Tuesday, June 23, 2009
as I walk through this life
One leads to salvation
the other to strife
One road may I take
from these paths I am shown
One is God's will
the other's my own
The road of my will
is fair and it's wide
where pain or sorrow
could never abide
It is filled with beauty
with pleasures and light
it's smooth and unbroken
no trials in sight
I look down the road
that leads to God's will
there are twists and turns
there are valleys and hills
But I can feel peace
that beckons me near
I stand at the crossroads
and my choice is clear
I'll take the Lord's will
over my own
so that as I travel
I am never alone
Though my path may be narrow
at times dark and cold
full of heartache and thorns
for me to behold
I accept the challenge
on bended knee
with the love and the faith
God has given to me
He walks by my side
through this rocky trail
with a faithful promise
that I will prevail
I shall never regret
this path I have chose
for I have faced the thorn
and will be given the rose
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Picture of Ginger at age 15
"I believe in living each day to the best of my ability, then put it away. A new tomorrow will take it's place." Ginger Rogers
Many people naturally, but mistakenly, believe that Ginger Rogers's career began and ended with her partnership with Fred Astaire. Of course, it was that wonderful partnership from heaven which made her a household name, but she was already an experienced Hollywood performer when they first danced together in 'Flying Down to Rio' in 1933 and without Fred she continued to have an highly successful Hollywood career as a solo performer, including winning an Oscar for Best Actress for 'Kitty Foyle' in 1940. As well as her dancing and acting prowess Ginger was a talented painter and sculptor and was also a first class golfer and tennis player. A very accomplished, talented and determined lady whom I had the great honor and benefit of being a distant relative of(my grandmother being one of her cousins) as well as having had her as a friend and mentor in my formative years as child into young adulthood until her death in 1995.
Her birth name was Virginia Katherine McMath and she was born in Independence, Missouri in 1911. The name 'Ginger' comes from the diminutive of Virginia, 'Ginja' which she was called as a little girl by her cousins, and it stuck. Her family followed her father to Texas when he found employment there but her parents divorced when Virginia was very young. Her father rarely saw her after the divorce and he died when she was 11 years old. She was brought up by her mother's parents in Kansas City while her mother, Lela, moved to Hollywood to find work as a screenwriter and, when she was six, young Virginia joined her. When she was nine years old, her mother married John Logan Rogers whose name Ginger took although the adoption was never made legal.
Her mother was intensely ambitious for her, and the theater became Ginger's passion. Her dancing skills showed early and when she was 14 she won the Texas State Charleston Championship which enabled her to tour on the Texas Interstate Theatre circuit for 4 weeks. It proved to be the break she needed and she continued touring for over 6 months. She was young and exuberant, as well as talented, and she got noticed. Appearances in vaudeville soon followed, gaining her more valuable experience and exposure, and by December, 1929 she was featured in her first Broadway musical, ' Top Speed'. Star status followed rapidly and Ginger's first starring role on Broadway was in George and Ira Gershwin's 'Girl Crazy', where she first met and briefly dated Fred Astaire. Her two hit songs from that show, Embraceable You and But Not For Me, have since become musical standards.
Paramount Studios saw her movie potential and hired her while she was still working in 'Top Speed'. During the early thirties she played the role assigned to her - a blonde with a cynical expression and a fast line in smart dialogue: so she is spikey and sassy and steals many scenes in '42nd Street' in 1933 as the wise-mouth chorus girl Anytime Annie. One of her early films,in 1933, 'The Young Man of Manhattan', featured Ginger as a 16-year-old flapper. Her line "Cigarette me, big boy," became a classic phrase in the American vocabulary. Her apprenticeship also included 'The Sap from Syracuse', 'Follow the Leader', all in 1930, 'Honor Among Lovers' in 1931, 'The Tenderfoot', 'Hat Check Girl', 'You said a Mouthful' in 1932, 'Gold Diggers of 1933', in which she popularised 'We're in the Money' and 'Sitting Pretty' in 1933. In the same, busy year, she was funny and sexy as an uninhibited radio star who marries for a promotional stunt in 'Professional Sweetheart'. After a total of 19 films, Ginger left Paramount for RKO studios. In her first film with them, 'Flying Down to Rio' in 1933, she was given a secondary role, dancing The Carioca head-to-head with none other than her old friend, hollywood newcomer and creative genius genius Fred Astaire. Ginger's life was about to change, and so was the Hollywood musical.
