All posts by swurster

LINES FROM LYDIA: Going Back to School…Way Back

GOING BACK TO SCHOOL…WAY BACK

Thorndyke Road Elementary School, Worcester

by Lydia Bogar

The front portico is high and wide, the double-doors are candy apple red, circa 1927, and the large windows face the steps and the street, Kids stream down those steps just as we did 60 years ago.

Buses have brought the street to a complete standstill while parents idle at the curb or stand on the grass with their charges’ younger siblings and dogs.

Way back…we walked to and from school, including a roundtrip walk for lunch, bologna on Wonder Bread with butter and relish.

Holding my camera, I approach the double doors, and a woman approaches me.  “Can I help you?”

“Thank you yes, I graduated from Thorndyke a hundred years ago and I’d like to see the mural in the cafeteria.   Still in the basement?”

She did not ask for identification, but I pulled out my sixth-grade graduation photo to show her anyway.

“Of course.  Let me get these stragglers to their bus, and I’ll walk you down.”

The corridors are not as wide as I remember, nor do the ceilings seem as high. The girls’ bathroom and Mrs. Murphy’s third grade to my right.   Art work covers the walls.  We chat as we walk along and more kids escape their classrooms.

I look into my fifth-grade classroom, my row by the window shining in the afternoon sunlight.

My teacher scolding me for chewing my fingernails; he didn’t know that Daddy was dying.

My escort stops to talk to a beleaguered woman on the stairs.  The woman is crying and immobilized with fear or doubt or something negative that doesn’t belong in this happy place. She has missed meeting her daughter.  She is stoned, hungover,  or maybe both.  I proceed to the library on my own.

The library and cafeteria are empty, as is the janitor’s closet.  I take my pictures of the mural.  Everything is very clean.  No food odors of any kind … but maybe a hint of Girl Scout cookies if I try hard enough.

“Girl Scouts line-up, single file, and start outside. Please stop so I can lock the door.”

The stairs beckon me, and I pause to photograph “The Addition” which was built for the kindergarten, first, and second grades when I was in the third.  It all looks so mid-century.  I am mid-century.

I try to stretch and expand my memories as another teacher approaches.  Of course, I am a stranger with a camera inside a school.

“Hall monitors please stand on the side of the corridor and let the kindergarteners go out first. Thank you.”

The principal’s office is now a SPED room and handicapped bathroom.  I find the “new” offices and explain myself to another teacher.

“Mrs. Anders, I cut my finger on the oaktag in class. Can I have a Band-Aid?”

It’s time for this teacher to go home, and she moves to walk me out.  I ask if I can open the door to the storage closet that we used to call the Cookie Closet.  Paper, folders, ink cartridges, and trash bags–but no cookies.

“I don’t like Fig Newtons–they’re stinky. I would like two packages of Lorna Doones. Here’s my dime.”

Before I turn off my camera and walk back to my car, I walk along the south side of the building toward the playground. Thousands of dollars of colorful equipment in rainbow colors, a lot of purple and green pipes, and yellow swing seats.

BUT there it is! What I had hoped for – the double trunk tree that was our “Hide and Go Seek” base.

“Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three  …”

I will savor the photographs another time. Now I stand in silence, thankful for this beautiful place and these intact memories.

BOLLI feature writer and Writers Guild co-chair Lydia Bogar

Our own “Renaissance Woman,” Lydia has done everything from teaching English to doing volunteer emergency service.  She says she “hails from Woostah–educated at BOLLI.”

MEMOIR WRITING: A SPECIAL MOMENT WITH LOIS SOCKOL

More Than a Sports Memory to Me

125th Anniversary Needham-Wellesley Thanksgiving Day Game, 2007

by Lois Sockol

Thanksgiving Day 1982. The stands at Needham’s Memorial Park field were packed, sardine-like. A five feet deep overflow hovered along the sidelines as hundreds more carpeted the hill that rose to the high school building. Some judged the crowd to be upwards of eight thousand. Usual attendance at ordinary seasonal games hovered around 80 or so.

