Tag Archive | Yakima Washington

When PONG was King

The original video game

November 29, 2022

Back in the 1970’s life was much simpler. There were no personal computers; no cell phones; no video games. To entertain ourselves, we would tune in to the local radio station and listen to the hits of the day; we might go for a drive – if our parents let us use the car; we’d call our friends on the phone and, perhaps, meet at the local pizza parlor; or we might hang out at the local arcade and drop quarters in a pinball machine.

THIS is what the excitement was all about…

It was on November 29, 1972, when the first hint of the coming electronic age poked its head up out of the ether with the introduction of the earliest of all electronic games: PONG by Atari.

I could attempt to explain to anyone born after 1970 what Pong was, but will let the Infallible Wikipedia do the heavy lifting for me:

“Pong is a two-dimensional sports game that simulates table tennis. The player controls an in-game paddle by moving it vertically across the left or right side of the screen. They can compete against another player controlling a second paddle on the opposing side. Players use the paddles to hit a ball back and forth. The goal is for each player to reach eleven points before the opponent; points are earned when one fails to return the ball to the other.”

Okay, I know, I know. All you Gen-Xers, Millennials, and Gen-Z types are saying: “Really? That’s what you thought was fun back in the 1970’s, Boomer?”

Yes. Yes we did.

The Infallible Wikipedia continues: “The Pong arcade games manufactured by Atari were a great success. The prototype was well received by Andy Capp’s Tavern patrons; people came to the bar solely to play the game. Following its release, Pong consistently earned four times more revenue than other coin-operated machines. (Nolan) Bushnell estimated that the game earned US$35–40 per day (i.e. 140–160 plays daily per console at $0.25 per play), which he described as nothing he’d ever seen before in the coin-operated entertainment industry at the time. The game’s earning power resulted in an increase in the number of orders Atari received. This provided Atari with a steady source of income; the company sold the machines at three times the cost of production. By 1973, the company had filled 2,500 orders, and, at the end of 1974, sold more than 8,000 units.”

1972 Pong Arcade game from pongmuseum.com

I cannot say for sure when Pong first entered my consciousness. My arcade hopping days were a few years later and I can assure you that my mother would not have let me near one anyway. But I did have something which exposed me to the early games: older brothers.

It was likely my eldest brother – nine years my senior – was all agog over Pong. From the earliest days of electronics, he was in to it. Really in to it. No doubt he went to arcades and played Pong, looking to extend a win streak or earn a high score, responsible for giving Nolan Bushnell a bunch of quarters.

When, probably at Christmas 1975, the first home Pong gaming console was released, my brother brought it to the house where we grew up and everyone got a chance to try their hand at the game. All that Christmas there were whoops of joy and cries of dismay as games were won and lost. While I no doubt played Pong, I was never that in to it. I really didn’t get the attraction of moving a little line up and down one side of a screen trying to ‘hit’ a little blinking thing.

By the early 1980’s, the arcade version of Pong became a relic of the past as newer, more involved electronic games like Pac-Man and Donkey Kong took their place. (I wrote about them here: https://barbaradevore.com/2017/10/10/pac-man-fever/)

Similarly, the dedicated ‘at home’ gaming consoles eventually were able to feature multiple games in the form of interchangeable cartridges.

Atari stayed at the top of the heap for a few more years with the introduction of a dedicated gaming console. The Infallible Wikipedia shares:

“The Atari 2600, initially branded as the Atari Video Computer System (Atari VCS) from its release until November 1982, is a home video game console developed and produced by Atari, Inc. Released in September 1977, it popularized microprocessor-based hardware and games stored on swappable ROM cartridges, a format first used with the Fairchild Channel F in 1976. The VCS was bundled with two joystick controllers, a conjoined pair of paddle controllers, and a game cartridge—initially Combat and later Pac-Man.

(snip) The Atari VCS launched in 1977 with nine simple, low-resolution games in 2 KB cartridges. The system’s first killer app was the home conversion of Taito’s arcade game Space Invaders in 1980.”

A ‘gotta have it’ Christmas gift of the 1970’s

My brother, however, did not go with the Atari but invested in the Commodore VIC 20 which was an early home computer system which had a whole bunch of compatible games for it. I have a distinct memory of being at my brother’s  home in Ballard in the early 1980’s and we are all huddled around the TV in their small sitting area, watching as my brother and the hubby battle it out over some game.

I imagine it’s difficult to imagine the thrill of those early games when compared to the sophistication of today’s technology. Yet, it had the power to make us all sit up and notice and be in awe of things we’d never seen before.

As is my custom, I do try to ferret out how I might have been involved with whatever my Tuesday Newsday topic might be. Which led me to my small collection of diary’s from the early to mid-1970’s.  I was rewarded with this gem from December 31, 1973:

The “Upper Valley (DeMolay) New Year’s Eve dance was tonight. It was slow at first. I danced some. Once with Alan, and twice with his friend. Then towards the end Sally and Julie and myself were dancing with Tony, Cory A., and some other guy. It was a fun dance. We went to Pizza Pete’s afterwards but I didn’t eat anything. I played electronic Ping-Pong with Lee L., Kev, Mike K., and beat them. I played Tony and lost.”

Oh, us crazy Boomers. Such wild things! Did we know how to have fun or what!?

Of course, the links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pong

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atari_2600

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VIC-20

Trick or Treat

A tradition which spans centuries

October 25, 2022

My brothers trick or treating circa 1958

For children everywhere, dressing up for Halloween and getting to go out trick or treating is almost as great as Christmas. After all, what’s not to like about a day when you can put on a costume, roam the streets of your neighborhood in the dark, and have people fill your outstretched bag with candy?

For anyone who grew up in the 1950’s and later, Halloween has been a day to embrace the joys of childhood.

Which got me to wondering this week “When, exactly, did the tradition of trick or treating begin?”

For the answer we turn, of course, to the Infallible Wikipedia:

“Since the Middle Ages, a tradition of mumming on a certain holiday has existed in parts of Britain and Ireland. It involved going door-to-door in costume, performing short scenes or parts of plays in exchange for food or drink. The custom of trick-or-treating on Halloween may come from the belief that supernatural beings, or the souls of the dead, roamed the earth at this time and needed to be appeased.”

Mummers – those who participate in costumes in pantomime plays- depicted

Okay, so it was not invented recently. Today’s current trend in the United States has its roots some 80 years ago:

“Almost all pre-1940 uses of the term ‘trick-or-treat’ are from the United States and Canada. Trick-or-treating spread throughout the United States, stalled only by World War II sugar rationing that began in April, 1942 and lasted until June, 1947.

