Be sure to scroll down when you see this picture.

Magic Margot Shoebox is a collection point for all that I hold dear - and that's a lot. My recent inspiration is Don Floyd's new blog thecaptainandthomasine.

The original title of my blog "Chihuahuas for Change" popped into my head two years ago when I was looking for a place to "store" all the information I accumulated on Sarah Palin. I've since dumped that information as others have done a far better job researching and accumulating.

Life is about change and since I have darling Libby the chihuahua the title seems to still be fresh.


One can pay back the loan of gold, but one dies forever in debt to those who are kind.

"Nullius in verba" Take no one's word for it.
Do your own research.

Success if going from one failure to the next with enthusiasm. Winston Churchill




I told you this is a shoebox and we all know that we simply put stuff into a shoebox in no particular order. That's how things are going to appear here. When something whaps me over the head you will be the first to know.

Right now, I want to tell you about my favorite blog in the whole wide world - Margaret and Helen. Hope you go read their post called "I can see November" - while there note their statistics. A grandson set this site up and it's been around the world several times. Margaret and Helen have been friends for over sixty years and counting.

Don Floyd and I have been friends for more than thirty years and counting. We first became pen pals in the late 70's. We are cousins and share a passion for genealogy. My major project this year was helping Don get his book "The Captain and Thomasine" published. Will give you more details in later post.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

WHAT A YEAR - 1998


Monica who?  Just think, this time last year no one except a few friends, her parents and the President of the United States knew Monica Lewinski.  What a difference a year makes. In fact, things are going so thick and fast that even one day makes a big difference. Wednesday December 17, 1998 was such a day. In one twenty-four hour stretch the nature of the past year rotated 180 degrees.  At 5:15 we turned on the news to see how the House of Representatives hearing on the topic of impeachment were going and got a real surprise.  World events were deteriorating by the nanosecond.  I suppose even a nanosecond was a bit lengthy since events had taken a right angle turn and the picture on the screen was the eerily florescent green typical of a night vision camera.  Through the  phosphorescent green flew shooting stars of bombs.  “Holy smoke” I yelled, “We’re bombing Baghdad again”.  Its been that kind of year.

November of 1997 was the beginning of this incredible personal and public episode.  Mark was in Egypt when news came that things were not going well Iraq.  We all wished he would return home soon.  He did but the night he arrived back in Savannah Page called even as she could hear the planes coming in over her apartment at Mall Boulevard and started wondering if she should call off her engagement.  She had arrived at that time of “oh my gosh I’m really going to make a commitment”, and Mark’s imminent arrival created a personal deadline for her.  A secondary deadline was the knowledge that within two weeks they would join both sets of parents in Florida in an event that would really mark the beginning of their wedding plans.  It was a natural reaction that everyone feels on the threshold of a life-changing event.  She pulled herself together, went to meet him at the airport and one way or another resolved that they were meant to be.  Plans for a Thanksgiving family get together proceeded nicely, and the event was all it was meant to be.

Within three weeks of Thanksgiving both Mark and Page made the decision to find other homes for their dogs Rio and Elvis.  Dogs are like children and as much as one might wish to get rid of them, the actual act is wrenching.  Elvis went to the mid west and Rio traveled by plane to Tampa and a meeting with her new owners who have young children as well as a yard.  Tearful good-byes at the airport and then joyful reunion with grandmothers and parents and on to the cruise.

Christmas 1998 was a family reunion on the S.S. Veendam for a Caribbean Cruise.  December 18 was the big day, but before leaving for the port in Fort Lauderdale the group went to the photographer for a family portrait and to celebrate Gee Ma’s 88 birthday.  At the party everyone received holiday gift shirts of the “eight tiny reindeer’ as well as Santa, Mrs. Clause, Rudolph, the Grinch and our tiny elf, Mark. 

Annette, Page, Margot, Steve, Elena, Steve, Laurie, Jerry, Jane Ashton, Susie and Beth all traveled to Fort Lauderdale to meet Eric, and all thirteen boarded the ship for a week cruise into the Caribbean.   We ate, drank, talked, danced and explored.  Susie and Margot walked their legs off to get “punches” in their exercise cards and Page and Mark concentrated on earning “Veendam” coffee mugs.  Santa arrived by boat just off St. Johns in the Virgin Islands.  The trip was memorialized by a group shot in the grand staircase with everyone dressed in their reindeer shirts and antlers.  We returned spoiled, but knowing each other better.

