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Girl Scouts Should Not Be Banned

3 May

I feel a need to speak out against the banning of Girl Scouts by Diocese of Kansas City, Kansas (KCK). Why me?  I started my adult  career 37 years ago working for the Girl Scouts in Kansas City, Kansas.  I was one of the women who went out and recruited new leaders for troops; I was a troop leader for Troop 77 in KCK; and I trained new leaders there.

Although 34 years have passed since I actually worked for the Girl Scouts there, I was a volunteer for many years after my daughter was born. I was Vice President of what was the Santa Fe Trail Council of Girl Scouts headquarters in KCK before this Council merged into a larger Council   based in Kansas City, Missouri.

I am well aware of the low income areas of KCK.  And I have to say what a mistake it is to sever ties with the Girl Scouts. Many households in KCK live in poverty. Girl Scouts (and Boy Scouts) provide a way for these young women to learn about the world outside of their difficult life. As new immigrants moved into the area, it was Girl Scouts troops that helped the girls acclimate to living in the US. And it helped the parents as well.

Girl Scouts of the USA is a secular organization. It does support organizations that in turn support women and women’s rights.  But those that are affiliated with a religious organization have always been able to decide what they want to do in terms of national activities.  So if the troop leaders do not want to participate in a March for Women, the troop does not need to march!

Severing ties with Girl Scouts will be a detriment for the girls of KCK. It will cut girls off from a sisterhood of  women throughout the country and the world.

I have been a Girl Scout, a Girl Scout Leader, a Girl Scout staff member, a Girl Scout board member, the mother of a Girl Scout and a Girl Scout Volunteer. I am a Girl Scout life member. I was trained to be a Trainer of Trainers at the Girl Scout Edith Macy Conference Center in New York. The trainings and relationships I made through Girl Scouts impacted my life.

I hope this decision is reconsidered. Banning Girl Scouts is a mistake.

 

http://www.kansascity.com/living/religion/article147857619.html

 

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In Other Election News … Cannabis

10 Nov

As we all consider the ramifications of a Trump presidency, another important decision was being decided. Three states approved marijuana for recreational use: California, Massachusetts and Nevada. And three others approved the use of medical marijuana: Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota.

There are now 28 states and the District of Columbia that have legalized medical marijuana!

The world is changing!

I could say that the country needs to be stoned to get through the next four years. But I think that is a bit of gallows humor. So I will stay on topic: Pot.

There is even a large ‘cannabis’ industry. A young man I have known since he is four recently finished his law degree.   He found a job immediately in a Chicago firm. I asked him what was his specialty, as he focused on business law. His reply, “Cannabis law.” I laughed.

I laughed even more when I spoke to his Mom.   She was abashed. But happy he was doing so well. It seems that there is a lot of legal matters in the cannabis industry. I am sure he will be employed in his chosen field for many years! What a great job choice.

Last year my husband and I saw the change in marijuana laws in action. While in Seattle we went on a walk to find a medical marijuana store. My husband is a physician, and he had many questions about medical marijuana. The employees at the store were really helpful and informative. They answered all his questions, and even let him peak into the inner sanctum….where all the marijuana was bundled and waiting to be used. It was just a peak, but I will tell you…there was a lot of marijuana there!

They were dealing with some major issues in Washington due to Senate Bill 5052 which went into effect on July 2016. This bill tries to integrate recreational and the medical marijuana system. The people we spoke to, in June 2016, complained bitterly on how the price of weed would increase dramatically for all. And those using it medically would have to pay much more once it all became recreational. Also people who used marijuana medically would have to register, while recreational user would not.

I am not sure what is happening now, four months later. But with tide against legal restrictions across the country, I am really not worrying about Washington’s pot users.

Weed, dope, pot, marijuana, cannabis: it is a big money business! However, because there are federal restrictions on the sale of marijuana, it is still a business with many legal issues. I think as the states keep making it legal, the federal government will change as well.

