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Sentimental Journey

August 18th, 2014 by Magdalena Tabor

My father was a true craftsman. He was trained in the art of making shoes. Shoes. How do you make a shoe?? He made them for disabled sentimental journeypeople. Some of those people happened to be skaters and skiers with talents of their own; training for the Olympics and even winning sometimes. The man behind the boots they wore was none other than my father; the apparent pride he took in pointing them out when we watched them go for the gold. Gold. The very thing his heart was made of. When he died I inherited a pair of the finely crafted wing tips he wore, his fancy signature scrawled on the leather inside. To look at them, you’d never think that someone actually made them. Useless to me, of course, but something I could never bear to part with. There are things we carry our life long simply because they tug at our heartstrings.
It hearkens back to the days of our childhood. Remember the movie version of To Kill A Mockingbird? Scout has a cigar box with bits of childish treasure. I had one just like it. Throughout my life one of my possessions was always a box or chest of some kind containing things randomly tossed into it. Kind of like a junk drawer but with things of better quality. Things like concert tickets, birthday cards too sweet to trash, letters from friends, old photographs, pieces of our hearts. You get the picture. Maybe you even have one. I think I may have several.
These boxes, full of meaningless bunk to others, are portions of our lives we’ve gathered over the years. Peering into them, we gain a sense of where we’ve been and what we’ve experienced; a diary of sorts with only we as the key keepers. No one else would have a clue as to the story behind each piece and although rarely looked at, we hold onto these bits and pieces of our selves. Who knows? Maybe I’ll have a great big bonfire one day and watch the sky grow black with fear and dread. No! I couldn’t possibly. Banish the thought.
Why do human beings keep things? By no means a hoarder, I’m a keeper of sunny days to mull over when there are rainy ones. Who knows how the minds works with its springs and gears that trigger an awakening when memory is probed. Our olfactories stimulated into long ago events by the scent of something on the breeze. Or in the case of a treasure box, pleasantries by the handful.

So………whadayathink? What’s in your memory box? Are you a sentimental traveler through time? Or do you trash everything in sight nevermore to ponder what’s been said and done? Ah, pity.

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What’s Inside An Edwardian Purse?

February 21st, 2014 by Magdalena Tabor

Recently, I came across a vintage Edwardian leather purse with lovely hand tooled art nouveau detailing; its well worn handle laced with whip stitching, and a sweet edwardian woman with pursesilver clasp to shut tight the secrets it once held for someone I envision as fashionable as she was intelligent. Its condition implied that it was either a favorite of many or a one and only prized possession. Anything old always inspires vivid imaginings in my on-line travels.
But first, let me define “Edwardian”. This is the era encompassing the reign of King Edward VII from 1901 to 1910 after the death of Queen Victoria transferring the succession to her son. In juxtaposition to his somewhat reclusive mother, Edward publicly embraced art and fashion along with political inclinations toward the betterment of the working class, particularly for women.
In 1903 the U.S. founded the National Trade Union League to improve the wages and working conditions for women. While in 1905 the U.K. led the formation of the Women’s Social and Political Union for the right to vote, although the fight began much much earlier than this.
So, with this in mind, it’s interesting to note what was going on at the time this particular purse came into fashion and into the hands of a certain owner in uncertain but hopeful circumstances. Again, antiques inspire thoughtful musings about who owned it when, and what may have transpired at the time of its inception. It’s always a lesson in history that never fails to fascinate.
Who was the lucky lady to carry this lovely article on her arm and what did it contain? Was she an intellectual, a suffragette with a strong sense of fashion and appreciation for beautiful things? The following is a list of things I imagine may have been hidden within the compartment of this handbag:
1) Currency. Either British pounds or American dollars. Perhaps both, if she was so privileged and worldly. How much would depend on her financial well being after spending a tidy sum on the bag. Or was it a gift from a well-to-do husband to his adoring but headstrong wife?
2) A handkerchief. No lady at the time would be caught sniffling in public without one. It was probably a starched white version (laundered by the housemaid) and embroidered with a scripted monochromatic initial of its mistress’s intriguingly elusive name and scented with her signature Parisian parfum.
3) A house key. In those days there was only one key needed with which to enter one’s castle and perhaps a second to the gated estate.
4) A love note. The lady may have hidden this indiscretion at the very bottom and rummaged nervously for its instructions leading to the Venetian gondola unbeknownst to her devoted but insufferably boring husband.
5) A timepiece. Essential in getting back to the estate unnoticed before the wee hours of the morning, birds twittering in the rosy light of dawn.
6) A cigarette. A hand rolled number indulged in the privacy of her room with the window ajar and a profusion of flowers from the greenhouse to rid the smell.
6) And finally, a political rally flyer. Slipped into her hand by the rebel rouser with whom she unwisely kept company culminating in the ruination of her marriage and reputation.
End result, an empty but still very beautiful handbag generating looks of admiration and envy….Alas! Where’s that starched white hanky? And the address to the factory with improved working conditions?

