Saturday, March 31, 2012

Life in the Fast Lane

Everything stopped for Marash Girl on Friday when she learned that the emails she had been sending out over the last several days had never been received.  How could that be?  She had been working on her brand new Mac Air, she had just had her one-to-one lesson at the Mac Store, all seemed to be well, but all was not well.  The emails she had been sending out over the past week had never been received, (so she inadvertently learned), and she was to leave for 10 days during which she would be no where near a Mac Store!  So instead of packing (which for her is stressful enough), she spent the whole day, fearful though not yet tearful, on the phone with Comcast and the specialists at Apple.  After 8 hours of this, the problem was finally addressed. (She was told by the specialists that she had sent a file that was too big to be received, that it had bounced back and clogged the drain, as it were, so that no emails after that could go out.  The Apple specialists used their version of DRANO and deleted every last email in her files before the darn system would work again.)

If folks thought life before the world wide web was stressful, whatever do they say now?

Friday, March 30, 2012

Love and Sorrow

Wednesday evening, at a Newton bi-monthly Knitting Circle, Ann-Louise shared a joke that she had found recently in a book of Jewish jokes at her local book store. She didn't buy the book, but she remembered the joke.  Here it is.

A young Jewish man, after asking his girlfriend, a young Native American woman, to marry him, invited the girl to his home to meet his mother.

Hello, the young woman said to her fiancé's mother.  I'm Laughing Water.

Hello, answered the young man's mother.  I'm Sitting Shiva.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Obama, Medvedev, a Hot Mike, and Big Brother Bob Emery

Driving to WBUR at 6 AM on Tuesday morning, on her way to volunteer at the WBUR fundraiser, Marash Girl heard tell of Obama's comments to Medvedev, unintentionally aired over a mike that was still live.  It brought Marash Girl back to the 1950's and early television with Big Brother Bob Emery and his show, Family Fun, a locally broadcast program meant for young families.  Big Brother Bob Emery, a native of Newton, Massachusetts, always ended his show toasting the President of the United States  (who was then Eisenhower) with a glass of milk, "Big Brother's Favorite Drink".  "A toast to the President," he would say, as he raised his glass of milk to the picture of President Eisenhower, and sipped.  The show always ended there.  But one day, soon after his toast to the President, Big Brother Bob Emery was seen by families all over the Boston area pouring himself a "drink" (of something other than milk) and cursing at "the little bastards" (or some such nefarious phrase)!  Needless to say, not only was the mike hot, but the camera was hot as well, and Big Brother Bob Emery was never heard from again on Boston area television.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Remembering the old days . . .

Yesterday, waiting in line at the Galen Street post office, Marash Girl offered to let the fellow behind go ahead of her, as he had only one item -- an envelope with a stamp on it which he wanted hand cancelled before mailing.  He declined, saying, I'm in no rush -- I have my whole life to wait.

Marash Girl asked him how old he was and he responded, Much older than everyone here -- I'm 79, almost 80 years old!

Really, folks, Marash Girl is not exaggerating when she tells you that the fellow looked no more than 60 years old at the most, with a peaches and cream complexion.  

Marash Girl teased, I'll bet you smoked and drank your whole life.  

Oh, no, he answered. Never touched a drink; never had a smoke.  

How was that, Marash Girl asked.  

The gentleman answered.  I lived on a horse farm in Canada.  No one could smoke and no one did, for fear that the whole place would go up in flames.    My uncles made their own beer and bottled it, and since they had a capping machine, they made me root beer.  That's the only 'brew' I ever drank.  We raised and put by all of our food.  Our basement shelves were lined with bottles of peaches and pears,  tomatoes and applesauce, jams and jellies put by in the fall to eat throughout the winter -- the only thing I ever remember my grandmother buying was a can of green beans in the middle of the winter.  We even cooked chicken and put it up in bottles so that we could have chicken sandwiches at the ready all winter long.

Have you written your memoirs? Marash Girl asked.

Oh, no. Who would want to hear about all that? he replied.  

