The Democratic National Convention I Will Never Forget

The Democratic National Convention I Will Never Forget

This week at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Hillary Clinton is making history by shattering the glass ceiling. Along with millions of other Americans, I am watching the convention every night.

This week I am also remembering a DNC a long, long time ago.

The Democratic National Convention

The year was 1968. My days were languid and lazy, as self-indulgent as a 15 year-old’s summer can be. I would sleep until mid-morning, yawn through a bowl of cereal, and get into my bathing suit and flip flops in preparation for the day’s activity: meeting up with my friends at the community swimming pool.

Slathering baby oil on each other’s backs, we baked for hours with intermittent conversation and the crackle of transistor radios in our ears. Sooner or later we would amble over to the concession stand to buy a frozen Snicker’s bar or a bag of chips, flirting with the cute lifeguards as we flounced by.

One day I lay on my beach towel, unable to find a comfortable position. Every muscle ached and my throat was sore. “Walk on my back,” I implored the friend lying next to me. It felt good, like a deep tissue massage. But the relief was temporary.

By the next day I was headachy and running a fever and my mother took me to the doctor. The diagnosis was mononucleosis, and the doctor’s orders were to stay in bed.

Stay in bed? But, summer! Friends! My tan! The fun would go on without me! I cried tears of self-pity.

Every week the doctor made a house call – imagine that – to draw blood. If the blood count remained elevated, I was doomed to another week at home missing my friends. I held my breath each time the telephone call came with the results, but week after week there was no change.

I begged my mother to drive me to the pool where I could at least wave to my friends from behind the rolled up car window. She wasn’t crazy about that idea, and I didn’t push it. I was truly too exhausted to get out of bed. I had little patience for reading; even flipping through issues of Teen and Tiger Beat wore me out.

We had a small black and white TV that I was allowed to have in my room because I was sick. With the antennae adjusted just right, we were able to get three channels. Day after day I watched game shows and General Hospital.

The end of August arrived and the daytime shows were pre-empted for the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.The tension leading up to the convention had been palpable. The assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy just months before, the mounting anti-war fever, cities set afire and burning … there was an electricity coursing through the nation.

I watched the Democratic National Convention every day. Some of the images became indelibly imprinted on my brain. The shouting matches on the floor between delegates and party leaders. The violence that erupted outside, the police clubbing protesters, the tear gas canisters hurled into the crowd. It was terrifying.

The Yippies, the hippies. Dan Rather getting roughed up on the convention floor. Eugene McCarthy, the anti-war candidate, failing to garner enough support. A young Julian Bond who, upon being nominated, withdrawing his name from contention because he was not old enough to run.

Hubert Humphrey, the party’s nominee, would lose the election to Richard Nixon, who branded himself the law and order candidate.

Sound familiar?

Glued to the TV, I was both fascinated and repulsed. It was a history lesson in real time. The year 1968, proved to be one of the most tumultuous years in our history, and the Democratic National Convention unlike any before or since.

This week there have been protests, but no violence. I hope that this convention will be remembered for Hillary Clinton’s nomination, with shards of glass exploding only metaphorically.

If you like my blog post, please share it!
Facebook Twitter Email Stumbleupon Pinterest Linkedin Delicious Reddit Tumblr Plusone Digg

Book Buzz: We Are All Made of Stars

Live each day as if it were your last. You never know what tomorrow may bring. Life is short, seize the day. Hold your loved ones close.

We’ve all heard these phrases throughout our lives. But when we were young and felt immortal, who paid attention? The older we get, though, the more meaningful the message. Have you said what needs to be said to those who matter in your life?

We Are All Made of Stars

This is the premise in Rowan Coleman’s poignant new novel, We Are All Made of Stars. Through the eyes of several characters, we get a glimpse of how love and loss, missed opportunities and second chances have shaped their lives. Although the subject matter sounds grim, do not be deterred; this thought-provoking and often uplifting story will tug at your heartstrings.

We Are All Made of Stars

Stella is married to an army veteran whose leg was blown off in battle. Suffering from PTSD and guilt over not being able to save his buddy, Vincent has withdrawn emotionally and won’t let anyone in, especially Stella.

