Squeak and Creak

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Tired and worn old floors may not appeal to everybody, but they certainly do to me. Unnoticed by those who walk across them they offer a sense of stability and comfort under my feet. They are old, yet sturdy and enduring.

Gently worn by the many shoes and boots, maybe some barefeet, too, that have crossed across them they’ve stood the test of time.  They were there as good times passed above them and as troubled times swirled above;  light hearted steps and steps slowed by worry have left their silent imprints.

Most have a squeak or a creak in a certain spot that no amount of leveling under the floor will correct.  When I find a creak in a wooden floor I usually try to arrange my steps to cross it several times and feel its motion under my feet – my grandparents house had such a spot in the wooden flooring hidden under the linoleum floor rug, how I would love to hear it again.

Gentle reminders of time gone by, of days long ago, yet, the footsteps continue.

 

 

Good ‘ol summertime

 

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Summer arrived long before the Summer Solstice did in the heart of Texas.  The heat, humidity, and mosquitos made an entrance early in May.  Our only redemption is that we have had beneficial rains and some reasonably sensible temperatures at brief intervals.

It’s definitely summer and people are turning their thoughts to staying cool, maybe taking a plunge in a pool or wading in a stream along a hiking path.  And, there’s always sweet tea and lemonade on our minds!

But there’s more – summer means fresh vegetables and cold, sweet and juicy watermelons.  Last week I made a 40-minute drive to a large produce market that sells not only their own produce, but vegetables and fruits from all over the Texas Hill Country.  Plus they sell various kinds of pickled vegetables and jams made right there in their own kitchen. It’s always fun to walk in their door and see what has “come into season” that week!  But my favorite part of this trip were the rows of large sunflowers almost ready to be picked and sold inside the markekt.  To me there’s nothing that says summer more than sunflowers!

Happy Memorial Day 2019!

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Scene design for Graduation, Act II, scene 6 in Carousel, ca.1975, 
John Lee Beatty, artist.  Owned by the McNay Art Museum, San Antonio Texas

On this Memorial Day let us remember those who gave their lives defending this flag and all that it represents.  Let us remember that as the living we also have a duty to defend our freedom and the Constitution that governs us.  We must vigilant, proud, and strong in our support of our great country. God Bless America!

Back in the day – part 2

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The Fabulous Fifties! Americans were fascinated and obsessed with rockets and jet engines and car designers gave them just that with the designs of the 1950’s.  Hood ornaments, tailfins, and lots of chrome reflected the culture of America at that time.

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1959 brought an excess of space age details to automobile designs.  Fueled by the Space Age and America’s first man in space, tailfins reached maximum height in car designs. The 1959 Cadillac Series 60 Fleetwood’s bullet shaped taillights imitated jet airplane stabilizers and the tailfins were at their pinnacle.  At 19 feet in length this model would be the longest Cadillac ever to be made.  Imagine trying to parallel park this one in one of today’s parking spaces!

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This car was my favorite in the exhibit, probably for sentimental reasons. One is that as a teenager I remember occasionally seeing one of these models on the road and having my father explain that the obsession with tailfins had reached its excess with the 1959 models.  Looking back he agreed that they were really ridiculous!

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To read part one in this series click here.

These cars were on display at the McNay Art Museum.

 

Back in the day – part 1

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1956 Chrysler De Soto Firedome Seville

Ah, how I love anything vintage and this display of classic cars has my name written all over it! I was not disappointed with any of them and secretly wished I could have a ride in at least one…or two…or all of them! As a child and young teen I would see some of these still on the road and now to see these restored and preserved is exciting. So, here we go with American Dreams.

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It’s delightful…It’s delovely….It’s De Soto! read the ads for the large sedan with a V-8 engine. And rightfully so as it featured a 12-volt electrical system to run a power radio antenna, power seats, and a Highway Hi-Fi record player (although I’m not sure how you would keep a needle on a record on a bumpy road). Consumers could choose between a 3-speed manual transmission or a push button transmission, the first to be offered in the United States.

 

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This Firedome has undergone extensive restoration.  Painted in factory correct tones of shell pink and irridescent burgundy it also has New Original Stock (NOS) upholstery.

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1954 Packard  Caribbean

Truly a luxury car only 400 Caribbeans were manufactured in 1954.  All came standard with leather upholstery and spare tire carrier on the back. The last true Packard would roll off the assembly line in 1956.

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California Dreamin’

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Chrome and stainless steel trim stretched the entire length of the car. During the mid-1950’s many of the smaller car manufacturers declined under competition with the Big Three – Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors.

 

 

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1957 Ford Thunderbird

Although the T-bird was fitted with a V-8 engine Ford promoted it as a personal luxury car rather than a sports car.   Chevrolet had the Corvette and Europe produced countless sports cars, but Ford had the Thunderbird. The large trunk accomodated the spare tire and the tail fins were elongated in the style of the day.

