A Final Thank You, Part 2


Sylvia Moy: Song Writer


This introduction is a repeat of Part 1’s introduction. However, the people described below are, obviously, different.

 Many famous people died in 2017. Among them were: Gregg Allman, Chuck Berry, Glen Campbell, David Cassidy, Barbara Cook, Fats Domino, Dick Gregory, Monty Hall, Hugh Hefner, Jerry Lewis, Mary Tyler Moore, Jeanne Moreau, Roberta Peters, Tom Petty, Don Rickles, Liz Smith, Roger Wilkins.

However, other individuals who passed away in 2017, less well-known, made significant contributions during their lives. Their actions made the life of others easier or more pleasant in a variety of ways. This article will give you an opportunity to appreciate their efforts and give them a final “thank you.” This article is not intended to make you sad, but to remind you there are such people. If I missed someone who you think deserves mention, I’m sorry. I’m writing a blog, not an all inclusive book. Let me and other folks know who you would include in this remembrance. Bringing attention to people who made life better for others is worth the time and effort. (Thanks to the New York Times for its coverage of these individuals.)

Thomas Meehan, 88. Do you like musicals on Broadway? Maybe “The King and I”, or “My Fair Lady”, or “Hamilton”. Who writes the “book” for a musical (ie, the script or dialogue)? Well, one person who has had a great deal of success writing the books for musicals is Mr. Meehan. He received Tonys for his writing of “Annie,” “The Producers”, and “Hairspray.” He also worked on musicals like “Elf,” and “Rocky.” When he died he was working on a musical version of another Mel Brooks’ hit, “Young Frankenstein.” He will be missed, but forever appreciated.

Anne Morrissy Merick, 83. While a student at Cornell, she covered sports: crew, swimming, and intramural horseshoes. Then she did something no woman had done at the University: she was elected the sports editor of the student newspaper (defeating 3 male students). She covered Cornell football AND when her school played Yale, she sat in Yale’s press box –another first for a woman. Those were small steps. In 1961, ABC hired her to cover the civil rights movement and presidential primaries. Then, she went to Vietnam. She talked her way around an order of General Westmoreland denying woman reporters from battlefield news coverage. The General was worried a woman would be injured in a wartime situation. Ms. Merick did suffer one injury: she was bitten by a monkey (a soldier’s mascot). Much later, a daughter of hers said: “I think the whole Yale press box thing…really set her up to not be afraid to do the job of a man.”



Pete Moore, 79. (see above; 2nd from left) When Mr. Moore was 12, he met William “Smokey” Robinson. Later, he was Robinson’s best man at his wedding and a member of a musical group of theirs. The group met Berry Gordy, the group’s name was changed to the Miracles, and their musical history began. In 1965, he co-wrote “Ooo Baby Baby,” “The Tracks of My Tears,” and “My Girl Has Gone.” The Miracles were Gordy’s first great ensemble, before the Supremes, the Four Tops, and the Temptations. The hits continued: “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me,” “Going to a Go-Go,” “I Second That Emotion,” and “The Tears of a Clown.” Mr. Robinson was voted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. The rest of the Miracles were so honored in 2012.

Sylvia Moy, 78. (see photos at top of page) In 1963, at age 13, Stevie Wonder had a hit record, “Fingertips Pt. 2.” His next efforts were not as successful. Motown did not know what to do. At a meeting, it was announced that Mr. Wonder’s voice had changed and no one knew how to handle that. Volunteers to deal with the situation were requested. No one raised their hand. Sylvia Moy, just arrived at Motown, asked for a chance to work with Mr. Wonder. “I don’t believe it’s over for him. Let me have Stevie.” He played his ideas for her. She liked a portion of one song and said she would work on it and get back to him. She and a producer, Henry Cosby, completed a song from that snippet. Back in the recording studio, there was no transcription of the lyrics into Braille for Mr. Wonder to read from. So Ms. Moy sang the words to him through her earphones. She said: “I would stay a line ahead of him and we didn”t miss a beat. The result was “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)” It was number 3 on Billboard’s top 100 hits. They continued to work together and the results included: “Nothing’s Too Good for My Baby”, “I Was Made to Love Her”, and “My Cherie Amour.” The last song was titled by Mr. Wonder “Oh, My Marcia.” Ms. Moy gave the title a French twist. At Ms. Moy’s induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, Mr. Wonder sang: “My Cherie Amour.”

Eric Newman, 106. In 1918, when Eric Newman was 7, his grandfather gave him an old penny to supplement his 5 cents a week allowance. The coin fascinated him. His parents encouraged his coin collection because by investigating coins he could learn their history and the history of the people and societies that produced them. He traveled to 150 countries for knowledge of his coins. He learned that Robert Morris not only signed the Declaration of Independence, but used his personal fortune to help finance the Revolutionary War and back the early government of the United States. Newman’s coins brought him a fortune of his own. A 1776 silver dollar minted by the Continental Congress brought him $1.4 million. A set of five 1913 Liberty Head nickels brought him $3 million apiece. In 1986, he was inducted into the numismatists’ Hall of Fame for his knowledge and research into the history of coins and paper money. But his favorite coin was a gold one with the head of George Washington on it. It was made in 1792 and President Washington kept it in his pants when he rode horseback. The signs of wear proved that.



