Maybe I should have named my blog Potpourri or Pastiche or simply a Savory Stew because I aim to throw a lot of different things into the pot, mostly about reading, writing and art, but many other things, too, because I’ve lived a long time and have a lot of interests. I also will include here thoughts of others I come upon who share my loves. Including those of you who care to share your thoughts and impressions.

Archive - October, 2014

posted by Ed Farber on October 31, 2014

I recently ran across a local St. Louis website:  in which Dave Lossos, the proprietor, allows people to put down their own memories, and there are hundreds of reminiscences. Having begun in 2001, the site is so large it’s divided into years down to the present. It’s worth a trip down memory lane for those who, like me, enjoy reminiscing  about growing up in St. Louis.

We reminisce more often as we grow older. We think back through the years to earlier times before bad backs and arthritic knees and all the other ailments that afflict us when we reach the “golden” years. Those years we bring up from the past, however, are forever golden to us, having been stored in special compartments of our brain with subconscious titles such as “Youth", “The Girl That I Married", “My Family", and thousands perhaps millions more. We all have them although the labels may be different for each of us. Scientists may cloak these memory links in terms such as synapses, and neuro-messengers, but to us they are simply a way to relive certain important--or trivial--moments in our lives.

Reminiscing is comforting to most of us. The memories are usually softened by our own emotions, clothed in an amber glow like flashbacks in some movies. We tend to forget memories that are painful, relegating them to a distant part of the brain. Remembering a loved one we have lost, however, may be bathed in sadness for the loss but comforting for the sheer magic of reliving the happy times we had with that person.

A family history is one way to resurrect memories that may be deeply buried among those synapses in our brains. When I wrote mine, I was amazed and immensely pleased at how many memories emerged, unbidden for the most part, of childhood friends, relatives long deceased, school chums, girlfriends, classrooms, courses, fun times. The pleasure came from experiencing once again a person, a place, an incident which had touched my life in such a way as to leave a lasting imprint.

The best reminiscences are those shared with others. “Remember when we kids were lost in Forest Park?” you might say to your friend or family member. This will elicit a steady stream of other memories associated with the first. Some people have a gift for remembering “the old days.” My friend, Joe, a pal for more than 75 years, was such a person. He could remember in detail events that had occurred decades before, times I had shared with him but forgotten. Every time we had lunch together we also shared memories. Having passed away recently, Joe is one of my fond memories. Even now, when I come across something that stirs up a memory, I will think, “Joe would remember that better than I do.”

Reminiscing was the impetus for my first book, Looking Back with a Smile, a Kindle ebook available at: in which I included brief and humorous recollections about growing up, school, the military, marriage, kids, grandkids and pets spanning more than seven decades. While the reminiscences are mine, the humor in them, I think, is universal and may help to bring back many of your own memories stored somewhere in those subconscious compartments in your mind.






posted by Ed Farber on October 20, 2014

For those not in St. Louis, The Muny is St. Louis’ famous outdoor theater located in Forest Park. It’s been around since 1919 bringing great Broadway Musicals to the huge stage in the park. It seats around 12,000 people so it’s a BIG theater.

My folks took me to a Muny production when I was just 3 months old. The Muny offered free seats on a first come basis, and since this was 1932 in the midst of the Depression, free seats were all my folks could afford. Look at the photo. Way up at the top is where the free seats were.

My Dad loved music so the Muny (or Municipal Opera) was a natural for him.  Here is a list of the shows presented in 1932, courtesy of the Muny web site   but for some reason  I just don’t remember which ones I saw:

Blossom Time, Blue Paradise, Cyrano de Bergerac, the Desert Song, Honeymooners, Land of Smiles, The Last Waltz, The Love Call, The New Moon, The Riviera Girl, Rose of Stamboul, and Sari

My first real remembrances of the Muny shows came a number of years later, and by the time I was a teen-ager I was a veteran theater-goer (to the Muny, of course, in the free seats.) Not always in the free seats, however. At intermission time, we adventurous teenagers would saunter down the hill around the Muny to the refreshment area and then casually walk into the paid area (by then the ticket takers were long gone) as if we had paid. Then we would wait patiently for the second act to begin and look for unoccupied seats which would soon be occupied—by us. Sometimes we were lucky enough to sit in the boxes.

Those were the days of the operetta and I still love to hear that old music from shows like The Desert Song, Naughty Marietta, The Student Prince—and all the shows that Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald made famous again later in the movies.

Many of our biggest entertainers played the Muny. Did you know that Cary Grant (under his real name—Archie Leach) played the Muny for most of the 1931 season? Bob Hope was there in 1958, Sid Caesar in 1970, Red Skelton in 1938 and then again in 1970, Lauren Bacall in 1971 and 1977, Zero Mostel (the original Tevye in Fidler on the Roof) in1976, Debbie Reynolds in 1973, 1980, and 1989 and Milton Berle in 1971. And I saw them all (except for Cary Grant) on that big Muny stage.


posted by Ed Farber on October 10, 2014

I learned to drive in a car just like this photo of a 1938 Plymouth sedan. My Dad had traded in his old 1929 Chevy roadster for that car, but I don’t remember it ever being as spiffy as the one in the photo. It was a blue, 4-door, but I know it never had white sidewalls. My Dad was much too frugal to splurge on fancy extras.  It did have a four-on-the-floor stick shift since automatic transmissions did not exist for the average car buyer back then. The stick-shift was the standard for those times.

Learning how to drive was a real challenge for a sixteen year old, especially learning to handle a stick-shift. I was so pleased when I finally could shift gears without the loud grinding noise that meant you didn’t quite do it right. My Dad was my driving instructor. I remember one hair-raising incident as if it happened yesterday. I wrote about it briefly in my book, Looking Back with a Smile. Here’s the quote:

On one occasion I mistakenly crunched down on the accelerator instead of the brake pedal as we were approaching a busy intersection (Goodfellow and Easton Avenues). The result was akin to the car chase scenes you see nowadays in movies as cars roar through intersections narrowly missing oncoming traffic. Fortunately, we got through unscathed, but I really think that was the start of my Dad’s hair turning to gray. 

My Dad reluctantly allowed me to use the car occasionally on dates, and I did drive it a lot until 1951 when he traded it in for a brand new Pontiac. Thinking back, the old Plymouth was the car we used all during the 1940’s including the years of W.W. II when gasoline was rationed for the war effort.