December, 2015:

PONDERING LIFE’S ENERGY

Hubble shows visions of our amazing universe

Hubble shows visions of our amazing universe

At the end of another year, I find myself in search of comfort and words of wisdom. I don’t have traditional spiritual beliefs but do believe there is a Higher Power Energy and that life persists eternally in some manner.

I’ve always been fascinated by physics, even though I am far from understanding much of it. I think I intuit/accept its principles, like the law of the conservation of energy: In an isolated system—our universe, for instance—the total amount of energy remains constant over time. Energy can neither be created nor destroyed; it can only be transformed.

Einstein said Imagination is more important than Knowledge. Imagination helps, especially if you’re trying to figure out his famous theorem.

Since energy alters/transforms, it’s easier to imagine how human beings change from the non-physical to the physical (birth and death and vice versa) and can interact in so many ways, even between species. A couple of years ago I wrote about the ocean scattering Jack Nakamura’s ashes (my brother’s father-in-law). Jack’s family, friends and fishing buddies all enjoyed the Orca whales that seemed to deliberately join in the celebration of Jack’s life. Jack’s spiritual energy and the whales physical energy are all part of the same energy system. One particular whale kept diving and waving his tail; to those observing, it seemed as if Jack were waving.

In October 2010, Jack’s energy was still a presence in the beach house where he had died the day before Thanksgiving in 2007. A married couple, who were friends of Jack and Una Nakamura, were guests for a few weeks in the beach house and noticed a floating, non-threatening but restless, spirit at night just above the floor, and even heard muffled voices. One night the bathroom shower curtain and rod came crashing down into the tub, making a loud, startling noise that jarred the couple out of a sound sleep. The wife felt all the “hauntings” were Jack and promised his spirit she would tell his wife Una about his visitations. After she made that promise, the sightings ceased and all was peaceful at night.

I’ve had my own spirit visitors. After my dad died in the late ‘90s, I inherited a few pieces of his furniture. I cherish a vanity table that had originally belonged to my mother, who’d died in 1974. I bought a touch lamp and placed it on the vanity, which was in the bedroom of my new apartment. About 3 a.m. one night, when I’d just gotten back in bed after a visit to the bathroom, the lamp lit up. I hadn’t gone anywhere near the lamp during my little journey. The light continued to come on every few months during my three-year residence in that apartment. Once it brightened to the second level, which would’ve taken two touches. Even though the vanity had been my mother’s, I knew it had to be my dad who was visiting. He and I had shared some turbulent years in my childhood and the issues had never been addressed or settled. I intuitively felt he had come to tell me to be “enlightened” on the matter, “lighten” up and let go for my own peace.

I wonder what new marvels of energy connections I may observe in the future. I feel this energy is a comforting reminder that life persists in the physical and in the non-physical. May those who’ve passed on in the terrible tragedies of the world send comforting visions or other indications to those they’ve left behind.

 

MOTLEYS & MOREHEADS – SOUTHERN ANCESTORS

You don’t get to choose your ancestors, so it’s fun when they turn out to be interesting or successful or even both. Depending on fate perhaps, we may be related to a horse thief, a governor or even a president. I once interviewed a geneaology expert who told me most US citizens are related to a US President!

I’m from old Virginia/North Carolina stock: Motley, Seago, Morehead and Hobson essentially. The most famous relative I’ve discovered was North Carolina Governor John Motley Morehead, who ran the state from 1841-1845. He had an accomplished life, (he’s been named the Father of Modern North Carolina) but his mother, Obedience Motley, was even more fascinating. Her positive influence on him made a great difference from what I’ve read.

Obedience Motley in old age

Obedience Motley in old age

Before ancestry became such a popular hobby, thanks to the Internet, a lot of women were interested in researching their history so they could join the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution). A Motley family cousin was curious enough about our prolific family that she discovered many of the relevant facts and put together a family history with names, dates, and some true stories from the past. She mailed these 20+ page documents to family members in the 1970s. Luckily, I’m a saver and still have mine in the original, now well-worn brown envelope, which only cost 50 cents to mail then from Danville, Virginia to Agoura, California.

