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Retro Party Invite a Welcome Change

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Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

 

 

 

This summer we were invited to a friend’s house for a barbeque and get-together with longtime school buddies. Our host had a novel idea for entertaining and served many of the foods we loved back in our childhood days. Along with the regular barbeque items of hot dogs, hamburgers and grilled chicken, she had other foods that took us back to happy days — reference intended — of our youth. What would a “retro party” be without our comfort food, mac and cheese? Before our meal started we gathered around two fondue pots and did our dipping with crusty Italian bread into the delicious bubbly melted cheese. Later, at the end of the meal, the second fondue pot contained melted chocolate, surrounded by large platters of fresh fruit. Plates were stacked high with huge strawberries, banana slices and fresh pineapple for dipping. Other desserts included a Jell-O mold, a party staple back in the fifties, and several plates of Twinkies and Devil Dogs. I have to admit though, that while the packaged treats that were anxiously looked forward to in my lunch bag when I was in grade school just didn’t taste the same now. Have my taste buds “matured” or has the formula changed? I’m not sure.

Dinners Back Then

There is an email that has circulated for years that I find most humorous and nostalgic at the same time. It is all about what dinners were like back in the fifties and it struck a familiar chord with me. Some of the thoughts that cause one to smile in recognition are these simple statements. Enjoy this trip back in time as you ponder some of them!

  • Seaweed was not a recognized food.
  • None of us had ever heard of yogurt before.
  • Sugar enjoyed a good press in those days and was regarded as being white gold.
  • The word pasta was not used. It was macaroni or spaghetti.
  • Kebab was not even a word, never mind a food we’ve heard of.
  • All potato chips were plain, not flavored.
  • Prunes were considered “medicinal.”
  • Pineapple came in chunks or rings in a can. (Mom used rings to top a canned ham, dotted with     fresh cloves).
  • Water came out of the tap. If someone had suggested bottling it and charging more than gasoline for it they would have become a laughing stock.
  • And lastly… The one thing that we never ever had on/at our table in the fifties…was elbows, hats and cell phones. Those were truly “the good old days!”
August 30, 2017 |

Take Me Out to the Ballgame!

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Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Evelyn J. Mochbeichel

 

 

The last days of summer are dwindling, so it’s time to assess what we managed to fit into it. There are so many places to go and things to do, yet so little time. One of the things I had on my list was to do something I did when I was a child living in the Bronx, and that was going to a ballgame. It’s been over fifty years since I have been to Yankee Stadium. Of course it was the old stadium I saw back then, not its newer replacement. The recent stadium visit as well as all the activities I experienced were nothing like I remembered or even imagined. Even the food choices were expanded with offerings of sushi and healthy veggie options to pick from along with ballpark food. Naturally, it’s impossible to go to a game and not have a hotdog! The first thing I noticed was all the families at the event. What a heartwarming sight to see parents with their children, especially when entire families were decked out in Yankee hats and shirts sporting their favorite player’s name.

Daytrips like going to a Yankee game are fun plans for a “staycation,” the term used where people avoid travel and stay home on their vacation. It is less expensive and less of a hassle to take day trips. A visit to a ballgame, zoo, botanical garden or any other local tourist attraction is perfect for a summer outing.

Stadium Tours

More than just going to watch a game, Yankee Stadium has a list of tours guests can choose from if they arrive prior to a game. There is the Classic Tour, PreGame Tour and Hands on History Tour. Each tour is led by a knowledgeable and experienced tour guide and guests can get up close to historic baseball artifacts. Tour fans who want early access to the stadium with a valid game ticket get private access to legendary Monument Park before it opens to the public, and concludes with exclusive access to batting practice in section 105.

What a thrill for the little baseball fans getting to “play at Yankee Stadium!” Friends of ours take their young son with a group of his classmates to Yankee Stadium for his birthday every year. His bedroom is decorated and adorned with a Yankee mural, pictures and baseball artifacts, so this is the perfect day for him.

For info visit: www.NewYorkYankees.mlb.com

 

August 23, 2017 |

Celebrating Grandparents All Year Long

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Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

 

 

Mark September 10th as National Grandparents Day, created to honor our grandparents for all the fond memories or wonderful things they have done for us over the years. It was back in 1978 that President Jimmy Carter made this proclamation as a national secular holiday to honor this wonderful generation—our grandparents. The proclamation declared “The elders of each family have the responsibility for setting the moral tone for the family and for passing on the traditional values of our nation to their children and grandchildren. They bore the hardships and made the sacrifices that produced much of the progress and comfort we enjoy today. In fact, Grandparents Day is also officially recognized in a number of countries on various days of the year, either as a single holiday or sometimes as a separate Grandmothers Day and Grandfathers Day.