Robert Osborne, 84. (see above) He had a small career as an actor who turned his lifelong love of movies into a 23 year career as host of Turner Classic Movies. Typically, he introduced 18 movies a week. He had 3 apartments in NYC. One in which he lived; one was an office; in one he stored his movie memorabilia. The apartment building was named The Osborne. Ms. Lucille Ball was a friend who encouraged him to give up acting and write about Hollywood. A friend saw him in Manhattan a month before he died. “He was just Robert, with countless stories about Hollywood. And he told me something I had never known. That every Sunday for 40 years, he has spoken to Olivia de Havilland.”

Charles Owens, 85. His Father was the greens keeper at a municipal golf course. He carved his first golf clubs out of tree branches. Injuries and operations to his knees left him with one leg 2 inches shorter than the other. And he was Black well before Tiger Woods came along. He began playing on the predominantly black United Golf Association. He qualified for the PGA tour, but had little success. On the Senior PGA Tour, he did better. But with his leg and (arthritic) back problems, he began having difficulty putting. He drew up plans for an extra long one (52”). A machinist friend made one for him. In 1985 and 1986, he made enough money to live on. At one tournament, a golf legend, Billy Casper, saw his name on the leaderboard replaced by Owens. Casper said: “Why, it’s Charlie Owens! Isn’t that wonderful?”

Lt. Gen. Leonard Perroots (USA) (83) and Colonel Stanislav Petrov (USSR) (77). These men saved the world from WWIII. In September, 1983, Russian computers said five Minuteman missiles had been launched from American bases. Electronic maps and screens confirmed the United States had begun an attack on Russia. Colonel Petrov made a “50-50 guess”: the computers were not functioning properly. A false alarm, it was later determined, was set off when a Russian satellite mistook the sun’s reflection off the tops of clouds for a missile launch. The system had been rushed into service after the USA had begun use of a similar system. Colonel Prtrov, in a 2010 interview explained: “ Americans wouldn’t begin an all-out attack with only five missiles. We are wiser than the computers. We created them.”

Six weeks later, Russian planes and helicopters were activated. Nuclear weapons were moved from storage sites to launch pads. In West Germany, Lt. Gen. Leonard Perroots had to decide: respond in kind and risk war or ignore the possible threat. He “acted out of instinct” that no attack was occurring. He was right. Thirty years later, an advisory board said his instincts were correct. In 2017, both men died less than 4 months apart.

Joseph W. Rogers, 97 and Thomas Forkner, 98. Have you ever enjoyed a meal at the Waffle House restaurant chain? These are the two men who started the business and grew it into almost 1,900 restaurants in 25 states earning $1+ billion in 2015. It is known for its hearty food, friendly staff, and 24 hour service. Mr. Rogers has walked into his restaurants where workers are calling elderly customers who haven’t been in in a while. One test of whether a restaurant is in a good location is if a rainy mid-week night still finds diners enjoying their visit. A FEMA official used “the Waffle House test” in a community. If it remained open after a hurricane, it meant power and water were likely available.

Pancho Segura, 96. In the mid-20th century, he was one of the world’s leading tennis players. Before the arrival of open tennis in 1968, his largest payday for a single event was $5,000. He won the NCAA singles championship each year from 1943 to 1945. He turned pro in 1947 and traveled around the world playing Jack Kramer, Pancho Gonzalez, Bobby Riggs, and Australians Lew Hoad and Ken Rosewall. He won the U. S. Pro Tennis Championship singles title each year from 1950 to 1952. He was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1984.



 Sumiteru Taniguchi, 88. (see above; he is speaking while holding a picture of himself after being injured by the atomic bombing of Nagasaki) On August 9, 1945, Mr. Taniguchi was 16 years old and delivering mail while on his bicycle. A mile away, an atomic bomb killed 74,000 people. He was thrown into the air, and the heat from the bomb melted his shirt and seared the skin off his back and one arm. He was taken to a hospital (3 months later) and laid on his stomach for nearly two years. Bedsores formed on his chest leaving permanent scars. He spent more than three and a half years in the hospital. He was in so much pain, he would scream to nurses, “kill me, kill me!”   His treatment was filmed and shared with the world. He became known as “the boy with a red back.” A decade after the bomb, he could sit up, stand, and walk. He began giving speeches calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons. He would show pictures of his burns to illustrate the horrible suffering resulting from the bomb. He spoke at memorial ceremonies in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and at antinuclear marches in New York. In 2010, he gave a speech at the UN asking all countries to support a nonproliferation of atomic weapons. Every year on the anniversary of the Nagasaki bombing, and any time a country conducted a nuclear test, he would attend a sit-in at the Peace Park in Nagasaki. It is estimated that he appeared at 396 protests. He often said: “I am determined to keep telling the reality of nuclear war as one of the living witnesses to realize a world without wars and nuclear weapons as long as I live.”

Robert Taylor, 85. Few people are as important as Mr. Taylor in shaping our computer-connected world. In 1966, while working in the Pentagon, he recommended 3 projects use a single computer network. His idea led to the Arpanet –a forerunner of the internet. Later, working at Xerox, he helped design the Alto computer—a forerunner of the personal computer. Then, while at NASA, he increased funding for the work of Douglas Engelbart –who invented the mouse which aided in the design of both Macintosh and Windows-based computers. He also was involved in work which resulted in the laser printer. Then, Steve Jobs visited Mr. Taylor’s work group at Xerox. Drawing on what he saw, he marketed a new style of computing. Something with which we are all familiar.

