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As the story goes...
These are the bones of Paul M. He was 78 when he flew to his death after ingesting an LSD laced sugar cube. Paul unknowingly put it in his coffee himself as he sat in the diner and waited for his breakfast. There was a pretty pink shimmer to it, and he liked that. A college prankster put it there, sat and waited until someone consumed it, that someone being Paul, then followed him, to watch the old man "enjoy" his trip. Things went well at first. Paul seemed to be amused by his glass of water, the veins in his hands, and then his eggs-over easy. He did push his toast aside though, eyeing it warily, apparently suspicious of the cavernous pockets so deep and mysterious, certainly not to be eaten.
When he left the diner, Paul literally skipped down the street. It was the most beautiful day he could remember, the colors so vibrant and distinct. He recalled when he flew for the Air Force, the thrill of taking off, the freedom of unencumbered space. The prankster who watched and followed, could only imagine the disjointed thoughts going through this "old geezer's" mind and couldn't wait to tell his friends. He was wrong though, as Paul was very single-minded at the moment, he would fly again and it would be today.
His pace picked up toward the freeway, there was a perfect take-off strip there-yes, that railing ahead. He would go for just a little while into the wild blue. He radioed ahead for permission to take off. Ah, there was the thumbs up, it tickled him to remember procedure so clearly.
In reality, the thumbs up he saw was someone giving him their middle finger when he walked directly into traffic to his take-off railing across the street. The prankster panicked as he patted his pockets for his cigarettes and a book of matches, all the while with his eyes on the old man. Then he took his eyes off Paul just long enough to light the smoke, only seconds really until he resumed his watch. He was shocked still to see Paul's feet leave the railing and disappear below.
Paul was so happy to be flying again, no gear, no cape, he could fly!
It took him only instants to realize, that really, he could not.
~ by Ruth Tukan
Memento of a moment of joy... in a trip about death.
I was going to perform at the inauguration of the ABAD Italy project "Un Libro Sulla Morte - Omaggio a Ray Johnson" with musician Fabien Sevilla a live creation of "A Book About Death".. I had yet never met the musician I would perform with...
A few days before, my friend Joy's father: Raymond died... but he escorted me in every moment of this strange period of emptyness and fullness preparing that creation... and he shared with me all along my trip, particularly when I went to see the Romanens show with Fabien Sevilla's group... where poetry and music made me feel totally connected with Ray and his family.. We've made a nice performance.. Thanks Ray! May your soul now enjoy peace and rest.
A moment of joy, on my way to meet death, in memory of Raymond.
~ by Helena Gath
This piece is dedicated to all women whose kisses, and sometimes more, have been stolen by frogs that were not princes. This frog skeleton is missing a foot. I found it shortly after I had met such a man. I thought of the old world ways of amputating someone’s hand if they stole something. I am not an advocate for such things, but think a dead frog missing its “hand” is a potent metaphor.
The relatives on my mother’s maternal side of the family were dairy farmers. They all loved animals. Great-Aunt Betty especially loved frogs because, like Charlie Brown and his Christmas tree, she felt sorry for things she thought didn’t get enough love. She often wore a necklace charm of a smiling silver frog with a gold disk on its belly engraved with a cursive “B”. It was just another thing that made her endearing. She loved even her trespassers. She never had a boyfriend. I suspect the idea of a man touching her brought back bad memories of her uncle. After Grandma told me what he’d done in his drunken stupors, the photo of Betty on his lap trying to squirm away made sense.
As an adult, she ended up homely and crippled. However, she was a beautiful woman inside. She was my favorite relative. Even the in-laws, who despised everyone else on that side of the family, liked her.
This memento has layered meaning. The image is of a doll she made completely by hand for me when I was a girl. I simply called it my Auntie Betty doll, although it didn’t look like her exterior. In first grade, when I got the doll as a gift, my friend from next door called it ugly. Although I wouldn’t have described it as pretty next to my Barbie dolls, I yelled at the girl and kicked her out for insulting my thoughtful gift! Now I can really see how beautiful it is. I love its wide set brown eyes. They look like mine. The cocked eyebrow reminds me of myself saying, “Are you disrespecting me?”
Betty often wore a locket. This round, mirrored format reminds me of opening one and seeing a loved one’s photo inside. I can see a bit of myself reflected in this memento.
Mirrors are also used for coca. She was addicted to coffee and drank it all day. I have a feeling that it was a big reason that she died of breast cancer. Chemicals can easily throw your system out of balance. This is an emblem of “giving up the ghost”. I am much more careful with my body than I was when I was younger. Now I limit the caffeine and sugar I consume, whereas before I would drink Coke all day, every day. I think that Aunt Betty has always been one of my guardian angels. I am sure she was on my mind as I learned to respect myself despite any setbacks in my life. She was so dignified even though she was poor and must have felt lonely.
~ by Stephanie Reid
Bud "Martell" Mayfield, 80, Acrobatic Dancer In Vaudeville
October 10, 1986, by Kenan Heise (Chicago Tribune)
Bud "Martell" Mayfield, 80, a partner in the acrobatic act of Martells & Mignon, played vaudeville for 40 years and gave a command performance in the White House for President Harry Truman.
Services for Mr. Mayfield, a resident of the North Side, will be held at 10 a.m. Friday in the chapel at 5303 N. Western Ave. He died Tuesday in Bethany Methodist Hospital.
The act, which headlined in Chicago and New York theaters, included his wife, Alice, and usually two other men. They were listed as "adagio dancers" or "dance sensationists." The males in the act were the "Martells", after Martell cognac, and Mrs. Mayfield was billed as "Mignon" after filet mignon steak.
Mrs. Mayfield was thrown in tumbling and acrobatic routines and tossed across the stage in the act's finale. She was caught with one hand by her husband. One reviewer, calling it "a vastly improbable routine, "said it was "a real headliner, an excellent show." Another said, "The big finale scared people out of their minds."
Although an article reported Mrs. Mayfield getting a floor burn in a miss, it was Mr. Mayfield who was injured if anything went wrong in the finale, according to his daughter-in-law, Barbara Mayfield.
"He was the catcher," she said. "His job was to make up for any error in the throw and to catch her whether the throw was off or not. Believe me, he was the one who was hurt if it was. But neither was ever seriously injured. "The act called for three muscular men. Mr. Mayfield, a former lifeguard and gym teacher, fit the requirements. He had worked with another acrobatic dance troupe before forming his own.
They were frequently on TV, appearing on the Ed Sullivan and Jackie Gleason shows. The act was on bills with Jack Benny and other top stars of the 1930s, '40s and '50s and also toured Europe.
When the act was featured as part of a special vaudeville performance for Truman, the bill included Dinah Shore and Sid Caesar among others.
Mr. Mayfield quit touring with the act in 1965. He opened a contracting business and a chemical company on the North Side.
Survivors besides his wife include a son, Forrest; two grandchildren; and a brother, Robert.
~ sent by Jacob Mayfield