Author Archive

Jan 2019

I don’t want realism. I want magic!

I’ve learned from experience that it takes me a week or so to recuperate from the draining, emotional high that a play–especially a musical–conjures within me. During that time, the haunting words of Blanche DuBois in Streetcar Named Desire echo through my mind like a soothing elixir: “I don’t want realism. I want magic!” And what better way to escape from the caustic, trying realism of this world than by immersing oneself in the magic of escapism as created by Hollywood, and in my case, the shimmering movies of Keira Knightley! Atonement. Anna Karenina. The Duchess. I’ve binged watched these evocative movies twice; watching just the movie the first time, then watching it again with the director’s commentary and how the movie was made. I love the “making of” just as much as the movie itself! Sets, costumes, locales, dialogue, and accents are all background players that lure me into their world, like the mythical sirens of old. Their magic is only enhanced by the luminous quality of Miss Knightley’s natural beauty, which is augmented by her chestnut-colored eyes and those incredible Joan Crawford eyebrows. She can also fill to perfection a period, haute couture evening gown or a billowing confection of crinoline, satin, and lace. To me, she is a modern-day Garbo, who, like Knightley, looked best in period pieces. Well, so much for the late-night ramblings of an old fool who loves escaping from this world into a magical one. A kingdom comprised of luscious beauties and dashingly handsome gentlemen callers. A make-believe world of smoldering love that lurks in the darkened corners of grand old houses, and evokes a way of life and a misty, water-colored universe that was and can never be again.

Jan 2019

2019 – Happiness or Joy?

What does happiness mean to you? Perhaps it conjures visions of Christmas morning, unwrapping gifts in shimmering gold boxes while drinking hot cinnamon cider. Or walking along the beach hand in hand with the one you love, watching a tangerine sunset. Laughing till your sides hurt, as a great uncle tells a funny story about times gone by. Could it be your first job, the one you’ve aspired to for years? What about that long-awaited train trip aboard the Trans-Siberian Express, rolling along in plush luxury, while watching lacy snowflakes dance by your window? Everyone wants to be happy! We make chasing this elusive desire a lifelong pursuit: spending money, collecting things, and searching for new experiences. But if our happiness is a direct result of our circumstances, what happens when the toys rust, love is unrequited, health crumbles, money is stolen or lost, and the party of a lifetime slowly dissolves in front of you? Our happiness is dashed. Depression and despair become our only friends. In contrast to happiness is joy. Running along inside us, it’s deeper and stronger. It is the quiet, confident assurance that come what may you will survive. You will indeed rise above adversity. Happiness depends on things and happenings, but joy is a choice. A choice only you can make before you shuffle off this mortal coil. And I think that pure joy is enhanced by a personal relationship with God and His son, Jesus. Again…that too is your choice. So, in 2019, what will it be? Happiness or joy? Here’s wishing my dear family and friends a New Year blessed with joy, peace, and love. 

Dec 2018

A Transforming Song

December 20, 2018, I first heard this song over 25 years ago while sitting in a darkened theater with friends. Christmas was just around the corner. Whenever I listen to it, I’m transported back in time to the beginning of one of the most tumultuous decades of my life, when I too…dreamed a dream. It was not meant to be. And to this day, when the season to be jolly rolls around, I hear this song echoing in the misty-dark hallways of my memory. It brings a tear because I know that my dream has died and cannot be resurrected.

May 2017

Mother’s Day

Mom and me at the beach

Mother’s Day 2017 was spent at home. The demons of dementia are respecters of none, nor do they honor a special day set aside to honor our dear mothers. And this weekend, those demons have been very active, dashing around in my dear mother’s mind, snatching bits and pieces of her memory, jumbling them up and throwing them back at her.

As you know, when things get bad, it’s into the family auto we go; sometimes a ride helps. We saw the sun go down Friday afternoon, came home for a while, and then early Saturday morning we were off again; this time we got to see the sun come up.

Mom slept off and on since then. But thankfully, she’s up now, as sweet as ever. It’s during her spells–as I call them–that I try to remember my mother as she was before in the snap. As a child, my dear parents were always there for me, answering my myriad questions about whatever crossed my mind at the time. We often drove to Pensacola Beach for the weekend in those gentle days gone by; Dad at the wheel of our Nash Rambler, mother riding “shotgun” and me bouncing around in the backseat in the days before seat belts. Oft times at the beach, I’d dash along the shoreline picking up shells and smooth stones that had washed ashore. In the snap, it’s some of those smooth stones that I’m showing my mother.