This noteworthy day marked the 100th anniversary of the oldest public High School football rivalry in New England.  The Needham-Wellesley rivalry, the angry child of an acrimonious split in 1881 when, after 250 years of union, West Needham separated itself from East Needham, tookits high school with it, and became Wellesley. That bitter split, was the genesis of this century old high school rivalry. Today the crisp, clear fall air bristled in anticipation.  As old as it was, this rivalry had never lost its tinge of enmity.

“A 100th anniversary deserves the effort,” said Ron Sockol, who, during his Pop Warner coaching days, had instructed most of Needham’s varsity team.  For almost a year promoting, he worked tirelessly to promote the event, rounding up surviving alumni players to be honored on the field.

Among the thousands who came were National TV cameramen and media reporters. This day would take its rightful place in High School sport’s history.

As the teams lined up, a sudden hush fell.  Even the air seemed tensed and focused.

Needham won the toss and opted to receive. Wellesley’s kickoff was low and forceful, deep into Needham territory. A collective rumble followed the wide receiver who caught the ball on his own two-yard line and started racing down the field, dodging would-be tacklers, as if predestined to score. The rumble grew louder with each yard gained, each tackle avoided, exploding into a roar as the receiver crossed the goal line.  A 98-yard run, the longest kick off return in Needham’s long history. A fitting beginning for a centennial game.

During the ensuing battle for yardage, Needham held its own and led at half time. The Needham supporters joyfully exchanged thumbs up and hugs. A small group of teens near the thirty-yard line danced a jig. I spied a TV cameraman and a reporter heading toward the wide receiver who had made the initial dramatic run. I was not close enough to hear the interview and could only imagine what was said . It was not until the televised evening news that I heard their exchange.

“So, young man, how did it feel to run back that kick-off and score the first touchdown?”

“Well, uh, Charlie Walsh opened a hole, and I just put the wheels on.”

I was thrilled when he scored, just as any mother would be, but it was hearing Jim’s humble words that permanently etched this memorable day into my heart.

BOLLI Member and SGL Lois Sockol

“I’ve been blessed with a marriage of 65 years.  We raised four boys we are proud of and  enjoy the reward of 9 grandchildren.  I taught public school for 25 years, published an instructional manual to aid teachers in teaching children who are high risk for learning to read, and conducted seminars on the teaching of reading. I have been active in Needham for 36 years as a Library Trustee and a Town Meeting member.  And now, I have the joy of being a member of BOLLI!”

 

STORIES FROM STEVE: A FANTASY DINNER PARTY

THE MORE EXOTIC THE BETTER

by Steve Goldfinger

I like food—the more exotic the better.  So, who would I invite to a fantasy dinner party?

Marcus Gavius Apicius, Emperor Elagabalus, and William Buckland—only if they brought their chefs along to prepare their meals.  And Mahatma Gandhi, so I could see his face as he watched the others feast.

Apicius, a first century Roman, is renowned for his imaginative delectables. He brought culinary artistry to new realms, feeding his guests lark tongue pie, flamingo tongue, dolphin meatballs, jellyfish omelets, and boiled parrot. Homage to the chef!

Elagabalus, the depraved boy emperor, lived but 21 years. After his guests enjoyed such savories as camel heels, parrot heads, nightingale tongue, peacock brains, and mice baked in poppies and honey, they would disgorge themselves in order to have a second round of the same. Elagapalus liked surprise endings.  At the end of one food orgy, several of the gourmands remarked on how pleasant it would be if they could then be smothered under the scent of roses. Elagabalus obliged. At the end of their very next feast, he had them suffocated to death by tons of rose petals. He was known for concluding other banquets by unleashing wild animals on his thoroughly stuffed guests.

Second thoughts about inviting this lad.

William Buckland, Vicar and Professor of Geology at Oxford University in the 19th century, was also a man of dietary oddities: rodents, crocodiles, hedgehogs, moles, roast joint of bear, puppy, and his most historic swallowed morsel—the embalmed heart of King Louis XIV that had  been stolen from the king’s tomb and eventually came his way. When asked how the king’s heart tasted, Buckland replied that it would have gone a bit better with gravy prepared from the blood of a marmoset. Although he claimed he would eat anything organic, the vicar once admitted he could not be tempted to have a second helping of stewed housefly.

