A deep personal commitment to the nexus of knowledge and laughter.
Experience reading and accepting the wit and wisdom of Roz Chast, born and raised in Brooklyn, who has been drawing since childhood.
Understanding and appreciation of the value of chintz covered chairs and Baroque picture frames, and, generally speaking, everything related to middle class America in the 1950’s.
Finely tuned communication skills, including but not limited to Theories of Everything: Selected, Collected, and Health-Inspected Cartoons of Roz Chast 1978-2006, and Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?
Advance a curriculum that would include discussions such as:
The artist’s reflections of everyday life and the power of black and white (she started with single panel black and white drawings) graphics.
Why Roz hand-lettered the title pages of her books, why her books feature a cartoon of herself rather than the typical author photograph, and other mysteries.
How the artist’s perspective on a family translates for you.
During the summer, I started to assemble ideas and research for a five-week BOLLI course under the working title “Everything I Ever Needed to Know, I Learned from Roz Chast.”
During the past few months as I immersed myself in four new BOLLI courses, I realized that I just don’t have the skills necessary to deliver this course myself. Is there anybody out there who might like to do so? If you’d be interested and would like to see a potential bibliography for such a course before you decide, please let me know. Thanks for your time and interest!
Many thanks to Lois Sockol, the participants in her Current Events course, and friends who donated a car full of winter coats, boots, hats and mittens to children from Puerto Rico who are attending school in Worcester this winter. The BOLLI family redefines itself every day in so many ways.
This term, I took Mitch Fischman’s five-week class on photography, a course I found to be full of both fun and knowledge! Photography seems to be a family affair for the Fischmans. His daughter Andrea is a professional photographer who has come to visit Mitch’s class in the past. This time, though, Mitch introduced us to Liz Linder, one of Andrea’s mentors. I asked BOLLI friend and SGL Mitch about his guest photographers.
“Our guest photographer, Liz Linder (above right), employed my daughter Andrea Feldman (above left), when she was starting her career as a freelance photographer over a decade ago. Liz’s studio in Brookline Village was a perfect place for Andrea to develop her photography and studio skills and to learn what it’s like to run a photography business. After Andrea graduated from Skidmore, she started doing freelance work in the Albany-Saratoga Springs area. While on assignment during her post-year after Skidmore, she photographed a group of Bangladeshi immigrants working in a factory in New York’s Hudson River Valley, profiling their poor living conditions. Andrea also established the beginnings of her wedding business while assisting Liz, and, later, other photographers in New York City. Both Liz and Andrea are premier photographers.
Andrea lives in Long Island City, New York and her photo business is in New York City. Photographs by both Andrea and Liz were shown and appreciated by the class. Andrea loves taking photos of people on subway cars, a favorite of many of the photographers examined like Walker Evans shown in “Photographers and Photographs That Have Changed How We See the World.”
While interning in Prague, Andrea initially developed her subway skill in a photo spread published in the Prague Post entitled “Eyes Wide Shut,” illustrating what Andrea referred to as the “Prague Stare” she saw while photographing people on the Prague Metro from her concealed camera. She told me that, when subway travelers saw she was photographing them and started to look angry, she would get off at the next stop.”
Since graduating from Haverford College and studying at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and the International Center of Photography, Liz Linder has demonstrated her technical skills and a documentary style that captures the unique personality of her clients and her perpetual sense of fun. Liz loves the view from her camera, and her imaginative technique is honest and energized.
Alongside her portrait and decisive moment-based commercial work, Liz is currently collaborating with another long-term friend and colleague, RIch Griswold, on a form of documentary photography from a personal angle. (Above, her “Shadow One” and “Shadow Two” images.)
Prior to social media apps, Liz and Rich developed a shorthand way of communicating using pictures instead of words, a game aptly called www.wetalkinpictures.com. On the site, image exchanges touch on how disparate and similar things relate: these two have been friends since the 20th Century, when phones were tied to the wall.
