Thursday, August 10, 2017


Flashback to life before blogging:

     When my former agent at Little Brown rejected yet another attempt at a second book, younger son Tim said, "You should try putting your writings in a blog, Mom."  I dismissed the notion. If my yarns weren't good enough to be published, who would want to read them?   Moreover, I didn't have time for such an experiment because I was involved daily with my sister Janeth, who had developed Alzheimer's.
     Meanwhile, still a stubborn would-be author, I had turned to dramaturgist Michael Mitchell, who was working with my Newton High School classmate, Aura Kruger, on her memoir about successfully teaching Shakespeare to black students in the Deep South.  Michael had excellent advice concerning Saving Dad, a humorous biography of ex-husband Ed Malley, co-written by our daughter Kathie.  We submitted it again, but despite the fine professional help, back flew the pages to my doorstep, like my mom's "homing pigeon" poems, as she called them.  It was then that Michael, like Tim, came up with the idea of a blog.  My sister had moved from assisted living in Hingham to devoted new caregivers in Maine, her granddaughter Stephanie and her daughter Linda.  Suddenly I had ample time to explore this new world.
     Kathie, whose blog was being managed by Pat Daniel, explained that I would need Pat's help until I learned to handle on my own the intricacies of posts, pages, labels, and the initially puzzling need to schedule a series of episodes in reverse order for them to appear chronologically.  There was also the question of a title.
     I have a confession to make. I told a fib about my age. Why? Because tears and laughter at 90 was so much catchier than tears and laughter at 89 plus 7 months.  When the title recently became officially accurate, I decided on an unusual celebration.
Introductory paragraphs by Bill Wennerberg, Cohasset and Marshfield duplicate bridge director:
     Retired presidents jump out of perfectly good airplanes; senior citizens have quiet family parties to celebrate their birthdays.  A member of my Owl's Nest bridge club did it a little bit differently when the clock struck 90 on Wednesday, August 17, 2011.
     At Jenny Koenecke's Marshfield duplicate bridge game, Barbara and partner Marcia VanEtten took a 60% first place, and thanks to Queen of Chefs, Grace Mattern, enjoyed a delicious cake with cream cheese frosting and two candles to blow out, a 9 and a 0.  Despite the day's excitement she managed to achieve this feat. But the celebrating didn't end there. . . . 

     On Thursday I drove to Norwood Memorial Airport and personally flew a Twin Comanche for the first time in thirty-five years.  Not that I went up alone--I'm adventurous but not dotty.  Zeke Valtz, owner of Horizon Aviation based at the airport, welcomed me, as cameras from the Boston Globe and Channel 5 news covered my every move except to the restroom.
     It isn't like boarding an airliner and walking to your seat, especially not at ninety.  To climb into Zeke's Twin Comanche, a nonagenarian must first step up onto the wing (with help), then lower herself into the seat (with help).  Zeke gave me a brief refresher course on using my feet to steer with the rudders.  Then I taxied to the active runway, where Zeke performed the run-up, a procedure I recalled  only vaguely, involving checking vital instruments like the carburetor heat (no icing on the wings this glorious summer day), then said, "Your aircraft."  I zoomed down the runway, raised the nose, and lo! we were airborne on a pre-planned coastal flight over the homes of duplicate bridge friends in Hingham, Cohasset, Scituate, Marshfield, Duxbury, and Plymouth, America's Hometown.  "She buzzed them!" a Channel 5 news host laughed the next day.
     With Zeke's help ("My aircraft"), we made a picture perfect landing about forty-five minutes later.  Pilot Valtz reported that I truly (no fibbing) did about 98% of the actual flying.
     Like the Tin Man, I was aware of lots of rust, particularly when it was time to disembark. It was like that day in my eighties when I decided to take a bath instead of showering.  It was wonderfully relaxing until I began trying to get out. I faced the same challenge with the Twin Comanche, a very big tub indeed.  I was listening to instructions, walking slowly backwards on the wing, clutching Zeke's hand for support when a male voice made an offer:  "Would you mind if I just lifted you down bodily?"  I said I'd love it. I still don't know which tall, strong pilot came to my rescue, but it was a magical Wizard-of-Oz moment.
     There was an error in the Channel 5 news.  I didn't get my license in the 40s.  I was busy raising Kathie, Teddy, Vonnie and Timmy.  It was in 1962 that Ted got a summer job at Logan Airport, someone took him for a ride, and before long we had a pilot in the family.  Ed couldn't let the kid get ahead of him, so we soon had two pilots in the family.  As for me, when I took my first lesson in January of 1963, I said to Bruce Pronk, "All I want to do is learn to land this aircraft."   

     Within half an hour I was hooked. What a wonderful feeling it was to handle the Tri Pacer myself, to discover how obediently it would turn, glide, or climb when I followed Bruce's directions.  How exciting it  was to be learning again, to shake the mothballs from my brain and set it to thinking.
     "Dee-lightful!" Bruce said a few lessons
later when I began making those picture perfect landings -- the perfect name for our new Twin Comanche, Plane Deelightful.
January 16, 2012 
To: Michele Morgan Bolton, Boston Globe
Subject: Rumors greatly exaggerated
Hi Michele!
     You’ll be interested to hear that two different members of the Cohasset Golf Club came up to my son Ted around the time your article appeared.  They both offered their condolences.     
     I got an e-mail from Ted inquiring “Are you alive?’  I suppose they’d heard someone mention that my name was in the Globe and jumped to conclusions.
Your very much alive friend. . . .


  1. What an spectacular, amazing woman we have in our lives ...

  2. SLAM HAPPY BARBARAAugust 31, 2011 at 8:09 PM

    Oh my goodness, thank you, whoever you are. My birthday delights go on and on.

    Now if only I hadn't kept over bidding today, leaving poor Marcia stuck with unmakable contracts--but she did say she'd see me again next week.

  3. Now that you are 90, what will your next adventure be?!

  4. In August 2012 I plan to go to Norwood Airport again but this time will sign up for takeoffs and landings in a small plane. I'm hoping it will be easier to disembark, but if it isn't, there's always whoever-it-was to lift me off bodily.

    1. 6-16-13 That adventure didn't take place because these old bones can barely climb into a car, never mind an airplane.

  5. younger son tim was on target re: the blog.
    yours is great.

  6. Gгeetings frоm California! I'm bored to tears at work so I decided to browse your blog on my iphone during lunch break. I enjoy the information you provide here and can't wait
    to take а look ωhen I get home. I'm shocked at how quick your blog loaded on my cell phone .. I'm not
    even using WIFI, juѕt 3G .. Anyhow, fantaѕtic blog!

    my blog; seks

  7. What a perfectly delightful message awaited me this morning. I've had relatively few comments - 175 - since I started this blog in the spring of 2011. I took a look at seks, wasn't sure which one was yours. . . perhaps the one with the photos?
    I'm ignorant about WIFI and 3G but grateful you found me and made this old gal's day. . . nay week and month.
    Thank you so much!

  8. Barbara -

    Came over here to get the link to post and stopped to enjoy the flight!

    Love always,


  9. Love always to my Mom's #1 fan from way back when you were a child. It is such a pleasure to visit your blog, rhapsodyenbleucoeur, and see Ernestine's poems published with charming artistic embellishments.
    Your grateful friend. . . .