Seashells for Mother’s Day

A few months ago, while cleaning out our storage room, imagine my surprise when I discovered those same smooth stones in a box of seashells. The boxed seashells were purchased at one of those long-gone seashell shops that once lined Hwy 90 from Pensacola to Bay St. Louis. Mother had saved the box and its seashells, along with the stones, as she did with so many of my childhood trinkets, coloring book pictures, and the like. When another spell traps mother in its sticky web, where she does not know where she is and refers to me as “that boy who looks like my son, Andy,” I’ll think of those smooth stones and those seashells. For they will remind me of time, a happy time of childhood innocence. In a world gone mad, it’s those memories that make life happy once more. And once again, my dad, mom, and I are at the beach gathering seashells and smooth stones, not realizing that we were making memories that would–and have–lasted a lifetime.

Jan 2017

My Dad. A Remembrance.

Dad and Me 5 001Twenty years ago, January 11, 1997, was cold, bitterly cold. The sun was shining, though, its warming rays sprinkling the winter garden of the Brent House Hotel in New Orleans with sparkling rays of sunshine. As I sat quietly reading, “The Nazi Doctors,” I could not wait to tell my Dad about it. I’d inherited my love of history, especially World War II history, from my Dad. We often read the same books about the war, which led to lively discussions around the kitchen table. But on that freezing day, Dad was not capable of talking about books or anything else. Little did I know what that day would hold.

            The 1996 Christmas season had been busy. I’d taken off a few extra days from work to make sure my upcoming Christmas soiree would be as festive as ever. Invitations for December 21st were sent with this schmaltz opening: Never a Christmas morning, never the old year ends. That I don’t think of someone–old days, old times, old friends. The food had been ordered and would soon be delivered. My wonderful, old 2nd Street apartment was resplendent with glistening decorations. A good time would surely be had by all! But a phone call from Mom on December 19th quickly put a damper on everything. “Anthony, I need you. Your father’s sick. Come home now!” Without hesitation, I stopped putting the final Christmas touches on the dining room chandelier and rushed home. What I found was not good.

            “Dad, you okay?” I asked as I entered my parent’s bedroom. His answer was not one that I had expected. “Son, I don’t feel good.” Knowing that my Dad was a man of few words when it came to personal matters, I knew something was amiss. When he ask me to help him to the bathroom, my suspicions were confirmed. By the time he got there, he could hardly breathe. “Dad, I think you need to go to the hospital…what do you think?” He nodded yes. “Mom, I’m calling an ambulance.” And thus began a journey, one that would prove that I was stronger than I ever imagined.

Dad            After sitting for several hours in Gulfport’s Memorial Hospital Emergency Room, a preppie young doctor introduced himself and cut to the chase: “Mrs. Kalberg, we think it’s best for Mr. Kalberg to go to Ochsner. His tests indicate a severe blockage in two arteries, possibly some in the aorta. We can call Ochsner…get the ball rolling if wish.” Of course, we said yes. Dad had had heart surgery at Ochsner in the early 1960s, performed by its founder, Dr. Alton Ochsner. That surgery helped correct my Dad’s heart from the ravages of childhood rheumatic fever. Dr. Ochsner told my parents if they had waited six more weeks, Dad would have died. But for now, Dad would stay at Memorial until after the New Year.

            Mom took the night shift, and I took the day shift. Dad was weak, so weak he could hardly walk, talk, or eat. It was difficult to get him to do any of those things. But the first order of business was canceling my Christmas party. I enlisted the help of David Delk, who called my guests–all 100 of them–and let them know that the party had been canceled; family always trumps a party. While hospitalized, Dad would walk for me when he wouldn’t walk for Mom. I knew why. He was more than aware how delicate she was, both mentally and physically. She didn’t say much, but I knew deep inside she was fearful of what was coming–major heart surgery.

            My journal entry for January 9, 1997, started with these words: “I’m sitting here alone in a celery-green sitting room, which is part of the Surgical Intensive Care Unit at Ochsner…” Leave it to me to write about the room’s interior, which looked as if it hadn’t been redecorated since the 1960s. I also wrote about the families in the room. Some were in tears, some were laughing, but I sensed that everyone was somewhat fearful of the future. I too was one of those people. Mother was in our hotel room. For those that don’t know, the Brent House Hotel is attached to Ochsner Hospital, which is most convenient for families with loved ones there. Knowing my mother as I do, I knew that I’d be on my own for whatever the future might hold. And how true that would be!