I must say, with all the unrest in the world and in the United States, with the hatred and bigotry that was stirred up, I find it somewhat unsettling that the same people who voted for a conservative view of the world, also voted yes on legalization of cannabis issues.

I could come up with my own conspiracy theory. But I will leave it at this. Soon marijuana will be legal throughout the USA. I only hope that women’s rights, LBGT rights, religious rights and other anti-discrimination rights also stay legal.   Citizens are fighting for the right to get stoned. I hope we all continue to fight for the rights of all citizens to live in a free world that respects their rights as well.

 

Working For My Dad’s Firm in NYC Lead to my Love of Lingerie

15 Jan

Growing up with a father in the textile industry in New York City had certain blessings. My Dad was involved in the women’s lingerie, undergarment and swim suit industry. And among his clients were some of the top names in lingerie at the time: Christian Dior, Maiden Form and many others. When Ginger Rogers started her own lingerie line, my Dad was one of her suppliers of fabrics. Gottex, the Israeli bathing suit company was his client in the late 1960s and 70s.

Dad was the ‘converter.’ He made sure that a printed fabric was made correctly. He had an artist on staff who did the colorizations if they were printing several different color combinations of the same print. He worked with textile factories in the Carolinas and Providence, Rhode Island. With his start in the embroidery manufacturer, he also knew so much about lace and embroidery.

He did very well, until the textile industry in the US started to fall under the burden of cheap imports from other countries.

But when I was in high school and college, Dad was in his most productive and expansive years. I worked in his office in the summer time. I got to know his staff and his customers, his sales men and his clients. At lunchtime I would go out and shop at B Altman’s, my favorite store. Dad would give me his credit card and I would chose items to be shipped to NJ to avoid sales tax on clothing. He paid me a small salary, but the benefits of his credit card are not to be denied.

However working with Dad brought about other benefits.   When I went away to college, his friends, who knew me, wanted to help.   One provided me with 144 pairs of panties. Do you know how popular you are when you have 144 pair of clean underwear?   I cannot tell you how many I gave away my freshman year of college.   And I will not say it was a daily event. But at least once a week, a dorm mate who heard about my stash would show up at my door, asking for a pair. You do not have to do laundry as long as you have clean underwear! I saved the day for many girls.

I carried the need for many pair of undies with me for my adult life. When my daughter went away to college, I did not send her with 144 pair of underwear, but I did send her with about 48. In my mind I had to make this same advantage for her that I had when I went to college.

My daughter and I have spent many hours at Victoria Secret searching for the perfect undergarments, lingerie and comfort clothes. Unfortunately, she never had the opportunities I had for free samples. When I started shopping with her, I realized even more emphatically what a benefit I had with my Dad’s career in with the fashion industry.

As for samples, I was the perfect Gottex sample swim suit size as well. I had multiple bathing suits that were designed and never made it to production. Then they became mine. I still remember a white bikini with hearts on it and a navy blue flowered print one-piece suit.

The bathing suit company was from Israel. Which leads up to my next underwear story. I spent my sophomore year of college in Israel. Before I went, I was once again the beneficiary of many undergarments. Did they really think I used up all those from freshman year? I guess so. Because I got lots more.

In any case, one of my father’s friend sent me four boxes of lingerie for his family and me to my dorm in Israel. When his Mom and sister came to pick up the boxes, we first opened them all, and they said, “Take what you need and what you want.” I did not want to take too much because I already had some I had brought along with me. But they were insistent.   Really, for me and for them, what was another 24 pair of panties and several nightgowns? Wow! I had the most beautiful underwear and lingerie in all of Har Hasofim, the Mount Scopus Campus of Hebrew University.

Mom's peach colored peignoir.

Mom’s peach colored peignoir.