So………whadayathink? What arouses your passions? Do old things muster wild imaginings to rid you of the winter doldrums? Or are these fantasies a direct result of too many Downton Abbey re-runs?

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A Candlelight Christmas Stroll

December 22nd, 2013 by Magdalena Tabor

We are fortunate to live here on Long Island, a place rooted in history. These roots are yet very much alive, nurtured by unique individuals who still take the time to learn ways long since forgotten. There’s no doubt in my mind, I was born in the wrong century and because of it I often times grab Michael by the hand where it’s off to another 19th century adventure, a kind of time travel using the Jeep as our vehicle to get there. Michael always complies even though I can tell he’s not really into it……at first. But he ultimately ends up saying, “Wow! That was great!”
Last night we visited a place very dear to both of us. Old Bethpage Village Restoration is comprised of over 50 structures on 209 acres depicting life in the 1800’s. Best of all, it’s less than 15 minutes away. It’s a place that draws you to her, not as spectator, but as participant to life foreign yet oddly familiar. There are no guides, only roads with old homes and buildings spaced comfortably apart, much as a real village might have been back in the day. Here and there are folks dressed of the period going about their daily business. But if you enter one of the homes, they’ll tell you all about it. Each of the structures was rescued somewhere on Long Island and brought here for safekeeping. Fascinating by day, but come nightfall, the last two weekends before Christmas are transformed into something that can only be described as magical.
We enter the village from a road placed quite a distance from it. That road is lined with gaslit lamp posts until we draw close enough to the village itself. There are no lights other than the houses and shops lit with candles, so one would be advised to bring his own battery operated lantern to traverse the terrain between them. Trust me, it doesn’t detract from the overall effect. You’re so busy looking around, you quite forget yourself and the modern day world.
We first came upon some Civil War soldiers taking a respite with some humble Christmas offerings sent from “home”. I must say, they looked very impressive in their uniforms, and with just the candle burning and a small campfire nearby, it was rather like you were transported to their era. They spoke of their longing for Christmas at home and joked good naturedly.
A little further up the road we came upon some carollers authentically attired and in perfect tune. Behind them near the Noon Inn a cozy bonfire blazed invitingly with rustic benches on either side where one could sit and stare at the embers flicking away like fireflies into the night. The inn offers homemade cookies and apple cider for a modern day price.
Ambling further up the road, musicians at the schoolhouse played to a packed house so we peered in through the window and marvelled at the old bubbly glass. Somehow, you just haven’t lived until you see life as it was through old window panes. The muffled strains of fiddle and guitar could be heard from within.
There are broom makers, story tellers, parlor music, contra dancers, crafts and events too numerous to mention. For a mere ten dollars, you can travel backwards in time to your heart’s content and come away wishing you could stay in one of those candle lit homes for the night. As the Jeep pulls into the driveway and we unlock the door, I flick on a light and bask in the warm glow of the 21st century. Let’s have one of those muffins I made earlier that didn’t get scorched on an open hearth somewhere back in time. I’m betting they taste as sweet.Candlelight Evening

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Mickey Mantle Made Baseball Magical

September 7th, 2013 by Michael Tabor

mickeypic

This morning on NPR, I had the great pleasure of hearing the aging but still incredibly clever and tasteful comedian, Billy Crystal talk a little bit about his boyhood idol and dear friend – Mickey Mantle.  I was born in 1963 and unfortunately, I never had the chance to actually see ‘The Mick” play, but believe me the Mickey Mantle allure along with the magical decade of the 1950’s were seemingly always the talk of the town for me as a youngster. I’ve since later learned that the ‘50’s, were not as innocent in terms of good old America, apple pie, civility, respect, etc. but Mickey Mantle was or at least still symbolizes what once was.