Frustrated by his rebuffs, Stella throws herself into her work as a hospice nurse on the night shift. She is loved and trusted by her patients, some of whom have made their peace while others express regrets about things left unsaid. After helping a patient write a final letter to a loved one, she becomes known as the conduit for relaying final messages through sealed letters that will be opened only after the patient’s demise.

The other main characters are Hope, a young woman with cystic fibrosis who yearns to experience love, and Hugh, a man who lives alone except for the cat that his erstwhile girlfriend left him with. Their chance meeting with Stella turns into a transformative experience for both.

The minor characters in Stella’s con-stella-tion are also well drawn and factor prominently into the plot. But what enchanted me most were the letters, the letters that Stella ghost wrote for her patients. In turn tender, funny, sad, and heart wrenching, they are written to first loves, faithful spouses, longtime friends, children and even cranky neighbors. Replete with honesty, humor, untold secrets, hopes for the future once they’re gone, they are a delight.

The art of letter writing is fading just as surely as texting is thriving, and that is sad. There is something about the permanence of a letter that texting can’t hold a candle to. Letters are a lasting treasure. You can imagine the recipient holding this last piece of their loved one, reading it with brimming eyes, folding it carefully and putting it in a safe place.

That is truly the essence of this life-affirming book. We Are All Made of Stars might inspire you to pause for a moment and think about the people that are closest to you. What would happen if they were gone tomorrow?  Is there unfinished business?

Say what needs to be said now, because you just never know.

One of my lucky readers will receive a copy of We Are All Made of Stars. Please leave a comment below and a winner will be selected randomly. USA addresses only, please.

 

I received a copy of We Are All Made of Stars from Ballantine Books for an honest review, which is the only kind of review I write.

If you like my blog post, please share it!
Facebook Twitter Email Stumbleupon Pinterest Linkedin Delicious Reddit Tumblr Plusone Digg

The Old TV Game Shows are Back This Summer

I am a longtime fan of game shows.

I was so excited to hear that some of my favorite game shows – to Tell the Truth, Match Game and 100,00 Dollar Pyramid – were back this summer, all new and updated.

The Old TV Game Shows Are Back This Summer

I couldn’t wait to see these new versions.

Well.

You know how the movie is rarely as good as the book? In this case, the new versions of these game shows just don’t have the fun and charm of the originals. Two out of three, anyway.

To Tell the Truth

Running on CBS from 1956-1968, this version starred Peggy Cass, Tom Poston, Kitty Carlisle, Orson Bean, Bill Cullen, Arlene Francis, and others. At the beginning of each show the curtain goes up revealing three contestants  in silhouette, with the announcer Johnny Olsen booming, “What is your name, please?’

My name is … the first one says.

My name is … the second one says.

My name is … the third one says.

Then the host, originally Budd Collyer and then Garry Moore, reads the “sworn affidavit.”

“I, so-and-so,” for example, “am the actual love child of x and y.”

The panelists are charged with correctly identifying this contestant with an unusual occupation or bizarre experience or skill.

In the original version, the panelists would try to squeeze in as many questions as they could in the allotted time. Inquisitive Peggy Cass was often frustrated when her time ran out. Tom Poston was befuddled. Kitty’s elegance was mesmerizing.

With the credits running at the end, the panelists and contestants mingled. It seemed incongruous to see glamorous Kitty Carlisle in her evening gown gamely chatting it up with a porn star.

I miss these iconic celebrities. In the new version, no one has the magnetism of Kitty or the sincerity of Peggy. No one draws funny figures on the answer card like Orson Bean did. This version is  lowbrow. Kitty would be appalled.

It was great to see Betty White on the new panel, but even she seemed embarrassed by the dumbing down of the show. The other panelists seemed clueless.

My rating: D

Match Game

The object of this game is for two contestants to match the answers given by a six-member celebrity panel. The host was Gene Rayburn from 1962-1982 and the announcer was again the incomparable Johnny Olsen. The panelists were Charles Nelson Reilly. Brett Somers, Richard Dawson, Fanny Flagg, Nipsey Russell, Elaine Joyce, Scoey Mitchell, Gary Burghoff, and many more.

