Thursday, September 5, 2019

My Summer Highlights – Part 2

Welcome to My Summer Highlights – Part 2 (See My Summer Highlights – Part 1).  The first week of September is almost behind us, and I’m really looking forward to fall.  I love the weather, the clothes, Mother Nature’s color palette, and the beginning of opera season in New York. 

Photo by Louise Leblanc from Wide Open Country

Not that I didn’t enjoy my summer, I did, well…..apart from the thunder storms and downpours which occurred at some point almost every day, and the hot, sticky temperatures that accompanied them, all of which kept me indoors most of the time.  Truth be told, I’m really an indoor kinda gal anyway; everything I love doing takes place indoors and not usually during the summer.  And so you might be wondering if, in fact, I did enjoy my summer.  I’ll let you decide. 


In Part 1 I talked about the 45th Reunion in June of the Rosemont College Class of 1974 (See The Girls of ’74) and what a wonderful time we all had catching up on Connelly Green.  Such great memories!!  Things have changed quite a bit in the intervening years; the College is now co-ed and offers graduate degrees, but 45 years later, we Girls of ’74 still feel privileged to be Rosemont Girls.  There’s something special about this place.  We feel it whenever we gather on the campus for events. 

After hugging and kissing and promising to stay in touch at the end of the evening, my husband and I made our way to the end of the tent where the bar had been set up.  Servers and bartenders were tidying up and watching the last of the die-hard dancers whooping it up on the dance floor.  The food had been delicious and the service exceptionally good.  It’s not easy to cater such a big event that is spread out over a large area.  There were indoor and outdoor events all going on simultaneously, and they had worked very hard and with good cheer all day and all evening. 

On our way out, I walked up to one of the young men near the bar, tapped him on the shoulder and said, “I just want you to know how wonderful everything was and what a great job you all did.  Thank you so much for making a special event even more special.”  I confess I was not prepared for the reaction I got. 

He took my hand and said, “M‘am, we got complaints tonight, but you are the only one who took the time to tell us we did a good job.  Thank you.  You made my night.  You have blessed me, and I am very grateful.” 

“You’re a religious young man, aren’t you?” I asked. 

“Yes, m’am,” he replied. “I am, and you have given me a blessing.” 

Then he looked around at the campus and said, “This is a very special place, isn’t it?  You can feel it.” 

“We like to think so.” I smiled.  I gave him a quick hug and then my husband and I walked toward the parking lot.  That brief, beautiful encounter now belongs among my cherished Rosemont memories.  That young man had given me a blessing. 

Later that month, an event occurred which can only be filed under the heading “What In the H___ Was She Thinking??”  I call it.

The Grate Key Caper.

It was a dark and stormy night.  (I’ve always wanted to start a story that way and this may be my only chance.)  At about 10:00 pm, while I was finishing up the dishes, I heard a lot of commotion outside my kitchen window – noise, loud voices, bright headlights, etc.  I sent my husband outside to check.  When he came back he said, “You won’t believe what’s going on out there.  One of our neighbors dropped her car keys down a storm drain and she’s got a bunch of young guys, relatives, I think, trying to pull off the grate using ropes and a pickup truck, and now they’ve dropped the grate down the drain.  You’d better call the police.  This looks dangerous.” 

I am not by nature a nosy neighbor, but, since I am a member of the Board of Directors of my Community and all the other Board members were away, I felt an obligation to get involved, so I called the police.  When the policeman arrived, I grabbed an umbrella and went outside.  He was doing his best to question my neighbor about the incident – what happened, who was involved, etc. -- but she was crying, refused to give him any information and ran into the house and locked the door and refused to come out.  So it was up to me to deal with it. 

The policeman and I went over to the “scene of the crime” to check it out.  The boys involved had put a piece of cardboard over the open drain, which was getting soggy from the rain.  The Sergeant pulled off the cardboard and shone his light into a gaping hole about eight to ten feet deep and wide enough for an adult to fall into.  I was shocked at the sight and he was furious.   “This is the stupidest, most dangerous thing I’ve ever seen!” he said. “What in the h___ was she thinking?  These grates weigh about 300 lbs.  This needs to be fixed a.s.a.p. before someone falls into this drain and gets hurt or worse.  He put orange cones around it and left. 

I spent the next day making phone calls to the water company, the municipal authorities, the Borough, even the Fire Department, and each time they would tell me they had no jurisdiction over the grate.  It was on private property. 

