Keep Those Cards and Letters Coming!

In case you noticed my absence, I escaped on vacation last week and didn’t have an entry to post before leaving.  Fortunately, I’ve been saving some comments from readers that I’ve been wanting to share with others  and now is the perfect time.

In a couple of the posts, including “Bury My Heart in Austin,” I mentioned Bicycle Annie as an Austin “character” from the 60s and 70s.  My friend Adrienne wrote that – contrary to my description of Bicycle Annie as tolerating no interlopers – she actually tolerated at least one.  Adrienne says, “ I was sitting at a sidewalk café just off Guadalupe when she walked by, pushing her bicycle as always.  For some reason, I asked if she’d like to join me and she graciously accepted.  She sat across from me and was as proper as any of my friends in the Austin Lawyers’ Wives’ Club or the Symphony League.  In spite of her appearance, on closer inspection she looked very clean and there was no odor whatsoever which, I’m embarrassed to say, surprised me.  We had a lovely conversation; she was completely lucid and very charming.  She told me that her father was a professor and she’d been raised very properly; she said she’d married the love of her life, who died young [I don’t remember how or when].  She claimed that after that, she couldn’t bear to be indoors and had never stopped grieving for him.  I don’t know how much of the story was true and how much was fabricated for my benefit—or hers.  Her grammar and manners were excellent and she seemed quite intelligent.  The more she talked, the more I was able to see beyond her actual appearance to what she might have been under different circumstances.  When we parted, she was lovely—as if she’d just met an old friend for a cup of tea; neither of us regarded it as a handout.  I wish I could have done more, but I don’t think it would’ve been accepted.  I’ll always be grateful for that encounter; it changed how I looked at her forever.”

In regard to that same post – “Bury My Heart in Austin” – about the Austin Heritage Society’s Historic Homes Tour and my speculating how helping to build his grandfather’s house might have influenced Robert Redford’s future vision as a film maker, I received a fascinating email  from an energy consultant/dancer/choreographer living in San Francisco.   Maya is one of the most accomplished 20-somethings I’ve been lucky enough to meet and her comment here links architecture and dance in a way that helped me understand choreography from a different angle:

“Architecture seems to be a very-present theme for me lately, in the likes of your inquiry into the impact of Robert Redford’s grandfather’s architecture on his filmmaking craft.  In fact, I read this one dance review comparing the choreographic process to architecture, which I found to be hugely insightful and very useful.  The review described a dance piece called Rammed Earth, referring to the housebuilding technique where dirt is lifted from the site and mixed with water and clay to be formed into particularly solid walls.  I like the concept because it clarifies the character of choreography as an art form.  The problem with dance is that many people try to solicit direct meaning from movement, as though it were a language and a story can be told by each shape of the body or sequence.  For me, dance does not do this well – it is too abstract to be looked at in this same narrative way that writing and, often, music and visual art are viewed.  Rather, a choreographer envisions form in the space he or she occupies, and carves walls from the space to solidify that form.  This metaphor of rammed earth helped me to clarify this concept: dance does not narrate a story, rather, it solidifies one possibility of the body in space, achieving function and aesthetic.”

As for my post “Lessons in Rainbows,” I should have consulted first with my sister Alison for more details.  Why do I think, as the older sister, I have the complete store of family memories?  As many times as I’ve been proven wrong on this point, you’d think I would learn.   Alison remembers Lorenzo (our family’s “Pat”), much like I did, but even more vividly, as she recounts here:

“My memories of Lorenzo were of this large woman in flip flops, white shirts, capri pants, and bright red lipstick on her huge smile.  Whenever she came to Grandmother’s house, she arrived like a whirlwind, talking a mile a minute while she cleaned and, alternatively, berating grandmother – like a mother to a lazy but much-loved child – and telling wildly funny stories that had everyone laughing . . .  Mother never kept a clean house and I was a slob too.  I lived in mortal fear when Grandmother would come to Austin to visit because she swore she would throw out anything she found on the floor, including my favorite “little pillow.” One time she brought Lorenzo, who jumped all over Grandmother for mistreating me by threatening to throw out my things.  I was a precious little girl, Lorenzo told Grandmother, and it was well and proper that someone should be picking up after me.  Needless to say, I adored her.”

I love your comments, folks!  Inspiring you to remember things from your thenadays or simply connecting you with new ways of looking at things now, is my aspiration and inspiration!

About nowandthenadays

Observer of life who writes about Austin, women's issues, history, and politics. I worked in the Texas Legislature for 9 years, moved to the State Comptroller's Office where I worked for 9 years, then went to work as an Assistant Attorney General after graduating from UT Law, for more than 20 years. Since retirement in May, 2013, I've identified myself as a writer, a caretaker, widow, grandmother, pandemic survivor, and finder of true love.
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4 Responses to Keep Those Cards and Letters Coming!

  1. diane says:

    Bicycle Annie, was actually “Zelma O’Riley” from Durant, Oklahoma. She was raised very well and was VERY intelligent. Her father was a professor in Oklahoma. She had 8 brothers and sisters. She was fascinating. I am actually related to this Austin legend, We have been finding clippings, and copies of ‘Up and Down the Drag”. We even have the ads she published about her running for the presidency in 1948. “Vote for Zelma O’Riley for First Woman President of the United States, she is Irish, she is Indian and she will care for you”



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