And, together they danced…


The Month for Lovers Continues…

Caitlyn and Anthony 02-21-2016My niece, Caitlyn Boling (daughter of my brother John Arthur and his wife Joyce), and her new husband Anthony Rubio, honored my parents’ (Frank and Norma Boling) 70 years of marriage together (2/5/1946) at their wedding this past Sunday, February 21, with an Anniversary Dance especially for them.

As some of you may know,  dad is 87 and suffers from advanced diabetic neuropathy–nerve damage caused by diabetes and arterial disease. The neuropathy affects his arms, hands, legs, feet and blood vessels (poor circulation).  His sensory neuropathy causes numbness and pain in his lower extremities and feet and his motor neuropathy includes overall muscle weakness and loss of balance.  Needless to say, he balances himself and walks with the aid of a cane.

Mom, age 88, suffers from advanced alzheimer’s, general body weakness, loss of balance, and chronic pleural effusion (water in the lungs) which requires her to wear oxygen 24/7.

Amazing Transformation

With all this being said, when DJ Mike called our family patriarch and matriarch to the floor, Bob helped up dad from his chair and took his cane.  I removed mom’s oxygen and walker and steadied her as she made her way out to the dance floor at Peace Lutheran Church – Waldorf, MD.   As we at Chesapeake Church – Hungtingtown, MD,  learned from a wise young man who passed all too soon this past week, “It’s together, or not at all.”  And, in fact, together they danced!

When you watch the video, notice how both of them amazingly animate, share their love as  fresh as the day they first met, and enjoy dancing together as they so often did for so many years.  And what you can’t see in this video is the family and friends observing them in awe and their goose bumps and tear-filled eyes.  It was definitely one of the best moments, among the many great ones, for all at the reception.  And the unfortunate fact is, mom didn’t remember the wedding ceremony just moments after watching her granddaughter take her vows.  But, she smiled and critiqued the video when I showed it to her just a couple of days later–and the conversation and her connection lasted several minutes.

“Thinking Out Loud”
When your legs don’t work like they used to before
And I can’t sweep you off of your feet
Will your mouth still remember the taste of my love?
Will your eyes still smile from your cheeks?

And, darling, I will be loving you ’til we’re 70
And, baby, my heart could still fall as hard at 23
And I’m thinking ’bout how people fall in love in mysterious ways
Maybe just the touch of a hand
Well, me—I fall in love with you every single day
And I just wanna tell you I am

So, honey, now
Take me into your loving arms
Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars
Place your head on my beating heart
I’m thinking out loud
Maybe we found love right where we are

When my hair’s all but gone and my memory fades
And the crowds don’t remember my name
When my hands don’t play the strings the same way (mmm…)
I know you will still love me the same

‘Cause, honey, your soul could never grow old, it’s evergreen
And, baby, your smile’s forever in my mind and memory
I’m thinking ’bout how people fall in love in mysterious ways
Maybe it’s all part of a plan
Well, I’ll just keep on making the same mistakes
Hoping that you’ll understand

That, baby, now
Take me into your loving arms
Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars
Place your head on my beating heart
Thinking out loud
Maybe we found love right where we are (oh, oh)

La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, lo-ud

So, baby, now
Take me into your loving arms
Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars
Oh, darling, place your head on my beating heart
I’m thinking out loud
But maybe we found love right where we are
Oh, baby, we found love right where we are
And we found love right where we are

 

Thank you Caitlyn and Anthony for giving us this moment and great memory to be shared always.

 

 

 

Let him have his memories…


The picture below is just one of several taken at our home in Capitol Heights, Maryland.  It was a New Year’s Eve Party  hosted by my parents Frank and Norma Boling on Thursday, December 31, 1953. (And, in less than a week, I would turn 7 years old.)

Among their guests were close knit family and friends–all passed between 8 to 35 years ago now.  They were: Barbara (1933-1984) and Tommy Waring (1923-1981), Delores  (1930-2008) and Luther Stambaugh (1923-2000), Tootie (1923-1991)  and Brad Dixon (1929-1981), Harold “Buster” Morgan (1928-1991), and others I couldn’t identify, and, of course my parents Frank, now 87 and Norma 88.

The ending of the year 1953

America is in its Post World War II boom.  Note the homemade decorations of crepe and construction paper.  Dad with the help from his father, Jesse Boling (1902-1978), and his uncle Richard T. “Dick” Boling (1915-1982) finished off the rec room in a house that was built by my grandfathers and uncles in 1948.