The Last time I looked, Mickey Mantle’s rookie card still sold for more than any other ballplayer’s (anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 depending on the condition of the card) second only to Honus Wagner which can demand a ridiculous price of  $250,000 and up because of very different reasons e.g. not only is the card ancient (1909), there are only a handful of them out there because of Wagner’s insistence that the card not be inserted into tobacco packages (Wagner was anti – tobacco – even back then !) However, back to Mickey …. Mickey Mantle’s card is worth so much because, well, Mickey Mantle was an icon not only of the sport of baseball but because he also epitomized everything that was good and righteous about baseball and the decade of the 1950’s whether mythical or true.

Mickey Mantle never took steroids (he drank beer – too much) but the truth be told, no man has ever hit the ball harder (536 home runs in his short career) nor as high & far (643 feet) than the great Mantle. Word of note, the folks who witnessed the 6 hundred and forty – three – footer thought the ball would never descend and keep rising and rising perhaps into the earth’s atmosphere(when you’re a kid, baseball can really seem otherworldly). The 6’3″ blonde – haired, blue – eyed, naturally – strong man was a real – live – super – hero to all who saw him play and to everybody afterwards who can only imagine and marvel upon who he was. His legacy speaks volumes about baseball and our perceived notion of the prosperity and greatness of the 1950’s in this country.

So WhaDaYaThink ? What do you think ? Hey, does anyone out there have a Mickey Mantle card you want to sell?

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In The Footsteps Of My Grandfather

June 17th, 2013 by Magdalena Tabor

statueLast Father’s Day I wrote about my father. This year I thought I’d do the same for my grandfather. I never knew my father’s father but my mother’s lived with us for a couple of years or so  when I was very young. He emigrated from Austria along with his wife, four daughter’s and their husbands. Some of his grandkids (my older cousins and 10 month old brother) were also in tow. Earlier on, his son had moved further west to settle in Ohio. Like a lot of immigrants back then, they crossed the ocean via ship. To this day my mother hates boats. Everyone was apparently very seasick for the whole of the journey. Lady Liberty held her torch high over the stench of vomit with one hand while holding her nose with the other. Everyone was very happy to see her in spite of her unusual pose.

Back in his homeland, my grandfather was a forest ranger by trade. By the time he moved to the states however, he was already retired. But his love of animals stayed with him and carried over in his day to day life. From my earliest recollection I can see him feeding the squirrels; they’d always eat right out of his outstretched palm. He was never once bitten. He even got my aunt into the act but she only went so far as to leave peanuts on the kitchen windowsill and then close the window as we’d watch “Hansi” eat them from the safety of the glass between us. This went on for several weeks until one day Hansi peed on the window ledge and that was that.

One day my grandfather won a pig at one of the family events we always seemed to be going to. We all thought it was a great big side of ham or something until we were informed that we had to go and pick it up at a farm in New Jersey. While there, a certain little fox terrier took a shine to my grandfather and the farmer told him he could take the dog along with the pig. “Tiny”, as she was called, never left my grandfather’s lap for the remainder of her life. When he removed his pants at night she was always stuck to them until the next morning when he’d put them on again. Occasionally, they’d have to be washed so she was included in the wash, rinse, spin cycle. She adored him and would always yip yip yip any time someone tried to get near him. She didn’t even mind his cigars or that pipe he smoked.

