Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sunday Reflection...

I read an excellent devotional by Dr. David Jeremiah this week.  It was based on Psalm 34 vs. 1

"I will extol [lift up/highly praise] the Lord at all times;
His praise will always be on my lips."

David [the author of the Psalm] didn't stipulate his praise to the Lord would be limited to 'good days.'  He said, 'at all times' and 'always'.

Dr. Jeremiah's devotion ended with a quote that I wrote in the flyleaf of my Bible:  "Our lips are the barometer of the heart."

Barometers detect changes in weather conditions.  May my lips reveal praise coming from deep within my heart, whether life's conditions are fair or stormy.

May God bless your week!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Thursday Teas at Two

Today my hubby and I went to the Troy Historic Village for their Thursday Teas at Two.  The topic was Motown Sound - a subject I knew he would enjoy.

We picked our tea selection, a dessert to accompany it, and found a place to sit.

Berry Gordy, Jr., a Detroit native, is an American record producer and founder of Motown record label.  He discovered music artists such as Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, and Smoky Robinson.

He purchased a two-story family flat at 2648 West Grand Blvd. in Detroit [pictured below], and resided in the upper flat, while the recording studio was housed in the lower flat, and a backyard garage. The house was later dubbed Hitsville U.S.A.

A few great Motown songs were Shop Around; Stop in the Name of Love!; My Girl; Please Mr. Postman; Baby Love; and Baby I Need Your Lovin'.

Mr. Joel Stone, Senior Curator of the Detroit Historical Society entertainingly shared a program about the musical roots of Motown Sound.

At the conclusion of every program there's always a drawing for a china teacup.  Today was my lucky day, because my name was drawn!  Below is the pretty teacup I won.

What a fun way to spend a wintry afternoon in Michigan!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Armoire Photo Cabinet

A week ago I blogged about the Governor Winthrop desk that my husband restored for my stationery supplies.  Today I'm going to brag on his skills again.

In 2007 a friend had an old cedar wardrobe closet that she wanted to dispose of, and I was looking for a cabinet to keep all my pictures and photo albums in.  I wondered if my hubby could breathe new life into the old wardrobe.  After looking at it, he felt it had potential, so we brought it to our garage [his work shop].

I began looking through furniture catalogs and refinishing books and found a picture of a restored armoire that I loved.  I showed the picture to my hubby, and he said he thought he could transform the old cedar closet into the armoire.  The photos below are its stages of transformation.

Ta-Da!  Here it is in its new home - our spare bedroom.  It's an amazing transformation, isn't it?

The perfect place for all my photos and albums - a lot of which are tea parties and tea trips. Now that I use my digital camera and photos are downloaded to my computer, I don't use photo albums like I used to, but I'm so grateful for my armoire/photo cabinet - and, of course, my talented hubby! 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Teddy Bear President

I won't share all six Presidents who were in my Love Letters presentation last Sunday, but I do have one more before I close out the series - Theodore "T.R." Roosevelt, Jr.

Born into a family of wealth and status, T.R. was sick with asthma most of his childhood and was home schooled, but he was well-read, and well-traveled.  He read books on every conceivable subject, and sometimes read as many as three books a night.

When Roosevelt went to Harvard in 1876 his sweetheart was Edith Kermit Carow.  After a quarrel, however,  their courtship  ended.  At the age of 20 he met Alice Hathaway Lee at the home of her cousin, who was a Harvard classmate of T.R.'s.  It was love at first sight for T.R. Of their first encounter he wrote: "As long as I live, I shall never forget how sweetly she looked, and how prettily she greeted me."

Eight months later he proposed to Alice.  She put him off, taking another eight months before saying yes.  T.R. showered her with gifts and attention.  In February 1880, an ecstatic Roosevelt recorded in his diary his great joy that the woman of his dreams, whom he had actively courted for more than a year had finally accepted his proposal of marriage. They announced their engagement on Valentines Day.

At age 19, Alice married T.R. on his 22nd birthday - October 27, 1880.  

Almost two dozen letters reveal the passion and young love T.R. had for Alice.  In 1883 he wrote:  "Sweetest little wife, I think all the time of my little laughing, teasing beauty, and how pretty she is, and how she goes to sleep in my arms, and I could almost cry I love you so."

