Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Glass Castles and Engulfing Fires



This past weekend my adoptive hometown had a fire that destroyed its oldest building, circa 1873. Before the 1930s it was a pool hall and bar but during Prohibition when alcohol was banned across the nation they had to serve food in order to keep their license to run a pool hall so hot dogs replaced the liquor. After Prohibition ended the building became known far and wide as the place you go to get hot dogs and beer. Too young to go inside a bar? No problem. They had a window on the street where you could walk up and order. Many hot summer nights when we couldn't sleep my husband and I would go for a ride and find ourselves getting hot dogs and taking them down to the moonlit river. The place was more than just the town’s tavern, it’s a place where memories were made. As recently as two days before the fire I had dinner there with a couple of my husband’s old classmates. We’ve been meeting there for decades, whenever they come to town, and I’m glad my husband didn’t live long enough to see this fire on the news. It would have broke his heart. He was sentimental about his hometown.

I don’t understand why anyone takes part in hot dog eating contests but this bar has been having them since 1968. The names of the winners lined the walls of the bar, each one printed on a two inch wide slat. The owner said all that information is on a data base and can be recreated when they rebuild. The owners are resilient. Within a few hours of the fire department and gas company getting to the scene the owners had set up the pop-up tent they use for outdoor events and they were making and give away hot dogs to all the on-lookers and people working on the fire. They didn’t quit for two days, until all the hot spots were finally out and the fire department left. True to the character of this tourist town, the other businesses are rallying around their neighbor. They’ve organized a day next week when 15% of all sales will go to the seventy---yes, 70---employees of the bar and a custom tee-shirt shop has already raised several thousand to go to the fund plus offers of temporary jobs are pouring in to tide them over until the bar can be rebuilt. Small towns have big hearts.

Movie Day: Last month my Movie and Lunch Club got canceled because the woman in charge was ill and in the hospital. She’s still not out of the woods but someone else stepped up to the plate to organize our lunch plans and to pick the movie. I don’t always like the restaurants or movies chosen but I sure wouldn’t want the job, so I would never breathe a word of complaint. It involves maintaining an e-mailing list of nearly fifty people, notifying everyone each month of the plans, then calling reservations in to the restaurants for those who promise to show up. We average fifteen to twenty-five people but not always the same fifteen to twenty-five. 

This week we saw The Glass Castle with Brie Larson, Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts taking the leading roles in this film based on a memoir written by Jeannette Walls.  IMBd describes the storyline like this: “A young girl comes of age in a dysfunctional family of nonconformist nomads with a mother who's an eccentric artist and an alcoholic father who would stir the children's imagination with hope as a distraction to their poverty.” Wikipedia says the film came out with the critics praising the work of the cast but criticizing “the mishandled tones and material.” I don’t know if that’s a fair observation but several in our group who read the book, said the movie followed the book closely. 

Did I like the film? It’s hard to use the word ‘like’ about a movie depicting four children growing up with no stability, never having enough to eat, never going to school and living in such turmoil and filth. It was an engaging movie that you won’t soon forget. In an author interview Ms. Walls said she believes her father was bi-polar and trying to self-medicate with alcohol but she never doubted that she was loved which is probably why the kids were able to turn their adult lives around. She also said that Woody Harrelson nailed both her father’s dark side and his generosity of spirit. And now I want to read the book. Okay, I guess that means I liked and I would recommend the movie.  ©
 Official Movie Trailer

 Interview with the Author of The Glass Castle
 

22 comments:

  1. I remember going back home for a visit and finding the general store - where we used to wait for the school bus - on the ground in shambles. It had been demolished. I remember thinking that something important had been erased.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I felt that way when a place I worked for 10 years was torn down. With this fire, people were standing around crying as this building burned. I'm going to lunch there in town on Monday and don't know if the brick facade will still be standing. They weren't sure if it was still structurally sound to reuse.

      Delete
  2. As you say: small towns, big hearts.

    I recently read a film review of 'The Dinner' (Richard Gere, Laura Linney) and was expecting that film to be mentioned via your movies club. I'm easily satisfied - out of curiosity, I read a few different reviews of the film, and that was it. I've never been a movie going person, happy just to read the outline. ~ Libby

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sometimes the reviews and its trailer is all you need. They pick out the best parts and the movie itself falls flat. I saw the trailer to The Dinner and I didn't have any interest in seeing it. I didn't have any interest in seeing the Glass Castle either but I'm glad I did. There were lots of quotable things said that makes you think.