Early national attention to trick-or-treating was given in October 1947 issues of the children’s magazines Jack and Jill and Children’s Activities, and by Halloween episodes of the network radio programs The Baby Snooks Show in 1946 and The Jack Benny Show and The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet in 1948. Trick-or-treating was depicted in the Peanuts comic strip in 1951. The custom had become firmly established in popular culture by 1952, when Walt Disney portrayed it in the cartoon Trick or Treat, and Ozzie and Harriet were besieged by trick-or-treaters on an episode of their television show. In 1953 UNICEF first conducted a national campaign for children to raise funds for the charity while trick-or-treating.

(snip) The National Confectioners Association reported in 2005 that 80 percent of adults in the United States planned to give out confectionery to trick-or-treaters, and that 93 percent of children, teenagers, and young adults planned to go trick-or-treating or participating in other Halloween activities.

My own earliest memories of Trick or Treating on Halloween were likely from the second fall after we moved to Yakima. That would have been the year I was five. It is all a bit fuzzy but I remember getting to dress up as a gypsy and wearing a hard plastic face mask with the face of a smiling lady wearing a scarf and large earrings painted on it.

My older brother evaluating his loot circa 1958

It was my father who walked with my sister and me around the neighborhood. I’m pretty sure my older brother got to trick or treat with friends. The best part was when we got home and we dumped our prizes out on the living room floor and sorted the bounty.

This went on for the next five or six years. Eventually, my older brother ‘aged’ out since my mother had a rule that once you turned twelve you were too old for trick or treating. By the time I first went trick or treating, my oldest brother had been relegated to the passing out of candy.

When the year arrived I turned twelve, my mother had apparently been worn down by all her children because somehow I was allowed to go out trick or treating. The last year I remember participating was the year I was… 16! In my diary entry that year I wrote the following:

“In Reveille (yearbook class) we had a party, and it started to snow. The snow stuck, 2 inches of it. Andi & Vicki came down & we went out Trick or treating.”

I knew that it snowed the last year I went trick or treating but was surprised at how old I was!

Eventually the allure of trick or treating faded away… until October of 1990… and it was time to share the tradition with my offspring.

A few days before Halloween my son (in his tux, tail, and top hat) and I joined our Mom and Baby group for a party.

My son turned nine months old that Halloween and I dressed him up in a baby onesie which looked like a tiny tuxedo. I made him a black top hat and he was quite dapper. Then the hubby carted him to a few neighbors’ houses so he could trick or treat.

In the ensuing years, Halloween was ALWAYS a big deal for the kids, a tradition to be embraced. Each year they both would plan their costumes and this mom was frequently pressed into sewing services to create their vision.

My kids and nieces, ready to head out trick or treating. My son is dressed as the Pokemon Marawok and my daughter as a can-can girl. One of the years I did not make costumes.

By the time my daughter was a teenager, we were involved with the Rainbow Girls and Halloween was an opportunity to help the community. For most of those years, our group planned a food collection event. The girls, most of them now too old to be trick or treating, would distribute fliers a week to ten days before the holiday to about 300 houses asking for people to donate canned items for the food bank. Then, on Halloween night, the girls would go in pairs to the houses and collect the food. An adult would be in a car on the road so the girls had a place to put the collected items.

When I asked my daughter what her most memorable Halloween was, here’s what she wrote:

“Not sure if this counts but my most memorable Halloween from my youth was the year I was worthy advisor (president) and we collected like 600lbs of canned goods for NW Harvest.”

Although the photo is a bit fuzzy, you can see the 600K+ pounds of food collected by the Rainbow Girls. 2009

Although I miss the excitement of Halloween night with my children, it is fun to see a new generation ring my doorbell and shout “Trick Or Treat!” when I open it.

The link:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trick-or-treating

The Twilight Zone

The Dimension of Imagination

October 4, 2022

By the late 1950’s television programming experienced an explosion of creativity. New and innovative shows were being introduced. It was the first week of October, 1959, when one such show debuted. It went on to leave a huge cultural impact. The show: The Twilight Zone.

The Infallible Wikipedia explains that it “is an American science fiction horror anthology television series created and presented by Rod Serling, which ran for five seasons on CBS from October 2, 1959, to June 19, 1964. Each episode presents a stand-alone story in which characters find themselves dealing with often disturbing or unusual events, an experience described as entering ‘the Twilight Zone,’ often with a surprise ending and a moral. Although predominantly science-fiction, the show’s paranormal and Kafkaesque events leaned the show towards fantasy and horror. The phrase ‘twilight zone,’ inspired by the series, is used to describe surreal experiences.”

The show was truly groundbreaking and, since I was a very small child at the time and my mother forbid us from watching anything on TV she felt we could not handle, I never saw the show live, only a few reruns years later.

But even then, many of the episodes were disturbing. I present for your consideration the case of “Talking Tina,” a doll who seems to come to life. It’s a very creepy episode with a creepy doll. There’s just something about dolls which make them a rich target for horror.

Despite the often macabre nature of The Twilight Zone, it was highly successful and impactful. Also from the Infallible Wikipedia:

The person most associated with the Twilight Zone: Rod Serling

“The Twilight Zone is widely regarded as one of the greatest television series of all time. In 2002, the series was ranked No. 26 on TV Guide‘s 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time. In 2004, it was ranked No. 8 on TV Guide’s Top Cult Shows Ever, moving to No. 9 three years later. In 2013, the Writers Guild of America ranked it as the third best-written TV series and TV Guide ranked it as the fourth greatest drama, the second greatest sci-fi show and the fifth greatest show of all time. In 2016, the series was ranked No. 7 on Rolling Stone‘s list of the 100 greatest shows of all time and was ranked No. 12 in 2022.”

One day, in the summer of 2003, I was in Yakima for the Rainbow Girls annual convention. On a whim, I decided to drive by the house where I grew up: 406 South 31st Avenue. I had done this from time to time out of interest as to how the house and neighborhood might look. Now most of us think that the place where we grew up will never change. But on that warm June afternoon I discovered things had changed.

I turned right onto 31st off Tieton Drive. I looked for the Osteopathic hospital where we’d ridden our bikes as kids; the small brick church next door; the Winterringer’s mid-century modern house across the street on the left.

At first, all seemed normal. But then, as I looked right again, something was off. The duplex where Mrs. Shaw lived wasn’t quite how I recalled it. I drove on and looked left. The house I grew up in was similar enough to how it had been when I was a kid to bring me comfort.

The author dressed for Easter? With the Goodhue house – one of the houses moved to a new location in 2003 – in the background. On beyond one can see the five story Memorial Hospital and its smokestack. Circa 1970

But across the street where the Shockley, and then the Goodhue, families lived, was a place I did not recognize. The house – which I had looked at nearly everyday from the time we moved there in 1961 until I moved away in the fall of 1977 – was still there but now it was perched on boards, lifted above the ground by several feet. The yard and plants, which Mr. Goodhue took meticulous care of, were gone. In their place were dirt and a backhoe.

