Monday, January 30, 2017

The legacy of Eleanor Borton

Long time readers of this blog will know that Cookie loves three things, and one of them ain't live theater.

Cookie loves a good story. Cookie loves cars. And Cookie loves smart, funny women.

One of the cars that Cookie loves is the iconic Jordan Playboy, a high style, bold colored car manufactured by the Jordan Automobile Company of Cleveland, Ohio.   Though plain by today's standards, the Playboy combined high grade materials, a colorful palette - when almost ever mass produced car was Japan black lacquer, and a light body with excellent handling properties.  The whole thing was powered by a Continental Motors six cylinder motor.

What made the Playboy a hot commodity was the web of words that Edward S. Jordan (Ned Jordan, to his friends) wove around the vehicle and the aura he cast around its attributes.  In an era when cars were sold on durability and engineering, Jordan was the first man to sell cars based on style, color and personal style.

While the Playboy is best remembered for Jordan's ground breaking ad "Somewhere West of Laramie" which featured prose, not the car, its price or its specifics.  It is the story of how Jordan got the idea for the Playboy that is the stuff of F. Scott Fitzgerald tales.

Jordan had been building his cars in Cleveland, which in the 1920s was second only to Detroit in automobile companies headquartered and built including the Jordan, Chandler and Peerless.  One night in 1918, he and his wife left their East Cleveland estate and traveled east to the Mayfield Country Club, on Mayfield Road beyond what is today South Euclid.  Arriving, the party was in full swing with jazz, swanky clothing and liquor poured generously.

As the night progressed, Ned found himself dancing with one Eleanor Borton, a Cleveland area socialite, and good friends with all the best families, including the Seiberling's of Akron, who owned Goodyear Rubber.  Borton was besties with Harriet Seiberling, and would be Harriett's maid of honor.  When Eleanor's time at the alter came, Harriett would return the favor.  Borton had connections.  She also had a brilliant mind - she was attending Brown University at the time -  a healthy sense of self, and a well known sense of humor and wit.

As the dance progressed and Eleanor ask how the car business was going, she said to Ned that she needed a car, but that none was making one that she would consider.   "They're all too drab, too dark, too big or too small."

Ned Jordan, from his autobiography, tells what happened next:

“Dancing one night at the Mayfield Country Club, Cleveland, with a real outdoor girl, Eleanor Borton.  ‘Why don’t you build a swanky roadster for the girl who loves to swim and paddle and shoot, and for the boy who loves the roar of the cutout?' asked Eleanor.  ‘Girl, you’ve given me an idea worth a million dollars!  Thanks for the best dance I’ve ever had.  I’m leaving for New York.’ ”  
And with that, Ned Jordan quickly collected his wife, his coat and car and making haste to the train station and then New York.

The rest, is automotive history.  The Playboy was not fancy, it wasn't race ready, in fact, it was an assembled car, like all of Ned Jordan's cars.  But it came in a myriad of colors, and plush upholstery colors.  The finest leathers, fittings and tolerances.  It was easy to turn, brake and shift.  It was a car at home in the city as well as on the back roads.   But it sold well enough to give Jordan a product with national appeal.

That appeal was cast into American Advertising history when Ned Jordan penned his Somewhere West of Laramie ad copy.  With no real picture of the car, no mention of its cost, its attributes, Jordan spun a web of golden words that lit the imagination of the American public, and started the revolution in American advertising that made Mad Men possible.

The copy simple read:

"Somewhere west of Laramie there’s a bronco-busting, steer-roping girl who knows what I’m talking about. She can tell what a sassy pony, that’s a cross between greased lightning and the place where it hits, can do with eleven hundred pounds of steel and action when he’s going high, wide and handsome.
The truth is—the Playboy was built for her."

In subsequent ads, Jordan added the following verbiage to the original text:
"Built for the lass whose face is brown with the sun when the day is done of revel and romp and race. She loves the cross of the wild and the tame. There’s a savor of links about that car—of laughter and lilt and light—a hint of old loves—and saddle and quirt. It’s a brawny thing—yet a graceful thing for the sweep o’ of the Avenue. Step into the Playboy when the hour grows dull with things dead and stale.
"Then start for the land of real living with the spirit of the lass who rides, lean and rangy, into the red horizon of a Wyoming twilight."