Today, technology is re-writing the way we interact; just a decade ago, people used their phones to ask “how are you?” Now, the question is “where are you?” Most of us take pictures with something called a “phone,” and, as artists, we find ourselves exploring the expressive potential in the message of a photograph. What can we say in an image when it is served as a text message? What gets communicated? There are efficiencies, quandaries, and room for poetic license. A picture is worth a thousand words, right?
The challenge from Liz to communicate in pictures should be easy for us New Englanders. We can send snow pictures to our retired friends in the south and receive enticing beach and boating photos in return!
Our own “Renaissance Woman,” Lydia has done everything from teaching English to doing volunteer emergency service. We’re lucky to have her volunteering, these days, to help with BOLLI Matters!
All of the episodes of the Ken Burns documentary about Vietnam are on my DVR, and I will watch them one piece at a time — some other day. Here is the story of two Massachusetts boys who grew up in the jungles of Vietnam and found new jungles waiting for them at home.
A TALE OF TWO MARINES
by Lydia Bogar
They walked and ran the tangled path to maturity in the jungles of Vietnam. Although born and raised in the same state, the culture and strata of their parentage were many miles apart. That is the way life was in the 60s. And yet, both fate and the Marine Corps brought them to the same place.
The war was never kind, and the mission was not to come home intact. The smell of blood and mud stayed in their memories for decades. The black silhouetted flag was a hallmark of their survival.
Initially, their post-military careers brought them together. They continued to live and train as Marines for law enforcement careers in the Massachusetts State Police, always crisp and ramrod straight in uniform. Their personal lives took similar paths, predictable for baby boomers. Love and marriage brought them to the same area code, the same assignment, and many of the same friends. As the devil cancer took some of those friends, they again stood crisp and ramrod straight at burials that shook the sky with rifle rounds and blurred the eyes around them. They were still Marines. Every minute of their lives, they were Marines.
Their first painful loss was another Marine, the perennial altar boy with the leprechaun’s smile. His death devastated friends and families, as he had beaten the devil cancer for almost ten years. Leaving his wife and son behind was a failure he could not discuss. The poison in his veins took all choice out of his hands. The walk from the church to the cemetery left even the strongest in tears. The flyover and hole in the ground sent others to their knees.
The second burial came along more rapidly, during a very cold, yet starlit night. The former combat medic had worked hard to progress through the ranks but was always within the devil’s grasp. The poison in his veins choked his heart and brought unforgiving grief to his wife and daughters. Generous benefits were no match for the three daughters who would later walk down the aisle without their daddy. When you see every member of a Marine Corps honor guard in tears, you know that you have seen it all.
I write of these two Marines as co-workers and friends of long standing. Twenty plus years seemed to fly by, and they both faced mandatory retirement at age 55. With that roadblock in sight, their career paths diverted. One lost a child, a precious son, a loss that compelled him to take on more hours at work, more overtime shifts as he sought something. Anything to be away from the small cottage in the small town with the small empty room. The marriage became a farce. He worked days and nights, seemingly without end, and advanced through the ranks. We will not discuss the women in whose arms he found momentary comfort, only that those diversions did not heal him.
The bald Marine discarded first one marriage and then another. His work hours also increased, yet neither rank nor assignment ever filled his void. He remained on the job long past the 55-speed limit, defying gravity and modern medicine with the daily grind of a much younger man. His jungle became the streets, and he knew each cluster of villages as well as the age spots on the back of his hands. His rank remained the same, even when his pay grade maxed out. He ignored the urges of supervisors to take promotional exams. In the place of rank and money, he got a good lawyer, another Marine of course, and sued to stay on the job he loved. He was content with his portable life, taking assignments that he liked, and travelling abroad when the spirit moved him.
His personal vehicles were the same make and model as the Ford Crown Vic that he drove behind the badge. His large frame knew the seat and the dashboard as well as the gun at his waist. His strength and courage never wavered, and his quest to understand the minds of his brother officers was a thirst never fully quenched. When the towers fell in New York, he responded with the speed and determination of a Marine fresh out of Parris Island. He was in New York by noon that day, not knowing who the enemy was, only that it was his.
