Monday, June 30, 2014

My Interview With Ed Sullivan

In high school I was part of a weekly radio program called “Teen Talks” in Eugene, Oregon.  We heard that Ed Sullivan was coming to town with a small group of actors, including Tyrone Power, Raymond Massey, Judith Anderson and Martin Gabel to perform "John Brown's Body" in McArthur Court, the largest performance space in town, mostly used as a basketball court.

Several weeks before his arrival we wrote a letter to the “Ed Sullivan Show” requesting a personal interview with him.  Much to our surprise, and delight, our request was granted and we were given instructions to hold the interview behind stage at the intermission.

The radio station’s sound engineer brought along his wire recorder for the event and we were introduced to Mr. Sullivan.  I don’t remember the relevant questions we might have asked, like who was his favorite interview, or
My interview with Ed Sullivan, May, 1955
how was he able to transition so successfully from a writing career into television. 

When I am in the presences of famous people, and much to my detriment, I completely lose my composure, thinking I will make a stupid statement and true to history I did with Mr. Sullivan.  Out of nervousness I asked, “How tall are you, Mr. Sullivan?” and he said “Why, five ten.” And I replied, “No you’re not. I am five ten and you are shorter than I am.”  He kindly said that I must have been wearing heels – which I wasn’t.  I was so embarrassed by myself that I froze and my companions breached the etiquette bump and asked some more relevant questions.

Much to Mr. Sullivan credit he was a complete gentleman and couldn’t have been nicer to a small group of inexperienced teens. 

Thank you Mr. Sullivan wherever you are, and I am sorry to report that I still have this composure impairment and still make a fool of myself in the presence of greatness.  I hope I never have to meet the Queen.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Hands of the Past

The river races downhill to find the sea in the end but in its journey passes along the most amazing scenery. At first the water behind the dam is placid, gently flowing even hardly moving it seems.  I dangle my arm into the water and it is cool, not cold but a refreshing dip against the scorching heat.  My inflatable raft slowly meanders, as though the river is guiding me. 

I see something and row to shore to find some petroglyphs which are subtle reminders of years past when indians camped along these banks, handprints and crude drawings of animals, perhaps wishing for a good hunt.  I linger having a sandwich and big gulps of water and wonder about these people from the past surviving on their own, skilled hunters and gatherers a nomadic life dependent on the seasons.  It is so quiet as though the rock walls absorb all sound and I am completely serenely and alone.  But I know what is ahead and must continue my journey.

The river becomes narrower the water more free flowing and I am on alert, anticipating what I think I know what is coming.  The oars are really too big for my hands and arms, but I know their power will be needed for the tough stuff ahead.

The cliffs seem to rise up ever higher and close in on either side and I am running much faster.  I do my best to keep myself on course and as we gain speed I am on the lookout for boulders just beneath the surface.  They cause a slight eddy and I know the dangers and must read the water well.  I strain against the power of the oars trying desperately to stay on course. I must pace my energy knowing full well that things are going to be more difficult.

The soaring red cliffs begin to funnel the river into a rushing roaring frenzy and I am beaten about, thrown against the side of the raft and I must regain control or I will be a goner.  Water crashes over the sides of my craft dashing buckets full on over my heated body and it seems all of Nature’s forces are working against me.  But I will regain control and at the end of the journey at the sea I will beach my craft and walk along the shore of the affluent river now just a gentle beast exhausted from its journey southward.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Sonoran Hot Dog

The best hot dog I ever ate was without a doubt the Sonoran dog I had at El Guero Canelo in Tucson.  It is a cultural event to be experienced without restraint.  I am so grateful for my friend, Carol Morrison, who introduced me to this special treat. 

This is how they make them.  First they take a bolillo bun, a kind of slightly sweet roll, quite wide and split it.  Then they grill big fat dog wrapped with bacon until the bacon is fused to the dog.  Then they plop the dog on the bun, add hot pinto beans, chopped onions and tomatoes then they squiggle on yellow mustard and mayonnaise, and a dollop of jalapeno salsa.  After getting the dog from the pick up table head over to the condiments table to add other stuff like chopped jalapenos, sliced mushroom, shaved cheese, chopped onions, pico de gallo, sliced radishes, sauerkraut, lime slices and chopped tomatoes.  It costs under three dollars and makes a mighty fine lunch.  

I would highly recommend the stand on south 12th street.  One feels like one is in a food stand in Mexico.  On a hot day the walls of the stand fold up and customers eat on tables in the shade of the roof – although they have electric fans on full blast, too.

I returned to El Guero Canelo a few months ago and was a little disappointed to see that they had tarted up the 12th street stand with windows and air conditioning, no doubt more comfortable for their visitors but takes away a little of the authenticity I appreciated in the past.  The Sonoran hot dogs are still dynamite.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Crazy for Palms

I am absolutely crazy about palm trees. Don’t ask me why this girl born of Douglas fir, cedar and western hemlock would be attracted to this tree of the tropics.  I can so clearly remember the first time I saw a real one.  In college two friends and I drove from Eugene, Oregon to San Francisco for spring break.   We stopped for gas after about a 10-hour drive and I spotted my first palm tree. I was immediately smitten with these almost absurd looking plants, tall skinny trunks which blossom out in a riot of awkward looking branches.  I felt like I was returning home from some long arduous journey taking many generations, perhaps an ancient warrior returning from a crusade to see the sentinels of my homeland.

Imagine how enraptured I was when I went to Puerto Rico for Peace Corps training.  I was quartered in a casita deep in the tropical rainforest among a huge variety of exotic plants, climbing vines, orchids, huge leafed plants, and the spectacular flamboyant trees in enormous bright red blossoms.  I clearly remember an Outward Bound survival swim we were taken on a very windy day to a little cove.  The swim was easy for me and we had to go out quite far around a buoy and back to shore.  It was so easy for me that I swam on my back so that I could look over at shore and admire the palm trees fronds bent over to one side.  I figured that these wonderful trees can withstand a hurricane.  Something to keep in mind in the future.

My master bedroom bath has a palm tree design on the shower curtain, a print of a palm from Kew, the Royal Botanical Garden, London hanging on the wall.  My guest room has a print of a Travelers palm from the Raffles Hotel in Singapore, a gift from my sister.  I have several towels embroidered with Palm trees on them, a bar of soap covered in cellophane with a palm print on it.  There is just something about them that makes my heart race a little faster.

Two years ago I went out to Molbecks in Woodinville and purchased my very own palm tree a Trachycarpus fortunei or Chinese Windmill which can withstand temperatures below freezing.  I am thrilled with it.  I’ve planted it out on my terrace and on hot days in the summer, I put my aluminum folding chair beside it with a cold glass of lemonade and pretend I am in Puerto Rico once again.