Monday, November 17, 2008

Meme of seven

My wife Elaine has tagged me with with the meme of seven. Thank you, dear. The rules:

1. Link to your tagger and list these rules on your blog.

2. Share seven facts about yourself on your blog — some random, some weird.

3. Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blog.

4. Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

5. If you don't have seven blog friends, or if someone else already took dibs, then tag some unsuspecting strangers.
Like Elaine, I'm reluctant to tag people. But if, reader, you would like to explore the meme of seven, consider yourself tagged. Here are my facts:

I am a distant relative of Tess Gardella, an actress and singer who performed in blackface under the name "Aunt Jemima." Tess Gardella was Queenie in the original 1927 production of Show Boat. (Miss Gardella had no connection to pancakes.)

As a fourth-grader, I had the lead role in a school play. I was Cos, a visitor from outer space who arrives in a department store at Christmastime. On the night of the performance, I had a very high fever and did the play anyway. I remember the beginning of the play, when I was hiding under a table in the store, with a foil-covered box (i.e., helmet) on my head.

For an elementary-school talent show, I sang George and Ira Gershwin's "Fascinating Rhythm": "Oh, how I long to be the boy I used to be! Fascinating rhythm, oh, won't you stop picking on me?"

I love liverwurst, a food from childhood and delicatessens, whose arrays of cold cuts, salads, breads, and rolls I always found fascinating (more interesting than supermarkets, more "city" too). I still buy liverwurst once or twice a year, but now even the people behind the supermarket's deli counter make faces about liverwurst, so I buy it pre-packaged.

I once tried to see how many steps of our Brooklyn stoop I could span by jumping up from the pavement. I believe the limit was two. The bruising on my leg was a wonder to behold.

Once, in my eagerness not to be late to a poetry reading by Gwendolyn Brooks, I ran into a glass door (which had been locked in the open position just a moment before). Nothing was broken, on the door or me. I applied a cold can of Coca-Cola to my head and went to the reading with my fellow grad students.

I have received only one ticket for speeding, in my early twenties, on the Massachusetts Turnpike. I was flagged for going 80 (the speed limit was then 55). That I have received no tickets since attests not to my ability to avoid capture but to saner driving habits.

comments: 8

Sharon Delman said...

Michael, I'm laughing aloud.

I love liverwurst. I don't eat it often but it certainly takes me home. My sandwich includes red onion and mustard. Do you have a preferred brand, by the way? I keep hunting around for something truly German but no success yet.

The act of jumping up the stairs is something I can also relate to. When we lived in Chicago, my husband and I worked with a particularly strict personal trainer who used to have us jump up a set of concrete stairs in the otherwise posh East Bank Club. It was like a private torture hall, those stairs. I can still see the two-toned paint job and the bumpy texture on a railing. Aaargh.

Thanks for the smiles here.

Michael Leddy said...

Sharon, I usually get Hillshire Farms (I think) or Oscar Meyer. There's usually no real selection, but I'm not particular about liverwurst.

I'm amused by the idea of stair jumping as something required of adults (not dangerous childhood play).

Ted said...

I'll join the liverwurst fan club - but what I really love is that you sang Gershwin in elementary school! A man after my own heart.

Michael Leddy said...

Thanks, Ted. I'm sure that my dad put me up to this — he had me listening to jazz from toddlerhood.

est10135 said...

Mr. Leddy, I came across your blog during a google search of Tess Gardella. I was wondering if you could tell me the connection to her? I am trying to follow my grandmothers ancestry line and her memories are fading. I have grown up with the story of being somehow related to "aunt jemima" but she could never tell me how. With the help of the internet I am trying to piece together her past for her. Her father was John Gardella (married to Elizabeth Rooney) and her grandfather was Henry Gardella married to Victoria (maiden name) Does any of that sound familiar?
Only respond if you can help, I don't want to waste your time. Thanks for reading, and I like the blog :)
Thanks Again,
Michele Friedman

Michael Leddy said...

Michele, none of the names you mention are familiar to me. All I know, literally all I know, is that Tess Gardella was a cousin of my maternal great-grandmother.

There are, by the way, some great clips on YouTube. And “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man” is on the 2-CD set Ultimate Show Boat.

Kim Matthews said...

Hi Michael and Michele, I also grew up with the "related to Aunt Jemima" story. My father's uncle, James Gardella, of Keansburg, New Jersey was a relative of Tess. Unfortunately most of my New Jersey family is gone now and I'm not in touch with the remainder of them. I guess we're also related to Robert Morris, signer of the Declaration of Independence and NJ governor. Nice blog, Michael! Best to you from the prairie.

Michael Leddy said...

Kim, I’m happy to meet another Tess Gardella relation. It’s a strange and wonderful thing that her work is probably more available now (YouTube) than it was in her lifetime. Best to you, also from the prairie (Illinois).