Ned Jordan was less a car man and more advertising man, and that is exactly how he lived his life after the final Jordan was built in 1931.

And what of Eleanor Borton, the woman who set in motion a revolutionary idea that car could be nimble, stylish and rugged?

For starters, Ned Jordan handed Borton the keys to one of the first Playboy's off the assembly line, stylish in red to match her lips, butter tanned leather interior that was smooth to the touch.  Well, Eleanor finished her education to Brown, returned to Cleveland.  She married Rudolph Garfield, the grandson of slain United States President James Garfield.  Though the marriage only lasted until Garfield's premature death, it was a happy one that produced two children.  Following his death, Borton went into business for herself, repairing and refinishing antique furniture.

In 1951 she decided that having successfully run a business, she would like to try her hand at running a city, so she ran for Mayor of Mentor, Ohio, and clobbered her two opponents.  She was so popular, that when she ran for reelection, she ran unopposed.

Eleanor also saw opportunities for Mentor beyond the immediate needs of the town.  She successfully leveraged her friendships from socialite days to buy the estate of her mother in law's family - the Newell's for Mentor's use as its first major, all purpose park and recreation area.   To accomplish this, she gained the support of Leonard C. Hanna, a philanthropic industrialist who helped to underwrite the project.  But Eleanor also knew that if it was wholly given, the town residents would have no investment in the project.  So part of the purchase was made through subscriber shares.

My favorite Eleanor story, besides the encounter with Jordan, was when she heard that the local Episcopal Church was building a new church, but it hadn't enough more for a steeple.  Said Eleanor, "It'll look like a garage!"  So Eleanor studied to get her real estate license, listed and sold three homes and paid for the steeple - $5,000 - out of her commissions.  That's how you get things done.

In 1980, Mentor rededicated Newell Park in her honor.  A surprised, ever humble Eleanor Borton Garfield said "Usually they do this type of thing once you are dead, but here I am getting this honor.  That is what I find so extraordinary about this.  I'm alive and get to see my name on a park.  That is a 'hoot' as we used to say."

But Eleanor Borton also deserves to be recognized as the muse for Ned Jordan.  What was said on that dance floor at the country club ninety-eight years ago changed what cars were made and how they were sold.  On top of everything else, she was one in a million.

Eleanor Borton Garfield died in 1994.  She evidently passed her sense of humor to her son, Borton Garfield who rests a few feet from his parents.  His stone reads "A PUN THIS GRAVE HE RESTS."

She is for me, ever the sparkling young lady at the country club dance, ready for a good time, but not naughty time, just one in which she can smile and flirt; the proto-flapper, smart and saucy with verve and zest for life, and sparkle in her eyes.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Oh, Mr. Grant: The Oprah Tyler Moore Tribute

So, last night CBS was scheduled to air a tribute to the late Mary Tyler Moore (MTM), the beloved actress who gave us Laura Petrie and Mary Richards, and a whole slew of performances (Change of Habit, excepted) that endeared her to the American psyche like no other actress comedienne since Lucille Ball.

When Lucy died, CBS put together a top notch tribute on Ball, the actress, comedienne mother and business woman.

So this should have been a slam dunk.

Cookie's heart began to sink when he heard Gayle King's name as the host, and having seen the Oprah interviews following MTM's death, Cookie had a very, very bad feeling.

And like Donald Trump in the White House, that bad feeling came true.

After a very brief minute or two over view about MTM's career and heart ache - yes, a whole minute or two, Gayle King drove the tribute into the Oprah Zone.

Before you knew it, she was showing more tape of Oprah pretending to be Mary Tyler Moore, than she was showing of Mary Tyler Moore.

This went on for nearly a half-fucking-hour.

And thus, Oprah Tyler Moore was born.

Cookie left after 15 minutes because he knows what happens when Gayle and Oprah come together.