On February 12, 1884, Alice gave birth to a healthy baby girl named Alice Lee Roosevelt. Theodore was in Albany on business because the baby wasn't supposed to be born until Valentine's Day. When he received a telegram of Alice's birth, he made arrangements to return home.  But a second telegram arrived informing him that Alice [his wife] had taken ill. By the time he got home she was in a semi-comatose state.  He held her for two hours until he was told his mother's health was deteriorating two floors below in the Roosevelt's Manhattan home.  His mother died around 3:00 a.m. on February 14th, 1884 from typhoid fever.  

Theodore rushed back upstairs to his wife, and held for several hours until she passed that same afternoon from Bright's disease [kidney failure].  For that date in his diary he made a large X and simply wrote:  "The light has gone out of my life."  Alice was just 23 years old.

T.R. was distraught by Alice's death.  In a tribute he wrote: "She was beautiful in face and form, and livelier still in spirit; as a flower she grew, and as a fair beautiful young flower she died.  Her life had been always in sunshine; there had never come to her a single sorrow; and none ever knew her who did not love and revere her for the bright, sunny temperament, and her saintly unselfishness.  Fair, pure, and joyous as a maiden; loving tender, and happy. As a young wife; when she had just become a mother, when her life seemed to be just begun, and when the years seemed so bright before her - then, by a strange and terrible fate, death came to her.  And when my heart's dearest died, the light went from my life forever."

Alice was buried in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York, next to her mother-in-law, after a double funeral.  

So final was T.R.'s decision to try to put Alice's loss out of his life, that she is not even mentioned by name when he wrote his autobiography at age 55.  One author said it was as though it would unlock pent-up sorrow.

After Alice's death, T.R. turned the care of his newly-born daughter over to his sister, Bamie, and left for a period of self-recovery at his ranch in the Dakota Territory. 

When he returned, he met Edith Carow in the fall of 1885 at his sister Anna's house, and they rekindled their love again.  They married in December 1886, and took custody of young Alice, and had five children of their own.  

T.R. was nominated by the GOP to serve as Vice President under William McKinley. McKinley won the election but was assassinated on September 14, 1901, and Theodore Roosevelt became the 26th President of the United States.

Since this is a tea blog, I had to search until I found some tea association between T.R. and Alice, and I found two references from his diary.  When they were courting T.R. mentions taking her to tea at the Morgan's [no reference as to who they are].  And three days after their wedding he wrote: We ate breakfast at 10:00 , dined at 2:00, and had tea at 7:00.

Regarding the teddy bear... In 1902 T.R. went on a bear hunt in Mississippi, but the only bear that was sited by the hunting dogs was a small black cub.  Roosevelt refused to shoot the cub. After hearing the story, a cartoon of the incident appeared in the Washington Post. Two days later a Brooklyn toy maker placed a copy of the cartoon in his window next to a stuffed brown bear, which he called "Teddy's Bear."  The name stuck and was later shortened to "teddy bear."  

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Laughter and Seriousness

I have a friend who sends me an e-mail almost everyday to put a smile on my face.  I call it my "merry heart medicine," based on what King Solomon said in Proverbs 17:22 "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine."  Yesterday my friend sent this joke that was too cute not to share. I'm sure she thought I'd like it because of the teacup reference.

The Bathtub Test

During a visit to a mental asylum, a visitor asked the doctor what the criterion was to define whether or not a patient should be institutionalized.

"Well," said the doctor, "We fill up a bathtub.  We then offer a teaspoon, a teacup, and a bucket to the patient and ask him/her to empty the bathtub."

"Oh, I understand," said the visitor.  "A normal person would use the bucket because it's bigger than the teaspoon or the teacup."

"No," the doctor replied. "A normal person would pull the plug.  Do you want a bed near the window?"

It's corny, but it made me smile!  Now on to a more serious subject...

When I spoke to the seniors on Sunday, I also told them about the 22nd and 24th President of the United States - Grover Cleveland and his wife, Frances Folsom Cleveland.