So I’m looking at Gandhi, seated in front of his goat milk, orange, nuts, stewed vegetables and concoction of ginger, lemons, strained butter, and aloe juice.

He is looking at me.

Shall I offer him a spoonful of my matzoh ball soup?

God, if I do, he might want me to try his concoction.

Better lie low.

BOLLI Matters feature writer Steve Goldfinger 

After a long career in medicine, Steve has been exploring his artistic side.  At BOLLI, he has taken writing courses, been active in the Writers Guild, and even tried CAST (Creativity in Acting, Storytelling, and Theatre) where his imagination made him a singular player!

POP CULTURE WITH DENNIS GREENE: STRANGER THINGS…

Stranger Things: 80s Films Redux

 by Dennis Greene

The enormous number of big-budget, high quality original TV series being produced by HBO, Netflix, Amazon Prime, and others makes it tough for even committed pop culture junkies to keep up.  I didn’t become aware of Netflix’s science fiction-horror thriller Stranger Things until more than a year after Season 2 was released in October, 2017.  But the story is so compelling that it was easy for an old retired guy like me, after golf season, to binge watch all 17 one-hour episodes in a week or two.

The first season, set in the early 1980s, focuses on the unexplained disappearance of Will Byers, a young boy in fictional Hawkins, Indiana.  Will’s hysterical mother Joyce, played by Winona Ryder, and her high school friend Jim Hopper, now the local Police Chief played by David Harbour, organize a search for the missing boy.  But the main focus of the series is on Will’s small group of geeky, Dungeons and Dragons playing middle school age friends Michael, Lucas and Dustin, who are joined by a mysterious young girl with strange powers. Together, they begin their own investigation into their friend’s disappearance.

The relationships among this group of science and fantasy-oriented sleuths reminded me of Elliot and his friends in E.T. or the boys in Stand By Me. In many ways, the group was also similar to the young Harry Potter and his friends at Hogwarts.  While facing unspeakable and overpowering evil and observing occurrences beyond the scope of human understanding, the boys also worry about who has a crush on whom, what Halloween costume to wear, who will be Dr. Venkman, and if they have packed enough snack food as they set off to battle monsters from a parallel dimension. The story includes the usual secret and sinister government project, the complex social life of the boys’ older siblings, dysfunctional family relationships, lots of slimy and repulsive monsters in dark and forbidding places, a wonderful science teacher, several deaths and enough references to Newtonian and theoretical physics, telekinesis, and psychology to keep the story grounded in reality.   The series is so well written and directed, and the cast is so talented, that I found myself really caring about a score of characters.

Certainly Mike, Lucas, Dustin, Will, and their new friend El (for “Eleven”) are at the top of that list.  Each heroic in his or her own way.  Most of these kids are new faces, but Dustin, played by Gaten Matarazzo, will probably look familiar.  He is a younger version of the curly haired, precocious  boy who now preaches the benefits of Fios in Verizon’s current TV ads. This ensemble won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance in a Drama Series in 2016. The series also received 31 Emmy Award  and four Golden Globe nominations.

The series was created and written by twins Matt and Ross Duffer, known as the Duffer Brothers. They pitched the script to about fifteen cable networks who all rejected it because the plot centered around children as leading characters and would not appeal to older viewers.  Suggestions were made to make it a children’s series or drop the kids and concentrate on the sheriff’s investigation of the paranormal.  But the Duffers, believing in what they had created, teamed with Shawn Levy and successfully sold it to Netflix for an undisclosed amount.

The series has been greatly influenced by, and pays homage to, the great science fiction and horror films of the 1980s. To pitch the film, the Duffer Brothers showcased images, footage, and music from films like E.T, Close Encounters, Poltergeist, Stand By Me,  Nightmare on Elm StreetJaws, and Alien.  It offers both a riveting and charming story in its own right, but it also provides nostalgic reminders of those captivating sci-fi and horror films we have enjoyed over the past three decades.  The Duffers have clearly paid homage to Steven Spielberg, John Carpenter, Steven King, and Wes Craven.  And I consider that a good thing.

