Ice Cream Memories

When my daughters were young, White Farms in Ipswich was one of our favorite ice cream places. We used to stop here sometimes on our way home from sister’s house, or after Sunday visits to the flea market, or sometimes when we just felt like a little outing. We never called it White Farms, though — it was always just the Place with the Cow on the Roof.

Bubbling Brook I wish I had a picture of this place taken back then. I wish I had a picture of my little girls standing there holding ice cream cones, many pictures taken over those years, all ages and many flavors.

And I wish I had pictures of myself and my sister at our family’s favorite ice cream stand, the Bubbling Brook in Westwood. I still drive miles out of my way to go back there once in a while, just to remember the happy days, take a few photographs (and also enjoy maple walnut in a sugar cone.)

I wish I had pictures of all the ordinary places in my life — not just the ice cream stands but the coffee shops, sandwich places, restaurants, bookstores, libraries and all the other places that were once part of our family’s lives, places where we once were regulars. I sometimes wish that I had spent my whole life taking as pictures as casually and prolifically as I do now, so I would have pictures of every place and person and thing in my life. But then I remind myself that I do have all of those pictures, as memories if not as photographs.

The Gazebo at Ell Pond Park

The Gazebo at Ell Pond Park

Spring at Ell Pond ParkYesterday was a fine spring day, and I finally stopped at Ell Pond Park and took a few photographs. I have driven past this park many times over the years, but have never stopped because I was always in a hurry or too tired, or it was too hot or too cold or too rainy, or I didn’t have my camera with me. There are a lot of places like this in the area that I somehow have never gotten around to photographing — I think I need to make a list of them and then one fine day go do them all.

I’m glad I finally stopped at Ell Pond Park — it was lovely.

It’s a Surprise Every Year

Every year there’s a week or two when there are blossoms on some trees and tiny pale green leaves on others, and there’s forsythia everywhere, just outrageously yellow. And then the season moves forward, all the trees are covered with dark green leaves, and the forsythia seems to disappear when it turns into green leafy shrubbery. When their brief bright season is over, I can’t identify forsythia by sight, and I don’t really remember which trees in my area are the kind that blossom.

And then all of a sudden, it’s April and I’m surprised and delighted by the amazing display!

Beverly CommonMontserrat College of ArtPeabody Institute Library of DanversJohn Balch House

What really scares them…

ScienceBoston author Denise Lehane posted this as part of his Facebook status:

“When I watch the footage of the first explosion, I look at the Boston Public Library Main Branch across the street, and I think no matter who they turn out to be–Islamic jihadists, home grown militia, neo-Nazis, something else — what really scares them, what they truly hate, is the access to knowledge that building exemplifies.”

RIP Annette Funicello, 1942-2013

Annette FunicelloMy older sister and I used to play Mickey Mouse Club. She played Darlene and I played Doreen, mostly because we liked having cute matching names.

In our games, Annette was the popular girl who kept getting all of the good dancing and singing parts because Master of Ceremonies Jimmie Dodd liked her best. It was always just the two of us playing, so all the other characters were always offstage, so to speak. Our games always opened with one of us pretending to run into our dressing room, saying something like You’ll never guess what Annette just said!

Our stories usually had the same plot: Darlene would finally get a chance to star in a big musical number because Jimmie suddenly realize that she was a better singer and dancer than Annette. (Or sometimes because Annette broke her leg or something.) My role as Doreen was to be Darlene’s sidekick and backup singer, and to say things like Oh, Darlene, you’re way more talented than Annette and way less show-offy! Darlene would have moments of triumph but then somehow Annette would be back on top, so in the next episode Darlene would once again start as the plucky underdog.

We played this off and on for a year or more. It was an adaptable game — sometimes we played for an hour or two, with a lot of singing and dancing. Sometimes we’d just slip into dialogue for a few minutes, more like a private joke than a game. We usually played at home, but sometimes on car trips we’d whisper back and forth to each other, pretending to be on the Mouseketeer bus on our way to a special audition. We’d put the game aside for month or more and I’d think it was all over, and then one day my sister would look at me and say something like Annette is getting a special dressing room with her own swimming pool! and off we’d go.

Annette Funicello died today, and now I feel a little guilty because of the role we always gave her in our games. Through the last several years, I have read and seen reports on her declining health and she seemed to live with grace and courage. Rest in Peace, Annette, and I’m sorry I called you “show-offy” so many times. You couldn’t help being the star of the show.

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