Friday, June 26, 2009

June 25th is a significant day

It’s June 25th. (By the time I post this, it will be June 26th, but that’s because I’m at camp, where we don’t have internet access.)

June 25th is a significant day.

Both Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson died today. If, like me, you came of age in the 1970s (a decade that my high school friend Lynn calls “the most socially retarded time in history”), it didn't really matter if you were actually a fan of “Charlie's Angels” and The Jackson 5 or not, because, like it or not, they were two of the most ubiquitous pop culture phenomena of the time.

I only occasionally watched “Charlie's Angels,” and I never owned a Jackson 5 album, or any of Michael's solo albums (I think I'm one of about five people born in 1959 who never bought his “Thriller” album). I wasn't much of a fan of pop music in general, and I don't ever remember listening to Michael on purpose, but that doesn't mean I didn't spend several thousand hours of my adolescence hearing his music. As Donna said, it really was “the soundtrack of our youth.”

As for Farrah, like many people, when I hear her name, I always think first of her famous hair. I never paid much attention to her career after “Charlie's Angels” or her personal life, but I confess to being very touched by Ryan O'Neal's constant presence at her bedside during her last months, and the fact that he had asked her to marry him. It also makes me feel very sad, in a mom kind of way, that their son is in jail on drug charges and wasn't able to be with her when she was dying.

This morning on the way to work I listened to The Writer’s Almanac, and learned that today is the birthday of Yann Martel (The Life of Pi), Eric Carle (The Very Hungry Caterpillar), and George Orwell. It’s also the birthday of George Abbott, who wrote the play Damn Yankees and, according to Garrison Keillor, revised and directed its revival on Broadway…when he was 99 years old!

Apparently it’s a big day for 99-year-olds, because on the front page of today’s Bethel Citizen there is an article about 99-year-old Edna York, who just received Bethel’s Boston Post Cane. Edna went to work part-time at the Bethel Library in 1983, when she was 74 years old, and retired two years ago (at 97) when the library switched to a computer data base. (The Citizen article says: “Had she been young—in her early 80s, she suggests—'I would have taken a class and learned computers,’ she said. ‘I love a challenge.’”) Before the records were kept electronically, her job was to go through the cards for books that had been checked out and were more than a week overdue, and call the offending patrons. Her first reminders were always relatively gentle (and yes, I know this from personal experience), but if another week went by and the book still wasn’t returned, she became a bit more insistent, wanting to know just when you thought you might be able to get that book back to the library. Edna has been living in senior housing—though not an assisted living facility—for the past couple of years, but she finds the quarters somewhat cramped, so she’s about to move into her own little house close to her daughter’s home, a few miles out of town.

Today, June 25th, is the 99th birthday of our dear former neighbor, “Aunt Bertha.” She didn’t have any kids of her own, but our kids were very fond of her, even though Tony told them she was a witch (she played along, and even dressed up as a witch to answer the door on Halloween). She lived across the street, in the oldest house in Greenwood, until about ten years ago, when the state bought her out and tore her house down to make the corner safer. She was none too pleased about it at the time, but her relatives were relieved that she’d be moving into senior housing in South Paris. She’s in a nursing home now, but still “as sharp as ever,” as they say.

Twenty-seven years ago, on June 25, 1982, my mother wrote, in the journal she had started three days earlier, as she prepared to retire and leave Connecticut for Maine for the last time: “Friday—Last day of school!! …I turned over the gavel and office key to Lucy, said goodbye, and took off in my very loaded car by 11:30. Nice day to drive up I-91, and I took my time, stopping at Globe in Littleton for curtains for my new bedroom. Got to camp about 7:30 p.m.—too tired to stop at Eden Lane tonight. Amy came down soon after I arrived, and Greg arrived before dark. Too cool here to open windows tonight!”

And on June 25, 1989, 20 years ago today, Tony and I had our very first date. I came to his house (now our house) on a Sunday afternoon to watch the Red Sox game. We ate Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, he showed me his vegetable garden, and we talked for hours. Eight weeks later we got married...and, given the chance, I’d do it all over again.

June 25th is a significant day.


  1. Your damn blog posts always make me cry.

  2. Me too. I just read this one AND the previous one for the first time. Thanks for that, I'm out of tissues.