HEARING AND ITS CHALLENGES – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Sense of Hearing

No surprise that hearing is a big issue in this household. I’ve lost some hearing, but it’s in a more or less normal range for my age. I often feel like I need to turn up the world’s volume a couple of notches.

Garry Armstrong

Garry has been hard-of-hearing his whole life and it got a lot worse in the last couple of years. Almost 2 years ago, he had a cochlear implant and these days, he can have conversations on the phone, watch TV at a normal volume and even talk with me! Imagine that!

He can even go to a party and not feel left out. That’s incredible progress.

DUKE, THE PIN UP GIRL, AND THE GYRENE – GARRY ARMSTRONG

The title probably suggests one of those old “B” films from old Hollywood. It was usually the second feature and ran while we scooted from our front row seats to get hot dogs, popcorn, and a Godzilla-sized Coke.  You could hear giggles and lots of frantic searching for coins to pay for our goodies.

This is the 2020 version of that old relic which usually featured John Wayne, Claire Trevor, and Ward Bond/John Payne/John Carroll in the title roles.

Duke

Duke, of course, is the newest member of our furry family. He’s the one who’s injected new energy into the household even if today’s pictures suggest otherwise. Duke is always good for laughs as our court jester.  He’s the very randy suitor of Princess Bonnie who’s very particular about her men.  Bonnie, no doubt, was dreaming about some of the passionate lover affairs from her gilded past.

The eyes of the Duke

Bonnie, it turns out, is also a cover girl. She’s “Miss May” in the calendar on a kitchen wall. She’s the face that could launch a thousand ships. Bonnie has more internet followers than the tweeter-in-chief, much to his agitated dismay.

Then, there’s the Gyrene. The young Gyrene. Garry Armstrong in his USMC uniform – almost 61-years ago when Dwight Eisenhower was the Commander-In-Chief.

Armstrong, the Private E-1, who somehow enlisted right after high school graduation,  from comfy, cozy Long Island to the heat, bugs, and D.I. hell of Parris Island, the USMC training base. Young Garry, inspired by John Wayne movies, envisioned a career as a Marine and then life as a movie star. Great expectations all the way!

Garry’s hearing disabilities, miraculously, were not uncovered until months and many exams in basic training.  Leather-necked drill instructors were dismayed to learn of Garry’s hearing problems. They had him branded as a wise-ass Yankee “boot” who laughed in the face of their heavy-handed efforts to terrorize all the young Marines in that long-ago summer and autumn of ’59.

Garry, the young Gyrene in 1959

This came on the heels of a national scandal about alleged harsh treatment of fuzzy faced Marines in the swamps that surrounded Parris Island.

Garry’s departure, on medical grounds, from the Marines left many of those hard-nosed Sergeants melancholy,  deprived of their favorite target to toughen the young Leathernecks.  It was a story retold many times in years to come. Oo-rah!

The face that launched a thousand cookies!

Sixty-one years later, Bonnie and Duke are unmoved by Garry’s colorful recollection of his brief time in the United States Marine Corps. They are recharging their batteries for another marathon barkathon later today and tonight, a major barkathon to wreak havoc on the now old gyrene and his bride.

The furries show NO RESPECT for the old, mumbling and grumbling leatherneck.

Semper Fi!

PICK ME UP AND WINTER’S DAMAGE – GARRY ARMSTRONG

GARRY SEEKS SPRING IN UXBRIDGE

He hiked up the driveway, initially to bring down the trash can and pick up the mail, but he took a camera. It was a lovely day. There have been some lovely days, but very few last an entire day. Usually, the “good” day lasts part of the morning with sunshine and warmth leaving shortly after lunch. Then comes the afternoon with darkened skies and a lost sun.

The front woods and a lot of broken trees
Note wires. Note trees. Note likely disaster.

The broken branch lying over an electric line has been that way for a week, but apparently, they don’t have time to fix it because it hasn’t broken the line yet. It will. It sill take down the whole neighborhood. Nonetheless, it hasn’t done it yet. It would take them ten minutes to fix it now and it will we a catastrophe soon enough, but they can’t afford the ten minutes. I suppose I can call a third time.

They have records of my first two calls, but no one has bothered to even check on it. Owen has a pole saw, but it’s not long enough to reach the branch, so it will have to be a National Grid truck.

