Friday, June 29, 2012


Summer.  Coppertone.  The Beach Boys.  The ice-cream truck (growing up in New York we waited for the Good Humor Man or Mr. Softee to show up on alternate evenings).
            And then, of course, there was the beach.
            Where I grew up, in N.Y., that meant Brighton Beach. (Occasionally, people drove to Jones Beach or to Rockaway Beach but my recollections are of Brighton Beach). Laying on the sand at Brighton, one could look up and see the roller coasters and the parachute drop at nearby Coney Island.
            The beach itself was divided by stations, or bays as they were called. (Bay #1, Bay #2, and so on).  People had their favorite bays and clustered to them according to their particular affiliation, such as the school they attended. There was a bay predominated by Italians, by Jews, by gays.
            Rather than a lemonade stand, men, dressed in casual attire, would stroll the sand, carrying their treats and shouting “get your ice cold orange-aide, get your hot knishes” (for those unfamiliar, a knish is a potato delicacy).
            In June, just before school let out, blankets would be strewn with ‘Regents Exam’ study guides. Regents Exams were exit exams covering a multitude of subjects, given by the state of New York to all graduating seniors before they were permitted to graduate.
            Folks arrived at Brighton Beach and Coney Island in droves to watch the 4th of July fireworks.
            I recall one time in the seventies, when people were devouring Jaws, the blockbuster novel by Peter Benchley; fewer swimmers dipped their toes into the waters of the Atlantic that summer.
            Speaking of the Atlantic – when I relocated to the West Coast two things struck me about the Pacific Ocean: there seemed to be more debris, rocks and shells, on the ocean floor and the water was much, much colder than that of the Atlantic.
            Which ever beach is close to you, I hope you’ll be relaxing on it some time soon, placing a sea shell to your ear and listening to the ocean’s waves.

Have a great weekend whatever you do,



Saturday, June 23, 2012


Before Jennifer Aniston., before Debbie Reynolds, the ultimate girl next door was Doris Day. (Arguably this might be said of June Allison, but Doris Day was a personal favorite of mine so I’m sticking with Doris).
           Born Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff, on April 3, 1924, with her winning smile, her infectious laugh, and the wonderful sense of vulnerability she possessed, it was no wonder that her name was continuously on movie marquees, particularly in the fifties and sixties.
            Doris Day began her career as a big band singer in 1939 but it wasn’t until 1945 that she hit it big with Sentimental Journey. One of the most prolific female artists of the twentieth century, she recorded more than 650 songs between 1947 and 1967. What made Doris such a superb vocalist is that she had a unique ability to put over a song. To personalize the lyrics so that when you heard her sing you truly believed that she felt the words she was singing. (As someone who has been a lyricist, I find this talent extraordinary and very gratifying).  Like Frank Sinatra, this particular skill would later serve her very well in films.
            Believe it or not, my mother did not want me going to see Doris Day films when I was a child. She felt that the subject matter was “too suggestive”.  Yes, too suggestive.  When I finally did see the romantic comedies of the sixties I found myself wondering (even at my tender age) why  Doris Day, a virgin in her thirties, was turning down an opportunity to travel the world with the wealthy business tycoon with whom she was in love (and who, by the way, was played by Cary Grant no less!)
            Unfortunately Doris’s screen persona was different from her personal life, which was not all sunshine and daylight. Far from it. She had a pattern of being attracted to a variety of men who either cheated her or physically abused her. (The closest she came to a role imitating her life was in the movie, Julia).
            From all accounts, she was a sincere person and a loyal friend. In fact, she maintained a long standing friendship with longtime co-star, Rock Hudson and stood by him in his final days, before he eventually succumbed to AIDS. 
            Doris Day, who in addition to films had a successful television career, is also known for her life long devotion to animals and to organizations supporting them.
            Though she was recognized best for romantic comedies, my favorite Doris Day movies were the ones in which she played it straight (Julia, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Storm Warning). 
            Doris Day was and remains a class act.
            I’ve listed a dozen of my favorite Doris Day movies (in no particular order).


 Thanks for joining me on RHODES LESS TRAVELED, and have a great weekend,


P.S.  Due to the fact that I'm going to find myself very busy in the coming weeks, I've decided to dispense with my daily 'this day in history' at least for the summer. I will continue writing my weekly blogs (though they may be posted at any time during the weekend). Thanks for your continued support.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


I am not going to be writing my usual blog this week. I’ve been out of town, visiting my sister. My brother-in-law passed away last month and I came out to attend his memorial service and to offer whatever comfort I could.
            There’s not much to say at a time like this but, having been in the same situation only a few years ago, I am mindful of what platitudes not to express. (To be reminded of this, check the archives for my blog entitled, “What Not To Say To Someone In Mourning”).
            The service was lovely. I, and several other family members, spoke eloquently about Larry and the man he was. We shared humorous anecdotes and talked about Larry’s many good qualities.
 My nephew, to his credit, spoke not only of my brother-in-law’s good qualities but also reminded us that his uncle, like the rest of us, was not a saint. He had his weaknesses, made his share of mistakes, and so on.  Too often we idealize a person posthumously, elevating our loved ones to an exalted status. Why do we do this?  Is it because we only wish to remember the deceased as a perfect person?  In life, didn’t we love and accept him or her, shortcomings and all?
People came from great distances to attend the memorial service which was a tribute to the many lives Larry touched. I was brought back to my husband Rick’s service which was attended by about 700 people. I remember thinking at that time how honored Rick would have been and how much he, himself, would love to have attended the service, seeing people he had not seen in years.
Perhaps the lesson to be learned here, if there is one, is not only to treat each other with kindness, but to go out of our way to keep up with old acquaintances and relations, attend that family function or that reunion you weren’t sure you’d be going to. Though it’s good to be able to attend a loved one’s memorial service, it’s even better to be there for that person in life.