Let’s go back–back to those days:  the average cost of new house was $9,550; average wages per year $4,000;  a gallon of gas cost 20 cents; a new car $1,650; a Kodak Brownie Flash Six $13; women’s shoes were about $3.50 and dresses about $5. A teacher’s average salary was $4,254 (above average wage per year scale), and a pound of round steak was 90 cents. The first color television sets appear selling for $1,175–about the cost of a large flat screen HDTV today; and, transistor radios start to appear for sale from Texas Instruments. And, on those TV’s, we were watching The Lone Ranger, Adventures of Rin Tin Tin and Dragnet–nothing too objectionable there!

 

Oh, I can easily explain that…

But wait–let’s take a look at the wall to Tommy Waring’s back, behind the bar in that picture below.  Note the free store calendar with the large picture of the nude pin up vs. the small calendar sheet (curled up).

I confronted dad about this picture just today and he said glibly, “Oh, I can easily explain that…”  And, I raised my right eyebrow to give him a look of “are you sure about this, because I’m not so sure you can.”  He quickly retaliated my look and said, “That was all your uncle Dick’s doing.” (My Great Uncle Dick, who I remember as seldom being sober.)  “I told him when he was sawing (to cut in the bathroom plumbing on the other side of that wall) that he was going to cut in too deep. And, once again, sure enough I was right!”  So, I said; “You had a carpenter, a plumber, and yourself handy, and the only way the three of you knew to fix your error was to cover the big hole with a pinup girl?”  Dad quickly snapped back; “But that’s just not ANY pinup girl–that’s Betty Grable, the #1 pin up girl of World War II!”

 

OMG! Don't look at the Calendar on the Wall...

OMG! Don’t look at the Calendar on the Wall…

Now, I was familiar with Betty Grable’s fame.  I even knew that she had insured her  “most beautiful legs in Hollywood” for a mere 1 million dollars!  But, I thought she only did bathing suit shots that focused on her glamorous legs.  So, I went once again to the web and searched Betty Grable, pin up pictures, pin up calendars, and could find not a one of a nude Betty Grable.  But Betty Grable was more than a 1940’s pin up girl.  She was an American dancer, singer, and actress.

Yet, there I was–talking with an old man–my father–about some of his favorite memories.  It was there and then that I decided not to bring up Betty’s calendar again–at least, not to dispute his memory of Betty posing in the nude in his former rec room!  Even I have learned to let a man have his memories…

 

Memorial Bridge’s Lion Statues in Netflix’s “House of Cards” Credits


On the Mall Adjacent the Memorial BridgeAs I busily digitize photos from my parents family photo album, I am studying each picture more closely and noticing surroundings and items that I haven’t consciously taken the time to observe before in all the many times and years of looking through them.  What I do notice is that our family of the 1950’s was a close knit one and traveled in and around the District of Columbia regularly.  Brownie cameras were the picture taking devices of the day.  Buy the camera, buy the film, buy the flashbulbs, take the film to your local pharmacy and get your pictures developed and returned in about one week.  We are so fortunate to have so many pictures in a time before the freedom and ease of cell phones and “selfies.”
The picture above, not the best of them by far, is of me, Joanne, about age 4, on the Mall adjacent to the Memorial Bridge in Arlington, VA. In the distant background appears the statue of Ulysses S. Grant, surrounded by a few statues of lions.  I never paid attention to my location in this picture, but my incessant need for clarification and my predisposition to research information I know little about led me to do a little research.  As it turns out, one of my favorite TV shows on Netflix, “The House of Cards,” which is scheduled to return for season 4 on March 4, includes images of this bridge in its openings credits.  An author, in 2014, known only to me as “Tom” of Ghostsofdc.org, wrote about the history of these statues, and it follows.  Geez, if I keep on noticing and researching just a little, I’ll be set for life writing about and sharing articles with you about my family’s history …

A Post Written by “Tom” of Ghostsofdc.org

Everyone is House of Cards crazy, and so are we. That’s why we wrote this post on Super Liquors, shown in the opening credits. We’re just waiting on the call for our appearance in season three. Beau Willimon and team, you can just email me at frank.underwood@ghostsofdc.org to get in touch.

Have you noticed the great time-lapse shots in the opening credits of House of Cards? There’s a great one of a lion looking up to the starry night sky. If you’re good with local D.C. sites, you know that it’s one of the four lions sitting at the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial by the Capitol Reflecting Pool.