Finally, a gentleman from Public Works arrived to check it out and took pity on me.  I must have looked really pathetic by this time, or maybe it was that I was wearing my favorite shade of coral lipstick.  Never underestimate the power of the right shade of lipstick, and coral is the perfect color to get a woman out of a jam.  While I love my red lipstick, red lipstick makes you look like you are in charge and know what you’re doing, which was not what I was going for.  Pink makes you look too helpless and needy.  Coral is exactly the right shade for a situation in which you need to be taken seriously but you seriously need help. 

Anyway, after insisting he didn’t have the authority to deal with this, he leaned over and whispered in my ear, “We never had this conversation.  If I can pull a couple of guys from another job, get a backhoe and a chain, I’ll be back, but we never had this conversation, O.K.?”  What conversation?  I never saw you before in my life.  He left. 

About an hour later, there was a knock on my door and two men in green and yellow jackets were standing there.  “Take us to the grate,” they said.  They took one look at it and said, “This is the stupidest, most dangerous thing I’ve ever seen!  What in the h___ was she thinking?” I had heard that somewhere before. 

Photos Cropped to Protect Identities

And then my Knight in green and yellow jacket arrived with a backhoe and heavy chain and the three of them got to work. 

Photos Cropped to Protect Identities

One of the men climbed down into the drain using the steel ladder rungs inside it and attached the chain to the grate.  It took a few attempts, but eventually the grate was extracted.  You can still see the remnants of the broken ropes. 

Photos Cropped to Protect Identities
Then they had to carefully reposition the grate making sure not to drop it in the drain again, which was no easy task. 

Et voilà -- “The Grate Key Caper” comes to a successful conclusion thanks to three Knights in green and yellow jackets and my favorite shade of coral lipstick.  And, in case you’re wondering, the keys were never recovered.  They were probably washed away as soon as she dropped them with all the heavy rain that night.  So, all of this Sturm und Drang was literally for naught. 

Like Blanche Dubois, I have always believed you can depend on the kindness of strangers, so long as you are wearing your favorite shade of coral lipstick.

Oh, and one more thing --  WE NEVER HAD THIS CONVERSATION. 

In My Summer Highlights -- Part 3, Dan and I have a much-needed opera getaway in Québec, and there may be a few extra goodies thrown in, as well.  Stay tuned. 

For Part 3 Click HERE.


  1. So enjoyed the two summer stories. Your blog postings are always delightful. As a fellow opera fan, I look forward to Part 3.

    1. I think you will enjoy Part 3, Jo, as one opera fan to another.

      Cheers, M-T

  2. Marie-Thérèse,

    Although I certainly enjoy the story and agree with everything you say and feel, might you get the helpful waterworks employee in trouble by making it public? Sometimes bureaucracy can get in the way of doing the right thing. He saved someone from falling down an 8" or 10" hole, I know! But remember the lunch lady who got fired for feeding poor kids who couldn't pay their outstanding school lunch bills? Perhaps you've cropped enough so nobody can recognize the street.

    Now I wonder on who's private property the drain is on. Could it be the woman with very bad judgment? If so, she'd have been in big trouble had somebody fallen down an open drainage hole. Also I'm surprised she could refuse to respond to a police officer. I'm sure he could've arrested her, but probably thought it would serve no purpose. I think she should've gotten slapped with fines for exposing the public to possible injuries or death. Even on private property, you can't set others up to get hurt.

    Thankfully, you were at home and where you could hear the activity outside!

    1. I hope I cropped the pictures sufficiently to keep their anonymity. Without getting too specific, the drain is actually in an area of our development where people come and go constantly and walk their dogs, so it was an absolute danger to all the residents and needed to be addressed a.s.a.p. Had anyone been injured or worse, we all would have been sued. Had I not been home, I have no idea what would have happened. Actually, the lady who caused the problem was very annoyed w/me for calling the authorities. I have yet to get a thank you from her for resolving the issue w/out liability to her or anyone of our neighbors. On the other hand, my fellow Board members were most appreciative of my efforts on behalf of the community.

      Cheers, M-T

  3. Dearest Marie-Thérèse,
    What a series of stories...
    LOVE the one where you thanked the young man for a perfectly catered event and then hearing he'd received complaints?! Makes you wonder about a lot of people why they take their anger or whatever (?) out on someone who deserves better.
    The second story is quite a dangerous chapter that no one would like to live through... Glad it ended well, except for retrieving the car keys.
    We both have enjoyed biking, a shower afterwards makes you feel proud and new. Not that we sweat but it's just for the effort you make.
    Hoping to keep this up as it is healthy for both of us!
    Now I'm creating digital videos for Pieter to relive many of our adventures, vacations and what not, on his new iPad Pro. He's so very happy with it so that gives me joy!


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