Ginger and Fred - Their names go together and always will. Although Fred Astaire had numerous other partners, starting with his sister, Adele, and including such brilliant(and technically superior) dancers as Rita Hayworth and Cyd Charisse, only with Ginger were the sublime heights reached so seemingly effortlessly, time after time. Ginger, as we have seen, had already made 19 films before she was partnered with Astaire, and she was to have a successful career after him, but no matter what, fate has decreed that she and Fred Astaire will go down in posterity with their names forever linked together. Ginger, as well as being a talented, fast and sure dancer, was one clever lady and she made sure she complemented his artistry, rather than competing with it. She naturally had a rather brash, edgy personality but none of that showed when she danced with Fred. She was a robust, athletic girl and she combined dancing skills, natural beauty and exceptional abilities as a dramatic actress and comedienne, which contrasted perfectly with the slim Astaire's remote style so that he seemed warmed by her, just as she gained coolness from him. As a result, they became one of the clearest expressions of 1930's style in the way they blended two contrary archetypes: the man about town and the girl next door. All women thought they could dance like Ginger as long as Fred was there to lead them. No man thought he could dance like Fred but each man knew that Ginger wouldn't mind.
The new team took the world by storm, subsequently making eight more pictures together at RKO: Gay Divorcee, Roberta, Top Hat, their biggest success, breaking box office records at Radio City Music Hall and earning an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture, Follow the Fleet, Swing Time, Shall We Dance, Carefree and The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle. Fred has acknowledged Ginger's important contribution to the innovative routines which were introduced during this golden period. Because of the contractual film committments which she had to fit in between the movies she did with Astaire, she spent a lot of time rehearsing with Hermes Pan, Fred's assistant choreographer and ideas man. He was a brilliant dancer and bore an uncanny resemblance to Fred. While making the Astaire/Rogers musicals, Ginger was anxious to prove herself as an independent actress and she kept busy making other movies for RKO. They tended to be lightweight comedies and included such films as "Stage Door" in 1937 with Lucille Ball, Eve Arden, Ann Miller and Katharine Hepburn, and "Vivacious Lady" the following year. She worked extremely hard and the effort sometimes showed a little too much for easy viewing, especially when whe was doing one of her child impersonations. She was in 'Bachelor Mother', Fifth Avenue Girl' in 1939, 'Primrose Path', and 'Lucky Partners', in 1940, and in the same year she won The Best Actress Academy Award for her performance in 'Kitty Foyle', in which she portrays a class-confused working girl in love with a Philadelphia socialite. For a few years she was RKO's hottest property and the highest paid actress in Hollywood with 'Tom, Dick and Harry' in 1941, 'Roxie Hart', 'The Major and the Minor', 'Once Upon a Honeymoon' in 1942, 'Tender Comrade' in 1943, 'Lady in the Dark' and 'I'll Be Seeing You' in 1944.
However, after the war her career began to decline. She made 'Weekend at the Waldorf' in 1945, 'Magnificent Doll' in 1946, and 'It Had to Be You' the following year. Then came a two year gap before a not completely satisfactory reunion with Fred in 'The Barkleys of Broadway' in 1949. By then, however, she was mixing comedies and souped-up dramas, for which she was not really suited. Only 'Monkey Business' in 1952 is memorable among her late films. Otherwise, she was seldom at ease: 'Perfect Strangers', 'Storm Warning' in 1950, 'Dreamboat' in 1952, 'Forever Female' in 1953, 'The Beautiful Stranger' and 'Black Widow' in 1954. After that her output slowed markedly. She made two oddities:'Quick, Lets Get Married' and 'Harlow' both in 1965. In the same year she took to the stage in successful runs of "Hello Dolly" and "Mame."
She spent her later years doing guest spots on TV shows as well as being a fashion consultant for JC Penny. After that, she retired and wrote a well-received autobiography in 1991 entitled, "Ginger, My Story". Ginger was married five times, to Edward Culpepper, Lew Ayres, Jack Briggs, Jacques Bergerac, and finally William Marshall. She divorced Marshall in 1962 and never remarried. Ginger never had any children, instead lavishing attention on her cousins' children and grandchildren. She died in 1995 in California, at the age of 83, buried only a matter of feet away from Fred.
It is very easy to underestimate Ginger Rogers, and many people did, to their cost. She was certainly not the vapid, easily intimidated partner of a demanding, tyranical dancing genius. Rather, she was a consummate professional performer, and she and Fred Astaire formed a genuine partnership with input from both. She was clever enough to see that she had to be an actress, not just a dancer, and it was that which lifted her above the other brilliant dancers who partnered Fred. It is not difficult to put into words what the magic was that they produced. They truly loved their work, had respect for each other and had a genuinely good time dancing together. Everyone sees it, everyone feels it and we should be grateful for it. Despite her other accomplishments, the images of Ginger and Fred pirouetting togther are Ginger's greatest legacy, a legacy of which she was very proud, and I believe that she would want it that way - forever floating, gliding, spinning in our memories.