Naturally, in true Ghosts of DC fashion, we’re going to dig up a little history on the lions to give you some great conversation topics for your next dinner party.

Lions on Memorial BridgeFirst,  a little about the Grant Memorial. The former president and Civil War general just missed out on getting a memorial bridge named for him, crossing the Potomac. We wrote two posts about that a while back, including some great old drawings of what it could have looked like. Well, he did get a memorial in the District, just not as glamorous as some other presidents. And now, Grant will be pleased to know that he’s been immortalized even further in the House of Cards opening credits, as his monument is featured prominently.

The memorial was authorized by Congress in 1901 with the total amount of $250,000, and 23 sculptors competed for the commission. The man who was selected was Henry Merwin Shrady, a self-taught sculptor, and interestingly, the son of the attending physician when Grant was suffering from throat cancer. Sadly, Shrady died just two weeks prior to the dedication in 1922.

Back to the lions … on April 28th, 1912 — 13 days after Titanic went to the bottom of the Atlantic — an article in The Washington Post stated that the lions had been successfully put in place after the memorial had been under construction for eight years. Eight years and only the lions were in place! Below is an excerpt from the piece.

According to the contract the whole is to be completed in the summer of 1913. Henry M. Shrady, the New York sculptor, and Edward Pierce Casey, an architect of that city, are the designers. The statue of Gen. Grant, which is to stand in the center of the 200-foot structure, has not yet been molded.

Ha! … 1913.

We dug up another interesting article from The Washington Post, printed on April 2nd, 1916 (four days later, the Chicago Cubs played their first game at Wrigley Field).

Four bronze lions, said to be exact copies of those on the Trafalgar Square Lord Nelson monument in London, couchant on flags presumed to be the American colors, form a group on the Grant monument in the Botanic Garden, which is attracting much comment at present because of the un-American idea the lions convey by reason of their position over the flags. Although the group has been in position for some time, this peculiar feature has apparently escaped notice until recently. The additions just being made attracted closer attention, however from the casual observer.

The fact that the lions are copies of the British lions on the Trafalgar Square monument in England and the sight of the flag stretched under their bodes have caused many tourists and other observers to wonder just what the motif of the group is intended to express.

To an artist perhaps the proud attitude of the crouching figures might convey an air of heroic protection, but to the ordinary mind this same proud appearance might mean haughty possession, and it is this latter impression, probably, which has caused the inquiries raised.

The Grant monument, when completed, will be a notable addition to those already adorning Washington’s parks and drives. Besides the main section, on which the lion group is situated, one section, composed of an artillery group, and other wing, now being completed, will be adorned by bronze cavalry group.

The flags, of course, were metaphors for Grant protecting the Union during the Civil War (er, I mean the War of Northern Aggression).

Here’s a terrific photo of one of the Trafalgar Square lions. It doesn’t really look like the Grant lions are exact replicas of the ones in London.

– click image for more –
Trafalgar Square lion
Trafalgar Square lion

One final article that we came across was a letter to the editor of The Washington Post, printed on April 28th, 1902 (on April 2nd, the first movie theater in the U.S. opened in Los Angeles, called the Electric Theatre). The author, Nat. Thomas, was not impressed by the selection of lions and suggested that Grant be represented by a different beast, possibly an elephant.

Of the quartet of lions surrounding the main group of Grant and his horse, two of them, “in the dejected havior of their visages” might serve a purpose as a study in therapeutics. They certainly look sick, and need healing. The artist relieves that monotony in his study of the other two, and puts them in something like an attitude of prayer. it is fair to suppose that their supplications are for the two that are sick.

But what is there in the nature of the lion that he should be chosen to embellish a sculptured memorial of U. S. Grant? Naturalists are about agreed that at most there is that overrated old feline of the desert and the veldt is a good-sized roar. To be sure, there are many men also whose roar is a pronounced feature of their make-up, but I never heard that characteristic was especially prominent in the man who never lost a battle. If the artist must employ a quadruped to typify the character of Grant, why not take the elephant, or make up a composite from several animals, wild and domestic, that are well known and might be mentioned.

Hmm, I do like elephants. The gentle giants of nature. But check out the awesome shots from the House of Cards opening credits below. The lion looks awesome and regal. No offense to all the elephants out there.

February is for Lovers…and that Includes Our Parents


Just two days ago, on the one year anniversary of my blogpost “Hope, Love, Peace, and Tomorrow” I updated it.  The original post began with:

“and they lived happily ever after.”