I stopped the car and stared up and down the right side of the street. House after house was in a similar condition: up on boards sitting askew. It continued this way the entire block. The Dohrman’s house. The Bluhm’s. Everything on the right was in a state of disarray. Everything on the left was how I remembered.

Yes, the thought which dominated was that I had, in fact, entered the Twilight Zone. I was in a place I knew, but similar to a dream, the details were wrong. I continued my slow roll up the street and, although still shaken, drove on to my parent’s house where I was meeting them, my sister, my nieces and daughter for swim time.

Only then did I learn that Memorial Hospital, a block to the east, had purchased all of the houses on the right side of the street and that they were being moved, as a group, to a new part of Yakima. I had happened upon the project in the midst of extracting the houses just prior to when the move was to take place.

Photo from the Yakima Herald Republic 2003 of the excavation
One of the houses impacted by the Hospital expansion in the process of being moved. Yakima Herald Republic photo 2003

It took some digging, but I did find photographic evidence of the event in the Yakima Herald Republic newspaper which confirmed that this took place in the summer of 2003. Today, the right side of the street is adorned with an attractive fence and lovely trees and foliage.

Screenshot capture of how the street looks today from Google Maps. The house on the left with the flag is the one I grew up in. Note the lovely foliage on the right.

Except for those of us who, unsuspecting, happened upon it in the summer of 2003, it seems perfectly normal. But I know better. I know that it was once a part of the Twilight Zone.

A few links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Twilight_Zone_(1959_TV_series)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_The_Twilight_Zone_(1959_TV_series)_episodes

https://youtu.be/If3SXJeZzMQ (Twilight Zone Opening monologue)

Class Reunion

A snapshot in time

August 16, 2022

It occurred to me, after attending a class reunion this weekend, that somehow I’m pretty certain I’ve managed to attend all of the ones for my high school class.

A reunion book was produced for both our 10 and 20 year reunions

I suppose that’s not really a surprise, after all I was Editor of our yearbook my Senior year and have always had a keen interest in people’s stories. Attending a reunion is simply a continuation of those stories; an opportunity to get a snapshot every few years of those who were a part of the early years of our lives.

Before I go much further, however, I know all my regular readers will be glad to learn that the Infallible Wikipedia has a page for the topic ‘class reunion’ as follows:

“A class reunion is a meeting of former classmates, often organized at or near their former high school or college by one or more class members. It is scheduled near an anniversary of their graduation, e.g. every 5 or 10 years. Their teachers and administrators may also be invited. Those attending reminisce about their student days and bring one another up to date on what has happened since they last met.”

But I don’t think the Infallible Wikipedia’s description does the topic justice. So I started thinking about my Eisenhower High School reunions through the years. At our ten year reunion – the first one we had – there were easily a couple hundred who attended. Our venue was one of the buildings at the Central Washington State Fair Grounds and, besides a dinner and dancing, included a photographer who was taking photos which could be purchased.

At the time, the hubby and I were DINKY’s (back in the 1980’s a DINKY stood for Double Income No Kids Yet). The snapshot of that night was one of people in their late 20’s, still trying to figure out their place in the world. Some had children and, although I did not, I can still see the look of complete exhaustion on the faces of those women. But I didn’t yet understand what that was like, as careers were everything in my world that reunion. At ten years, there was a weird game of one-upmanship still in play.

Truly, few of us had yet experienced some of life’s harder lessons. Perhaps the most sobering aspect of the 10 year reunion was the short list of those with whom we had graduated but who had already left this earth.

Fast forward five years, and the organizers (we have been blessed to have a team of, primarily, women who have made all of these happen!) planned a half decade reunion. This one, held in the early fall, included attending a home football game on Friday night and a picnic on Saturday.

Now, as a mother with an 8 month old baby, I left my son with the most reliable babysitters in the universe, his grandparents, and headed out to the stadium. Partway through the game, I look down from the bleachers only to see my Dad standing below motioning at me. My night out was over!

The next day, my not yet walking son and I attended the picnic and enjoyed the more casual setting and smaller numbers, getting advice from experienced moms and meeting many of their children also.

Year twenty the reunion was held in a big outdoor tent at a country club. At the ten and the 20 year reunions, A “tell us about your life” booklet had been produced and by year 20, the cliques and the labels of high school had started to blur.

The crowd at the 20 year reunion. Definitely a ‘Where’s Waldo’ sort of exercise to find myself in the photo.

One of my favorite snapshot moments was when I was talking to another girl when one of the guys from our class came over to talk to her. Still standing there and feeling a bit like a third wheel, there was suddenly a lull in the conversation and I blurted out to the guy, who we will call Adam, “I had the worst crush on you in Junior High.” I seem to recall he choked on his drink and nearly spit it out.

With my BFF’s from high school on our way to the 40 year reunion in 2015

Onward the years have marched. Our group celebrated with a 35 and also a 40 and then, in 2020, a planned 45 year reunion was sidetracked.

Two years passed but our fearless organizers pressed on and proclaimed that 2022 would be our “Medicare Reunion.”

Suddenly, all those 17 and 18 year old kids I attended high school with were starting to retire. Most everyone had lost one or both parents; more names have been added to the dreaded ‘list’; there have been triumphs and disappointments; incredible joy and devastating sorrow; the loss of siblings; the loss of spouses; the loss of children. The cliques and labels have disappeared and what’s left are people who can simply enjoy a few hours of telling their stories and hearing other’s stories.

It’s the context which matters. These are the people who shared beginnings either in elementary school, junior high, or high school. When we look at each other we can remember the person and how they looked then. We can see past the wrinkles and gray hair. Their essence is still very much the same but is, I think, tempered by the experiences of life. We are kinder and more forgiving.

One of my classmates – who traveled from California for the event – said it best. My apologies for the paraphrase: It’s about the people and making connections with each other. And it’s important.

Our 2022 ‘Medicare’ reunion

Time – and Covid – have taught us all these things and can be summed up in my favorite Latin phrase: Carpe Diem.

So the next time your high school or college, sorority or fraternity, or any other group you’ve belonged to, plans a reunion, Go. Go and connect with the people who knew you ‘when.’ Laugh. Cry. Enjoy. Hug. And be sure to tell them how much you appreciate them having been a part of your life.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Class_reunion

High School Graduation

Endings and Beginnings

June 7, 2022

For any individual over the age of 18 this event is, perhaps, one of the most seminal and memorable of their life.

Photo from the author’s Senior year annual, the Reveille

The High School Graduation represents so very much. For most it marks the official change from child to adult. It is also a sobering reminder that it is time to either get a job or go on to college. Whichever is the case, it truly represents the end of a phase of life.