"We would," chorused all of us in the post office, but the gentleman had already turned his back on us and was walking out the door.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Pambook Jack and Uncle Khosrof

Another tale Peter delighted in telling featured two of his favorite Newtonville relatives.

One day, Khosrof's son was complaining to the owner of the local Armenian spa.  "The problem with my father is that he doesn't hang out with people more educated than himself."  (The young man's father, Khosrof, was a self-styled intellectual who read French novels in his barber shop and would not put the novel down until he had reached the end of the chapter, if even to cut the hair of a waiting customer. Khosrof's best friend was Pambook Jack, an unread shoe repair man who never wrote anything down, but knew whose shoes belonged to whom and could look at a long row of figures and tell you the total in less than 3 seconds.)

When the spa owner told Pambook Jack of the conversation he had had with Khosrof's son, Pambook Jack, without pause, answered, "You tell the dumruk that I tried what he's suggesting, and it never helped me any."

Monday, March 26, 2012


The Armenian Library and Museum of America (ALMA) and the French Cultural Center co-sponsored a one night only exhibition of the French Cultural Center's collection of original photographs by Yousouf Karsh and a small traveling exhibit produced by ALMA, "Armenie, Mon Amie:  The French-Armenian Connection" which included an original Armenian alphabet from the French Encyclopedia and antique Armenian needle lace ('tserakordz'). [See Marash Girl's posts on the Yousuf Karsh exhibit at ALMA]  The event, held on Wednesday evening, March 21, 2012, at the French Cultural Center on Newbury Street in Boston's historic Back Bay had a 'standing room' only crowd, [even though there was only standing room :-)]

Helene Andreassian, born in France, peruses the 'We are Armenians' exhibit.

"All the Pretty Ladies":  Estrelita Karsh (center), widow of Yousuf Karsh, poses with two friends in front of a poster of Brigitte Bardot taken from a photo by Yousuf Karsh.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A Tribute to my Dad, Peter Bilezikian (August 7, 1912 - March 24, 2010)

A Tribute to my Dad, Peter Bilezikian (August 7, 1912  -  March 24, 2010)
by Martha Bilezikian McCool