I suspect this show isn’t for everyone. It’s best if you are a fifteen-year-old science fiction or fantasy fan or can still suspend your disbelief to think and feel like one. If you enjoyed Buffy the Vampire Slayer, A Wrinkle in Time, Stand By Me or The Golden Compass, or if you are a Steven King fan, you will probably enjoy Stranger Things. If you read all of The Lord of the Rings, the Harry Potter series and Game of Thrones, I’m sure you will enjoy it.

We are presented with so many rich characters in this story that everyone should be able to identify with at least a few of the central characters and hopefully experience the adventure with them. That’s what makes speculative fiction fun.

The character I most identified with was Dustin. In Episode 6 of the first season, Lucas leaves the group in anger after a fight with Mike, and Dustin attempts to convince Mike to find Lucas and reconcile:

Dustin: “This is weird without Lucas.”

Mike:    “He should have shaken my hand.”

Dustin: “He’s just jealous.”

Mike:     “What are you talking about?”

Dustin:  “Sometimes your total obliviousness blows my mind. He’s your best  friend, right?”

Mike:     “Yeah, I mean, I don’t know.”

Dustin:   “It’s fine. I get it. I didn’t get here until fourth grade. He had the advantage of living next door. But none of that matters. What matters is, he is your best friend, and then this girl shows up and starts living in your basement, and all you want to do is pay attention to her.”

Mike:     “That’s not true.”

Dustin:   “Yes it is. And you know it, and he knows it. But no one says anything until you two start punching and yelling at each other like goblins with intelligence scores of zero. Now everything is weird.”

Mike:     “He is not my best friend.”

Dustin:   “Yeah, right.”

Mike:      “He is, but so are you, and so is Will.”

Dustin:    “You can’t have more than one best friend.”

Mike:        “Says who?”

Dustin:      “Says logic.”

Mike:         “Blow your logic, because you are my best friend too.”

Dustin:       “O. K.”

I was the new kid who moved to town in the middle of third grade after all the “best friend” slots were filled.   After 60 years, it still bothers me a little. This passage made me both admire Dustin and also feel sorry for him.

Season 4 has already been filmed and is expected to be released some time next summer, so you have plenty of time to catch up on the first three seasons before then.

Welcome to Hawkins, Indiana–if you dare!

“BOLLI Matters” feature writer Dennis Greene

Dennis spent five years as an engineer and then forty as a lawyer–and sixty as a pop culture geek and junkie.  He saw “The Day the Earth Stood Still” in 1951 when he was seven and has been hooked on speculative fiction ever since. 

WHAT’S ON LARRY’S MIND? DIGITALLY ARRANGED DINNER DATING

DIGITALLY ARRANGED DINNER DATING

by Larry Schwirian

Writers Guild Prompt:  Dinner Date

I have never had occasion to go on a romantic dinner date with anyone other than my wife.  She and I were classmates and friends for three years before we started dating, so we already knew each other pretty well.  I never had to worry about what I could or couldn’t say with her because I already knew many of her likes and dislikes.  Plus, while we were still in school, there wasn’t a lot of money for going out to dinner anyway. Going out for pizza, taking a trip to the art museum, or going to an occasional movie were more typical of our dates. As I had a full class load and drove a cab part time while in school, I didn’t have a lot of time for dating anyway.

I’ve never given a great deal of thought to what it must be like, as a full-fledged adult, to sit down for a nice dinner with an unfamiliar female companion just for the sake of getting to know one-another…it must really be awkward.

Imagining what it might be like for a young adult in today’s digital world, all kinds of questions come to mind…

Who wrote the algorithm that paired the two of us as compatible, and what were the primary traits or answers to questions that resulted in this pairing?  Did she research me on the web and find out what a dweeb I really am…I hope she at least learned that I’m not a direct descendent of Jack the Ripper.  I Googled her, but my search gave me dozens of women with the same name. Why did she pick me instead of dozens of others…or was it the algorithm? Should I be my normal, boring self, or should I pretend to be what I’d really like to be?  Was the photo she sent really of her?  Was it current,  or was it ten years old?  Should I let her start the conversation, or should I be bold and jump right in with both feet? Is she looking for a significant other, or is she just looking for a good time?  And what am I looking for?