That pipe. That’s another very early memory. When we were quite small, we celebrated the Feast Day of St. Nicholas on the sixth of December. On the evening before, my mom would place our shoes outside the front door and Lo and Behold, the next morning they’d be filled with chocolate, oranges and maybe even a coloring book along with a brand new box of crayons. We either had very large feet or somehow my mother had a real sense of ingenuity and managed to stuff them all in with the aid of a shoe horn. Anyway, on one particular December 6th, mom told us to “Run to the window and look outside!” It was already dark, and our window, two flights up, faced the backyard. She was screaming “It’s Saint Nicholas! It’s Saint Nicholas!” I hadn’t a clue what she was yelling about. All I could see was the glowing embers of my grandfather’s pipe and called out to him wondering what in the world was he doing out there in the dark with Saint Nicholas? This was followed by his deep raspy laugh which meant “Don’t I feel silly”.

Once when I was about 4 or 5, he gave me a tiny gold ring with the initial “M” engraved on the top of it. I was totally amazed. Where did you get it? I naively asked, still too young to know you could go out and purchase these things and they didn’t just magically appear. I found it, he replied. Wow! Imagaine that. He found a ring perfectly sized to my finger that just happens to have my initial on it! It was my prized possession, which I didn’t have too many of at the time, that lasted for about two days. On that second day, I was washing my hands with soap at the bathroom sink when  it slipped off my finger and tinkled down the drain! I was horrified! I can still hear the delicate tune it played all the way down “tink-a-tink-alee-tink-a-tink-tink” translated to “aren’t-you-a-stupid-little-girl”. My heart sank. I didn’t tell anyone. I was too ashamed. I was hoping he’d never ask what happened to it and he never did. But looking back, had I said something, they could have removed the J pipe  where it probably sat for a bit until it was washed out to sea. The same sea they journeyed over on all those years ago. Any chance it may have slipped onto Lady Liberty’s little toe? No, her feet are definitely too big. Her shoe may have been the boat they came over on.

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A LOOK BACK AT KEROUAC

August 14th, 2012 by Michael Tabor

Once again a wonderfully written piece by Le Duke de Fromage

I was an aging teenager when I first read On The Road, sitting on a park bench in Boston Common. It was not exactly a high point in my life I was outa school, outa work, and outa money and I was mulling over whether to join the army. When I finished the book, I remember thinking WoW, that’s it. Free, no responsibility, constantly moving, jazz and sex included. It was early spring and a beautiful day something that Boston weather can rarely brag about.I still picture myself sitting there absorbing the book. Always an avid reader, my fault was I read a tremendous amount of what is considered junk.However this was different; this was now. Kerouac made it easy to identify with; he lived in Lowell Mass. only 25 miles from my home.If he could make it out ,well , so could I. As time went on,Kerouac became someone to be taken serious, if not as a significant writer then as an author who was making an impact on future writers.
As his fame grew, he started appearing on mainstream television and not always favorable.Most interviewers were intent on his involvement in what was called “The Beat Generation”. Kerouac hated this tag and always disavowed the title. I remember watching a Steve Allen interview that was embarrassing and awkward. Allen played piano jazz and Kerouac read quotes from his latest book. Uncomfortable,stilted,and staged. However he was never at his best before an audience. Jack appeared to have demons lurking, always a heavy drinker, drugs entered his life. For some, a deadly combination when writing serious prose.
Raised by a mother whose impact weighed heavily all his life,Jack also had a strong religious catholic influence that reflected on his personality. A former girlfriend claimed in many years of friendship he never swore or cursed. He flirted with Buddhism for a period of time but never could embrace it to his liking. Kerouac could be described in melodramatic terms as a tortured soul.
Considered somewhat straight-laced, with his mother’s influence always lurking in the back of his mind, he flirted with both straight and gay sex. A contradiction never fully explained. Alan Ginsburg stated several times that Neil Cassidy who also went both ways influenced Jack and not always to his benefit. Having married three times he also claimed having relations with over 200 women, a claim not seriously taken, and probably made during the later part of his life when boastful alcohol took over.
Kerouac wrote 20 books always in a frenetic jazz hipster style. A way of life that has evolved and is unknown to today’s youth. One would be very challenged to duplicate that lifestyle today, which may be part of the appeal. Recently I reread On The Road and Dharma Bums, two of my earlier favorites and was disappointed to find that the attraction I once had was not there. They seemed dated and less appealing than I remembered. The writing once considered cutting and new , now rather pedestrian. The lifestyle, once shocking and exciting now drab, pointless, and shabby. Truth is there is nothing sadder than an aging hipster.There seemed to be just a little too much of him in his writing,possibly that may have been part of the appeal.
Age changes perception and that may be the answer to why I am no longer drawn to Jack and his aging books. Another possibility is that Kerouac should be read when you are young. Truman Capote said when asked about Kerouac, “That’s not writing, that’s typing”. I am somewhat inclined to agree. Whether fan or not reread Kerouac and judge for yourself.If you have not read him,it is worthwhile just to experience the style and a culture that has passed.
Whadayathink?Still great or fading as time goes on.

