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Posts Tagged ‘memoirs’

An eye on my world (6)

Folks: Heaven & Hell down under… RT

An eye on my world (6).

Happy 84th, Dad!

March 9, 2011 7 comments

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My father passed away on President’s Day, 1997, a few weeks shy of his 70th birthday. He was a Foreign Service Officer who fought in the Black Forest and went to USC on the GI Bill. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa, married my mother, and they went to Washington so he could take the Foreign Service Exam.

His birthday was March 6th, so I’m a few days late with this, but it seemed like the right moment to remember my father and his generation. When Dad received his Phi Beta Kappa key, he didn’t know what it was, so Mom told him he had earned a prestigious honor, and bought the key for him for his wedding present.

Soldier, scholar, public servant–we’re all thinking of you, Dad!

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P.S. The photo is of Dad holding me when I was about 5 or 6 months old. That’s a proud pappa!

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The Black Pearl

December 19, 2010 9 comments

Leatrice Joy, Silent Film Actress

The Black Pearl is the title of the only film we are pretty sure my grandfather starred in; it was a silent movie, and his leading lady was Leatrice Joy. According to granddad, the film was shot in New Orleans, we think possibly in 1925.

I never knew my grandfather; he died in 1941 and I was born in 1960. As I reported earlier in this blog, we found an interview he gave with the Baltimore Sun in 1913; several weeks ago, we found a second interview, this time given to the L.A. Times. This is the interview in which he mentions The Black Pearl.

Reconstructing his life has been made much easier by the fact that he was an actor on the live stage. On the other hand, finding still photos of him or other memorabilia has been made hard by the fact that the theater and screen life of the 20s seems to have largely disappeared. Some estimate that 75 percent of all silent films made have been lost, due mainly to the unstable medium (nitrate) the films were recorded on. Likewise, many of the theaters where he performed are no longer standing, or only their facades have been saved. I have not been able so far to find out anything about The Black Pearl, including whether or not it has survived.

More about our search for granddad can be found on my mother’s blog, Mood Indigo. The blog includes extracts from her childhood memoir and articles about political and entertainment figures of the time. It’s worth checking out…pre-war America was an amazing place (I didn’t even know that New Orleans had a movie industry in the 20s) that deserves to be better remembered than it is.    RT

p.s. and contructive comments on improving her blog are always welcome! 

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poems & string

September 9, 2010 1 comment

late night thoughts:

is every poem a memoir, a note to ourselves to finish the work begun? i’ve been working on mom’s memoirs (finished a draft of chap 1 in the afternoon), and this evening have finished a poem about my grandfather, the grandparent i know least about. at the edge of every map: “there be dragons here (or at least a poem)”….

poetry is a process of moving backward, of retracing the steps taken and mostly blown smooth. it is the thread of thought that guides us back out after we’ve settled our accounts. it is the well & the rag.

memoirs are a little more straightforward, at least on the surface. we don’t have to let the sound guide us so much, and we’re more worried about factability & the proof thereof…and what a person might *really* have been like, as opposed to *just* imagined. the whiskey gets watered down, and we become better judges.

yours in rants, ramblings & the occasional bone-struggle with an angel! RT

Memoirs & more

September 4, 2010 Leave a comment

hello, universe!

It’s saturday morning in West Virginia, the wind is blowing, the clouds are racing across the sky: it’s perfect! blessings from a beautiful place to all of you!

So, I’m working on my mother’s memoirs. I found a 113-page manuscript of hers last fall & have now typed it into the computer. What a life! The details are amazing, but what’s more amazing is discovering some of my family’s history (my mother was adopted): her grandfather was a member of the city council of Pasadena in the 20’s (he was totally self-made); my grandfather was an actor both on Broadway and on the legit stage in California (also in the 20’s); my grandmother died when she was 24 of pneumonia (not all news is good). & the pictures from the photo albums mom inherited…what a story!

In other news, my writing proceeds apace: I am working on a couple of new lyric poems…one about my family, of course. more projects than you can shake a stick at!

wow, now all I have to do is write some more….blessings of a beautiful sky upon you!   RT