Rhododendrons have taken over for the roses,.
The road with hints of leaves to come
You can see that our Japanese Maple is in full leaf. It’s the first to grow leaves and the last to lose them.
I know there were flowers here, but I’m not sure what they were. I think there may be daffodils trying to bloom.

Called National Grid for the third time. They’ll get right on it. Major storm predicted for tomorrow night. I think we should get the candles ready.

COVID-19 DISTANCING: HOME WITH THE FURRY KIDS – GARRY ARMSTRONG

Loneliness is one of the collateral damage effects of COVID 19. There are increasing reports of people whose social lives have been turned upside down by mandates to stay home,  away from crowds and the possibility of COVID 19 infection. If you’re a party animal, this is life as you’ve never known it. Days and nights away from clubbing, sports, concerts and the hot, new movies at your local multiple plex theater. Crisis hotlines are top-heavy with folks not used to spending time away from the madding crowds.

How many texts and tweets can you share about doing nothing with no one?

We’re lucky. Senior citizens, deep in our retirement years and not especially sociable folks. Living in a small town with few places to make merry has eased us into the quiet life. We have a bonus with our furry kids demanding nonstop attention while giving us often unwanted other entertainment.

Entertainment as a Barkathon lasting from dusk till dawn. Barkathons that keep Mom and Dad awake. Well, more Mom. Our dogs are oblivious to the COVID 19 nightmares and how it’s changed the lives of those who supply biscuits, dinner, more biscuits. The Barkathons override the frantic breaking news reports and COVID 19 updates that now have an all too familiar sound.

Here I am again, listening for any sound that requires more barking.

Our nightly high point is when Donzo appears for his pandemic updates and is almost immediately drowned out by the frequent disdain of Duke and Bonnie who seem to be having barking fits as they listen to the incoherent blatherings of the White House jester.

Bonnie Annie Laurie

In the midst of yelling at the dogs to shush, we realize they’ve distracted us from major portions of the POTUS drivel. A good thing. And Bonnie’s very deaf so yelling at her is pointless The furries somehow sense that the orange-haired gent on the screen is like the clown toys they love to chew up and toss around. An epiphany!  Duke and Bonnie are trying to spare us the anger and frustration we feel every time the weird man speaks to us in tongues.

It’s harder to appreciate the Barkathons during the wee small hours when we’re trying to escape into dreamland where all is right in our world and dragons have been sequestered. I don’t think our dogs realize we are trying to what they do for most of the day.


SLEEP!


We are tinkering with the idea of barking at the furries and disturbing their rest. We’ve tried without success. They think it’s a game played by Ma and Pa. If they do understand our frustration, they show little compassion. Barking is their thing. Their Right. I believe they think barking is necessary for Dad who’s been hard of hearing for most of his life. They dismiss the success of my cochlear implant and bark LOUDER to see if they can triumph over my CI.  It’s a conspiracy where the dogs prevail and we, HU-mans, will always lose.  Bark! Bark! Bark!

All the attention given to the dogs erases any possibility of loneliness during the pandemic. They keep us alert, insisting we march to their sound of a different drummer.

I suspect the dogs expect an award. Maybe the Presidential Medal of Honor for keeping their owners alert. Bonnie, especially, believes her shrill, nonstop barking is akin to stories she’s heard from the Dog Father. She is merely retelling an ancient doggish myth. The 24/7 barking tops any stories about celebrities the old man tells over and over again.

Loneliness? Not here! The furries kids have our 6, Bark! Bark! Bark!

Game. Set, Match.

More biscuits, please!!

HOLLYWOOD, JACK WARNER, AND NAZIS – By GARRY ARMSTRONG

I was usually able to get candid comments from “old Hollywood” people because I didn’t ask the typical questions about favorite co-stars, celebrity perks, or favorite roles. I frequently shared my disdain for the “suits” in my business who tried to interfere with my work.

This attitude, along with being a minority,  got me some sympathetic responses from people who normally just gave standard sound bites. It also helped that I was a movie “maven,”  more knowledgable than many so-called ‘entertainment reporters’ famous for fluff questions.

