Tuesday, February 26, 2019
What defines and binds a family are their shared life, educational, and cultural experiences.
It came into my head to ask my three sons what of our past shared experiences came into their heads without deep thought.
Our combines responses become the Question of the Day.
Tuesday, February 26, 2019
My 320th consecutive posting, committed to 5,000.
Time is 12.01am.
On Tuesday, Boston’s temperature will reach a high of 27* with a feels-like temperature of a mere 12* under sunny skies.
320 posts to date.
Today we’re at the 6.40% mark of my commitment,
the commitment a different way of marking the passage of time.
The 5,000-posts commitment will take 13.69 years, taking me to a new phase of my life.
We will see thirteen “Winter-Spring Shoulder Season Calendar, Feb 14 to April 7,” before that happens.
But it will.
Today our winter-spring shoulder calendar features cold weather. Cold, as in ‘Shoulder season? my elbow.’
As in the dead of winter.
As in tomorrow, too.
Elephant jokes to tell at a bar:
What's big, grey, starred and danced in the 1940s film of Fantasia, and wears glass slippers?
Question of the Day
What is a family?
Love your notes.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
In answer to a quick polling, my sons contributed to the list of shared events that influenced their development into young men, husbands, fathers, friends, and business associates.
Web Meister Responds: Amen to that, my sons.
Answer to the Question of the Day
What is a family?
As per Wikipedia:
In the context of human society, a family is a group of people related either by consanguinity (by recognized birth), affinity (by marriage or other relationship), or co-residence (as implied by the etymology of the English word "family") or some combination of these.
In most societies, the family is the principal institution for the socialization, which includes both formal and cultural education, of children.
As per Wikipedia:
Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and habits.
Educational methods include storytelling, discussion, teaching, training, and directed research. Education frequently takes place under the guidance of educators and also learners may also educate themselves.
Education can take place in formal or informal settings and any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts may be considered educational.
What defined and bound my family were the shared educational and cultural experiences that occurred during the ageing and development of this group over a period of time.
Here is a partial list of share some of these experiences.
We saw a lot of musical events together.
One of the most impressive concerts that we ever attended took place in Symphony Hall in Boston, a high-brow performance center not usually given over to country-western singers.
The capacity audience was dressed as if for the Boston Symphony and Johnny Cash, when the lights went down and the curtains opened onto an unlit stage, save for the spotlight on him.
Cash was dressed all in black including a long, black, knee-length coat.
In his rich, gravelly baritone, he said only, “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash.”
To a thunderous applause, he sat.
From the first cords of Folsom Prison Blues, he cuffed that audience and held it and, of more concern to me, held my children, in his thrall.
They’ve never forgotten that night or him.
We shared many other memorable musical events.
Like the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company’s visit to Boston.
The boys and I sat for many days in advance, reading the libretto, discussing the politics, analyzing the wit, enjoying the music.
Three takeaways from that experience.
I remember the unnecessary intimidation I used to ensure their participation.
(But I had the unusual experience of going back in time, a la Nathaniel Hawthorne, and actually changing my behavior. Some thirty years later I was given another opportunity, with a daughter whom I raised with far more gentleness. When we watched Iolanthe for the first time, five minutes into the program she said, “Daddy, I don’t know why you thought I might not like this.”)
But despite my roughness the boys were engaged.
A validation of our efforts to expose them to the semi-classical Gilbert and Sullivan came to fruition during this introductory process.
One night, after I had read to them and turned the lights out, I went to the record player to play their music while they fell to sleep. Our rouitine. While I searched the titles, my oldest son asked, “Dad, would you put on “Iolanthe?”
What a thrill! Which I immediately, almost joyously, shared with Toni-Lee.
And the third takeaway took place at the Harvard theatre hosting the performances.
We sat Toni-Lee and I in the row in front of the boys, the three of them immediately behind us.
I will never forget turning my head to watch their reactions as the first strains of the full orchestra shot through the audience: the boys jolted so erect they had to seize the arms of their seats for stability.
They grinned, Mino’s tongue excitedly and repeatedly licking his lips as though cleaning off the remnants of a chocolate ice cream.
A penultimate musical note.
In the mid-70s, Dom’s was the primary restaurant destination all of the rock groups that came into the city.
Following their concerts, after midnight, the groups and their entourage would arrive at Dom’s and stay the night eating and drinking until the sun came up.