Maybe we should begin the conversation by agreeing on a “safe word” that will allow either of us to bail-out if questions become too personal.

Why am I doing this?

I don’t envy young people.  Dating–along with everything else these days–has just become too complicated.

BOLLI Matters feature writer and Writers Guild co-chair, Larry Schwirian

Architect Larry and his fellow architect wife Caroline live in an historic preservation home in Newton and have led BOLLI courses on architecture.  Larry has been an active participant in and leader of the Writers Guild special interest group as well as serving on the BOLLI Journal staff.  

MEMOIR FROM DONNA: THE BACK PORCH

THE BACK PORCH

by Donna Johns

I used to have a back porch.

The house on Sycamore Street was rickety around the edges, full of horsehair plaster and faded midcentury wallpaper. The plumbing rattled, the old gas stove belched, the lights flickered. Spindles on the front staircases were frequently kicked out by active children racing up and down. The old house swayed in high winds but never broke.

Off the kitchen, with its decaying tile, was my back porch. It was long and narrow with a wide plank floor and four large windows. It was on the second floor, so the view out the windows was at tree level. In the spring, dogwood blossoms spread out like a quilt of pale green and white and pink. In the summer, lush green branches sang in soft breezes. Autumn was gaudy with scarlets and yellows. Winter’s bare branches, encased in ice, scraped against the windows and sent me inside for a month or two.

I had a phone on the porch. With it I negotiated with my dentist to pay over time for the children’s dental care, prevailed upon the electric company to accept a partial payment, begged the oil company for a small delivery to tide us over until pay day. I had a computer on the porch so I could work a second and third job, using my research skills to bring in much needed money.

The proximity of the porch to the kitchen came in handy when little thieves would grab the refrigerator door handle in search of lunch meat, bread, fruit.  I guarded the food fiercely, for there was no money for more. They were well fed only because my parents or my favorite uncle would drop by every week or so with grocery bags brimming with healthy basics and decadent treats.

My coffee pot was close by for frequent refills. I would drink from my mug, smoke a cigarette, and steer the family ship past one obstacle, then another, and another.  New shoes (three sizes in one year?), highwater pants (can I let the hem down?), field trips (you need how much money by tomorrow?).

But my porch was also a place for me to read, to write, to dream. One child or another would escape the noise that permeated the house to sit on the porch with me, confide a sorrow or a triumph, or just enjoy companionable silence among the trees. Cats stretched out on the window sill, chattering at birds.

I don’t have a porch any more. Just a utilitarian step to the sidewalk. The children are all gone to their own lives. But I have the memory of that porch and a challenging life well lived.

BOLLI Matters feature writer Donna Johns

Donna is a teacher/librarian, writer of unpublished romance novels, sometime director of community theater and BOLLI member. She has two fantastic faux knees which set off the metal detectors at Fenway Park.

STORIES FROM STEVE: RITES OF PASSAGE

RITES OF PASSAGE

by Steve Goldfinger

I spent about two months learning to chant strange sounds in a way that would meet with the rabbi’s approval. It was my Torah rendition for my bar mitzvah at temple Pri Eitz Chaim, the ultra-orthodox synagogue on Ocean Avenue. The chant came off well enough, but my grandfather was not in the congregation to hear it.  He was in an oxygen tent set up on his bed in his small apartment.

My grandfather Emil Goldfinger was a pillar among the elders of Pri Eitz Chaim and the reason for my six years of Hebrew school torture in its airless, foul-smelling basement four afternoons a week plus Friday nights and Sunday mornings.  My parents only entered the synagogue on high holy days. The rest of the year, they never so much as lit candles on Friday night.  But for my grandfather’s sake, they sent me to Hebrew school.

My resentment was evident in the classroom.

I was painfully slow in speed reading Hebrew during competitions. I never even tried to understand Mr. Ben-Ezra’s instructions to the class, spoken in Hebrew–except perhaps shev ba kiseh, which meant “sit down in your seat.” I sometimes confused the holidays and never understood Tisha b’av.   Plus, I gave Hadassah Cohen murderous looks when she ripped out the page with the nude picture of Adam and Eve before passing out new textbooks.

