Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Finding the Grave of Carson McCullers

Last Sunday, Hannah and Ivan went searching for the grave of writer Carson McCullers at Oak Hill Cemetery in Nyack, New York.

This is what they found.

Searching for gravesites seems consistent with our theme of late here at S@4AM.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Mario Vargas Llosa Wins the Nobel Prize

Mario Vargas Llosa of Peru has won the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Mr. Vargas Llosa, 74, is one of the most celebrated writers of the Spanish-speaking world, frequently mentioned with his contemporary Gabríel Garcia Márquez, who won the literature Nobel in 1982, the last South American to do so. He has written more than 30 novels, plays and essays, including “The Feast of the Goat” and “The War of the End of the World.”

Every year, the Nobel selection makes me feel stupid. I have read only one of Mr. Vargas Llosa's books, Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter (1982?), and that was so long ago I can barely remember the plot. I will have to order several of his books and get to work.


In the "More Bad News" department, Marcia's father fell at some point last Thursday or Friday (we're not really sure when) and broke his hip. He was operated on on Saturday, and is not doing well--he is mentally no-longer-in-the-world. We went to see him last night and Marcia was the only one who could go in the room. I waited in the hallway with the boys. Had we known how he was, we would not have brought them.

Marcia and I are okay, but Carlos and Liam are having a difficult time with all of our recent deaths and medical problems, so please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.

There is more going on than I have shared, but some of this may explain why I have been such a bad blogger--and not much of a friend--in recent weeks.

I would not want to repeat the past six months.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Margaret Blymier Lee (1922-2010)

While we were in Gearhart, Oregon, attending the memorial service for Marcia's mother, Marcia's aunt died in Evanston, Illinois.

We will be attending Aunt Margaret's memorial service next Friday in Skokie.

Here is an obituary:

A memorial visitation for Margaret Blymeir Lee, longtime professor and administrator at Northwestern University School of Education and Social Policy, will take place Friday, October 8, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Donnellan Family Funeral Home, 10045 Skokie Blvd., Skokie.

Lee died on Monday, September 13, at the age of 88.

Margaret Blymier Lee was the aunt of Marcia Kennedy (Greg) Rappleye of Grand Haven, Michigan, and Margaret Kennedy (Roger) Plichta of Muskegon, Michigan; great aunt of Carlos and Liam Rappleye, sister of the late Julius Blymeir, James Blymeir and Florence Arenz; sister- in- law of Robert Arenz of Gearhart Oregon; and special friend to Fran Birndorf of Evanston.

A longtime Evanston resident, Lee joined the Northwestern faculty in 1958 as an assistant professor and later became a full professor. In 1979, she was appointed associate dean for student affairs and undergraduate programs at the School of Education and Social Policy.

Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the Northwestern professor emeritus earned a bachelor’s degree in history and English from Kalamazoo College, a master’s degree in clinical psychology from the University of Michigan and a doctorate of education in administration of pupil personnel services and counseling psychology from the University of California, Berkeley.

Lee was an elementary and junior high school principal in the 1940s and 1950s and, from 1956 to 1957, principal of Washington School in Evanston, Ill. At Northwestern, she taught classes in educational psychology, counseling and personnel services, human development and secondary education instruction, among other subjects. She also was a very popular undergraduate and graduate adviser who over the years kept in touch with many of her former students.

Donald R. Rappleye (1924-2010)

RAPPLEYE, DONALD R. - Of Jackson, Michigan, passed away Friday, October 1, 2010, age 85 years. Survived by his wife of 58 years, Bernice G. Rappleye; children, Pam (Tom) Dolan, Greg (Marcia) Rappleye, Mark (Sally) Rappleye, Cynthia (Chet) Teater, Brian (Peggy) Rappleye and Christopher (Anne) Rappleye; 14 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren; brothers and sisters, Mary Elizabeth (Bob) Eisele, James (Kate) Rappleye, Willard (Delores) Rappleye and Margaret Tobin; numerous nieces and nephews. He was a U.S. Airforce Veteran of World War II. Donald retired after 30 years of service from the Jackson Public Schools where he was Grade Counselor at Parkside. He loved to cook and worked at the St. Mary's Harvest Dinners. The Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Church Monday at 2:00 p.m. Interment St. John's Cemetery. The Reverend Robert Pienta officiating.

The family will receive friends at St. Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Church on Monday from 1 to 2 p.m.

The obituary omits the most important facts of my father's life--that for many years, he owned a drive-in restaurant in Indian River, Michigan (very near the bridge to the upper peninsula of the state), and that our family spent every summer working in that restaurant--half the kids working the day shift, half working nights. We lived in a fifty foot trailer, twenty feet behind the backdoor of the drive-in.

Therein lies a memoir that would likely be read as fiction.

I won't be going to my father's funeral. He will have this instead.


The man at the picnic table
in front of the root beer stand
in northern Michigan is my father.
Do you see his sign,
twirling through the piney air?
There are two hours until he opens,
and he's drinking a cup of black coffee,
making a list for the salesman
from the wholesale grocery,
who'll be banging at the backdoor
after the noontime rush. The sun
angles from the gas station and across
the parking lot,
where crows compete for popcorn
dropped by last night's customers,
mostly teenage kids,
on vacation with their parents
from the suburbs of Detroit.
It's the summer after the summer
their city burned. Martin is dead and Bobby is
dead, and Nixon is yet to come.
Denny McLaine is flaming his way to 31 wins,
and America thrashes in the bed
of Southeast Asia. But in a tourist town,
traffic is what matters.
So my father lays his pen down
to watch the passing cars, subtracting out
the junky Fords and pickups of the locals.
Inside, the hired woman wipes a rag along the counter
and begins to sing a hymn,
her voice carrying through the screens
and rolling sweetly below the canopy
that shelters as many as fourteen cars
on rainy afternoons. My father's eyes
are gin-clear, and he's sketching out plans
to add barbecue after the Fourth of July.
He counts three good car hops,
four sons and two daughters,
old enough to hold their own
through the heaviest dinner hour.
The season hasn't really begun, but already
he's had thousand dollar days.
My father smiles. His lot is
full, he imagines the rush,
as his hand strikes something
from his list. And I'm the skinny boy
you see, legs furiously churning,
rounding the corner from the old highway
to the new, sprinting toward the pylon
that rises from that one-story building
like a jagged orange fin, who sees his father smiling
and believes, against all the evidence,
that he might be the reason why.

-Greg Rappleye

Friday, October 01, 2010

In a Moment of Crisis, I Turn to the Coen Brothers