As a result of the closeness that emanated from their celebrations, my sons and I were invited to every of the multitude of rock concerts in every venue, stadium to concert halls, including a memorable Queen concert in 1976 in the Boston Garden.
Although Dom’s was just a five-minute drive to the Boston Garden where most of the indoor concerts were held, the bands’ limousine would come for the boys and I and drive us to the venue.
We were always free to visit the groups in their dressing rooms before the concerts and, afterwards, attend any on-premise meet-and-greets for the local radio program managers, many of whom we knew well.
Sometimes their meet-and-greets were held at Dom’s.
Aerosmith, the Village People, Kiss, Queen, Boston, ELO, Janis Ian, Joe Cocker, J Geils’ Band, Three Dog Night, Elton John, Fleetwood Mac were a few examples of the stature of the groups we hosted.
And a final musical note.
One day a man came to visit with me, offering a deal that tied Dom’s into the classical music scene in Boston.
I forget the precise terms, but it meant that we would further extend our reach into the theater district; and Walter Pierce was a gentle, soft-spoken, educated man that inspired confidence.
I took the deal.
Wiki offers this background:
Walter Pierce (born November 1, 1930, Cambridge, Massachusetts) is a performing arts impresario who, from 1965 until 1996, presented, managed, and promoted over 1500 music, dance, and theater events in Boston under the auspices of the Celebrity Series of Boston.
Pierce also served as president of the International Society for the Performing Arts in 1976 and 1977.
The Celebrity Series of Boston is a non-profit performing arts presenter established in Boston, Massachusetts by Boston impresario Aaron Richmond in 1938 as Aaron Richmond's Celebrity Series.
Since its founding the Celebrity Series has evolved into one of New England's major presenting organizations with over 100 performance and outreach activities annually.
Joan Sutherland, Marilyn Horne, Van Cliburn, Renata Tebaldi, and Beverly Sills were among the tens of classical music’s superstars that we got to hear; got to meet.
Although the boys didn’t attend many of these concerts, they sometimes came downstairs (We occupied three of the four floors above the restaurant) to meet the stars afterwards.
Of course books were integral to our fabric.
From early on, from the time the boys slipped under their covers, we read every to them every night at the boys’ bedtime, sometimes Toni, sometimes me.
Toni-Lee’s selections tended to the shorter, more gentle books, Christopher Robin-Winnie the Pooh and Beatrix Potter and friends.
I didn’t care for the shorter books: they meant constantly recurring solutions to “What shall I read them tonight.”
From me the boys got the likes of J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit and then the Lord of the Rings.
Each of the boys chose his own book for daily reading.
The public libraries were integral to the effort.
We shared great meal times.
Dinner was 6.00pm, promptly, since I had to get to the restaurant by 8.00pm to catch the early arrivals as they finished and to be on site during the rush hour.
Meals were uniformly wonderful.
Toni-Lee cooked on a par with Julia Childs and Michael Fields.
And she was always investigating, presenting different dishes every night.
We paired the wines for the meals and explained the whys of the pairings.
Ironically, although invited to, the boys never drank.
The conversation was always electric.
We discussed, school, food, a little wine, concerts, news items, philosophy, friends, although not gossip.
The boys were great listeners, always asking the speaker questions to encourage him to speak longer, to demonstrate interest.
And they learned to present different sides of hot issues quietly and respectfully.
We regularly we had guests for dinner.
Sometimes friends of the boys.
Sometimes friends of mine from work or the corner.
Sometimes architects and designers discussing many of the construction projects we were involved in.
Toni-Lee’s siblings were frequent guests, one or two of them lived with us for substantial periods.
Of course, school occupied much of our time.
Toni-Lee neither liked to drive nor liked the social aspects of interaction with other parents.
So she worked with the boys on their homework.
I drove the boys to amd from school and got enmeshed with school activities, becoming Chair of the Board of Fayerweather Street School when in its infancy. Small then, the school. Now the school’s a big deal.
One of my sons wrote this: “Activities you guys arranged for our schools… Guys and Dolls, birdwatching field trips, dinners at Dom’s, etc… These were big for me because they crossed over from our family world into my school world in a way that was meaningful because you guys had to put in serious work to make them happen. That was a big lesson for me.”
For many years we played family tennis.
Toni prepared a splendid lunch baskets, pates and marinated mushrooms de rigueur.
Four of us played four games while the fifth wheel sat watching, nibbling from the basket.
Then one would leave to tend to the basket while the other joined the group.
