Down Memory Lane: My Mom’s 1971 Tour De Force

1971 was a very special year for our family;  my father’s parents(Grandma Lillian and Grandpa Johnny) were to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.  For the occasion, Mom did extensive research into the era of the early 1920’s to try to recreate the wedding in the period’s special style.  To do this, she hired a barbershop quartet, set up Johnny’s Speak-Easy for drinks and created Lil’s Candy Corner.

Cecil Ross with the barbershop quartet

Cecil Ross with the barbershop quartet

Period songs were reinterpreted by Aunt Cecil, the family’s clever lyricist.  For “Frankie and Johnny”, for instance, she made the following change:  “He’s still her man.  For fifty years they can’t be wrong!”  Seven years earlier, Cecile Ross had changed “Hello, Dolly!” to “Hello, David!’ for Grandpa David’s 85th birthday to great acclaim at the El Caballero Country Club.  We all sang her revised lyrics:

from left to right: Donald Yorkshire, Nancy Weiss, Heidi Yorkshire, me, and Wendy Yorkshire is in the foreground. The Yorkshires were the children of my Mom's brother, Buddy, and her daughter-in-law, Analee.

From left to right: Donald Yorkshire, Nancy Weiss, Heidi Yorkshire, me and Wendy Yorkshire is in the foreground. The Yorkshires were the children of my Mom’s brother, Buddy, and her daughter-in-law, Analee.

Grandma and Grandpa were picked up in a 1920’s Hupmobile, and taken to our backyard where the party commenced.  The first thing they saw was our ten-year-old basset, Peter:

Grandpa Johnny with Peter

Grandpa Johnny with Peter

Then, they approached a board that was covered with events from 1921:

Grandma Lillian and Grandpa Johnny in front of a board depicting events from 1921.

Grandma Lillian and Grandpa Johnny in front of a board depicting events from 1921, including pictures of Nancy and me.

Among the many guests that came, we were honored and fortunate to have my great-grandfather, Irving Turner:

Great-Grandpa Turner with Nancy Weiss

Great-Grandpa Turner with Nancy Weiss

But the highlight of the party was the reenactment of Grandma and Grandpa’s wedding ceremony.  Cantor Brown was chosen to officiate instead of a Rabbi.  Great-Grandpa Turner made a brief speech about the approaching ceremony:

Dad with Great-Grandpa Turner and Cantor Samuel Brown

Dad with Great-Grandpa Turner and Cantor Samuel Brown

The wedding ceremony followed, and emotions flowed freely:

Grandpa Johnny and Grandma Lillian stand under the chupah(the wedding canopy).

Grandpa Johnny and Grandma Lillian stand under the chupah(the wedding canopy).

“You may now kiss the bride!”:

Grandma Lillian and Grandpa Johnny do just that as Mom and Dad look on.

Grandma Lillian and Grandpa Johnny do just that as Mom and Dad look on.

Then, a happy meeting with Grandma Lillian’s father and brother:

Grandma Lillian with her father and brother Ralph

Grandma Lillian with her father and brother Ralph

To this day, we are all grateful and astounded by Mom’s Tour de Force:  her special theme-oriented party for Grandma Lillian’s and Grandpa Johnny’s 50th anniversary.

Note:  This blog is not static, and previous posts are often revised,  with photos or videos added.  I welcome your visits and comments!

How My Great-Grandfather, Irving I. Turner, Taught Me A Valuable Lesson In U.S. History.

IMG_5936Every summer, it was a family tradition to visit Grandpa Turner before our Oregon departure.  He lived in a modest apartment on Vantage Street in North Hollywood, California.  When you entered, your nose was assaulted by cigar smoke, which seemed to permeate every piece of furniture in the living room.  His saltine crackers were in their usual plastic container.  Sculpted dogs of various breeds and sizes greeted you from a shelf.  The TV was the essential component, for grandpa was almost always watching some program when we visited.  He especially liked “the fights” and Perry Mason.

Grandpa lived to be 100, surviving a car accident and metastatic cancer of the stomach, which he was told was an ulcer.  The cancer in the stomach was removed and never grew back again.  That was about fifteen years before he died.  He never had a heart attack and maintained excellent health for most of his life.  He liked simple foods, an excellent Havana cigar and good conversation.  He was a real estate broker for many years and was honored by the business community in an article that Grandpa was very proud of.  When I visited him in a rest home, I told him he should be lucky to have a family that cares about him.  He replied with scorn:  “Family!  That’s my family!”, pointing to a picture of himself on the wall.  At that time, when he was 99, his mind began to fail him.  He kept repeating that Grandma Lillian was a “rich widow, kicking up her heels, referring to Grandpa Johnny’s death the previous year.  All in all, he was a character.  However, I enjoyed speaking with him as the following dialogue shows:

“Grandpa.  You’ve been around a long time and have seen many Presidents come and go.  Who was your favorite?  Who made the best impression?”

“They were all a bunch of bastards!”

I now draw a curtain of silence over the whole scene.