Many of us had scores of delightful years spent in the company of either one or both grandparents, bringing warm feelings back to our hearts. I was fortunate to have both grandmothers in my life until I was in my late teens and visits to their homes were always enjoyable. One grandmother had a country home and I often spent an entire week at her house, without my parents. She made the most delicious scrambled eggs, using a glass frying pan that I only saw in her kitchen. In the evenings we’d listen to her favorite programs on her wooden Philco radio while she did her “mending” and I colored. The Jack Benny Program, December Bride, Inner Sanctum Mysteries, and a host of other popular series were tuned in regularly. My grandmother taught me how to embroider, starting out with simple cross stitches on a piece of remnant material until I was old enough to master more complicated designs.

My children had similar wonderful experiences with their grandparents. Fortunate to have both sets of grandparents with us for a long time, they enjoyed cooking or baking lessons from both grandmothers and sleepovers year-round. It was either at the country home of one set of grandparents or the beach house of the others. These years are captured both in memory and a collection of photographs and home movies.

If you are blessed to still have a grandparent, visit if you have not been there in a while. Often our lives get so busy we rarely have time to call. Pick up the phone, write a note and let your grandparents know you love them and think they are special!

 

 

 

 

August 16, 2017 |

Summer Reading — Revisiting Literary Classics

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Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

 

There is nothing more relaxing than sitting in the shade on a lawn or beach sipping a glass of lemonade and reading a good book. Summer is when I get a chance to catch up on books that have been on my “to read” list for years or others recommended by friends. There are books I read in my teenage years that I want to revisit. Very often I find that now as a senior adult, I “get” the book on a whole new level—The Picture of Dorian Grey being a perfect example of what my teenage self thought back in high school English class. The deeper meaning is more significant now, decades later.

There are novels that are on best-seller lists or that are talked about and made into films. Friends of mine have recommended Outlander or Game of Thrones book series, since both have become my viewing favorites for several seasons. And so my book list grows longer. For other readers that enjoy summer reading, here are a few literary classics that you may want to add to your list if you haven’t read them already: Gone with the Wind, the 1939 Margaret Mitchell fabulous story of the old south; Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, a love story taking place on the English moors; Black Beauty, the film about a horse, which propelled Elizabeth Taylor’s career. (The book was published just a few months before author Anna Sewell passed away. It was her only novel and was beloved by young adults both at that time and today). Also good reads are The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck and The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.

In many respects, writing styles as well as the descriptions of what the characters are doing in each storyline have changed as well. Years ago I cut out a newspaper list of “Best Selling Books Over the Years” and started reading them, in no particular order. This is when I noticed a huge difference in writing styles and how certain events were portrayed. In more modern novels, the writing— be it love scenes or the taking of a life as in a murder mystery—tend to be more graphically described. Yet back in the 1930s and 40s the novels were descriptive, without unnecessary gory details. Google “List of Best Selling Books from 1924 to 2017” and discover some reading treasures!

August 9, 2017 |

Senior Inspiration — Keeping Active and Involved!

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Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

 

 

Repeatedly, there have been articles detailing important reasons for “mature people” to remain busy and involved with activities after retirement. The health benefits are enormous—among them mental, physical and alertness rewards. Besides reading these articles, there is nothing like seeing the results of these pointers in person.

Several years ago I met a woman who is the ultimate involved senior. I met Sally through my childhood friend who came to visit me from her home in Arizona. During her stay that week, she asked if I would drive her to visit her late mother’s childhood friend, Sally, who lives thirty minutes from us. A call was placed to Sally and a day set to visit. Sally insisted it be for lunch and astounded us with a fully cooked meal, with every burner on the stove filled with pots of delicious offerings. She was about 86 at the time and moved quickly and effortlessly in her kitchen.   As a result of that visit, I am now a friend of Sally’s, and we call each other now and then.

Sally is now 90, which one would never guess by her phone voice. She is bubbly, entertaining and excited to share all the activities she is involved with. Living in a wonderful senior complex, her building offers many activities in which residents are welcome to participate. From what Sally described, she has joined them all! She had me laughing as she described how her family practically has to make appointments to see her! Sally joined an acting group, yoga class, book club, art class and a host of other rotating classes. But the favorite pastime she enjoys most is the movies!