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Campfire Memories

July 12th, 2012 by Magdalena Tabor
Years ago. our little cabin in the woods had a campfire pit built nearby, composed of rocks dislodged from the walls assembled by farmers when there were fields instead of the now surrounding forest. Three trees were felled to use as “benches” around the campfire where we’d huddle roasting ears of corn or marshmallows long into the night. The familiar faces of family members glowed with warmth in the firelight and at the stories they told filling the night air. Since then, some have passed on, our circle broken; the rocks removed and scattered to the wilds. Our rustic seating area disintegrated over time, meshing back into the earth from which it sprang. Even so, the memories remain. Star studded nights call them back to this place, sequestered from all else. I wanted it back. The people along with the memories. At the very least, the campfire in its rightful place once more. A primeval force rekindled by a tribal instinct.
Last summer, I attempted to do just that. While Michael napped in mid afternoon bliss, I trudged up the hill to borrow my brother’s wheelbarrow. No one else was around for the weekend. I was on my own. I knew just the place to garner the rocks needed to recreate the pit. Wheelbarrow in gear, I barreled down the hill to the old stone wall that ran along the roadside. The wall was in a state of partial collapse and I would help it along by removing only as many rocks as needed. In an effort to get as close as possible to the wall which was situated up the other side of the ditch, I had to get down into the ditch itself. It was full of water but no matter. I splashed the barrow into it where I promptly became stuck. In the country, flip flops are not the wisest choice in footwear. The mud sucked at the soles. Squoo-utch! Squoo-utch! One for each foot, thus rendering me immobile. I was like one of those dolls with the suction cups stuck on a dashboard of a car. In attempting to disengage myself from the mud sucking ditch, I fell over sideways into the muck. Great! I heard myself laughing at my own foolishness. I struggled to my feet, slipping out of my flip flops which held fast to the mud as I tugged at first one and then the other, releasing its grip from the mud monster. I began again, this time carefully avoiding the ditch, and climbed up to the wall. I dropped rocks into the barrow with a satisying resounding thud at each collected prize. Filled to the brim, I jumped back down (barefoot) and gripped the handles of the barrow that proved too weighty to move. It buckled and shifted to one side, toppling into the ditch very much as I had done earlier. I had to remove some of the rocks to lessen its load. This done, and still with considerable effort, I forced the barrow out of the ditch and up onto the road with a grunt. Then went back for the remaining rocks with which to refill the barrow.
I was now ready to haul my load of rocks to its intended site. It wouldn’t budge. I removed some rocks yet again. Ugh! Still too heavy but I somehow managed to inch my way up the road, and I do mean inch in its every literal sense. I was determined, with all the backing of my deceased relatives cheering me on, to labor at my task like a demented workhorse. I began to break into a sweat, not having had the foresight to realize how….very….far….my destination lay. I….just….couldn’t….do it. Abandoning the wheelbarrow in the middle of the road, hoping a car wouldn’t happen along, I walked the rest of the way to get help. Now, the road is a private one, composed of dirt, and just as natural a country road as one could imagine; wide enough for just one car, that dead ends after a mile or so. It wasn’t likely that a car would come along; the only houses were a couple of vacation homes and a neglected campsite or two. But with the way my luck was running, I didn’t want to chance it. I went back. Tried again. And again. And a ….gain. Until eventually, I came within sight of my destination. Close enough.
Now for the fun part….
I would assemble the fire pit. Fairly soon however, I ran out of rocks. It wasn’t even half done. I couldn’t go back and repeat the insanity. Instead, I grabbed rocks wherever I could, even risking entering the forbidden (ja, das ist verboten) poison ivy area where everyone is repeatedly warned to steer clear. Certain I was immune to the unassuming little plant, I plodded on. Still….not enough rocks. By this time I was overcome by an overwhelming desire to squash the project in favor of something less arduous. In exasperation, with no energy left to wave a flag of defeat, I simply gave up. Someone would help me next time. Michael. My brother (maybe not, if he ever finds out I bent the frame underneath his wheelbarrow and frantically bent it back into shape weakening the entire structure). The main thing is, I made some new memories; in the form of an itchy, scratchy, miserable rash on both legs that lasted for weeks and grew progressively worse as time wore on, defying every conceivable remedy. Never underestimate the power of a tiny little plant with three very distinctive leaves. When (if) the fire pit is finally built, I’ll be itching (pun, most definitely intended) to tell this story around the campfire. It needs no embellishing.
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The Nursery Grime