Jack L Warner, 1970. (Photo by Warner Brothers/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

The topic of Jack Warner came up this morning. Marilyn is reading his biography, a book called “We’ll Always Have Casablanca: The Legend and Afterlife of Hollywood’s Most Beloved Film” by Noah Isenberg. Do NOT buy the book, by the way. It’s written well — and completely wrong about pretty much everything.

Marilyn said the author apparently believes that Jack Warner was a man with a conscience who claimed to go the “extra mile,” slipping anti-Nazi stuff into Warner Brothers films in the late 1930s and early 1940s when it was “dangerous” to speak out against the Nazis.

Much of this country’s population was essentially isolationist.  Businessmen didn’t want to rock the boat,  including many Hollywood moguls more concerned about their overseas markets, especially Germany where American movies were big sellers. As always,  it was about money. Greed is forever with us.

So, here’s a list of a couple of Hollywood legends from Tinseltown’s golden years and their takes on Jack Warner and his “anti-Nazi” stance.

JAMES CAGNEY

Probably Warner Brothers’ most bankable star from 1930 to 1950. In a 1971 conversation with James Cagney (an informal afternoon chat on Martha’s Vineyard),  the star gave full credit to Warner Brothers for giving him his breakthrough roles. Cagney got his “Public Enemy” role when the director switched Cagney’s supporting role with the star,  favoring Cagney’s energy.  Despite his “gangster” popularity, Cagney had to fight the Warners for diversity in roles.

Cagney and his horses on Martha’s Vineyard.

In Hollywood back then it was not uncommon for big studios to keep a tight rein on their stars.

James Cagney with chickens

Cagney was still doing gangster films in 1939 as the Nazis flexed their muscles. In Hollywood, big and small studios were nervous about doing films that might jeopardize their lucrative overseas market. The inside word was: “Don’t antagonize the Nazis in your films.” After all, Germany was the largest market for American films.

There was a film waiting to be ‘greenlighted called “Confessions of a Nazi Spy” at Warner Brothers. The director, European expatriate Anatole Litvak, was eager to get started. The project sat for months. The behind-the-scenes arguments between the Brothers Warner could be heard throughout Hollywood. They were the butt of jokes, concern. and anxiety by other studios who wanted to tackle Nazi Germany on film. Someone had to be the first to do it.

Sam and Harry Warner were decidedly in favor of taking it to Adolph Hitler.  They held the keys to the studio’s financial and legal coffers.  Jack was the smiling front in Hollywood, dealing with actors, directors, and writers.  He was the public face. With his big, broad smile, pearly whites who some people likened to those of a great white shark, Jack was regularly bashed by actors and actresses as gross, a sexual predator, a philanderer, and a fraud — which was typical stuff for Hollywood suits.

When “Confessions of a Nazi Spy” came across his desk, Jack Warner blanched and balked. He didn’t want to touch it. The first-generation immigrant mogul didn’t want to risk losing his studio and power to Nazi pressure.  His brothers disagreed saying it was their duty to do the film.

Jack disagreed until a lackey suggested they could do it as a gangster film with underworld bad guys subbing for Nazis.  His brothers refused to do it that way. Jack started leaning on his stable of stars — James Cagney, George Raft, Paul Muni, Edward G. Robinson and others. They surely could pull off the film as a Tommy-gun melodrama.

No one wanted to do that film.

Jack Warner fumed! Meanwhile, Edward G. Robinson, widely admired in Hollywood as a Rennaissance Man of courage way beyond his screen image, lobbied for the film as an out and out warning against Nazism.  He even put up some of his personal earnings to back the script while agreeing to take on the lead role as a Federal Agent ferreting out Nazi spies in the U.S.

Edward G. Robinson

Jack Warner winced. Other prominent actors including George Sanders and Paul Lukas, encouraged by Robinson, agreed to join the film, playing unsympathetic Nazi spy roles. They didn’t care if it jeopardized their careers.  If “Eddie G.” was doing it, that was good enough for them.

Over Jack Warners’ private arguments, “Confessions of a Nazi Spy” was made in 1939.  Surprising many insiders, it was a box-office success and nominated for several Oscars.  During the Oscar Ceremony, Jack Warner leaped past the winner to embrace the award and give a big patriotic speech about the courage of fighting Nazis at a dire historic time.

