Betty's Attic
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Friday, December 2, 2016
My grandfather collected coins since he was a kid. He got me interested in numismatics by telling me there could be "hidden treasure" in every bag or pocketful he'd empty out onto the kitchen table.

He used to buy bags of coins from friends, dealers, antique markets - wherever he could find them. We'd sit under the bright light at the kitchen table searching for the dates and mint marks that might identify a rare and valuable coin. More often than not, we'd found one or two coins to add to his collection or mine. Once we even found a rare 1913 Liberty Head Quarter, which was so exciting that we started to whoop and holler until my grandmother came running into the kitchen and made us "shush up".

Even then, the quarter was worth a lot of money, but my gramps wouldn't sell the prize piece in his collection. When he passed, he left his coins to me, including that rare quarter. I can't bear to sell it, either. It's become the centerpiece of my own collection. Not because of its value, but because it's a sweet reminder of that day in my grandparents' kitchen when we actually found a hidden treasure among a pile of ordinary coins.

Posted by: Betty | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, November 25, 2016
On November 21, 1976 my friends and I headed out to the theater to catch a movie. I don't remember which movie we were going to see that night, but it was sold out. I do remember that it was the first Sunday night of our Thanksgiving holiday from school and we were determined to make the most of it. Which meant there was no way we were going home.

So we bought the last remaining tickets to the only other film that was showing at our small movie theater: Rocky. We were less than excited about seeing a boxing movie, but it was better than nothing. So we settled into our seats with our buttered popcorn, Jujubes and Milk Duds, expecting to be totally bored for the next couple of hours.

When the credits started to roll, we couldn't believe the movie was already over. Who knew they'd sneak a love story into a boxing movie? We wanted to see more of Rocky's 'ultimate underdog' story. We wanted more of Adrian. (We didn't know we'd see plenty more - good and bad - in the coming years.) As we left the theater, we agreed to see the movie again before vacation was over. And we did. About four times, I think.

This year Rocky turns 40. I still watch it at least once every Thanksgiving season. So do some of my old friends. Now our families are in on the fun, too. Sometimes we even watch a sequel or two.

Looking back, I think it's the very first holiday tradition I ever started on my own. It's lasted nearly 40 years - it must be a winner.

Posted by: Betty | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, November 18, 2016
On this date in 1928 Walt Disney's Steamboat Willie was released. It was the first Mickey Mouse cartoon featuring sound. 88 years later, Mickey is still America's favorite mouse.

As a kid, I used to wake up as early as possible on Saturday mornings, so I could sneak down to the kitchen, pour a bowl of sugary cereal and plop down in front of the TV to watch Disney cartoons. Every summer we'd beg and beg and beg for our parents to take us to the Magic Kingdom. Finally, they did. It was the best family vacation ever.

Today we celebrate Mickey Mouse Day to honor the iconic cartoon mouse - the first animated character to get his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. There will be all kinds of local events, so check listings. Or you can try one of my favorite ways to celebrate:
  • Wear your Mickey Mouse Ears! You must have an old pair hidden in the attic, right?
  • Throw on a Mickey T-shirt or hoodie to go with the ears.
  • Sing the "M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E" song from the Mouseketeers. 
  • Get the family together to watch old Mickey cartoons, starting with Steamboat Willie, of course!
  • If you live near one of Disney's parks, grab the kids and head out to The Happiest Place On Earth. (And don't forget to get them a set of ears for next year.) 
There are so many ways to celebrate. Like Walt Disney himself, we only have to use our imaginations!

Posted by: Betty | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, November 11, 2016
Can you imagine leaving your families behind, giving up the comforts of home and laying your life on the line every day for the very things you left behind? Today is Veteran's Day, a day to honor the people who did just that.

I remember when my uncle was stationed overseas and we'd send him little care packages filled with his favorite foods, some personal sundries, the little things that meant so much to him. But my favorite part of packing up a box for Uncle Jimmy was making a reel-to-reel tape recording of the whole family saying a few words to him. Then we'd all sing songs together until the tape ran off the reel. It was our way of honoring his service.

Today, the whole nation honors the service of every vet from every branch of the service. You can join in the national day of gratitude by finding an event near you. Here are a few suggestions:
  • America's Parade. Veterans are invited to march in parades in New York City and in Los Angeles on November 11. This year's parades commemorate the 15th anniversary of 9/11, with special recognition of our Afghanistan, Iraq, and other Post-9/11 veterans, as well as our First Responders. 
  • National Veterans Day Ceremony. The Veterans Day National Ceremony is held on November 11th at Arlington National Cemetery. The ceremony begins at 11:00 a.m. with a wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns and continues inside the Memorial Amphitheater with a parade of colors by veterans' organizations. But if you can't make it to Arlingington, lots of national and state cemeteries are also holding Veterans Day ceremonies. There's probably one near you.
  • Moment of Silence. President Obama signed a new law calling on all Americans to pause voluntarily for two minutes at 2:11 p.m. EST on Veterans Day to honor the sacrifice of veterans. 
There are also lots of free goodies and discounts for vets today. But here's the best gift you can give a vet: your time. Just spend some time with that special friend or family member who gave everything they had...so you can have everything you have.

