No saints for us to honor today, but on this date in 1962, a birthday salute to U.S. President John F. Kennedy was held at Madison Square Garden, New York City, ten days in advance of his 45th birthday (his wife, Jacqueline Kennedy, was not in attendance).
The highlight of the birthday celebration for the President was actress Marilyn Monroe’s sultry-voiced rendition of “Happy Birthday to You”. Actor Peter Lawford (the brother in law of the President) was at the event that night to introduce Monroe. He kept joking about the actress’s reputation for chronic lateness by giving her a number of introductions throughout the night, after which she did not go on stage. As she finally came on stage several hours into the show, Lawford introduced her as the “late Marilyn Monroe”. She sang the traditional lyrics, with ”Mr. President” inserted as Kennedy’s name. She continued the song with a snippet from the classic song “Thanks for the Memory”, for which she had written new lyrics specifically aimed at Kennedy: “Thanks, Mr. President / For all the things you’ve done / The battles that you’ve won / The way you deal with U.S. Steel / And our problems by the ton / We thank you so much”. Monroe’s dress was noted for being sheer and flesh colored with 2,500 rhinestones sewn into it. The dress was so tight-fitting that Monroe had to be literally sewn into it; she wore nothing under it. Afterwards, President Kennedy came on stage and joked about the song, saying, “I can now retire from politics after having had “Happy Birthday” sung to me in such a sweet, wholesome way.” (This was one of Marilyn Monroe’s last public appearances before her death in August of 1962.) Monroe’s dress has become famous as a symbol of the song, selling in 1999 at auction in New York for over $1.26 million.
Before going to bed last night I called my friend Nedra in Tennessee and left her a voice mail.
We woke up half an hour early, and I did my Bathroom Devotional Reading. On our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading and said the Fifth Day of my Pentecost Novena. We signed the Early Out list, then ate breakfast in ADR. When we clocked in, Richard was the Relief Dealer for Mini Baccarat and Pai Gow. I was on the Mississippi Stud table in our overflow pit, closed that table, changed Blackjack cards (they had Richard give me a break doing that), then I sent the dealer on Three Card Poker to the shift office. When she came back, I went to a Blackjack table so that that dealer could send another dealer who was dealing Pitch Blackjack to the shift office (I do not deal Pitch), and then I sent the relief dealer who was now on Three Card Poker to the shift office. Meanwhile, Richard had gotten out at 4:15 am, and when the relief dealer came back to Three Card Poker they let me out, at 4:30 am. (They could have used Richard to have sent one of those dealers to the shift office, and gotten Richard and I both out at the same time, but I suppose that would have been too easy, especially since, even though he worked 15 minutes less than me, Richard ended up with one more break than I did.)
We arrived home at 5:30 am, and I went back to bed. At 9:30 am I had wakened up again, but was not yet out of bed, when I got a call from Nedra. I told her my news about my granddaughter being born, and she was thrilled to death. Her second great-grandson was born on the same day, last Tuesday. She gave me some advice to pass along to Callie to aid in her recovery from childbirth. In more sobering news, she found out on January 1st that she has malignant mesothelioma, with some fifteen lesions on both lungs, on her kidneys, and on her liver. Basically, she does not expect to live much past the end of this year, and she has made her peace with that and her final arrangements; but it is very hard for me to think of losing my best friend. This is the same thing that Richard’s sister Pookie had, and I know what Pookie went through before she died in 2006 (two years after her diagnosis; thank you, Tarceva®). I told her that Richard and I will come see her when we are on our vacation in November, but I seriously think that I will take the two extra days of PTO that I have (which I was going to use on a trip to Hot Springs with my co-workers Deborah and Virginia) to go see her in July (I have not mentioned this yet to Nedra). Aside from that, I don’t know what to do, besides pray, and to pray not that she not die (if God answered every such prayer we would be up to our eyeballs in people), but that she dies easy, and that her family and friends find peace.
Meanwhile, I had gotten a text from Liz Ellen; when I had a chance to read it, after my phone call with Nedra, I found that the results on her knee MRI had come in. She does not need surgery, just palliative injections; she will use a patella brace and / or tape on her knee until July 21st, then have steroid injections through December 2016, which may be followed by synovial injections to replace the fluid in her knee. I then sent a text to Nedra with the baby pictures of my granddaughter.
By this time Richard had woken up and come out and read the morning paper. I read the morning paper, then started my laundry. I then opted to clear my ears out with Debrox; while in the midst of doing that (fifteen minutes per ear), our daughter Michelle called up in great distress, with a car that had fetched up at her uncle Slug’s house here in town with a radiator problem. Richard calmed her down, and then drove over to Slug’s house (his brother Butch was there as well); they took her car to our auto garage, then Richard took her home. (Last night on her way home from work she had hit a dog by accident; when she did so, the grill put pressure on the radiator, which sprung a leak.)