The trip on the high seas cleared our thinking and by the time we returned it was clear that Page and Mark needed to change their wedding date.  (Having their wedding on June 20 would mean an unnecessary separation while Mark took his new assignment in Pittsburgh.)  We unpacked our bags from the cruise and immediately started making plans for an April wedding.  It took a number of phone calls and resulted in the loss of one bridesmaid and one groomsman (what luck – we’re still even), but April 18th was selected.  Now the real planning could begin.

Organizing the cruise for thirteen had been like moving troops overseas, but it was only a minor exercise compared with the “all out war” mode we went into planning for the wedding.  Suddenly everything was urgent with the dress being the only certainty since it had been selected right after the engagement was announced.  All else was to-be-done.  The wedding in combination with the resumption of Steve’s Missouri case meant we went into all out attack mode.  Page and I did some preliminary planning by phone, then scheduled face to face meetings with all the “vendors”.  We lost the Cathedral with the change of date and we got cold feet over having a reception in the park since it was an El Nino year and the weather super erratic.  In the midst of all the changes and planning Steve discovered that the selected church didn’t have an organ.  Well, --no daughter of his was going to get married without both an organ and a trumpet. We scratched that church and went on the hunt for a suitable edifice.  The new selection turned out to be perfection.  Not only was the church lovely, but full of Easter flowers the likes of which $5,000 couldn’t have purchased.

Not only was the church wonderful, but the organist was a wealth of contacts and information - a real pro - and with the help of organization, good luck and a cell phone Page and Margot arranged most of the details in one small weekend in January.  While Margot and Page were planning the perfect Savannah wedding Mark concentrated on selling his home.  Luckily it sold fast, but then everything including Page’s furniture had to go into storage while Mark went to Kansas for training.  (The furniture had its wedding before Page and Mark.)  Page was left with rather skimpy furnishings made up of a large popcorn can with a glass top for a table and one small lamp.  It was on this table that she addressed all two hundred and fifty invitations in perfect calligraphy. 

A train trip to Clearwater in February for a bridal shower added a party to a special weekend of planning the flowers and selecting the veil with her grandmother.  Gifts started to stack up in my foyer and everyday brought another pile of responses, and the need to shuffle people around at the reception tables.  Two of the nicest responses came from former neighbors.  We were thrilled that the Valentines and Bensons would be attending.  It certainly doesn’t seem possible that more than twenty years have elapsed during which time the “Trowbridge Trawlers” have all grown up. 

Margot and Steve had planned a trip to the Philadelphia Flower Show long before the wedding speedup up, and so right in the middle of wedding plans they took off for a week in Pennsylvania seeing glorious sites.  From Philadelphia Steve went directly to Missouri for another round of hearings, and did not return until two weeks before the wedding.  Time was getting shorter and shorter.

The wedding was perfection.  Everyone stayed at the De Soto Hilton.  We arrived five days early giving us time to meet and enjoy Mark’s family as they came into town.  We had several dinners together and walked around the lovely town for hours. April 18th was a perfect day and all of the plans pulled together beautifully.  Savannah is the most romantic city and the wedding with its military honor guard was a most romantic event.  Page and Mark left on Sunday morning, and we partied on going to Cleary’s for breakfast and revisiting all the “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” haunts including a trip to Bonaventure Cemetery for “cemetery dirt” to bring bad luck to the FDIC in their hearing against Glen Garrett.  On Monday following the wedding we delivered the presents to Page’s apartment and showered the empty place with confetti as we left.

In this year of party party we couldn’t leave July 4th untouched.  Susie, Beth, Page, Mark, Margot and Steve joined Eric in Boston for a real July 4th celebration.  There were two highlights.  First, the walk through the old cemetery (at dusk) where Samuel Adams is buried followed by fireworks on the Esplanade accompanied by The Boston Pops.  We used our cell phone to call all those who were not with us to let them know we were thinking about them..  We all decided that we simply had to return to Martha’s Vineyard again.

Our goodbyes were short lived as we knew we would meet again in Atlanta on July 25th for Elena and Steve’s wedding.  Margot and Steve were terribly relieved not to have the planning project for this event.  As Lyn Schlaug said, “Just show up, wear beige and keep your mouth shut.”   The wedding was lovely and we were so glad we had met many of Elena’s family at earlier events.  The day was perfect and the reception was delightful at Rivermont Country Club.  My best memory was the sight of Steve and Mark sitting on the sewer lid at 5690 Cannonero Dr. smoking cigars just at dusk following the reception while Elena packed to go on their honeymoon.  It brought back all kinds of memories of past years on Trowbridge Cove with the kids sitting on the sewer lid at dusk talking about life.

