Sunday, March 31, 2013


Frank’s Fax Facts and Reviews

Vol.. XIV No. 2

Sunday, March 31, 2013                                                                                            

                         Happy Easter 2013!


My two most unforgettable Easters were both spent in Providence Hospital, when it was still downtown (the building was bought by South Alabama, and operates now as the Veterans Clinic) The first time, I had a stroke (though, after a month there and in the Rotary Center, nobody could confirm, that is what I had suffered!) And that has to have been the worst month of my life! My sister, Helen came down and stayed in my house; caring for my cat, Trudy I, and driving down to stay with me most of the time. Cora Fairley, also came and stayed at my house (when Helen would go home for a day or two) and my friends were wonderful: Father Kelly came all the way from      . where he had been sent, and brought me potted flowers that lasted for years. and I still use the pot they were in!) Mary Jane Scruggs and Margaret Murphy visited often, and on Easter Sunday, brought me a chicken dinner from Church’s Fried Chicken (the best in town, in my estimation). I have seldom enjoyed a meal quite so much in my life. An older adult student, Elizabeth Nelson, who had become a good friend, brought me a steak dinner she had cooked especially for me. That was unbelievably wonderful. Later, when she said she would like to cook something else for me, I persuaded her to repeat that successful meal! She was thrilled to death to comply with my wishes! Two former students from Hattiesburg (Larry Williamson and Billy Ulmer) drove down, bringing all sorts of goodies; Steve Moore came, and knowing I had no pajamas, brought several pairs (thankfully all of then were Shorties!) so I didn’t have to wear that awful backless nightgown hospitals make you wear! After I was released, Steve came back down and took Helen and me for lunch at Crockmeyers’ Restaurant. It was much less noisy than usual that day, thank Heaven! Anna and Glenn came and stayed with me a few days (one of them being the first Sunday I was allowed to go home for the day. That day at home was sheer heaven, but when I had to return to a life of medications, X rays, injections, and being kept awake by nurses taking my temperature all night long: I wanted to go AWOL!

One test I remember most vividly was when the doctor (whose name I have conveniently forgotten, made me sign a document before he shot hot dye all through my brain! After that, I was so sick that (when they tried to force some vile medicine down my throat, I threw up all over myself and the bed!

On Easter Sunday, before my chicken dinner, Anna and Glenn had visited me, and wrapped me up with blankets in order to allow me to go outside in a wheelchair so I could hold Trudy in my lap. That was the best part of the day, as far as I was concerned.

Betty and Henry Stevens drove down from Richton, to wish me well. Another sister, Josephine (I cannot remember whether Bill was with her or not) came down while the Stevens were there, bringing her book with her. She sat and read her romance novel when she was not the only one there.

So, it was a very busy (and exhausting) day for me. Jack Morgan came, bringing me an Easter Lily and some expensive soap; (Val Early had brought the first lily to me earlier) and by that time, I was being inundated with their sweet and sickly smell! I never want to get too close to another Easter Lily after that day!

Mercifully, the day ended. It was wonderful to have so many friends (and I cannot remember some of the names of the rest) but I was really not able to be a good host.

Four years later, I had a stroke and was in the same dreary location on Easter Sunday! I will spare you that memory, since that was when I had open heart surgery.



Draft Dodgers Anonymous

Operas and Operettas

        I took a cab to the address where I would be spending the next six days. When my hostess came to the door, I was relieved when she welcomed me with perfect English! The house was pretty and my room was perfect, as far as I was concerned. She lived with another woman, and I have forgotten how they were related, but they were both sweet and always kind, considerate and polite. I had my very own bathroom, which was a huge plus.

        I lay down and had a soothing nap after she left, and prior to getting showered and dressed for the evening’s concert.

        The Opera House itself, was very imposing. I tried to think back on how many years Richard Wagner had tried to get the opera house built, that would be able to meet all of his demands for performances of his operas, and nobody else’s. It was a Bavarian Prince who had it built to all of Wagner’s specifications. The Prince, was later declared “Mad” and took that name with him to the grave: Mad Ludwig.

        I had purposely arrived very early, in order to acquaint myself with the necessary information that would help me with the four Operatic Performances that would follow.

        Having never heard even a recording of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony (at this point in my life, I did not care for Beethoven. After detesting one of his sonatas that I had to play in a competition that Mr. Huck entered me, I grew (over the years) to play it again, and found it one of the greatest works for piano that I had ever performed!) I really was dreading so much Beethoven and no other composer; but almost from the first downbeat of the conductor, I was overwhelmed with the sheer greatness and beauty of the work. I sat back, relaxed and just let the sounds run all over my mind and heart. And then it was over! I could not believe that any Symphony, with four long movements (the last has the Chorus and Soloists) could be over in fifteen minutes (which is what I felt I had been sitting through).The work is justifiably lauded and certainly one of any composer’s masterpiece rating. The soloists were all first class (as was every thing in Wagner’s World).

