A Door You Don’t Want to Open

From my junior high school yearbook.

By high school I’d decided that I wanted no trinkets (such as yearbooks) to remind me of the four miserable years I’d spent in high school. Truth be told, I probably brought on my own misery by telling my classmates that everything they held dear was stupid.  Football – stupid.  Proms – stupid.  Cheerleading – really, really stupid. And what was smart?  Protesting senseless wars, archaic dress codes and, well, just about anything. It’s a miracle my classmates didn’t drown me in PE, which I probably also protested. 

However, before I became such a sanctimonious nincompoop, I was an insecure junior high schooler desperate to fit in.  Not only did I buy yearbooks, but I had everyone I ran into sign the darn things, even the teachers!

Recently I cracked open my junior high school yearbook. I was looking for a name mentioned by a friend that sounded familiar.  I didn’t find the name but I was opening a door that should have remained forever closed.

First to the good memories: Above  is my favorite science teacher.  He was young, red-haired and fool-hardy enough to lead an astronomy club full of thirteen-year- olds up to the shingled rooftop of a four-story building where there was nothing to stop anyone of us from rolling off the edge.  

My German teacher insisted we call him Herr Assmus. I guess he figured that if he was going to be teased for his name by students, he might as well go along with the gag.  However he had his limits. One day, after being forced to teach German in a room also used for Sex Education, he erupted in a fury: “I cannot teach German with a penis staring at me!”  Then he proceeded to rip a diagram of a  penis off the wall while we all cracked up. 

This teacher hated me.  I had absolutely no homemaking skills and practically burnt down her kitchen.

My art teacher reminded me of Tony Randall from the Odd Couple.  Fastidious and neat but always smiling. 

Our custodian was always on the spot when we forgot the combinations to our locker but never scolded us.  I guess that’s why he got a special place in the yearbook.

 Nori had it all:  Looks, athletic ability, and a stable family. He was also an alcoholic. I went out with him once in high school; he picked me up drunk and took me to a party with other football players and their girlfriends.  There he proceeded to get even drunker and wandered off to a bedroom where the school’s “easy” girl serviced the boys while their prim girlfriends sat together and gossiped. One of the other football players became disgusted with the game and took me home. Not long after, Nori drove off a cliff up at Tahoe.

After his death, we found our his other “shameful” secret:  he was Jewish.

Blake took one psychedelic too many and ended up in the state mental institute. When we went to see him, he claimed to be Jesus. Not long after, he also died.

Dee was so cute and bubbly that all the boys had crushes on her, even the ones from out in the sticks where she would have been called “colored” or worse.  She disappeared from school one day without a word.  Months later we found out from our sex education teacher that she’d bled to death in an alley in Oakland, California after an illegal abortion.  I often think about her. Fourteen years old. 

My mother tried to set me up with this guy because his father was a self-made millionaire. He had a Trump-like personality and actually shot someone he’d never met in the back thinking he’d get away with it. Pretty boy didn’t last long in jail. 

Above is the James Dean of our class. His rebellious streak got him slapped around (and worse) by the male teachers (hey – this was a different time).He’s probably in jail but I liked him.

 This gal actually murdered someone and got away with it. But it was okay because he was a Piute Indian and she was the daughter of a prominent socialite. On her picture she wrote “Nancy is a queer.”  As far as I know, she is still alive.

Okay – we didn’t all turn out to be murderers or drug addicts or dead in an alley somewhere. Jon, who was a neighbor of mine, is a lawyer who worked in the Obama administration. The last time I saw Johanna and Lucille was at the premiere of their art show at the De Young Museum. Steve was Mr. Popular all through school because he was kind and thoughtful to everyone.  He’s a basketball coach out in Winnemucca.  

Oh and I found a picture of my ex-husband as a thirteen year old which you don’t get to see  because I want you to have some respect for me!

My advice to you all is stay away from those old yearbooks.  Reopening them is often  like playing the game Jumanji.   

To see legitimate doors, check out Norm Frampton’s ThursdayDoors challenge. 

#ThursdayDoors: PostSecrets

Technically this is not a door; it’s a bridge in the Navy Pier area of Washington DC. 