Nipsey Russell wrote funny poems that he recited at the end of the show.Brett and Charles Nelson were a hilarious comedy team.  Gene Rayburn often played straight man to their wise cracks. Risqué answers and double entendres were not only allowed, they were encouraged.

For example.

Weird Sylvester was thrown out of the department store when they caught him _____-ing the mannequins.

The zookeeper’s wife was getting worried that her husband was around wild animals too much. After he came home from work one day, she said hello and he _____-ed her.

The new version is more risqué but less funny. Back in the day, risqué was de rigeur, but now it just seems jaded. I love Alec Baldwin but why he chose to do this gig is baffling to me. His body language screams boredom. Rosie O’Donnell is an excellent replacement for Brett Somers but without a sparring partner she is left on her own.

My grade: C

The $100,000 Pyramid

When the show debuted in 1973  it was The $10,000 Pyramid, but with inflation, it had to raise its stakes. 🙂 The host was the fabulous and very missed Dick Clark.

The game features two contestants, each paired with a celebrity. Contestants attempt to guess a series of words or phrases based on descriptions given to them by their teammates.

The winner goes on to vie for the big prize by identifying the category as their partner feeds them clues, within 60 seconds.

This show is perhaps the least dated of the three. Competitors do require some skill with words and phrases. Throw in smart and savvy celebrities and contestants and it is still a fast-paced, fun show to watch. Michael Strahan is the host and does a creditable job. What can’t this man do?

My grade: A

What do you think of these shows?

If you like my blog post, please share it!
Facebook Twitter Email Stumbleupon Pinterest Linkedin Delicious Reddit Tumblr Plusone Digg

Book Buzz: Jonathan Unleashed

I have a soft spot in my heart for books about dogs, so I eagerly dove into Jonathan Unleashed, best-selling author Meg Rosoff’s quirky new novel about a young man at odds with the world and the two dogs that help him find his way to happiness.

Jonathan Unleashed is also Jonathan Unhinged

Recent college graduate Jonathan Trefoil is ensconced in an advertising job that he hates and stuck in an unsatisfying relationship with his girlfriend of four years. He yearns for a more meaningful existence but has no idea how he can get there.

Book Buzz: Jonathan Unleashed

In the midst of this millennial angst, he agrees to take care of his brother’s two dogs, Dante the Border collie and Sissy the cocker spaniel, while his brother is in Dubai on business for six months.

Being a sensitive and, I’ll be honest here, neurotic kind of guy (or more kindly, charmingly flawed), he frets that the dogs are plotting against him because they are unhappy being cooped up in his New York City apartment while he is at work. Although the veterinarian he consults gently tells him that the dogs are fine, he continues to obsess. But, good news, his company allows him to bring the dogs to the office, and all is well.

But then, not.

It turns out that four is a crowd when his girlfriend moves in with him and can barely contain her disdain for the dogs. A conniving sort, she convinces him to marry her because the wedding magazine she works for, Bridal-360, will foot the bill if they agree to let it be live streamed on the internet. Confused and unsure, but anxious to mollify her, he agrees.

As the wedding date approaches, his life continues to unravel. His job and his boss irritate him to the point of collapse. Mysteriously, he loses his ability to speak coherently (the ensuing malapropisms are very entertaining).

Who, or what, will save the day? As all dog lovers know, canine intuition is second to none, and Dante and Sissy take matters into their own hands paws. With a clever twist in the story, Rosoff shows how man’s (and women’s) best friend has an uncanny way of making everything right.

As Rosoff said in an interview,

“It’s much easier to have a relationship with a dog than with a person. Dogs tend to be happy, affectionate, emotionally consistent companions. They don’t sulk or insist on seeing Spiderman when you’d rather see a foreign film.  They don’t come with in-laws and don’t mind eating toast you’ve dropped on the floor. It’s why every eight-year-old boy fantasizes about having a dog not a wife. Dogs are relatively simple, people are relatively complicated. Plus, dogs look better naked than most people do.”