June 1st, 2012 by Magdalena Tabor
Nursery rhymes. The charming, innocent, sing-song chantings of a by-gone era. Ah, maybe not so charming, and ever wonder why they’ve disappeared from the lips of modern day children? The answer lies in the verses themselves which dawned on me the other day with something of a shock. Who knows how the mind works, but a childhood rhyme buried, yet still lodged firmly in the recesses of my brain suddenly sprang to life, and when spoken aloud hit me on the head with the proverbial hammer. I began to dredge up other “harmless” rhymes that I found equally as horrifying. Then I did a little research and came up with the following information. See if you recognize some of them that your own unassuming self may have uttered once upon a time. Some of it could be fodder for a creepy horror flick. Others have political connotations of historical interest. All of it is very entertaining…..and not just for kids.
1) The Worms – Folk song originating in the 18th century during the Crimean campaign sung by British soldiers. There are various versions. Here’s one I partially recall:
“Did you ever see a hearse go by and think of the day that you might die. (memory lapse here)….The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out, into your stomach and out of your mouth”.
Really??? YUK. I can’t believe I sang that with a sweet little smile on my face. Of course it was accompanied by a rather catchy tune.
2) Ladybug, Ladybug – English origin circa 1744.
“Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home. Your house is on fire and your children will burn”.
Wow. Who dreamt that one up?
3) Ring Around The Rosie – This one originated as a result of the Bubonic Plague. When the disease was contracted, rose colored sores developed, around which rings would form. Posies (flowers) were carried to ward off the stench of the dead.  “Ashes” referred to the burning of the corpses to stop the spread of disease. “We all fall down” was due to the vast number of people that succumbed to the sickness. Here’s the delightful little ditty:
“Ring around the rosie. A pocketful of posie. Ashes, ashes. We all fall down”.
4) London Bridge Is Falling Down – Originated in England circa 1744, referencing the deterioration of the London Bridge built in 1176. “My fair lady” may be tied to Matilda of Scotland who was responsible for building a series of bridges, or perhaps linked with Eleanor of Provence who was in charge of bridge revenues.  I remember this game well…..two children held their hands high in order to form the arch of the bridge, while a group of other children walked around them. At a particular point, the arch would drop and one child would get trapped. Nothing scary here, just some good old fashioned fun:
“London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down. London Bridge is falling down, my fair lady. (Here’s where the arch drops entrapping the one kid who gets swayed back and forth). “Take the key and lock her up, lock her up, lock her up. Take the key and lock her up, my fair lady”.
5) Old Mother Hubbard – Exact origin and meaning disputed. English 1805.
“Old Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard to get her poor dog a bone. But when she got there, the cupboard was bare and so the poor dog had none”.
Listen Mother Hubbard, if you don’t get your act together and put that dog on a proper diet, we’ll remove him from the premises. And as for you, we’ll get you some Meals On Wheels.
6) Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater – USA 1825.
“Peter, Peter, pumpkin eater, had a wife but couldn’t keep her. Put her in a pumpkin shell and there he kept her very well”.
Clearly spousal abuse in it’s basest form. I think she should hook up with Cinderella and turn that pumpkin into a luxury coach, turn Peter into a footman.
7) Rock-A-Bye-Baby – English 1765. One theory is that the baby was the son of James VII who was smuggled into the birthing room to provide a Catholic heir.
“Rock-a-bye-baby, on the tree top. When the wind blows the cradle will rock.  When the bough breaks the cradle will fall. And down will come baby cradle and all”.
Guess he got found out, huh?
8. The Old Woman In A Shoe – England 1794. One possible reference is to Queen Caroline, the wife of King George II who had eight children.
“There was an old woman who lived in a shoe. She had so many children she didn’t know what to do. She gave them some broth without any bread. Then whipped them all soundly and put them to bed”.
She’d never get away with that now.
9) Three Blind Mice – England 1805. An earlier version of this refers to Queen Mary I for blinding and executing three Protestant bishops.
“Three blind mice. Three blind mice. See how they run. See how they run. They all ran after the farmer’s wife who cut off their tails with a carving knife. Did you ever see such a sight in your life as three blind mice?”
Again, another one for the animal rights advocates. Oh…….and what about the bishops? Whose advocating for them? Any volunteers?
So……..the next time you hear some kids singing what sounds like just some kids singing, listen closely to the words.
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Castle Keeping