Simone Veil, 89. Trained as a lawyer, she rose to the rank of health minister of France. In the post war era, she drafted legislation expanding the rights of prison inmates, people with disabilities and disadvantaged children, plus measures that barred discrimination and expanded health benefits. In 1975, she spoke for the law that legalized abortion in France. Critics of her action likened abortion to Nazi euthanasia, and asked: “Madame Minister, do you want to send children to the ovens?” They forgot to whom they were speaking. Ms. Veil, along with her parents and siblings had been in Auschwitz-Birkenau and then Bergen-Belsen concentration camps during WWII. Her parents and brother died before she and her sisters were liberated. Her legislation was passed.



Elena Verdugo, 92. (see above) Because she had a Hispanic surname, in films “with that name, they don’t call you up to do little American parts.” She added: “I quit the movies because I was sick and tired of playing a native girl of some kind, with a knife, and few clothes.” Switching to television, she informed a producer: “I’m not playing maids and housekeepers.” Knowing her feelings, she was cast as a nurse who managed the medical practice of “Marcus Welby, M. D.” and his partner (ie, Robert Young and James Brolin). Over 7 seasons, she appeared in all 169 episodes of the show. She was nominated for Emmys. After her performance, she said: “Because of (my) work, many women told me they pursued a nursing career.”   Plus, she was recognized by the American Society of Medical Assistants.

Stan Weston, 84. In 1963, Mr. Weston was an agent who represented personalities like “Dr. Kildare,” the comedian Soupy Sales, and the Kingston Trio musical group. Then, he switched jobs. He thought he could replicate the success of the Barbie doll by producing a male equivalent. He contacted Hasbro toy company and, together, they came up with the “boys’ Barbie”: the “G. I. Joe” doll, and all of its accessories. Mr. Weston became $100,000 richer. By 2009, more than 400 million G. I. Joe action figures (not dolls) had been sold.

Bob Wolff, 96. Bob Wolff was a sports broadcaster. Almost 80 years. He started as a student at Duke University. During his career, he broadcast games for the Washington Senators baseball team (after his service in WWII), and pitched batting practice. He ended his career as a commentator for cable TV on Long Island, New York. In between he: called Don Larsen’s perfect game for the NYYankees in the 1956 World Series; he broadcast the 1958 NFL championship game (the Baltimore Colts beat The New York Giants in overtime); he spoke of the two New York Knicks’ NBA championships; he, along with Joe Garagiola, broadcast NBC’s baseball game of the week; and he was a broadcaster for Madison Square Garden (NYC) for over 50 years –where he covered the Knicks and NY Rangers games, college basketball and the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. He gave over 1,000 hours of his work to the Library of Congress, including interviews he did with Jim Thorpe, Babe Ruth, and Joe Louis. He is in the baseball Hall of Fame as a broadcaster. The Guinness World Records credits him as having the longest career of any sports broadcaster. And, finally, as he said: “If you added all the time up, I’ve spent about seven days of my life standing for the national anthem.”

Julius Youngner, 96. He was the last survivor of the team assembled by Dr. Jonas Salk to find a cure for polio. In the early 1950s, more than 50,000 children in the United States were struck with polio in one year. The cure was announced in 1955 and by 1979, polio had been virtually eliminated in developed nations. (I was one of the children who first received the cure.) In addition, Dr. Youngner continued his research (alone and with others) in the treatment of cancer and hepatitis, and resulted in vaccines for Type A influenza and equine influenza.







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A Final Thank You


Bill Collings:  Guitar Maker


Many famous people died in 2017. Among them were: Gregg Allman, Chuck Berry, Glen Campbell, David Cassidy, Barbara Cook, Fats Domino, Dick Gregory, Monty Hall, Hugh Hefner, Jerry Lewis, Mary Tyler Moore, Jeanne Moreau, Roberta Peters, Tom Petty, Don Rickles, Liz Smith, Roger Wilkins.

However, other individuals who passed away in 2017, less well-known, made significant contributions during their lives. Their actions made the life of others easier or more pleasant in a variety of ways. This article will give you an opportunity to appreciate their efforts and give them a final “thank you.” This article is not intended to make you sad, but to remind you there are such people.   If I missed someone who you think deserves mention, I’m sorry. I’m writing a blog, not an all inclusive book. Let me and other folks know who you would include in this remembrance. Bringing attention to people who made life better for others is worth the time and effort. (Thanks to the New York Times for its coverage of these individuals.)

George Avakian, 98. He was a record producer and talent scout who brought many artists to the public’s attention. He helped popularize the long-playing record. Working for Columbia records, he made Dave Brubeck and Miles Davis international celebrities instead of artists with a limited audience. He signed Johnny Mathis, then unknown, and produced a star. He convinced Louis Armstrong to record “Mack the Knife” and it became a huge hit. He supervised the recording of Duke Ellington’s performance at the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival and revitalized the Duke’s career. He released Edith Piaf’s “La Vie en Rose” and she was no long a treasure just in France. He found a Chicago accountant moonlighting as a radio performer and introduced Bob Newhart to a live audience and a career changing profession was begun. His performers and ideas brought pleasure to millions of people.


