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Profile Information

Name: Tom Conroy
Gender: Male
Hometown: CT
Home country: USA
Member since: Sat Mar 6, 2021, 08:56 PM
Number of posts: 5,112

About Me

65 years old. Lifelong democrat. Saw JFK in New Haven CT on election eve 1960. I was all of 5 years old. Cast my first vote for Jimmy Carter. Stayed up all night at the English Speaking Union I London to watch the returns. We celebrated the results about 9 AM London time. I cried the morning I learned Bobby Kennedy had been shot. I don't think I ever quite recovered, although President Obama's election helped a lot. These days I'm a moderate democrat and a cultural conservative. I miss the world of good manners, fancy dress and dancing cheek to cheek. Big TCM fan.

Journal Archives

My next new car

I was born in 1955. Like so many my age (boys), I have had a deep love affair with American cars. When it came time to buy something I owned a couple of used Buick sedans with a 350 V8 engine. Got about 12mpg. Then around 1980 I bought a really terrible Chevy Chevette new. It later had the reputation as one of the worst cars ever made. It actually lasted until I was in a bad auto accident (my fault). For some reason I then bought a Mazda 323. This was all the rage. Japanese cars were so much more reliable than American cars. Of course with mine the engine blew a few thousand miles after the warranty expired. After that it was back to American cars, for some reason usually GM. Always sedans. The SUVs always seemed sort of wasteful. At any rate, I was happy with the next four cars. They were reasonably reliable GM sedans. I did have a bias toward Ford and GM. I thought it was important to buy a union made car. Although I favored Buicks, I have been a long time share holder of Ford. I thought that since the Ford family controlled the company through a special class of shares, the owners and investors interests would be closely aligned. I also cherished the story that when Bill Ford, then CEO of the company, learned of an accident at a Ford plant, he dropped everything and rushed to the scene, against the advice of many in the home office. He did his best to comfort the families, assuring them that they would be taken care of. The union rep on the scene came up to him and said "I will never forget what you did today." (That's a family company). For decades Ford's reputation with the UAW was that in negotiations, they were the easy company to deal with.
Well, my last car was a Buick Regal. Highly rated by Consumer Reports at the time, it's been very quiet, all leather, a pretty luxe ride. My Quaker wife thinks it's pretty luxurious. (Does anyone remember when Buicks used to be referred to as 'The doctor's car?). My theory of car ownership has been to drive until death. The Buick has 100000 miles on it. I'm retired so I'm only racking up 10000 miles a year. So it has a way to go. But I am at the point where I am checking out the new models. I looked at the April CR and I guess I shouldn't be surprised but Ford and GM offered no sedans. It was all SUVs and trucks.
At my age it was a bit of a shock. A sedan still appeals to me as a bit more modest than the big trucks. And maybe it's a lonely cause, but I would prefer an automobile built by American union workers.
I really am at a loss. I read a review in the latest CR of the Subaru Forester. Seemed very desirable, but not union made. I am at a loss.
Does anyone else out there have these issues? Is the Toyota Prius the answer to all moral issues? I wish we could unionize those damn southern states. That would make things a lot easier. Does anyone have any thoughts?

My wife's translation of The Gospels

My wife is Sarah Ruden, a noted translator of latin and greek. In the world of classics she is famous.(Gary Wills reviewed her line for line translation of Vergil's Aeneid in iambic pentameter as 'The first translation since Dryden's that is itself a great English poem')
She is out this week with a completely new translation of the four Gospels and I hope it is alright if I give it a plug. It is published by Random House in the Modern Library imprint. Sarah says it is the first translation that is really true to the original greek. The head of the Modern Library imprint told her it is the one book that he takes home to read at night.
I hope that anyone with an interest will check it out. It is her attempt to bring us ever closer to the actual words of Jesus. The Gospels by Sarah Ruden, available at book stores today.

Lunch at the "Gris"

The. Griswold Inn in Essex, CT has been serving diners since 1776. Even more than good food, I love a great atmosphere, and "The Gris" has that in spades. Laid out in a series of wood paneled rooms, the main dining room walls are covered in nautical paintings and prints. The restaurant features the largest collection of Antonio Jacobson's ship's paintings in the country. Another room features a large collection of 18th century firearms. When I was courting my wife I took her here for. lunch. At one point she looked around and said, "This must be the preppiest place in America." It wasn't meant as a compliment.
In the time before the plague, the place would attract a good crowd, particularly in summer when people would dock their boats in the harbor and spend the evening in the crowded tap room. Usually there would be live music, often a jazz band. One summer night I was enlisted to ring the ship's bell on the wall in time to 'Sweet Caroline'. I was told by the band members I did pretty well. Apparently other people who tried had a hard time keeping time to the music.
We went there today for lunch. Like all places these days, The Gris is trying to scrape by. There were about a half dozen widely spaced tables taken. The food was decent. Lunch entrees ran in the fifteen to twenty dollar range. This being the land of the preppy, the martinis were on the generous side.
For anyone who is vacationing in the area of Essex, CT the Griswold Inn is definitely worth the visit. It's a Connecticut landmark and a unique dining experience.

I got a Stimulus check

Came in the mail today. For some reason we always received checks instead of direct deposit, even though the IRS has our bank info. The first one took months. The second one came pretty quickly and this one was quick for being delivered the old fashioned way. I collect social security but that didn't seem to be an issue. I do feel a little guilty. We don't need the money the way so many do. Anyway, the good news is the paper checks are going out.
We decided to stimulate the economy by going out to lunch. I had a martini on Joe Biden. Thank you Mr. President!

Van Cliburn (and a democratic anecdote)

Missing visits to the symphony during this plague year brought to mind the great pianist Van Cliburn. He came to fame in the late 50s when he stunned the world by winning the quadrennial piano competition in Russia. The story is the decision went all the way up to Kruschev who said"If he is the best then he should get the medal". This was the height of the cold war. Cliburn came home to a rapturous welcome. He is the only classically musician to receive a ticket tape parade through New York's canyon of heros. He went on for a decade as a soloist with the world's symphonies. In particular, he had a collaboration with conductor Fritz Reiner and the Chicago Symphony.
One day he was flying into Washington DC to do a concert when he discovered the luggage with his evening dress was missing. He decide to make a call to the one person in the city who would have a white tie outfit to fit his tall frame. The answer came back right away."Van, you come over right away. We'll have the outfit ready when you arrive". Cliburn had the class to invite his cab driver in with him as they entered the White House to be greeted by President Lyndon Johnson, white tie outfit in hand.
Cliburn retired from the soloist career in the 70s and was rarely seen in public. He did start his own quadrennial piano competition in Texas. He was called out of retirement in the 1980s by President Reagan to entertain at a gala dinner for Russian premier Gorbachev. I remember the video on the news of Cliburn playing 'Moscow Nights' and singing the words in the original Russian. The expressions on the faces of Gorbachev and his wife were a sight to behold.
Only in the last years of his life did he return to the concert stage. That was when I saw him at Tanglewood performing with the Boston Symphony. Normally at that venue I would get lawn tickets and have a picnic. But for this concert I bought tickets in the vast music shed. The later reviews said he made some mistakes and that his vast powers were fading. You couldn't tell by me. I was the first to leap up and give him a standing ovation. To me he was a great hero.
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