Until my father retired, I never had to worry about buying any negligee, camisole, nightgowns underwear or slips, as well as swimsuits or swim wear cover-ups. I had the loveliest items. I was not the only one to benefit from this lingerie largesse, my Mom and sister also benefited. I still have a beautiful peach colored peignoir my Mom received as a gift from Deena of California. As my sister reminded me, we also were delighted every Hanukkah with gifts of lovely lingerie.

Bras were another story. But luckily a friend of mine’s parents own a lingerie shop, Sylvette’s, in North Bergen, where those could easily be obtained. I will admit, as a tween and teen, I was a little embarrassed to go there and see my friend’s father behind the counter. But he never made you feel uncomfortable. I think because he had the best sense of humor.

I still remember the first few times I went with my Mom. The first time I was o be fitted for a training bra. What is that all about? Can you train your chest? Not really. A few months later, we went back again for me to be fitted for a real bra. I think my friend’s Mom is the person who took me to the back room both times to measure me. Then she and my Mom had a long conversation on what would be best. There were drawers upon drawers of bras and lingerie. Eventually I got over my embarrassment and would go by myself. I loved going in there and looking at all the pretty items.

One of my honeymoon peignoirs.

One of my honeymoon peignoirs.

When I got married, the bounty from my father’s friends continued. I think I was the only bride with three peignoir sets to wear on her honeymoon. My mother and I looked them over to decide which ones I should take with me. Should I really take three? We were going on a cruise and that seemed a little too much.

I can see them in my mind. One was a creamy white satin with inlaid lace on the shoulders of the robe and the nightgown. It was designed for Saks Fifth Avenue. Another was beige chiffon. I was lost in the billowing skirt. The last was my favorite. A Christian Dior with a long cream color negligee with embroidery and a short jacket/robe.

I still have the two sets I actually took, including the Christian Dior one. They were too lovely for me to give away. I guess I am hoping to one day present them to my daughter. And after being married for almost 35 years, I am sentimental.

There are times when I can close my eyes and still see my father’s office. His artist, Christine, lives in California. I often think of her and our laughter at work. My father instilled in me a love of fine fabrics and color. The touch of cloth has meaning to me.

The ‘schmattah world,’ the ‘rag trade,’ the textile industry; the bustle and noise and mayhem of the textile industry was a vital part of my life. I am glad I spent time with my Dad at work in Manhattan. It was a wonderful time leading to a life- long love of lovely lingerie.

 

 

An earlier blog about my Dad’s embroidery shop in New Jersey:  https://zicharonot.wordpress.com/2014/02/26/a-hudson-county-embroidery-shop-started-my-dads-career/

 

Remembering My College During Graduation Season

12 May

 

Walking through the balloon arch at Drew University graduation. This was in 2008.

Walking through the balloon arch at Drew University graduation. This was in 2008.

With the May graduation season, I always think of my own graduation. I graduated from college 37 years ago… I find that a bit frightening to admit. But it is true. I still remember the green and yellow balloons (In 1982 the colors turned to blue and green) that we walked under on our way to our seats. I still remember my excitement at graduating magna cum laude. I still remember that my grandparents and parents came to my graduation!

I loved my time at Drew University. It was the best place for me. A small liberal arts school, Drew is situated on the most beautiful campus. Large trees, quiet paths, lovely buildings, great professors all in one place, with easy access to New York City and an easy train ride home. I learned; I made friends; I found my place in life at Drew.

As an English major I had two professors in particular that had a major influence on me. Professor Joan Steiner and Professor Robert Chapman were my inspirations and both added much to my love of words.

Not only did I take Professor Chapman’s classes on literature, I also took classes on semantics and I was his paid assistant one year. He was working on revising his Dictionary of American Slang, and I helped. Dr. Chapman was well known for his dictionaries and thesaurus. He loved words and language. His excitement about words encouraged my love of language and words!

For the second edition of the Dictionary of American Slang, we had to find three references for each new word for it to be included in the dictionary. Each word was put on an index card…. no computers in those days. If we found a new word in a printed reference, we started a card with the referenced article. I had to do a lot of reading of popular publications: newspapers and magazines.