Fred Beckey, 94. (pictured above) He was a storied mountaineer and author who was the first climber on routes to the tallest peaks in Alaska, The Canadian Rockies, and the Pacific Northwest during his 70+ year career. He wrote a dozen books and made more than a thousand climbs unknown to anyone else. He often climbed 40 to 50 peaks in a year. He began his career at 13 when he and 2 friends reached the top of Mount Despair (a 7,292 foot effort) which was thought to be unclimbable.   One of his books was “Fred Beckey’s 100 Favorite North American Climbs.” (2011) So what are you doing this week?

Girish Bhargava, 76. He was a master of the little known art of editing dance films (eg, Dirty Dancing). Once, he said: “Mr B. came to trust me so much that once he asked for my help in finding a good ending for his ballet.” “Mr. B.” was George Balanchine. He edited films of the work of Balanchine, Peter Martins, Bob Fosse, Merce Cunningham, Martha Graham, and others. A friend said of him: “His sense of movement and feeling was unbelievable. Martha Graham wouldn’t work with anyone else. And she was not the most flexible person in the world.” Through his work on the PBS series “Dance in America”, he brought dance into the homes of hundreds of thousands of people. As a result, many of the audience became dancers and choreographers.

Michael Bond, 91. Mr. Bond created Paddington Bear. Many readers can tell you everything about him. For example, he was a polite, good-natured but disaster-prone little hero of children’s novels, picture and activity books, television programs and film. This assortment of income producers made Mr. Bond wealthy. The bear’s first appearance in public was described thus: “Mr. and Mrs. Brown first met Paddington on a railway platform.” The small brown bear was at a railroad station, seated on an old leather suitcase and wearing a tag that read: “Please look after this bear. Thank you.” Mr. Bond said his creation was inspired by memories of child evacuees from London. Bond added: “I do think that there’s no sadder sight than refugees.” Mr. Bond bought a bear as a stocking stuffer for his wife. But when they divorced, they arranged for joint custody of the bear.   Since then, the former husband and wife have often called each other and said: “He feels like coming to you now.” And he goes.

Carl Clark, 100. He was a WWII hero who received his award 67 years later. In May, 1945, near Okinawa, the ship (a destroyer) on which he served was attacked by Japanese kamikazes. An explosion blew Mr. Clark across the ship and broke his collarbone. Even so, he saved lives by dragging men to safety and put out a fire in an ammunition locker that would have destroyed the vessel. The ship’s captain realized such actions merited a metal, but believed “it wouldn’t look good to say one black man saved the ship.” Instead, Mr. Clark was given extra leave and never sent back to sea. His bravery was discovered when he was interviewed for a documentary many years later. The interviewer brought Mr. Clark’s actions to a Congressman. The Navy was contacted. On January 17, 2012, Mr. Clark received the Navy and Marne Corps Commendation Medal.

William T. Coleman, Jr., 96. He became the second African-American in a Cabinet position during President Ford’s administration. He became familiar with racism early in life. In 10th grade, after a fine oral presentation, a teacher remarked: “Someday, William, you will make a wonderful chauffeur.” Later, when he applied to join a high school swim team, it disbanded rather than admit him as a member. (After he graduated, it regrouped.) Training for WWII, he trained in Mississippi with men eventually known as the Tuskegee Airmen. After military service, he attended law school at Harvard –-graduating first in his class. Joining Thurgood Marshall, he became part of the legal team that successfully argued before the Supreme Court for the case of Brown v. Board of Education. He also was co-counsel in a case where the Supreme Court overturned a Florida law prohibiting an interracial couple from living together. Three years later, in Loving v. Virginia, the court declared legal restrictions against interracial marriage unconstitutional. As chairman of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund , he argued 19 cases before the Supreme Court. Finally, in 1995, Bill Clinton presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Bill Collings, 68. (see picture at top of article)   He liked to build things. Hot rods, as a hobby. At age 30, by fixing other folks’ instruments, he found his destination: guitars. His company later added mandolins, electric guitars, ukuleles. Business grew by word of mouth. He made 20,000 guitars for people like Keith Richards, Pete Townshend, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon, Emmylou Harris, and Lyle Lovett –who said “his guitars have personality, the sound is full of energy, just like Bill Collings is.”



Betty Cuthbert, 79. (see above) She was Australia’s “golden girl” of track and field for what she did on the track and, when she could no longer run, what she did off it. In 1956, in Australia’s first Olympic Games, she won the 100 meters, the 200 meters, and anchored the 4X100-meter relay. An injury kept her from winning in 1960. She considered quitting, but returned in 1964 to win the women’s first 400 meters race. Then she retired. Five years later, multiple sclerosis arrived. Ultimately, she needed a wheelchair. She persisted, talking to others and raising money for research. In 2002, a brain hemorrhage almost killed her. She continued to speak, encouraging others with her ailment. She said: “I know people listen to me because they know what I used to do –run.” In 2000, the Olympics returned to Australia. In a wheelchair, pushed by another Australian Olympian, she carried the Olympic touch.