Dad's 1992 Train Trip 001            Dad’s surgery was originally scheduled for January 8th. However, it was delayed until the next day due to a child’s emergency heart surgery–hospital rule, children always come first, which is understandable. January 9th did not go as planned either. Dad’s surgery was rescheduled for 5:00 A.M. The Front Desk was supposed to call us at 3:30 A.M. You know where I’m going with this story: they didn’t. I woke up from a sound sleep and knew something was amiss. I called Front Desk. The desk clerk told me it was 5:10 A.M. Yikes! Not a good start to what would be an incredibly long day. I told HER to call the Surgical Unit and inform them why we’d be a tad late! I quickly jumped into some pants, a sweatshirt, and slung a ball cap on my head. I then woke Mom and Dad, got him dressed, and dashed off to the Surgical Unit with Dad in a wheelchair; Mom said she’d  follow right behind once she got dressed. When I arrived at the Surgical Unit, I don’t know who was more apologetic: the nurses, due to the Front Desk snafu, or me for not having a travel clock, back in the day when folks still traveled with such.

            The nurse quickly put Dad in a room and started prepping him for surgery. Once she did, he was placed in a bed in another room with other patients who were waiting for surgery as well. After looking for Mom, I found her, and we went to the room where Dad was. Our pastor, Dr. Kiley Young, came in to greet us. What a surprise! He was there visiting another church member. We prayed for Dad’s surgery and its outcome until the nurse interrupted us. “Mr. Kalberg, it’s time,” she said. In the poignant silence that followed, my Dad’s eyes filled with tears. I’d only seen my father cry once before. It was at my sweet Granny from D’Lo’s funeral. He hugged my mother, who was crying too. He told her he loved her very much. Then he looked at me with his huge brown puppy eyes and said forcefully, “Son, you take care of your mother!” I said I would and with that, he was wheeled out of the room and down a long hallway. Just before turning a corner, Dad looked back at me with a strange, forlorn look on his face. I think he knew deep inside that the surgery would not go as planned. Alas, there had been no time for me to tell him that I loved him or him me.

            For the next five hours, Mom and I cooled our heels in the celery-green waiting room. A few dear family members came to keep us company. It was a delight to talk with them and play catch-up. Occasionally, a nurse would give us an update: All was going as planned. Late in the afternoon, Dad’s doctor came to the room with good news. The surgery had gone well, which surprised the doctor considering all that was done. He’d replaced Dad’s aorta and mitral valves; a bypass was also completed. We all breathed a sigh of relief. Mom and I hugged and kissed our relatives and said goodbye. Dad was resting peacefully in Intensive Care, so Mom and I ate supper. After that, we went to our room, got into our bed clothes, and went to bed. It had been a long, long day! Sleep came quickly. Unfortunately, so did a call from Intensive Care.  

flamingo motel            “Mr. Kalberg, please come to I.C. as soon as possible…your father’s taken a turn,” said a monotone nurse’s voice. “Yes, ma’am. We’re on our way.” Mom was awake when I got off the phone. I told her what the nurse had said. For the second time that day, we quickly dressed and dashed to the hospital. Dad’s doctor met us in a private waiting room and told us what was happening. “Mr. Kalberg has developed some internal bleeding, caused by all the new surgery. This is a serious development, one that I was not expecting. We’re doing all that’s humanly possible for him.” Mom started crying. I held her close to me. “Doc…what’s going to happen?” I asked with hesitation. The doctor looked directly into my eyes and said with great kindness, “Within twenty-four hours we’ll know. I’m very sorry” He smiled, shook my hand, and left.

            The nurse came in and ask us if we’d like to visit Dad. The Intensive Care Unit was huge. There must have been thirty or forty patients in it. As we passed room after room, we could see the patients with tubes and wires all over their bodies. Above each patient was a series of computer monitors recording heart rates and such. Just before we got to Dad’s room, the nurse stopped us. “Mrs. Kalberg, Anthony. I just want to warn you that Mr. Kalberg’s swollen due to the internal bleeding.” Then we entered the room. Mom gasp. I inhaled deeply. Dad looked bad, really bad. The nurse told us that he probably could hear us but could not speak. He could barely move.              