August was not a quiet month; just different.  We traveled to Ft. Lauderdale to the Community Bankers convention and to see the opening of Home Federal Bank, then returned to prepare for our Greek and Turkey Odyssey, but first there was a side trip on Labor Day to Pittsburgh to see Mark and Page’s new home.  Pittsburgh is a wonderful place.  Forget all the negative things Pittsburgh might bring to mind.  It is a perfectly charming town full of very intelligent looking people and beautiful neighborhoods.  The absolute highlight of the trip was an expedition to East Liverpool in search of the elusive James Blakely.  We stopped at the pottery museum and saw some Blakely items as well as learned the details of the old family story that began with “Blakely Looses Millions”. We walked the town, scouted out the old Blakely property, found the bridge, cemetery and yes, the hospital – all the players in the Blakely history.  Even met a Vodry descendant of a former Blakely partner.  What a thrill to be back in this place where so much family history occurred.  As an extra treat we went to the library in Pittsburgh and found revealing new family information in a random book that Margot picked up just on intuition. 

Back in Florida for a quick wash of clothes, trip to the bank and on September 25th headed to Atlanta for Robin Valentine’s wedding.  We left under evacuation orders as hurricane Georges was bearing down on Florida.  The neighbors all asked if we were evacuating and we said yes, - to Turkey.  Everyone thought that was a bit of an overdo, but given the kind of year its been not completely outrageous behavior.  There was just enough time for Margot to get sick with an infection in her thyroid that made her very tired and achy.  Somehow she squeezed in time to get to the doctor who determined there wasn’t a thing to do for it except take aspirin and the choice was either to stay home and be sick or go and be sick.  We went with a bushel basket of aspirin.

Robin Valentine’s wedding put a nice top on the “year of the wedding” and gave us a chance to reacquaint with the Moores and the Gunns.  There was even a photo opportunity for a regrouping of the “Trowbridge Trawlers”.  Page was there without Mark and slipped away to party with the old gang one more time.  What fun. 

September 28th was the beginning of the six week odyssey that took us to Turkey and Greece and we “left no stone unturned”.  We saw every important city in western Turkey and Attica Greece.  Steve kept copious diaries giving full details, and we recorded every step on video for posterity.  It was a large and wonderful trip, but we missed our home and started thinking fondly of it about half way through the expedition.  Once home we were amazed that the United States is such a lovely clean country and each day give thanks for the opportunity we have to be in St. Petersburg, Florida where things are practically perfect.

Mama is back using her computer.  She checks her stock account ever day and marvels at how rich she’s become.  Her days are full with playing Mahjong all night and watching impeachment hearings and bombings of Baghdad by day.  A phone call to her is certain to start her on those “damn Republicans”, but she won’t have Newt Gingrich to kick around anymore.  Miracle of miracles he resigned while she was on her trip to Greece. 

Today is December 17th and there are two more weeks to go in 1998.  One wonders what they will bring.  Iraq bombing continues, the Republicans continue to debate impeachment even while the bombs roar, the media continues to chew on the same old stories and the stock market continues to make everyone rich.  Where will it end?

December 20th is Jane Ashton’s 89th birthday and a dinner is planned for the Wine Cellar.  Susie and Beth arrive on the 22nd for Christmas and the group will see Beauty and the Beast on December 23rd.  Duff and Sharron are coming on January 6th (the one year anniversary of Monicagate) and we might just start planning a trip to Mexico to see them.  Can’t let those suitcases get mildewed in the closet.

Postscript written on April 18, 1999  Page and Mark’s first anniversary.  Things have continued to hum along at an even faster clip.  We took Gee Ma to dinner at the Wine Cellar and the service was horrible.  Mama said, “that’s what happens when you have full employment”, Bill Clinton was impeached and acquitted, Monica had her fifteen minutes of fame and wrote a book, Mark made Major, Page got a raise, the daffodils Page planted came up, the stock market passed 10,000, and we are now bombing Kosovo daily with lesser shots at Baghdad.  Steve settled the Missouri case and declared a win and got a great “report card” from the client.  Mama talks on the internet daily and has made a killing in the market and Steve and Margot are planning a trip to Iowa for the fourth of July.  All seems well in the family as the 20th century winds down.  We just hope Gee Ma doesn’t run her scooter off another curb and get killed.  If she does her death notice would say she died after being thrown from her horse.  John Blakely died Good Friday April 2, 1999.  The Washington Monument is swathed in scaffolding for repair.

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