His current vocation is to talk with and listen to the troops coming back from the hellish sandbox. He continues to defy the usual parameters of age and agility. This past summer, while others bought retirement homes and cuddled grandchildren, he ignored his 70th birthday and went to Canada to support a brother officer.
His quiet, pale brother went uptown and worked in a skyscraper overlooking the harbor. His new uniform was an expensive suit, a starched white shirt, and ready-for-inspection wingtips. His knowledge expanded in different ways–away from physical harm and into the detection of fraud and deceit. His daily routine remained intact, unmoved by age or circumstance. It was that routine and a daily dose or two of Jack Daniels kept him alive, or so he thought. His life ended quietly in an elevator, going out to lunch on a beautiful spring day. He would be with his son again.
None of these Marines of a certain age need to watch the Ken Burns documentary. The original script remains in their hearts and minds.
Our own “Renaissance Woman,” Lydia has done everything from teaching English to doing volunteer emergency service. We’re lucky to have her volunteering, these days, to help with BOLLI Matters!
Speechless and helpless. What to do in our vigil for Florida as Irma roars into the warm turquoise waters that many of us know and love? Pray.
My Florida memories are widespread, going back to 1955 when my parents took us to Hollywood to watch my uncle build a house on a golf course that featured a creek full of snakes and alligators. We returned many times over the next decade. We found comfort and peace there after my father’s death and were distracted by the flamingoes at Hialeah, the Parrot Jungle, the monkeys screeching on a swamp cruise, and the alligator wrestlers in the Seminole Village. Eventually, my uncle passed away, and the cousins moved north.
My first trip to Disney was with my ex-husband and our oldest daughter when she was 18 months old. It was “The Happiest Place on Earth,” and later that evening, on a small, black and white television in Kissimmee, we watched as President Nixon resigned.
My first trip to Key West was in 1982. Wow! What a place–beautiful flowers, snorkeling off Smathers Beach, Hemingway’s cats, and sunsets at Mallory Square. Six years later, I took my daughters to Key West, and it was even more fabulous– our first family vacation since the divorce, and I reveled in my independence and strength as a single mother.
Fifteen years would pass until a trip to visit college friends who took early retirement and settled in Cocoa Beach. Multiple trips there and to Clermont to visit retired co-workers who lived in a gated community. As beautiful as it is was, I could never live in a place where house colors were limited to 5 shades of grey and beige and the stars and stripes could only be flown on national holidays.
In February, a BOLLI classmate shared ten wonderful days at her rental in Saddlebunch Key. Thank you, Betsey, for the laughter, the insight, and the indelible memories; the dolphins, the Turtle Rescue on Marathon Key, glorious sunsets, people watching, walking through shops and galleries downtown, and more than a few Margaritas.
The memories and the photos are now being used now for prayer. Prayers for the residents, especially those who make their living on the ocean–particularly the fishermen and those in the hospitality business. The first responders who will stay on the job for days without sleep, who may risk their own lives to save others, and who may end the weekend with no homes to go to.
Memories and prayers can be one and the same. Please add your prayers and comments.
Our own “Renaissance Woman,” Lydia has done everything from teaching English to working as a health professional and doing volunteer emergency service. We’re lucky to have her volunteering, these days, to help with BOLLI Matters!
Lately, Lydia has been focusing on memoir writing–and, here, she gives us all a little inspiration for memoir writing of our own. We hope you’ll think about sharing some of your memories with other BOLLI members on our BOLLI Matters blog!
MY FIRST GIRDLE
By Lydia Bogar
Daddy was sitting at the dining table, back to the thermostat wall. He was doing paperwork – shop stuff – not painting. I had been shopping with Mom, maybe at R.H. White’s, and we had bought my first girdle. It was a pink and white striped thing with garters that was not purchased for a look-thinner purpose but, rather, to hold up my first pair of nylons. I believe it was 1957 or 58, at least one year before he died.
Daddy was a brave and determined man. In 1938, he had come from Europe to America from Europe to live with Papa, Mimi, and Paul–to have a better life. To be a soldier. To fall in love and raise a family. To be an artist and a hairdresser. To be an American. He was suave, sophisticated, very conscious of his appearance–hair, mustache, posture. Was that a generational thing? A European thing? A proud new American thing? He was tall, thin, beautiful—with tanned skin that never hardened. His hair never turned grey. He never turned 50…or 60…or more.