You might also enjoy these articles:
Two Articles On the Legacy of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire
The "Ginger Rogers Rose," named after Ginger and a shade of pink, her favorite color.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Having a father is so important to every child, boy or girl. As a little girl, I idolized my own dad. He could do no wrong and I think I was just perfect in his eyes too. Although he was a sports fanatic, he was always willing and eager to attend ballet recitals, gymnastics meets and piano recitals. Sadly, a horrible automobile accident took his life when I was 12. And when each Father's Day comes, I always say a special prayer for him. Somehow, I beleive that he hears it.
I was lucky enough to have had a wonderful grandfather. My paternal grandfather was a great sounding board for me while I was in my teenage years, always ready to lend support and talk to me about things that my mother couldn't always understand.
The connection between a child and his or her father is unique from other relationships. A male presence in childrens' lives may provide another perspective with respect to a number of issues that kids face growing up. Males and females tend to approach conflict differently, as well. It may be helpful to have two different viewpoints with respect to resolution of differences. Whether or not the parents' marriage is in tact, an involved father figure is foundational to a healthy childhood and mental development.
Even if you or your children does not have a biological father in the picture, there are a number of ways in which you can obtain male perspectives and direction, if you desire. Uncles and granddads may be good resources. Perhaps you have a male friend or colleague that loves kids but does not have any of his own. Invite them over for dinner or to a special event for your child (if he or she is open to the idea). Big Brothers/Big Sisters is another organization with many volunteers just looking to spend time with kids that need extra attention and guidance.
Involvement in cub scouts or Boy Scouts is another consideration. There will be plenty of opportunities for camping, hiking, working with pocket knives and rope to give your son these experiences.
Participating in sports teams and/or music ensembles (band or orchestra) can also help. Many coaches and directors are men. Oftentimes children will say that a charismatic coach had a profound effect on their growing up. Of course, this also helps them stay engaged in appropriate activities and out of the types of trouble that may occur when boredom sets in.
How can you tell your parent that you love them? With a dad, he will enjoy a handwritten note, a phone call, or a visit! As he ages, time together will be extremely important. When you are younger, stay in touch. Call, email or text. Whatever works for your relationship, your father will appreciate knowing what you are doing. When you get married and have children of your own, dads usually want to be a part of that experience. Send photos, have your kids call or write, and try to get together as you can. Consider your dad's interests. Did he play sports? Chess? A musical instrument? Build on these with appropriate gifts. Perhaps tickets to a game, a nice book, or an evening together at a concert or a symphony.
When your dad reaches an older age, things may become more difficult. He could be confused about dates and details. A consistent presence is helpful to keep things on an even keel for him. Meet and help get him out in the world. If he is in a wheelchair or otherwise impaired, patiently help your father, as he once helped you as a child. Some of the best times spent with a parent at this time are simply driving excursions.
Keeping your father engaged and involved will help him feel needed and worthy. In the long run, it could help life expectancy!
Even though Father's Day has been around many decades less than Mother's Day, it may only be because of the delay in recognizing the important role that the opposite sex has in raising kids. Dads, Moms, uncles, and grandparents (and more) are very significant in bringing up children in the current age, in large part because many are involved in trying to balance parenthood and careers.
No matter how you celebrate the holiday, be thankful if your family is spending it together. And although they may not be here physically, my father and grandfather are always with me, in my heart.
Some Father's Day Quotes
My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard. Mother would come out and say, "You're tearing up the grass." "We're not raising grass," Dad would reply. "We're raising boys." ~Harmon Killebrew
He didn't tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it. ~Clarence Budington Kelland
A truly rich man is one whose children run into his arms when his hands are empty. ~Author Unknown
Father! - to God himself we cannot give a holier name. ~William Wordsworth
Love and fear. Everything the father of a family says must inspire one or the other. ~Joseph Joubert
One father is more than a hundred Schoolemasters. ~George Herbert, Outlandish Proverbs, 1640
Blessed indeed is the man who hears many gentle voices call him father! ~Lydia M. Child, Philothea: A Romance, 1836
Sometimes the poorest man leaves his children the richest inheritance. ~Ruth E. Renkel
A father carries pictures where his money used to be. ~Author Unknown
The father who would taste the essence of his fatherhood must turn back from the plane of his experience, take with him the fruits of his journey and begin again beside his child, marching step by step over the same old road. ~Angelo Patri
It is much easier to become a father than to be one. ~Kent Nerburn, Letters to My Son: Reflections on Becoming a Man, 1994
The words that a father speaks to his children in the privacy of home are not heard by the world, but, as in whispering-galleries, they are clearly heard at the end and by posterity. ~Jean Paul Richter
Any man can be a father. It takes someone special to be a dad. ~Author Unknown
The greatest gift I ever had
Came from God; I call him Dad!