The John Motley Morehead and Obedience Motley Morehead information apparently came primarily from a biography of the governor, but my document isn’t clear about the source. Too bad I didn’t ask more questions before so many relatives from my mother and grandfather’s generation died. Some of the pages tell where the information was located: family bibles that listed births, marriages and deaths, the state of Virginia archives, and the DAR library. These days, enthusiasts can join Ancestry.com, Archives.com, or one called Find A Grave!

The Motleys must have had good genes: living past 90 wasn’t that unusual, at least for some of the women. Obedience Motley Morehead was born in 1768 and died in 1863, having lived 95 years—from before the Revolutionary War to the middle of the Civil War! In the photo of her, there’s a curious circle above her head. It looks a bit like a halo! I would suppose she might have been an “angel” to many who knew her from the little I’ve discovered about her. Her grandmother, Elizabeth, was also a hearty soul; she had been born in 1700 and died in 1792 (also living through two wars). Obedience’s father, Joseph Motley, served with George Washington (only a colonel then) during the French and Indian War and then the Revolutionary War.

Nicknamed “Biddy,” Obedience had six brothers who all fought in the Revolutionary War. Obedience’s gravestone is in a cemetery connected to a Presbyterian church in Greensboro, N.C. Her son, the North Carolina governor, is buried in the same cemetery.

Gov. John Motley Morehead

Gov. John Motley Morehead

The man who started the Motley family journey in America was born in Wales, and reportedly, this first James Motley arrived by ship from Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1696. Obedience’s grandfather settled in Gloucester County, (home of historical Jamestown) Virginia by 1720 and married Elizabeth Forrest. The family moved west near Richmond and settled in Amelia Court House in 1737—another historical area. Its claim to fame hadn’t happened yet: it was a few wars later when General Robert E. Lee ended the Civil War by surrendering in 1865 to General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House in that area. Virginia is full of old history! There’s more to tell about these 18th century Americans, but I’ll save it for future blogs. A little history can go a long way…

CHRISTMAS MEMORIES

As Christmas season and gift giving makes its merry way into the lives of those who celebrate it, I think about years past and what stood out about those times. To me, the holidays are sentimental. It reminds me of my parents, my siblings, my relatives and all the friends I’ve known over the years. As each year passes, there are more friends and relatives who are departing Mother Earth and this special time becomes more bittersweet.

I believe my childhood as an Army brat, traveling around the world, probably inspired me to keep in touch with as many old friends and relatives as I possibly could. I saw that my parents did it (my mother signed the cards and wrote the accompanying notes) and I enjoyed reading all the Christmas mail they got in return. I’ve been doing the same for several decades and continue to enjoy everyone’s news, even though I’ve graduated to modern technology and use Email.  This past year was a busy one of editing and I wrote about all the books I’d edited since they were quite a mix of subject matter.

There are a few holiday occasions I remember with a special fondness. My earliest Christmas memory is a postwar celebration in Murnau, Germany, in the 1940s. My mother was newly married. Instead of the train I remember asking for, I received a set of painted wooden doll furniture embellished with colorful Bavarian décor, which once consisted of a bed, table, two chairs and a chest. I still have the foot-high chest of drawers; it’s in excellent shape considering the years. It doesn’t contain doll clothes, just a variety of items like extra toothbrushes, spare night lights and a few remembrances.

Ella, my German mother-in-law, and me

Ella, my German mother-in-law, and me in Bavaria

Germany figures in several Christmas celebrations, like my last one in college. As an Army dependent, I had a free trip to my parents’ home in Mannheim, but it was space available from Maguire Air Force Base in New Jersey. A large group of students and military personnel spent five days waiting for an empty airplane seat. An older Master Sergeant became my protector and one night took me to see the Cary Grant/Audrey Hepburn movie “Charade.” Once I made it to Germany, I felt like a debutante with all the social activities and attention from eligible Army lieutenants. Winging homeward to the US on New Year’s Eve from Rhine-Main Air Base, a few of us college coeds were invited by flirtatious Air Force pilots into the cockpit to see the Midnight Sun over Northern Canada.

