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My Writing Journey

Andrew Carnegie Libraries

(Vintage postcard of our town’s Andrew Carnegie Library, built in 1913)

When I was a child growing up in Southern California, our town’s public library was an Andrew Carnegie Library, built in 1913. I always admired the historic architecture and felt quite heartbroken when the city decided to tear it down and replace it with a more modern structure. Yes, the newer building was easier to navigate and filled with light, but the old, beat-up structure had more character. It reeked of history and days gone by.

Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) was born in Dunfermline, Scotland, and emigrated with his poverty-stricken family to Pennsylvania, USA in 1848. With only a few years of schooling behind him, this self-made millionaire managed to rise — through hard work and shrewd investments — from a lowly factory boy to a railroad worker to a powerful steel magnate. He sold the Carnegie Steel Company to banker J.P. Morgan in 1901 for $480 million. After retiring, he spent the rest of his life and most of his fortune on philanthropic projects.

Carnegie believed that the wealthy have “a moral obligation to distribute [their wealth] in ways that promote the welfare and happiness of the common man” (The Gospel of Wealth, 1889). He funded the construction of Carnegie Hall in New York City and founded the Carnegie Institution for Science, Carnegie Mellon University, and the Carnegie Foundation.

A devoted bibliophile, Carnegie funded the construction of 2,811 public libraries in America, Europe, and other parts of the world. Some of these buildings are still in public use as libraries or government centers. He is buried in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in North Tarrytown, New York.

Thanks for stopping by. Have a great day!

Dawn Pisturino

January 11, 2023

Copyright 2023 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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Old-Fashioned Christmas Cookie Recipes

(Photo by Bruna Branco on Unsplash)

[NOTE: I’ve been busy with major housecleaning, shopping, doing Christmas stuff, cooking, doing homework for an online class called “Online Obsessions,” and hanging out with my husband before he returns to work next week (he’s been off for the last three months recovering from a total knee replacement). I’m getting caught up with responding to your comments and visiting your blog sites. I apologize for the delay!]

I inherited these recipes from my mother, and I have no idea where she got them, but these are the cookie recipes I use at Christmas. They also make great cookies for Valentine’s Day. Rich, sugary, buttery, spicy, and delicious!

Old-Fashioned Butter Cookies

3 cups sifted flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup butter or margarine (butter is best)

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

2 tbsp. cream or milk

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sift flour with baking powder and salt and set aside. Cream the butter. Gradually add sugar to the butter, creaming well. Stir in egg, cream, and vanilla. Add dry ingredients gradually and mix well. Chill for at least an hour in the refrigerator. Roll out, one third at a time, on floured surface to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. (This dough also works well in a cookie press.) Place on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 400 degrees for 5-8 minutes or until edges turn golden brown. Let cool. Frost with powdered sugar frosting and decorate.

Gingerbread Cookies

1/2 cup shortening (butter works best)

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup dark molasses

1 egg

2 1/2 cups sifted flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. ginger

1 tsp. cloves

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream shortening and sugar well. Blend in molasses. Add egg and beat well. Stir in sifted dry ingredients. Chill the dough for three hours in the refrigerator. Roll dough on floured surface to 1/8 – 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Bake on ungreased cookie sheets at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. (Do not over-bake.) Let cool. Dust with powdered sugar or frost with powdered sugar frosting and decorate.

Serve your cookies with milk, hot chocolate, tea, or coffee, and enjoy!

I love the Hot Chocolate Scene from Polar Express:

Christmas is coming! Make it Merry! And today is the Winter Solstice – the shortest day of the year! Or, longest night – however you want to look at it. LOL!

Dawn Pisturino

December 21, 2022

38 Comments »

Happy Thanksgiving!

Autumn to Winter

by Dawn Pisturino

The old year is fading

and Autumn blows

the misty clouds

of Winter our way.

