Notes from the Home - December 31, 2012



   Friday night, the fire alarm went off, waking me from a sound sleep. Alisha, who was working at the front desk, made an announcement that it was nothing to worry about. I think that’s what she said. It was difficult to hear her over the alarm, and I’m not certain what followed “May I have your attention, please,” but I thought I heard an “OK” and an “all right.” And I opted to stay in bed and listen for sounds of panic. Of course, it would have been nearly impossible to hear the sounds of panic over the blaring alarm. But it fell silent in its own good time – about ten minutes – and Alisha got back on the PA to assure us all was well.

   That was the third time in the last six weeks that the fire alarm has gone off. From the time I arrived here on March 26, until the weekend before Thanksgiving, it never went off. The insouciance of the residents when the alarm sounds  leads me to believe that its six months of silence was more unusual than its fortnightly eruptions of late.

   (Author’s note: Would-be writers are told to avoid highfalutin words. However, there are many proper Southern ladies in residence at Covenant Woods who falute on the highest level and would prefer to be described as insouciant rather than as people who, as my friend John used to say, don’t give a rat’s ass.)

   When the alarm ceased its screeching, I heard the rain. Like the fire alarm, the rain has been more bothersome lately. Summer had its passing showers and occasional storms. They were the proverbial breaks in the weather. The clouds rolled in, the rain fell, the clouds rolled on and the sun came out again. More recently, the clouds have been rolling in and staying; the overcast making the already short days shorter. And when it rains, the rain never seems to end. Its intensity varies, going from storm to shower to drizzle and back again, but it doesn’t stop.

   There are glorious days. Today was one: sunshine, clear skies, pleasantly cool temperatures. But clouds and showers are in the offing for tomorrow and Tuesday.



   Russ and Karen carted me around today so I could buy a recorder. Al says he is willing to sit down and tell me some stories. He has been excited ever since I showed him an Associated Press story that appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 8, 1975, and mentioned his name. He certainly has a lot of stories to tell, and he’s got me excited. Now I’ve got to figure out how the recorder works.

   The story, “Phouc Binh Battle 10 Years Ago Recalled by Yanks as Bloody,” written by Peter Arnett, is not presented as a separate item on the net. You can scroll through the entire paper. And I did. On that Wednesday nearly thirty-eight years ago, the Steelers were the top story. On Page 1: “Despite a virtual sellout of tickets and plane and hotel reservations, it was still possible as of yesterday to get a flight, a room and $20 tickets for Super IX to watch the Steelers make war against the Minnesota Vikings Sunday.”

   Whatever happened to $20 dollar Super Bowl tickets?

   On the sports page, Al Abrams writes: “[Viking head coach] Bud Grant singled out Steeler rookie linebacker, Jack Lambert, as one of the best players in the game now.” Abrams also noted that, “[New Orleans] Mayor Moon Landrieu picks the Vikings by a score of 17 to 10.” The coach was right, the mayor wasn’t.

   In a story headlined “Terry’s Brain Up for Scrutiny,” by David Fink, Steeler coach Chuck Noll came to the defense of his quarterback.

   “‘What people have called Terry Bradshaw dumb?’ questions Noll in response to an obvious question. ‘That’s unfounded . . . it’s unfair . . . that hasn’t come from anybody in our organization . . . who said Terry’s dumb?’”

   For those who wonder why the Steelers are called the Steelers, there is this item: “A request by Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp. to substantially increase its slag pits at its Pittsburgh Works with a possible increase in air pollution has been scheduled for public review . . .”

   A&P had sirloin on sale for $1.49 a pound. White bread was three loaves for a dollar, white potatoes were ten pounds for $0.59, and, with a coupon, a three-pound can of Eight O’Clock Coffee was $2.59. At Giant Eagle, ground meat was $0.66 a pound for five pounds or more, and $0.73 a pound for smaller quantities. Rath Wieners were $0.59 a pound, and navel oranges were twenty for $0.99.

   For those who preferred going downtown for a movie, the available features included The Godfather Part II at the Gateway, The Towering Inferno at the Fulton, The Man with the Golden Arm at the Stanley, and Earthquake at the Warner.

   And with my mind now awash in 1975, I will go off and contemplate 2013, after wishing everyone a very happy new year.

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