My Hebrew name, Simcha, means “Joy,” and there were quizzical looks on my teachers’ faces when they called upon “Simcha” to answer their questions.

My parents remembered me sometimes sitting on the curb outside the synagogue with a forlorn look just before going inside for my ninety minutes of confinement. Little did they know that I had 40 cents in my pocket for a pastrami sandwich at Ruby’s which I would bolt down before arriving at Pri Eitz Chaim.

A tiny victory came at last, in my final year, when Rabbi Turk called me into his office and suggested I take off one day a week.

I did manage to graduate…with a 29% average. Recently, I chanced upon a faded copy of the graduation program, which said it all. Of the eleven of us at that crowning ceremony, ten received prizes of one sort or another.

However, they did spell my name correctly.

But surely it was the bar mitzvah, not the graduation, that was my rite of passage.

Emil Goldfinger’s rite of passage came five days later with his final breath…

Chanting was again heard.

 

BOLLI Matters feature writer Steve Goldfinger

After a long career in medicine, Steve has been exploring his artistic side.  At BOLLI, he has taken writing courses, been active in the Writers Guild, and even tried CAST (Creativity in Acting, Storytelling, and Theatre) where his imagination made him a singular player!

 

WHAT’S DONNA’S STORY? A RANT…

METEOROLOGISTS

by Donna Johns

They’re at it again.

Hunkered in my recliner, I was cheerfully wasting an hour immersed in General Hospital. Will Sonny and Carly’s baby be all right, or does it have birth defects? When will they discover that baby Wiley, adopted by Brad and Dylan, is actually Michael’s son? And who pushed Liesel off the boat during Liz and Franco’s wedding?

Then it starts. Frantic Breaking News music. The meteorologist on duty quivers in excitement, his voice an octave higher than normal. “We are interrupting this broadcast to warn you of a string of thunderstorms bearing down on us.”

No kidding. It’s 90 degrees out, and you can cut the humidity with a knife. Of course there are going to be thunderstorms. That’s why I ran my errands early and planned on a quiet hour in Port Charles, watching characters with big problems to be unraveled and solved in six months.

Anyone who’s been on the planet for a few years knows from personal experience that heat and humidity mean that thunderstorms will follow.  So, pray tell, what new information do you have to impart to me,  Mr. Meteorologist?

“The storms are forming in Western Massachusetts.”  Yep. They usually do.

“Strong winds, torrential downpours, thunder, and lightning.”  Sounds like a thunderstorm to me.

“The storms will move east through Worcester and Central Massachusetts. They should arrive in the Boston area by four o’clock.”  Marginally useful information. So I should be able to finish General Hospital before the storms hits and the power fails. Candle, lighter, and flashlight are on the table, just in case.

“There may be power outages. Prepare with candles and flashlights.”  Duh.  Can I watch my soap opera now?

Mr. Meteorologist’s voice begins to shake slightly.  I swear his upper lip is trembling. “There is a chance of flash flooding. Also tornadoes.”  He looks anxiously at his radar screen.  Despite my abundant common sense, I quickly check to make sure I have sufficient toilet paper, milk, and bread to survive the coming apocalypse.

“We will update you as the situation warrants.  And now, we return you to our regular programming.” Finally! After four commercials designed for the elderly (reverse mortgages, laxatives, life insurance, compression stockings), General Hospital resumes.

Ten minutes later, at 2:30, the thunderstorm moves into Waltham.  Mr. Meteorologist reappears as thunder shakes the windows and lightning illuminates the living room. “The storms should reach the greater Boston area by 4:00.”

I turn the TV off.

I long for the good old days when Don Kent would check his barometer, poke his head out the door to scan the skies, and deliver a calm and mostly accurate weather forecast.  Those days, alas, are gone for good. Now we have computer models, hysterical meteorologists, and wildly inaccurate forecasts.