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This T-bird has been restored with all factory-stock materials.

All of these classic automobiles and more are on display at the McNay Art Museum until May 19th.  I’ll be featuring others in upcoming posts, so stay tuned!

 

What if…

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The cover of the book intrigued me, but even so it was such a chilling thought that I couldn’t pick it up to flip through it.  What if…the vision of the view from the open door on the boat on D-Day floated into my mind as I thought of the ones who fought and died in WWII and the freedom that I enjoy now.

I’ve never been a student of wars other than to know dates and significant events.  The horror and trauma in books and movies about war doesn’t leave me with pleasant thoughts and, honestly, I have other subjects I prefer.  But shortly after seeing this book I picked up another book followed by two more that surprisingly each had a section that gave me a little more insight into World War II and the events that led up to the United States’ involvement in it. The common thread was chilling:  Hilter came into power quickly and there was no stopping him as he marched across Europe.  He was ruthless and knew what he wanted; people feared him even as they obeyed.

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I’ve always enjoyed reading biographies and when I saw this book I realized that other than the basic story of King Edward VIII’s abdication of the throne for love I had never read anything about this couple. It was an interesting read and although an unauthorized biography the Duchess of Windsor (Wallis Simpson) was still alive at that time (early 1970’s) and had granted interviews to the author giving a first-hand perspective to many episodes in their lives. The book was kind to them overall, but did carefully develop their personalities to give a clear picture of the problems and difficulties of their life together after the Duke’s abdication from the throne.

Intertwined with their lives was their involvement with Hitler. The Duke and Duchess, like many notable figures of that time, were quite impressed with Hitler and failed to see him as any threat.  The Duke, being of German blood, loved Germany and the German people and enjoyed conversing in German. He was thrilled when they were invited to make an “unofficial” visit to Germany in late 1937 and while there the Fuhrer invited them to tea. When they parted Hitler gave the Nazi salute and the Duke returned it. The Windsors were captivated while Hitler very perceptively realized the weakness of the Duke and the power of his Duchess.

Hitler continued his well structured march across Europe; he knew what he wanted and pursued it with precision. He was in control. Through conversations between Hitler and his officers and British officials as well as details of the development of his plans the author provides a glimpse into the complexity of Hitler’s regime and the complete obedience it required.

Hitler had plans for England and for the Windsors.  He developed a complicated plan to kidnap them and hold them in isolation until he could overtake England and install them as a “puppet” king and queen.  Hitler felt they were both easy to manipulate and knew that British subjects had deeply regreted Edward VIII’s abdication. It took considerable influence by their trusted advisor, Walter Monckton, to persuade them of the danger to their lives and their need to leave Spain where they had fled after France was overtaken by Nazi Germany.

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I normally shy away from historical fiction as I feel it often gives a dramatic twist to events rather than truthful telling of the story.  I decided to give this one a try since it was a book club selection (and I do enjoy my book club) plus I had heard stories about Hedy Lamarr and her involvement with developing scientific technology.  In truth she may or may not have had contact with Hitler, but the book has her eavesdropping on a dinner conversation where her husband, Fritz Mandl, was entertaining the Fuhrer.  It was a chilling conversation where he agreed to sell arms and munitions to Hitler. As an Austrian Jew she knew all too well what was going on in Austria and the fear that gripped everyone. Soon after she would flee from her husband and Austria and come to America where she quickly became a star of the silver screen.

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The book does successfully portray the turmoil and uncertainty that gripped Austria before Hitler made his move.  People were cautious and fearful, they knew the power of the Fuhrer and the already weakness of their government. And, when he did move it was swift. After Lamarr achieved success in America she and other actors and actresses who had fled from Europe would meet to exchange news from home, the news they did not get from mainstream news sources.  It was through family that they heard of the atrocioties against the Jews, the detention camps, the cattle car rides to death and the terror that was upon everyone. A chilling picture of Hitler’s ruthlessness executed perfectly.

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This book appealed to me instantly because I’ve always found FDR and Eleanor interesting and inspiring in their service to America and to their fellow man. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth never wanted to be the head of the Monarchy, but when they were put there by Edward VIII’s abdication they came with strength and dignity. Their courage during the bombing of London always leaves me a little awed! These four leaders served their nations and their people during dark days.

I’ve just started reading it, but already know that it was the alliance of the U.S., Great Britain, and Russia that gave the Allies victory.  That alliance wasn’t easily formed and took much work to keep it on task, but grew one step at a time as leaders cooperated in a common cause: defeat Hitler.

Europe was ripe for Hitler.  WWI had left it devastated and rebuilding.  Citizens didn’t want another war and were quick to agree to appeasement.  We must remember how easy he made his first moves and how calculating he was in his plans.  First he took control of his own country and then built and strengthened the Nazi regime as he invaded others. We must be vigilant to protect our freedom as it can be taken quickly and silently.