A woof and a tail wag to that.

 

One of my lucky readers will receive a copy of Jonathan Unleashed by leaving a comment below. USA addresses only, please.

 

I received a copy of Jonathan Unleashed from Viking for an honest review, which is the only kind of review I write.

If you like my blog post, please share it!
Facebook Twitter Email Stumbleupon Pinterest Linkedin Delicious Reddit Tumblr Plusone Digg

Book Buzz: The Space Between Sisters

The ingredients for a pleasurable summer read are all found in The Space Between Sisters, Mary McNear’s latest novel in her Butternut Lake series.

Book Buzz; The Space Between Sisters

Take a scenic and charming lake community, add in two sisters and two eligible bachelors, combine with the allure of summertime, sprinkle in a bit of nostalgia and a few secrets, finish off with a dash of whimsy with a cat named Sasquatch, and voila.

The Space Between Sisters

Poppy and Win have the same parents but couldn’t be more different. Now adults, Poppy is impetuous and flighty and Win, a widow, is organized and steady. They haven’t lived together in 13 years, but one day Poppy appears on the doorstep of the Win’s lakeside cottage in Butternut Lake — jobless, out of money, and having nowhere to go.

The cottage, once owned by their grandparents, had been their summertime destination when they were children. The sisters both have fond memories of idyllic summers spent in Butternut Lake. When the grandparents died, Win — the more responsible sister– inherits the cottage, and she decides to live there year-round.

Poppy and Win were close as children, relying on each other perhaps more than most siblings do. Their household was chaotic. The parents were negligent and for large chunks of time the girls were on their own, even at a young age. They yearned for a stable home environment but the parents were unable to provide it.

Now adults, the love is still there. But it’s complicated.

Living together for the first time in many years, the sisters still love each other but find new tensions in their relationship. Win is frustrated with Poppy’s lack of initiative and her messiness. Poppy is irritated by Win’s OCD type of organization. At the same time, they are trying to reframe their broken lives: Win, reeling from the death of her husband, and Poppy, struggling with a painful secret she has been harboring for years.

But the bonds of sisterhood prove more durable than the adversity each has faced. Poppy and Win realize they are both ready to find closure with the past. Willing to move on, to accept what is and put it behind them, they find strength in the ties that bind them. In doing so, they find that they have much more in common than they once thought.

This is a breezy, easy read that definitely meets the requirements for a great beach book (even if you’re not at the beach). And if you haven’t read the three prior books in the Butternut Lake series, no worries. The Space Between Sisters is fine as a standalone.

One of my lucky readers will receive a copy of The Space Between Sisters. Please leave a comment below and enter the giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

I received a copy of The Space Between Sisters from William Morrow for an honest review, which is the only kind of review I write.

If you like my blog post, please share it!
Facebook Twitter Email Stumbleupon Pinterest Linkedin Delicious Reddit Tumblr Plusone Digg

These 10 Facts Are Why I Support Gun Control

It takes a lot to fire me up.

But fired up I am, so to speak, on the gun control issue.

Gun control is one of the most emotional and divisive issues our country faces, with clear lines separating two sides.  We could argue our interpretations of the Second Amendment and the rights it provides from now until forever and never agree.

Do you really think the founding fathers would have written this amendment if assault weapons had been around?

Neither do I.

These 10 Facts Are Why I Support Gun Control

But most of us do want common sense changes in our gun laws. Yesterday the Senate voted down two gun violence prevention amendments that would have struck the balance most Americans want. By doing so, our legislators ignored what their constituents are telling them. This is unacceptable.

We the People … remember?

Facts About Gun Violence

When emotions rule our better judgment, it is helpful to look at the facts. We’ve got a gun toting, gun loving, gun shooting culture. Here are some of the ramifications.