The husband, on the other hand, wanted to give it a fair shake.  At 25 after the hour, he shut down the TV.

OK, I am willing to accept that Oprah is the single most powerful woman in media.  And she owns half of Weight Watchers - and by the way, she didn't look lean and fit last night - and that Oprah carries a lot of weight in media. And that she earned her position, and deserves to be an oracle.

But seriously CBS.  A half fucking hour of Oprah?

This begged the question.  Where were Cloris Leachman, Dick Van Dyke, Carl Reiner, Rose Marie, Valerie Harper, Georgia Engle, Bob Newhart, Ed Asner and for Godsakes BETTY WHITE in that first half hour?

Now granted, Paul Sand, meh, maybe not.

THESE were the people who are alive who worked with MTM in her series days.  Even Robert Wagner is alive, and he starred in "Just Don't Stand There" with her.  Even RJW would have been happy to be there for MTM.

But Oprah?

This begs the second question - could they not find more examples of her talent when there are 12 seasons of programs?  Could we have not enjoyed at least one extended scene?

Winfrey? Winfrey? Winfrey?

C'mon CBS - five minutes with Oprah would have been fine.  But thirty fucking minutes?  Who scripted this bullshit?  The Trump White House?

Let us hope that ABC's 20/20 eschews Oprah during its tribute tonight.   If she show up there, the screams you will hear will be Cookie, leaping from the basement window.

As for your CBS, you fucked last night up on on your own.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Kellyanne Conway doesn't nail it.

Cookie hates to admit it, but in the land of politics, no one currently does a better job of controlling a conversation than Kellyanne Conway.

Love her, or hate her, she is a very talented professional at steering the conversation, dominating it, and redirecting it.

Now we are not going to talk about Gucci Coat that made her look like a nut cracker, which matches he personality.  No, its her grooming that catches our eyes.

Now, about 30 years ago, Cookie worked in a financial institution and oversaw a line of tellers that interacted with the customers.  For the most part, they were all kick ass awesome tellers.  Every now and then you come across a teller who wasn't so great. And we had to let one go when she panicked over a very old twenty dollar bill and called a customer a counterfeiter.  (NOTE: If you ever get a $20 bill and the Truman balcony isn't on the picture of the White House, check the date of said $20 bill.  If it was made before President Truman was in office (1945-1953), then it won't have said balcony on it.)

One of the best tellers, and a consistent whiz bang at balancing, helping other tellers out of balance balance their drawers, and kept the neatest, cleanest cash drawer I have seen (during surprise audits) was a woman with three male names, Mickey Scotty James.

Mickey's work was beyond reproach.  She was excellent.  She was reliable.  She was impeccably dressed.  She knew our product line backwards and frontwards, inside out and she was an amazing cross seller.

But I began to notice something about Mickey Scotty James.  Her handwriting was beyond horrible. She wrote like my grandfather printed in the ninth decade of his life. Jittery, jagged, ragged letters spelled out words that drifted about the page like a drunk sailor trying to find his way back to the dock.

And there were her hands, and her nails in particular. These were nails that even Madge would throw up her hands and walk away from.  No amount of soaking in it would fix them.

She would gnaw at her nails like a nervous fiend.  They were stubby, and almost down to the quick. When she lacquered them, they looked like the lacquer was allowed to partially dry before she brushed them out.

Now I later found out while talking with Mickey Scotty James, that she had a horrific upbringing, suffered child abuse from a nun who clobbered her for the slightest imperfection, and so she excelled at work, she was filled with self doubts.  So the biting the nails was a safety valve of sorts, it relieved the pressure of what she had to do to get through the day.

And there were other perfectionists that I have met in life who have something about them that weighs out that craving for perfection.  My friend Carl dated a high profile tech CEO who was at the top of her game, but would retreat to a room in her apartment for an hour each night where, as he later found out, she would hug a stuffed animal and suck her thumb.  Frankly if I had her job, I would do the same.  But Carl struggled with this, and while the relationship continued on for a while, he couldn't see past it.

What does this have to do with Kellyanne Conway?