Thanks for joining me on Rhodes Less Traveled,


Wednesday, June 13, 2012


On June 13, 1966 The U.S. Supreme Court set forth in Miranda v. Arizona that the police must advise suspects of their rights upon taking them into custody.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


On June 12, 1963, Civil rights leader Medgar Evers was fatally shot in front of his home in Jackson, Mississippi.

Sunday, June 10, 2012


I didn’t forget to post this blog on Friday as I usually do. I chose to post it today instead because today is exactly a year that I posted my first blog. Can’t believe a whole year has passed, but there it is. In one year my blog’s had almost 6000 hits.
            It was my daughter, Allie, who first suggested that I write a blog. I was resistant since I myself wasn’t a fan of blogs that read as personal journals (ie. today I made myself a grilled cheese sandwich).
            Still, it was a way of returning to my writing as was working on revising my first mystery, GROOMED FOR MURDER, and making it available as an ebook.
            I wasn’t sure if I had any sort of a ‘theme’ going. I love to cook, but mine wouldn’t be a recipe blog. Nor would it be a travel blog or a ‘mommy blog’. Eventually, it evolved and when I looked for a common thread I realized that for the most part my blogs were historical or nostalgic in content.
            I’ve written about subjects as diverse as film noir, Harry Houdini, old time baseball, and famous mistresses through the years. The article that was read the most was the one on “what not to say to someone in mourning”. I’m glad that anyone can read articles missed by checking out the archives.  A few months ago I began daily postings of ‘this day in history’. Depending how popular this is I may or may not continue these in the future.
            One of the things that excited me most was when I first looked at the stats and discovered that my articles were being read by people in a variety of countries such as: Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Czech Republic, to name a few. My biggest ‘fans’ outside of the U.S. are from Russia.
            (I would love to get feedback from people reading this outside the U.S. so if anybody is reading this from lands far away, my email address is
            The best thing about the blog has been the discipline I’ve returned to in my writing. I research the articles I write and learn a lot while doing so.
            I hope you’ll all continue reading as I enter my second year of blogging.

Have a nice weekend and thanks for joining me along RHODES LESS TRAVELED,



On June 10, 1935 Alcoholics Anonymous was founded by "Bill W."

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Monday, June 4, 2012

Saturday, June 2, 2012


Baseball great, Lou Gehrig died of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, ALS, a rare type of paralysis now referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease.

Friday, June 1, 2012


Is it okay to murder a despicable human being?  That would depend on one’s perspective I suppose.
            The movie, Bernie, was well written, well directed, and well acted. In fact, I’d go as far as to say it was Jack Black’s best performance to date and may likely earn him an Oscar nomination.
            Getting back to my original question: is it okay to murder a despicable human being?  Bernie would have us believe that it is. (Spoiler alert: if you don’t want to know about the movie, stop reading now).
            Based on true events, Bernie, directed by Richard Linklater, tells the story of a beloved funeral director, in his thirties, whose generosity of spirit and whose kindness are very much appreciated in the small Texas town where this takes place. When Bernie befriends a wealthy, elderly widow who is despised by the community for her meanness, the town is aghast. Most people think Bernie a saint for putting up with the woman’s cruel and controlling ways.
            Bernie accepts all that ‘Margy’ dishes out until one day he snaps and shoots her to death.
            The story is conveyed in mock documentary style with all the residents weighing in on whether Bernie, who ultimately admits to killing the woman and stuffing her body in a freezer, should be found guilty.
            The movie was very well done and I enjoyed watching it but at the same time, it left me thinking about how manipulative films can be in spinning a point of view.  In this film, only the D.A. (played by Matthew McConaughey) and family members are disturbed by what is truly a horrific act (and the family members are not portrayed sympathetically).
            Through the eyes of the movie makers we are left to sympathize with Bernie, a sweet, loving man who is dominated by this witch of a woman (played as the ultimate bitch by veteran actor Shirley McClaine). Bernie uses any money he gets from her estate, not on himself but to help the townspeople and the church.
            Did such a man deserve his sentence of life in prison?  Wasn’t he doing the town a service in eliminating this awful woman?  There’s a side here that we’re not seeing. Margy’s side and that of her family.  Here was a young man who took up with a wealthy old woman, a man who traveled and vacationed with her in first class luxury. No one held a gun to his head to stay. Bernie covered up her death for months. Yet, we, the audience are left hoping that he’ll be acquitted.
            Remember, Dorothy Gale killed two witch sisters (yes, the deaths were accidental – one witch flattened by a house, her sister melted by water – but she killed them none the less) and yet did we, for one moment, want Dorothy to pay for her crimes?  Certainly not.
            Films can easily get us to sympathize with even the most heinous characters (case in point, Bonnie & Clyde).  This is not to say that we can’t enjoy the movie, only that we should be cognizant of the fact that often our feelings are being manipulated.

Have a great weekend and thank you for joining me along RHODES LESS TRAVELED,



On June 1, 1938 the first issue of Action Comics, featuring Superman, was published. Still have a stack of old Superman comics somewhere in the garage.