  • From the Brady Campaign: over 18,000 American children and teens are injured or killed each year due to gun violence. That’s 48 young people a day.
  • Not a single federal law has been passed in decades to prevent gun violence – not after Columbine and not after Newtown. And now, not after Orlando.
  • In 2013, the year after Sandy Hook, more than 11 million guns were manufactured in America.
  • There are approximately 270 million firearms possessed by civilians, and only 897,000 carried by police in America.
  • Mother Jones tracked and mapped shooting sprees over the three decades from 1982 to May of last year. They counted “at least 61 mass murders carried out with firearms across the country, with the killings unfolding in 30 states from Massachusetts to Hawaii.”
  • On average, 31 Americans are murdered with guns every day and 151 are treated for a gun assault in an emergency room.
  • Living in a house with guns increases your odds of death.
  • Also from the Brady Campaign: A gun in the home is 22 times more likely to be used to kill or injure in a domestic homicide, suicide, or unintentional shooting than to be used in self-defense.
  • To cover the cost of gun-related deaths and injuries, American taxpayers pay roughly $12.8 million a day.
  • According to Pew Research, Americans have shown broad and consistent support for expanded background checks for gun purchasers. The vast majorities of both Republicans (79%) and Democrats (88%) — including three out of four NRA members — favor making private gun sales and sales at gun shows subject to background checks. There has also been substantial bipartisan support for laws to prevent people with mental illness from purchasing guns.

What can I, just one voice, do about gun control?

In college I marched in Washington to protest the Vietnam War.

In the 90s I marched in Washington to protest the plight of Soviet Jewry.

In 2016 I will do whatever I can to alleviate gun violence in our country. I have made phone calls and sent emails. I have signed up to volunteer for organizations that support gun control. If there is a march, I will make every effort to go.

I will talk the talk and walk the walk to do my part to make our country safer for us and our children.

Please, please join me.

***

What do other countries think of our gun crazy culture? I’ll close this with a bit of levity from Australian comedian Jim Jeffries.

 

If you like my blog post, please share it!
Facebook Twitter Email Stumbleupon Pinterest Linkedin Delicious Reddit Tumblr Plusone Digg

Book Buzz: There Was a Fire Here

We’ve all played the game, the one where you consider what you would grab if your house was on fire and you had no time to pack. When your life literally depended on your getting out of there ASAP.

Risa Nye and her family faced that decision, but it was no game.

It was less than a month before Nye’s 40th birthday. She was musing over the passage of time and her lost youth when the unthinkable occurred.

Book Buzz: There Was a Fire Here

There Was a Fire Here

In her beautifully told but wrenching new memoir, There Was a Fire Here, Nye recounts the trauma and the aftermath of the devastating fire that destroyed her home.

It happened on October 19, 1991. A grass fire was reported and quickly contained by fire crews. Or so they thought.  The next day gusts of wind quickly spread pockets of fire still burning in the grass. Within a short time flames destroyed the local power station, obliterating eight pumping plants. Water pressure dropped. The smoke and fluttering ash were heavy enough to cause residents’ eyes to sting.

And the fire spread like … wildfire.

Nye and her husband Bruce told their two young children that they would wait out the firestorm at the home of Bruce’s parents nearby. They gathered what they thought was important at the time: changes of clothing, jewelry, photo albums.

In fact, they never returned to their beautiful home. It was the Great Oakland Fire that destroyed thousands of homes and killed 25 people.

Their home was leveled to its foundation. It would take two years to rebuild.

Nye skillfully builds the tension and horror, the feeling of surrealism, as she and her husband absorb the extent of the destruction.  Belongings and keepsakes that remained in the house were gone forever. Articles of clothing, photos of great-grandparents, children’s toys, were never to be seen again. The blue baseball glove Nye’s father had given her; a gorgeous pink party dress — a consignment shop steal — she had worn just twice; a baby blanket. She grieves their loss. In chapters titled “Artifacts,” Nye shares the sentimental significance of these items, and it is heartbreaking.

She writes, “There was a fire here that wiped out not only things, not only people, but memories–a past with nothing left to mark its presence.”

Haunting and sobering, yes, but inspirational with dashes of humor as well, There Was a Fire Here is one woman’s story of catastrophic loss and the will to move on.

 

I received a copy of There Was a Fire Here from She Writes Press for an honest review,
which is the only kind of review I write.

