but since I just posted some of his music and do know Kristen, the dark-haired girl on his right, I'm taking the liberty of posting this picture that I lifted from her fb page.  Apparently, he was in Austin and she stalked him to his hotel lobby.  Passionate girls do things like that sometimes.

The idea that someone would want to end their life, because they didn't feel accepted for who they are is tragic.   I'm not crazy about Macklemore's stereotyped references to religion, in Same Love, nor am I really making a stand about gay marriage although I don't disagree with it - just a stand that people should be able to be themselves.  Everybody.  And, I love Lady Gaga's Born This Way.  Excellent singing behind the wheel music.  Plus, her crooked smile is adorable.

Macklemore's Otherside is powerful.  Anything that deglamorizes drug use for kids is worth repeating.

It's a tough world out there and I appreciate songs that may help someone, somewhere.