Our second week in England (and Wales) began with a train ride from Paddington Station, London to Oxford, where we checked into our rooms at the Turf Tavern, a wonderful and very old pub tucked away on a back street. I don’t think they rent rooms anymore, but it was great then. In Oxford we visited as many of the famous colleges as we had time for in one day. Continue reading
In the 1970s I had a group of about a dozen good friends that I spent a lot of time with, one from grade school (Tim W, still friends), some from high school, some from Rutgers College, near where I lived in Highland Park, NJ, where those friends had gone to school. During 1978 we started discussing the idea of a trip to England together. I’m not sure who started it, but by a year-end party at my apartment, I agreed to be the one to make plans. As above, I put those plans into a series of six “British Bulletins” I typed up and mailed out to everyone interested. This was great fun, I think trip planning can be nearly as interesting as the trip itself. Those wanting to go waffled, and by the time I needed to make reservations in April, we were down to three going: myself, and two Lindas. Linda R. made her own travel plans from her home in Vermont, I booked charter flights for Linda C. and myself out of Newark, NJ for June 30th, and we met Linda R. in London. I had written to a few small hotels and bed and breakfasts at each of our trip destinations, and mailed out reservation deposits. Unfortunately, it was a time of great labor unrest in England, with many labor strikes and demonstrations. As we arrived at some of our rooms, we found they either hadn’t received our deposit yet, or it had just arrived, due to a mail carrier strike! But all the hosts were very helpful, and if they didn’t have rooms for us, they found them at a neighbor’s house, so that all worked out fine. Here’s my write up of the places I had made reservations: Continue reading
We’re at Ellen’s sister Ann’s house for the holidays again. This year my friend Tim joined us on Christmas Eve day, where we had some fine meals and played lots of music: Christmas and otherwise. Zack (on left) has become quite a good guitarist, Dave (back center) plays keyboards, Tim and I play guitars also, though this year I was playing auto-harp some of the time, which is easier on my fingers. Everyone sings. It’s great fun.
Ann and Ellen entertained us on their “Music Maker” lap harps, which Tim told us is a form of the ancient Russian instrument, “gusli,” he has one too. One follows the note pattern printed on interchangeable paper diagrams that slide in below the strings, and I wrote a harmony for “Silent Night,” that they were able to do together quite successfully, one following the printed melody, the other the harmony. A link to their performance is HERE.
Cookies are always present at Christmas, Ellen makes some, Ann and Ina make some, and Ann and Dave’s friends give them some. Here’s the cookie tray for Christmas Eve day, with plenty more for the rest of the holiday.
In the afternoon we visited my brother Doug and his family, where a large group always gathers. I never seem able to get many good pictures there because it’s rather a madhouse, but here are all the kids present in a planned group photo, including my niece Haley and nephews Charlie and Dylan.
Nephew Charlie is starting to learn to play the French Horn, and had no problem bringing it out to play a few notes for everyone. He’s not shy. We had another fine dinner there with my Mom, and lots of other members of Doug and Lena’s extended family and friends.
Soon we’ll be heading home to south Jersey, where our cats are being well cared for in our absence, here they are showing what they feel is the best use for a Christmas present: sitting on it. Hope your holidays are merry!
I’ve written about my favorite teacher from the Bedminster Township grade school twice before, a little in my article on our school newspaper and magazine, which she ran, and more in my article on the school itself. Mrs. Thompson taught English to my brothers and I in grades 6-8, and we all worked on the school publications doing art and, in my case, writing stories. I remember her as smart, entertaining in class, and very encouraging to me as a young artist and writer. Others remember that she was also a heavy smoker, and I’ve long wondered about how that might have affected her career and life. New information has come to light recently, so I thought I’d share it here.
While I spent lots of time with Mrs. Thompson in and after class, I knew nothing about her personal life except what little ran in the 1965 graduation issue of The Bed-Post, as part of a guessing-game called “Spotlight on People.” Mrs. Thompson was the subject of this entry:
While I saw Mrs. Thompson occasionally when I had moved on to High School in Bernardsville, NJ (when my school bus would stop at the Bedminster School to pick up more students), I lost touch with her at some point in that time. Recently my youngest brother Russ found some copies of the school publications from his grades 6-8 in 1968-70, and entries there filled in some of the gaps in my knowledge. from The Bedminster Tribune of Oct. 27, 1969:
As you can see, Mrs. Thompson was out sick in the fall of 1969. I have no information on what the illness may have been, but I suspect that she did not return to the school. In the Spring, 1970 issue of The Bed-Post, this editorial by Ellen Burden appeared:
I may have heard about this from my parents at the time, but if so, I had forgotten it, so it’s good to have that long-lingering question of what happened to Mrs. Thompson answered. The issue of The Bed-Post this appeared has replaced Mrs. Thompson’s long-standing credit as Advisor with “Acting Advisor: Mrs. Stout,” and the following year the Advisor credit went to a new English teacher at the school, Mr. Melovitz.
As noted in the obituary, Mrs. Thompson had no children. Her husband, J. Miller Thompson continued to live in Bedminster, and died in 1992 after remarrying a Mary E. Nevius, who died in 2000.
Thursday we made our annual trek to the northwest corner of New Jersey to spend Thanksgiving with Ellen’s sister Ann and her family. This year it was the scene of an early snowfall of about 10 inches of very wet snow, making it much more like Christmas, visually.
It was perfect for snowballs and snowmen, and Ellen’s nephew Zach and I made on of the latter.
It had snowed the day before, so the roads were no problem, and it was kind of fun to be suddenly amidst a Winter Wonderland. We had no snow at all where we live in the southern end of the state.