And lov at her face, her hair and hands.  Tragic for a woman born in 1967.  I kid you naught,

Well, today I witnessed her "Alternative Facts" meltdown on Meet The Press, and was looking for how the media covered it.  And the picture of Kellyanne checking her hair in the picture above shows Cookie something I have never considered.

It looks like a bit of Mickey Scotty James.

Look at her nails.  Those are gnawed down.

So my question is - is one of Washington's biggest bullies filled with questions of self doubt? Is she over come with stresses?  Does she know, deep down inside that she is on thin ice in the role she has picked up and that this pony she attached herself too cannot go the distance?

Or does he just have a hygiene problem?

Whatever it is, Cookie thinks its sign that there is something going on within Kellyanne that is causing her a great deal of conflict.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Let the three ring circus begin

We have Elephants in the White House, so why not a Clown at the Inaugural?

And the best part?

1. It's Gucci designed - so Smellyanne used a foreign designer when her boss is bullying about bragging about forcing U.S. Manufacturers to stay in the U.S.

2) The buttons are brass CAT HEADS.

3) You read No. 2 correctly - CAT HEADS

4) This is a Saturday Night Live sketch in real life.

Kevin the wonder terrier... a bit blue over today's events.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

I am making plans for the Inaugural

So I guess we are out of miracles and POTUS-e will soon be sworn in as the POTUS, and Cookie has resolved not to normalize it, but at the same time, Cookie plans to stay busy, stay offline and tackle all the unpleasant bits and pieces of life.

So starting at about 11 am, all of the TV's in the house go off.

At 12:30, I shall hang the American flag outside, upside down.

At 12:35, I shall begin cleaning all of the bathrooms in Cookie Manor

At 1:35, I shall break for lunch, tuning the TV to TCM for what I hope is some escapism.

The rest of the afternoon will be spent on the computer cleaning up genealogy files and scanning pictures.

For the rest of the night, my husband I will light a fire and honor Denmark and its tradition of "hygee" - that is staying safe, warm and cozy.

Verily, the world will change by the next morning and we will be able to wake up and see what the new POTUS is doing or has done to us.

Look, I know that the situation looks dire, but now is the time to do the following:

  1. Take a deep breath and not to panic. 
  2. FIGHT for the rights of a free press, one that is not muzzled by the White House
  3. Befriend someone who is in one of the targeted minority.  Let them know that you care.
  4. If you have children, explain to them that they are safe.  Kid pick up on the stress in adults.  Don't weird kids out. 
  5. Don't engage in a debate with a Trumpet.  Like the musical instrument played by someone who doesn't know what they are doing, it can be loud, obnoxious and deafening.  
  6. Watch what you say on Facebook and to whom you are speaking.  It is not about being afraid to be truthful - stay truthful - just know your audience, because there are people itching for a fight and no one wins in an online cat fight. 
  7. Support the people who are supporting the people of this nation.  Legislators who are taking on the tough issues.  
  8. Try not to turn this into an us v. we thing.  Trust me - there are a whole lot of people who voted for the POTUS-e who did it because they were swept up on the anti Hillary thing more than they were pro-Trump.   They can be led back to the side of facts, rationality and voter sanity.
  9. Get involved in local politics.  Why local?  Because it is true that all politics are local.  Local parties select the delegates to national conventions.  Local political parties get the work done.  Local parties control the state party.  And the state party controls the roll of national parties.  GET INVOLVED NOW. 
And MOST IMPORTANTLY - we have to prepare for a difficult two to four years.  Remember that. 

  And remember, if the POTUS insults someone, something, an issue, or whatever, support it.   If it pisses him off, then it must be good.

Being a good American means more than beating ones chest and chanting USA, USA, USA.  It means standing up for what is righteous and good for all people in this country.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

From Fascism to Fetishism in one day

So, here I am in The Ohio's.

Minding my own business.

Visiting and aged and ill cousin, doing God's work in bringing him some company, a cup of tea, his hearing aids, you know.

And then he has cousin Deb and I go to the basement and find every photograph and safeguard them.

At 4 PM, I get in the car to head back to the Columbus, so I can start home in the morning.

