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Posts Tagged ‘Maine’

Last night we were invited to go to the theater as guests of our friends, David and Sarah,  It was a very special theatre in that the play was produced and performed by members of the Amateur Comedy Club.  Which by the way does not mean that it is a comedy club as we know them today.  The group puts on all kinds of plays.  So far this all sounds pretty normal but….

The Historic Amateur Comedy Club

The Historic Amateur Comedy Club

First, some history of the ACC –  The Amateur Comedy Club was founded on April 18, 1884 by seven gentlemen amateur actors to produce comedies.  They were all former members of the Madison Square Dramatic Organization which, as its name suggests, was devoted to the production of dramas, and they wanted a change.  The Club’s first production took place a year later on February 13, 1885, at the University Club Theater.  Events came full circle 25 years later when the “Comedy Club” dropped the requirement that it only produce comedies which, at that time, were usually light and forgettable things.  In 1909, some “brash young members” rebelled, and since then the Club has produced comedies, tragedies and musicals.  But for that change, the Amateur Comedy Club might have disappeared years ago.  Instead, it is now the oldest continuously performing theatrical company in the United States.

The Clubhouse… The Club is located in two former carriage houses located in Sniffen Court, a mews on East 36th Street in Manhattan’s Murray Hill District.  Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, they were built in the 1860’s and acquired by the Club and adapted to their present configuration  in 1918: a theatre downstairs, with a green room, work room, dressing rooms and a kitchen upstairs.  A corner of the Green Room serves as the administrator’s work space.

Over the years the Club has accumulated a fascinating archive of New York theatre memorabilia, a photographic record of its productions and curious objects, some of which adorn the Green Room where members and guests congregate over coffee at intermissions.   There is also carefully preserved an unbroken collection of Amateur Comedy Club playbills dating from the first production in 1885.

So as you could see this wasn’t exactly your normal theater!  Add that to the fact that attendees at Friday night and Saturday night performances are required to wear black tie attire.  That was almost the best part!  We got dressed up;  Peter in a vintage 1937 tuxedo and I in my usual black on black with a very glam 1930 ish cut velvet duster.  What’s more the invitation came by email on Friday morning at 5:14am – sort of short notice!

AND Peter had an operation on Wednesday (and not really all that minor) and came home on Thursday and here it was Friday and he was out on the town in a tux by Friday night.  I can tell you if it had been me who had the operation I would be in my pajamas till Sunday.

The play, Ramshackle Inn was a hilarious comedic murder mystery that took place in a run-down hotel in Maine.  The casting was terrific, the member/actors wonderful and the whole evening a delight.  After the play, we all went back upstairs to the Green Room where we enjoyed a couple of glasses of champagne.  Peter was of course, in his element, surrounded by women in evening and cocktail dresses and I and every other woman in the place appreciated the male contingency all dapper in tuxedos.  Don’t men know that women LOVE to see men in tuxedos?

Lori, Peter and David in the Green Room

Lori, Peter and David in the Green Room

Chris (actor) and Peter

Chris (actor) and Peter

 

And as true New Yorkers, we left the theatre and hopped on a bus going uptown,  Only in New York do you see  a tuxedo-clad gentlemen and his date riding a public bus uptown!!

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Location within Hartford County, Connecticut

That Was Then

You know there are a lot of people who complain that we have become a society of keyboard krazies, communicating only thru email, texting in 3 letter abbreviations, sending emoticons to let another person know whether we’re  happy or sad.  There’s some truth to that BUT, on the other hand, the internet has opened up a world of social networking and a way for even us baby boomers to stay in touch with family and friends.  I can skype with my grandchildren, I can blog AND I can play scrabble online with a dear friend who lives 1000 miles south of me  during the winter and sails off the coast of Maine summer BUT who through the miracle of microchips and cell towers continues to play with me while even on board. Just think, she can be online on board.

Heather and I became friends when we both worked at Compass Realty in Connecticut, a hundred years ago. We were Sales Associates then and life was good “in the Valley” .  She lived in Simsbury and I lived in Avon.  We never became “couple” friends possibly because of who I was married to at the time but we shared ideas and anecdotes, kid advice and even did  a couple of deals together.  Besides the fact that she was always smiling, I have one outstanding memory of Heather.  I had to move out of my house after my divorce and moving out and cleaning up turned out to be a major chore.  I can still see Heather on her hands and knees cleaning the laundry room floor where the washer and dryer had been.  I was so touched by her help to begin with and the fact that she was tackling one of the dirtiest jobs in the house just floored me!  This wasn’t my best friend, this wasn’t family, and she came over to help and pitched in to ease the burden of a very painful day.  I know I thanked you then, but let me do so again….Thank you , Mrs. Smith!

Now why do I bring this up today? Well the story continues…. I leave my life in CT behind and eventually move to New York City.  Heather and I had exchanged a few emails over time and her daughter moved to Brooklyn.  One day about 10 years ago ( I think) she came to the City and we had a brief lunch.  It was so nice to see a familiar face in town.  Then along came My  Space and Facebook and Heather and I connected again.  She loves to play Scrabble as I do and so for the past couple of years (literally) we have been playing Scrabble online thru Facebook.  Our games would go on for weeks at a time….in the beginning we would have to postpone our games during sailing season, but now that has all changed – YAY!

