Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Lunch with Helene - Gail Hope Baldwin, memoir writer, speaks at Upper Moreland Hysterical Association

It's been awhile since I visited my friend Helene at Rydal Park. Arrived exactly at 12 noon, out of breath, after walking up 6 flights of stairs to her two-bedroom apartment.

Gave her two copies of The Compass. Why does it look different, she asked. Well, I said, we always have a different cover each year, plus it's 8 more pages than last year.


The home is having an interesting guest speaker in about a week. Helene will not be attending. She prefers to isolate herself in her apartment and miss all the fun. She was not like this when she lived in her own home. I told her she needs someone to pick her up and walk her to all these programs.

 She's eating bagel and lox. "Horrible," she pronounced it.

The handsome man in the distance walked with a cane - couldn't have been more than 65 - and his whole body shook as if he was dancing the cha cha cha. Motor neuron diz of some sort.
My salad, applesauce and tuna fish were delicious. Someone at the next table had left their stir-fried broccoli, which I plucked from the plate and ate.

Very healthy lunch but I forgot my insulin pen.

Helene is reading some good books. I'd never heard of the late author Batya Gur, who lived in Jerusalem. Read about her here. And remind me to check out some of her mysteries.

Wonder if she's related to Raquel Gur, MD, PhD of Penn.

When Helene worked at Art Matters, we used to critique each other's work. I brought her my newest short story - The Missing Book - but when I printed it out, one page was missing. Will mail it to her tomro.

Mr. Brown went to Boston  
Gail Hope Baldwin gave an excellent presentation on her new book. Read about it here on the website of the publisher. Gail grew up on School House Lane in Willow Grove, about five minutes from my street. She now lives in Ocean City, NJ, and knows the publisher, which is why she went with them.

Here's my friend Freda's memoir.

Gail said memoirs have been very popular for about 25 years and it was easier to write than she thought.

The title comes from a game her family played in the car.

Mr. Brown goes to Boston and on the way he packs.... some underwear... some books... the next person must repeat what everyone has said and add their own item.

Gail graduated from Upper Moreland High School in 1968. I graduated Shaker Heights High School in 1964.

Image result for shaker heights high school      We used to play hockey on the front lawn in gym class. Gym was my favorite subject. Ground sticks, ground sticks, ground sticks.

Many of Gail's relatives were in the audience. Her 93-yo father, who's in good health but frail, now lives in the Briarcliff in Doylestown. I remember it's the old Doylestown Hospital.

What a great father he was!

Excuse my blurry photos. When you take close-ups from the last row, they tend to be blurry.

The family vacationed in Ocean City, N J. Her dad made them a sand castle in the shape of an automobile.

She's sitting with older sister Bonnie, who was very creative, but didn't learn to ride a bike until she was in her forties.

Here's her dad, Jack, sitting at the piano. He had many jobs - worked as a produce man at Penn Fruit for 90 cents an hour - and was also a piano tuner. Someone in the audience said he tuned their piano.

Just pretend it's pouring now. Dad built the kids a playhouse on the back of the house.

He filled up the back of his 1955 Chevy pick-up with used lumber he got. The two doors fit perfectly.

Bonnie and Gail and Jill - there were four or five girls - would pretend there was a flood outside and save people, reeling them in with a broom.

Then they would warm them up, provide them with warm clothes and feed them.

Dad made a kitchen for them. In the mini-fridge are milk bottles.... real bottles of milk, empty, but painted white. There are also empty soup cans.

Image result for campbell tomato soup

The parents let the kids name the third girl. She was named after

Image result for jill doll

the curvaceous Jill doll, made by Vogue. 

I liked Madame Alexander dolls with their pouting mouths.

In the summer, the family would travel to Willow Grove Park. Gail always wanted to ride the Ferris Wheel with her dad.

What she didn't know was that he was scared to go up. He decided to conquer his fear by riding it by himself. He worked nearby and could get in free after hours.

It took him three tries before he got his nerve up to ride the Ferris Wheel. Going up was easy. But it was going down that made your stomach do flip-flops and make you queasy.

He figured out what to do. Don't look down. Scan the grounds and enjoy the view.

Image result for view from a ferris wheel  Oy, I'm so dizzy I almost fell off the couch.


Free write. Don't worry about punctuation or grammar. Simply write.

Write 'snapshots' - little anecdotes of memorable things, such as birthdays or holidays.

Get out old photos and write about the events behind them.

Kron order gets boring, so skip around.

In the book Gail has a photo of the family Bible - her mom now has it - dating from her great great grand-parents. Born in 1820.

Mr. Brown went to Boston  Look at this beautiful book cover!

A friend who she plays tennis with is an artist and painted the cover. Her dad loved sweets so there are some cakes on the cover, chocolate, of course.

You'll see a Phillies' player, no. 6. I thought maybe it was Peter Rose, but, no, it's none other than Johnny Callison - who dat? - a famous Phillies player who lived in Glenside, PA, and died in Abington.

Image result for johnny callison phillies

Image result for johnny callison phillies
Callison was only 67 when he died.

She also has a section on  DADISMS.... quotes that Dad used to say:

- It's a beautiful day for a ride to Mount Penn. That meant let's go for a drive.

- If you have gas in your tank and a tongue in your mouth, you'll never get lost.

- You can never be too full for ice cream. It fills in the spaces where the food lies.

It took Gail two and a half years to write the book. There were two hurricanes in Ocean City, where she lives, that she had to deal with. The house was partially destroyed.

Also, she took on another project, building a doll house for Bonnie's daughter.
Image result for doll house And, yes, she said, it was a big one.

She encouraged us to email her dad, Jack Alexander. Should I? I'll think about it.

 At the start of the meeting, we all stood up and said the Pledge of Allegiance.

Dyou know it?

Then we sang Happy Birthday to Gail. One of the women brought out a huge cake.

See my red-headed friend Carly up there? She and husband Charlie came. Enjoy your cake.

They got a really good crowd. That's Jack who sends out the emails. I sat next to a nice woman named Sandy from Huntingdon Valley.

Gail talked about the possibility of their house getting burglarized.

Her dad said, Why would they come here? Huntingdon Valley is right around the corner.

Oops, I better make sure my door is locked.

It is! This way they won't take my

Image result for diamond tiara

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