Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Dead Man's Hand

One of many newspapers covering the trial.
Passion is a force that runs our world. Passion for everything, every single thing can be for good and/or for evil, love and/or lust: Passion.

One of these many passions is for the game of bridge. Living in our new community of retired and independent living, those passionate bridge players play that card game with absolute dedication. Husband John is one of those now.  Passion which drives these bridge players almost borders on obsession.

The following is a re-telling of a legendary passionate bridge game in 1929:

John and Myrtle Bennett spent Sundays together with Myrna and Charles Hofman.  The guys would play a round of golf in the morning, with all clustering together to play bridge after dinner. Hofmans lived in an apartment above Myrtle and John Bennett, and Myrtle’s mother. Needless to say, Hofman couple could hear what the other couple was doing or saying.

Shortly after midnight, Charles and Myra Hofman were whomping the Bennetts, pulling ahead.  The Bennetts began to bicker, with John did not making the final hand.

Myrtle was totally irritated and told John that he was one “bum bridge player”. John leaped to his feet and slapped Myrtle a few times.  Hofmans were not surprised, as John did this a lot, with Hofmans able to hear fighting and slapping sounds.

He stomped upstairs to retrieve his suitcase, saying he was leaving, and told Myrtle to go get his pistol.  John always took it for safety when he traveled on the road.  Myrna turned to Charles, “Only a cur would strike a woman in front of his guests.”

Myrtle clumped to her mother’s room where said 32 Colt automatic pistol was hidden in their linen closet, sobbing profusely, stormed back the den. Myrtle brushed by Hofmans, then went down the hall to a dingy bathroom, where she shot John twice in the back. John crawled to the living room where he died.

Well, the trial was a blockbuster for locals, and then big newspapers.  Myrna's shaky memory of who did what, finally settling on Myrtle had been brutalized many times, that the murder was retribution, or maybe accidental. Charles Hoffman agreed. Either way, Myrtle Bennett was declared not guilty of murder.

The deliberation took 8 hours before reaching that verdict, with her defense attorney’s assistant declared “It looks like an open season on husbands.”

Myrtle lived to be 96, living in Hotel Carlyle in New York City.  She was hired to be executive head of housekeeping.  Myrtle developed many friendships with celebrities, including Mary Pickford and husband Buddy Rogers.

Her estate was declared to be more than $1 million.  Having no children or relatives of her own, a good amount went to John Bennett’s family members.
The following is, as best can be reconstructed from Hofmans' memory:

 Myrtle Bennett
Charles Hoffman
 Myrna Hoffman
 John Bennett

Friday, May 26, 2017

Remember. Always Remember.

WWII Vets face 'closed' signs upon arrival at their memorial on October 1, 2013
Drums beaten, flowers laid. 
Words spoken, music played.
Choruses sung, veterans praised.

Fewer veterans, heroes all,
Some stood in place of comrades now fallen
Answer  "Here! Sir!" at roll call.

Like their comrades before
Fading into history and lore,
A grateful nation heartfelt calls
To the warriors, once strong and tall: 
Thank you, thank youthank you

Susan Kane, 28 May 2012
A re-post

Note: The photo of veterans above was taken when the World War 2 memorial in the Washington Mall opened.  Veterans were flown in to be present at the opening.  

Sequester of funds had made a decision to close this memorial, even though all National Park memorials are under the umbrella of  Park Services, which is permanently funded by gov't and also by contributions.  These parks cannot be sequestered.

Veterans said many words, some of them very expressive, and they pushed aside barriers in their wheelchairs. No one stopped them.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Marching into Soup of History

Band of Welsh Guards in the British Army

And the men are marching,
Faces to the grandstand,
On a windy day.

Marching, marching as 
Shining Brass Bands

The humble and brave
While pompous and proud

Marching into

a soup of History.

This is a re-post April 18, 2013.  Italicized words were part of the Wednesday Words provided by Delores at Mumblings, then thefeatherednest.

With Memorial Day next week, it seemed to be a perfect selection.

From YouTube.  Marching in Palm Hwy, up in Mojave Desert.
We lived near here for seven years.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

To Blink, or Not to Blink

He who blinks first, loses.

