Friday, May 23, 2014

Sunshine On a Cloudy Day

Started the morning with more wartime shorts, including the remaining three Looney Tunes military revues. "Fifth Column Mouse" depicts how the war began when a group of mice first try to pacify a cat who threatens them, then fight back. "Meet John Doughboy" spoofs the military's then-current weapons and vehicles. "Hollywood Canine Canteen" is what it sounds like - dog caricatures of popular entertainers of the time, ranging from those still familiar today (Jimmy Durante, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Laurel & Hardy) to ones only fans of the time will remember (bandleader Kay Kyser, radio comedian Ish Kabbible).

Switched to the first Woody Woodpecker set as I did the dishes and got ready to run errands. Walter Lanz only did a few war-oriented shorts, including one for Woody. "Ace In the Hole" takes Woody to an Air Force base. He shaves horses, but what he really wants to do is fly. His commanding officer is less than thrilled when he finally does make it into the air! "$21 A Day (Once A Month)" and "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B" have fun with the pre-war peacetime draft. "$21 A Day" gives us an all-toy army. "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" depicts the musician of the title, who has to get his company moving with his horn...or else! Though the African-American stereotypes run thick and heavy, there's a nice version of the title song, and this is one of the few cartoons of the time to show minorities in the military. "Pigeon Patrol" is the more typical tale of a country bumpkin pigeon who gets his chance to be a hero when he has to fly important papers and get around an evil vulture.

Headed out to the Haddon Township Library around 11. The clouds were in and out and it was windy, but the wind kept it from being too warm. It was probably in the lower 70s. All that snow we had did have some positive results. I've never seen it look so green here. The trees are already filled with soft green leaves. The grass is deep and thick. The buttercups were satiny yellow, and the dandelions were sunbursts. I wasn't surprised to dodge many joggers, walkers, and fishermen who were enjoying the beautiful day and surroundings, too.

(And I noticed that it looks like they're demolishing the round stone pavilion in front of the playground on Lakeside. I always thought that looked pretty solid. I wonder what's going to replace it, if anything?)

The Haddon Township Library was also busy with people on their lunch breaks or amusing younger children. I organized both the adult and children's DVDs. The kids' shelves weren't nearly as overflowing as usual, which means yes, I did manage to get everything on, even the S discs. Took out four movies and two books. Two of the movies were war comedies for Memorial Day Weekend - Mister Roberts and Operation Petticoat. I renewed the live Sound of Music, since I never got to it last week. I generally avoid the Disney Channel live-action TV movies, which are mostly kiddie comedies, but I liked the premise of Teen Beach Movie - two kids are knocked into a classic 60s beach flick and the leads fall for them. It sounds a little like Back To the Future at the beach, and it could be cute.

I've been eyeing the Dear America series at Haddon Township for months. They have quite a few of them (though ironically not any of the ones Linda sent me or I've found at yard sales). I ended up with two stories on the experiences of African-American girls in the early and mid 20th century, Color Me Dark and With the Might of Angels. I also found a book from American Girl's defunct Girls of Many Lands series, Minuk: Ashes In the Pathway, about an Inuit girl in 1890 Alaska whose village is visited by missionaries, in the sale racks.

I was riding across Audubon when I heard my cell phone go off. I pulled over to the side of the road to take the call. (One of the wonderful things about bikes - it's a lot easier to pull over and take a cell phone call.) It was Jodie, inviting me to hers and Dad's Memorial Day party. I told them I'd go later if I wasn't working.

My next stop was Simply Soups in Audubon. It was about the only place I could afford, given I didn't have much money left. Though it was 1PM, the only other people there were two middle-aged men finishing their soups, and they left shortly after I arrived. I had a delicious small cup of Chicken Orzo (rice-shaped noodle) Soup, a huge slab of cornbread that was so big, it came with a fork, and a can of Diet A&W. I read Color Me Dark and enjoyed the view of Pine Street and the railroad tracks.

 I rode across Audubon to the Acme after lunch. I didn't need much for groceries. I was out of cheese (went with part-skim mozzarella), mandarin oranges, bananas, and honey. I had a coupon for Silk's almond or coconut milk. Went with the almond milk, which was lower in calories and on a good sale - the coupon brought it down to $1.99. Found more Acme generic cough drops on clearance for 69 cents and grabbed those. I use cough drops to keep my throat dry leaning over the registers at work.

The Acme did put out glass tea jars again this year. They had three patterns. I went with the sunflower pattern with the red lid. Sunflowers are my very favorite flowers.

I had to wait in the back for my schedule, since it wasn't finished when I arrived. In good news, my hours have gone up, though not to an unmanageable extent, and I have Thursday and next Saturday off. I do work Memorial Day, but only 12:30 to 4:30. I'm from Cape May County; most people work literally all day Memorial Day. My only minor complaints are late days on Wednesday and Friday, but that'll allow me to get some more cleaning done here.

Spent the rest of the evening at home. I've been meaning to rake the side path to my apartment for months, but the weather's either been bad, or I plain haven't had the time. I shouldn't have put it off. There were huge, heavy branches that I had to fish out and drop in a pile in the backyard. The layers of leaves were so heavy, the bottom ones were still wet! It took me a lot longer to do than usual. A job that normally takes 20 minutes to a half-hour took almost an hour. I got attacked by mosquitoes something horrible, too.

Made sauteed leeks and mushrooms with pasta and leftover chicken legs for dinner while continuing my wartime cartoon marathon. The Fleischer Brothers put Popeye in the Navy several months before America actually entered the war in "The Mighty Ensign." Although Popeye seems to have spent a lot of the war fighting Bluto over Olive in shorts like "Kicking the Conga Around," he did see some action. Unfortunately, his action tended to involve nasty Japanese stereotypes, as in "Blunder Below" and the infamous "You're a Sap, Mr. Jap" and "Scrap the Japs" that are so offensive, they've been banned from TV for decades. Shorts with Bluto ("Many Tanks") and Swee'pea ("Baby Wants a Bottleship") are a little easier to take today.

Oh, and I finished Color Me Dark. Nellie Lee Love lives in Tennessee with her family and her beloved sister Erma Jean in 1919. They're thrilled that World War I just ended, but their happiness is dashed when an uncle dies on the way home, and their older brother won't come home at all, and then Erma Jean stops speaking after their uncle relates a secret to her. When Mr. Love takes Erma Jean to Chicago for treatment, he becomes enamored of the city and its opportunities and moves the rest of the family there. While there are many opportunities in the north, there's just as much prejudice, not only against race, but against all of the new immigrants - black and white - who are moving up to the cities. When an incident at a beach sparks a huge riot, Nellie leans on her family for comfort...and her sister finally reveals her secret.

I really enjoyed this. Nellie and Erma Jean reminded me a lot of Rose and me, right down to their preferences for numbers and writing, Nellie defending Erma Jean from bullies, and them being born so close together. (Rose and I are the same age for a week every April. I was born a year before her, but she was born a week before me.) While the prejudice they encounter in Chicago isn't quite as bad as in Tennessee, where lynchings and Klu Klux Klan activities were common, they run into an equally difficult form of elitism. Even wealthy blacks tended to look down on newcomers from the south, who were often poor and uneducated, as well as on white immigrants. I love how close she is to her family, and her description of both life in rural Tennessee and her first views of the big city.

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