If you like my blog post, please share it!
Facebook Twitter Email Stumbleupon Pinterest Linkedin Delicious Reddit Tumblr Plusone Digg

Writing a Book Made Simpler in 1-2-3

This book writing stuff. It’s really hard.

My novel has been a work in progress for a good year and a half, and I wish I could say it was almost done. I realized, however, during three days of writing workshops at the Philadelphia Writers Conference that I have much to do before calling it a day.

Book writing isn’t just the writing.

A key part is the planning, the structuring. There are mechanics to novel writing that can not be ignored. Each character, for example, must have a story arc comprised of the situation, the spark and the conclusion. A character must have a goal and obstacles that must be overcome to reach that goal. And once that is established, the character’s arc must intersect with the other characters’ arcs.

Dialogue needs a context and a subtext. Dialogue must be authentic but not mundane. It can be reported or condensed, and it needs to propel the action.

I could have done this differently.

There is another way, a better way, that writer and editor Stuart Horwitz presents in his new book, Finish Your Book in Three Drafts: How to Write a Book, Revise a Book, and Complete a Book While You Still Love it, the third book in his Book Architecture Trilogy.

Writing: Finish Your Book in Three Drafts

Horwitz is the founder and principal of Book Architecture, a firm of independent editors based in Providence, RI (www.bookarchitecture.com) whose clients have reached the bestseller list in both fiction and nonfiction.

I was fortunate to meet Horwitz at last year’s Philadelphia Writers Conference, and his keynote was one of the highlights for me, so much so that I approached him after his presentation to tell him how much I enjoyed it. Not only is Horwitz a smart guy, he is down to earth and has a great sense of humor. As a writer, he totally gets the frustrations we writers experience with endless revisions. He’s been there himself.

Finish Your Book in Three Drafts gives writers, fiction and non-fiction alike, a practical way to get through the revision process with minimal consternation. Horwitz proposes that a book can be completed in three drafts:

  • The messy draft: which is all about getting it down.
  • The method draft: which is all about making sense.
  • The polished draft: which is all about making it good.

“I think about the people who don’t publish their books, and too often it’s not because they lack the writing skills. It’s because they got lost along the way. One draft isn’t going to cut it, but neither is twenty,” Horwitz says. “All you need is three drafts, and the tools to know where you are in the process.”

What’s more, Finish Your Book in Three Drafts is interactive. The book is nicknamed “3D” because it contains nine stop-motion videos that bring the concepts to life through the use of action figures, and nine PDFs for when you want more detailed information and instructions about topics such as “How to Find Your Theme,” “The Five Definitions of Scene,” and “How to Construct Your Book Proposal.”

Finish Your Book in Three Drafts is available in both print and digital editions from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Indiebound.

I’m taking a look at my novel through a different lens now, and it is so worth the extra time.

 

I received a copy of Finish Your Book in Three Drafts for an honest review,
which is the only kind of review I write.

 

If you like my blog post, please share it!
Facebook Twitter Email Stumbleupon Pinterest Linkedin Delicious Reddit Tumblr Plusone Digg

Book Buzz: Under the Harrow

If there is a season for good reads, it is certainly summer. Have I got a juicy one for you.

Book Buzz: Under the Harrow

Under the Harrow by Flynn Berry starts off, as all good psychological thrillers do, with a sense of normalcy. Nora, the narrator, is boarding a train in London to go visit her sister Rachel in the countryside as she often does. Her mind wanders as she muses about the mundane: her job, old conversations, the sisters’ vacation in Cornwall, the scenery out the window.

She reaches her destination and finds that Rachel and her dog are not there waiting. Nora figures Rachel has been stuck at work and sets off for the house by herself.

What awaits her is a ghastly scene. Rachel is the victim of a brutal murder.

Under the Harrow

By definition, under the harrow means distressed and in peril. In the aftermath of her trauma, Nora struggles to gather her wits so she can be helpful to the police. She is skeptical that they are on the right track, however. Rachel had been the victim of an assault years ago, a case that has gone unsolved. Was this perpetrator the same? Was it the married neighbor, a handyman, who had done work in Rachel’s house and was the last one to see her alive? Was it any one of the townspeople whom Nora regards with suspicion? By obsessively tracking down the killer she finds a way to work through her grief.