I love my father as the stars - he's a bright shining example and a happy twinkling in my heart. ~Adabella Radici
Dad, your guiding hand on my shoulder will remain with me forever. ~Author Unknown
Old as she was, she still missed her daddy sometimes. ~Gloria Naylor
There's something like a line of gold thread running through a man's words when he talks to his daughter, and gradually over the years it gets to be long enough for you to pick up in your hands and weave into a cloth that feels like love itself. ~John Gregory Brown, Decorations in a Ruined Cemetery, 1994
There are three stages of a man's life: He believes in Santa Claus, he doesn't believe in Santa Claus, he is Santa Claus. ~Author Unknown
Fatherhood is pretending the present you love most is soap-on-a-rope. ~Bill Cosby
When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years. ~Mark Twain, "Old Times on the Mississippi" Atlantic Monthly, 1874
Monday, June 15, 2009
I can't give solutions to all of life's problems, doubts,
or fears. But I can listen to you, and together we will
search for answers.
I can't change your past with all it's heartache and pain,
nor the future with its untold stories.
But I can be there now when you need me to care.
I can't keep your feet from stumbling.
I can only offer my hand that you may grasp it and not fall.
Your joys, triumphs, successes, and happiness are not mine;
Yet I can share in your laughter.
Your decisions in life are not mine to make, nor to judge;
I can only support you, encourage you,
and help you when you ask.
I can't prevent you from falling away from friendship,
from your values, from me.
I can only pray for you, talk to you and wait for you.
I can't give you boundaries which I have determined for you,
But I can give you the room to change, room to grow,
room to be yourself.
I can't keep your heart from breaking and hurting,
But I can cry with you and help you pick up the pieces
and put them back in place.
I can't tell you who you are.
I can only love you and be your friend.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
you may not always understand.
May the pain you have known and the conflict you
have experienced give you the strength to walk
through life facing each new situation with courage
Always know that there are those whose love and
understanding will always be there, even when you
feel most alone.
May you discover enough goodness in others to
believe in a world of peace.
May a kind word, a reassuring touch, a warm smile
be yours every day of your life, and may you give
these gifts as well as receive them.
Remember the sunshine when the storm seems unending.
Teach love to those who know hate, and let that love
embrace you as you go into the world.
May the teaching of those you admire become part of you,
so that you may call upon them.
Remember, those whose lives you have touched and who
have touched yours are always a part of you, even if
the encounters were less than you would have wished.
It is the content of the encounter that is more important
than its' form.
May you not become too concerned with material matters,
but instead place immeasurable value on the goodness
in your heart.
Find time in each day to see the beauty and love in the
world around you.
Realize that each person has limitless abilities, but each
of us is different in our own way.
What you may feel you lack in one regard may be more
than compensated for in another.
What you feel you lack in the present may become one
of your strengths in the future.
May you see your future as one filled with promise
Learn to view everything as a worthwhile experience.
May you find enough inner strength to determine your
own worth by yourself, and not be dependent on
another's judgments of your accomplishments.
May you always feel loved.
Friday, June 5, 2009
I used to go
when I was very young;
when there was no world quite as real
as the world of books
Across a meadow,
beneath the trees
that lined a sparkling stream
there was a magic land
where I was Queen
and others came
by invitation only.
Tom Sawyer used to drop around,
and Huck and Becky Thatcher;
and I remember
one time Tarzan came
and swam up and down the river.
Rupert Brooke and Robert Burns
would come and sit
and write poems
about wars and flowers.
But mostly, I was there alone,
watching the world around me;
and wondering things like
why the sky is blue
and how much a grain of sand
if I were an ant.
I wish I could find
that land again;
but I've lost it,
somewhere in the noise
and hurry of my life.
I wonder if Tom and Becky
go there still...
or if they grew up
like I did.
Monday, June 1, 2009
A tribute poem dedicated to my grandmother, who passed away April 15, 2008 after a battle with bone cancer. I lived with her for a while when my father died - her son. She needed support and gladly gave love, advice and a listening ear in return. She was more than just my grandmother; she was my best friend, my biggest supporter. She loved to dance and passed that on to me. She adored animals, and could never resist taking in homeless strays or donating time at a local shelter. That, too, I inherited from her. But, by far, the most lasting gift that she gave to me was her warmth, kindness and courage. The poem below was given to my family at the hospice where my grandmother spent the last few weeks of her life. I loved it so much that I asked to have it read at her funeral. Like her, it is a source of hope that she is happy and well on that other shore even though she's gone from my sight.
I am standing upon the seashore. A ship, at my side,
spreads her white sails to the moving breeze and starts
for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck
of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.
Then, someone at my side says, "There, she is gone"
Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast,
hull and spar as she was when she left my side.
And, she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me -- not in her.
And, just at the moment when someone says, "There, she is gone,"
there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices
ready to take up the glad shout, "Here she comes!"
And that is dying...
By Henry Van Dyke