Warner talked humbly about ‘tuning up’ the script to bash the Nazis without endangering the film.  Insiders just smiled.  The cast and crew of the film fumed silently. Thirty years later, James Cagney recalled Jack Warner’s antics. Cagney had a strange smile on his face as he talked about Jack Warner.

“The man had chutzpah,  I’ll give him that. He certainly gave me my chance. But, young fella, he was the epitome of a two-faced, hypocritical ‘suit’.  You think you have worked for bad guys?  Give yourself a few more years.

“Jack Warner took credit for everything he rejected. He loved getting awards. I remember attending award ceremonies. I had to do them.  Part of my job.  The VFW, DAR, Sons Of American Freedom. You name the award ceremony and Jack Warner was there, big teeth and phony smile, to accept the honor.

“He was always ‘umble.  Young fella, I had to hold my stomach and breath around the guy. He loved garlic bread and used to sit close to me.  I was his pet or so he thought.  Jack Warner a hero and anti-Nazi fighter?  No!  He was even a bigger problem when we did “Yankee Doodle Dandy”.  He didn’t want any strong anti-Nazi bias in the film. He said it was just a song and dance film,  nothing more.

“George M. Cohan was around one day and wanted to deck smilin’ Jack. Sorry to drift on about Jack Warner but even in my so call mellow years, the man still angers me.”

That’s an unfiltered remembrance of my conversation with James Cagney.  It was a wide-ranging talk that included his not so fond memories of Jack Warner — years after his final film for the studio.

CHARLTON HESTON

 In 6 or 7 meetings, ranging over a similar number of years, Charlton “Call me Chuck” Heston gave me wide-ranging inside looks at Hollywood. Once he talked about Edward G. Robinson who was one of “Chuck’s” heroes. They made “Soylent Green” together which turned out to be Robinson’s last film.  He died a short time after the film was completed.

The movie “Soylent Green”

Heston talked warmly about Robinson and his gentle “man of the world” presence.  Heston volunteered the information about “Confessions of a Nazi Spy” and Edward G. Robinson’s pivotal part in getting the movie made with its strong anti-Nazi message.

Heston relayed stories Robinson shared with him about Jack Warner.  They weren’t flattering. Heston had a few encounters with Warner as a young and rising Hollywood star.

I gave him a look and Heston just smiled, shaking his head.  No words needed.

RUTH DONNELLY

She was a contract player at Warners in the 1930s.  She usually played ditzy friends of lead actresses like Bette Davis, Miriam Hopkins, Olivia DeHavilland, Barbara Stanwyck, and other stars.  Often Donnelly was paired with Eve Arden as a comedy foil in melodramas and romantic comedies.

“A Slight Case of Murder” starring Ruth Donnelly

Donnelly was on the Warners lot when “Confessions of A Nazi Spy” was in production. She remembered, in a 1970 interview,  how Jack Warner used to interrupt scenes being shot. This is a big NO-NO unless you held the money for the film. Warner, Donnelly recalled, was boorish and intimidating. He tried to bully writers on the “Confessions” film, demanding they change their scripts and then feigning ignorance when asked by Anatole Litvak, the director if it was true.  Warner even tried to get the writers fired for the controversy he created.

Ruth Donnelly smiled when I asked what she would say to Jack Warner in 1970. She didn’t have to answer the question. The smile was enough.


Also see: What Charlie Chaplin Got Right

HOLLYWOOD FANTASIES, GARRY ARMSTRONG

I love movies. Old movies  Movies from the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s. I grew up watching these films. They were movies from Hollywood’s golden age when fantasy really trumped reality. These were films seen in theaters. First, second and the beloved third run or neighborhood movie houses.

old hollywood glamor shots

This was before television. The movie theater experience was as much fun as seeing the film. That’s where the fantasy began.

I saw my first movie in 1946. I was four years old. The movie was “The Best Years Of Our Lives”. My Mom and Dad took me to see the film in a big glittery theater in Manhattan. New York. The city that never sleeps. My Dad, in his Army dress uniform with ribbons and medals, had just returned from Europe. World War Two had ended less than a year earlier. I vaguely remembered the headlines. My Dad seemed ten feet tall in his uniform. My Mom was more beautiful than I could ever recall. She looked like a movie actress in one of those popular magazines of the day. I felt as if we were in a movie that evening. It was magical!