There was another German Christmas in 1967, a couple of years after I was married. My husband’s Army parents, as well as my own, were  stationed in Germany. My folks were in Frankfurt and his were in Kaiserslautern. The photo here shows me with Ella, my delightful mother-in-law during a visit to picturesque Garmisch in Bavaria.

I recall my daughter Heidi’s second Christmas and the Fisher-Price dollhouse Santa brought. She was old enough to appreciate it, and I can still see it because it’s on film. I was about six months pregnant with her brother at the time. And below, I have a photo taken of my kids–Heidi and Hansi–with Santa Claus around 1975.

Heidi and Hansi with Santa

Heidi and Hansi with Santa

I can’t forget the memory of the last family Christmas I spent with my parents, sister and brother. My little family—husband and two youngsters–drove from LA to San Antonio, Texas, in a spacious Plymouth; the backseat was large enough for a crib mattress, an idea I’d gotten from a TV show. I bought a harness for both kids (three years old and eight months old) and strapped them to the seat belts, so they could sleep and also crawl around. It might not be considered safe now, but nothing bad happened.

That Christmas my mother’s kidney disease was just beginning to get worse, my brother was still in college and my sister was going to junior college in Utah. Two years later my mother had left the world for good.

A few years later my sister joined us for a California taste of winter. My mother-in-law rented a cabin in the San Bernardino Mountains, which gave us a whole new perspective on the holidays. We bought a tree on the way there, a bargain since it was Christmas Eve, but then had to lug everything up countless steps to this aerie on a hill with a view of a small lake below. We did our decorating the old-fashioned way by stringing popcorn. Before we left a few days later, my kids tried out sledding for the very first time.

Dealing with my new divorce in the 1980s felt daunting, but my sister’s small family and my still single brother were supportive by joining me and my kids in Los Angeles for Christmas. Four small children and four adults filled my house with laughter, and my sister brought along the ingredients to make a lovely little gingerbread house.

Family Christmas 1981

Family Christmas 1981- Me, brother Darby, sister Tupper & kids-David, Hansi, Heidi & Heather.

STAR WARS CONNECTION

STAR WARS - PHANTOM MENACE

STAR WARS – PHANTOM MENACE

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is finally out and predicted to bring in billions in ticket sales. I can’t claim to be a fanatic Star Wars fan, but I’ve got my own connection to Star Wars–I interviewed Jake Lloyd who played the nine-year-old  Anakin Starwalker in George Lucas’ Episode I – The Phantom Menace in 1999.

I interviewed Jake Lloyd, who is now 26, while he was making his first film, Jingle All the Way in 1996, with Arnold Schwarzenegger before he became Governor of California.  I have fond memories of the film  because I was invited to visit the 20th Century Fox set for this movie. I was writing a weekly column for the Los Angeles Daily News called “People and Places,” and I’d been asked to the set to interview Jake Lloyd, the then seven-year-old actor who was playing Swarzenegger’s son in the movie.

Original movie poster

Original movie poster

Jake Lloyd’s story is a mystical one of premonitions, believe it or not. He knew he wanted to make a movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger when he was two years old and living in Colorado. Here’s what the precocious youngster told me about seeing a drive-in movie: “When I was two my parents went to see Terminator. I was asleep in the back seat so they decided to stay for Terminator II. All of a sudden they look back, and my eyes were an inch wide.”

From then on, his mother Lisa related, Jake was entranced with Schwarzenegger. Although he couldn’t properly pronounce the superstar’s formidable surname, Jake would walk around their Colorado home declaring he would be in a movie with his hero. He would make up stories and try to imitate Schwarzenegger.

When the Lloyds planned to move to California so that Lisa could finish her college education, Jake asked his mother, “Isn’t Hollywood in California?”

Despite their skepticism, the Lloyds decided to give in to young Jake’s ambitions regarding moviemaking. They had photos taken and sent them to agents. An agent with her own talent agency near the Lloyd’s new home liked what she saw and took Jake on. In no time she’d booked him for three commercials.

