Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Writing about my optimism ~ and where it came from ~ stirred up old memories. When I was asked how I became such an optimist (I've been called Pollyanna many times), my first thought was to say, "It must have been all those MGM musicals and Walt Disney animated features I watched growing up!" I'm serious. Those old musicals always had happy endings. So did the Disney films I grew up with. The good guy always got the girl and everyone lived happily ever after.

My parents often used the movie theaters in San Antonio as a babysitter for me and my sister Jean. Weekends there were always double features, and we would sometimes be on our second go 'round before someone came to pick us up! We especially loved the musicals, and would spend the intermissions in the balcony lounges singing the songs and doing our own versions of the dances. I remember there was a huge table in one area, and we would climb upon it and "tap dance"! (Ours were more of a soft shoe, shuffle, or stumble!) Watching Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly dance with one of their beautiful leading ladies gave us dreams of doing the same someday when we grew up. In the meantime, we had to practice! And practice we did. I begged Mother for some old curtains to make rhumba skirts or flowing gowns, and rounded up any kid in the neighborhood I could coax to come practice with us and be in our neighborhood "show".
The songs were made for singing.. Who can forget Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo from Cinderella? Or Uncle Remus singing Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah in Song of the South? Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote so many wonderful, singable songs for the musicals. I would spend my allowance on song books that were published with all the lyrics of the popular songs of the day.

Ahhhh... the "cowboy" movies! They were a big influence on me as well. Again, the good guys always won the girls, and rounded up the bad guys. Hopalong Cassidy, Gene Autrey, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, the Lone Ranger and Tonto ~ I loved them all! The Saturday serials could not be missed, and were also great to reenact with neighborhood kids! I loved to hear the rugged cowboys sing.

Even TV in the 50s and 60s had musical variety shows, and there were upbeat situation comedies (without the bathroom, potty mouth humor of today!) like the Dick Van Dyke Show, That Girl, Leave it to Beaver, Ozzie and Harriet, Father Knows Best... I could go on, and I'll bet you could, too.

I think they ought to bring back the big screen musicals. I loved Chicago, Mama Mia, and I think I will enjoy Nine, but it doesn't sound like the kind of happy-go-lucky musical that creates happy, positive people like the old time movies. I would love to see the return of the TV musical variety shows as well. Ed Sullivan, Dean Martin, the hootenannys of the 60s! It was hard to be in a bad mood after viewing these shows.

You can see from this picture, Jean and I never got over our love to entertain, although it took some coaxing to get her to wear the belly dancer costume and dance with me to Little Egypt at one of our big 4th of July parties. We had the most fun while trying on costumes at a local shop, wearing our "granny" glasses and giggling the whole time! Gee, I miss her.

Throughout my childhood, and well into my adulthood, I had two beautiful older women in my life who encouraged me, praised me, and loved me unconditionally. One was a cousin my grandmother's age who shared her religious beliefs with me in the gentlest of manners. She would take all of my spiritual questions seriously, and if she didn't have an answer right away, she would say, "I'll get back to you on that". And she would. Her name was Brooksey, and she took beautiful pictures in and around her home, even setting up a rudimentary darkroom. I got my love of photography from her, as well as her loving outlook on life.

The other was my paternal grandmother that everyone called Mom. I cannot remember a time that either of these kind women were critical of or mean to me. If they were, it must have been in such a constructive way that I didn't even realize it. For as long as she lived, Mom wrote me every single month. Once, when I remarried for the second time, I wrote Mom about my new husband. She wrote back, "Marilyn, I'm sure we'll love Win. You have always shown such good judgment in the past." I saved that letter, and still get a huge laugh every time I think of it. In her eyes, I could do no wrong
And then I read Norman Vincent Peale's Power of Positive Thinking, and Psycho-cybernetics, written, I believe, by a well-known psychologist of the day. Up until that time, I got most of my information on living and parenting from such magazines as Ladies' Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, and Redbook. A whole new world began to open up for me. It took quite a few years for my shift from Pollyanna and purely innocent beliefs (I am still called an idealist, but I take that as a compliment) to grown-up perspectives on the connection between mind and body and the power of the word, but I was on my way! And I still loved to dance and sing while I was doing it.
I visited the bald eagles' nest again last week, and I was thrilled to find one of the eaglets still there. I watched for over an hour with my camera poised, set on zoom. The most this little darlin' ever did was flap his wings and hop into and out of the empty nest. I don't know if he is able to fly yet, but his wings got a lot of action. As I was leaving, I spoke with a gentleman who had set up two cameras on tripods with long zoom lenses. He said he had been there for over three hours. The adult pair left shortly after he arrived and had not returned. This was unusual for them to be gone that long. The Saturday before, this man watched both adults and the two fledglings being extremely active ~ the adults flying back and forth and the fledglings in and out of the nest. I had an enjoyable hour in spite of the absence of the other eagles, and left promising myself I will be more diligent next year when they return to nest again.
(March 27, 2016)
EDITOR: I re-read this post for the first time in ages. I wondered at the change in the link I had for the company. Research showed me the company not only went bankrupt, but the CEO Claudio Osorio and CFO Craig Stanley Toll were sentenced to prison for conspiracy and wire fraud. You may read about their convictions here Law 360. I guess I should follow up more closely on some of the events I write about!