The ceremony, known as Commencement, can trace its origins back some 800 years to Europe. At that time, of course, it was a rarefied event and confined to those few scholars who studied at universities AND only in Latin. The awarding of a degree was for the purpose of conferring recognition upon those few who were to be the teachers.

The Infallible Wikipedia tells us:

“Ceremonies for graduating students date from the first universities in Europe in the twelfth century. At that time Latin was the language of scholars. A universitas was a guild of masters (such as MAs) with license to teach. ‘Degree’ and ‘graduate’ come from gradus, meaning ‘step’. The first step was admission to a bachelor’s degree. The second step was the masters step, giving the graduate admission to the universitas and license to teach. Typical dress for graduation is gown and hood, or hats adapted from the daily dress of university staff in the Middle Ages, which was in turn based on the attire worn by medieval clergy.

Graduation Announcement

The tradition of wearing graduation hats in Sweden has been in place since the mid-eighteenth century. The cap is typically a white sailor hat with a black or dark blue band around it, a crown motif, and a black peak at the front. The graduation hat tradition was initially adopted by students at Uppsala University. The headgear then became popular across several other European nations as well.”

In the United States, graduation ceremonies became popular for high schools but, alas, the Infallible Wikipedia tells us nothing as to when that tradition began. In recent years ‘graduations’ have been adopted by Junior High, Middle, and elementary schools. When my children were little, even their ‘pre-schools’ held ‘graduation’ with the tots donning mortar board hats and sharing what they liked best about pre-school.

The months of May and June are prime commencement season. My own high school graduation, from Dwight D. Eisenhower HS, took place on June 6.

What is interesting is how much of that night I remember. My high school had a tradition of the Seniors having an ‘all night’ party following the ceremony. At the time I didn’t recognize the purpose of the party. It was not so the young adults could go crazy… it was to keep them from going crazy and, it was hoped, to keep them safe.

In many ways, my High School graduation encapsulated all of the joys and sorrows of life in a single moment.

It was a typical June day in Yakima. The high was 77 degrees but by graduation time it was in the mid 60’s. There was a steady 16 mph wind blowing with some higher gusts.

The author the afternoon before her graduation

My class of 365 graduates assembled just outside the doors at the north end of the gymnasium and awaited the moment we were to walk in. Our parents and families occupied the bleachers, no doubt fanning themselves with the programs, constantly rearranging themselves on the hard wooden benches.

In our line, there was whispering as thoughts and gossip were exchanged. Someone mentioned that a pair of our classmates had recently gotten married due to her getting pregnant. The young woman of the couple had been a good friend in junior high and, although we had drifted apart, the news rattled me.

But it was the information I heard next which, just as the line started to move, literally shook me to my core.

To this day, I cannot recall who told me. Yet the moment is firmly etched in my mind. The older brother of a good friend had been killed in an automobile accident in the early hours of June 6. Although he had been living with his father (their parents were divorced) in Western Washington, he had a good relationship with his siblings and his mother who did live in Yakima. He was only 20 years old.

That sobering moment likely affected the perception of my graduation. Yes, we still cheered and threw our mortar boards in the air; Yes, we had our all night –and alcohol free – party; yes, all our graduates survived the night – even those who skipped the school approved event.

And sometime in the next few days I went to see my friend and her mother, both of them deep in the grief of losing a brother and a son.

That summer I turned 18 and began to prepare for the next phase of my life: college. The month of June, it turned out, was a time of endings but also beginnings, of learning in classes and out of classes, of sorrow but also joy.

All the years of school leading up to graduation had not quite prepared me for the most important lesson I’ve ever learned: embrace each moment and never, ever take for granted a single day.

The links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graduation

Queen Victoria

“Isn’t this the Queen’s court?”

May 24, 2022

Alexandrina Victoria was born on May 24, 1819, and – until 2015 – had the distinction of being the longest reigning world monarch ever.

Victoria, age 18, when she became Queen of England

We know her as Queen Victoria. She ascended to the British throne, at age 18, through a series of serendipitous occurrences. Despite having three uncles in line for the monarchy before her, their deaths – and the death of her own father when she was less than a year old – put in place the exact circumstances necessary for her to become Queen.

When she was barely 18 years old, King George III – her grandfather – died and she became the heir. She went on to reign for 63 years.

Victoria – along with her husband Prince Albert – seemed to understand the future of the monarchy would be one of ceremonial influence. From the Infallible Wikipedia:

“Through Victoria’s reign, the gradual establishment of a modern constitutional monarchy in Britain continued. Reforms of the voting system increased the power of the House of Commons at the expense of the House of Lords and the monarch. In 1867, Walter Bagehot wrote that the monarch only retained ‘the right to be consulted, the right to encourage, and the right to warn’. As Victoria’s monarchy became more symbolic than political, it placed a strong emphasis on morality and family values, in contrast to the sexual, financial and personal scandals that had been associated with previous members of the House of Hanover and which had discredited the monarchy. The concept of the ‘family monarchy’, with which the burgeoning middle classes could identify, was solidified.”

During her six decades reign, her popularity waxed and waned. After an assassination attempt in 1882, sympathy and approval of the Queen soared. Victoria said – when the-would -be assassin was found not guilty by reason of insanity – it was “worth being shot at—to see how much one is loved.”

Victoria and Albert on their wedding day

Perhaps her greatest influence was on the culture of the day. As the mother of nine children and 42 grandchildren, she came to represent home and hearth.

The Infallible Wikipedia offers this:

“The rise of the middle class during the era had a formative effect on its character; the historian Walter E. Houghton reflects that ‘once the middle class attained political as well as financial eminence, their social influence became decisive. The Victorian frame of mind is largely composed of their characteristic modes of thought and feeling’.

Industrialisation brought with it a rapidly growing middle class whose increase in numbers had a significant effect on the social strata itself: cultural norms, lifestyle, values and morality. Identifiable characteristics came to define the middle-class home and lifestyle. Previously, in town and city, residential space was adjacent to or incorporated into the work site, virtually occupying the same geographical space. The difference between private life and commerce was a fluid one distinguished by an informal demarcation of function. In the Victorian era, English family life increasingly became compartmentalized, the home a self-contained structure housing a nuclear family extended according to need and circumstance to include blood relations. The concept of ‘privacy’ became a hallmark of the middle-class life.”

Victoria has been called the ‘grandmother of Europe’ as her nine children produced 42 grandchildren

For those of us who observe the British Monarchy from a distance, it’s impossible to fathom a system built on a tradition of grandeur and pomp. Yet out of the monarch system – especially true of the Regency and Victorian eras – mountains of fiction have been written.

During the era, novels erupted in popularity, chronicling the time. Even today, the Victorian novel remains popular. A quick search reveals 214 current “Victorian” novels for sale on GoodReads.