“February is the month for lovers and hopeless romantics who like me believe in love at first sight, true and everlasting love, and fairy tale stories–all ending with; “and they lived happily ever after”.  My update in this reblog dated February 8, 2016, included comments and pictures about my parents’ 70th anniversary get together that we held just the day before.  And theirs is truly a love story about as close to one as one can get that embodies the phrase “and they lived happily ever after.”

A request from our son-in-law at the gathering

led me down a path that I thought I had been down before, but I soon learned that I hadn’t entirely covered it.  You see, Brian asked me for archival pictures of my parents going back as far as I could so he could create a special gift video for them. Brian was hoping that the family had pictures of their wedding, their guests, their outfits, and any of the standard elements of a wedding taking place today.

For those of you who don’t know Brian or his expertise, he founded Crow Entertainment in 2000, and quickly became Southern Maryland’s renowned premiere DJ and full-time entertainment service company that produces events on the East Coast and Beyond. When he asked for the pix and information, Brian knew little about my parents’ story. So I trekked back to mom and dad’s home of nearly 60 years, did some day after party clean up, and borrowed once again our family’s photo album that starts with pictures from their dating days in the early 1940’s. (They met at ages 14 (my dad) and 15 (my mom) and seldom have left each other’s sides since.)

And now I’m digitizing and organizing a lifetime of photos… 

One would think that being no novice to digitizing and organizing family history, genealogical records, family documents and photos, and adeptly using photo editing applications that this task would be an easy one for me.  Easy–maybe–but, time consuming–you betcha!  When you don’t own a professional photo scanning device that allows multiple pictures to be fed through the device and captured in a matter of minutes, I believe that I’m looking at least a week’s worth of scanning and editing–the organizing is a flash for me–and speaking of flash–I would suggest that anyone who has photos saved on their hard drives invest in a flash drive or DVD to archive them.  I had most of these pictures digitized years ago, and last year my computer crashed and I lost nearly all of  them.  Fortunately for me, I had saved some to the cloud, and some appeared within my blog posts.  But, I stray from my task and story at hand…

Now, I’m in the midst of scanning and editing photos and I come across 

Wedding Day - 117 C Street S.E.

Wedding Day – 117 C Street S.E.

this one picture that I’ve seen before but never really studied.  I noticed how very young my parents looked in this picture and believed they were sitting on steps of a row house in Washington, DC.  So, I picked up the phone and called dad.  He knew immediately the picture I was referring to.  And, lo’ and behold, where I thought no pictures had been taken on their wedding day, this one was the one and only!  And, I asked him who took the picture and found out that his best friend, Harold Vincent “Buster” Morgan’s mother, Mary Morgan, had stood up as a witness at their ceremony in Ellicott City, MD, along with my grandfather, Jesse Burton Boling.  I mentioned to you in my updated post of February 8, 2016, that my mother’s parents weren’t up for her marrying and therefore my parents eloped.

Then, for a small pittance of just $2.00, and no waiting, they were wed by a Justice of the Peace…

Howard County Court House Ellicott City MDin the historic (1843) Circuit Court Building for Howard County, MD, at 8360 Court Avenue, Ellicott City. Still in operation today with an addition built in 1971.

 

 

The wedding dinner wasn’t much…

Map-117 C St SE to 655 PA Ave SEbut it was a favorite of my parents.  Just about half a mile (according to today’s Google map) from my dad’s home at 117 C Street S.E., was the Little Tavern Restaurant (#20, in fact, of about 50 in the area, founded in 1927).  This franchise was built and opened in 1937 and the architecture already had changed from a stone castle top to a chalet roof. Little Tavern - 655 PA Ave - August 2014The picture to the right is of the Little Tavern building my parents visited on their wedding day where they bought hamburgers “sliders”, for 5 cents each. The photo below was taken in 2010.  The building then housed the Lil’ Pub and the Little Taverns had all but disappeared. The Lil’ Pub had occupied the building since at least the 1990s. It closed in 2014, and the CVS drug store next door now owns the building and uses it for storage.

 

In fact, in a message posted on August 20, 2015, Robert Gibson Corder, Ph.D. was still praising Little Tavern’s hamburgers:

My aunt, Julia Frances Corder, used to work at a Little Tavern in 1944-45. It was located at 3rd Street and Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. One night, my uncle, Edward Humphries Corder, and me drove a combined distance of approximately 150 miles (from my home in Amissville, VA to that Little Tavern and back) just to get hamburgers and coffee !! That was back in the early 1950s. I would love to find a photo of that Little Tavern to place in my autobiography . Ahhh… the memories!!”