        I wandered back to my lodging, walking slowly (I had taken a cab to get there, but cabs meant extra money.)

        By the time I got into my rented bed, I thought that I would never be able to sleep: not the bed’s fault. My poor brain was working overtime, after my falling in love with Ludwig, and that kept getting interrupted by memories I had of hearing Robert Pope’s recording of one act of Die Walkure (that occupied   several 78 records. The recording continued in Germany, but I couldn’t remember if the entire opera had made it at the time I was seeing it. Ed Kohler found an old army buddy of mine and gave me his address. It was our printer, James Modespachre. After I had written him, he had his wife write a reply (he was too ill to write) and said he remembered my as saying, “If it’s not Wagner, it isn’t opera.” Well, I may have had this zeal back before I sat through the entire Ring Cycle, but I swore then and there, that I would never again put myself in the position! My friend, Robert Pope, had lost count of the number of times he has loved every moment of it. But, he did introduce me to Wagner’s greatness (which I recognize, but I prefer several other composers’ works: Verdi, Puccini, and even Mennotti! Then, I would list Wagner!




        The next morning, I was greeted with my first Continental Breakfast: and it was truly memorable and wonderful. I was accustom to everything about the day’s first meal, being red hot. We always had Mama’s divine hot biscuits, scalding hot coffee (which I drank with milk, and often do still) and then we had whatever we wanted, cooked (usually fried) from the market. It might be pork chops, or a steak; but more often it was either bacon or sausages. I was partial to sausage patties Mama or Helen could make. They basically simply mixed the meat as if for meat balls, then fried these, and served with hot biscuits, I found it irresistible!

        When my tray (with some fresh cut flowers added) was brought to my room, I was delighted to see fresh cherries, in abundance, along with stout German bread and two different kinds of marmalade. The cup of steaming coffee was strong, but delicious. This same breakfast was brought to me every day I stayed there, and I always ate every crumb! I was falling ever more deeply in love with the present day Germany!

        I learned that the cherries were grown by the ladies, themselves. It was a lovely Cherry tree! I smiled when I wondered vaguely if the Germans had a president who ever chopped down a cherry tree.

        After I ate, I got ready for the day, and decided to walk around the town and try to find some souvenirs to send to my friends and family back home.

(Continued Next Week)


Cat Facts

Never trust anyone who doesn’t like cats.


(These words of wisdom are imprinted on a throw pillow on one of Ginger’s favorite chairs. Therefore, I suppose it’s anonymous.

Old Movies Trivia Quiz #76

  1. The Emperor Waltz was a musical, ser in the Austria of Franz Joseph. Starring Bing Crosby and what other Oscar winning star? Hint: she had a sister who won two best actress Oscars?
  2. Johnny Belinda won an Oscar for what Warner Bros. actress?
  3. Who was her leading man?
  4. Lana Turner and Richard Burton starred in which misbegotten remake of The Rains Came?

5 .MGM’s Raintree County had Liz Taylor and Eva Marie Saint playing with which leading man?

6. David O. Selznick’s follow up to Gone with the Wind, was a vehicle for his wife. What was her name?

7. Edna Ferber’s novel, Show Boat was filmed twice. The second version starred this time  Kathryn Grayson what singing star of MGM?

8. Can you name the Edna Ferber novel that was made into the film that was the last performance this young Star played?

9. Cher’s first dramatic role was in the play that had this same young star in its title. Do you remember?

10. Dean Martin, after breaking with what other male star, went on to make it big in serious films?



Old Movies Trivia Quiz #75

1.  I Confess is the absorbing tale of a Catholic priest who hears a penitent's confession to a murder, and is suspected and tried for the murder himself. Anne Baxter is the former sweetheart of the priest, played by Montgomery Clift. 

2. Sunset Boulevard is the story of a once popular movie queen, played by Gloria Swanson (who came out of retirement to make the film. William Holden was the young actor whose life she tries to dominate?

3. Corvette Summer was the story of a young man (played by Mark Hammil) whose car is stolen, and who spends the rest of the film trying to retrieve it.

4. In Amadeus, F. Murray Abraham was the Oscar winning star who played jealous composer, Salieri?

5. Mozart trying desperately to finish his Requiem Mass, before his untimely death?

6. Bud Abbot and Lou Costello made their hit musical comedy Buck Privates?

7. The Andrews Sisters“Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” one of the biggest pop music hits of the World War II. Patty died recently, and I wept for the days when we had boogie Woogie and talent like this trio!