I want to write more about the progress of the Haitian relief effort. There have been some exciting developments in the way of affordable housing, designed by noted architect Andres Duany, being manufactured by a Miami-based building manufacturer, InnoVida Holdings who is donating 1,000 of the small homes free. Sadly, another earthquake in Chile and now Turkey are really putting a burden on relief agencies. Even a $5 donation, when multiplied by thousands ~ or millions ~ can become a mountain of supplies. If you cannot do that, then pray. If you cannot do that, then hold a picture in your mind of those beautiful, happy people living in safety, well-fed, and able to get on with their lives. After all, thoughts are energy. And every good thing is made up of energy! So please send some positive energy their way.

I am holding pictures in my mind that show each of my friends and family reading this having a beautiful, prosperous life filled with all the "good stuff"!

Love and peace,

After first posting this, I received an email from a dear friend and high school classmate. She wrote so delightfully about her own "movie memories" that I asked her if she minded if I shared it with you all as well. Here it is, and I hope too many haven't already read the blog:

"Oh, Marilyn, how your writing blesses me every single time."

"I can absolutely relate to the movies we saw during those formative and teen years. I was and still am a movie groupie (although there are so few made in the present time that bring this kind of enjoyment). My movie idol was Doris Day. I knew and constantly sang all her hit songs and learned to play them on my piano. Like you, a lot of Saturdays when I was very young, Martha Northington and I would spend a good part of the afternoon in double features at the Texas Theater on the very front row. When we finally would leave our eyes would be so red and strained that we could hardly walk out into the sunlight. On one of those Saturdays we went to Martha's and held a "funny book and lemonade" sale in front of her house. I can't remember whether or not we ever sold any wares, but we had high hopes and enjoyed the endeavor so much. Roy Rogers and Dale Evans and Gene Autry and his wonderful horse were some of the early movies enjoyed on those Saturdays. Also, the Lassie series had us crying our eyes out, and I think there were some heart rending horse movies as well. WOW! What innocent times those were, and how I love those memories.

When Grady and I married I was still in the frame of mind that all you had to do to be eternally happy was to get married and have children and, of course, live happily ever after. It didn't take long before I was disabused that movieland fantasy and learned that life as well as marriage and motherhood takes a lifetime of work and is often filled with disappointments and heartaches, as well as joy and beauty. But when I married at 18, these facts just weren't in evidence. There were no wonderful lifetime classes in high school to introduce us to the household financial, physical and emotional stresses involved in marriage and making a home. Don't misunderstand me, I wouldn't have missed a moment of being married to Grady Curry, but we both would have benefited so much from having had some pre-marital education and parenting skills before embarking on almost 35 years together and having five children all born in the first ten years of that marriage. I've often wished my children had had the benefit of parents who knew how to raise them instead of just growing up with them. Nevertheless, God has been eternally faithful in being present every single day of that time and still is.

Thanks, Marilyn, for the journey down that memory road, reminding me of how much fun I really had and how much I loved those movies all through those years. Like you, I really believe they were what formed my eternal optimism which, by the way, I still have all these years later."

With love,

1 comment:

  1. Another classmate and friend, Glenn Smith wrote the following:

    "Hi Marilyn,

    I greatly enjoyed your latest blog post and also liked June Hash Curry's memories of Saturdays that she and Martha Kay Northington spent at the Texas Theater. I know that Jerry Eoff also spent many Saturdays at the Texas, though I don't remember how young he was when that started. I was in the Texas Theater only once before I was 15. When I was 8, my older sister Evelyn took me to see a Tarzan film there. I remember the Movietone News reel, the Bugs Bunny cartoon, and that I was terrified of the evil tribes who were on the verge of doing Tarzan in.

    At 15, Judge Rampy granted a waiver so I got a driver's license. I started driving to town to see films at the Texas Theater with Jerry. It seems to me that for a quarter we could each get a drink, a big box of Milk Duds, and admission. The 25 cent bargain didn't last long before going to .35 and then .50. Admission and a drink and a snack would now cost $13 to $14 with a senior discount. Does that mean inflation has been 5600 per cent in 55 years?

    I still want to see only films in which the hero and the leading lady get together and live happily ever after. No wonder that I saw Man of Lamancha on stage in London twice. I feel as if I have been charging windmills all of my life. Don Quixote seems like a normal guy to me."