            As we approached the bed, I could not help but notice the tube in Dad’s mouth or the myriad of wires that spun around him like a huge spider web. He was covered in a thick blanket. And like the other patients, hanging above his bed were computer monitors; their green lines and numbers flashing. But it was his face that was the most distressing. He was so swollen, he was almost unrecognizable. His eyes were swollen shut, as were his lips. His face was bloated and jaundiced looking. Mother spoke to him, as did I. But I’m not sure he heard us, much less understood what we were saying. The nurse arrived and said it was best that we leave.

            On our way back to the hotel room, Mom was silent. I’d heard that silence before. It always meant that she was shutting down, withdrawing into herself. I also knew that from that point onward, I’d be on my own. I was accustomed to that too. Being an only child, I’d learned long ago to survive by myself. Or should I say, by myself with God’s help? For the second time that night, we got into our pajamas and went to bed. I fell asleep to the sound of Mom crying.

            The next morning, January 10th, dawned bright and cold. Mom wanted to stay in the room and have breakfast sent to her. I order her some and left. “Mom, I’ll keep you posted. I’m gonna have some breakfast and read in the winter garden after I see Pop. I love you.” She only smiled. It was a bittersweet smile, but a smile none the less. I could only imagine what was she was thinking. At 10:00, the first visit of the day was allowed. The celery-green waiting room emptied and was silent. I once again passed the many rooms with their very sick patients. I paused when I came to Dad’s room. I was not sure what I would see.

            I then heard a very cheery voice. It was one of Dad’s nurses. Her name was Rosie. Kevin and Lilly were his other nurses. I laughed and told them that I was terrible when it came to remembering names, so I’d best nickname them. Rosie was christened  Sweet Rosie O’Grady. Kevin became Kevin Costner. Lilly accepted her Tony as Lilly Langtry. We became fast friends. My journal entries for that day were posted about every two hours after visiting Dad. As the day lingered on, my entries were a mixed bag of fear, sadness, and a bit of anger. Why was this happening and why now? God are you up there? If so, where?

            Lilly told me that Dad’s body had so much excess fluid in it, the doctor had ordered a dialysis machine to help the body drain. Kevin came into the room and started that procedure, as Rosie emptied the urine bag. It was dark and murky. The room reeked of alcohol and disinfectant. Dad still had blood on him for the surgery, which Lilly started to clean. And the noise! Buzzers! People moaning in pain! Family members crying! And above it all the monotonous hum of the lights in Dad’s room!

            I knew that I needed a respite, a peaceful place to unwind and pray. Kevin told me where the chapel was. My last entry that day was at 10:06 P.M. It stated the following: “Have just spoken with the Doctor. He said at this point, Dad’s chances of surviving the following day were slim. And now new machines–one for Dad’s lungs to help him breathe; one to help his heart pump; a blood machine to keep his blood flowing. He’s so bloated and has a sickening, yellow-green color. Oh! Watchman, what of the night?

            My next journal entry stated this: January 11th, 5:45 P.M. Daddy’s gone!

            To this day, I’ve never forgotten those words. They are acid-etched in my memory! Late on the afternoon of January 11th, when the doctor told me that Dad had only a short time to live, I dashed to the hotel room to get Mom. She met me at the door. “Is Frank gone?” she asked, tears streaming down her face. “No Mom, but he’s going fast, very fast. Do you want to come with me?” She paused and looked at me with her big blue, tear-stained eyes. I knew she didn’t want to come. “Will you be okay?” she asked. “Yes, Mom. I’ll be just fine.”

            I then heard a voice on the intercom. “Will the Kalberg Family please report immediately to the Intensive Care Unit on Fourth Floor.” I hugged Mom. I knew this was it. I dashed back to Dad’s room and was greeted by his doctor, along with Lilly, Rosie, and Kevin. They told me that Dad had only minutes to live. The doctor once again said how sorry he was, just as he was paged to another floor with an emergency. He quickly departed. “What’s gonna happened now,” I ask.

            Rosie said that they would give Dad a massive injection of morphine to ensure that he would feel no pain in the end. Rosie said that once that happened, I should watch each of the five monitors. I had a huge lump in my throat. I wanted to cry but couldn’t. I then ask if any of my three new friends were Christians. And to my surprise, they all said that they were. “Okay, give him the shot. But before you do, please hold me, just hold me until it’s over.” And they did. I stood there and watch, as one by one the monitors flatlined. I knew Dad was in Heaven–no more pain, no more tears, no more fears. Only an eternity of peace, love, and happiness knowing that he was Home in the loving arms of Jesus!

