IN MY OPINION....

Feb. 22, 2018

WHAT IS CHARM? WHAT DEFINES A LADY TODAY?

IN PAST YEARS, WHY WAS IT SO IMPORTANT THAT YOUNG GIRLS---ASPIRING TO BE YOUNG LADIES---HAVE CHARM...MANNERS...AND SOCIAL PROTOCOL?

DO WOMEN TODAY NEED CHARM OR--IN FACT-- EVEN WANT TO BE LADIES?

THE LONGER I LIVE...THE MORE OBVIOUS IT IS THAT VERY FEW ASPIRE TO BE A "LADY".

BEING REFERRED TO AS A LADY IS LAUGHABLE TO MOST IN THIS GENERATION.

Feb. 21, 2018

The years speed-by like a fast-moving freight train.  Personal loss and tragedies have taken a toll on me yet, through it all.....I never forgot Kathy Fiscus. 

When I decided to share what I remembered from that April weekend in 1949, I searched the internet to make certain I hadn't overlooked anything; to make sure my facts were straight. 

The most-factual article with the best details appeared in a Los Angeles Times article from1989, forty years after the emotional event.  The author, Stan Chambers has long-since died but...he authored a very compelling summary of Kathy Fiscus's plight. I'm sharing his article from 1989:

"Old letters and newspaper clippings from yellowed and crumbling scrapbooks helped me sharpen the memories of that April weekend in San Marino--40 years ago--when rescuers tried to save 3-year-old Kathy Fiscus. She had fallen into an abandoned well shaft that was only 14 inches in diameter and became trapped more than 100 feet underground.

Kathy had been running and playing with her cousins in an open field covered with tall spring grass when she disappeared that Friday. Her cries could be heard, but she was nowhere to be seen.

Kathy's mother screamed for help and emergency crews soon converged on the field and the rescue attempt began.

As efforts continued Saturday, one of television's brilliant pioneers, KTLA General Manager Klaus Landsberg, made the decision to provide live coverage. All programming and commercials were canceled, and Bill Welch and I began our open-ended, uninterrupted reports from the scene that afternoon.

KTLA's marathon, 27 1/2-hour coverage of the rescue attempt was one of the turning points in television history.

Up until then, television was a flickering new novelty and not taken seriously by many people. This telecast changed that view forever. People were irresistibly drawn to the tragic reality that was taking place on the screen of their living-room set. It was a television experience they would remember a lifetime.

I still have several people tell me each week how vividly they remember the Kathy Fiscus telecast.

It seemed as if all of Los Angeles stopped to watch the drama unfold. Neighbors who had rarely spoken to each other became close friends as they sat in front of black-and-white television sets. They sipped coffee and munched on sandwiches throughout the night. A hard-boiled city poured out its tears and silent prayers as frantic men worked in a dark tunnel trying to rescue a little girl. 

Then came the devastating moment Sunday night when a doctor used a public address system to announce that Kathy was dead. Tired, dirty, beaten men with 40 and 50 hours of constant work behind them wept openly with bitter tears. Rescuers stood silently, heads bowed, unwilling to accept the news. The crowd of thousands was stunned. Viewers at home felt the pang of sorrow. There was no way to express the loss.

The only solace was the fact that she probably died shortly after she fell into the well Friday night and did not suffer long.

The outpouring of mail after the Kathy Fiscus telecast was overwhelming and emotional. It also bore witness to the powerful, yet intimate role that television would come to play in its viewers' lives."

Everyone in my family watched the television screen that weekend.  We listened to the newsmen report every word, we heard the minute-by-minute details, along with television viewers in our town and across the nation. We watched as hundreds of rescuers used every means possible to rescue Kathy from the depth and darkness of the earth---an earth that held her tiny body-captive.

Millions of people  consistently prayed for a little girl they didn't know except for a picture. It seemed that the whole world was united in a common cause....to save the small girl who fell in the abandoned well.

Kathy Fiscus, just another three-year-old...loved and adored by family and friends, and now...loved by the world. She belonged to every loving family, every grandparent, everyone who loved children.

Yes, the world mourned when Kathy died that April weekend in 1949 ....yet, because of her death, laws were passed that immediately called for every open well , anywhere, to have a cover and for all abandoned wells to be permanently sealed.

In my mind, Kathy will forever-be the world's hero.

 

A large portion of my career was spent in Television.  I know its value.  I also understand how Television could serve the world as the greatest communicator. 

Like everything with endless potential, Television can either pull us together or tear us apart.  It all depends on who's sitting in the big chair... behind the control panel.. and what powerful element is directing the picture, the sound.....and the purpose.  