The shipyards are now dormant and the area is being “gentrified” which means impossibly hip restaurants and bars now line an area formerly full of sailors. The view is amazing.

Although I have no idea what we’re looking at.  I wasn’t the driver, but it was definitely off the beaten track..

The above building, on the other hand, is right in the middle of the action. It’s the National Postal Museum. The museum is worth visiting even if you don’t give a damn about postage stamps.  The building itself is a treasure with marble columns and gorgeous woodwork, vintage mail trucks and postal boxes and many interactive exhibits.  One of my favorite exhibits was PostSecrets, which is described as “an ongoing community mail art project” where people send in anonymous, homemade postcards containing their deepest, darkest secrets.

Most of the postcards are humorous but some are so worrisome that the founder of the project has regular meetings with a suicide prevention organization.

Unfortunately this museum doesn’t get the foot traffic they deserve.  Did I mention that the entrance is free, and that it’s right across from Union Station?  So, no excuses. If you’re ever in downtown DC with a few hours to kill check it out and maybe even confess your deep, dark secrets anonymously via a post card.

Check out other doors perhaps some hiding deep dark secrets at Norm Frampton’s place.  

#ThursdayDoors: Mystery Room

I was surprised to find these doors and the room they lead to in an art museum. 

Probably because the original purpose of this room is not equated with art, unless it’s the art of the deal.  If you have good vision you can probably read the writing over the door. If not, here’s another shot, this time from inside the room. 

Pretty fancy room, hey? Below is another picture which definitely gives away the room’s historic importance.In the 1970s the original Chicago Stock Exchange was in a building built in the 1890s and it was falling apart. However, due to the efforts of preservationists in conjunction with the Art Institute of Chicago the actual room where stock transactions took place was rebuilt in a new wing of the museum. Today, instead of being a place where fortunes are made and lost, this room serves as an event center.  Here’s is the story of how the room was reconstructed, if you’re interested.

Around the corner from the event center is a one story stained glass window installation by Marc Chagall. Check out other doors at Norm’s place and Happy Thursday!

#ThursdayDoors: Cloud Gates and Pierogies

I wish I could say that I start each new vacation looking forward to expanding my horizons, meeting new people, riding a zip line through the jungle, or even joining an archeological dig.

The Cloud Gate in Millenium Park – if you could find the “gate” where do you think it would lead?

But alas, I’m a person ruled by my taste buds and not my head. Before even heading for the airport, I’m thinking of all the food adventures awaiting me. You might deduce that I’m some sort of a foodie interested in haute cuisine.  However, nothing could be further from the truth.

From the original doors

I’d rather have Potato Pierogies and Gedadschde at a place like Berghoffs  (above) than nibble on an elegantly presented morsel of steak tartare served on ginger-roasted sea urchins. Berghoff’s Grill, one of the oldest in Chicago, is the sort of place where they don’t make you feel like old Aunt Nellie who lives on fried spam and canned peas if you ask about the ingredients. The matronly waitresses call you “honey” and it’s assumed you want a beer to go with that humongous Bavarian pretzel hanging in the middle of the table for sharing and dipping.

My favorite eatery in Washington DC is also a “grill:”  The Old Ebbitts Grill.Aside from its long list of famous regulars, this establishment (which claims to be Washington’s Oldest “Saloon”)  is famous for its decor. the game heads hanging on the walls were supposedly bagged by Teddy Roosevelt.

The Cabinet Room is famous for its collection of  paintings of tropical birds by Robin Hill.  However, it’s used primarily for private parties and thus we were unable to get a peak inside.

How about you – are you a pierogie or tartare sort of traveler?

Check out other doors at Norm’s place.

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ThursdayDoors: Loop-di-loos

Reflection in the galley window – SF Bay on a beautiful day.

For the last few years my only reason to leave the house seems to be to take pictures of doors and blog about them. Norm Frampton has saved me, and probably a bevy of other bloggers, from  permanent butt-spread with his #ThursdayDoors challenges. 

In the San Francisco Bay Area, early October means Fleet Week, five days during which the Navy comes to town. Among the many events are the Blue Angels air shows which can be seen (and heard) throughout the bay as they rehearse and then perform.