Jeannie Rousseau de Clarens, 98. In 1943, Jeanie Rousseau, as she was then known, was an interpreter in Paris for French businessmen negotiating contracts with German occupiers. She was young, attractive, and spoke flawless German. Officers were unaware she reported to the French Resistance. Most of what she heard about weapons (eg, the V-1 and V-2 rockets) was incomprehensible to her, but she had a near-photographic memory and repeated everything to her contact in the French Resistance. Just before the Allied invasion in Normandy, she was captured. She was sent to three concentration camps, each worse than the previous. Near death, her release was negotiated in the last weeks of the war by the Swedish Red Cross. While being treated for tuberculosis, she met and married Henri de Clarens, —who had been imprisoned in Buchenwald and Auschwitz. In 1993, she was presented with the Seal Medal “for heroic and momentous contribution to Allied efforts during WWII as a member of the French resistance.”

Frank Deford, 78. He retired from NPR’s “Morning Edition” in May after completing 1,656 weekly sports commentaries since 1980. He appeared on HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” for 22 years. He wrote for Sports Illustrated for 30+ years. He was Sportswriter of the Year 6 times, a member of the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame, and the first sportswriter to receive a National Humanities Medal from President Barack Obama. The president of HBO sports said: “Frank Deford with a pen in his hand is like Michael Jordan with a basketball.”



  June Foray, 99. (see above) I am biased when it comes to Ms. Foray’s work. But I make no apologies. Rocky and his friends was one of my favorite TV shows and unbelievably hilarious. Read on with my bias in mind. Ms. Foray began her career as a high school speech teacher. She had an 80+ year run in show business that began in radio when she was 12. She was heard in films, TV shows, record albums, video games, and talking toys. She worked in nearly 300 animated productions. She could play several parts by changing accent and personality. The entertainment world called her the First Lady of Animated Voicing.   At age 94, she became the oldest person to win an Emmy. Another animator said of her talent: “June Foray is not the female Mel Blanc (ie voice of Bugs Bunny, etc). Mel Blanc was the male June Foray.” Experts believed her peak was Rocket J. Squirrel (AKA Rocky, the flying squirrel). Rocky and his friend, Bullwinkle the moose, appeared on television from 1959 to 1964. 150 episodes aired. It had a huge cult following. Network reruns aired until 1973 and again in 1981-82. Cable reruns ran through the 1990s. Tributes were held at film festivals. Shows were syndicated in the United States, Australia, England and Japan. PBS produced a documentary: “Of Moose and Men: The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show (1991).”

And what was Rocky and his friends show like? Read on.

During the cold war, Rocky (Ms. Foray) and his dim witted moose friend, Bullwinkle, battled inept villains Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale (also Ms. Foray) in Frostbite Falls, Minnesota. It was satire and rapid-fire wordplay. No pun was too awful. Rocky trained at Cedar Yorpantz Flying School. Bullwinkle’s alma mater was Wossamotta U. A jeweled toy boat, the Ruby Yacht of Omar Khayyam, sailed across Veronica Lake. “For a powerful magnate,” Rocky tells a tycoon, “you sure don’t pick up things too quickly.” In one episode, the heroes track a monstrous whale, Maybe Dick. An episode’s narrator urged fans to tune in for the next exciting episode: “All in Fever Say Aye, or the Emotion Is Carried;” “The Show Must Go On, or Give ‘em the Acts.”

Dr. Shigeaki Hinohara,105. When he was born (1911), an average Japanese person was unlikely to live past 40. Today, an average person lives into their 80s. His (and his patients’) secrets to longer life: annual physicals, avoid obesity (his constant adult weight: 130 pounds), take the stairs (he took 2 at a time), carry your own bags, do not underestimate the beneficial effects of music and the company of animals, do not retire (but if you must, do so later than 65), prevail over pain simply by enjoying yourself. Dr. Hinohara wrote a musical for children when he was 88 and a best-selling book at 101. Until his last months, he worked up to 18 hours a day and, using a cane, he exercised by taking 2,000+ steps a day. He appointment book always had room for 5 more years of work.

Lilli Hornig, 96. She received a Masters degree from Harvard in 1943. She and her husband (who had a doctorate) drove a 1937 Ford to Los Alamos, New Mexico and applied for jobs in the government’s Manhattan Project. He got a job and she was asked: “How fast can you type?” She talked her way into another job with another woman. Later, she was assigned a job working with conventional explosives. In 1950, she earned a doctorate at Harvard and became the chairwoman of the chemistry department at Trinity Washington University. She founded Higher Education Resource Services (HERS), at Brown University investigating sexism in hiring. Later, she served on the Committee for the Equality of Women at Harvard.

Beatrice Trum Hunter, 98. She was a public school teacher who was inspired by a book (“100,000,000 Guinea Pigs” –which referred to America’s population at the time) which changed her life. “The first thing I did was to cut out sugar. Then, I began to use more whole grains and fresh vegetables.” She published her first of 38 books (“The Natural Foods Cookbook”) in 1961. Public health leaders (eg, Rachel Carson and Adelle Davis) sought her advice regarding artificial food additives and pesticides and used her information into their best-selling books.