My biggest achievement was the word “carpool.” I will never forget the moment I found my third reference in Newsweek magazine. I was visiting my parents for the weekend. While reading my Dad’s Newsweek, I found it. I was beyond excited.

“Dad,” I said. “Read this page now. I have to take it back to school with me.” He didn’t even argue when I ripped the page from the magazine.

I remember racing to Prof. Chapman’s office in the Browne Hall with the page from the magazine in my hand on Monday. That was it. The word could now be added to the files for the second edition of the dictionary.   I then helped with writing the official definition of the word. I walked on air for days after that. The two of us were so excited. Carpool was officially a new word!

I know it sounds strange now. Carpool is such a common word. People use it all the time. Mothers and fathers plan carpools with friends in order to take their children to school and sports and afterschool activities. Co-workers organize carpools to work. But in the early 1970s it was a new word. And I helped define it for the dictionary.

I cannot remember the other words I helped uncover that year. It is the word carpool that forever stays in my memory. I get a moment of joy whenever I see the word in print or hear it used. “Carpool” is my word! And yes, carpooling is also my word!

Most important for me, however, was that Professor Chapman encouraged my love of words and added to my interest in language. His discussions on the leveling of language and how languages change stayed with me throughout my time in college, graduate school and in life.

Besides Professor Chapman’s support, I had the support of my advisor and mentor, Professor Joan Steiner. It was her encouragement throughout college that led me to become an English major. I had started my college career focusing on studying psychology. But after my first few literature classes, I realized that my love of literature was more important.

Joan Steiner and me graduation

With Joan Steiner as my advisor, I was able to focus on English during my last two years at Drew. But more important, she help me find what I really wanted to be, which was a writer. And with her help, I focused on journalism as a career and went on to earn my master’s degree in journalism.   I kept in touch with Professor Steiner for many years. Since I live in Kansas, our contacts were usually holiday greeting letters. But once my daughter also went to Drew for her undergraduate years, Professor Steiner and I had a bit more contact.

I miss her wonderful letters. And I feel blessed that she was part of my college life and that we had contact later in my life.

I so loved my time at Drew that when my daughter was a sophomore in high school, I took her to see the campus during one of our annual visits to my parents in New Jersey.   She fell in love with the campus as well. But not only the campus, the focus on political science and religion was important to her. (A Methodist seminary school is also situated on the Drew Campus.) When it was time to make her college choice, she chose Drew.

I am proud that my daughter graduated Drew 31 years after I did. She received her double major in Political Science and Religion. She participated in the semester at the United Nations through Drew and participated in many activities, although she did not follow my major and goals in college. I worked on the newspaper, the yearbook and was a member of the OC (Orientation Committee). She focused on political science organizations, mediation and policy. She even interned at the County Courthouse working with domestic abuse victims. But she walked the steps I walked and loved the school as much as I did.

Her graduation also included the blue and green balloon archway that led to the outside graduation behind Mead Hall. And she, also, graduated magna cum laude, wearing the cords from two honor societies. We did not have those when I graduated from Drew.

My parents were once again there, as was my entire family: siblings and their spouses, and all the cousins. My daughter, as the oldest grandchild, was the first to graduate college. And since my entire family lived in New Jersey, it seemed important that all be at her graduation.   Afterwards we had lunch with her then boyfriend’s family and friends. It was a wonderful celebration.

I love graduation. I love the transition to another stage of life. But for my daughter and I, I am so glad that we were able to experience college life at Drew. And share a graduation experience 31 years apart.

 

To see the beautiful campus go to : http://www.drew.edu/

The Great Shoe Catastrophe

18 Mar

Spending the summers in the Catskills was so important to my brother, sister and I, that once we became of age to work, we looked for jobs in and around Kauneonga Lake.  We wanted to be able to spend the weeks in the Catskills and not have to join the long line of cars that went to and from the City every Friday and Sunday night/Monday morning.