I have been in a news vacuum.

My mind is tired, exhausted.  It is raining.  and the radio is tuned to NPR, in a low volume mode.

I hear the NPR broadcasters talking about "golden showers" and Trump.

"Oh, for Christs sake on a cracker," I think.  Is this man planning on installing golden plumbing fixtures in the White House?  What the fuck.

And then it dawns on me that they are not talking about Fascism, but Fetishism.

Could this be true?

I stopped in Waldo, Ohio.  Where's Waldo?  You're on a computer, look it up on Google maps.

And they have a new Duchess Store in Waldo.  And while I am waiting in line to buy six pounds of Ballreich's potato chips, a diet soda and V8, the guy behind me starts grumbling about the "Libtard in the Prius with Hillary sticker."

I turn around and said "That would be me."  He seemed a bit shocked that I would acknowledge that I was the libtard, but no amount of schooling from me is going to educate this idiot.  

And I ask this village idiot, "Hey, you look like someone I could ask about this.  What do you think about this news about the President elect and this "golden" thing going on?"

"You mean them showers?" asks he.  "The God Damn Libtards in the Ci of A got this thing wrong.  Putin is sending him a shower for the White House."


"Trump is a man of God, he ain't no creep."


"Yeah.  You ever seen his penthouse?  Gold everywhere.  The man has classic tastes."

I pay for the bags of chips heading back to Maryland, my soda and the V8.

Well thanks, says I, for helping to set me straight.

"You know," he says.  "From the look of your car, I thought you were one of those funny woman.  The ones that look like men who like woman."

To fuck with this twit, I said "Oh, yeah.  I am a Lesbian.  You give your woman a big kiss from me."

So instead of getting all ginned up thinking about what could be, I am going to hold my opinion and any gloating.

Even if it is true, Trump isn't going to give up this easily.   He is not going quietly and I am still preparing for the worst, and hoping for the best.

Monday, January 9, 2017

For now, a rest pit

I gotta give it to PennDOT.

They really are trying to make these rest plaza's more sanitary, in the disease sense of the word.  Lots and lots-o-choices.

It used to be when you were on the turnpike, you got lousy cafeteria food topped with Jell-O Jewels.

Now, you have choices.

It's not like the New Jersey Turnpike Southbound, which is Chris Christie's "F-U" to travelers.

No, hear instead of state workers cooking up state prison grade chow and feeding it to you, you get state workers being paid by Corporations and serving you prison grade chow.

They do quite a traffic in Belvita, Peanut Butter and Cheese Crackers and Freshen Up (the gum that goes squirt!)  Although the double header Chinese Buffet serving pizza and taco's looks interesting.

Me?  I'm doing fine.  The worst part of the trip is Baltimore to the Allegheny Tunnel.  Then you coast into West Virginia and Ohio.   The Prius is getting 46.6 miles to the gallon.   That makes me feel superior to everyone else.

Maybe a post tomorrow.  Maybe not.  Most defiantly by Thursday.  If not, then look on Friday.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Its Curtains for the Curtains

You have no idea about my shame. 

Cookie HATES packing.

In my mother's head I hear her saying: "You'll need a fresh change of clothes for each day, plus one. Stick to neutrals. Take your own pillow.  Take only nice underwear."

Aw, Ma, do I have too?

Unlike Mr. TJB who packs clothing with style and flair, that is not my modus operendi on this trip.

I am going shoe shopping when I get to the Ohio's.  Their DSW's are bigger, better and have real winter shoes.

The weather will be cold to mild cold.  Rain on Tuesday or Wednesday.  Ugh.

And I need to find a couple David Sedaris books to listen to while I drive in the public radio dead zone, which is Hagerstown to Washington, Pennsylvania.

I have picked up two errands while I am back in the Ohio's.  ONE is looking for drape material at Fabric Farms.  I know, I know, the name, brings up all images of ducks and geese, and "Krafty Krafters" but you cannot beat the deals on gorgeous interior design fabrics, or what they charge for custom lined pinch pleated drapes.  You can get two sets of double hung window drapery for the cost of a single window any place else.  The workmanship is beyond compare.   And the nasty old curtains that came with the house disintegrate every time you open and close them.