Besides the books written by the Bronte sisters, I’d never read many Regency or Victorian novels. But my mother did. She loved the eras and the stories, especially Regency author, Georgette Heyer.

When, in late November 2010, my mother fell ill, she ended up spending 9 days in the hospital as she had contracted the H1N1 flu. It was touch and go, but eventually she no longer required hospitalization and was to be moved to Good Samaritan in Yakima for rehab. Transfer day was scheduled for December 7 and I had driven over the mountains the previous afternoon to be there to facilitate her relocation.

There were patches of snow and ice on the ground. It was cold, gray, and raw. I spent the night at my sister’s house and the next morning made my way to the hospital. Soon Mom was in the aid car and then arrived at her new room at Good Sam.

I spent the afternoon with her as a parade of nurses and caregivers came and went as they got her settled in.

Now, my mother had been suffering with dementia/Alzheimers for at least a few years by then. Nearly two weeks of severe illness had exacerbated the situation.

But the folks at Good Sam didn’t know her and did not realize how extensive the memory issues were.

About 3 p.m., a young woman enters the room and introduces herself as the Occupational Therapist (OT) and wants to talk with Mom. Mom’s bed is parallel to a window which looks out onto an interior courtyard. I’m sitting on a chair right next to Mom, between the bed and the window; the OT is on the other side, closer to the door.

Mom and me snapping green beans at her and my Dad’s home, Thanksgiving Day 2010. Dad was in the hospital THAT day but came home the next afternoon; four days later Mom ended up in the hospital with the H1N1 flu… and was never able to live at home again.

So Mom keeps swiveling her head between us as the OT asks the questions; it’s as if Mom is looking to me for confirmation that she is answering correctly. For my part I am, of course, letting her answer the questions even if the answer is “I don’t know.”

Mom does know her name, her birthday, and the name of the town where she lives. Then the OT asks the following:

“Do you know where you are?”

Silence. Mom looks over at me and clearly does not know for SURE where she is, then turns back to the OT and says “Isn’t this the Queen’s court?”

The OT’s eyes lock on to mine and get very wide. I nod and smile because in that one answer the OT understood quite clearly that rehab for Mom wasn’t going to mean sending her home to resume life as most of us know it.

After the OT left, I stayed with Mom through her dinner and then made my way back to my sister’s for the night.

The next morning, before heading home, I stop in to see how Mom is doing. The first thing I notice is how pretty the snow looks as it gently falls outside the window, the ground now a blanket of white. Mom is awake, propped up in the bed and finishing breakfast. The room is warm and Mom looks comfortable.

With a big smile – she’s obviously glad to see me – exclaims “Oh, you’re back from England!”

Indeed. We had been to the Queen’s Court and back. The nearest to a monarchy I’m ever likely to get.

The links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen_Victoria

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victorian_era

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgette_Heyer

National Walnut Day

A favorite food for thousands of years

May 17, 2022

While walnuts are typically double sided, occasionally they can be found with 3 or even 4 sides

It was in 1949 when the walnut got its own “National Day.” While I am certain that a large portion of my readers are thinking “National Walnut Day? Really?” Upon research I arrived at the conclusion that walnuts deserve such an honor. Of course, those who decreed the day might have been a teeny bit self serving. From thereisadayforthat.com we learn:

“National Walnut Day was created to promote the consumption of walnuts and the first National Walnut Day was proclaimed by the Walnut Marketing Board in June 1949.

On March 3rd 1958, a Senate Resolution was introduced by William F Knowland. The Resolution was signed by President Dwight D Eisenhower on the first National Walnut Day which was on May 17th 1958.”

Obviously the US Senate thought it was important enough, right?

Until yesterday I had not given the walnut much thought. Sure, I’ve eaten walnuts my entire life. I like walnuts especially when sprinkled on an ice cream sundae. They are delicious in a variety of other foods also. Like fudge. And walnut bread or banana nut muffins. Candied walnuts are superb. And who can forget what happens when you add them to apples and celery in a Waldorf salad?

The walnut forms inside a thick husk. When ripe, the husk splits open and the nut will fall – or can be shaken – to the ground

It turns out walnuts have been cultivated and eaten for thousands of years and have been enjoyed since at least 7000 B.C. according to thereisadayforthat.com

The Infallible Wikipedia does not let us down and shares the following:

“During the Byzantine era, the walnut was also known by the name ‘royal nut’. An article on walnut tree cultivation in Spain is included in Ibn al-‘Awwam’s 12th-century Book on Agriculture. The walnut was originally known as the Welsh nut, i.e. it came through France and/or Italy to Germanic speakers (German Walnuss, Dutch okkernoot or walnoot, Danish valnød, Swedish valnöt). In Polish orzechy włoskie translates to ‘Italian nuts’ (włoskie being the adjectival form of Włochy).”

The most popular walnut to eat is known as the English walnut despite its origination in Persia (Iran). The black walnut of eastern North America is also popular, but for a different reason. The wood of the tree is highly valued for its fine, straight grained properties. Unfortunately, the black walnut – like the hickory nut – is very difficult to crack.

Probably the best thing I’ve learned about walnuts is that I’ve been storing them all wrong. So very wrong. Walnuts, once shelled, are susceptible to going rancid and becoming moldy. Therefore they are best kept in the fridge.

My research included doing an internet search of the words ‘walnut + recipe’ – which garnered 339,000,000 – yes million – results. I found one recipe I hope to make this week which sounds delicious: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/unbelievable-walnut-crusted-chicken/

A scrumptious treat is vanilla ice cream, a squirt of whipping cream, Hershey’s Dark chocolate syrup, topped with a maraschino cherry, and sprinkled with walnuts. Yes, it was as delicious as it looks!

Now on to a fun game which, for my family, involves walnuts. Sometimes those who visit my house will comment on the walnut (or several) which sit unobtrusively on the top of a clock my grandmother made back in the early 1960’s – or others which are seen in other spots.

Inevitably the question will be ‘why do you have a walnut there?’

It’s actually a nod to the game ‘Huckle Buckle Beanstalk’ which the Infallible Wikipedia describes as thus:

“The seekers must cover their eyes and ears or leave the designated game area while the hider hides a small, pre-selected object. When the hider says to come and find it, or after the seekers have counted to a specific number, usually sixty or one-hundred, the seekers come out and attempt to be the first to find the object. When a seeker has the object in hand, he can alert the other players of his success by yelling ‘Huckle Buckle Beanstalk!’ (snip)

The clock my grandmother made in 1962. The face is all embroidered by hand. She made two of these, one for my mother and one for my aunt. My cousin, Tim, has its twin in Yakima.