This is what I learned as a child when facing down a brother or another aggressive boy on the playground. Hold your ground. Invade personal space. Close in for the kill. AND never blink first. 

This is important:  He who blinks first, loses.

Olin Kreutz leads the Bears into battle and a staring contest with their mirrors in Green Bay. LCpl. Kreutz is claiming that his mirror engaged.
Oh, yeah.
The skills honed in the fires of sibling conflict and playground battles have carried me through many tough situations. Okay—not necessarily rough, but definitely confrontational. 

As a young mother, I learned the importance of holding my position on naps (everyone takes one in the afternoon, including me) until my oldest child was almost 9 years old.  Having three stair-step children, I bent over and drew my eyes level with theirs.

 “You will take a nap today. A good long nap.” They blinked. I didn’t. The nap wars fought and won, because I didn’t blink first.

When teaching, the teacher must hold the line on so many discipline issues:  raising the hands to speak, asking permission, respecting another student’s right to exist, etc. Staring down thirty + children requires practice and experience. It must be done with firmness and, most of all, with kindness.

Timothy Olyphant stare
He is the hands-down champion of  full on stare.

This villain does blink in entire movie.
There was always one student who challenged blink contests “You will not steal anyone's pencils. Do you understand, mister?”  Blink, blink, “Yes’m.”

That was when all the skills in the first paragraph had to go into the game. The teacher has to win this—rest of the class has to know that standards of behavior are listed on the wall for a reason.

When not playing poker for big bucks, or trying to convince a three-year old that he will stay out of the flour canister, blinking is fine. Blink away to your heart’s content. 

But, when one absolutely must win a situation, keep those eyes open, piercing into the other eyes with deadly aim, and impose your will.  Good luck, soldier.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

One, two, three, and four

He could hear the music and feel it.  His grandmother’s touch, ringing pure and precise, echoed around this empty room.  Her words were there, reminding him “Fingering!  Tempo!  Correct…sit up tall…”

The music played in his mind, while the fingers moved, waiting for her older hand to join with his: Two generations performing music written centuries before. 

Apologies for the voice over in this Synchrony Financial commercial

"Any changes?...No, still the same...It was just a fall!  A simple fall...I saw it happen, so quickly...What does the doctor say?...Time, just time...But his fingers, see how they move!...

Timing, have to remember the timing.  Grandmother insists on perfect timing.

Oh, why are they talking during this recital?  Don't they know how rude that is?

One, two, three, and four...

"Will he come out of this...sleep...this coma?"  I don't know.  Like he said, it is a matter of timing and time...

Sometimes I've observed pianist at a recital while sitting in the audience, playing the notes silently in the lap.

This is a re-post of  October 1, 2014.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Horseman pass by

Under the shadows of Benbulben
The Balloon of the Mind
Hands, do what you’re bid,
Bring the balloon of the mind
That bellies and drags
In the wind,
Into its narrow shed.
Wm. B. Yeats 

2 glasses of wine
Source: wine as medicine
A Drinking Song
Wine comes in at the mouth
And Love comes in at the eyes.
That’s all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die.
I lift my glass to my mouth,

I look at you and I sigh.
Wm. B. Yeats
William B. Yeats—always a favorite of mine.  This is a re-post of October 30, 2013.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

On the Side of the Righteous

Oliver Cromwell by Samuel Cooper.jpg
Depending whether you are of English, Irish, or Scottish heritage, the name “Oliver Cromwell” evokes entirely disparate emotions.***

Cromwell lived between 1599 – 1658, and was an intensely religious man.  Every event in his life, Cromwell believed was ordained and dictated by God. 

After Elizabeth I died, succession was a royal mess.  James? No, how about…down to Charles I (who was captured and beheaded).  Much of it was related to two religions, two churches.  Catholic king?  Protestant king?

*** If you wish to avoid all this reading, skip on down to Monty Python's telling about Oliver Cromwell.

Parliament became a total mess as well.  