8. You’ve Got Mail (recently) and The Shop around the Corner (1940) were both based on the same story line. This was the second version, and starred Judy Garland and Van Johnson (with Judy’s daughter making her screen debut in the final scene.  This charming film was titled In the Good Old Summertime.

       9. Robert Montgomery played The Earl of Chicago. He had a daughter (Elizabeth) who made a big hit, playing a Witch on a long running situation comedy.

       10. Notorious was an RKO film. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock famous, who also had a successful Television career.





Sunday, March 24, 2013

FF XIV, No. 1

Frank’s Fax Facts and Reviews

Vol.. XIV No. 1

Sunday, March 24, 2013                                                                                            

Spring Has Sprung

After the complete lack of anything even resembling winter last year, we actually had a few days in which I was able (at long last) to wear some of my winter wardrobe. Now, with the first day of spring behind us, the weather seems still to be confused: my azaleas, which were not cut back this fall, were never more gorgeous. The fresh green leaves with the Pride of Mobile blossoms still make a most agreeable picture! I wanted to capture this sight on film, but alas, my cameras have not captured a single photograph so far. My oldest (which was always so easy to use) has a started roll of film inside, but nothing is working right. I try to move the film to the next number, and the thing seems dead! And my two expensive cameras (one from George is magnificent- another I bought for myself, and never learned how to use). I might do better if I could buy film for my 75 year old dollar “Brownie”, from Kodak that my sister, Josephine, gave me in the 1930’s!

My Carolina jasmine’s yellow blossoms, added to the white azaleas, and two giant Wisteria bushes, with their non-edible clusters of grapes, make for a beautiful sight indeed.


Draft Dodgers Anonymous

Operas and Operettas

German opera houses are different from those in the US in one significant way: you are not allowed to be seated after the performance begins. These people take their operas seriously! I was all for this practice, until I happened to arrive late (for an unusual afternoon performance of Wagner’s Parsifal, on Good Friday.) The reason I was late was that the only soldiers excused from duty on this Holy Day, were those of the Jewish Faith. I was so irate that I walked into the room full of officers, and said that I could not understand why one sect would be excused because the day was called Passover, and I would not be excused to see an opera that does honor to the Christian religions. I finally convinced them to let me off (the fact that I was a musician, and wanted to see an opera that I might never again have the opportunity of seeing, otherwise) must have touched their hearts.

By the time I was able to get to the Opera House, the orchestra was playing the Overture. I had my ticket in my hand, and attempted to enter the theater. I was stopped by one of the ushers (who always have programs for sale, for a small fee). I tried (with my limited German vocabulary) to explain why I was late. I knew he finally gave in and allowed me to “Break the Law” and not miss any of the work I had been so determined to see. And when you miss an act of Wagner, that’s a large part of a full day!

I made it a habit, after that, to be on time, or not to go that night. There was usually another opportunity to see the opera later on.


       That first year I had spent at Michigan State, one of the required courses for my degree, was a class on Musical Literature. The teacher was a darling old gentleman who apparently had just two suits of clothes. But he always looked wonderful; and those suits were always as fresh looking as if they had just been purchased! I was already familiar with lots of the recorded music we listened to, but there were still enough new materials to make the course well worth its time. Dr. Barbour had taught George once or twice, and he seemed to expect me to be just as good as my brother had been. So, I was “knocking myself out” trying to surpass George!  

The first quarter, we covered all types of composers, but the middle quarter was dedicated solely to Wagner’s Ring of the Nebelungen Cycle.  Dr. Barbour loved teaching us everything he knew (which was legendary) about this monumental work. He had been to the Festival at Bayreuth in the 1920’s, and described everything about those performances that made me determined to get tickets for the entire Ring (four connected operas plus a fifth evening devoted to Beethoven’s Choral Symphony) as soon as I got my bearings in Karlsruhe.

There was, on the first floor, an American Express office that I asked George Caravasius if I might be able to get the tickets for this festival. He said it seemed very likely, so the second week of my stay there, I went in and found that not only could I buy my tickets there, but they even asked if I would like them to book me room in a private home in Bayreuth. I had never considered that possibility. I asked the clerk if that was the usual procedure, and he assured me the cost, alone, would make it desirable. “The hotels in and around the city are rented months in advance; and I can put you in a lovely home, for about a tenth of what a hotel room would cost. And, they serve a continental breakfast every morning!”   It would be necessary to rent the room for five nights, and with the tickets (the cost was a mere ten dollars a night). Add to that, my train fare and two more meals each day, and it was by far the most expensive thing I had ever attended!