Feb. 18, 2018

 

The thought of working in New York City sounds glamorous to some people but, speaking from experience, I found New York City to be inconvenient, crowded, and, dangerous.

In 1981, as a spokesperson for the National Confectioners Association, I traveled from my home in Shrewsbury, New Jersey, to my job in the heart of New York City. Whether I took the New Jersey train, the bus, or drove my car, nothing about the commute was easy. Each afternoon, I tried leaving my office no later than four o’clock; the commute from New York’s Penn Station to the Little Silver Train Station took almost two hours.

One evening, after missing the bus to Penn Station, I opted to take the NY Subway, a bad decision.

It was six o’clock and, by now, most commuters were off the streets, and some were already home. I knew I was over-dressed for the subway in my silk blouse, straight/slit skirt and high heels....to say nothing about my jewelry---  consisting of a gold neck medallion, gold earrings, and gold bracelets. Although I almost never rode the subway, it was the fastest way to connect with my train to New Jersey.

It didn’t take long to sense trouble. Within minutes of finding a seat, I watched two guys race from the back of the subway car to sit directly across from me. Instead of looking at my face, both stared at my neck. Uneasy, I glanced around the train, hoping to locate another seat.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, two very hippie-looking guys crammed their bodies into the small bench seat where I was sitting—one on either side. I felt my pulse accelerate; I held my breath. This was it. The enemy had me surrounded; the bad guys were across from me and their buddies were next to me. I was about to be grabbed, raped and killed!

The man on my left, the one with the biggest earrings and longest ponytail—made the first move. Roughly hooking his right arm through my left arm, he whispered “Lady, get ready to stand up and move toward  the doors....one....two....NOW!!!!!! Before I realize it, the other man had grabbed my right arm and, when the subway doors opened, both men propelled me through the open doors and onto the platform.

Everything happened quickly while each held firmly to my arms.The subway door closed, the train pulled away, and the head man—the spokesperson —turned and shouted in my face, “Lady, do you realize you were seconds away from being murdered?!?!?”

"First of all, you shouldn’t be riding the fuckin subway this time of day and second of all, why the hell are you wearing those expensive clothes and gold jewelry on the goddamn Subway?!?! Lady, do you have some crazy-ass death wish? Those guys sitting across from you were professionals! They were ready to kill you to get that fuckin gold out of your ears, off your arm, and from around your neck!”

For the first time since he’d begun speaking--- I noticed the guns. Seeing me eye their weapons, both guys dropped my arms at the same time and flashed police badges in my face. “Lady tonight was your fuckin lucky night! You must have brought your damn guardian angel along for this ride.

My name is Lennie and this is my partner, Steno. We’re undercover cops and it’s our job to ride the subway looking for criminals, murderers, drug dealers, and thieves. Officially, we're off-duty,  headed back to the station to sign out, then we witnessed what was going-down with you. The minute those bastards swapped seats we knew you were the target. Those shitheads were only seconds from grabbing you so... we had to get you off the train.

Lady, those assholes make their livin by robbing and killing women like you! You wanta know how long it’d take them to get that gold necklace off your neck? It would take about three seconds for one of them to hold you down while the other one sliced your fuckin head off!”

What a sight we must have been, standing on the subway platform. Evening commuters must have been curious to see two long-haired, bearded men in dirty tennis shoes, ragged jeans, wearing grateful dead sweatshirts, each holding a gun, and standing on either side of a tall, fashionably-dressed female in high heels.

Together, we climbed the crowded subway stairs to the busy streets above.Before stepping on the bus bound for New Jersey—I listened again to Lennie’s stern warning: “Never take the fuckin Subway when you’re all dressed up—fit to kill!” Steno stood close-by, silent and unsmiling. Both men helped me on the bus and, as it pulled away from the curb, I looked out the window, hoping to wave goodbye to my heroes, but they were gone. 

Both had disappeared into the crowd.

#From my book, THE BEAUTY QUEEN, Let No Deed Go Unpublished.

Feb. 16, 2018

I never wanted to grow up quickly. I never yearned to be a grown-up,  to look and act older. In fact, when I was a teenager, I didn't care about a drinking age, a voting age, whatever age gave you permission to be an adult.I enjoyed being me at every age.

Maybe it was the fact I was tall, had good posture, and always "presented" myself with confidence.  Maybe how I looked, prompted some to resent me. Unknowingly, I intimidated a few adults as a child.....a child paying a child's fare at the movies.