A variation of the game has the person who finds the object, continue by pretending to look for the object and then call out ‘Huckle Buckle Bean Stalk’ to draw the other seekers attention away from the objects location. As the other seekers find the object, they perform the same deception until all the seekers have found the object. The winners take pride in how quickly they find the object and how much time passes between them and the next player who calls out ‘Huckle Buckle Bean Stalk’.”

I was introduced to the game by my grandmother at her cabin on Highway 12 near Rimrock Lake. As a child, my siblings, cousins, and I would play the game as described in the variation, honing our observation skills and – yes – earning the right to hide the walnut for the next round. A walnut was particularly well suited for hiding at the cabin which had honey colored pine board walls and wood ceilings interspersed with logs. The walnut blended very, very well.

When the cabin was sold in 2020, the Huckle Buckle Beanstalk walnut  which lived there was one of the things I brought to my own house. The other walnuts I have were collected off the ground in Yakima last fall during a ‘dog’ walk with my sister and her hubby.

Huckle Buckle Beanstalk! The main room of the cabin and the hidden walnut.

So, in honor of National Walnut day, be sure to eat a few walnuts or engage in a good old fashioned game of Huckle Buckle Beanstalk.

A few links:

https://www.thereisadayforthat.com/holidays/usa/national-walnut-day

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walnut

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huckle_buckle_beanstalk

https://youtu.be/s1JV7rIcJcs (Although this is about Hickory Nuts, it’s hilarious! And they do mention black walnuts which are equally difficult to crack)

The King and I

Rogers and Hammerstein Hit Musical

March 29, 2022

It is difficult to imagine – in today’s world – this Broadway musical ever being a hit, let alone even being made.

But on March 29, 1951, The King and I opened at the St. James theatre in New York for 1,236 performances. The musical was based on a Civil War era novel which chronicled the travels of widow Anna Leonowens and her two children. From the Infallible Wikipedia:

“In the early 1860s,  (Anna) a widow with two young children, was invited to Siam (now Thailand) by King Mongkut (Rama IV), who wanted her to teach his children and wives the English language and introduce them to British customs. Her experiences during the five years she spent in the country served as the basis for two memoirs, The English Governess at the Siamese Court (1870) and Romance of the Harem (1872).

(Novelist Margaret) Landon took Leonowens’ first-person narratives and added details about the Siamese people and their culture taken from other sources. The book has been translated into dozens of languages and has inspired at least six adaptations into various dramatic media:

  • Anna and the King of Siam (1946 film)
  • The King and I (1951 stage musical)
  • The King and I (1956 film musical)
  • Anna and the King (1972 TV series)
  • The King and I (1999 animated film musical)
  • Anna and the King (1999 film)

At the time of its publication, The New York Times called it ‘an inviting escape into an unfamiliar, exotic past… calculated to transport us instantly.’ The Atlantic Monthly described it as “enchanting” and added that ‘the author wears her scholarship with grace, and the amazing story she has to tell is recounted with humor and understanding.’”

For those of us over a certain age, the iconic actor Yul Brenner will forever be remembered as the epitome of the King of Siam; his blunt manners, assertive personality, and certainty of his God-given right to be the ruler, belonging to a different time and era.

And yet audiences everywhere were charmed by the musical, being drawn into a world that no longer existed, by characters who – in our own time and place – would not exist.

For those unfamiliar with the story, here’s the summary of the musical from The Infallible Wikipedia:

“A widowed schoolteacher, Anna, arrives in Bangkok with her young son, Louis, after being summoned to tutor the many children of King Mongkut. Both are introduced to the intimidating Kralahome, Siam’s prime minister, who escorts them to the Royal Palace, where they will live, although Anna had been promised her own house. The King ignores her objections and introduces her to his head wife, Lady Thiang. Anna also meets a recent concubine, a young Burmese, Tuptim, and the fifteen children she will tutor, including his son and heir, Prince Chulalongkorn. In conversation with the other wives, Anna learns Tuptim is in love with Lun Tha, who brought her to Siam.

Anna still wants her own house and teaches the children about the virtues of home life, to the King’s irritation, who disapproves of the influence of other cultures. She comes across Lun Tha and learns that he has been meeting Tuptim in secret. He asks her to arrange a rendezvous. The lovers meet under cover of darkness, and Lun Tha promises he will one day return to Siam and that they will escape together.

King Mongkut becomes troubled over rumors that the British regard him as a barbaric leader and are sending a delegation, including Anna’s old lover, Sir Edward, possibly to turn Siam into a protectorate. Anna persuades the King to receive them in European style by hosting a banquet with European food and music. In return, the King promises to give Anna her own house.

Sir Edward reminisces with Anna in an attempt to bring her back to British society. The King presents Tuptim’s version of Uncle Tom’s Cabin as a traditional Siamese ballet. However, the King and the Kralahome are not impressed, as the play involves slavery and shows the slaveholding King drowning in the river. During the show, Tuptim left the room to run away with Lun Tha.

After the guests have departed, the king reveals that Tuptim is missing. Anna explains that Tuptim is unhappy because she is just another woman in his eyes. The King retorts that men are entitled to a plenitude of wives, although women must remain faithful. Anna explains the reality of one man loving only one woman and recalls her first dance before she teaches the King how to dance the polka, but the touching moment is shattered when the Kralahome bursts into the room with the news Tuptim has been captured. For her dishonor, the King prepares to whip her despite Anna’s pleas. She implies he is indeed a barbarian. The King then crumples, puts his hand over his heart, and runs out of the room. The Kralahome blames Anna for ruining him as Tuptim is led away in tears after learning Lun Tha was found dead and dumped into the river. That causes Anna to sever all ties as a governess and declare she will leave on the next boat from Siam.

On the night of her departure, Anna learns that the King is dying. Lady Thiang gives Anna his unfinished letter stating his deep gratitude and respect for her, despite their differences. Moments before the ship departs, he gives Anna his ring, as she has always spoken the truth to him, and persuades her and Louis to stay in Bangkok. He passes his title to Prince Chulalongkorn, who then issues a proclamation that ends slavery and states that all subjects will no longer bow down to him. The King dies, satisfied that his kingdom will be all right, and Anna lovingly presses her cheek to his hand.”

I cannot recall if I first saw the musical on TV or if my initial exposure was as an elementary school student during an outing to A.C. Davis High school in the fall of 1968 to see it performed live.

What I do know is that it made an impression on me. A couple of memories stand out. In the fall of 1968 I was in sixth grade. Every fall and spring it was tradition for the elementary school students in the Yakima School District to get to attend the musicals put on by the two high schools: Davis in the autumn and Eisenhower in the spring.

I loved going to Davis for theirs if for no other reason than their building was impressive in a way that Eisenhower’s was not. Davis’ theatre was in a two tiered auditorium with carved columns and an expansive stage that – if you were seated in the balcony – you got to look down on and appreciate the grandeur.