            Not a day goes by that I don’t think of my Dad. Oh! How I miss him!

 

Dec 2016

A Day That Will Live In Infamy

uss-arizona

I have two remembrances of this day–one from a dear lady in our church, the other from my dear mother. Here goes: December 7, 1941, dawned cold and wet, here along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The temperature outside was cold and the temperature inside the homes of many Gulfport residences was cold as well. Why? The main gas line providing natural gas to those homes had ruptured. The home of Mr. and Mrs. Reese Bickerstaff, located where the Federal Courthouse now stands, was one of those homes. I rented rooms from Mrs. Bickerstaff in the late 70s and early 80s. Many a morning she would tell me stories of life in Gulfport, “back in the day.” The morning of December 7, 1941, was one of those stories. She told me their cook was preparing breakfast for the family on that morning. Because of the broken gas line their house was “freezing cold.” When the cook ask if the family would be taking the morning meal in the dining room, Mrs. Bickerstaff said, “Heavens no! We’ll freeze to death! We’ll eat in the kitchen!” Why the kitchen? Their stove was not gas but electric and produced just enough heat for that room. As the morning wore on, Mr. Bickerstaff ventured into his study to get the morning paper. He decided to turn on the “wireless,” and it was then, over the crackling airwaves, that he and his family first heard the devastating news about Pearl Harbor.
kaltenborn
It was those same crackling airwaves that brought the news to D’Lo Mississippi. Mother said that she, my grandmother and my uncle had just returned from church. My Uncle Ellis turned on the radio and the clipped voice of H. V. Kaltenborn issued forth. It was then my family first heard of the history-changing events that had taken place thousands of miles away in a sleepy lagoon called Pearl Harbor. Little did my dear family or the Bickerstaffs know, as they listened to the horrific news, that nine Mississippians had already been killed aboard the USS Arizona during the attack. An attack that “Will Live In Infamy.” Lest we forget their sacrifices and the many others who lost their lives 75 years ago today, so that we would remain “The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.”

To read excerpts from my current novel, “A Chasing of the Wind,” please go to my website www.AnthonyKalberg.com . Purchase it on eBay or directly from me via my website. Thank you.

Dec 2015

Santa. Ducks. And Baked Bread.
A Christmas Memory!

The Holiday rush is once again in full swing. Halloween ghosts and ghoulies scare us. Thanksgiving turkeys fill us.
And the twinkling lights of Christmas thrill us. These festive times are filled with family, friends and the joy of holiday memories.

Many of those memories are wrapped in a pretty package of delightful smells. Candy corn. Pumpkin pies. And oyster dressing, thick with bell peppers, parsley, and smoked sausage. Come Christmas, the air’s filled with the sweet scent of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and evergreen. But there’s another smell that conjurers Holiday memories–fresh baked bread!

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Jul 2015

Coast Ghosts

Fall will soon come calling! Cool nights and crisp days. Monarch butterflies and jumping mullet. Popcorn trees draped with crimson leaves. Friday night football. Bonfires on the beach. But Fall is a prelude to something else–Halloween! Halloween, with its ghosties and ghoulies and things that go bump in the night!

We fear the unknown, but why do we gravitate to it–that shadowy darkness at the top of the stairs or that whispered voice in the billowing Gulf mist? Perhaps someone far wiser than me can explain the psychology of fear, but for me the explanation doesn’t matter. I’m one of those people who crave a good scare. And Fall nights are a good time to experience just that.

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May 2015

Ten Years Ago – A Remembrance

It was hot–very hot–on Saturday, August 27, 2005. While sitting in a wicker rocker sipping iced coffee and enjoying the cool of my balcony, I observed over two-thousand people moving steadily along Gulfport’s picturesque 2nd Street. Along the way, homeowners had set up cooling stations comprised of frozen bottles of water and garden hoses spraying a fine mist of cool water. People ran. People walked. They laughed. They perspired. Everyone was out to have a good time for a good cause–the American Heart Association.

As I sat admiring the runner’s determination, a dear friend from church dropped by and ask me to babysit his three-year-old son while he continued the run. I agreed. As little Weston and I built castles out of empty Cheerio boxes, the hot morning passed. Once his father had completed his run, he returned, out of breath and sporting a man-sized thirst. He guzzled down an icy glass of water and then asked a question— a question that would change my life forever. “What are you going to do for the storm. Leave? Or stay?” And then came my never-to-be-forgotten reply, “What storm?”