BOLLI Matters feature writer Donna Johns

Donna is a teacher/librarian, writer of unpublished romance novels, sometime director of community theater and BOLLI member. She has two fantastic faux knees which set off the metal detectors at Fenway Park.

ANOTHER SIG UPDATE: BOLLI PHOTOGRAPHY GROUP

On Friday, November 15th,  the BOLLI Photography Group had our final meeting of the term.  We viewed and discussed the photographs members had submitted for review on a large screen in the Green Room.   Some of the submissions were from our fall field trip to Mt. Auburn Cemetery led by Helen Abrams while others were of sporting events, autumn scenes, travel shots, and family events.

On December 13, the group went on another field trip, this time to the MFA where Joanne Fortunato says “we had the privilege of having Karen Haas, a curator at the museum who is responsible for researching and putting exhibits together.  She gave us a tour of the Howard Greenberg Collection of photography.  It was a wonderful exhibit, and Karen was fabulous!”

According to the museum’s website, the Howard Greenberg Collection of 447 photographs by 191 artists “includes iconic European masterpieces from the 1920s and 1930s as well as a wide range of socially conscious works—powerful visual testimonies of Depression-era America, politically engaged street photography, exceptional examples of wartime photojournalism, and poignant depictions of African American life from the 1930s through the Civil Rights movement. Integrating these photographs into the MFA’s collection allows the Museum to explore fresh narratives, bring new insights and perspectives to current issues, and celebrate photography as an art form as well as a social, cultural and political force.”

Organizers: Helen Abrams, Karen Haas, Joanne Fortunato and Jennifer Coplon.

The group’s meetings are a fun way for members to gather and demonstrate their skills as well as subjects they enjoy photographing.  And, of course, the field trips are always memorable!

The BPG is opened to all who enjoy photography.  Our next meeting is scheduled for Friday, January 17th, 12:30 – 2 pm in the Green Room.

 

LINES FROM LYDIA: THE OFFICE FRIDGE

THE OFFICE FRIDGE

by Lydia Bogar

During my third year in the State Fire Marshal’s Office, we moved into a new, super-efficient LEED green building. The HVAC system required constant care by a team of facilities managers and Haz Mat techs who broke into a cold sweat anytime there was a drastic weather change.  If a July day reached over one hundred degrees, the pumps crashed. If there had been an ice storm, space heaters would be brought in for the corridors and the receptionist in the main lobby.  A $43 million building.

They couldn’t regulate the temperature, but they gave us a fabulous break room. There was shelving for paper and other supplies, a copier that could scan documents into a fax or over to your desktop, and a stainless steel, 26 cubic foot Whirlpool refrigerator with an ice making freezer on top.  It was a beautiful thing to behold—especially after twelve years of having my Charleston Chews kidnapped from an only semi-cold little box fridge.

During the summer, the freezer held popsicles and ice cream.

There were birthday cakes during every season.

There were also cartons of milk and cream for those who didn’t have the grit to drink their coffee black.

There was a package of coffee beans that Dave brought back from a trip to Jamaica.

There were tomatoes and wax beans from Jake’s garden. The tomatoes vanished quickly; not so much the beans.

We had a middle shelf for “community food” that anyone could eat, but never on a Monday. That’s where the leftovers lived from our Fat Tuesday Mardi Gras potluck lunch in 2012, the leftovers that weren’t finished until Thursday because most of us were Catholic.  We could all swear like sailors, but we observed Ash Wednesday because our grandmothers were watching us from heaven.

The containers on the lower shelf were labeled with names and an occasional Haz Mat sticker.  First responders have some funky ideas about food–high carb, high fat, and as much sodium as a diner on the on the Jersey Pike at midnight.  Cold pizza is better than hot pizza, and any sandwich is considered edible until it turns green.

The vegetable bins at the bottom usually held Halloween candy, until they were cleaned out around Memorial Day, usually by me.

This retired Girl Scout Cookie Mother had reached her ultimate calling:  Office Mom.

BOLLI feature writer and Writers Guild co-chair Lydia Bogar

Our own “Renaissance Woman,” Lydia has done everything from teaching English to doing volunteer emergency service.  She says she “hails from Woosta– educated at BOLLI.”