As my train wound its way through the countryside surrounding Bayreuth, I was filled with delight! I was falling in love with Germany! I loved the people. They were all so friendly; always. They were also the cleanest folks I had ever met. Even the woods, through which I loved to walk on my way downtown, where immaculately “manicured” (or so it seemed to me), There was not the usual wild look that was so prevalent in Mississippi!

As I got off the train, I saw a line of taxi cabs. I took the card on which I had written the name and address of my host, and asked the driver if he knew where my room was located. He smiled broadly, as he nodded, “Ja vohl!” When I walked up to the front door of the charming house that was to be my home for the better part of a week, I began having second thoughts about the “What if Factor”. I could have saved myself this anxiety. The two women who were my hostesses, acted as though I was an old friend, from my arrival until my reluctant departure.

The room, itself, was perfect. The bed was comfortable and everything was immaculately clean and pretty. To make it perfect, I had my very own bath room!

It was Sunday, and tonight I was going to see the famous Opera House that Wagner had worked so long and hard to have built. It was certainly impressive, with fantastic acoustics. The huge stage was filled with the orchestra and the chorus, plus the soloists for Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Up to this point, I had never heard a full performance of the work, so I was excited, to say the least.

To be continued


Cat Naps

Dogs have owners. Cats have staffs.

(Legend on Ginger’s water dish)


Old Movies Trivia Quiz #75

1.  I Confess is the absorbing tale of a Catholic priest who hears a penitent’s confession to a murder, and is suspected and tried for the crime himself. Anne Baxter is the former sweetheart of the priest, played by which popular actor? 

2. Sunset Boulevard is the story of a once popular movie queen, played by Gloria Swanson (who came out of retirement to make the film). Who was the young actor whose life she tries to dominate?

3. Corvette Summer was the story of a young man (played by which actor?) whose car is stolen, and who spends the rest of the film trying to retrieve it.

4. In Amadeus, who was the Oscar winning star who played jealous composer, Salieri?

5. What choral work was Mozart trying desperately to finish, before his untimely death?

6. What popular (at first) comedians made their hit musical comedy Buck Privates?

7. What trio of singers sang“Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” one of the biggest pop music hits of      of World War II?

8. You’ve Got Mail (recently) and The Shop around the Corner (1940) were both based on the same story line. This was the second version, and starred Judy Garland and Van Johnson (with Judy’s daughter making her screen debut in the final scene). What was this charming film version called?

       9. What actor played The Earl of Chicago? He had a daughter who made a big hit on TV playing a witch?

       10. Notorious was an RKO film. Directed by Which famous director, who also had a successful Television career? In the movie, Ingrid Bergman gives Cary Grant the screen’s longest kiss, up to that time.

Answers to last week’s Trivia Quiz #74

          1. James Cagney, the tough-guy dancer of Hollywood, was in Doctorow’s Ragtime.

2.     Betty Hutton was “Annie Oakley” in Irving Berlin’s Annie, Get your Gun,

3.     Doris Day, also, played a similar part in the film Calamity Jane which featured the song, “Once I had a Secret Love”.

4.     Clara Bow was the star who was called the “It” girl. Think silent films,

5.     Clark Gable was about to wed Carole Lombard when she was killed: selling war bonds.

6.     The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” (completes the title)

7.     Nick and Nora Charles (William Powell and Myrna Loy) were the favorite married couple solving crimes in MGM comedies. The Thin Man series.

8.     Back Street, made into 2 different films, was based on a book by Fannie Hurst. And it was made a third time! I erred!

9.     A version of Sadie Thompson, by W. Somerset Maugham starred that gorgeous redhead, Rita Hayworth (Miss Sadie Thompson)

10.    Aldo Ray was the handsome, raspy-voiced, blond actor in God’s Little Acre, Miss Sadie Thompson” and Pat and Mike.




Sunday, March 17, 2013


Frank’s Fax Facts and Reviews

Vol. XVIII, No. 54

Sunday, March 17, 2013                                                                                            

Happy Saint Patties Day

        My stay in Ann Arbor, Michigan was made a lot more enjoyable, thanks to the most Irish person I had ever met: and who remains that after al these years. My sister, Josephine, never could admit that she was Italian, and for years tried to make the rest of us believe that we were (by some really weird dreaming on her part) at least a third French! I’ll admit, being Italian, as well as Roman Catholics, caused me many unpleasant experiences, especially during WW2. But I didn’t feel a lot of difference with that third of my body being French (which I have always looked down on, especially with respect to music. After all, most musical forms including Sonatas, Cantatas, Masses, etc. originated right there!)