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Apr 2015

A Tale of Two Libraries – Letter to the Editor

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Feb 2015

Before The Drive-in’s There Were The Air Domes!

They’re all gone now. The Do. The Don. The Beach. And the Moonlight. For those of us who grew up on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, those names conjure up memories of our Drivein theaters. How can you forget going to the submarine races or the passion pit? Remember the little green citronella coil? You’d light one up to ward off those pesky summer mosquitos and then choke to death on the smoke! Remember the cutesy intermission music and the cartoonish hotdogs and popcorn boxes that danced across the screen, tempting you to visit the refreshment counter? What about those chunky gray speakers, with dubious sound quality? Remember Fivedollar-a-carload-night, the car’s trunk usually full to the brim with additional teenagers?

Most, if not all, of the Coastal Drive-ins were gone by the late ‘70s, victims of changing tastes and times and the elements. Pass Christian’s Moonlight Drive-in, located on Hwy 90 where Walmart is now located, was destroyed in 1969 by Hurricane Camille. In a bit of irony, Gone With The Wind was its upcoming attraction. But before Drive-in’s dotted the landscape, another form of entertainment tempted Coastal residents — the Air Dome. An April 3, 1909, Daily Herald article stated, “During all of last summer, a form of amusement enterprise known as the Air Dome became very popular in the cities, large and small, in the North and some parts of the South. Of course, an Air Dome means an outdoor theater, a theater the dome of which is the star-studded sky.”

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Dec 2014

A Scary Christmas Memory

It was a frigid-cold that night in December, 1967. The moonlight on the path through the woods was like a sparkling silver ribbon that lured us closer to our destination: Old Leather’s Place. The older neighbor-hood boys had promised us young-er boys that our Christmas Holiday wouldn’t be complete without a visit to a real haunted house. Earlier that night they first regaled us with stories of a headless ghost who played mel-ancholy tunes on an old piano—his music floating eerily through the late night air, and then they led us into the woods.

Suddenly, lumbering out of the woods that surrounded it, a ram-bling, derelict house materialized. It rested high on thick brick pillars, was enshrouded in peeling paint, and reeked with age. As we approached the house, the older boys did their best to frighten their young charges, but it didn’t work on me. I turned toward the wind, my ears wanting to hear tickling piano music. The words to a favorite Christmas song whistled in my mind: There’ll be scary ghost stories, And tales of the glories, Of Christmases long, long ago.

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Sep 2014

Granny’s Baby-Blue Buick Special

One of my favorite Coastal events is Cruisin’ The Coast. Each year I look Forward to the passing parade of jazzy, colorful cars sprinting along the highways and byways of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. As I sit in my lawn chair on Hwy 90, I’m also entertained by the attire many of the drivers and their riders wear. I especially like seeing a vintage car sporting a lovely lady resplendent in a silk head scarf and and a pair of cat-eye sunglasses, their rhinestones catching the glistening sunlight. A driver complete with a splashy Hawaiian shirt and Bermuda shorts, plus a Montecristo cigar, always rounds out the picture. But of all the classy cars zipping around with their spiffy riders, there’s one that I look for most of all: a 1949, baby-blue Buick Special.

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Apr 2014

The Socialist and the Southern Belle

Did you see the movie Midnight in Paris? It’s a romantic comedy splashed with fantasy. That fantasy begins one midnight when Gil Pender, played to the hilt by Owen Wilson, is whisked back in time to 1920s Paris. On a deserted, cobblestone street, a vintage Peugeot creeps to a stop, a door opens, and a gloved hand bids him enter. He does. Once inside, he discovers he’s in the presence of some of the 20th Century’s greatest writers and artists.

But what if you were whisked back in time? Imagine a balmy summer’s eve on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Gentle waves lap the shore. Ribbons of silvery moonlight dance across the water. Suddenly, out of the dark, you hear the clip-clop of horse hoofs. An elegant carriage approaches. You hear laughter as it glides to a stop. Riding in it are a distinguished gentleman and a beautiful lady dressed in the latest haute couture fashions. They smile, introduce themselves, and you discover you’re in the presence of Upton Sinclair and his Southern belle wife, Mary Kimbrough Sinclair. It’s August, 1915. Europe has descended into the madness