Judith Jones, 93. Shortly after college, she moved to Paris to work for Doubleday. She came across a book already published in German and Dutch but unknown to American readers. She was attracted to the picture of a young girl on the cover. She read the book and was in tears by the end of her work day. She sent the book to the United States saying: “It’s wonderful.” It was published here with the title: “Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl.”

She returned to New York. She found a book, 800 pages in length, written by 3 unknown women.   It was about French cooking, a subject with which she was familiar. She said: “Here was the cookbook I had been dreaming of –one that took you by the hand and explained every step of a recipe. It spelled out techniques, talked about proper equipment, necessary ingredients and viable substitutes; it warned of pitfalls yet provided remedies for your mistakes.” With its publication, she introduced America to Julia Child.

In addition, she edited other significant writers (eg, among them were John Updike, Anne Tyler, and John Hersey).

Ahmed Kathrada, 87. He spent 26 years in prison, many with his friend, Nelson Mandela, as they sought to create a free and democratic South Africa. They were convicted of plotting a “violent revolution.” Often, they worked breaking stones or in lime quarries. They spoke to new prisoners to keep up with current events. While in prison, he earned 4 college degrees. At age 60, he was freed in 1989. Later, he became a member of Parliament, wrote books and gave tours of where he was imprisoned to Margaret Thatcher, Beyonce, and –twice—to Barack Obama.

Margaret Bergman Lambert, 103. (see below) A month before the 1936 Olympics, Miss Bergman entered a track meet in Germany. Her high jump tied a German record. She also excelled in the shot-put, discus, and high jump. Later, a Nazi official told her “Looking at your performances, you could not possibly have expected to be chosen for the German Olympic team.” Anti-Semitism was on the rise and signs in German shops said “No dogs or Jews allowed.” In 1937, she was permitted to immigrate to the United States. In 1938, she married another German refugee she had met in a training camp in Germany. In the United States, she competed in athletics, winning the high jump (in 1937 and 1938) and shot put (1938). She did not try out for the United States Olympic team in 1940 because war broke out in Europe. She was asked to return to Germany in 1999 when the stadium where she had trained was renamed in her honor. She went because “I was told they were naming the facilities for me so when young people ask, ‘Who was Gretel Bergmann,’ they would be told my story, and the story of those times.”



End of Part One. Second, and final, part next time.













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Unique Christmas Gifts


In this it’s-almost-Christmas season, how many gift catalogs have you received? 30, 40, 50? More? Did you receive one from Hammacher Schlemmer? (see above)  They provide a wide variety of gifts –all of them unique (and some very expensive, too). They have been in existence since 1848. They claim to have “America’s Longest Running Catalog.” Plus, they have offered “the Best, the Only and the Unexpected for 169 years.”   They have a large store in NYC. (FAO Schwarz is in NYC, too. If you are close by, kids might enjoy a visit.)

Among Hammacher Schlemmer’s 12 best sellers are: a Turkish Bathrobe ($130), a white noise generator to help you sleep ($55), a VHS to DVD Converter ($300), a Space Saving 18 Pair–Holding Shoe Rack ($50), and Sheepskin Slippers ($80).

Here is a sample of a dozen of the store’s more unique items for sale:


Two authentic Yankee Stadium seats ($1,500) (see above)


An authentic Baseball glove leather chair ($6,200) (see above)


A rideable, three-wheeled cooler (with a speed of 12 mph and a range of 10 miles) ($999.95) (see above)


A Rolling Stones autographed guitar ($3,900) (see above)


An R2-D2 Coffee Press (9+ inches tall) ($39.95) (see above)


Three Silent Squeaking Dog Toys (your dog can hear these 3 squeaking toys, but not you!) ($39.95) (see above)


The Feline’s Laser Chasing Scratch Post (“a yarn covered scratch post topped with a device that projects a red laser dot in random patterns at one of 4 speeds”) ($79.95) (see above)


The World’s Smallest Quadcopter (Only 1.1” square and requiring a launching platform no larger than the tip of a finger; can travel up to 65’) ($39.95) (see above)


A Remote Controlled Abrams Tank (moves left and right making 360 degree turns, fires plastic pellets) ($279.95) (see above)


The Fish Catching Remote Controlled Boat (This 17 and a half inch boat can catch up to a 2 pound fish!) ($69.95) (see above)


The Tabletop Fireplace (It rests on any stable surface, producing a 7” flame which can heat a 325’ square area for two and a half hours.) ($159.95) (see above)


The Long Range Laser Blaster Set (This laser tag set allows 2 players to fire 100’ away) ($59.95) (see above)


Among the most expensive gifts are: The World’s Largest Scrabble Game (The wall-mounted game is 88” high and 99” wide. One of only 9 in existence. Comes with 100 tiles) ($12,000)

The Amphibious ATV (The all-terrain vehicle moves on land and water at a speed of 45 mph.) ($49,000)

The Authentic 1966 Batmobile (“This is the officially licensed, roadworthy replica of the Batmobile featured in the 1960s TV show. Built on a Lincoln chassis with a 430 horsepower engine and automatic transmission”) ($200,000)

Obviously, these are special gifts intended for special people. So, if YOU receive a gift from Hammacher Schlemmer, you must be a special person. And if you do not receive such a gift, you are still special to me for reading this article. Merry Christmas!!











