50-15 – Bart Conner and Nadia Comeneci

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Many of these begin with ‘when I was a kid’ or a teenager or in college, but so many of the things that I rmember are from those times. Sometimes they stand out because of the people I was with or I’m reminded of them because of a recent event or circumstance.

When I was in high school, I had a huge crush on Bart Conner. I loved watching all of the gymnasts – male and female – compete both at the world championship level and at the Olympic level. I was a big fan of the Olympics and u sed their subject for several papers and speeches throughout high school and college. I was a fan.

For a long time I followed the careers of Kurt Thomas – up until his retirement to coach, and Bart Conner. They seemed ot always finish one or two, but for the life of me, I can’t remember who finished where.

I got ahold of Bart’s address in college – the University of Oklahoma at Norman and sent fan letters, letters of congratulations and the like. He returned with a postcard and a Christmas card. The Christmas card is long lost. I have a photocopy of it from my friend, Susan who joined me on the Christmas card writing.

Many years later, after we’d moved to the upstate New York area, I saw an advertisement that Bart Conner and his wife, Nadia Comeneci would be signing autographs in the local mall.

How could I pass up this opportunity, not only to meet my crush and hero, Bart Conner while making a fool of myself reminiscing about our high school correspondence, but to meet Nadia Comeneci, the most famous international gymnast in the world. During the 1976 Montreal Games and at 14, she became the first gymnast to score a perfect 10 at an Olympic Games.

It was beyond thrillling.

If it occurred today, I would easily ask for a photo, but back then, about eighteen or so years ago, I felt I was intruding despite them being there for their fans in the first place. I was so intimidated with stereotypical jelly legs and stammering voice, but they were both kind and lovely, and someday I will find that autographed picture.

Meeting your heroes can be either a blessing or a curse. I’ve been lucky that in all my instances of meeting celebrities and sports figures, I’ve been very lucky that I have not been let down. It is a testament to their seriousness as role models in their fields.

50-14 – MahJong

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​When my mother died a few years ago, I asked for her mah jong set. No one else cared; no one else wanted it. I was probably the only one who had any real memories of it in action. In our childhood neighborhood, and at aunts’ and uncles’ houses in the Bronx and Queens there were weekly games.

Bubbly hair that was so full of hairspray it could withstand tornado, nuclear blast or the annual wedding dress sale at Filene’s. The cat’s eye glasses that is so central to the 1970s vintage look that then was merely in its infancy.

Four folding chairs, unfolded and set around a card table taken from the hall closet. No tablecover that I remember, but four different colored tile racks, the top for showing your play and the tilted one (like Scrabble) that no one could see what still remained in your hand.

I didn’t know how to play. I still don’t,but when I was a kid, I thought I did. I’d move the tiles around. My mother’s set has jewel toned racks, and I brought out the green one to display on top of the case – it is very much like a briefcase with two latches on the side that keep it closed, but doesn’t require a key to open. The rest of the set is housed inside the case.

I keep it on the bottom of my barrister bookcase. That’s one of those bookcases with a glass front so you can see what’s inside. It fits perfectly on that bottom display.

Whenever I look at it I think about the card table and the food we weren’t allowed to touch. We were sent outside with the other kids.

I don’t remember if everyone shared one set to play on, but everyone had their own set. Maybe the host provided the playing set.

Even now, I can hear the clattering of the tiles on the racks. They look like marble but from their weight, I’d guess that they’re not.

I can hear the bam, and the dot, and the joker and dragon.

Wine flowed, crudite crunched, and tiles clattered while we kids ran around outside, and then through the living room being chastised and sent once again on our way and our of our parents’ ways.


Fall Writing Prompts

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My fall semester writing group has started up again. Our umbrella theme this season is somewhat random, taken from the pages of The Sun magazine. We’re being encouraged to submit a work to their Readers Write section and our prompts are being taken from theirs, both current and in past issues. Our class is sis weeks, so with homework, I will share twelve weekly prompts with you, beginning today. Prompts will appear on Friday, and if I have something to share from class I will post it on Monday. Feel free to share links to your own writing on either the prompt post on Friday or my completed on Monday post so we can see what you’ve chosen to write about. Have a wonderful Fall.

Today’s prompt is Houses

50 – 11 (Photo) Five Dollars

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Current Front. 2016

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Current Back. 2016

For anyone who’s already read the 11th reflection in my 50 series, this is a photo that I added to the original post.

The bills my uncles gave us when we’d visit were much different, but we spent those.

These are the current ones in circulation.

While still called paper money, they are actually printed on polymer or plastic. The five is the lowest denomination of paper money. There are $1 and $2 coins. They no longer use pennies.

Consequently, when we went out to eat, we were charged $94.23 if we used a credit or debit card or $94.25 if we paid cash. It took about a day to get used to.

50 – 13 – 337

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When I was in high school and for as long as it was on television, I was a tremendous fan of Matlock starring Andy Griffith. He played a Georgia lawyer who wore the same suit every day – three piece grey. That’s all he had in his closet for court.

Each show was some kind of a mystery culminating in a trial. I loved it. I’ve always been a big fan of mysteries and the law, so this was perfect for me despite my not exactly being in the demographic that it was aimed for.

One of those mysteries was a murder in a television studio. The victim queued up the VHS tape (yup, that’s how long ago that show was on) to 3:37.

It was assumed that the murderer appeared on the tape at the three minute, thirty-seven second mark. However that person had an alibi. It confused everyone until Matlock laid down on the floor under the VHS player and suddenly from the angle of the murder victim, instead of the numbers 337, it spelled out LEE. Lee was the murderer.

I don’t know why this always stuck with me through the years, decades even. I noticed when I was buying something and the total was $3.37. I think for a short while gas prices went up to $3.379. I would notice the time – 3:37pm.

My husband would point it out to me when he would see it.

It became my favorite number.

Well, about five years ago, I got one of those day planner books that listed the days of the year. January 1st was #1. February 1st was #32. March 1st was 60, and so on.

Out of curiosity, I thumbed through the whole calendar to my birthday, December 3rd to see what day of the year I was born on.

As it turned out, in non-leap years, my birthday is celebrated on the three hundred thirty-seventh day of the year.

My birthday is 337.

I was kind of astounded by the coincidence, but it was also one of those feelings that wasn’t deja vu, but it was special – that things are there and we need just to take a closer look at them; that some things mean more than they appear on the surface.