ANNIVERSARY THANKS

 

Who woulda thunk it?

     They said it would never succeed, this thing called “marriage.” Suzanne had two failed attempts of matrimony that spanned some fifteen years, and worse yet, my first four marriages ended in divorce court, spanning a total of 19 years.

     Then came the moment in January 8th, 1987 when I was attending a birthday party for an eight-year old nephew, Suzanne walked through the door. She had worked as a hairdresser with the boy’s mother. It was a crowded room, but no one else was there but Suzanne and me. Voices blabbered in the background, but the center of attention was too much of a draw. This woman had a glow.

     Not only was she beautiful in her conservative attire, including high heels and her blond hair fixed to perfection. She had poise. She exuded perfection and confidence. She spoke fluent French. I started posing questions, friendly of course. She was open and forthcoming, nothing to hide, confident. She seemed amused that I was so attentive.

     At the time, we were both still married but separated awaiting the final decree from a judge. We both swore we would never do that again. Yes, we could be friends, but that was all. Not only that, we did not want to field the negative smirks and prognostications from friends and acquaintances.

     I took her to the movies. We went on dinner outings. We went to the beaches. We swore to each other, we would go no further. Though each in our 40s, Suzanne treated the relationship like a string of blind dates, no fooling around.  Getting physical was off limits. (well, for a while)

     After a few months of us both warning myself not to get serious, I realized I had fallen in love. It was the real thing. I thought about her night and day. Nothing in my past could compare. I had met the perfect woman…finally. I only hoped she would feel the same toward me.

     I proposed on Valentine’s Day in 1989 (well, kinda), at a swanky revolving rooftop restaurant in Ft. Lauderdale. After entering the dining room, I stealthily handed the Maitre D a tiny box, gift wrapped, and instructed him to wait fifteen minutes, then bring it to Suzanne. Yes…it was a ring.

     “Oh my,” she exclaimed, before opening the box. “Isn’t that nice. They give away a little chocolate on Valentine’s Day.” She saw me staring back at her with a wry smile. “Oh,” she said, curiously. “That’s not a chocolate, is it?”

     I nodded. This was such an important moment, it had to go right. She saw me starting to tear. She looked at the box, then at me, then the box again. As she awaited my proposal, I remained emotionally choked. I couldn’t talk. So, with a smile, she looked up at me and asked. “Will you marry me?”

     From that day on, we tell people that it was she who proposed to me.

     Planning a wedding was easy. We’d invite no one, except a witness couple. Who needed to hear the jokes and taunts, doubts and negativity? So we eloped to Hilton Head Island, S.C. where my best friend and his wife owned a condo.

     The wedding took place at the Baynard Ruins, a local historical site in the woods and a weathered building that once served as a southern plantation. Only a sampling of coquina walls remained, the floors were dirt and weeds. A Notary Public lady performed the wedding requirements. Friends, Harvey and Judy stood by. Such, my fifth marriage and Suzanne’s third, was finalized. Suzanne was so happy.

     The “reception party” took place on the tranquil beach, just the four of us, with wine and goodies, using a beach blanket under a bright moon that served as a light bulb in the sky.

     That was thirty-one years ago, this date, June 14, 1989.  We are still on a roll.

     Who woulda thunk it?

     Happy Anniversary, my love. Thank you, for being you.  

 

CONGRATS TO AIDAN – FUTURE SCIENTIST

This…from a proud grandfather.

Just wanted the world to know that Aidan Lytle, age 24, a Junior/Senior at University of North Carolina, Greensboro, has received a certificate of High Scholarship in Math and Physics, as he posts a 4.0 grade average.  He is presently researching Heavy Ion Collisions in Nuclear Physics and the effects of network topology on population dynamics in evolutionary graph theory. 

Don’t feel bad, I can’t translate that either.

Yes, he has brains oozing out his ears. Must be in the genes.