It didn’t take long to acquire experience. Jake appeared in a Ford and a Kentucky Fried Chicken commercial and starred in Unhook The Stars, a movie with Marisa Tomei and Gena Rowlands; he also got a reoccurring role in TV’s E.R.

Jake Lloyd

Jake Lloyd

Jake’s dream became a reality in 1996 when he auditioned and won the part of Schwarzenegger’s son. Jake said that he was speechless when he first met his hero. He remembered Schwarzenegger asking, “How you doing, Jake?” After working with the star for three months, Jake said, “Now we’re really good friends.”

It’s been years since I did that interview but little Jake was hard to forget. He was an unspoiled kid interested in everything about the movie business. While I was there, he took me into the living room set and up some stairs to the catwalk to look down on the set. It was the last day of filming. Since movies are seldom put together sequentially, they were just then filming the very first scene.

After his first film, Jake went on to play in The Phantom Menace. Apparently, Jake became discouraged with his film career and he moved to the Midwest. I wonder if he had any visions about what career he would pursue when he got older.

THE BARRACAN NEWSPAPER- WHEELUS HIGH

I keep track of my important keepsakes from my life as a military brat. As a fledgling reporter, from October 1956 to May 1958, I cherished the school newspaper and held onto 17 Barracan newspapers from Wheelus Air Force Base High School just outside Tripoli, Libya. I’m surprised how well they’ve held up considering I’ve moved about 20 plus times since my family left Wheelus for the US in 1958. The photos are a bit blurry, but we didn’t have top quality printing. Nevertheless, the copy is still easily readable. I’ll share more of them as time goes on, but I had to present my first big story on the front page–Ebb Tide is Theme of Junior-Senior Prom–even  though I didn’t get a byline. I made sure I didn’t forget this milestone since I wrote in ink: “I wrote this” on my copy!

Barracan May 1958

From the inside of the March 26th newspaper, I found that “Platter Chatter” written by Errol Cochrane announced that the number one song request on Armed Forces Radio was Perry Como’s “Catch a Falling Star,” and the number two was Elvis Presley’s “Don’t.” Chuck Berry had number six with “Sweet Little Sixteen.” John Carlson wrote the column “Teen Town Tips” and wrote that there would be a Hay Ride at the Teenage Club. Three “six by’s” (trucks) will be used and there was room for 60 people. The cost was quite reasonable — twenty-five cents each! I remember attending this event with Tom Henderson, who was also my date for the Junior-Senior prom. I even remember Tom joking about Johnny Mathis’ latest song, “No Love but Your Love.” Tom thought Mathis’ words sounded like “Nola Fajola.” It’s a funny and poignant memory since Tom passed on a few years ago. The Quidnunc column was high school gossip and written by Sharon Rayl. She reported on those who went to the base theater to see Elvis Presley in “Jailhouse Rock” — like Chuck Montgomery and Betty Hubbard, Bill Butcher and Carolyn Kunz, Steve Gaynor, Karen Gamel, Kathie de Russy and Arnell Gross. There was a new two-some around campus–Al (Atomic Age) Kulas and Mary Pat Riordan. Al Kulas left this world just this year. I wonder where Mary Pat is?

These memories from long ago have been fun to relate, especially since there are so many former Wheelus students who have kept in touch over the years.

 

USA, WE’RE COMING HOME

USA — we were coming home. On July 1, 1958, the USNS General Rose left the port of Gibraltar and sailed into the Atlantic Ocean. Destination: Brooklyn Navy Yard, New York City on July 8. There were approximately 160 passengers from Wheelus/Tripoli and about 15 of those were teenagers. In Turkey, I’d documented we’d picked up 22 more teens, which made a grand total of 37 of us traveling across the Atlantic. That’s quite a party!

The Aft Lounge was essentially headquarters for the large group of teenagers. We played games, listened to rock music: “Who’s Sorry Now,” “Pretty Baby,” and “Purple People-Eater,” and expended lots of energy dancing. As I wrote, we “goofed around,” and if there wasn’t enough to do, we could go to the main lounge and “pester the grown-ups.”