For two years, when my brother was 16 and 17, his job was at a shoe store in Monticello.   It started as National Shoe Store, but then was changed to the Triangle Shoe Store. He worked five days a week.  Sometimes he worked during the week, but many times on the weekends, because that is when all the tourists were up.  For this job he had to be dressed appropriately.  No jeans and tee-shirts  and sneakers for him, instead he was in nice pants, a collared, button-down shirt and dress shoes.  This attire lead to what I call the GREAT SHOE CATASTROPHE.

It started as an abnormal day to begin with for us.  Not only was my Dad in the City working, but my Mom had left the day before to spend time alone with Dad at our home in North Bergen, New Jersey.  I think they had a meeting and a social event they had to attend.  My Mom decided she would take some items back to our house.

At this point, we were no longer staying on the grounds of my grandparent’s bungalow colony.  Instead we had a bungalow on the same property as their year-round home about 1/2mile from the colony.  Both houses sat on several acres of land.  It was peaceful and beautiful.

Image

A peaceful Catskills morning on our property.

But not so peaceful on this morning.

My brother was getting ready for work, when he realized he had no shoes.  My Mom had taken his good shoes with her to New Jersey to get the repaired or resoled or something. But she did not only take the damaged shoes, she took both pairs of shoes. All my brother had to wear was a pair of sneakers.

He went bonkers.  He was yelling, he was screaming. “How could she take my shoes! Both pair.!”  I have to be honest, I was laughing.  That is what a younger sister does, when an older brother is annoyed.

But then he lifted up a kitchen chair.  I don’t think he meant to do anything really wrong.  But first the chair hit the ceiling then crashed into the floor.  A t this point, my sister and I decided it was prudent to leave the bungalow and get my grandmother.  Which we did: we ran to get her, screaming all the way.

She quickly went back to the bungalow to see what was happening.  And then came back to the house, laughing.  With a big smile on face, she turned to my grandfather and said, ”Go back there.  Look at yourself.”

We stayed with Grandma, while Grandpa walked back to the bungalow and my crazed brother.  I was not witness to what was said. But it became family lore.

My brother raved and ranted about my Mom taking both pair of shoes and leaving him with only sneakers. And he had to wear nice shoes for work.  And why would she do that to him?  (This was before the age of cell phones, so he could not even call her.)

My grandfather laughed.  “Shmenrick ,”  he said.  “You work in a shoe store.  Buy another pair of shoes.” And he gave my brother money for shoes.

I am laughing as I remember the story.  My brother, for a long time, did not think it was so funny.  But later…the words,  “You work in a shoe store, buy yourself shoes, “ became amusing even to him.

When my Mom returned, she felt terrible.  She realized when she got to Jersey that she had both pairs of his shoes.  She had not meant to do that. But it was done.  However, she was not happy with the hole in the ceiling or the broken chair.

That chair matched her kitchen set.  And there were only four of them.  She wanted it fixed.  So it was put in the corner of the screened-in porch.  We all knew not to sit in it.  Eventually my Dad was going to fix that darn chair.  But he did not get around to it right away.  It sort of just sat there in the corner for most of the summer.

Several weeks later, we had lots of company one weekend.  We were all eating breakfast on the porch.  Along came my cousin to join in for the food and conversation.  But there were no empty chairs at the table. In the corner was a chair that looked fine.  So he went over to sit on it.  (Yes that broken chair.)

We all yelled at the same exact moment,  “NO DON’T SIT THERE!!!!!”

Too late.

He was down and out. The chair splintered into hundreds of pieces beneath him and scattered everywhere.

He had a horrified look on his face.  And said,  “Did I do that?”

None of us could respond because we were laughing … there was nothing else to do. The chair was a goner.  My cousin was fine, just startled.  We tried to explain what happened.

The great shoe catastrophe had taken one more victim.  But the outcome was important: my brother never lost his temper like that again.