And Cookie is not a fan of the nude window look that designers love.  No, no, no.  I mean who lives like that, in a city?   In the summer, if you go all Grey Gardens in the 1940s, well then.  Yes.  But in the winter?  No, winter is for nesting and getting all snugly.

My life is not a drama for all to watch.  You can read about it here, but you cannot watch it through my windows.  Moreover, I have a clean window fetish.  There can be dog toys all over the place and tufts of dog hair rolling about like tumbleweed, but clean windows are a must.

I have tried looking, everywhere, for premade, but its either Kute and Kunty lacey bullshit, with flounces and swags, or its this "grommet" bullshit.

And this house is a style that requires something more substantial than mini blinds.  This ain't no tin can in a mobile home park.

My house is a god damn elegant 1920's, pre-crash, Dutch Colonial, in a fancy schmancy dignified neighborhood where the home owner's shit don't stink.  You got that.  This house has an open stair hall, massive sun room and two floors of fucking bedrooms.  That's right, you got your living rooms on one floor, and above that two floors of bedrooms. Boo-yah! And the cherry on top?  Four fucking toilets. And I have pooped in everyone.

And it demands not curtains, but full on hard core draperies.   Yeah, you like that draper action.

Anyhow, with Fabric Farms you pick out the material, take a swatch back and then phone in your order and the drapes appear about a month later.  And the drapes are TITS!

Wish me luck.  Because if Cookie can't find fabric, then the people in this house may be the naked, and nude.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

West With the Night

And we are on the road again, to the Ohio's.   This time to Central and North Central regions.

Received word from a cousin that another cousin, in his mid 80's is nearing the end of his life.

No need for sympathies.

I love Jim - he is as good and gentle and bright and kind as they come.  He's also 84.  So when he transitions to the next big adventure, it will be for good reason, and a well deserved rest.

And I am going now because I want to spend some more time with this lovely man, his wonderful wife and our mutual cousin, instead of waiting and go back and give another eulogy.  2017 is about the living.  

Do I need to go?  On one hand, no.  The average person would say that he and I are far enough in age apart, and generations that a card would do.   My mother would say "Save the gas."

One the other hand, 2016 was such a year of being beat up by fates, Cookie has said "screw that!"

Cookie has decided that if you wait for good things to happen, they will pass you by.  So 2017 is the year of going and doing and finding enjoyment instead of sitting around and waiting for it.

This of course means driving, which means winter roads and ugh, no one likes that.  So while I normally would jump into the car and away we go, there is some inkling of the weather, and I commit to doing this in a sane, careful manner.   Which means the seven hour trip may last 10, with more stops and slower speeds.

And because it gets dark sooner at night, it also means driving to Ohio means going west with the night, which by the way is the title of a wonderful memoir by Beryl Markham, the Anglo-African pilot who was the first female pilot to cross the Atlantic flying east to west.  Of course, I plan arriving safely - poor Beryl had to ditch her flight in Nova Scotia.  Still, if you haven't read it, go find it and enjoy it.

So I am up in one day, spend the day with Jim, and then I will return on Wednesday.

Friday, January 6, 2017

This epiphany is not my catharsis.

Well kids, do you know what I LOVE to do more than anything? Take down the Christmas tree!


And the tree in the picture isn't even this years tree.  Its the tree from two years ago, when we were in the old house.   Before the dogs destroyed the upholstery on the antique settee.

While two can put up a tree, only one at a time can take it down.  Other wise its a two hour encounter of confusion and chaos.

I know which boxes the fragile red ornaments go in.  I know that there were four, now there are three.

I also know that if I find two of them, the husband will find the third and wander off with the box saying "Did we break two more of these?"

So tomorrow, it falls to me to take it down so everything ends up in the correct boxes, then it gets packed into their tubs, then into the crawl space until next year.

And get this kids, as of today March 25th, the date of the Annunciation is only 77 days in the future.

Such is the circle of life.