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Gifts for Famous People

I know you are busy finding appropriate gifts for all your friends and family members. Now, image you had to get appropriate gifts for famous people as well. Here are some suggestions for a dozen folks who are known everywhere. (This is just for laughs, people. Don’t take this article as serious…just chuckle.)


Donald Trump. Santa could bring him a giant wall-size “Scrabble” game (see above). Using it would help him improve his vocabulary beyond “fake news,” “loser,” best, biggest, greatest, huge, etc.


Vladimir Putin. Because Russia’s National Animal is the bear, someone will send him a giant stuffed bear from Toys R Us. The gift card would say: from “an admirer” and the return address might read “Washington, D. C.” Hmmm.


Serena Williams.  To help (as if she will need any) her get ready for another tennis season, she could receive “the infinite Climbing Wall Treadmill.” (see above) It will have “a continuously revolving face that enables endless vertical climbs on hand and foot-holds.” Advantage Williams.


Michelle Obama. She receives “an invitation”. It could read: “I’m sorry we didn’t have more time together during my visit to my second home, The White House. We could make up for lost time when you visit Mar-a-Lago. Does Barry golf? (When very young, President Obama was called Barry.) Not as well as I do, believe me. Bring him along, if you must. Donald.” Michelle would skip golf and challenge Donald to arm wrestling. Ouch.

Lit Net

LeBron James. As Mr. James nears his final NBA seasons, a gift that would help him maintain his shooting accuracy would be “The Glow in The Dark Indoor Basketball Hoop.” (see above) “The backboard, net, and ball appear white in daylight and glow green in the dark enabling shooting drills after lights out.” Look out, Mr. Curry.


Angela Merkel. The German Chancellor might receive a signed copy of: “Trump: The Art of the Deal.”   The inscription could read: “To my second favorite foreign leader, Angela. Sorry I forgot to shake your hand during your visit. We’ll shake everything next time. Donald.” No strudel for you, Mr. President.


Oprah Winfrey. She could buy herself anything with her earnings over the years, but she might not think of receiving “”The Amphibious ATV” (see above) “This is the world’s first high-speed all-terrain vehicle that travels over land and sea at up to 45 mph.” She could tow the President on his skies.


Jeff Bezos. The world’s only living $100 billion man! He would never think of receiving, from Amazon, a 100,000 piece LEGO building set. He could use it to build his own second warehouse. Cities overlooked would be envious.


Tom Brady. Perhaps Commissioner Goodell will send him “the only automatic Cordless Tire Inflator.” (see above) “The desired pressure is set using its digital pressure gauge.” Eh, for use in future playoff games? Or if a car tire needs help on the way to the stadium…more likely.


Lin-Manuel Miranda. The creator of Broadway’s “Hamilton” will almost certainly receive an 8 X 10” glossy picture of President Trump inscribed: “always thinking of you, Donald.” Remember Miranda’s reaction to Trump’s comments after the hurricane hit Puerto Rico? “You’re going straight to hell @real Donald Trump. No long lines for you. Someone will say, “Right this way, sir.” They’ll clear a path.” Everyone knows how often the President forgets or forgives real/imagined slights.


Audra McDonald. The 6-time Tony winner would love to receive “The Light Up Party Piano” (see above) only from Hammacher Schlemmer’s store. It is 8 feet long and lights up and plays music when anyone dances or jumps on the keys. Remember Tom Hanks and Robert Loggia in the movie “Big?” Maybe Ms. McDonald will use it in her next Tony winning performance.


Meryl Streep. Is it true Ethan and Joel Coen will give her the lead role in their next film, entitled: “Married for Money”, a biopic of the life of Melania Trump? Ms. Streep’s expected reaction? “It will be my greatest challenge yet.” (Rumor: President Trump will be played by Wallace Shawn. Vizzini, in “The Princess Bride.”)    











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My Favorite TV Christmas Shows

TV Guide listed 109 Christmas shows to be broadcast this holiday season. (Golly, I hope I counted correctly. Did I miss something?) I know everyone eagerly awaits their favorites. Here are my mine.


Rudolph the Red-Nosed Raindeer. I like to start the season on a light note. I watch Hermie (“I want to be a dentist”) –a discontented Elf, and his friend, Rudolph the –well, you know. They want to be “independent” together. (It’s my second favorite line in all the Christmas TV shows. My favorite line is –wait a bit, you’ll see.) And Yukon “Silver and Gold” Cornelious, The Abominable, and –from the Isle of Misfit Toys— Charlie-in-the-Box.   “Who wants a Charlie-in-the-box?” I do, and so do you, right? Will Christmas be cancelled or will Rudolph save the holiday? What do you think, kids?


A Charlie Brown Christmas. Is there ANYBODY who hasn’t seen this show? “It’s not such a bad tree after all, Charlie Brown.” “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.” And, as Charlie’s younger sister reads him her “endless” gift list for Santa, she says: “And if that’s too complicated, just send money: preferably, tens and twenties.” (Charlie moans; and his sister says, earnestly) “All I want is my fair share.” THAT’S my favorite line. And for those few of you who are seeing it for the first time: don’t worry. Everything turns out OK.