        Anyway, Josephine was stubborn as a mule. This was a characteristic that we all shared: but hers was greater than the rest of us (which might have been due to the fact that she was blind, twice in her childhood). She persevered and managed to contact the church in Syracuse, NY where our newly born mother was christened. They sent her a copy of Mama’s Christening papers, which were barely legible, so old were they, as well as all of it being written by hand, that none of us was sure what it listed as Rose Demore’s mother’s place of birth (that was, of course, our maternal grandmother) George and I were fully agreed that the place of birth was listed as Italy and not Ireland, which Josephine died believing that she was at least a third Irish!

        So, I do not don green shirts, pants, of any other of “The Green” on March 17th.

        But dear, sweet Pat Donahue did! He also introduced Green Beer (which flowed like a river, in Ann Arbor on that day), and a few other green objects which I have conveniently forgotten.


Old Movie Review

Topaze (1933)

This utter waste of time left me fascinated with its underwhelming plot, poor acting and sheer nonsense in general! A very young John Barrymore is the star of the mess, and how he was ever dubbed as being a great actor, I will never understand! In this disaster (which was so bad I kept watching, thinking it HAD to get better or else they would not have released it. And it did not. Its sole asset is the presence of a young and delightful Myrna Loy,

In all fairness I hereby print Leonard Maltin’s’ review:

“Delightful filmed version of Marcel Pagnol’s about an impeccably honest but naïve schoolteacher in France, who  unwinningly becomes a dupe for wealthy baron’s business scheme.” And he gave it THREE stars!


Draft Dodgers Anonymous

Operas and Karksruhe

I have already written about the Puzfraue who bought my army-issued cigarettes. She was small, but kept my library looking as neat as a pen. She had knowledge of operas that were very impressive to me. One morning, as we were finishing her buying my government-issued cigarettes (oh, how those Germans did love those poisons!) and she asked if I were acquainted with Verdi’s Nabucco. I had never even heard of such a work before, and I very much doubted that she had gotten either the composer or the name of the opera, itself, all wrong. She had it perfectly correct, I found to my amazement the first time I had a complete list of operas to check: Nabucco, opera in four acts, by Giuseppe Verdi, etc.

After that, I did not take her knowledge of music in general, and opera in specific for granted. And I more than simply agree with her that the main reason most of my friends (no joke) despise opera is because they do not see how wonderful most of the plots are. In my own case, I had driven to New Orleans with Milfred Valentine (who was to play “The Ghost” in my setting of Oscar Wilde’s The Canterville Ghost to get him a costume to wear the following week, at the performance of the chamber opera.) After we had rented the costume, I suggested that he go with me to a performance of Mozart’s opera, The Marriage of Figaro. I had seen it once, much earlier, but it was sung in Italian (which is the language Mozart used originally). I had no idea, until we were sitting there, laughing out loud at the recitatives, or spoken song, lightly accompanied with orchestral chords or motifs, that these would be sung in English (as was the entire wonderful comic opera!) I had been rather bored, the first time I saw it, because I had no idea what they were jabbering about. But, when done in English, it is extremely risqué and hilariously naughty! Mozart was noted for this.

Now, this is but one story about why people can enjoy an opera (even though I had seen a remarkable version the first time, this was at least twice as much fun!

I asked my student on the way back to Ellisville, “Aren’t you glad I didn’t write The Canterville Ghost in Italian?” And he agreed with me.


That was the only full Opera Season I was able to attend while in Karlsruhe, because the season ran from early autumn through Easter. But, the first opera I saw there was an early work by Verdi, himself, called Aroldo (which I presume is like Harold in English. At this point in my life, I had seen (at best) only two other real opera productions (one was Tristan and Isolde of Wagner, with the Pope family, who took me along on a dream-filled weekend in New Orleans. We had the rare pleasure of hearing Kirsten Flagstad in her most famous role: and she was considered the best Isolde in history! But apart from the divinely inspired Liebestod (Love Death) it was the most boring thing called Opera that I have ever suffered through!

When I learned that Karlsruhe had opera houses (one for Grand Opera and the other for Opera Comique- which can include any work that has parts that are not sung.)

Karlsruhe had a magnificent opera, but all that remained of it when I arrived, were some still magnificent looking ruins. I was informed that British bombers had destroyed the building, I felt better knowing it had not been the US pilots.

3. Because I arrived in February, I got to see the remainder of that season’s repertoire, but after the brief summer, the another full season began.

The productions were totally fine! I never saw anything that was amateurish or anything except completely professional. Their leading soprano was worthy of the Met, and most of the men had wonderful voices. Other than that first opera I had seen there, I can remember only so many others. Somewhere in this house, I have programs from everything I saw while in the service: Dear Josephine was the one who stressed that it will seem like a dream, when it is over. And she could not have been more concise. I saved not only programs, but anything tangible! German candy wrappers and movie posters (Gone With the Wind played over a year at the biggest cinema in Karlsruhe, and when I took Helmut to see it, he cried like a baby. I asked why he thought the American story had made almost as much love as it had here, in 1939, and he said, “Frank, you don’t understand: after the war, we had nothing! Everything we loved was gone! To us, we are all Scarlett O’Haras!”  Well, touched as I was, I could not resist reminding him that they were the ones than started that ball to rolling!