The second reason was, no doubt, due to WHO the choir director was. At the time I did not have an appreciation for what Mrs. (Aletha) Lee Farrell brought to the Yakima community. I do know that my father – by then a teacher at Franklin Junior High – always spoke highly of the woman. What I have learned recently is that Mrs. Farrell was a Julliard trained vocal coach. Yes, Julliard.

A.C. Davis High School productions were always top notch. Due, no doubt, to Lee Farrell’s influence. That particular year she had two female performers who each brought something extra to the stage. The first was a young woman by the name of Nancy Caudill. The other was Oleta Adams. Caudill was the lead as Anna while Adams played the role of the tragic Tuptim.

Both went on to pursue music careers. Nancy in opera and music education and Oleta as a Jazz and Blues singer. Links for both are below.

At the time, of course, it never occurred to me that you don’t have singers of that caliber every year let alone TWO the same year. Whatever Mrs. Farrell was doing at Davis High School she was outstanding at identifying and developing talent.

The two singers in their 1968 yearbook

Which has led me to my musings of today. Somewhat belatedly I’ve come to appreciate the time and society in which I was raised. My generation’s parents and grandparents had a much broader view of what a society should do for its members. Those things involved exposing their children to a more refined culture and elevating such things as music and the arts. Could all of us be outstanding musicians? Of course not. But that was never the point. The Nancy Caudill’s and Oleta Adam’s were the rarity; and while one would likely never experience those sorts of successes, we all benefited by seeing and hearing those whose talent was developed and shared by teachers such as Mrs. Farrell.

I can appreciate the tragic storyline of The King and I and be moved by the Rogers and Hammerstein songs. And I can also appreciate that for one afternoon when I was eleven years old, I got to experience something rich and beautiful; fortunate enough to grow up in a time and place when education immersed us in cultured experiences.

Some links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_King_and_I_(1956_film)

http://www.nancycaudill.com/bio.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oleta_Adams

Roller Skates

‘Rinkmania’ was all the craze in Victorian England

January 4, 2022

There are days in history on which an invention so novel arrives, that it becomes all the rage – at least for a time.

An early ‘concept’ of a roller skate as well as a quite humorous interpretation.

One such invention was the four wheeled roller-skate, patented on January 4, 1863 by American James Plimpton.

Unlike an ice skate, the wheeled variety did not require a flat frozen surface and could be enjoyed in a variety of settings.

During the late 1800’s, it also was the catalyst for a ‘sexual revolution’ of sorts.

The roller skates story begins in 1743 when a pair was used in the theatre in Great Britain. John Joseph Merlin patented his version of the skate in 1760. But they were difficult to steer and, because there was no braking system, stopping at will was problematic.

It was Plimpton’s 1863 design which proved to be commercially successful. The Infallible Wikipedia informs us that Plimpton invented what was known as a rocking skate:

“… (He) used a four-wheel configuration for stability, and independent axles that turned by pressing to one side of the skate or the other when the skater wants to create an edge. This was a vast improvement on the Merlin design, one that was easier to use and drove the huge popularity of roller skating, dubbed ‘rinkomania’ in the 1860s and 1870s, which spread to Europe and around the world, and continued through the 1930s. The Plimpton skate is still used today.

1950’s era roller skaters

Eventually, roller skating evolved from just a pastime to a competitive sport; speed skating, racing on skates, and inline figure skating, very similar to what can be seen in the Olympics on ice. In the mid 1990s roller hockey, played with a ball rather than a puck, became so popular that it even made an appearance in the Olympics in 1992. The National Sporting Goods Association statistics showed, from a 1999 study, that 2.5 million people played roller hockey. Roller skating was considered for the 2012 Summer Olympics but has never become an Olympic event. Other roller skating sports include jam skating and roller derby.

Roller skating popularity exploded during the disco era but tapered off in the 1980s and 1990s. Sales of roller skates increased during the COVID-19 pandemic as people sought safe outdoor activities.

Roller skating saw a revival in the late 2010s and early 2020s, spurred on by a number of viral videos on the popular video sharing app TikTok. Many popular brands sold out to the point of back-order, with many people taking up the hobby during COVID-19 quarantines across the globe.”

One aspect of the roller skates history which intrigued was the claim that it inspired a sexual revolution back in the 1860’s.  This is attributable to the stodgy Victorian moral codes of the day in Great Britain.

I’m not quite sure what the heck was going on here… but everything about this photo is intriguing!

According to one article, the skating rink proved to be the one place where romantically inclined young Brit’s could meet other young people.

“By the mid-1870s, a craze for indoor rollerskating had come to Britain, with 50 rinks in place in London at one point. The press dubbed the phenomenon ‘rinkomania’, but the healthy exercise that Plimpton had boasted of was not all that attracted the young ‘rinkers’.

‘The skating rink is the neutral ground on which the sexes may meet,’ reported Australia’s Port Macquarie News of goings-on in London and elsewhere, ‘without all the pomp and circumstances of society. The rink knows no Mother Grundy, with her eagle eye and sharp tongue, for Mother Grundy dare not trust herself on skates, and so the rinker is happier than the horseman of whom Horace sang.’

Holding hands and whispering sweet nothings became easier without Mother Grundy – a contemporary term for a stern matriarch – and her ilk tagging along. Prolonged eye contact with one’s intended replaced stolen glances.”

Skating rinks were also built all across the United States and remained wildly popular for one hundred years. In the late 1990’s and into the early part of the 21st Century, many were shuttered.

1960’s era metal roller skates. Very adjustable, you could make them fit your tennis shoes exactly.

But thanks to the global pandemic of 2020, roller skating has emerged as a great way to get exercise. Roller rinks are seeing a revival in popularity.

I must admit that when I came across this topic, it produced nostalgia. It’s been about 15 years since I’ve been out roller skating. A fear of falling and breaking something keeps me from pursuing this particular activity.

But as a child, I was fearless. In fact, I cannot remember a time when I didn’t roller skate. It was in 1966 when my parents did a home remodel and our carport was converted to a family room. The driveway was relocated and became a large, flat expanse of concrete. It was perfect for a child with a pair of all metal roller skates which attached to her shoes. I spent many hours in the driveway skating around. No doubt I skinned my knees dozens, if not hundreds, of times. But I was undaunted.

When the weather turned inclement I’d sometimes get to go to my Aunt’s house a couple blocks away and skate in circles around their basement.

The current exterior of Yakima’s Skateland

But the holy grail of experiences was on the days when I got to go to Skateland, Yakima’s very own roller rink. I loved everything about Skateland. How it smelled. The wood cubbies where one stored their shoes and coat. The flashing lights suspended over the rink. The planked floor with numbers painted on it for when they had a contest. The sound of hundreds of wheels rolling across it. The impossibly loud music. Dancing the hokey pokey.