A Christmas Carol. Yes, I know there have been many versions of this film. Starring, as Ebenezer Scrooge, Alistair Sim, Michael Caine, Patrick Stewart, Albert Finney, and many others. My favorite stars George C. Scott as Scrooge. Scott is perfect: from a money grubbing b__________, then questioning, worried he’s waited too long, to a believer: “I’ll believe in all 3 Christmases –the past, the present, and the future. I swear it on my soul, Jacob Marley.” He’s a better Scrooge than he was as Patton –and that’s saying something. The location filming –in a town the same age as the story itself – and cast are marvelous. Remember: Edward Woodward as the Ghost of Christmas Present; David Warner as Bob Cratchit; Susannah York as Mrs. Cratchit; Roger Rees as Fred; and, as Jacob Marly: Frank Finlay –who would scare anyone into believing anything. Glorious.



A Christmas Story. Written by NYC’s Jean Shepard, who has a cameo in the film (He says: (To Ralphie) “The line starts back there.”) Yes, Ralphie and all the kids—good and bad, Ralphie’s Mom (Melinda Dillon, the wife in Close Encounters of the Third Kind), Dad (Darren McGavin, check his bio on www.Imdb.com), and grown up Ralphie (check his bio AND picture today in Imdb) –everybody is fantastic. Were your Christmas’ like this? If you have not seen it, do yourself a favor: watch it this year!


Miracle on 34th Street. This is the film that, legally, answers the question once and for all: Is there a Santa Claus?   No smoke and mirrors, no magic trick, yes or no. You will like the answer and the way the story unfolds. Acting is fine and the black and white film won’t take away from your enjoyment. Edmund Gwenn won an Oscar for his performance. You will enjoy it, too –even if you could not see it when it was first presented for your viewing pleasure in 1947.


A Child’s Christmas in Wales. This may be hard to find. It was a TV movie (1987) based on the Dylan Thomas poem of the same name. Perhaps a local theater company may put on a production. The story: A family is celebrating Christmas and the young boy doesn’t want to go to sleep. He listens to his Grandfather tell of his Christmas’ of long ago. The Grandfather is planned by English actor, Denholm Elliott (A Room with a View), who is magnificent. A true family movie that will warm your heart and leave a happy tear in your eye. Give it a try. It’s worth your time.

Love Actually

Love Actually. This film is loved or avoided by everybody. The bottom line (IMO): A wonderful Rom-Com well written with a fantastic cast. Worth seeing if only to figure out which group you fall into or watch what seems like every English actor you’ve ever heard, and some you haven’t. Laugh with Bill Nighy (Billy Mack) or cry with Emma Thompson, enjoy the relationship of Colin Firth and Sienna Guillory (you do not know her, but you will remember her), and ask yourself: is that what happens when an X-rated film is made by Martin Freeman (The Hobbit –all 3, and Dr. Watson to Cumberbatch’s Holmes) and Heike Makatsch (try to remember her face). Fine writing and good acting with Christmas as a background for many stories.



Try any of my suggestions if you are still uncertain if you will like any of these productions. You might find a new Christmas pleasure.








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A Dog’s Life

Have you ever wondered how a dog (your dog?) perceives life? This article consists of cartoons by Charles Barsotti, whose drawings appeared in The New Yorker for more than 40 years. It can answer the question I just suggested. (Caution: I am a dog person –as some of my previous articles have shown.)
















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Giving Thanks



Thursday is Thanksgiving. I, like many of you, will sit down to a meal of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, a variety of vegetables, and pumpkin pie (a la mode?). We may remember to say “thank you” to the pilgrims in Massachusetts (and the Indians who helped them survive), but all of us will have a list of thanks for the blessings that came our way in the past year. Here is a list of events for which I will say “thanks.”

Another year of marriage to Donna; our 38th.

There was no need to say “good-bye” to any family members or friends.

Another year of no major health problems (a la my back operation of 2013).

Our first full year with our 4th dog: Luna; it was a joy for all 3 of us.

Three new families moved into our neighborhood bringing 6 “new faces” with them. Their ages ranged from 1 to 7. Their names were: Maddie, Declan, Emma, Lily, Andrew, and Kerry. Luna greeted them all; most of them greeted her, as well.

A year of writing blog articles; Some of my favorites were: “Thank You, Chuck Berry;” “Dog Stories: Angus, Jake, Luna;” “From Zaharias to Ledecky;” “Paris, 1946;” “30 Years with Homer.”

Another fine year from CBS Sunday Morning, who welcomed their 3rd host (Jane Pauley) in 38 years.

Two exceptional television programs: Ken Burns’ “The Vietnam War” and “The Wizard of Lies” (with Robert DeNiro portraying Bernie Madoff).

Exactly enough ice cream from my favorite dairy farm, Merrymead, and Ben and Jerry’s (but what did they do with Chocolate Cherry Garcia?).

A great year of baseball. Starring The Houston Astros, Jose Altuve, Giancarlo Stanton, Max Scherzer, Corey Kluber, and many more.

Another great year of hamburgers (from Bruno’s, Red Robin, Five Guys, etc.)

Wonderful movies (eg, Beauty and the Beast and Get Out).

Finding another excellent screen writer: Taylor Sheridan. His work: “Wind River” (2017), “Hell or High Water” (2016), “Sicario” (2015).



What will you include in your “Thank You” list?







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