I remember some of the scenes from the movie. The returning GIs, looking down on their hometown from the air. The family reunions. The men looked like my father and yet they didn’t. I was bothered but didn’t understand. I dreamed about the movie that night. My Dad was the star. My Mom was Myrna Loy. I was the son receiving souvenirs from my Dad. I could see myself in the movie.

astair and rogers

That fantasy would replay itself many times over the following decades. It grew with the films of my youth. The westerns, especially. I adored westerns. I liked seeing the good guys always beat the bad guys. I liked the way the good guys dressed and the horses they rode. Curiously, none of the guys — good or bad — looked like anyone in my family but that didn’t matter to me. I didn’t think much about it. I was all of those good guys! Most of all, I was John Wayne. Later, I was so much John Wayne I enlisted in the Marine Corps right out of high school. That’s another story.

As my fantasy grew, I also discovered I was a romantic. This is a guy secret. I liked romantic movies with happy endings. I was Joseph Cotten pursuing Jennifer Jones in “Love Letters” and “Portrait of Jennie”. I was Spencer Tracy, the underdog to Clark Gable, vying for the affections of Myrna Loy and Claudette Colbert.

Somewhere, stashed away, I have an old notebook. One of those notebooks with lined pages used for compositions in grade school. I used to write imaginary castings for movies with myself as the star opposite Hollywood legends. Actually, I added some reality. I worked my way up from “and introducing Garry Armstrong” to co-star, and finally as a star. Fortunately, that notebook was never discovered in class.

Marilyn and I have been watching (again) a series, “MGM – WHEN THE LION ROARED”. It’s a fascinating look at the rise and fall of Hollywood’s most prestigious studio. As we look at the series, I fantasize again about being there in Hollywood during its golden age.

MGM_backlot

Fantasy dissolved into a dream last night. I was in 1930’s Hollywood. I was at MGM. I saw the legends. Gable, Tracy, Garbo, Crawford and all the others. The dream unfolded rather skillfully. I was a freelance writer working under a pseudonym in separate quarters. This is how I, a man of color, could exist in that world. It was perfectly splendid. My work was excellent. Others took credit but all knew who I was, especially Louis B. Mayer. I never asked for a raise. My scripts all had the MGM touch.

In real life, I’ve had the chance to meet many of those legends who’ve been part of my dreams. As a TV news reporter, I’ve actually had the opportunity to socialize with some of them. You’ve read about some of them in other posts. It’s funny when reality meets your dreams and fantasies.

I’ve done some extra or background acting. It was interesting but the hours are long, like those I logged for almost 40 years on television. I don’t like getting up early anymore. I haven’t quite closed the door, mind you. I hang onto the fantasy I’ll get “the call” for a lead role in a major movie.

And, the Oscar goes to …

BE JOYFUL! IT’S YOUR BIRTHDAY!

When you’ve been married for a long time, there’s nothing new you can say that you haven’t said on all those other birthdays. I know this isn’t a great time for celebrations, … but we are alive and so far, so good.

Whenever this siege ends, we will celebrate your birthday, probably Owen’s too. We’ll celebrate surviving, on managing to have sufficient toilet paper and with a little luck, not having you-know-who in charge.

Meanwhile, tons of love from everyone because you are just such a lovable guy!

Happy very big birthday!

OSPREY AT THE TOP: DAY 1 – By GARRY ARMSTRONG

On the top shelf – Osprey in charge

You can’t be any more on the top than this Osprey was on the river in Connecticut. He was way up on top of the sign while watching the water for any passing fish. It was a perfect location for an Osprey and you’ll notice her nest is there, too.

An Osprey atop the jetty

 

WE WERE NEVER A CURRIER AND IVES COUPLE – GARRY ARMSTRONG

The title comes from an episode of “The West Wing” which we are binging again in this early spring of discontent and dismay.  The series is even better this time around, a great mental prescription from the Coronavirus while our world seeks a political hangover cure.

Many of us, struggling with the present, have tinted memories of the past, recent and distant.  There’s the yearning for the good old days when our lives were more stable and strife seem relegated to small countries on the other side of the world. We were younger, more innocent and more naive.