Daddy was not only an immigrant, an artist, a husband, and a father. He was also a son, brother, uncle, Catholic, a craftsman, a golfer, a Main Street businessman, fisherman, and gardener. He was then a photographer, patriot, and anti-Communist. Finally, he was a patient and a survivor.
I look back now at the black and white photos of him–in uniform, on his passport, on his citizenship papers, with his fedora, with the puppy named Bobo, with me. Golfing with Papa and Paul. Fishing with Uncle Fred and Uncle Eddie. Lots of images saved from the house that wasn’t sold until Mom entered a nursing home.
It seems a little strange to me that one of my more vivid memories of Daddy was him sitting at the dining room table the day I came home with my first girdle. And yet, for us girls in the 50s, that first was a big one. Having him there for it was just as important. How I wish that my other memories of him were clearer and more abundant.
Maybe they are just deeper–and writing will bring them to the surface.
Former English teacher and health care professional Lydia Bogar joined BOLLI in the spring of 2016 after returning home from a stint in South Carolina where she dipped into another OLLI program. (We’re glad she decided to join this one!)
Kittery. Kittery Maine is a beach town, rocky and cold but very peaceful. With lobsters, lots of lots of L-O-B-S-T-A-S . It is also a destination for those in need of retail therapy in the form of outlet store bargains. Lots of B-AH-G-U-N-S.
Bargain shopping is in my blood. You see, I grew up in Worcester—where we had Spag’s. Founded in 1934 by Anthony “Spag” Borgatti, it was the most wonderful store. At Spag’s, “where cash buys more,” you could by a can of paint, a wrench, or a 5-lb. jar of peanut butter. You could visit with friends and neighbors who were buying everything from grass seed to work gloves to vacuum cleaner bags—with no plastic. In fact, at Spag’s, there were no bags or shopping carts. You put your stuff in your own bags or in empty cardboard boxes found around the store. And every part of the store had its own smells. Bread. Shoe leather. Fertilizer. But always the fragrance of paper dust and just-cut cardboard. Spag’s may have closed a dozen years ago, but the retail lessons learned there will never fade. For me, the name of the game was—and still is—“the best deal for the best price.” We learned that from our parents and from Spag himself before the missiles were photographed in Cuba. And then, we taught our children “Spag’s Mentality.”
So, for me, when Kittery became an outlet store mecca, the leap from Spag’s to Maine was not a painful one. At Spag’s, Wrangler jeans, piled by size on shelves, had cost less than $10 a pair. Now, the Lee Outlet in Kittery offers a dozen different colors and cuts for prices ranging from $39 to $100, a definite bargain in today’s market.
During my years as the mother-of-the-bride, treks to Kittery became marathon. The drive north on New Year’s weekend was one of the favorites. Sets of handcrafted holiday ornaments in really nice boxes made great gifts for my daughters but also served as bridal shower gifts for their friends. Serving pieces from Lenox China likewise. Pyrex casseroles and OXO utensils were legion.
At about that time, I turned a walk-in closet into a storage space that my girls referred to as “The Store.” With four long shelves and six feet of closet rod, it became the resting place for good bargains. Fancy candles. Blankets and throws. Mirrors and holiday items. When my mother’s health impeded traveling to stores, she would do her birthday and holiday shopping in “The Store.”
My mother and I never shopped together in Kittery, but she had taught me well during the Spag’s years. No, my most diligent shopping partner was Betty, who loved a bargain every bit as much as I did. On one trip, she managed to score one of her greatest finds ever—an entire set of dishes to match the blue walls and red ceiling border of her newly renovated kitchen. Her very favorite trip, though, was our first venture to the When Pigs Fly bakery. Talk about aroma. Forty dollars later, we returned to the car where the “coup de gras” rested in my trunk—a tray, napkins, a knife, and a pound of butter. It was the most perfect January day–the sun was shining, there was no dirty snow in the parking lot, and the temperature was hovering in the mid 50’s. We sat on the tailgate and relished the baked goods and the moment. Her freckled smile is preserved in my memory.