March 25th, 2012 by Magdalena Tabor
I have a long standing love affair with castles, from the time I was old enough to read Grimm’s Fairy Tales by The Brothers Grimm and lost myself to damsels in distress amidst the beautiful hand colored renderings of the castles and the figures that lived within them.
My parents were/are native Austrians and hail from small villages just north of Vienna. I have often wondered why, coming from such an extraordinarily beautiful country, they would choose to settle here in the U.S. I suppose times were different then, and it was vital to earn a respectable living forsaking  beauty, art and culture. Not to say America doesn’t possess all of these things, but it’s hardly on the same caliber or grand scale as living amongst castles hundreds of years old to stimulate the imagination. Or traveling down cobblestoned winding roads through fairy tale villages to do your daily shopping, eco friendly wicker basket in hand. These are the things we try feebly to recreate at the local Renaissance Faire each year.
However, being born of Austrian parentage, my brother and I were given the rare opportunity to experience this magical existence for real on a trip to Germany and Austria, once when I was nine years old, and again when I was twelve, for a full month each time. My father’s brother lived in the heart of Munich, and it was my aunt and uncle’s good intention to give us the grand tour of a castle, sometimes two, each day for the two weeks we stayed with them. We had hardly recovered from the eight hour flight and I remember saying to my parents, “No more…..I’m sooo tired”, a sentiment my folks fully reciprocated. But let there be no mistake, in retrospect, I am eternally grateful to them, not that I didn’t love it at the time. Remember, I was the fairy tale child if ever there was one. However, to fully appreciate the majesty, you need a break between castle hopping with all of its gaudy grandeur. Of the several we visited, I can only recall three or four, the majority belonging to the Mad King Ludwig. I believe the Nymphenburg castle is the one that bears his horse, which he  had fully stuffed after its death, and which I was able to actually touch when no one was looking. It gave me the creeps upon being told that the mad king had mysteriously drowned,  picturing the murky waters entangled with lily pads about his throat. But I believe it was actually a lake somewhere and not some pond near the castle grounds, so I needn’t have worried.
My favorte castle was one not so ostentatious and was in the Rhein region near another relative’s home. I can’t even tell you the castle’s name but its aura was delightfully brooding. It was a gloomy day as we walked up the steep incline of a medieval road that wound its way to the gray feudal dwelling in the thick of the forest. When we got there, the guide made everyone wear giant brown felt slippers over our shoes making us appear suddenly Hobbitlike. This lightened the mood considerably as we laughed at one another. The purpose of this however, was so that we wouldn’t mar the ancient floors.  I believe this is the castle where the guide, upon learning I was visiting from the States, wanted to present me with a token of remembrance. After rummaging through the drawer of a great, heavily carved oak desk, he produced a black and white postcard bearing a sketch of Christ with his arms spread wide. I still have it. I was so impressed with having been recognized as someone special enough to be given something from a secret chamber in a great gray castle that I felt inclined to keep it all these years.
Besides the many castles of the British Isles on my wish list , there is one castle in Germany I long to see. The fairy tale castle of all time – Burg Eltz, also referred to as Castle Eltz. It’s perched high atop a rocky  crag in the forested mountains overlooking the river Elzbach that hugs alongside it. In fact, the very shape of the castle is owed to its winding river. Gaze upon this magnificent structure is to have entered the pages of Grimms. Incredibly, it’s still owned and lived in by the same family branch after 33 generations. Of the eighty rooms they inhabit, only about eight of them are open for public viewing. What’s in all those other rooms??? demands the child within, the imagination running rampant.
Einstein said, “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales”.  It doesn’t mean you’ll become the most brilliant person, it just means you’ll glow with a brilliance that only the imagination can illuminate. Nothing speaks more to the imagination than a castle, and the history associated with each one. And then, there’s the fairy tale….
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The Spirit Of Christmas