The Currier and Ives (or Norman Rockwell) images dominate our collective memories.  It’s a return to Main Street, white picket fences in Pleasantville that never really existed except in TV Land. You can almost smell those Sunday dinners with the family gathered around the table, roast turkey, mashed potatoes, hot buns and the smell of apple pie baking in the oven.

The memories seem so real you can almost touch them.  We yearn for them right now in this time of plague and uncertainty. We ache for those days when we could believe in our political leaders and when sports was an unchallenged relief from the headaches of yesteryear and yesterday.  When Mom and Dad could calm our fears and we weren’t responsible for our lives. The way we were.  Or were we?

We don’t remember Mom and Dad quietly wrestling with problems we didn’t understand because we were kids. We usually were told that there were no worries.  “You’ll understand when you grow up,” we were told.

We took those reassurances to bed, sure that everything would be okay in the morning.  Our tomorrows usually erased our youthful, short-term angst.

Many of us are now in the autumn of our years.  Mom and Dad are gone and we are left to make sense of today’s madness for our children and grandchildren. It’s difficult to explain, to find answers for all that’s gone wrong.  How do you make sense of a world turned upside down before your eyes?  We’re not living Currier and Ives lives and really, never were. We’re left wondering if those romanticized images of our youth have any truth.

Maybe it’s easier to believe that those were the good, old days rather than trying to stomach reality.  It’s like clinging to the images of old films with Hollywood endings. We’re desperate for heroes, good news, and happy endings for these long dark nights that drag into the morning. We’re not Currier and Ives but it’s nice to recall times when life seemed easier. When we could laugh freely and look forward to tomorrow.

I can see Wolf Blitzer and friends laughing in the Situation Room — with NO breaking news.

Here’s something to think about: give yourself a break. If there’s nothing you can do, do nothing and enjoy it. Everything is in motion, everything is changing. Relax now. Who knows what will be coming down the road in another week?

AN ODD ST. PATRICK’S DAY POST – GARRY ARMSTRONG

St. Patrick’s Day usually is a cause for upbeat feelings around here.  But the 2020 version brings no joy.

The Coronavirus aka “The Satan Bug” has thrown cold water on worldwide celebrations. Hell froze over in Ireland where all pubs were ordered closed as safety measures. It became clear the action was necessary when bleary-eyed celebrants seemed oblivious to the danger of public gatherings right now.

Irish Eyes are not smiling in Boston where the St. Patrick’s Day Parade has also been canceled. No parade. No boisterous parties with green beer spouting from spigots hither and yon. No one day Irishmen puking their guts on the streets of revelry.

Shamrocks

I usually covered St. Patrick’s Day for the Boston TV station where I toiled for 31 years.   Yes, I hauled out my green corduroy sports jacket, dark green dress shirt, plaid green tie, and loden green khakis. I topped it off with some awful green-tinged tobacco in my pipe which was constantly lit through the long, loud and off-key version of “Danny Boy,” “Galway Bay,” and “Wild, Colonial Boy” streaming out of myriad pubs I visited for stories.

Each stop required I share a pint or two with the regulars to confirm my Irish roots. The legend had become fact after our 1990 Irish Honeymoon where I learned, to my great surprise, that I indeed had Irish ancestors.  It made me something of a local hero in Southie (South Boston) where Irish Boyos are regarded with esteem.

Our news “live shots” were always a challenge on St. Patrick’s Day. No way of dispersing the lively crowds who surrounded our camera and equipment, serenading me as I delivered my reports with exuberance. I frequently was doused with “good stuff” as I wrapped up my reports. I’m proud to say it WAS good stuff, usually Guinness. Sometimes Guinness and Irish Whiskey, depending on the crowd’s affection for me. Ah, those were the days.

All the old school Irish Pols showed up, telling the same tales about the good old days with “himself,” James Michael Curley, the legendary Boston Mayor of “The Last Hurrah” fame. Crime usually took a partial day off. Lots of drunks and disorderlies but few hardcore, violent felonies. There was a line you didn’t cross on St. Patrick’s Day in Boston.