This is Berry’s debut novel, and she is a gifted writer and storyteller. Her prose is spare and powerful, and as the story unfolds we learn much about the tender, fiercely loyal, complex relationship between the sisters.

Under the Harrow is an emotional, suspenseful story that is as much a study of the bond between sisters as it is an absorbing murder mystery.

Who doesn’t love a page turner? Slap on your suntan lotion and enjoy this engrossing summer read.

 

One of my lucky readers will receive a copy of Under the Harrow. Please leave a comment and a winner will be selected randomly. USA addresses only, please.

 

I received a copy of Under the Harrow from Penguin for an honest review,
which is the only kind of review I write.

If you like my blog post, please share it!
Facebook Twitter Email Stumbleupon Pinterest Linkedin Delicious Reddit Tumblr Plusone Digg

Why I’m Burning My Bra

Why I'm Burning My Bra

In 1968 a group of feminists known as the New York Radical Women gathered outside of the Atlantic City convention center to protest the Miss America contest. They felt that the contest  demeaned women and held them to an unreasonable and oppressive standard for beauty that was damaging to all women.

In those days, the Miss America contest attracted millions of TV viewers, and was a perfect platform for making a political statement and being heard.

With fervor, these women flung their bras onto a bonfire.

Or so the story goes.

Guess what? That never happened.

Bra burning is an urban legend.

Although draft card burning took place for realz, bras were only symbolically tossed into the flames that day in 1968. Since the Boardwalk was made of wood, police would not allow any fires to be set.

Instead, bras, girdles, cosmetics, high-heeled shoes, Playboy magazines – all derided as instruments of female torture — were thrown into a “freedom trash can” making a perfect photo opp for the swarming paparazzi on the Boardwalk.

But someone coined the phrase bra burners, referring to women perceived as militant in the struggle for women’s rights, and it stuck.

My personal act of women’s liberation comes not from a tirade against male oppression, but a thunderbolt of news that, at my advanced age, I’ve been wearing the wrong bra size all my life.

I was fitted for a bra when I was 12 and I still remember the humiliation of being naked in front of my mother plus a total stranger at Pomeroy’s Department Store who tried to show me how to position the girls into a Maidenform 30A.

I would not subject myself to that ever again, I vowed.

As I got older my body changed, of course, and my bra size along with it. Shopping for bras was such agony that I did it as infrequently as I could get away with. Quickly gathering a few different brands from the rack, I would scuttle into the dressing room and get it over with stat.

This week I happened to be in a department store, along with my best friend Elise, trying on a dress that was form fitting.  The saleswoman stood behind me, evaluating me in the three-way mirror. She cocked her head. She observed me from all angles, fiddled with the ruching on the bodice, and sighed. “I don’t think your bra is doing you any favors,” she said. “Is it OK if I bring our foundations person in?”

I was trapped. What could I say?

“Sure.”

Well. The foundations lady almost fainted when I confided my bra size.

Without giving out too much information, I will share that I was four sizes off in the band size and two in the cup size.

OMG.

She disappeared for a few minutes and came back with several bras in my size. When I slipped them on (and yes, she also showed me how to position the now much bigger girls) I instantly realized what a well-fitting bra can do for a figure. And your self-confidence.

Pricey? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely.

Women should be measured every couple of years, the foundations lady told me. Most women do not know their true size if they haven’t been fitted. Also, if you are wearing your bra on the tightest setting, it is not the right size for you.

While we were there, Elise figured she may as well get measured. And guess what? She had been wearing the wrong size, too.

So that smoke that’s coming from my backyard? It’s just the two of us tossing our old stretched-out, ill-fitting bras on the bonfire. And roasting marshmallows at the same time.

Care to join us?

If you like my blog post, please share it!
Facebook Twitter Email Stumbleupon Pinterest Linkedin Delicious Reddit Tumblr Plusone Digg

Start