Happy Veteran's Day!

Posted by: Betty | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, November 4, 2016
On this date in 1935, Parker Brothers launched their new board game, Monopoly. Who knew that it would go on to become one of the best loved games in the country and the world? Or that dozens of different versions in a myriad of languages would emerge over eight decades of play? And who would have guessed that kids today would love it as much as we did when we were growing up?

Monopoly has been a staple of our family gatherings for as long as I can remember. My grandmother was the champ, gobbling up properties, building hotels and, it seemed, always drawing the best "Chance" cards. My grandfather called her the "Park Place Fat Cat", which always made us laugh. Truth be told, if the game had been played in the real world, my grandma probably would have been a "fat cat" real estate magnate. She just had the head for it.

To celebrate the Monopoly's 81st birthday, I dug up some fun facts about the world's favorite board game:
  • Less than a year after the game's release, Parker Brothers was making 35,000 copies every week.
  • Marvin Gardens is misspelled. It should have been  "Marven Gardens", which is an actual place in Atlantic City.
  • The longest game of Monopoly lasted 70 straight days.
  • The standard amount of money in a Monopoly game is $20,580.
  • Escape maps, compasses, files and real money were inserted into Monopoly games and smuggled into POW camps inside Germany during World War II. 
Now my grandma's game is published in 47 languages, sold in 114 countries and comes in just about every theme you can think of. The new theme games are lots of fun with the different tokens, places, cards, etc. But I still prefer the original because it reminds me of my grandmother, the would-be "Park Place Fat Cat".



Posted by: Betty | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, October 28, 2016
My grandfather loved the Chicago Cubs. Like most Cubs fans, he cursed the Curse of the Billy Goat, which as legend goes, has kept the team out of the World Series since 1945. The championship losing streak goes back even further than that -- the Cubs haven't won the Series since taking home back-to-back championships in 1907 and 1908.

Every year at the end of the regular season, my Grandfather would tell me the story of Billy Sianis, owner of the Billy Goat Tavern. Sianis was thrown out of game 4 of the '45 series along with his pet goat, Murphy, because the animal was pestering fans. On his way out, Billy cursed my grandfather's beloved Cubs, saying, "Them Cubs, they ain't gonna win no more!"

It seemed to work. Until this year, they hadn't won a pennant since that fateful day at Wrigley Field. But my grandfather never abandoned his team. He was the ultimate foul weather fan, sticking by his team until the day he died.

Now it seems the curse has been broken. The Cubs now face the Cleveland Indians in what promises to be a truly historic World Series because, when it comes to championship losing streaks, the Indians are second only to the Cubs.

My grandfather won't get to see his beloved Cubbies go to the World Series, but I'm watching for him. I'm not a die-hard fan like my grandfather, but I truly hope the the Cubbies break their 100+ year losing streak.

Even if they lose, everyone agrees: the Curse of the Billy Goat is officially broken. So even if the Cubs don't take this World Series, fans can still say, "we'll get 'em next year!" And really mean it this time!

Posted by: Betty | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, October 21, 2016
"Each year the Great Pumpkin rises out of the pumpkin patch he thinks is the most sincere." ~Linus

When I was a kid, I watched It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown every Halloween. And every year I hoped that one day the Great Pumpkin would finally appear and show everyone that Linus was right. Though the only one who ever rose out of the pumpkin patch was a beagle (Snoopy), that didn't stop me - or Linus - from believing with all sincerity that one Halloween night the Great Pumpkin would appear.

The Great Pumpkin celebrates its 50th birthday on October 27, the original air date of the PEANUTS Halloween special. Lots of events are planned to honor the Halloween special’s golden anniversary, including over 90 farms across the country hosting PEANUTS-themed corn mazes. Check your local papers for the events near you. Then watch it again as ABC hosts a special airing of the beloved special on Friday, October 28 on ABC.

I've seen the PEANUTS Halloween special dozens of times over the years. I know how the story ends. But still...the kid in me can't help but think, "Maybe this year..."

Happy Birthday Great Pumpkin! I'll be looking for you again this Halloween...

 

Posted by: Betty | 8:00 AM | permalink
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