September 2001 was the last time I went skating at Skateland in Yakima. The occasion was my niece’s ninth birthday. We are pictured skating together at the left side of the photo.

I feel quite confident that roller skating is in my rear view mirror but I wonder if there is some inventor out there who could create a contraption that would allow all us Baby Boomers to skate once again. Places like Skateland in Yakima, or Skagit Skate not too far from where I currently live, could make it a real thing.

What we BB’s need would be akin to training wheels or even a walker like device. Something that would allow all the old fogies to stay upright and be able to recapture a few fleeting moments of our youth. Ah yes, those were the good old days.

A few links:

First up is Jim Croce’s classic ‘Roller Derby Queen’ – his explanation at the beginning is great!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roller_skates

https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-31831110

Wedding Woes

“You’re practically guaranteed great weather.”

August 31, 2021

By my count, I have only 137 Tuesday Newsday posts before I hit the magic number of 365. That’s a whole lot of posts. So some days, like for August 31, it can be difficult to hit on just the right topic.

As I was surfing the web… er, researching… I found myself watching a documentary on The Carpenters. For those who have been reading my blog posts for a while, you know that I’ve featured something about The Carpenters twice so far.

Richard Gere and Debra Winger in the romantic movie ‘An Officer and a Gentleman

To be fair, I WAS researching actor Richard Gere whose birthday is August 31, 1946. I had watched a couple of clips from two of the movies he was in (Looking For Mr. Goodbar and An Officer and a Gentleman) when a Carpenters video popped up and then I remembered a connection between myself and Karen Carpenter.

So, my friends, this is the third post for arguably one of my two favorite musical acts.

It was on August 31, 1980, when Karen Carpenter was married. Unfortunately, her marriage lasted only 14 months and, in many ways accelerated her downward spiral that ended with her death in February 1983 (https://barbaradevore.com/2020/02/04/goodbye-to-love/).

From the Infallible Wikipedia:

“In early interviews, Carpenter showed no interest in marriage or dating, believing that a relationship would not survive constant touring, adding ‘as long as we’re on the road most of the time, I will never marry’. In 1976, she said the music business made it hard to meet people and that she refused to just marry someone for the sake of it. Carpenter admitted to Olivia Newton-John that she longed for a happy marriage and family.(snip) After a whirlwind romance, she married real-estate developer Thomas James Burris on August 31, 1980, in the Crystal Room of The Beverly Hills Hotel. Burris, divorced with an 18-year-old son, was nine years her senior. A few days prior to the ceremony, Karen was taped singing a new song, ‘Because We Are in Love’, and the tape was played for guests during the wedding ceremony. The song, written by her brother and Tom Bettis, was released in 1981. The couple settled in Newport Beach.

James Burris and Karen Carpenter at their August 31, 1980 wedding

Carpenter desperately wanted children, but Burris had undergone a vasectomy and refused to get an operation to reverse it. Their marriage did not survive this disagreement and ended after 14 months. Burris was living beyond his means, borrowing up to $50,000 (the equivalent of $142,000 in 2020) at a time from his wife, to the point where reportedly she had only stocks and bonds left. Carpenter’s friends also indicated he was impatient. Karen Kamon, a close friend, recounted an incident in which she and Carpenter went to their normal hangout, Hamburger Hamlet, and Carpenter appeared to be distant emotionally, sitting not at their regular table but in the dark, wearing large dark sunglasses, unable to eat and crying. According to Kamon, the marriage was ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back. It was absolutely the worst thing that could have ever happened to her.’

In September 1981, Carpenter revised her will and left her marital home and its contents to Burris, but left everything else to her brother and parents, including her fortune estimated at 5–10 million dollars (between $14,000,000 and $28,000,000 in 2020). Two months later, following an argument after a family dinner in a restaurant, Carpenter and Burris broke up. Carpenter filed for divorce on October 28, 1982, while she was in Lenox Hill Hospital.”

By August of 1980, I was no longer obsessed with The Carpenters. My life had moved on. I had graduated college in May 1979 and also met the man who would become my hubby.

That year I took a job in Eatonville, Washington, as the sole reporter (and grunt of all things small town newspaper) for The Dispatch. When I wasn’t out covering a story, weekends often involved driving to Seattle to spend time with my boyfriend. Life was full and busy. Then in May of 1980 we became engaged and planned our wedding for the end of August.

The soon to be hubby and I discussed having an outdoor ceremony in a park in West Seattle. My mother had other plans.

Instead we ended up at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Yakima on August 30. We had not given much thought to that particular date. As it turned out, that was the Saturday of Labor Day weekend which prompted more than a few declines of guests due to other plans.

Reciting our vows at Westminster Presbyterian Church

A couple weeks prior to the ceremony, the soon to be hubby was on the phone with one of his friends, encouraging him to attend. It was in this conversation when one particular phrase was uttered which has come back to haunt the hubby over the years:

“You should definitely come since you’re practically guaranteed great weather.”

According to WeatherUnderground at the time our OUTDOOR reception in my parents backyard was to take place, it was a decidedly un-summerlike 61 degrees with rain. An even more astonishing fact is that the record low temperature for August 30th in Yakima was 36 degrees set on that date in… 1980.

There were a few other glitches that day also. The hubby’s brother never arrived as he was attending a Porsche car rally near Mt. Hood the day before and his car broke down.

Then, as I was literally about to start the traditional walk down the aisle, the photographer whispers to me, “There was a problem with the camera and none of the pictures I took turned out. We’ll have to do them over.”

Pro Tip to photographers everywhere, this is NOT something you tell a bride just before she walks down the aisle.

Turns out that some of the outdoor photos did turn out… like this one of us, our attendants, and our soloist before the rain started. Note the gray stuff in the grass. Yup. Mount St. Helen’s ash – a little more than three months after the eruption – was still everywhere in Yakima.

So there I was, standing in the church on what is supposed to be the perfect day and all I can think about is what the heck are we going to do about the photos AND listening to the rain drops echoing on the skylights overhead wondering how the party next to the pool will turn out.

With our greatest role models… The hubby’s parents recently celebrated their 75th anniversary. Mine celebrated their 70th in 2017 a couple months before my mom passed.

But all things being equal, it actually was a perfect way to start a marriage. Because weddings are not marriages. Marriages are all about overcoming the various challenges which life tosses at you. In the 41 years since that cold and rainy summer day, there have been broken bones, illness, and challenges which have all but swamped us. But there has also been laughter, adventures, and joy.

So Happy 41st Anniversary to the hubby. It’s been quite the ride.

The links:

https://www.wunderground.com/history/daily/us/wa/yakima/KYKM/date/1980-8-30

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karen_Carpenter

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Gere