(A runaway grizzly bear meets Jack Frost and Old Man Winter in this vintage cartoon from 1934. My father loved these old cartoons.)
(My favorite Thanksgiving hymn – “We Gather Together”)
(George Winston playing his beautiful and inspiring piece, “Thanksgiving.” My mother adored George Winston.)

My parents always came for Thanksgiving. Now that they are gone, I always think of them at this time of year.

PSALM 95:1-5 (NKJV)

Oh come, let us sing to the LORD! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the LORD is the great God, and the great King above all gods. In His hand are the deep places of the earth; the heights of the hills are His also. The sea is His, for He made it; and His hands formed the dry land.

PLEASE NOTE: I WILL NOT BE POSTING ANYTHING UNTIL SOME TIME NEXT WEEK.

Have a joyful and blessed Thanksgiving!

~

Dawn Pisturino

November 23, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

58 Comments »

Vintage Halloween Cartoons

When the cartoon industry was relatively new, animators did not shy away from making spooky, fun, and memorable cartoons that both children and adults loved. These are the Halloween cartoons that our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents (depending on your age) would have watched in the movie theater.

The Haunted House (1929) – Mickey Mouse – Disney Cartoons:

Produced and directed by Walt Disney. Walt also provided Mickey’s voice! Chief animator: Ub Iwerks. Music composed by Carl Stalling. This short cartoon, which was part of a series of Mickey Mouse cartoons, was released and distributed by Celebrity Productions.

Silly Symphony – The Skeleton Dance (1929) – Disney Cartoons:

The Skeleton Dance, also produced and directed by Walt Disney, preceded The Haunted House and incorporated iconic “danse macabre” images (art which was popular during the Black Death era).

Getting in the Halloween mood?

Dawn Pisturino

October 24, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

14 Comments »

Louis Armstrong Halloween

(photo from vialma.com)

Jazz musicians are no strangers to Halloween. Even the great Louis Armstrong recorded a couple of fun Halloween songs that were quite popular in his day. When Armstrong appeared in his first major motion picture, Pennies from Heaven (1936), he performed The Skeleton in the Closet with Jimmy Dorsey and his orchestra.

The Skeleton in the Closet Lyrics

Boy, don’t you go in there
Come outa there, boy
Don’t you know that house is haunted

There’s an old deserted mansion
On an old forgotten road
Where the better ghosts and goblins
Always hang out.
One night they threw a party
In a manner à la mode
And they cordially invited
All the gang out
At a dark bewitchin’ hour
When the fun was loud and hearty
A notorious wall flower
Became the life of the party
Mmm! The spooks were havin’ their midnight fling
The merry makin’ was in full swing
They shrieked themselves into a cheerful trance
When the skeleton in the closet started to dance
Now a goblin giggled with fiendish glee
A shout rang out from a big banshee
Amazement was in every ghostly glance
When the skeleton in the closet started to dance
All the witches were in stitches
While his steps made rhythmic thumps
And they nearly dropped their broomsticks
When he tried to do the bumps
You never heard such unearthly laughter
Such hilarious groans
When the skeleton in the closet rattled his bones

Source: Musixmatch

Songwriters: Johnny Burke / Arthur Johnson

The Skeleton In The Closet lyrics © Chappell & Co., Inc.

~

In 1954, Armstrong recorded the song Spooks with Gordon Jenkins and his orchestra.