Films

I am continually astounded by Sally’s in-depth descriptions and analyses of the films she sees. Her favorite theater is the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville, which also shows foreign and documentary films along with live musical performances and conversations with filmmakers, actors and authors. I’m also a film buff and enjoy her take on films I’ve seen, too. From La La Land, Lion, and Beguiled, we discussed our opinions. Amazing to hear Sally compare the newest Beguiled with the 1971 Clint Eastwood version, with nary a beat in memory recall! It was like talking to a movie critic with her wit and insight into the films we covered. After a call with Sally, there is much to smile about. She is an inspiration and proof that keeping active certainly has its rewards!

August 2, 2017 |

Muscoot Farm for Family Outings

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Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

 

 

There are so many wonderful places for day trips throughout Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties that limited space prevents my mentioning them all. One of our favorites is Muscoot Farm — ever since our children were little. Recently we had a fun week with our two young grandchildren staying with us and we returned to Muscoot after so many years. The children absolutely loved it! What’s there?

The Farm

Muscoot Farm is an early 20th-century interpretative farm museum in Katonah, N.Y. on Route 100. The farm is owned and operated by the Westchester County Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation. It was opened as an open-air interpretative museum and park in 1974. Muscoot features year-round displays of various farm animals, hiking trails, farm implements and buildings, as well as maple syrup and sugar harvesting in late winter. The purpose of Muscoot Farm is “to preserve and interpret, for the public benefit, the agricultural, cultural and natural heritage of a Westchester County farm, circa 1880 – 1930.”

The day in June that we arrived we saw other families and many grandparents, like ourselves, with small children in tow. There is no charge to visit the grounds, animals and exhibits and it was a delightful “day on the farm” seeing what life was like decades ago. We entered the chicken house and saw over a dozen chickens hopping on their perches or going in and out of the coop from the tiny doorway to their fenced in yard, horses in the barn, a huge pig, baby goats, and a donkey.

Continuing to explore, the children were amazed at the tremendous beautifully feathered turkey that came up to the fence to greet them, as did a miniature Shetland pony. Inside the cow barn they watched cows eating and petted a calf. We explored a blacksmith’s shop, complete with tools and huge stone fireplace where the horseshoes are forged. I found the exhibit in the “ice house” to be fascinating as photos demonstrated the early process of cutting huge slabs of ice from the nearby lake, then carting them to the ice house for refrigerating foods. How we take for granted our modern conveniences!

Upcoming           

There are scores of wonderful activities lined up for visitors this summer such as movie nights, art exhibits, butterfly walks, farmer’s markets and more.

Call (914) 864-7282 or visit: http://muscootfarm.org for hours and dates of July and August events and others year round.

July 26, 2017 |

“Annie” Arrives at Westchester Broadway Theatre in Fantastic Production!

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Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

 

 

As a child visiting my grandmother for lunch, one of the memorable parts of that meal was using a special mug that had the likeness of Orphan Annie on the front. Stirring my hot chocolate, I used a spoon with Charlie McCarthy’s face on the top of the handle. These were used by my mom as a little girl. My grandmother explained who both characters were along with their story.

Annie’s tale has always been my favorite, whether on film or stage. Annie arrived as the latest production at the Westchester Broadway Theatre (WBT) in Elmsford. It runs through September 10th, perfect for families, friends and children to be entertained by this lively, beloved story. This production features a superb cast, fantastic scenery, and outstanding musical and dance numbers — so don’t miss it!

Inspired by Little Orphan Annie, the 1924 comic strip by Harold Gray, Annie is a heart-warming story, filled with adventure and laughs, that defines what family truly means. It’s one of the longest running and world’s best-loved shows in Broadway history and the winner of seven Tony Awards. Set in 1933 in New York City during the Great Depression, it tells the story of a young orphan who charms those around her with her spunky personality. The orphanage’s supervisor, Miss Hannigan, is less than charmed and punishes Annie and the other orphans and even concocts a devious get-rich-quick scheme. Annie finds refuge from the orphanage when billionaire Oliver Warbucks asks her to spend the holidays with him. Magic and adventure follow as Annie develops loving relationships with the many people she encounters, including President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In the end, she foils Miss Hannigan’s evil plans and finds a loving family that she can call her own.

Notable musical numbers include It’s the Hard Knock Life, Easy Street, I Don’t Need Anything But You, and Tomorrow. Music for Annie is by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Charnin, based on the book by Thomas Meehan. Powerful vocals by Peyton Ella (Annie) were unbelievable, with every supporting cast member incredible in their roles making this an extraordinarily cast production on all levels. Well-deserved standing ovations at the show’s end showed audience appreciation.

Dinner and show range between $56.00 and $84.00 plus tax depending on the performances chosen, with discounts for children, students, senior citizens and groups of twenty or more at select performances.

Call (914) 592-2222 or visit: www.BroadwayTheatre.com for on-going special offers.

 

 

 

 

July 19, 2017 |
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