Nothing scared me more than the freaky older man who took movie tickets at the Saenger Theatre in my hometown of Pine Bluff. He looked like a live cadaver in a dark suit--- his face covered in orange-colored pan-cake makeup--- and wearing his usual air of superiority.  He  enjoyed telling newcomers to the theatre that  he'd once performed on the Saenger's stage....back in the days of Vaudeville,  when he was a famous star.

What particularly bothered me was the way he grabbed my arm every time I handed him my movie ticket. He scolded me, threatened to report me to the local police for impersonating a much-younger person. It was a humiliating experience. 

From the age of nine until I finally turned 13 yrs old--Dolf Kastor-- the ticket-taker (apparently a closet gay) insisted I was  older than I claimed; that I was trying to cheat the theatre by lying about my age. It was only after my father took my birth certificate to the Theatre's Manager, Bruce Young, that the ticket-taker stopped singling me out as a "juvenile delinquent". 

 My entire life, I've watched people clutter their lives with unneccesary Drama, Confusion, and Worthless Details. No one knows how I crave simplicity.  I've always wanted to live an easy, organized life, but few ever learned that about me.

 Creating, making something pretty out of something ordinary, still makes me happy.  And, just as I enjoy writing jingles and song lyrics, I also love expressing myself by writing words. 

After all these years and still.... no one knows me; no one understands me; no one sees my heart. But, just maybe, being alone with my thoughts, desires, writing, and memories, is the way my life is meant to be. Maybe I'm suppose to live a secret-hidden-solitary life.  Sharing too-much with others would-surely open me to more critics, more fakes, more phonies, and more ticket-takers.

At least now....no one accuses me of lying about my age in order to buy a cheaper ticket.

 Maybe--at last--I've come "of-age". 

Sally Miller

Feb. 13, 2018

It's tough to be a romantic....cause we think with our hearts--not our heads. And,  in my case.....when it comes to love, I just can't fake it.

I've known women who get aroused, turned-on, at the very thought of dating, maybe marrying, a guy with money. For some, money makes up for bad manners, bad teeth,  bad breath....even dirty fingernails. Money's been know to make a woman leave a hard-working husband, thinking her wealthy playboy-secret lover...will marry her.

A secretary at Erie Public Television married her long-time boyfriend who owned a profitable septic tank cleaning business. I remember the afternoon she paraded him around the Television Station,  showing off her 4 karat diamond engagement ring and bragging about the red Cadillac Convertible he promised to buy her as a wedding present.

 Some say Love Is Blind and I would add that, in a few cases, Love may  also have lost its sense of smell. Either the Septic Tank boyfriend wore the same uniform day after day OR.... he needed to add more bleach to his laundry detergent.  That day,  I wasn't the only one at the TV Station  who thought the bathrooms had either overflowed or stopped-up!  And, I couldn't help but notice the dark stains on his hands and under his nails.  I knew they weren't from repotting house plants.

 

Another interesting story about women, love, and money.... is this one:

Back in the early seventies, when I was struggling through a divorce, a boyfriend from my high school days stopped by to visit. He just wanted to say Hi and tell me about his latest love affair with a married woman. He described her as being the "hottest" woman he'd ever experienced and used the expression: "Hot To Trot".    It didn't take much persuading before he told me her name and....it didn't take me long to tell him my opinion. 

The woman had "a reputation" in our small town for sleeping with a variety of men OTHER than her husband.  Her husband was a pharmacist, someone I liked on a professional basis. His name was Phil and I considered him a gentleman. I  knew little about his personal life except that he was a hard worker,  the father of two daughters,  AND the husband of a woman who considered herself too cute and too sexy for just one man.The last gossip I heard before leaving the USA  for China was: Phil's wife was divorcing him for one of her many boyfriends.

Fast-forward about three years: I opened my email one morning and found an article from the front page of a Las Vegas Newspaper:

Phil Strickland of Pine Bluff, Ark. won $8.2 million at Harrah's Las Vegas in 1993, the largest jackpot in Vegas history.

The article was about Phil, my long-ago friend. It talked about how sad and depressed he'd been over his painful divorce. In desperation, he had accepted his brother's offer to spend an all-expense paid weekend in Vegas. Afraid Phil might be entertaining thoughts of suicide, Phil's brother hoped the change of scenery would give Phil a more hopeful outlook on life.

Neither of them was prepared for what happened on their trip.  In only one day of randomly feeding the slot machines, Phil hit the largest jackpot in Vegas History. One minute Phil was a struggling Pharmacist, devastated over losing his wife and his business then... the next minute....he was the winner of 8.2 million dollars!

Would you be surprised if I told you his wife had a sudden change of heart....decided she still loved her husband....and called off the divorce?!?!?

 What happens in Vegas....stays in Vegas.

Sally Miller