Aidan, who is also a Parris Island trained Marine, is also an accomplished musician. Like many of us, he has had his share of struggles in life, but manages to emerge as he reaches for the top. He’s a very special young man.

If you like, please drop a note at the end of this blog…let him know he’s special.

 

               

 

VAUDEVILLE’S LAST MAN STANDING

VAUDEVILLE’S LAST MAN STANDING

 By Marshall Frank                                                                            
This is not about a pandemic virus, or the economy, world war or the rate of crime. No sex, no violence, no destitution. It’s about a little man named Arthur who died in 1941 in a mental institution across the Hudson River from Sing Sing prison. No one was there, but the hospital attendants. No family, no friends.
     So who would care? Who would bother to read this story when, in the year 2020, this fellow would not be known to anyone on planet Earth other than a handful of distant relatives. Why would any writer take the time?
     Stay tuned.
     Arthur was born in 1899 in New York City, one of nine kids whose Jewish parents had set foot in Ellis Island as immigrants from Eastern Europe in 1886. William McKinley was president while the Spanish-American War raged on and the United States welcomed Guam, Samoa and Puerto Rico as new possessions of the United States.
     So what was it about Arthur that set him apart?
     Arthur’s four brothers all grew up to become professional businessmen. His sisters were mostly single women relying, in part, on the brothers for support. While encouraged to get an education, he chose to follow his natural talents to become a professional cartoonist. That eventually introduced him to Vaudeville and all the glitz and stardom that came with it. Arthur was fascinated with live on-stage show business, where he commiserated with singers, dancers, jugglers, musicians, and more, bringing audiences to their feet.
     Arthur met many show-biz stars around the theater circuit who taught to him to dance. He worked up a series of comedy routines while applying make-up to appear as an old man, from the confederacy. His comic dance steps glided hysterically around the stage, only to be dubbed as a “moonwalk” 60 years later by Michael Jackson.
     He always had beautiful dancing girls as straight-women for his jokes. By 1928, Arthur was a huge star, working the same stage at the Palace Theater in Manhattan with the likes of Milton Berle, Ginger Rogers and Rudy Vallee.
     Arthur eventually met his dream woman, Vivien, after she landed a dancing/singing audition at age 19. He was hooked. Then they were married. A redheaded bombshell who could sing plus dance and play classical piano, Vivien easily mingled with the stars of Broadway.
     They were a perfect team. They traveled the Orpheum Circuit around the nation by train, bringing all audiences to howl in laughter in San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas, and more. They also enjoyed bookings at the Palladium in London and other theaters in Paris. This was during the infamous Prohibition Era that sparked the moniker of the times: The Roarin’ Twenties.
     Meanwhile, the depression waged on while Arthur and Vivien earned enough money to not only support themselves, but Arthur’s unmarried sisters as well. Then came a baby boy named Bennett. Vivien had to begin adjusting to a new life staying at home. But, the income was gone.
     By the late 1930’s, Vaudeville bookings diminished drastically as talkie movies and radio emerged as the preferred sources of entertainment. Agents no longer found Vaudeville welcoming. Bookings vanished. Arthur was devastated. He refused any other opportunities in radio and movies. He desperately wanted to continue the embrace of live audiences and the infectious laughter that was so addicting.  Not to be.
     Arthur paced the floors night after night, babbling, singing, writing, calling agents during late hours, smoking four packs a day and writing jokes upon jokes all night long. Now pregnant with another child, Vivien was unable to keep her sanity nor make a living to support two children. Arguments ensued. Vivien went into a state of depression. Doctors determined that Arthur was severely manic depressive and schizophrenic. He was placed in a New York mental hospital called Creedmore.
     The story is sad, indeed. Two years later, at another psychiatric hospital, Arthur was given insulin shock treatment which inadvertently destroyed his immune system. Arthur died from pneumonia in November, 1941.
     The 42 year-old comic never laid eyes on his second son. But as long that second son is still living, Arthur Robert Frank will always matter.
    By the way, today is April 9th. Happy Birthday, Dad.