An 18-year-old named Bill, who was coming home with his family from Ankara, Turkey, was interested in me and I enjoyed the attention and the opportunity for a skilled dancing partner. He taught me his “special little dip,” and we spent some time star-watching out on deck.

There was a party for everyone the evening of July 4th. I wrote in my journal that Bill picked me up for the dance and I wore a “red print, off-the-shoulder dress.” When the lounge proved dull, the teens persuaded the seaman in the control room to put on snappier music. “We livened things up…bopped up a storm, and did The Stroll, which the grown-ups thought was real cute,” I commented. The chaplain, who was a “marvelous” dancer and usually squired my mother, invited me to do the polka with him and we danced for ten minutes! I had discarded my fabulous Italian cork heels from Naples and was barefooted. I felt like the Belle of the Ball.

Our last night on board, July 7, featured a farewell dinner and I saved the menu. The offerings included: Fresh Halibut with lemon and butter, Grilled Beef Steak with Mushroom Sauce, or Baked Virginia Ham with Pineapple Sauce. Besides a choice of potatoes, yams, corn, rice or peas (so typical of American food then), there were salads: Hearts of Lettuce (iceberg, of course), Hard-boiled Egg with mayo, or Cottage Cheese on Lettuce Leaf. Dessert was a choice of cookies, ice cream, fruit compote, Danish pastry or a Chocolate Nut Sundae. Babies had their choice of Pablum, carrots or apricots! We were served coffee, tea, cocoa, iced tea with lemon or water to drink. I was too young and distracted with other interests to notice if there were any alcoholic beverages.

RoseDinnerSeatng

To celebrate the end of the cruise, our waiter took a Polaroid of our table: Mom, Me, my sister Tupper, and teachers: Ed, Marilyn and Becky.

As we got near New York, a stinky fog rolled in and we started to pass other ships going our way. One distinct memory was listening to a shipboard radio catching all the latest rock n’ roll tunes from a New York radio station. We hadn’t heard the current hit, “Charlie Brown,” and it was wonderful to contemplate all the Stateside surprises coming up. Libya and the other countries in the Middle East had been quite an adventure for most of us, but being back home in the USA and sailing past the Statue of Liberty was even more exciting.

I paid no attention to the world news on our souvenir Rose Report. Russia was threatening to withdraw from the UN, the Soviets were set to release nine American airmen whose plane had been forced to land in Soviet Armenia, and Cuban rebels were releasing five American civilian prisoners to be flown to Guantanamo Bay. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles was on his way home to talk to President Dwight Eisenhower. Dulles had been trying to discourage France’s Premier Charles de Gaulle from insisting France become a major nuclear power. Sounds quite familiar! As the French like to say, “The more things change, the more they remain the same.”

My departing gift from my shipboard beau was a 50-cent piece to buy a banana split when I got to Northern Virginia, where my family would be living. I thought I might see Bill again since his family was also relocating there, but when my dad saw me with a guy’s arm around my shoulders as we pulled into the dock at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, he was on alert. When Dad discovered Bill was 18, that was the end of that!

GIBRALTAR – GATEWAY TO THE ATLANTIC

It’s been over 50 years since my 1958 Mediterranean Cruise, but I saved the mimeographed Rose Report from the USNS Rose. Of course it’s now very tattered and the type is blurred from age. The Master’s Morning Report was featured every day and the one I kept related we’d traveled 167 miles from Naples to Leghorn at a speed of 12.9 knots and a time of 12 hours. It didn’t mention if the storm had slowed us down. I wonder how much faster modern ships sail–but I’m too lazy to check. After our visit in Livorno (Leghorn in English), we were headed for Gibraltar on June 29. Our last port was 713 miles away, which would keep the ship at sea for two days.

The Report was very informative, giving us tidbits about the geography and the history of the Mediterranean Sea and surrounding countries. There were also a few articles about military personnel and their dependents, like the story about a baby born on a military plane at 7,000 feet on its way to Hawaii. My souvenir Report informed us the movie being presented that day for adults was “Wild is the Wind,” starring Anthony Quinn, Tony Franciosa and Anna Magnani, who I remembered as the tempestuous Italian actress who wasn’t a beauty like Gina Lollobrigida.