      Delete
  3. I wish the owners of the Beer and Hot Dog place best wishes on the rebuild.
    That story sounds very familiar, think I lived part of that ...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think a lot of people living in small towns can relate as all small towns had a gathering place similar. This one had even recently turned the upstairs area into a banquet room.

      Delete
  4. It is a shame that the hot dog place burned, it is really sad to see a building with that much history and so many memories lost, but I do love how people can come together to take care of one another ang give the owners a reason to rebuild.
    Bantam Chef was a small restaurant at the end of my grandmothers street when I was growing up,just a small building no inside dining but excellent food, I always went there until I left SC and stopped in when I visited. In 2014 when Cindy and I were there, we actually saw a dozer and backhoe completely demolish the building to make room for a public parking area, I feel a pain in my heart just thinking of this.

    Your review of The Glass Castle makes me want to read the book too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I guess we all want to believe the places our childhood memories were formed around will always be there. But of course, that's not how life works.

      Everyone I talked to who have read the book says it's really worth reading.

      Delete
  5. I love how the community has pulled together for those affected by the fire. You are so right, small towns do have big hearts. Hope they can rebuild.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The owners are young (compared to me)so I think they have the will. I suppose it matters if they were fully insurance for the task. The whole town is pulling for them.

      Delete
  6. What optimism on their part! Already rebuilding more memories. Good for them!

    I read the book and I can't remember why I chose it. But it really was compelling ... especially since it is mostly true. Makes me thankful for my normal and boring upbringing. Love your blog!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. From what I've read, it's all true and based on the memories of not only the author but of her siblings as well. "Compelling" is a great word. It definitely applies to the movie as well. I went out of the theater being grateful for my normal upbringing too.

      Thank you! Some blog entries are harder to write than others, aren't they.

      Delete
  7. One whole section 1/2 block burned down in my home town. The store where we ordered our honor sweaters. The drug store/soda fountain where we hung out at noon. The general store where we could find anything we wanted, including Mother's Day presents for our moms. They have cleaned up the site, but not re-built and I doubt they ever will. It doesn't make sense in a town of 1,000 people off the beaten path. Hurts my heart every time I drive through there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think that happens to a lot of little towns that were built before the turn of the century. This town was luckier than many small towns because they had some forward looking people running it and they turned it into a destination place when the only employer, a small factory shut down.

      Delete
  8. Interesting perspective on the movie. Am trying to wade through Hillbilly Elegy which others probably find interesting, but somewhere along the line i tired of stories depicting physical, mental, emotional abuse of minors. I knew or knew of such families which makes it all too real and I'm kinda sick of so much realism in TV's offerings and elsewhere in our lives today. There can be much to care about these individuals -- admiration for those who cope, survive and emerge to not repeat the same mistakes, but so much pain and damage to get to that point. Guess I'm just not in a state of mind for that type of entertainment right now.

    I know what you mean about small town residents supporting one another. Years ago a former Afghan Air Force pilot had opened a restaurant that was later destroyed by an accidental fire. He expected he would be leaving town, but then people showed up to clean up the ashes. Later fellow businesses provided financial backing enabling him to rebuild. His restaurant has grown in size with indoor, outdoor seating, now features entertainment and is one of the more popular spots with a broad menu also featuring Afgan food. His father had been an Afghan government official, his grandfather a warlord. Soon after the U.S. became involved in Afghan. with the Iraq war he explained his former nation's history and how forces that had survived centuries were not likely to be squelched more than temporarily, at best. This has proven to be true. Our govt. would have been better off consulting with him than most of the so-called experts they did.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wasn't happy when I heard what movie we'd be seeing because I was hoping for something really upbeat, silly or light and fluffy. But it didn't take long to get into the story and leave satisfied with the 'happy ending' such as it was.

      Your small town story is a wonderful example of a successful immigration that enriches our country. Small towns are the best.

      Delete
  9. That sort of community spirit is terrific. Great support.

    I'm with Joared with regard to my reading and viewing material these days. At present, I'm seeking a little more escapism. There's too much Reality in my reality as it is.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know what you mean. We sure are getting an overload of reality these days. For me it's like a train wrench you can't quit watching.

      Delete
  10. It sounds like a good film. I thought Brie Larson was great in Room -Jean

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. All the actors were great, especially the children who had large rolls.

      Delete
  11. I'm glad to read your response to The Glass Castle. It's one I've been wanting to read, and now I'm going to really make an effort to do so. I suppose buying the book would be a good first step!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a story/memoir with a lot of red meat. Those in our club who read the book and saw the movie was awed by both.

      Delete