December 15th, 2011 by Magdalena Tabor

“I am the Spirit of Christmas Past”.  “Long past?”  “No, your past.” These are the words exchanged between one of the three ghostly visitors and Ebenezer Scrooge in a movie version of “A Christmas Carol”. As the years go by, I too am urged by this gentle spirit to reawaken my most cherished childhood memories.
A baby boomer of the  Five and Dime era, I was shuffled off to Woolworth’s on one occasion to meet with Santa Claus. Four or five years old and awestruck at the imposing white bearded figure in the red suit, I had lost my ability to speak. To be sure, I was terrified. I couldn’t  tell the man what I wanted so I merely nodded my head at his every suggestion whether I wanted the thing or not. That’s how I ended up with Thumbelina, a poplular doll at the time. I didn’t want Thumbelina, didn’t like Thumbelina, yet there she was come Christmas Eve. This was my first life’s lesson to speak up when you want something or you just may end up with something else. Oddly enough, I wanted Chatty Cathy, a “talking” doll.
In time, Thumbelina was given a hair cut making her even less appealing. I couldn’t understand why her hair didn’t grow back. Or why the hole I bored into the back of another doll’s neck didn’t produce the desired result when the string I shoved into it was pulled. Even a fervent Hail Mary didn’t do the trick. I was still dreaming of Chatty Cathy.
As children go, my brother and I were relatively unspoiled, having parents who weren’t well off in our early years. I never understood my mother’s apology years later for not having a lot to give us at Christmas. I thought the things we got were great; a doll of some kind (even a nameless one), a coloring book with a brand new box of crayons, a game, all of which could be purchased at the 5 and 10 cent store for practically nothing. For me, the real magic was the tree, delivered fully decorated by Santa himself during our blissful hours of angelic sleep. The fragrant boughs were laden with precious glass ornaments, multitudes of silver icicles and German chocolates wrapped in foil, all glittering in the moonlight. Underneath, amid the snowy cotton folds, lay baby Jesus made of wax and ensconced in a beautiful wax box. My youngest cousin left her teeth marks in his head probably thinking he was made of candy. I was never so vexed at the sight of his mangled head in the years following. This was the same little girl who poked her finger through every delicate glass ornament within reach until an obliging adult finally heard me voicing my apparent displeasure.
Christmas Eve was always spent with cousins who lived in a neighboring town. Once there was such a blizzard with drifting snow, it was thought we couldn’t go. Not to be disappointed, we piled into the car after tying our Flexible Flyer sleds to the bumper. Since no one else was on the road it was deemed safe enough for the car to pull us along for a couple of blocks. Arriving at our destination flushed and exhilarated, we were met with surprise and delight from those believing we would never attempt the journey. As a child, the sight of falling snow under an old cast iron streetlight was pure magic. It still is. The tiny encrusted flakes sparkle like diamond broaches on winter’s mantle of white.
“I am the Spirit of Christmas Past” urging you to succumb to the age old tradition, to give someone something to look back on. Donate a toy to any organization in need of distributing some holiday magic. Or what about contributing to a local food drive, The Salvation Army, or even a church breadline? Christmas brings out the best in people, making us more human and at times elevating mankind to near angel status by our random acts of kindness. At the very least, it will make your spirit soar.
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