When Richard came home, at about 1:30 pm, he and I decided to head to Lafayette. After I put the my laundry in the dryer, we headed for Opelousas as our first stop. When we got to the Creswell Lane Restaurant to eat Chinese for lunch, I realized that I had forgotten my purse at home. We ate lunch, and decided that we would do Lafayette tomorrow, and headed back home. On the way I sent a text to Liz Ellen (at 3:00 pm), asking her to give me a call after she got home from work (thinking that that would be at about 5:00 pm or 6:00 pm my time). Instead, she called me immediately; I had to put a halt to her call, and asked her to call back later. She then sent me a text message with a few more details about the prognosis for her knee.
Meanwhile, we were almost home (I wanted to go home first, to make sure my purse was where I thought I had left it) when we passed Butch’s truck. Richard honked at him, and Butch followed us back to the house. We talked for a good bit (it’s been months since we have seen him), then he left, with the phone (complete with short wall cord and long curly handset cord) that we had used as our kitchen wall phone, back when we were still doing land lines. (I told Butch not to bother at all bringing it back to us, as we will never need to use it again.) We left the house again at 4:00 pm, and went to Michelle and Cody’s trailer to see the new kittens. Michelle was there (Cody showed up later), and we talked and visited; Michelle had baby photos I had not seen, and I had photos she had not seen, and after seeing all of the photos we traded photos via text message. Richard and I then went over to Wal-Mart, where I got some white vinegar (more anon), and checked out the carry on plane luggage. On our way home, I texted Michelle to ask if she had carry on plane luggage; she did, and she will be lending it to me for when we fly up to Connecticut.
Richard and I arrived home at 5:45 pm, and at 6:15 pm we did Cablevision On Demand and watched The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies, which we had missed seeing in the theatre when it came out. When that ended at about 8:30 pm, I came to the computer to do my Daily Update, knowing that it would be a long one, what with everything that we did and everything that happened today. (Liz Ellen did not call back.) When I finish this Daily Update I will treat my ears with drops made from a solution of half white vinegar and half isopropyl alcohol in an attempt to dry out any water, then go to bed; this has been a very stressful day for me, for several reasons (not least finding out that Nedra is not expected to live past the end of this year).
Tomorrow is the Optional Memorial of Saint Bernardine of Siena, Priest (died 1444). I will try to wake up early enough to do the Weekly Computer Maintenance and to finish my laundry. Richard and I will then head for Lafayette; we want to go to Barnes and Noble and buy books for the baby. (He wants to get Clovis Crawfish books; I am leaning towards Harold and the Purple Crayon.) I will also call Callie at some point, and if we get home soon enough I want to get my hair cut. In the late afternoon our #1 LSU Baseball team will be playing Auburn at the SEC Tournament.
Our Parting Quote on this Tuesday evening comes to us from Vincent Harding, American historian and scholar. Born in 1931 in Harlem, New York City, New York to African-American parents, he finished high school in the Bronx and enrolled in the City College of New York, where he received a B.A. in History in 1952. The following year he graduated from Columbia University, where he earned an M.S. in Journalism. Harding served in the U.S. Army from 1953-1955. In 1956 he received an M.A. in History at the University of Chicago. In 1960 Harding and his wife, Rosemarie Freeney Harding, moved to Atlanta, Georgia to participate in the Southern Freedom Movement (also known as the American civil rights movement) as representatives of the Mennonite Church. The Hardings co-founded Mennonite House, an interracial voluntary service center and Movement gathering place in Atlanta. The couple traveled throughout the South in the early 1960s working as reconcilers, counselors and participants in the Movement, assisting the anti-segregation campaigns of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). In 1965 he received his Ph.D. in History from the University of Chicago, where he was advised by Martin E. Marty. Harding occasionally drafted speeches for Martin Luther King, including King’s famous anti-Vietnam speech, “A Time to Break Silence,” which King delivered on April 4, 1967, at Riverside Church in New York City, exactly a year before he was assassinated. He taught at the University of Pennsylvania, Spelman College, Temple University, Swarthmore College, and Pendle Hill Quaker Center for Study and Contemplation. He wrote There Is a River in 1982. He was the first director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Center and of the Institute of the Black World, both located at Atlanta. He also became senior academic consultant for the 1987 – 1990 PBS television series Eyes on the Prize. In 1993 he wrote There Is a River: The Black Struggle for Freedom in America. Harding served as Chairperson of the Veterans of Hope Project: A Center for the Study of Religion and Democratic Renewal, located at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado. He taught at Iliff as Professor of Religion and Social Transformation from 1981 to 2004. Harding was a devout Christian and believer in achieving racial and economic equality in the United States. His last book, written in 2013, was America Will Be!: Conversations on Hope, Freedom, and Democracy with Daisaku Ikeda (died 2014): “There’s a lesson for us: If we lock up Martin Luther King, and make him unavailable for where we are now so we can keep ourselves comfortably distant from the realities he was trying to grapple with, we waste King. All of us are being called beyond those comfortable places where it’s easy to be Christian. That’s the key for the 21st century – to answer the voice within us, as it was within Martin, which says ‘do something for somebody.’ We can learn to play on locked pianos and to dream of worlds that do not yet exist.”