Spooks Lyrics

The other night, about twelve o’clock
I thought I’d go downstairs just to check the lock
When I heard something in the house
I don’t mean a mouse

I swear they were spooks, spooks, spooks
I know they were spooks, spooks, spooks, spooks
I couldn’t move, just stood and stared
I never was so scared

The first spook spoke and I heard him speak
He said, “What say I go make the back door squeak?”
Oh he would tease the cat and hound the pup
And raise our spirits up

Oh lordy, them spooks, spooks, spooks
Those scary old spooks, spooks, spooks, spooks
You don’t have to take my word
But I heard what I heard


The next spook spoke, he said, “Suppose we make
The faucets drip and make the shutters shake
You let me know just what you want
This is my favourite haunt

Beware of them spooks, spooks, spooks
Them mischievous spooks, spooks, spooks, spooks
I ain’t spoofing, man I mean
That I seen what I seen


A big spook spoke, he said, “Spike, my son,” he said
“I’ll show you how to scare up some fun
But next time when you wail, see here
You make it loud and clear”

Watch out for them spooks, spooks, spooks
Oh them nasty old spooks, spooks, spooks, spooks
Maybe you don’t think it’s so
But I knew what I knew

The last spook turned to his spouse and frowned
Said, “I thought I’d told you to wait in the ground
But you look awful cute tonight
In fact, you look a fright”


He’s talking ’bout spooks, spooks, spooks
Real genuine spooks, spooks, spooks, spooks

Oh, you stop putting up your dukes
You just can’t fight with them spooks

I’m getting outta here, man
I don’t dig this jive, no


Wait for us, wait for us, wait for us, wait for us

by Matt Dubey and Harold Carr

~

Other Halloween jazz songs:

I Put a Spell on You

That Old Black Magic

Ding-Dong! The Witch is Dead

Witchcraft

Old Devil Moon

~

Halloween is coming soon!

Dawn Pisturino

October 21, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

14 Comments »

The Clown School

(Red Skelton and Lucille Ball)

When my daughter told me she was going to go to clown school, I thought, Okay, what new adventure is this? Is she going to join the circus? The rodeo? What’s up with this?

After a few chuckles, she explained to me what clown school is — a school for performing artists to learn the intriguing history of clowns, a variety of new acting skills, and a way to incorporate playfulness and fun into theatrical acting.

The Clown School, located in Eagle Rock, Los Angeles, California, is one of the top clown schools in America. People from TV and film attend the school in order to further their careers. My daughter, who is a professional singer and performer, has been taking their online classes, and she loves it.

One famous TV clown was Red Skelton, but Lucille Ball was also considered a clown. Her comedy routines, playfulness, and ability to make people love her and laugh, are legendary. I Love Lucy re-runs are still on traditional TV and streaming.

Clowns have been around for thousands of years. In 2400 B.C., Ancient Egypt’s Fifth Dynasty saw priests assuming the role of clowns in order to promote social and religious concepts. Jesters were common in China as early as 300 B.C. They were used in India as interpreters in 100 A.D.

Greek and Roman theater featured clowns and mimes. During the Middle Ages and Renaissance period, fools and jesters entertained members of the public and the royal courts alike. They were often used to promote religious concepts for the Church. In the 14th century, clowns began to appear on tarot cards.

The Aztecs were employing court jesters for entertainment when the Spanish arrived in 1520 A.D. The Commedia del Arte established the tradition of the three Zannis in 16th century Italy, which included the character of Harlequin.

Among Native Americans, clowns were used to make social and religious statements. Their antics made people laugh and think about the message the clowns were trying to deliver.

The first circus clowns were brought to England by Philip Astley in 1768. And Joseph Grimaldi (1778-1837), a British entertainer, expanded the role of the clown and earned the title “Father of Modern Clowning.”

For more information about The Clown School, click here: http://www.theclownschool.com.

Have a fun-filled, happy day!

Dawn Pisturino

September 28, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

21 Comments »

School Lunches from the 1950s Housewife

(Illustration by Arthur Sarnoff)

Providing a hearty, healthy, nutritious lunch in a clean, sanitary lunch box or other container for both hubby and the kids was a housewife’s daily duty in the 1950s. The guidelines included the following:

  1. “It should be abundant in amount for a hungry, healthy individual. A little too much is better than too little.”
  2. “It should be chosen with regard to nutritive needs of the individual, and in relation to the whole day’s food.”
  3. “It should be clean, appetizing, wholesome, and attractive.”