With the arrivals of the boys, my grandsons Brady and Henry, my addiction to cute pajamas and overalls propelled me to the Carter Outlet where I would spend $30 on tiny tee shirts and rubber pants, and then take away a free umbrella stroller. The boys have outgrown Carter’s, and their new shirts–complete with dinosaur and sport themes–now come from full-price sporting goods stores, and of course, the vendors near Fenway.
So, here are a couple of tips for shopping at the Kittery Outlets. Use your VISA card as you drive north and your MasterCard when you head south, going home, to avoid straining either one. During the month of August, avoid the crowds of frantic mothers and unhappy kids altogether. Go to the beach. Eat lobsta and whole belly clams by day, and drive home at sunset. The crazy shoppers don’t tend to hit the road until the outlets close at 9 p.m.
Shopping at other beaches? The Outer Banks? Monterey? Key West? Sure, but it’s just not the same. You can’t find lobstas or whole belly clams, and if they have coupons, I have yet to see one.
I stopped my treks to Kittery when I retired, had lost forty pounds, and was shopping in good consignment shops that could accommodate my changing sizes and tight budget. In my heart, though, Kittery shopping ended five years ago when my dear Betty died. How could those trips bring me happiness when my faithful shopping partner was no longer there to ride shotgun? She is in my heart always, as is my mother who trained me at Spag’s.
Shopping with family and friends can be a distraction during times of stress or unhappiness. From big box stores to outlets to coastal gift shops, finding the perfect item for someone special and giving it with love is key. The warm smile delivered in return is the best kind of retail therapy there is.
Former English teacher and health care professional Lydia Bogar joined BOLLI in the spring of 2016 after returning home from a stint in South Carolina where she dipped into another OLLI program.
When old friends die, we try to remember the happy times, the jokes and laughs, the parties and vacations. Sometimes, though, that’s a stretch—as it was with Bill.
A year or so after my divorce, I dated a man who had grown up with my ex-husband. Bill was a carpenter with a young daughter, two interesting and diverse sisters, and parents who lived down the street. Unlike my ex-husband, he loved to dance and be social. His friends welcomed me, including some that I knew from my job at the Town Hall. But Bill had a problem.
Bill loved a beer (or three) at noon on Saturday, whether he was watching a ballgame or working. One of his favorite social venues was the Knights of Columbus Hall. Not because of the Catholic connection but because what this group of Knights were good at in the early 80’s was drinking–a lot.
On Tuesdays, the Knights went bowling (and drinking) at an alley within spitting distance from my house. On one of those Tuesday nights in the spring, a nice breeze blew in from the west, and I opened my windows to catch the fresh air. Around 2 am, a noise woke me up. Not the girls. Nothing electrical or mechanical. Must be an animal in the backyard, I thought. I rolled over and went back to sleep, but within minutes, the noise woke me again.
This time, I turned on the light. And when I did, something flew across the room. I screamed, turned off the light, reached for my robe, and rushed to close the doors to the girls’ rooms. That bird was not going to crap all over my house! So, with flashlight in hand and a large towel over my shoulder, I began my search for my intruder. Hearing the noise again, I realized it wasn’t a bird. It was a bat–and he was scared. With the window fully open, I flapped the bath towel around in an attempt to chase the darn thing back outside, but my efforts were in vain. I called Bill.
After at least a dozen rings, he finally picked up, and soon, his truck pulled into the driveway. He came to the door with a plywood box which proved to be of no help. Finally, Bill grabbed my chenille bathmat, quietly sneaked up on the creature, threw the mat around him, tossed him—mat and all—outside, and slammed the window shut. He headed for his truck, waved good night, and I tumbled back into bed.
Within what seemed like ten minutes, the alarm went off, and the day began. I didn’t tell the girls about the bat, nor did I mention it to my co-workers at the Town Hall. Mid-afternoon, as I drank another cup of coffee to stay awake, Bill arrived in my office and told me he had had a weird dream. He said he dreamed he came to my house during the night and followed a bat into my bedroom through an open window. Then he said that he was going to stop drinking. Somehow, with a straight face, I replied that, yes, that was a weird dream and that abstinence was probably a good idea.
