“The first lights of the evening were springing into pale existence. The Ferris wheel, pricked out now in lights, revolved leisurely through the dusk; a few empty cars of the roller coaster rattled overhead.” F. Scott Fitgerald
“I felt like lying down by the side of the trail and remembering it all. The woods do that to you, they always look familiar, long lost, like the face of a long-dead relative, like an old dream, like a piece of forgotten song drifting across the water, most of all like golden eternities of past childhood or past manhood and all the living and the dying and the heartbreak that went on a million years ago and the clouds as they pass overhead seem to testify by their own lonesome familiarity to this feeling.”
Spare (Defined) “Not currently in use; in reserve”
Glancing in the window of a recently closed children’s consignment shop, I spotted this tiny, orange sweater hanging forlornly in the now abandoned store front. I pondered why this one vibrant item adorned with teddy bears, remained. Perhaps a testament to a dream that was not to be or more simply that the sweater was left in haste? I like to interpret it as a statement of fortitude left behind from the proprietor. A symbol that whatever the future brings, he or she will survive. I shall leave the interpretation to you gentle readers, but this melancholy image brought to mind the word spare for this week’s challenge.
Stopping by the supermarket yesterday I breezed past the various outdoor flowers and plants ubiquitous this time of year. My eyes fell upon a lovely, light pink rose-bush which I imagined would look pretty on my doorstep but it was the new item “standing” next to it that caused me to pause. Flip Flop planters! Three words immediately came to mind “Cee’s Oddball Challenge.” This strange yet captivating piece bore a resemblance to something in my past that I could not immediately conjure. After a few laps around the market the memory materialized. The leg lamp. It reminded me of that one-of a kind, leg lamp from the classic holiday movie “A Christmas Story” which the father won in a contest and prominently displayed in his living room window. Passing the whimsical planters once again on my way out of the store, I silently commended the artist on his/her creativity in the matching pedicure polish…
ROCHESTER, September 26 — Eastman Kodak Company today announced its intent to stop making and selling slide projectors by June 2004.
“The Kodak slide projector has been a hallmark for quality and ubiquity, used for decades to produce the best in audio visual shows throughout the world,” the company said. “However, in recent years, slide projectors have declined in usage, replaced by alternative projection technologies.”
One of my happiest and most comforting memories of childhood was our family slide shows. These coveted movie nights which generally took place once a year, consisted of nothing more than three simple ingredients: a blank wall in our living room, a Kodak carousel slide projector with my father at the mast and myself and three sisters, huddled on the sofa, pressed together in anticipation like peas in a pod. My mother, who had seen the slide shows too many times to mention, usually busied herself with other things, occasionally stopping in to comment on a particularly beloved picture. Prior to turning off the lights, my father would announce in a deep theatrical voice “Who wants a magic drink?”
They were always different in taste and made from whatever struck his fancy that night; orange juice with a splash of pineapple juice and Grenadine or perhaps apple juice and ginger ale with a jigger of seltzer. The ingredients were unimportant. It was the anticipation of what was to be and the lovely ritual of our movie night routine that we cherished. Those magic drinks were just part of the show.
There was always one slide, without fail, that was turned upside down. This would halt the show momentarily, as my father with a slightly frustrated “tsk” would right the renegade slide. And we were ready to go once again.
I loved that Kodak carousel projector and the faded yellow boxes of slides stacked beside it. They were never labeled so each reel was a surprise in itself. Who might appear on the screen that night was anyone’s guess — my six or sixteen year old self? Our first family pet Bubbles the beagle, or our gentle giant of a Great Dane we called Jenny? My mother posing on the beach in her youth, or proudly cradling her first grandchild? The lack of chronology only added to the experience.
Some days, in the quiet of my mind, I can still hear the slow deliberate click of the projector, advancing slowly, telling without words the story of our life. Slide to slide, toddler to teenager, mother to grandmother, youth to twilight. An entire lifetime displayed on the wall of the darkened living room.
