Betty's Attic
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Friday, March 24, 2017
On Friday, December 20, 1957 Elvis Presley received his draft notice. He was ordered to report for duty on January, 20, but at the time, he'd just started filming King Creole. Elvis was already a big star, so if he'd asked to be excused from service, his request might have been granted.

But The King didn't use his film career to shirk his civic responsibilities, "It's a duty I've got to fill and I'm going to do it," he told the country. Elvis was granted a short deferment to finish filming King Creole and then he reported for duty - just like any good American would. He was officially inducted into the U.S. Army on March 24, 1958 - 59 years ago today.

Then Elvis The Soldier, serial number 53 310 761, had his famous locks shorn by an Army barber. It was a devastating moment for teenage girls everywhere.

Elvis' unit was stationed in Friedberg, Germany. He served in Company C, which was a scout platoon. Not surprisingly, he also entertained the troops with his music and the folks at home with news of his every move from enlistment to discharge.

My friends and I had never been so interested in the nightly news. If our parents thought our interest in current events meant that we were growing up, they would have been wrong. We were just keeping tabs on our beloved Teddy Bear.


Posted by: Betty | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, March 17, 2017
50 years ago The Beatles scored a number one hit with "Penny Lane". The song topped the charts from March 18-24 in 1967. I remember it well because my good friend Penny lived on Penny Street!

Here's another thing I remember about that song: we actually tried to get the city to change the name of the street to Penny Lane. Unfortunately for us the city council was full of boring adults who had zero idea how fabulous the Beatles were, so it's not too surprising that our little homegrown initiative failed.

No one was sadder than poor Penny of Penny Street.

However we did learn a priceless lesson in civics: when you go before a government body to ask for something, you need a stronger argument than "dreamy", "cool", and "popular" to win your case!

Posted by: Betty | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, March 10, 2017
Remember the old party lines? Or the days when you actually had to be wired to a wall to talk to someone? When you couldn't "screen" your calls with an answering machine? And you actually had to be at home to talk on the phone?

On this day in 1876 Alexander Graham Bell spoke into his new invention, the telephone. “Mr. Watson," he said. "Come here. I want to see you.”  It worked. And what followed over the next 140-odd years would change the shape of human communication.

But did you know...
  • Bell applied for the patent just three days before the famous phone call took place?
  • His patent filing barely made it over the wire (pun intended), beating a claim by Elisha Gray by a mere two hours?
  • The Western Union Telegraph Company hired both Gray and rival inventor Thomas Edison to develop their own technology for a telephone?
Alexander Graham Bell sued Western Union in a rare patent case that went all the way to the Supreme Court. His claim was upheld and the Bell Company became American Telephone and Telegraph, which we know today as AT&T.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Posted by: Betty | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, March 3, 2017
What's the best way to revisit your favorite childhood shows? Follow a child.

That's what I did last weekend when I decided to take on babysitting for the family while they were out wedding shopping for my niece. My houseful was more than a handful and I was at my wit's end trying to corral all those kids. Until I found my old Sesame Street DVDs.

When I was that age, you couldn't tear me away from the adventures of Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, The Count, and Cookie Monster. So I hoped my trusty DVDs would capture (and quiet) this new generation of rambunctious kids.

Worked like a charm.

The kids sat in a semicircle around the TV and counted with The Count, identified shapes with Kermit The Frog, learned letters from the adult cast members, and giggled as Cookie Monster gobbled down treats.  It worked on me, too. I couldn't help but join them on the living room floor. When the adults finally came home from shopping, they found a houseful of happy kids and this happy kid-at-heart who was very glad to see them. These days I need a little help getting up from the floor!

Posted by: Betty | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, February 24, 2017
The Brady Bunch was a groundbreaking sitcom. But not for the reasons you might imagine. Yes, it was 'edgy' in the sense that it featured a very modern blended family. Yes, it was extremely funny. Yes, the stories were well-written. But that wasn't what sealed its fame and popularity. 

The show broke new ground and became such a huge hit because it dealt head-on with the problems that kids faced. It was the first show of its kind to take on issues like the difficulty popularity, young love, sibling rivalry, self-image, cheating (in sports or in school) and dozens of other themes that affected kids' daily lives. 

Though my parents would have preferred to watch almost anything else, they always let us watch The Brady Bunch. It was nice of our parents to give up the TV during primetime, but as I got older I realized they might have had an ulterior motive. Our parents might have believed that the Brady kids helped their kids navigate the confusing and sometimes treacherous waters of growing up. 

And they would have been right about that!
Posted by: Betty | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, February 17, 2017
45 years ago today, the 15,007,034th Volkswagen Beetle rolled off the assembly line, breaking the world record for automobile production, which had been held for over 40 years by Ford’s famous Model T.

I don't remember the record breaking day, but I remember driving my Beetle until it - quite literally - gave up. By the time I'd finished with my red VW Bug, it had clocked close to 300,000 miles, the floorboards were so rusted that you could watch the highway roll by underfoot, and the backseat was a forboding forest of sprung springs.

I'll never forget its last ride. I loaded it up with surfboards, coolers, beach towels, and three brave souls who were willing to overlook the rust and navigate a place to sit between protruding springs and headed for the beach. At the end of the day, we were tired, sunburned, and ready to ride. But my Beetle wouldn't start.

It might seem silly, but I always thought my Bug's "happy place" was at the beach. So while my friends were calling friends or parents for a rescue ride, I still didn't call the tow truck. I just couldn't do it. Not yet. Somehow I knew that this was the end of our long love affair. So I spread out my beach towel and reclined against the driver's side door, watching one last sunset at the beach with my beloved Beetle.


Posted by: Betty | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, February 10, 2017
Wednesday marked the 85th birthday of one of America's best-known composers, John Williams. Over his sixty year career, the composer, pianist/conductor has won 22 Grammy awards and several Golden Globes. He's also been nominated for 50 Academy Awards of which he won five. After Walt Disney, Williams is the most-nominated person in the industry.

Whether you think you know his music or not, chances are you (like me) grew up to the John Williams' soundtrack. He wrote the film scores for E.T., Home Alone, Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Harry Potter, just to name a few. His score for the original STAR WARS movie was recognized as the greatest American film score of all time by the American Film Institute.

As if that wasn't enough, Williams has also composed the music for Sunday Night Football (NBC), four Olympic Games, and - one of my personal favorites - the television show Lost in Space.

Today some of the world's most respected symphonies perform Williams' music in concert. and in honor of his 85th birthday, the Boston Pops will dedicate their 2017 season to the composer, exposing a whole new audience to the master of the movie score.

Posted by: Betty | 8:00 AM | permalink
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