The Rock of Gibraltar

The Rock of Gibraltar – old postcard

Gibraltar was our last stop before crossing the Atlantic, which would take a week. When we docked in Gibraltar port, we were all instructed that photos of the dock were not allowed. Those were the days of the Cold War and the British Forces stationed there were security conscious. Several of us wondered about the name of a postwar British ship docked near us: the Eddy Beach. The ship was part of the Royal Navy at that time (according to the current Internet), then it became a trawler and is now a wreck because it was sabotaged and exploded in 1974.

Since there was no tour offered of the renowned “Rock” or views of the famous monkeys (called apes) that lived there, a bunch of us meandered the nearby streets in downtown Gibraltar. I noted a few of the very British street names: John Macintosh Place, Cumberland Road and Spud Hill. I complained about the French fries in a tea shop—“swimming in grease and salt and not very done.” I also wrote that I bought a Crunchy bar, two caramels, and some Treets (chocolate-covered almonds)—all for watching movies on the Atlantic voyage. I saved a scrap of paper from a bag from Perez & Navarro, a fruit and chocolate store established in 1894 on Main Street!

When we got back from our very long walk, Diana and I took turns looking through my binoculars at some British fellows training in the harbor for boat racing. Teenage girls were always interested in males!

At 6 p.m. that evening the Rose departed Gibraltar and began the journey to New York harbor and the good old USA, just seven days away.

A TEMPEST FROM NAPLES TO LIVORNO

After the Pompeii tour, we were back onboard the Rose that afternoon and left Naples for Leghorn (Livorno in Italian) at 6 p.m. June 28, 1958. The ship tossed and turned as it fought its way north; it was our only storm during the entire cruise. A dance was planned for the teens, and my friend Diana was anxious to go since her latest boyfriend, who was the president of the Naples Teen Club, had debarked in Naples. Nature wasn’t in the mood for a party.

The dining room had finished serving when Diana came to my cabin to pick me up. The ship was already rocking, and right away, she threw up in our sink. That wasn’t the end of it, as I noted in my scrapbook: “Diana threw up five times!” When Diana returned to her family’s cabin, I went by myself to the dance and even managed to dance a few. The party soon broke up—not too many sailors among us. I was proud of my stamina and balance, and wrote: “I pulled through. How I don’t know, but I didn’t throw up once. Whew!!”

The following afternoon we docked in Leghorn; most of us were relieved to see land after the rough seas. My mother, sister Tupper, and I met Army friends from the Corps of Engineers who had been stationed in Tripoli and were now in Italy. Because of all the traveling in those days of letter writing, military people tended to stay in touch for years. The old friends took us to the Leaning Tower of Pisa before we went to a cocktail party (only for the grown-ups, of course).

“At Pisa, going up the steps to the tower was murder; I don’t know when I’ve walked up sooo many steps,” I wrote. “The steps wound around the tower. Coming down the tower really got me though.”

Pisa
My sister and I had started up the deeply grooved steps before Mom. We were surprised how open everything was. It would have been easy to walk out to the encircling balconies and fall right off: there were no railings. Tupper, who was only nine, was hesitant as we ascended since we could feel the slope of the tower. Once my mother, who was behind us, spotted the danger, she started running to catch up! We had reached the top by the time she got there, panting, and breathing a sigh of relief that her daughters were safe and sound. I don’t think Italians worry so much about safety; Americans seem paranoid compared to other cultures.

When we were safely down again, our little group walked over to the nearby cathedral. I was told one of the bronze doors, which had various historic scenes in bas-relief, had a magic lizard carving. It was a superstition that if you rubbed the lizard, you would have your wish come true. It was the shiniest thing on the whole large door! I couldn’t resist and my wish did come true. I attracted a short-term boyfriend, one of the initially “unfriendly” group that had gotten on the ship in Istanbul. Bill was an easy conversationalist, a good dancer, and knew how to kiss: must have been that advanced age of 18! The newer passengers had gotten comfortable, lost their shyness, and all of us made the most of the voyage.

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