Contents of my close-up springtime photo shot brought back a memory. You’d have to be at or near my advanced dotage and wandering mind to remember the late, great comedienne of stage and screen, Bea Lillie. She was famous for entertaining the troops during World War 2, and as the befuddled landlady in the 1967 Julie Andrews movie, Thoroughly Modern Millie.
My roving camera got close up and personal with this very lively little ball of energetic white fluff.
The travel magazine’s choice as the best in America brings back some long-ago memories. My uncle, a city magistrate, operated a small hotel near the beach. In the summer of 1946, my brother and I, just returned from World War 2 service, got a free week in a tiny room behind the check-in counter.
It was both an enjoyable and sad family occasion, because it included a belated funeral for our uncle’s son, Morty. He had been killed by the Germans as a prisoner of war. How he died is an ironic story.
Morty, who had been in New Jersey prison for thievery, was released early in 1944 when he agreed to be drafted into the Army. Ironically, he was captured during the Battle of the Bulge and was once again a prisoner, this time by Germans. American POWs were starving until Morty stole food for them by raiding German supplies at night. He was caught and killed.
Morty was posthumously awarded the Silver Star medal for bravery. His funeral in a cemetery near Ocean City was attended by important political and military officials. During the service, my brother and I had both tears and laughter for our heroic, thieving cousin Morty.
Consider the exciting list: While Chris Columbus was sailing to America in 1492, the King of Granada ending a war by surrendering to Spain’s King Ferdie and Chris’ cash donor, Queen Isabella.
The Crusaders surrendered Jerusalem in 1187 to the warlord, Saladin, who was awarded the keys to the Tower of David and a private crying fit at the Wailing Wall.
British General Lord Cornwallis surrendered to General George Washington at Yorktown. The British soldiers then marched by the victorious Americans with their muskets upside down and sipping afternoon tea.
Of course, who could forget Napoleon’s surrender after the Battle of Waterloo in 1815? It established the British tradition of flushing indoor toilets of the same name.
The surrender of General Lee to General Grant in 1865 ended the American Civil War. It freed the slaves while Lincoln celebrated with an evening at Ford’s Theater.
The few of us who are still alive today fondly remember the 1945 surrender of Japan to end World War 2 aboard the battlewagon USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay while General MacArthur did selfies on the deck.
And, of course, in a ceremony to end the battle of the haircuts, in 2018 President Trump surrendered to the Emperor of North Korea.
After shaking hands and patting backs, U.S. President Trump said of North Korean Dictator Kim Jong Un, ”I learned that he’s a very talented man. I also learned that he loves his country very much. He has a great personality and is very smart.”
Hey, Mr. President. Aren’t you forgetting a few teeny details about that noble leader? Kim gets rid of relatives and generals by blasting them with anti-aircraft guns. North Korean prisons are full of political protesters. Dying American college student Otto Warmbier was sent home from North Korea after a year of torture. And what about returning the USS Pueblo Kim’s equally evil daddy stole 50 years ago?
And let’s be realistic about the tubby dictator. He didn’t suddenly turn from bad guy to good guy. Despite all the phony promises, you can be sure Kim will continue to develop nuclear weapons. With his fat finger on the button, he could launch one at any time “the very talented man” goes even more insane with power.
After nine decades, I still have fleeting visions of my father. I was playing in a favorite muddy spot behind our house when he arrived after a work day at the Stetson hat factory in Philly. Tall and in his handsome mid-30s, he always stayed to spend time with me, his youngest child, then age 4.
He’d tell me fascinating stories of his adventures as a cowboy in Texas, and combat as a doughboy in France during World War I. I found out later that he’d actually come to America as an immigrant child from Lithuania in 1905, and was never in the Army nor Texas. However, the fake stories were fascinating, and formed a happy bond between us.
Then, suddenly one afternoon he didn’t show up. My mom told me he was sick and would play with me again in a couple of days. It never happened. In those years before penicillin and other advanced drugs, his kidney disease advanced until it killed my young dad just a few months later. On Father’s Day each year, I again remember and treasure those too brief, long-ago moments with my dad.
With the lingering reputation as tops of all weed-infested cities since the hippie ‘70s, the town where Tony Bennett left his heart is suddenly addiction wise. The voters there just made sales of candy-flavored cigarettes illegal.
Altho the stores are no longer allowed to sell the tasty vape tobacco, you can be sure any nicotine addict or 10-year-old can buy them elsewhere. Look for shady street guys on Nob Hill or lurking around the Embarcadaro. Or skeedaddle across the one of the Bay bridges to more weed tolerant Oakland or Sausalito.