Thursday, April 16, 2015

Grandmother's Wedding Dress

Around the time Aunt Debra's mother-in-law passed away, she learned her mother's wedding dress would be on display at the Ohio State University's Historic Costume and Textile museum's exhibit "And the Bride Wore." My uncle could not get over the timing of it all. After my grandmother (Doris Thomas) passed away in 2001, my aunt donated Grandee's dress, along with that of three of her four attendants (my Great Aunt Lyn was the junior bridesmaid, my Great Aunt Carol was the maid of honor, my grandmother's cousin, Mimi was one of two bridesmaids, the other was a friend of hers). The dresses were kept for decades with my Great Grandmother (affectionately called GiGi my many), and then my Grandmother. 

From left to right: Great Aunt Carol (the Roxyette -- somehow even her statue stands more elegant than the others), my Grandmother (known as Dot to many), Cousin Mimi, and Great Aunt Lyn (her younger sister). It is a shame the men's outfits were also not preserved as the different branches of the military were represented, along with a tux from the time (Great Uncle Russ was not eligible to serve).

The understanding after 70 years is that Grandee's dress came from Orbach Department store. She (or was it my Great-Grandmother, I got lost in the generations, and I know someone will clear this up for me and I can correct it for posterity) made the other dresses. We've seen her wedding album over the years (Aunt Debra is holding it in the picture at the end, I have my Great Grandmother's "parents of the bride album" upstairs). This was the first time we saw the colors of the dresses. In the black and white pictures, they all seemed to be the same color. The detailing on the wedding gown is lost in the pictures, too. Now we saw they have ruffles in the back.

  We were happy the museum put flowers on the side of my grandmother's statue's head because that is how she wore her veil. That is not her original veil. The one pictured is much longer.

The rest of the exhibit was quite small. It had about a dozen dresses from different eras -- spanning over 100 years. One dress had been worn by the original bride, and two of her granddaughters. They broke the exhibit down into categories: something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue (as in non-white wedding gowns), generations, war bride, and local interest. They fell in the category of war brides. 

The text in the first picture reads (couple of minor corrections made by me):
And the bride wore a sheer white rayon gazer dress over taffeta with sweetheart neckline, long sleeves, and dropped waist, and a train. The neckline and sleeves are trimmed with lace-edged ruffle. Similar layer ruffles accent the dress’s long train. The bride was accompanied by a rainbow of bridesmaids. 1945 Doris Jacquelyn Fyfe wore the dress when she married David Thomas on December 22, 1945 in New Jersey.
Doris was born in New Jersey on March 30, 1923, the oldest daughter of Edward and Hilda Fyfe’s three daughters. Her father was an accountant and later a bank president.
David Thomas was born January 29, 1922 in New Jersey to William and Mabel Thomas. William was an electrical equipment salesman.
David and Doris met in high school and began dating when they were fifteen. Their romance continued through high school until David was enlisted in the army for World War II. They became engaged while he was deployed so Doris planned the wedding under the assumption they would get married whenever he came home. David sent money for Doris to buy herself an engagement ring with his mother. When she chose a ring, Doris had a professional photograph taken of her hand and sent it to him overseas.
It was some time, however, before David could come home for his wedding. He served in Guatemala during the war, working with military records, and although the war officially ended with the surrendering of Japan on September 22 1945, he could not get stateside until December. This was probably due to the amount of records that needed processing before he was allowed to go home. Since Doris had to plan a wedding that could happen at any time, her gown of lightweight material and open-toed shoes might seem inappropriate for a winter wedding.
The bridesmaids’ dresses shown with Doris’s wedding gown were worn by her sister Carol (peach, maid of honor) and her cousin Marian Karch (faded, formerly blue). <<we later learned, Carol wore moonstone (blue) and Marian wore peach)>> The smaller junior bridesmaid dress (green) was worn by her youngest sister, Marilyn. The male attendants included the groom’s brother, Russell Thomas, a friend in the marines, Herbert Conant, and another friend in the navy.
Following the wedding the couple lived with the bride’s parents until moving into their own apartment in nearby Ridgefield Park, NJ and later into their own home in Maywood, NJ. David attended NYU on the GI Bill and was an accountant and later worked in insurance. Doris and David were happily married for 28 years until David’s passing in 1974.
Aunt Debra is holding their wedding album in this picture. From left: Don, me, Debra, Ashley, Cousin Laura. Photo by Heidi.

On a side note, it is hard to take pictures (and stay out of the pictures) with a mirror in the background!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

2015 March Madness

 March Madness. For most, those two words imply college basketball. For us, though, that means seeing school plays, or rather as many school plays as we can possibly see in only four weekends, keeping in mind two of those weekends Ashley is acting in her school play, while Don is stage manager. And GO!

Well, we cheated a bit. we saw Julia in "Disney's Little Mermaid Jr." at the end of February (date changed due to school testing). It was fun to see Ashley's "sister" from Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe in a completely different
role. She has really grown in her talent -- adding singing in a Caribbean-style as she played everybody's favorite crustacean. 