Cleveland was the only president to be reelected after being voted out, and he was the first President to be married in the White House [Blue Room].  His wife, Frances, was 21 years old, and Cleveland was 49 when they married.  Becoming First Lady at age 21, Frances remains the youngest First Lady in history, as well as the only First Lady to be married in the White House.

Frances was the daughter of Grover Cleveland's longtime friend and law partner, Oscar Folsom.  Mr. Cleveland knew her from birth, and gave her a baby carriage when she was born. Frances was 11 years old when her father was killed in a carriage accident, and Cleveland became her unofficial legal guardian.  She called him "Uncle Cleve" and he called her "Frank."

They didn't become romantically involved until Frances was in college, when Grover asked her mother's permission to write her.  They fell in love, but Mr. Cleveland waited until she graduated to propose.  They kept their engagement a secret for nearly a year and revealed it just five days before their wedding.  It was a small wedding with a few relatives, close friends, and Cabinet members and their wives attending.

When Cleveland was asked about his long bachelorhood and why he didn't marry, he'd reply, "I am waiting for my wife to grow up."  Their marriage turned out to be among the happiest in presidential history.

In one of his love letters to Frances he states:  "I have been thinking a good deal lately how nice it would be to have a little house a few miles away and live there - coming to the White House at regular times and having all the official dinners here, but have a place where it should not enter, and where the President and his family could live like other people..."  And Cleveland did exactly that when he purchased a 27 acre working farm in the Georgetown Heights section of Washington later called Cleveland Park.  They only lived at the White House during the active social season from November to December, and February to April.  Frances called their home, "Oak View."  They sold it when they left Washington in 1889.  When they returned to Washington in 1893 for another Presidential term they rented a home called Woodley.

Frances Cleveland was a social success and the press loved her.  She gave many teas in the Green Room at the White House, and purchased Haviland, Limoges china for that purpose.

The Clevelands had five children:  Ruth, Esther - the first President's child to be born in the White House, Marion, Richard, and Francis.

I discovered the Curtiss Candy Company named the Baby Ruth candy bar after President and Mrs. Cleveland's first daughter, Ruth - not Babe Ruth, the baseball player as I always thought.  So for fun, I gave each lady at Sunday's tea party a Baby Ruth candy bar.  They loved their unexpected treat!  ;-)

Nestle's is now the maker of Baby Ruth bars, and in 2006 it became the official candy bar of Major League Baseball.  History is so fascinating!

Monday, February 23, 2015

A Tea for Seniors

I arrived at Shore Pointe Village assisted living facility shortly before the senior's 2:00 o'clock tea party.  The tea follows their Sunday dinner, so it's very informal consisting of only a scone and tea bag of their choice. It occurred to me yesterday that I should ask the activities director if I can give a formal tea some Sunday.  We'll see where that idea goes, but in the meantime the ladies are content with an informal tea.  The table was set and waiting for them to arrive.

As mentioned in last week's post of 2/18, my program was about presidential love letters. I thoroughly enjoyed my research for this program, and learned a lot.  It was no surprise that Ronald Reagan wrote many love letters to his wife, Nancy, since he was such an eloquent man, and their close relationship was publicized.  

I was surprised, however, to discover that feisty, no non-sense, "Give 'Em Hell" Harry Truman wrote many love letters to his wife, Bess - enough to fill a book!

Harry S. Truman was the 33rd President of the United States from 1945-1953.  Since he was the president when I was born, I particularly enjoyed learning about him, and his love story with Bess. I thought you might enjoy it too.

Mr. Truman was born in Lamar, Missouri, but grew up in Independence, Missouri. Bess, officially named Elizabeth Virginia Wallace, was from Independence too.  

Harry first saw Bess in Sunday school in 1890 when he was six years old and she was five. He said he fell in love with her right then and there and never changed his mind.  He never went on a date with or showed interest in any other woman.  Years later he was quoted as saying, "I saw a beautiful curly haired girl there [Sunday school].  I thought [and still think] she was the most beautiful girl I ever saw.  She had tanned skin, blond hair - golden as sunshine - and the most beautiful blue eyes I've ever seen or ever will see."

He went to school with her from the fifth grade on, with Bess seated right behind him [alphabetical order], but Harry said, "I was too backward to even look at her very much, and I didn't speak to her for five years."  