Food Selection

Solids and liquids were both included in the lunch plan. Guidelines urged housewives to choose at least one item from each of the following groups:

Milk — in food, such as pudding, or drink.

Bread — whole grain used in sandwiches.

Meat, Cheese, Eggs, or Fish — used in sandwich fillings, salads, or main dishes. Left over meat loaf, pot roast, and other food items were often used in sandwiches in the 1950s.

Fruit — whole or diced in salads or desserts.

Vegetables — used in sandwich fillings, salads, main dishes, or whole. Crisp, raw vegetables preferred.

Surprise – cookies, nuts, raisins, or other special treat.

What Season is it?

~ In winter, include something hot, such as soup, coffee, tea, or hot chocolate in a thermos.

~ In summer, include cool, refreshing items such as lemonade, fruit juice, iced tea, or iced coffee in a thermos.

Tips

*Remember to include utensils, napkins, and straws.*

*Provide spicier, more flavorful food for hubby and milder but flavorful food for the kids.*

*The goal in the 1950s was to keep packed lunches appetizing, varied, and balanced nutritionally.

Menus

Cream of tomato soup

Ham sandwich with mustard and lettuce

Celery sticks and olives

Fresh pear

Cookies

~

Cheese sandwich with ketchup and lettuce

Tossed vegetable salad and dressing

Pickles

Whole orange

Cake

Hot cocoa

~

(The first lunch box set was produced by the Aladdin Company in 1950 and featured Hopalong Cassidy.)

The National School Lunch Act, signed into law by President Harry Truman in 1946, provides school lunches in public schools for a fee or for free. I don’t know nowadays how many kids still bring their lunches to school. I remember kids getting teased when they reached a certain age who still brought their lunches to school. My favorite part of lunch in school was the chocolate milk that came with the cafeteria lunch. And, in high school, we used to sneak off campus and hit the local Taco Bell. Many adults eat in the company cafeteria, if one is provided, or order fast food. But some adults still bring their lunches to work.

~

Information retrieved from The American Woman’s Cook Book, 1952 and the Internet.

Dawn Pisturino

September 19, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

33 Comments »

The Amazing Apple

(Photo by Vera De on Unsplash)

The Amazing Apple

by Dawn Pisturino

Hooray for the all-American apple! Boiled, baked, stewed, juiced, fried, dried, or raw, apples are as American as rock-and-roll.

Eating this amazing little fruit is one of the simplest ways to improve and maintain good health at a reasonable cost.

Apples are high in fiber, which is important for eliminating toxins from the body, lowering cholesterol, and regulating blood sugar, appetite, cell growth in the colon lining, and the action of bile acids in the body.

Apples are a great source of antioxidants because they contain vitamin C and a phytonutrient called quercetin. Quercetin is a flavonoid which is currently being researched for its anti-cancer properties, especially against lung and prostate cancer.

There is only about 10 mg of vitamin C in an average apple, but when combined with the quercetin, research has shown that the effects in the body are equivalent to 1500 mg of vitamin C. Now, that’s powerful stuff!

Apples have been proven to have antiviral, antiseptic, and laxative properties, contain a natural sugar called sorbitol, and a wide variety of important vitamins and minerals.

Researchers believe that regular consumption of apples can improve lung function, lower the risks of cancer, heart disease, and stroke, contribute to weight loss, and protect the brain from degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

The Washington Apple Commission recommends eating at least one apple a day in order to reap these benefits.

Cooked apples are easier to digest than raw ones. Apple juice — especially freshly pressed — has almost the same benefits as the whole apple.

Apples are a traditional part of the school lunch box. In the kitchen, apples combine well with other fruits and vegetables.

For free recipes and more information, go to the Washington Apple Commission website at

http://www.waapple.org

Dawn Pisturino, RN

February 25, 2007; September 16, 2022

Published in The Kingman Daily Miner, June 26, 2007.