Every Sunday afternoon for years.
Until two of our sons starting playing every day, gravitating to private lessons, and then getting so good that family tennis became boring to them.
Competitive tennis occupied those two for many years, determining what they did with their free time: three-hour practices daily, including holidays, and ranking tournaments virtually every weekend held at tennis clubs all over New England.
I took the players, often overnight;
Toni hung out with the our third.
Shared movies at the cinema played a big part In our family’s growth.
Wednesday afternoon double features at the Orson Welles theater in Cambridge, art movies at the Nickelodeon, the typical current children’s movies, movies that were a stretch for their age, we always erring on the too-much, too-soon side.
Shared television, Sunday nights only, especially fond of the Marx Brothers, Charlie Chan, and Sunday night television, Disney, Columbo, Mcloud.
Toni-Lee made permutations of roasted chicken, our favorite, with shallots and artichoke hearts.
We ate on the soft carpet of the no-shoes television room while we watched our shows.
Oh! What nights.
An entire summer in France, immersing ourselves in the food and wine there.
Annual winter vacations to the Caribbean.
Frequent auto excursions to the likes of Mt. Greylock in western Mass. and Mt. Desert inMaine.
An autotrip to the southeastern states in search of a nationally-famous truck stop at a time when Mino had developed a love of big trucks. We found the truck stop. Took pictures. Ate at the diner. Visited Gettysburg and Williamstown, and spent a day at a beefalo auction, a cross between a buffalo and a cow.
One of my greatest takeaways from all vacations was 5.00pm.
Toni liked to take a rare nap for herself before our big meal.
Which gave me near two hours to spend alone with the boys.
The boys and I dressed and the four of us went down to the dining room while Toni napped.
We first went into the bar where the boys ordered cokes and I, water: a big deal for the boys: we never served nor allowed soda in their diets.
We sat and talked for a long time and then went into the dining room where they ordered dinner.
We ate leisurely and finished by 6.45pm.
Back in our room, the boys got ready for bed and a sitter; Toni and I for dinner.
Being away from work and other distractions quieted me and I could focus solely on them, talking, telling stories, laughing relaxed, a moment difficult to find in an ordinary workday.
Those are some of the most important activities that we shared.
But out of the house we did lots of other things.
We spent time in arcades playing the latest video games,
in museums, art, science, and childrens’,
at Advent church, followed by brunch at Dom’s, some Sundays,
walking Plum Island.
So much to do.
So little time.
At home on Cape Cod, Squaw Island, we spent time crabbing and clamming, landscaping our property, watching football games while I was involved in a sports book, and doing daily Royal Air Force exercises.
The kids biked the causeway and went swimming off our beach.
Walking the beach, glass of wine in hand, talking softly with my boys or brother-in-law, unforgettable.
Throughout our lives together moved a cast of fascinating characters, many worthy of his or her own story.
Daily, famous rock and rollers, political extremists, bookmakers, foodies, intellectuals, family, wine snobs, artists, and childhood North End friends came in and out of our apartment, home, or restaurant, leaving traces of themselves that influenced each of us.
And so I’ll close this trip down memory lane by reprinting a song that we all loved, from Mame.
Where is that boy with the bugle?
My little love was always my big romance;
Where's that boy with the bugle?
And why did I ever buy him those damn long pants?
Did he need a stronger hand?
Did he need a lighter touch?
Was I soft or was I tough?
Did I give enough?
Did I give too much?
At the moment when he needed me,
Did I ever turn away?
Would I be there when he called,
If he walked into my life today.
Were his days a little dull?
Were his nights a little wild?
Did I overstate my plan?
Did I stress the man?
And forget the child.
And there must have been a million things.
That my heart forgot to say.
Would I think of one or two,
If he walked into my life today.
Should I blame the times I pampered him,
Or blame the times I bossed him;
What a shame!
I never really found the boy,
Before I lost him.
Were the years a little fast?
Was his world a little free?
Was there too much of a crowd?
All too lush and loud and not enough for me.
Though I'll ask myself my whole life long,
What went wrong along the way;
Would I make the same mistakes
If he walked into my life today?
Good Morning on this Tuesday, the 26th day of February.
We talked about family, cold weather, and good leftovers.
We read a warning to expect more unpleasant weather and Cinderelephant?
And we read extensively of the experiences of the Web Meister’s family of three sons.
And now? Now gotta go.
Che vuoi? Le pocketbook?
See you soon.