From “The Quiet Man”

Then – as now – I looked forward to the traditional viewings of “The Quiet Man”.  I remember one year, Marilyn and I watched the John Ford classic about the ‘old country’ on several stations running the film simultaneously. You could catch John Wayne courting Maureen O’Hara for several hours all over the TV channels. When we watch “The Quiet Man”, Marilyn and I exchange smiles, taking in the places we visited on our honeymoon, including young Sean Thornton’s cabin which was still in decent shape in 1990.  No, I never give Marilyn a whack on her backside. John  Wayne could do that to Maureen O’Hara but not Garry Armstrong to his Marilyn.

“The Quiet Man” will air tonight at 8pm our local time and I wonder how it will feel on another day of the Coronavirus, the political follies and our general sense of melancholy. I’m putting my money on Young Sean Thornton,  Red Will Danaher and all the rest of those folks from Innisfree to bolster our spirits on THIS St. Patrick’s Day.

Any question about who’s the best man in Innisfree?

HOW DID YOU MEET YOUR MATE? – Marilyn Armstrong

Fandango’s Provocative Question #60

This could be a very torrid post, but as Serendipity is G-rated, I’ll tell you a story. You are free to fill in missing details using your own rich imagination. This is perhaps more than the question requires, but it’s a complicated story.

I married Jeff in August 1965. I spent the next year finishing my B.A. and having my spine remodeled, so it was a few years before I got on with life. My son was born in May 1969. We named him Owen Garry, Garry being his godfather. Fast forward through a non-acrimonious divorce. I later realized if you just give up everything and walk away, it’s easy to be amicable. It’s also something you will probably regret — eventually.

In 1978, I was off to Israel with The Kid. Not too long thereafter, I married in Israel. The less said about this mistake, the better. In 1983, a state visit from the ex and (now) current husband (they rode together), showing up right in time for war in Lebanon. It ruined our plans to visit Mt. Hermon and the Galilee but created great anecdotes.

Photo: Debbie Stone
Photo: Debbie Stone

August 1987.

I’m back from Israel. Garry and I are an instant item. Having been apart for so long brought us closer together than we’d imagined possible. The previous decade hadn’t dealt kindly with either of us and we saw one another with new eyes. I think we’d always been a little in love, but there were so many reasons why it wasn’t the right time to do something about it.  Now, shortly after my Israeli divorce from husband number 2, Garry and I got married.

Here’s how it really happened.

I’d been away for two weeks in California on business. I had come back early because I got sick, came down with the flu. Just as well, because an earthquake — the one that stopped the World Series — occurred the following day and if I’d stayed, I’d have been crushed under the collapsed highway.

Garry was glad to see me … until I coughed. Then he wasn’t so glad. If you want to know the definition of “mixed emotions,” it’s a man overwhelmed with joy to see the woman he loves — but knowing the first kiss will include influenza. The definition of true love? He kissed me anyway. And got the flu.

So after we both stopped coughing, Garry took me out to dinner. He was nervous. He was driving and we went around Leverett Circle at least half a dozen times. He kept missing the turnoff. Meanwhile, he was explaining how he’d had a conversation with his pal about real estate, and how prices were down, and how maybe we should buy something. And live together. Like maybe … forever? Was forever okay with me?

So having listened for a pretty long time, I said: “So let me see if I’ve got this right. You want to buy a house? Move-in and live together? Forever? As in married?”

“All of that,” he said and drove around the loop one more time.

“I don’t know about you,” I said, “But I definitely need a drink.”

The following morning, I asked Garry if I could tell my friends. He said, “Tell them what?”

“That we’re getting married,” I said.

“We are?”

“You said we should buy a house and live together forever.”

“Is that a proposal?”

“It is where I come from,” I assured him. Wouldn’t you think that was a proposal? I had to remind him about buying a ring, too but eventually, he got into the groove, realized all he had to do was tell me what he wanted and show up in a tux and he’d be a married guy. Piece of cake.

We got married 6 months later having known each other a mere 26 years.

I declined to have my first ex-husband be best-man at my third wedding. We did, however, have the “real” reception at his house. There was the official one at the church, but the fun event, with all the friends, music, wine, and sharing was over at the old house where I used to live with Jeff.

Life has a funny way of turning around when you least expect it.

BIKES, TRIKES AND MOTORCYCLES IN BLACK & WHITE – Garry Armstrong

Bicycles, Tricycles, Motorcycles
Cee’s Black & White Challenge

Bicycle – Photo: Garry Armstrong
Motorcyclists

Cee's Black-White