Dissolved, then “Rump Parliament” (honest to goodness, this was its title) was established, consisting of those who supported beheading Charles. It was a very nervous collection of men. 

Oliver Cromwell tired of the back and forth of politics, proceeded to walk in with sizable military force under his command. He dissolved the Parliament session for a time.

To keep this Commonwealth from crumbling, Cromwell (with his loyal military) assumed charge of ensuing chaos, suppressing any and all uprising.  

England was fairly easy to deal with, so Cromwell moved onto Ireland, where populations were heavily Catholic and were loyal to Charles. 
Massacre in Drogheda, Ireland, 1649

To say Cromwell dealt harshly is ridiculous.  His slaughter and subjugation of Ireland 1649-1653 resulted in near-genocide of all Catholics. Cromwell moved onto Scotland to do the same.

In Ireland, if one says “Cromwell”, responses will vary, but all vehement in some way.  It was fairly common for a big huff, a strong mucous spittle on the ground, a swear word of some sort, and perhaps other actions.

Oliver Cromwell became Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland. His ironfisted military control kept England together by absolute oppression. 

House in Ely where he lived a life of gentry
When Cromwell's uncle died, he inherited this house, Ely, near Cambridge, England.  Cromwell and family had lived in this delightful house in Ely for a time. 

(By the way, this cottage has been well restored.  Each room displayed very realistic figures and provided a spoken narrative of his life in that room.)

It was very clear that Cromwell is revered in Ely and all over England where many bronze statues have been erected to pay homage to his accomplishments.

He died in 1658, buried with honor in Westminster Abbey...

until 1660, when Royalists returned to power.  Cromwell was dug up.

Taking a trip to Tyburn meant one was going to watch a hanging.

After Cromwell was disinterred, he was tried posthumously for treason, beheaded, while his body was hung in chains at Tyburn, (where criminals and others guilty of treason were executed).  

Without any ceremony, he was tossed into a common grave, minus his head.  
Cromwell's head on a spike

BUT a storm knocked it down, causing the head to roll away.  

A soldier found it and decided to hide it in his home chimney. For decades his head passed from hand to hand, often being displayed in carnival shows. (This cannot be made up. Well documented and everything!)

plaque marking burial place of Cromwell's head WKPD
Speaks for itself.
A Dr. Wilkinson bought it and offered it to Sydney Sussex College in 1960.  Cromwell’s head was finally re-buried in a secret place on college grounds.

Cromwell lived a life of religious fervor, where he was certain that he was doing God’s work. He will never be forgotten, in one way or the other.

Religious fervor cannot be tolerated before it erupts in absolute anarchy. He did just that, as have other regimes.

Why would anyone care to hear about Cromwell?  It is an incredible story, almost unbelievable in its horror and violence.  If it were happening today in our own countries, what would we do?  If it were occurring in some other country, what would be done? 

This post has been heavily loaded in history and such.  While living in Ireland, we learned much about Cromwell.  Our son in first grade came home one afternoon furious, absolutely furious about what Cromwell and English had done to Ireland, as if it were just yesterday or maybe last week.  

***To lighten this post, please listen to this Monty Python performance about...

Monday, May 1, 2017

First of May, when Hitler Died

Today is May 1st, which was a delightful day in my rural town.  Students created cone flower baskets, found flowers in someone's garden, and then ran around town to hang these baskets on the doorknobs of elderly people.

Although May Day  (pagan celebrations were highly rated) was celebrated in many different ways for many different reasons, May 1st. can always be remembered is "Day of Official Announcement of Adolf Hitler's Death."

Dying on April 30th, Hitler's death is disputed all over the world by many different sects. Following are some videos seen over the years.    

YouTube video, interview of officer in the Bunker

While many videos exist to prove Hitler did various things (even having a bunker in Arctic zone), what perhaps is more interesting are the comments below videos.  If these commenters are any indication of current millennials or those who riot in Berkeley with signs labeling conservatives (like me), I am truly scared.

Do these people even know what a Nazi is?  

Do they know what the Nazis believed?

Do these rioters understand what the Nazis did, and the proof of these horrors are well-documented all over the world? 

Time to go pick some flowers!