Several locations are ideal for viewing the air shows, and we’ve been to most of them, however this year we decided to view one of their “practices” from the middle of the bay aboard the San Francisco Belle.

Our friends and their grandkids in front of the San Francisco Belle

The Belle is a three story, mock paddlewheel steamer used primarily for parties, weddings and anniversaries. After boarding they feed you and ply you with champagne as they “paddle” to the middle of the bay and stop.

Beyond these modest doors is the grand staircase leading to the ballrooms.

After the show began, we walked up to the observation deck and watched as the jets pivoted through the skies at frightening speeds.  I’m not usually all in for military shows but my father used to teach Navy pilots aeronautical engineering in China Lake (Southern California) and he loved to do what I called loop-di-loos high above the desert floor to scare the crap out of me. He died on this day ten years ago so I’m feeling a bit sentimental for those loop-di-loos.

#ThursdayDoors: Sky Hearts

I haven’t been blogging or writing much lately.  The reason: the heat. The heat steals all my ambition and leaves me longing for short days and long nights, the rain, the fog and particularly the drizzle. Even when a cool breeze is blowing, being outside this time of year requires pockets full of Kleenex. Allergy medicine only renders me more useless. However today is Thursday Doors and so I have roused myself sufficiently to finally move on from Janis Joplin.

This is the entrance to American Conservatory Theater (ACT), also known as the Geary, in downtown San Francisco.  It’s a non-profit theater and acting school which has launched the successful careers of innumerable actors since it was built in 1910. The doors are not that fancy unless you look at the detailing around the portico.

The Curran Theater is right next door.

This theater hosts commercially successful plays and musicals whereas the ACT focuses on pieces that are meant to be discussed and analyzed.  There are, of course, hundreds of theaters in San Francisco but these two along with the Orpheum (which is further down Market Street) are the biggies. Of course, we were in the City to see a play so finding these theaters and their doors was something I expected to do. No surprise there. However it’s always the unexpected that is the most fun to share.

Like a plane forming a heart over Union Square. I have no idea why.  A marriage proposal?

And then after lunch we stumbled upon this interesting “window”?

A peace sign made of license plates.  On the other side of the wall is this most unusual conference room.

Sure beats the conference rooms where I spent way too many hours of my life. I don’t know why CEOs think something creative is going to come out of a boring, drab room with no windows but they do. We would not have discovered these two delightful places had I not had to pee. They were both in the basement of the hotel/restaurant where we’d chosen to have lunch: The Zeppelin.

If the heat’s not getting you down (or even if it is) head on over to Norm Frampton’s Thursday Doors event. Perhaps someone else has stumbled onto something unique while trying to find a place to pee.

#ThursdayDoors: The Camp Store

Options, options, too many options!

I haven’t been blogging much recently for a couple of reasons. First, I’ve been trying to figure out how to self-publish using Createspace.  Or perhaps that should be, how NOT to self-publish using Createspace.  Sheesh. Right now I’m at a loggerheads involving pricing and distribution and waiting for a callback from their support staff, so, why not skip on over and join Norm Frampton’s weekly doors event I thought!

The second reason for not keeping up my blogging schedule is, I’ve been down in San Diego helping take care of a two month old baby, my grandson. He lives with his family across the street from a state-run campground with a Five Star view. And how could it not?  It’s literally perched on a cliff above the Pacific Ocean. Below is a pebbly beach which almost disappears at high tide.

Although it’s location and view are Five Star, the camp is quite equalitarian. You’ll find million dollar, high tech Winnebagos sitting next to folks with just a tent and camp stove. I didn’t take any pictures (sorry Norm), because I figure people don’t go to campsites to be featured on #ThursdayDoors. However I did take photos of the stage (above) where camp rangers give presentations on ecology during the day and movies are shown at night. They have doors of a sort but I have no idea what’s beyond them.

And lest you wonder where the heck the real doors are – drum roll please – I present the camp store.

A place where you can purchase items you’ve forgotten such as toothpaste and aspirin.

After a long day of changing poopie diapers, getting spit up on, and making endless bottles, what better way to relax than watching the sun go down on a pebbly beach.  Have a lovely weekend everyone. It’s supposed to be hot, hot, hot here.  Rats!