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!

Some Notes For The Future And A Photo Of Tribute

Many of you must realize that I changed the domain of this blog to discovery and wonder.com.  The primary reason was to include audio files and extended video files.  However, I also decided to split the About page into two parts:  one dealing with the purpose of the site itself(a work in progress) and the other dealing with me and my family.  I thought this would be a far more effective way of presenting the site.  I am also introducing two new categories:  Something to Think About, and  Just for the Feel of it.  The former category will offer selected quotes or sayings, which I hope will be of interest.  The latter category will offer brief excerpts from heretofore untranslated Russian children’s stories and novels.  I must say, however, that I have suspended The Writer’s Friend, and the corresponding blog.  I am working on The Fence and The Field:  A Writer’s Gateway to Self, which includes some of the exercises from that blog.

In concluding, I would like to thank my 86 followers for looking at my posts and offering thoughtful comments.  May this be a year of peace and discovery for all.  And thanks, Mom, for the memories.

Mom and I celebrating Mother's Day 1954.

Mom and I celebrating Mother’s Day 1954.

A Sad And Brief Note

I learned that Mom is in critical condition and that it’s only a matter of days.  I have much to reflect on in the coming week, but I try to stay positive.  She has been ailing for some time, so the news is not unexpected.  However, it’s difficult to lose a family member.  I wish my family the best.

A Train Of Thought

This is the time of year when I go through the 45 family albums and check that all photos are still in place.  Invariably, I have to use double scotch tape to put in some photos that have fallen out.  Memories inevitably arise, and particularly of trains, because they have been a major part of our family’s history.

My Grandfather Johnny(Nathan) had a great love of trains.  Perhaps it was his journey across the ocean from Eastern Europe to New York in the early 1900s that inspired his wanderlust.  Or perhaps he was born with an insatiable curiosity to explore.  We will never know.  But something propelled him to leave his family in New York, hop onto a train, and head for California.  For Johnny, trains became a symbol of freedom and a means of escape.  In fact, when Grandpa Johnny was angry at Grandma Lillian, he would threaten to go a train and leave her.  Grandma and I would usually find him walking to the nearest bus stop(he never drove) and we would pick him up.  However, once we had to drive to Union Station in Los Angeles, and he was sitting in the lobby.  Grandpa Johnny really must have been mad at Grandma!  But they made up, and returned as a harmonious couple to the San Fernando Valley and their home in North Hollywood.

Trains have a special meaning for me, too.  In my early childhood years, I lived on Rowena Street rather close to Griffith Park.  My mother, Twyla, was always a master at organizing theme-oriented birthday parties and she utilized the trains at Travel Town for a few of my parties.  I remember climbing the steps of a train to greet my guests.  It was a jolly time!

In 1959, I received a Lionel train as a holiday gift.  I set it up in my bedroom, and spent hours and hours watching my eight cars speed along the tracks.  The train still exists and I run it for friends who drop by in Medford Oregon.  The cardboard tunnel has long since disintegrated, but two new tunnels grace the tracks.  The train whistle still announces departures.  The station master runs up the stairs of a plastic building. Smoke pours out of the top of Mom’s Diner and another train of thought begins…