When my parents died, I cared about no other of their possessions albeit that time warped machine that could somehow transform me back to family vacations, birthday parties and people and places no more. With my sister’s blessings, I brought it to my own home with the promise to bring it to family gatherings, a carousal reunion of sort. Though it is yet to be. It sits up on a shelf in an unused room. I have taken it down one or two times in a half -hearted attempt to have my own family slide show but then, as it spits and jams due to age, return it in frustration to the lone closet. Surely there is somewhere that can restore the Kodak carousal to the beauty of its youth so we may once again enjoy those magical images.
And I will mix for my own sons, those magic drinks..
My father always instilled a strong work ethic in me and my three sisters. I never lacked for a job whether it be putting on a marionette show for a birthday party when I was twelve or waitressing at Rosie O’Grady’s in New York City during college break. My fourteen year old son recently asked me for some ideas on how he could get a summer job to save up for a computer. Since sixteen is the legal working age, I was at a loss, but it did bring back some vivid memories of my own past summer jobs as a teen. I have highlighted below, three that I will always remember.
Popover Girl – Lauraine Murphy Restaurant, Manhasset, NY
“Miss! watch those tongs! You almost took out my eye!” I smiled apologetically as I placed the still oven warm, feather light popover, on the angry patron’s side plate and hastily made my way to the next table. Flashback to age sixteen, on the very first evening, of my very first job. “Murphy’s” as it was affectionately known, was a rite of passage for Manhasset youth. Everyone knew someone who had worked there, whether it be sister, brother or cousin. Lauraine Murphy was a family run restaurant catering to “the geriatric set.” I still recall the line of walkers and wheelchairs lined up in the lobby. But it was their popovers that will always be remembered and whose recipe is still rumored to be undiscovered. Sadly, Lauraine Murphy is no longer but the memories of my time as a popover girl remain fresh.
Pros – All the popovers you could devour.
Cons – During the holidays, the hostesses were required to go from table to table singing Christmas carols. I still recall the beet red face of Cynthia Pierce, frozen in smile, the only one among four of us, singing. One of the girls started laughing which set off a chain reaction. Cynthia however, refused to succumb. She sang the whole last stanza in solo. I always admired her for that.
Fitting Model – Haseena – I was hired as a fitting model for a small store specializing in traditional Indian clothes such as wrap around skirts and henna tee shirts. I would stand silently as the nervous tailor draped fabric around me, tucking and pinning aside the eagle-eyed owner who barked orders.
Pros -Discounted fashionable clothes, calling myself a model even though it was a gross exaggeration, and location within walking distance of my high school.
Cons – The occasional pin prick and standing for long periods of time. I was fired less than a month into the job as the owner thought I was “too skinny” and my thin figure did not do her fashions justice. I heard my mother tell her friend that I quit because the tailor was peering in the fitting room at me while I changed, a total fabrication possibly because she couldn’t face the fact I was fired.
Cashier/Concession/Usher – Manhasset Cinema – By far, my favorite job. The cinema played upscale, foreign films so I never had to deal with unruly teens. The amiable manager wore a tuxedo nightly and the cool, darkened art deco theater was serene and beautiful.
Pros – Free movies and popcorn. Learning about Fellini films at a young age.
Cons – Having to pass a March of Dimes donation box throughout the audience at intermission. The shock of Julie Andrews (known until then for her role as Maria in Sound of Music) baring her breasts in Victor/Victoria.
Salesgirl – Lane Bryant – Another of my most enjoyable jobs though a bit of a departure as fashions were for full-figured women and as mentioned above in my short stint at Haseena, I was very thin. I loved selling shoes at Lane Bryant and would often busy myself in the stock room taking a little extra time if I had a particularly busy day. I received an extra commission for each pair of shoes sold.
Pros – Creative license in selecting outfits for customers. My best friend worked there too.
Cons – I recommended my sister Sheila for the job when I left for college and she was fired her first day. The manager pulled back the dressing room curtain to find her “resting” inside, after only a few hours on the job. My reputation was tarnished and I never returned to Lane Bryant though my memories remain fond.
To the toils of my labor over summer jobs past. I miss you all, each and every one!
What was your favorite summer job?