Copyright 2007-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved. 

25 Comments »

September Song/September Morn

(Photo by Sandy Millar on Unsplash)

My autumn decorations are up, and I’m already planning menus for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. My husband was recently diagnosed with borderline diabetes, so cooking will be a little more challenging this year. But we can enjoy the changing season and all that nature brings us. One of my favorite jazz standards that I always think of at this time of year is “September Song.” Originally introduced on Broadway in the 1938 musical, Knickerbocker Holiday, it has been performed by Frank Sinatra and other acclaimed crooners. Chances are good that you’ve heard it.

(Frank Sinatra – September Song)

September Song

When I was a young man courting the girls
I played me a waiting game
If a maid refused me with tossing curls
I’d let the old Earth take a couple of whirls
While I plied her with tears in lieu of pearls
And as time came around she came my way
As time came around, she came

When you meet with the young girls early in the spring
You court them in song and rhyme
They answer with words and a clover ring
But if you could examine the goods they bring
They have little to offer but the songs they sing
And a plentiful waste of time of day
A plentiful waste of time

Oh, it’s a long, long while from May to December
But the days grow short
When you reach September
When the Autumn weather turns the leaves to flame
One hasn’t got time for the waiting game

Oh, the days dwindle down to a precious few
September, November
And these few precious days
I’ll spend with you
These precious days
I’ll spend with you

Songwriters: Kurt Weill, Maxwell Anderson. For non-commercial use only.

And then, there’s the beautiful “September Morn” performed by the fabulous Neil Diamond:

(For the lyrics, click here: https://genius.com/Neil-diamond-september-morn-lyrics)

This year, the autumn equinox will occur on Thursday, September 22, 2022. I’ve already treated myself to a generous cup of hot chocolate, which sounds crazy in the heat, but the temperature was actually pretty cool this morning.

And right now, we’re enjoying the last of the harvest moon in-between cloud covers.

(Photographer unknown)

Happy September! Autumn will be here soon!

Dawn Pisturino

September 14, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

31 Comments »

The Poem that Inspired Simon & Garfunkel

Richard Cory – the poem that inspired Simon & Garfunkel

by Edwin Arlington Robinson

Whenever Richard Cory went downtown,

We people on the pavement looked at him:

He was a gentleman from sole to crown,

Clean favored, and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,

And he was always human when he talked;

But still he fluttered pulses when he said,

“Good morning,” and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich — yes, richer than a king —

And admirably schooled in every grace:

In fine, we thought that he was everything

To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,

And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;

And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,

Went home and put a bullet through his head.

~Edwin Arlington Robinson~

~

In 1966, Simon & Garfunkel borrowed Robinson’s poem, “Richard Cory,” modernized the language, and set it to music. The song is both thought-provoking and astonishing – just like Robinson’s poem – and was included in the duo’s hit album, Sounds of Silence.

I personally think the song lyrics are infinitely better than the poem. But, listen for yourself!

~

Bio: While Edwin Arlington Robinson (1869-1935) is not remembered much now, he was a highly prolific and enthusiastically praised poet in his time. He often wrote on “themes of personal failure, artistic endeavor, materialism [and wealth], and the inevitability of [progress and] change” (Robert Gilbert). Robinson self-published his books of poetry until Houghton Mifflin agreed to publish his book of poems, Captain Craig, in 1902. The book was not successful, and Robinson became a drifter and alcoholic. In 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt became aware of Robinson and his book, The Children of the Night. Roosevelt convinced Charles Scribner’s Sons to republish the book. He also obtained a job for Robinson at the New York Customs House. Job security allowed Robinson to continue with his writing. Robinson won a Pulitzer Prize for his Collected Poems in 1922. He won a second Pulitzer Prize in 1924. In 1927, he won a third Pulitzer Prize. Robinson died of cancer in 1935.

Thanks for visiting!

Dawn Pisturino

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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