But, again I got carried away!

Another wonderful benefit of being in on a season of operas in Germany could be so refreshing for someone like me!

Perhaps it was because they were a much smaller opera company than most American ones, but the operas in their repertoire were what was (at that time) considered unworthy of being re-vamped for audiences of that particular time. Consequently, I was thrilled to see Eugene O’Negan (Yevgeny Onyegin) by Tchaikovsky, His operas were right up there with his Symphonies, piano concerti, Tone Poems and Ballets; to me, it sounded like an opera that Chopin might have penned.

That first season had another first for me: Richard Strauss’s Arabella. This was something that (to my knowledge) had never been staged in the USA, This was true of much of the seasons with which I was connected. I saw my first performance of Joan of Ark at the Stake which was performed by no less an actress than Vera Zorina!

When I finally left Germany, the hardest things for me to leave were my special friend, Helmut and the opera’s Exquisite list of operas for the next season. These were (as usual) operas I would (still) die to see; even one by Handel!

To be continued



Cat Naps

“He seems the incarnation of everything that is soft and silky and velvety without a sharp edge in his composition; a dreamer whose philosophy is Sleep and let sleep.”.

Saki (H. H. Munro)


Old Movis Trivia Quiz #74

1.                       Which WB dancer­­­-and tough guy was in Doctorow’s Rag Time?

2.                       Who played “Annie Oakley”  and what was the name of the film?

3.                       Doris Day, also, played a similar western part in the film which featured the song, “Once I had a Secret Love”.

4.                       She was the star who was called the “It” girl. Think silent films,

5.                       Clark Gable was about to wed which lovely leading lady when she was killed: doing what?

6.                       The --------and Mrs. Muir” (complete the title)

7.                       They were the favorite married couple solving crimes in MGM comedies. Hint, they had a dog named Asta.

8.                       Back Street, made into 2 different films, was based on a book by whom?

9.                       A version of Sadie Thompson, by W. Somerset Maugham starred which gorgeous redhead (Miss Sadie Thompson)

10.                  Who was the handsome, raspy-voiced, blond actor in God’s Little Acre, Miss Sadie Thompson” and Pat and Mike?       



Old Movie Trivia Quiz #73

1.                    Barbara Stanwyck played Stella Dallas in the original version of this film?

2.                    Bette Midler reprised the role last.

3.                    In Tootsie, Dustin Hoffman chose to work in drag because he was unable to get a male lead.

4.                    Henry Fonda played Young Abe Lincoln?

5. `         Abe Lincoln in Illinois was the title of RKO’s 1939 film.

6.           Daniel Day-Lewis’s film, The Last of the Mohicans was based on a James Fennimore Cooper novel.

7.   Whoopy Goldberg’s  first movie was The Color Purple.

       8.       Danny Glover  played her husband in the same film,

       9.    This Spielberg film won 0 Oscars. What a rip off!

         10.      Oprah Winfree, “Richest woman in America” TV star was also introduced with The Color Purple?



Sunday, March 10, 2013


Frank’s Fax Facts and Reviews

Vol. XVIII, No. 53

Sunday, March 17, 2013 

I made my first Communion on a Holy Day of Obligation: The Virgin Mother’s Ascension into Heaven. Father Donahue said it had been a pleasure to teach me my Catechism, and that he was very glad that I had cared so much about seeing it was not neglected any longer. After that day, I managed to get to mass on Sundays at the Immaculate Conception Church in Laurel. The rest of the family seemed happy that I had succeeded in becoming a better Catholic; and I was determined to stay on track from that day on. Sadly, like most teenaged boys, my resolve was often forgotten for a while (once for five years) because of my gardening habits: Sowing a few untamed oats.