Yesterday, I was helping a friend out in her Tea Room when word came to me in the kitchen that a Heather and her husband were in the Dining Room and wanted to talk to me – I thought someone wanted to make a reservation.  OMG, it was Heather, that Heather and her husband, Jeff. WOWIE! They were heading south along the Jersey Shore to meet up with one of their kids and because I’ve written so many blogs and posted so many photos of Ocean Grove, they took the time to get off the Parkway and check out the town and me. 

It was quite amazing to find Heather and Jeff standing in front of me in Ocean Grove.  They got themselves in the Grove and then called Peter at home in NYC. He told her where I was and where our little cottage was and it turned out that they were practically two doors away.  I know it gives me great pleasure to surprise someone in the hopes that my visit is going to not only surprise but please.  They were grinning from ear to ear and YES, guys your visit was so damn cool!!!

Thank you for taking the time for a detour that brought a smile to my face and joy to my heart. You are very special! 

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Cover of "Daddy's Little Girl"

Cover of Daddy's Little Girl

Thank You!

I have so much to thank you for and I know I’ve said it before, this day, this Father’s Day, I feel the need to say it again.  And this time it’s going to be harder because I don’t know if you can hear me and I don’t have an address where to send this letter.  Of course, I can always fall back on my Catholic upbringing and hope and assume you are in heaven and in that case, you must be with Mom too.

But this day is about you;  As an only child who lost her mother when I was 9, you played a bigger than life role in my life.  All little girls adore their fathers, I was certainly no exception and for those few years when you had to be both Mommy and Daddy, you were my whole world.  I wanted to be Daddy’s Little Girl forever.

It must have been really hard for you!  I didn’t fully realize just how hard it must have been until I was in my own adulthood.  Like all children, being totally self-centric, even as I grew up I only thought of my own pain and loss. I don’t know at what point it occurred to me just how young you were and how the burden of being a single parent must have been on you AND then it was even later before I realized the daily pain you must have felt losing the love of your life, my mother, Helen.  She was only 33 years old so I guess you were probably around the same age.   Those evenings around the supper table just you and me and the empty chair are forever ingrained in my mind while you sat and stared into some place and time not in the present.  A broken heart, a full-time job to support me, a house to take care of, a child to rear and feed and nurture. Wow Dad, you rocked!

I am ever grateful to you for the parenting and nurturing you gave me that set me on the path of the person I’ve become.  Along the way, I ‘ve made a lot of mistakes, some which you tried to talk me out of and some which I guess I had to experience in order to learn a lesson.

But this day is just not about my lamenting the loss of my dear Dad, it’s also about memories held dear and thankfulness for hundreds, no thousands of big and little things, ideas, principles, values, and fun times.

So thank you Dad for so many memories….teaching me to tie my shoes, getting me a dog, letting me sit on your lap as you read even when I was way too big to do so.  For making me kites from road maps and making them bigger than any store-bought one with long tails, and letting me take even more maps to cover my school books, for letting me be a tomboy and because you worked for J & E Stevens, bringing home the best cap guns and holsters ever.  Thank you for teaching my friends and I how to water ski, for taking me along with you to pick the first dandelions of the season by Wadsworth Falls,  for giving me a jack knife and trusting me with it.  For teaching me how to fish and taking me deep sea fishing with you, for building stilts for me and for teaching me about shooting marbles.  Thank you for finding the money to send me to St. John’s School where I received such a good basic education, that those of us who went there were all bumped up an English grade in Junior HS.  You were the one who fixed the broken zipper on my dress an hour before I was supposed to leave for a dance and you were the one who was angry at me when you found out I was smoking!  Thank you for instilling in me the joy of reading, the value and satisfaction of growing flowers and vegetables, for taking us on vacation to the beach either in Maine or Rhode Island where I learned to love the smell of the ocean and body surf the waves. 

Thank you Dad for standing by me when I made the decision to get a divorce, for getting me a calf and raising it so we could slaughter it and have beef for a year, for teaching me to drive a stick shift car and for letting me play jacks on the dining room floor even though it probably scratched it up a lot.  I have great memories of you and Susan’s Dad, Bill and us all sledding at night down Spencer Drive, and of the clam bakes, pig roasts and other block parties that I know you were the instigator and I inherited that gene and passed it on to my own daughter.

Thank  you taking me clamming with you and teaching me how to eat clams on the half shell even when I was still small enough to sit in the bushel basket where  you put the clams you found.  For being the “fix-it” Dad that you were fixing all kinds of things around my apartment and house for years and years.  For always getting me a big pumpkin at Halloween and carving the best faces!  You were so involved in making the holidays special whether it was pumpkin carving or coloring Easter eggs with me and being the Dad in the neighborhood who got all the fireworks for Fourth of July and giving me sparklers, black snakes and poppers. Thank you for letting me plaster pictures of Elvis Presley all over my bedroom door and for buying me his records and my own Hi-Fi portable record player.

Thank you keeping the memory of my mother alive and marrying my stepmother so I wouldn’t grow up motherless.  I miss you Dad – there are many times when I reach for the phone to call you and ask you something and then I remember I can’t do that anymore.  This past week, I drove to CT to see Susan and on the way I passed the Stella D’Oro Cookie Factory, where when we drove past it on our way to see Grandma, we could smell the cookies baking and I knew we were getting close to her apartment.  Well the cookie smells have been gone a long time since the factory closed the manufacturing end and just used the building as headquarters.  Two days ago, I was saddened to see a For Sale sign on the building.  Just another incident in the passage of time and a reminder of days gone by, days spent with you Dad.

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