Bess never noticed him.  Even in high school, when he did make efforts to win her favor, she remained uninterested.  Harry said, "If I succeeded in carrying her books to school or back home for her I had a big day."  

After graduation from high school in 1901 Harry had to go to work to support his struggling farming family.  [Harry is listed as one of the poorest U.S. Presidents.]  He rarely saw Bess for almost ten years.  Then one day in 1910, he walked across the street from his cousin's house to Bess's house to return a cake plate to her mother.  Bess opened the door, and that's how their courtship finally began.  

He started writing her letters and visiting her on weekends.  In June 1911 he proposed to her in a letter.  She didn't answer him for almost three weeks, and when she finally did, she refused him. He kept writing and coming to see her, though, and just over two years later, in November 1913, he proposed again, in person this time, and she accepted.  

When he got home, he wrote her a letter saying:  "It doesn't seem real that you should care for me. I have always hoped you would but some way feared very much you wouldn't.  You know, I've always thought that the best man in the world is hardly good enough for any woman.  But when it comes to the best girl in all the universe caring for an ordinary gink like me - well, you'll have to let me get used to it... I've always said I'd have you or no one and that's what I meant to do... I'm all puffed up and hilarious and happy and anything else that happens to a fellow when he finds his lady love thinks more of him than the rest of the beasts." 

The couple had to put their wedding plans on hold for five and a half years before they could marry. Harry wanted to earn some money first, then World War I came along and he went off to fight in France.  Of that time Harry wrote:  "I'll never forget how my love cried on my shoulder when I told her I was going.  That was worth a life time on this earth."

Bess gave Harry a photograph of her when he left for war.  He carried it in his breast pocket the whole time he was in France, and looked at it every possible chance he got.  Years later, he kept it on his desk in his Truman Library office, where it remains today.

Captain Harry Truman returned from war safely, and the couple were finally married on June 28, 1919 at 4:00 o'clock in the afternoon at Trinity Episcopal Church.  He was 35 and she was 34.

They were married for 53 years.  On their 29th anniversary when Harry was in Washington, and Bess was in Independence, he wrote her saying, "You still are on the pedestal where I placed you that day in Sunday school in 1890.  What an old fool I am."

A few more tidbits you might enjoy knowing...  Harry had to wear thick glasses during his childhood and because they were expensive [and his family was poor], his mother wouldn't allow him to play contact sports.  He was teased for taking piano lessons instead, but he became an accomplished pianist.  'Music' was said to be his middle name.

Bess was a very private first lady telling the press, "You don't need to know me.  I'm only the president's wife and the mother of his daughter."  

She was, however, very hospitable.  Records at the White House Social Office reveal Bess averaged hosting more than one tea a week with numerous women's groups.  One month she hosted sixteen teas. The President often came to these teas unannounced, and sometimes even played the piano for the guests.

By the late 1940's the walls of the White House were crumbling, and many wanted to demolish it and build a new one.  Mrs. Truman disagreed and felt the original walls should be maintained inside a new steel structure.  She openly lobbied congressional leaders and made a rare public statement urging the preservation of the White House.  Her efforts prevailed, and Congress appropriated funds to renovate the White House.

After its renovation Bess held a series of teas so government officials could see the refurbished mansion.  To complete the restoration the Trumans ordered new official Lenox White House china in 1951.

Harry coined the phrases:  "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen."  "The buck stops here", and "It's a recession when your neighbor loses his job; it's a depression when you lose yours." 

They had one daughter, Margaret, who Bess gave birth to when she was 39 years old after two miscarriages.  The three were a very close family.

Bess died in 1982 at the age of 97 -  the oldest first lady in American history to date.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sunday Reflection...

The Lenton Season began last Wednesday with what is known as 'Ash Wednesday'.

Lent is a time of soul preparation leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on the cross on Good Friday, and culminating with the triumph of His resurrection on Easter.

The best prayer I know for Lent [or anytime] was prayed by David in Psalm 139.  I love the entire Psalm, but verses 23 and 24 are especially meaningful at this time of the year.

"Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting."

May God bless your week!