       Yesterday, I had Charles Smoke over for a bowl of my Infamous “Sicilian chili” (without beans). It was so good to see this old friend, after several months of wondering how he was doing. He seemed to enjoy my “secret recipe” (which you can see in “The Chef’s Corner”) I have sent Fax Facts to him without fail, but he had not gotten anything from me in most of a year: I had not added an AL to crsmoke@gmail,com, mainly because I had never seen it.  Sorry about that, Charley. With the chili, I had a vegetable salad that had a lot of variety in it: Romaine Lettuce, celery, artichoke hearts, beets, capers, tomato, green pepper, onion, cucumber; all seasoned with Virgin Olive Oil and Balsamic vinegar. For dessert, I relaxed and served vanilla ice cream, with fresh strawberries. Incidentally, I first met Charlie when he was a young lad who sang (at the time) in the choir at the Cathedral downtown. Father Gorman, who was there at this time, wanted to show his appreciation for the excellent choir’s beautiful music, and asked me to make them authentic Italian Meatballs and Spaghetti. That was a long time ago! We didn’t really know each other, however, until Eugene Walter returned to Mobile after spending his post WW2 years in Italy. Then, Eugene was introduced to me by Mary Jane Scruggs, and I told him about my three chamber operas. Eugene, like Frank Liszt, tried to help any composer to get his works before the public, and he asked to hear the recordings of all three works. He said he was thrilled to death by my compositions, and paid me the most beautiful compliment I have ever received: “My dear, you have the Italianate gift of melody: they are all utterly charming!”

       Eugene was a really gifted human being, and as such, was buried in the exclusive graveyard next to Mobile’s Main Library. I have set over fifty of his poems to music. I would call him whenever I started a different song, to show him what I planned to do with it. He always said that I had hit the nail right on the head, as he always loved them.



“He seems the incarnation of everything that is soft and silky and velvety without a sharp edge in his composition; a dreamer whose philosophy is Sleep and let sleep.”

Saki (H. H. Munro)


The Sicilian Chef’s Corner

Sicilian Chili with Fennel Seed

Take two pounds of ground beef and sauté it in vegetable oil which has had 6-7 large cloves of garlic, (chopped) in a large pot with a cover. Cook slowly until all of the meat is sizzling, Then add a generous amount of chili powder, and a regular sized can (6 oz.) of tomato paste, with enough water to fill the pot, almost to its top. Unless it gets too low, do not add more water. Turn the heat down between medium and low (the longer it cooks, the more the flavor lasts) so think SLOW. Add two tablespoons of Fennel Seeds any time after you have used the chili powder. Stir often. Serve with Saltine crackers (the Captain’s Wafers are easy to keep fresh: and this makes a lot of difference.)


Old Movie Review

That Hamilton Woman (United Artists: 1941)

Vivien Leigh was still the most gorgeous woman on the planet. As far as I was concerned: Recently, however, I saw Hedy Lamarr in an RKO film,          and wrote that she was even more beautiful than Scarlett O’Hara. Now, I am convinced (although it is extremely difficult to choose between these two lovely actresses.) Easy to see, the world does not produce this type of perfection very often.

   Having written all of that, I will merely say that I saw a film I had been waiting to see ever since the day it was released. Gone with the Wind had taken the civilized world by storm in 1946. MGM could barely wait to remake a film they had produced in 1931 called Waterloo Bridge, with Robert Taylor: Caesar and Cleopatra, with Claude Rains (1946)

   ` Between these new films, the public was urging the studios of the world to re-release almost anything that had been made by Vivien Leigh. MGM brought back A Yank at Oxford; a film they had made with Robert Taylor being the big star; Leigh had a minor role. But the public still went in throngs to see a younger Scarlett O' Hara.

 (Continued next week)


Draft Dodgers Anonymous:

I was lucky enough (both going and coming back from Germany) to escape even moderately stormy weather: as a matter of fact, it seemed (both times) to be picture perfect weather-wise. However, there did seem to be a small bit of little wind the day I had to perform my Ocean Waves Etude for my shipmates.

When it was my turn to “go on stage”] this literally meant playing on the open deck with no walls around us. I had no idea how this was to affect my performance. I took my bow, then sat on the chair and began shadow boxing with the piano. The composition is made up of a series of arpeggios that build up to a climax about half way through the piece, and then there is a gradual dénouement, then the final chords. The performance was “touch and go” all the way. Fortunately for me, I knew the piece so well that I was able to “fake it” to get through it without totally disgracing myself or Chopin.

There was (ironically enough) another “Talent Show” when I was making my return trip, and I again played the same Chopin Etude, and this time, I didn’t have a bit of trouble. But that was the last time I ever played the Etude, or the Revolutionary Etude in public.







My very first day in Karlsruhe was a Saturday. I was set up in my new Kassern (Smiley Barracks). I had met all of the other soldiers in my little elite group, but had not yet learned their names very well. One of the older men there was going back to the States within a month, so I never got to know him very well. But he was a musician (I forget what he did musically) and I played my (then) latest Piano Sonata, which I had begun under Dohnanyi’s guidance at FSU. He was very impressed, or at least, seemed to be.  I was really sorry that he was not around longer. I asked him (on that first day) what sort of classical music could I look forward to hearing there in Karlsruhe. He told me there was not one, but two opera houses there: The first was the Grand Opera Haus, and the Kleine Oper Haus, was for comic operas (the difference: “Grand” means there are no spoken words in them; while Opera Comique (or in this case) Das Kleines Haus, like operettas, had speaking roles as well as Lieder, or Songs.