Bill never heard the true story, but I shared it with his sisters at his funeral, and they laughed along with me. Funny, the laughs that bond us.
There has never been another bat inside my house. The few that fly around the back yard at dusk don’t give me a second glance. Maybe the story about that long ago warm Tuesday evening in the spring has been passed down through the bat generations and–remembering Bill the Bat Man–they keep their distance.
Renaissance woman Lydia Bogar has been English teacher, health care professional and more. She joined BOLLI in the spring of 2016 after returning home from a stint in South Carolina where she dipped into another OLLI program. “It’s good to be here!” she exclaims. (And it’s good to have her.)
This month, our most eclectic feature writer, Lydia Bogar, walks us through quite a host of recommended books, articles, and even opera focused on civil rights. But perhaps the most powerful of all, Kander and Ebb’s musical, The Scottsboro Boys, at Speakeasy.
MY POST-TRAUMATIC GROWTH
By Lydia Bogar
If I hadn’t been so impressed by the book and then the film, The Help, I might not have read The Warmth of Other Suns which I read, ingested, and then donated to my neighborhood library for others to take in as well. A resurgence of civil rights issues in 2011. That reminds me of a journal article that I wrote about the young black lady who was my uncle’s housekeeper when he retired to Florida in 1956.
Also in the summer of 2011, I watched the incredible performances of Audra McDonald and Norm Lewis in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess at the ART. This was my first visit to the ART, and sitting in the fourth row intensified the experience. The minimalist stage setting, the lyrics, and the performers’ facial expressions remain clear and vibrant in my memory.
If I hadn’t been in Emily and Beth’s New Yorker Non-Fiction discussion course this past term, I might have missed the significance of “Justice Delayed” a very intense article with reference to Bryan Stevenson’s book Just Mercy, which so impressed me that I read the library’s copy and then bought my own.
More intense discussions both, in class and in the Gathering Place, have helped in my post-election survival. There are so many educated activists that our country can and will grow. Emotionally, this phase is referred to as post-traumatic growth.
The New Yorker always returns me to the style and substance of Calvin Trillin. Calvin may be best known for his foodie rants and raves (and tours which I hope to take one day), but most recently, I have read Jackson, 1964, his intense reflection on the Civil Rights movement and the journalists who worked very hard to deliver that message. Jackson, 1964 reminded me of the long silent walk from Worcester State College to downtown Worcester on Friday, April 5, 1968. Dr. Martin Luther King had been assassinated the day before; classes were cancelled; our student body stopped protesting the war in Vietnam and mourned the life of Dr. King.
The road that we are on now, including the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue that will soon host an inaugural parade, has included two powerful lessons that will sustain us going forward: Fences, a powerful August Wilson play about discrimination in Philadelphia in volatile 1950’s, and The Scottsboro Boys which has come alive on the Speakeasy Stage at the Calderwood Pavilion.
If you know the story, you still need to see the play. If you have seen the play, I suggest reading it and seeing it again. The Speakeasy artists and their technical staff have given a great gift to the City of Boston. The venue itself is perfect– sparse and small, ideal for the re-creation of 1930’s vaudeville. To tell the story of nine black boys and ten trials–plus a vase presented to The Supreme Court–is a courageous and inspiring pledge. Including cameo-like appearances by people like George Wallace and Rosa Parks is artful.
Whether you avail yourself of the BOLLI discount or not, you must see The Scottsboro Boys before it closes on January 22. It will contribute to your overall knowledge and sustain you on the political road ahead. The show was extended from its original run scheduled to end in November–perhaps because it is such a valuable part of our post-traumatic growth.
Former English teacher, health care professional, and quintessential Renaissance woman of all trades, Lydia Bogar joined BOLLI in the spring of 2016 after returning home from a stint in South Carolina where she dipped into another OLLI program. “It’s good to be here!” she exclaims. (And it’s good to have her.)
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