And now, 70+ years together…

Mom and Dad -2-7-2016
several of us family members visit our family’s matriarch and patriarch in their home during the course of a week to check on them and bring lunch and/or dinners–including one of their favorites, which when we go shopping, we are sure to keep on hand–White Castle burgers (1921)–accredited with being America’s regional fast food hamburger restaurant chain located in the Midwestern and Mid-Atlantic United States and competitor to the Little Taverns.   And, as for my dad being of Italian descent as my maternal grandparents assumed–he is of ancient aristocratic British and French descent. But that doesn’t stop Dad’s very favorite meal from being a green salad loaded with cucumbers and raw onions, topped with Italian dressing accompanied by Spaghetti with meat sauce, italian sausages, green peppers, and onions.  And for dessert and nightly snacks–mostly ice cream–or anything chocolate.  This our parents love story and we love them for it.  And quite, “Frankly,” I feel like I’ve been with them from the very beginning of their relationship! (And look at their recent picture and how Dad still smiles at mom today.)

Hope, Love, Peace, and Tomorrow


Wedding Day - 117 C Street S.E.

Wedding Day – 117 C Street S.E.

Last night we celebrated our parents, Frank and Norma Boling’s, 70th Wedding Anniversary and all family that possibly could meet up did so at their home of nearly 60 years. You see, my parents were 17 and 18 when they eloped to Ellicott City, MD, and were married by a justice of the peace. There was not any formal celebration because at that time, my mother’s family didn’t really like my dad. Mostly, I think, because they thought he was Italian??? Go figure, the ethnicity stigmas of those days that unfortunately still exist in our culture today! Well, here we are 70 years later, three children, nine grand children, 10 great grandchildren, and 4 great-great grandchildren with yet another on the way! For the most part Frank and Norma grew up together had many happy years and memories; and according to mom yesterday, some were not so happy as others, but they were just part of everyone’s life’s path and commitment to each other.

Mom and Dad -2-7-2016These days both are frail and suffer the all too common disease among our elderly today–Alzheimer’s. Yesterday, both of them barely showed their emotions, but it was a day where family supported and comforted each other and celebrated times together of the past and the day. Thank you to all who sent cards and messages with wishes of love and good times for the future. We, the Boling-Ford-Dickinson-Family hope you and yours have a wonderful February filled with love for each other and an especially great Valentine’s Day! (In the picture to the right, you can see that dad is still recovering from a tough fall that he took in the hallway on January 10th.–Mom is 88, dad turned 87 on December 7th. So fortunate to still have them with us.)

Our Unbounded Heritage: 12th Century & Beyond

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It was Wunnerful, Wunnerful While it Lasted


IGrandma 3-27-1965t’s been over a month since any inspiration has come to me to write a post on my family history and genealogy page.  And then, this morning, I watched a video that took me back to my early teens.  My maternal grandmother, Alice Lauretta (Loretta) Lathrop Ford, had suffered several heart attacks and now lived with my parents, my 11-years younger brother, and me.

“And-a one and-a two”…

On Saturday nights, my parents would go out for the evening with friends–often dancing–which before her heart attacks was one of my grandmother’s favorite things to do, too.  It became my inherited job to care for my grandmother and my baby brother when my parents were out.  And, like every other Saturday night since 1955, I had to sit with grandma, watch the Lawrence Welk [1903-1992] Show (1955-1982) with his “champagne music,” and pretend to enjoy it as much as she did.  She especially liked the tenors, Myron Floren, the accordionist and polka king,Myron Floren accordionist

 

 

 

and… the young dancers–Bobby Burgess and Cissy King.

and…Lawrence grabbing a female from the audience to dance with him.  Here’s a short, but hair-larious Welk clip from November 25, 1967…just 85 days before Grandma passed away (02-18-1968–11 days shy of her 73rd birthday) due to the flu during the 1968 flu pandemic (caused by an H3N2 strain of the influenza A virus, descended from H2N2 ) and the added stress on her body’s organs and especially heart. [This flu virus reached Japan, Africa and South America by 1969.]

Little did I realize at the time that Grandma and I would create so many good memories watching this show. And, 48 years later I still miss my times with her and the Lawrence Welk Show–Although, yet today, one can catch some local stations on some Sunday afternoons airing reruns of the old, if but corny, episodes–as today’s generations might label them.

 

 

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