I asked how I could get there, short of going by taxi, and he told me where to catch a bus (after drawing a map for the shortest distance to the best place for taking a bus). “Now, you have to tell the man standing at the door of the bus, that you want to go to the Opera. He will see that you get the right bus, and if you have to transfer to another bus, he will tell you when to get off.” I had serious doubts that I was going to see an opera my very first day in Karlsruhe, Germany. But it would have to be fun to try it! I was more than ready for some serious music, after months of being starved for it.

After our evening meal, I took the army bus to the center of downtown and found the Germans to be most helpful when they learn that a person is trying to get to a musical performance. A lady I asked “Wo ist de Opera-Haus?” pointed to the bus, calling its name, and then told me it would take me directly there. I still dreaded the fact that I might have to transfer, but again, my good luck was still with me. After less than fifteen minutes, the bus stopped, and the doorman flung the door open, as he smiled and motioned to me to get off. “Are we at the Opera House?” I asked stupidly.

“Doch!” he said in a gravelly voice.

“Oh!” I said, thinking (or not thinking, that he was answering my English question with an American answer: Nope!]\

He then repeated, “Doch” and at the same time pointed to what I could not possible miss: the more than excellent Bavarian Opera House of Karlsruhe. (If only Robert Pope could have been with me! He was my friend from Richton, who had almost single handedly had made an opera fan of me.)

I walked briskly to the ticket window and asked for a ticket. I had no idea what was playing that particular spring night, but almost fainted when I got a ticket for a mark! Remember, that was only about twenty-five cents!

As I entered the house, there were programs being handed to each entrant. I looked down at mine as soon as I had it in hand, and so (to my absolute joy, that there was to be a Verdi Opera that very evening. Not only that, but it was one I had never even heard of before! It was a one-word title which was the male lead’s name in the piece, but I have forgotten what it was, and am too lazy to try to find that program. Oh. Yes, I still have every program for every thing (except movies) I was able to attend for the next year and a half.

I had really seen very few live performances of Operas, prior to that mythical evening, and was literally amazed by the high standards of a city the size of Karlsruhe! First of all, the Orchestra was far from being just adequate; it was as fine as that which Robert and I had heard in New Orleans, when he, his mother and Betty, this sister, had taken me with them for a performance of Tristan und Isolde of Richard Wagner. And that was about as good as it gets, we had all felt! The singers were all costumed perfectly for the play, and the staging, itself, almost blew my whistle when a storm, in the climax of the plot, looked so realistic that I was thunderstruck! Later, as I reported on the evening to the musician back in the barracks, he said, “Yes, They do that by using a special screen, on which the storm (from the balcony) is projected, Wasn’t it unbelievable?”

I thanked him for helping me to break the ice, and predicted that I would see every opera in the repertoire as long as I was in this wonderful land!

(Continued next week)

Old Movie Trivia Quiz #73

1.                    Which popular movie star played Stella Dallas in the original version of this film?

2.                    What singing star reprised the role last? (there are only 2 versions)

3.                    In Tootsie, why does Dustin Hoffman choose to work in drag?

4.                    Who played Young Abe Lincoln?

5. `         What was the title of RKO’s 1939 film about “Honest Abe”? This time he was played by Raymond Massey.

6.           Which Daniel Day-Lewis film was based on a James Fennimore  Cooper novel?

7.       What Oscar nominated star’s first movie was The Color Purple?

       8.          Who played her husband in the same film?

       9.           How many “Oscars” did this Spielberg film win?

         10.      What “Richest woman in America” TV star was also introduced

                    with The Color Purple?


Answers to TRIVIA QUIZ #72

1.     In Lassie, Come Home, Elizabeth Taylor played the daughter of the man who bought Lassie for his own kennels.

2.      Roddy McDowell was the boy that Lassie ran to meet each afternoon at the school house.

3.     Elsa Lanchester was the boy’s devoted mother.

4.      Lassie had to walk all the way from Scotland to get back home.

5.     The Yearling starred Gregory Peck as the father whose son has a pet deer.

6. Jane Wyman (Ronald Reagan’s first wife) played the boy’s embittered mother.

7. The teen aged boy (Claude Jarman, Jr.) was outstanding as their son.

 8. The “Baby” that is Brought Up was a Leopard.

9. Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant were the couple with this pet.

10. Zoology was the Grant’s special talent. He is making a skeleton statue of a dinosaur, using the actual bones!