The next day (the last day in February) we saw our favorite child star in "The Green Bird" at Philadelphia's University of the Arts. We have been following Chris since he was younger than Ashley in "Bye, Bye Birdie." It has been our treat as honorary aunt and uncle to watch him grow in his talent. We are only disappointed in ourselves for taking three years to see him in a college production. We HAVE to go next year. He really puts his entire body into each role, no that is not is regular nose. They all got masks for this show.

The following weekend it snowed, forcing Princeton Friends School to cancel a production of "Willy Wonka, Jr." We'll have to try again next year and be better organized about ordering tickets.

We were on top of getting tickets to see Les Miserables at Notre Dame High School. It was beyond unbelievable! It was easy to forget they are only high school students and not aspiring Broadway actors. To think just last year we saw Alexis in "A Rockin' Tale of Snow White," and this year she was Gavroche. Her voice is so powerful you can hear her without a microphone in every corner of the theater. David's portrayal of Javert was spine-chilling. It has been wonderful following his growth as an actor and singer.

The next day I saw "The Wizard of Oz" at Lawrence Middle School -- the school Ashley would go to if she went to public school, so we know some of the kids from pre-school, kindergarten, and around town. They also had about 30 grade school kids playing scene-stealing munchkins. 

The next weekend was Nate's bar mitzvah and more play practice. We did not see any shows that weekend.

Then it was time for "Sound of Music" at Ashley's school. They have two casts, the blue and the gold ones (in my mind, Blue is the Best, and Gold is the Greatest, but I haven't been able to get that phrase to catch on). Ashley was Louisa in the Blue Cast. Don was the stage manager for both casts. On the last night, Ashley was on stand-by to play Frederick, since the boy who played Frederick had been out sick all week, and the boy from the other cast who played Frederick had other plans that night. It would have been quite an experience, but fortunately he recovered.

The following weekend Ashley and I saw the Lawrence Intermediate School's production of "Disney's Little Mermaid, Jr." It was fun to book end the month with the same production that started it all. Ashley pointed out that the first time we saw it was with middle schoolers, and the second time was with 5th and 6th graders, so it was unfair to compare them, but they both did great. 

We really wrapped up March Madness with "Hunchback of Notre Dame" at Paper
Mill Playhouse -- a theater we have wanted to go to for years, but always decided against it because of its distance. The production was fabulous. There are rumors it is heading to Broadway (if not real rumors, then let me be the first to start them here). The quality at Paper Mill is outstanding! One of the members of the chorus (who had a solo as Claude's brother) was on Broadway as the "Phantom of the Opera." Not just in "Phantom," but THE Phantom. Yup, that is a few notches above community theater. We deemed it as still too far away for anything but the most extraordinary of productions -- like this one. We do try to see a Broadway show each year, and this satisfied that desire, without making Ashley suffer through a day in NYC. The poor girl really detests going to NYC.

There are always more shows to see. That is one of the best parts about living in this area. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Sandy Dragon update :)

Sandy Claws Dragon has captured the interest of many of our friends. People often ask about him, or when they've heard about his health issues are afraid to ask about him.

Last summer he was one very sick dragon. I brought him to the exotic vet and rang up bills only a pet loving owner would admit to doing. The end result was a diagnosis of kidney failure and the need to inject fluids into him daily and give him meds orally, also daily. I felt as if I had suddenly become a vet's assistant.

Sandy was very lethargic. He was still a great snuggler, but didn't do much else. We've taken to feeding him by prying open his mouth and inserting food, and quickly removing our fingers before we get bit. At least most of the time. "Hi my name is Jacquie and I really love my pet."

A while ago we stopped giving him the meds and the saline. We noticed he started to improve. His poop became more solid (which is why we started the meds in the first place). A couple of weeks ago we noticed his tank seemed too small for him (we had been thinking about using a smaller tank since he wasn't moving much) and started taking him out again. He now takes a stroll around the kitchen.

Sunday (April 12) he was the focus of the children's sermon Ashley gave as part of Youth Sunday. The scripture was Luke 8: 26-37 -- the story of Jesus

casting the demons out of a man.

There are some things that look scary on the outside, but that really aren't. For example I have a lizard called a bearded dragon who we named Sandy Claws. He looks very scary from the outside. (holds up picture of Sandy showing his spikes) He has all of these spiky parts on the side and it looks like if you were to touch him, you would be in a lot of pain. But, if you do touch him, those sharp points are actually the softest part of him, and the rest of him isn't too sharp either. Sandy is very cuddly and nice.
This is like the scripture reading today. It's about a man who looks very scary, so everyone stayed away from him because they were scared. But there was one man who knew that it wasn't that scary man's fault. This man, named Jseus, knew the man was a child of God just like everyone. Jesus had the courage to go up to the man, and the kindness to heal him. Then, the man was all better. We should always have courage and kindness because those are two things that will always help us.
Now let's pray: Dear God, please bless everyone here and help them to always be kind and brave like Jesus. In your son's name we pray, Amen.
So perhaps the message was taken from our having seen "Cinderella" while in the planning stages of writing the message. It still fits. Have Courage and Be Kind. 

The next day Don bought him a new ramp/rock. He actually climbed on it. He is getting around more than we could have imagined.

The cats are still really good around him. If they know what is good for them, they'll stay that way!

He continues to give us much unexpected joy.