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Archive for November, 2010

Wednesday’s Child

Monday’s child is fair of face.

Tuesday’s child is full of grace.

Wednesday child is full of woe.

Thursday’s child has far to go.

Friday’s child is loving and giving.

Saturday’s child works hard for a living.

And the child that’s born on the Sabbath day

Is fair and wise and good and  gay.`

I don’t remember exactly when my mother taught me this rhyme. But when she did it was important to me to memorize the day each of my brothers and sisters were born. It was somewhat of a task because there were so many of us, eleven, and the ages were spread out quite a bit such that for some time I didn’t know who all my brothers and sisters were.  Some we would go visit; some would visit us. They were big people, always nice to me. One of them was this grown up person who came to visit whose name was Arthur.

He was my oldest brother, 17 years older than me. He would bring us gifts. Laugh with us, play with us. We would joke, tease, jump on him, grab his legs like little bugs and sit on his foot so he couldn’t leave. He was always patient and smiling. He had been in the Air Force, stationed at the base in Dover, Delaware. He continued to live in Delaware after leaving the service.  We didn’t travel often, but I have memories of visits to see him when I was young. There are flashes of memories of  standing near an Air Force plane and hanger. There is a memory of a walk on Chesapeake Bay, of sand and tides and huge, dark horseshoe crabs. I wanted to take one home with me back to the Midwest, but my mother said “No!” A few months later, I received a little preserved horseshoe crab in a tin through the mail from Arthur. There are memories of frozen shark meat that he had caught and sent, arriving at our farm house. Having tasted shark meat was a pretty cool thing for a Midwestern kid on a farm in the 1960’s. But mostly, there are memories of someone who was nice.

Wednesday’s child is full of woe…

Arthur was born on a Wednesday. There were challenges just being in our family, especially for the older kids. It was rough living-poverty and very harsh “discipline”. School didn’t come as easily to him as to some of the others. Our father was a teacher, then a principal, at times a superintendent. There were harsh consequences for those who did not do well and make superior grades in school.

At the time he finished high school, there were tough economic times at home and in the country in general. Higher education and job opportunities weren’t there for everyone. So he enlisted in the service. Later he worked hard to earn an associate degree. Later he did marry, have children, but have the challenge of the needs of a child with downs syndrome, and then later, the death of that child from cancer, medical bills, his own bout with cancer and recovery, and so many more. These events, some might consider a source of woe. But he lived his life with good humor, love, a strong faith in God, and commitment to do what’s right.

We were 17 years apart. We weren’t just 17 years apart, but many hours of travel and miles apart. As adults, our perspectives of life and point of view, at times were miles apart. With so much separation of time and place and thought, you miss out on knowing another person, and you miss out, and you just miss.

Arthur entered this world on a Wednesday. And he left this world on a Wednesday.

Arthur L. Hewitt    September 13, 1939—November 3, 2010


Tales from the Teal Mango-Golden Heights

Golden Heights

© Jo Hewitt THE TEAL MANGO, 2010

There is a place downtown along the river.  It was the refuse of factories and the playground of perpetrators of pernicious deeds.  But it has changed; the city, well big business and big wallets, changed it. Now it is a park with summer festivals and music, part of the walking tour of greenways, restaurants and picturesque summer days and nights of the city for visitors and residents alike. There is an amphitheater built into the ground, terraced up the hill for blankets and baskets to catch the spray of music of riffs and rhythm and of starlight nights. There are statues along the water, in the style of Frederick Hart, of children playing, or fishing, and, otherwise depicting life as it was when the city and downtown were founded.

Green Street runs along here toward the east, along the old warehouse district, which has also had the luxury of new attire, until it meets Clifton Blvd. Past this point, to the east, it is the gray and grime of wear and tear and poverty. It seems the wallet thinned out along the way. Spending money for business is one thing, spending it for the quality of human life is another.

As the direction of travel changes, the neighborhood changes. Leaving the peace of gentrification, Clifton runs toward the northeast, its gracious curves alternately flirting with the river and then the canal as it  journeys through this decay of rotted wooden boxes and weeds peppered with abandoned warehouses to emerge in the refreshing air of the Parks district. As it enters the parks district, it veers to the north, to where the money  hides, when it fled years ago.  At this point, there is a little street, rarely noticed by those who have their eyes focused on the grandeur ahead, Red Bud Row. It traipses away from the parks, beginning a small incline to the southeast, angling its way quietly to Jewel Square and the Jewel Box in Golden Heights.

Jewel Square is a two block square expanse of soft emerald grass bounded by Golden Place North, South East and West. There are little shops, boutiques and theaters on the east, south, and west sides, overlooking the canal and below it the river. On the north side are the old residences.

There is a pathway of amber bricks that bracelets the square. Spaced along it are little flower beds like gemstone charms, each a different color and a different assortment of flowers that change with the seasons.  In the center, where decades ago stood a bandstand to celebrate the summer social season, is now a circle of yellow cobble stones, like nuggets, with arbored benches on the periphery.  Flowering vines and climbers entwine the arbors like filigree on a band, enveloping the occupant with  subtle mists of fragrance. In the center is a fountain whose spray dances over gazing balls and blown glass like a setting of pearls and black opals.

The shops around the square, the first tier, stand shoulder to shoulder, arm in arm with their gaily painted Italianate façades, typical of the period from which they were formed. Every so often there is a break in the ranks, perhaps revealing a seductive little courtyard with urns flowing with blossoms, colored leaves, grasses or trailing vines, with iron bistro tables and chairs peeking out from under bright parasols or perhaps a pathway that leads to the shops that laugh at the edge of the canal and the green spaces along the banks of the river.

But if you turn away from the shops, place your gaze over the square, and up the winding road to the top of the hill in Golden Heights, letting your eyes pick a bit of blue through the breaks in the tops of the trees, you may see a glimpse of the Bauer Castle, the Romanesque mansion built for Opal Bauer wife of Klaus Bauer who platted Golden Heights. The styles of the houses along Opal Way change as you descend-Queen Annes, Sticks, Tudors, and other period revivals. The last house, the one at the very bottom, on the west side of the street where Opal Way, Golden Place North, and Redbud Row angling in from the northwest converge, built at a time of change, when the superfluous of the Victorian began to step aside for the understated charm of the Craftsman, and which is neither but some confluence of architecture, of time and place, houses the Teal Mango.

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