Life is all about choices . . . how we choose to live our life coupled with the goals and standards we set forth, in order to achieve our dream.  Today, I would like to share a few things about the way our Dad definitely followed his dream and enjoyed the trip.
Daddy, who many of you know as Uncle Peter, Pete, Peter Bilezikian, or simply Mr. B, was a very kind, caring, and thoughtful man.   Throughout his 97 and a half years of life, Bethel, James, and I (along with his many friends) can reflect and acknowledge that it was what he had continued to do unselfishly for others that gave him many of his greatest satisfactions. 
 Daddy had always been very strong and independent like the American Cowboy, and he had the perseverance that we all deeply admire.   Daddy married our mom, Jennie, the woman of his dreams, and he was always true to his wife, his children, his family, his mother and father, and his brothers and sisters.  Daddy was always there to lend a helping hand to his relatives, friends and neighbors.   And, customers who didn’t have enough money to pay for the work were never billed.  Throughout the years, many of his customers, neighbors, and acquaintances often became his very close friends.
 Even though life was not always easy for Dad, his faith in God and Jesus Christ sustained him throughout the most difficult periods.  Our Dad was always warm, friendly, and upbeat.  Yes, charm and leadership were among Dad’s strengths.  As a teen, he knew how to work hard, make friends, and accomplish and build up so much from nothing.  For those of you who have known my Dad over the years, you of course, realize that he rarely took credit for being the instrumental and driving force in so many successful ventures and accomplishments.  Beginning with nothing but perseverance, talent, and hard work, Dad was primarily the instrumental force in the expansion and construction of Newtonville Electrical Company Inc., located on Newtonville Ave. in Newtonville, Mass.  He and his brother built their successful 50 year business and livelihood from the ground up.
 Although Dad was born an American citizen of Armenian decent**, he was not born in America.   He embraced the American way of life and made many positive contributions to it.  When Daddy graduated from high school,  it was the depression and he had to work very hard to support his parents and his sisters by taking on many jobs and working very long hours.  Despite the fact that he  was unable to accept the full scholarship he had been awarded for MIT,  he was extremely well read,  intelligent, and knowledgeable . . .  he was a self-educated man!   Through his love of reading and relating, and his talent for being extremely creative,  Daddy built up a successful business,  married the woman of his dreams and he provided the best for his family, making sure that they all went to college and graduate school (even though in those days, the old timers would tell him not to waste his money educating his daughters)!
As many of you know, Daddy brought a lot of passion to whatever captured his interest . . . whether it was his  wood working projects, his weekly fishing trips with his children and grandchildren, his lively philosophical / ideological / discussions at the Sunday dinner table, his wonderful garden with the huge sweet tomatoes and delicious Armenian cucumbers,  his heated backgammon games with the dice crashing and the yelling out of scores, or his love of music and his frequent efforts to learn to play his favorite hymns on the piano  . . . he did it all with gusto!  And he instilled in so many that he came in contact with, to aim high and that it is not only a pleasure but a privilege to be able to work.  Being able, whatever your gift is, find it and be productive; in that way he would say that you become part of the solution.
 Looking back over the years, I truly believe that Dad has followed these 8 rules for successful living:
1.   Never wait.  You are in charge of your life and your career, with God’s help.
2.      Like what you do . . . Look for the positives in every situation.  Play the hand you’re dealt.
3.     Stay connected . . . Develop and nurture relationships
4.      Practice free speech . . . Communicate all the time.
5.      Get over it . . . Try not to dwell on the past.
6.     Develop your funny bone . . . Lighten up, loosen up and laugh.
7.     Swim upstream and aim high . . . Strengthen your backbone . . . do the right thing when it’s not easy or popular.
8.     And most importantly, develop the abilities God has given each of us.
For those of you who knew our Dad very well, you knew he privately took to heart his own advice.  One more word that describes Daddy is gratefulness.  When you’re grateful for the good things in your life, you can give of yourself to other people.
I credit our parents for making certain that we knew about our Armenian heritage and instilling in us the work ethic.  Mom and Dad never doubted that if we wanted to do something that we could do it.  And all of our children and grand-children understand that they also have choices in life.  Our parents always  encouraged us to follow our dream and work hard at it. 
Yes, life is all about choices and how we live our life to achieve the dream.  Today I   salute my father, Peter Bilezikian, and thank him  for everything!   Daddy, you will be greatly missed, but I know you are happy in heaven with our mom Jennie, and my daughter, your grand-daughter Katie. 
 Martha M.  McCool
*This was a family church that we grew up in (and was built by our ancestors with their own labor and their meager financial resources . . . which included my grandmother’s wedding ring).  Our great-uncle [The Rev. Vartan Bilezikian] was the first pastor of this church (originally named “United Armenian Brethren Evangelical Church of Watertown”).  Going further back, Peter Bilezikian’s grandfather (The Rev. Sarkis Bilezikian) was the minister of the very first Protestant Church in Marash.His son, Vartan Bilezikian in the tradition of Sarkis, became a minister and had a congregation in South Boston (first held in the home of Vartan, who had a 2nd floor apt. on Mass Ave in the south end of Boston.  The original  congregation of this church were all survivors of the Armenian Genocide of 1915 perpetrated by the Ottoman government.

**Dad (with his mother and siblings) arrived in NYC in 1920 after being forced to leave Marash, surviving the genocide.    Because my Grandfather (Moses Bilezikian) who was born in Marash in 1865, came to America in 1885, and was soon after granted U.S. Citizenship, my Dad, his mom and siblings did not have to go through Ellis Island.  

Above is the Eulogy written and read by Martha Bilezikian McCool for her Dad, at the  Memorial Service  for Armenian Genocide Survivor  Peter Bilezikian on Saturday, March 27th,  2010, at the Watertown Evangelical Church (formerly the United Armenian Bretheren Evangelical Church) of Watertown, MA.

Saturday, March 24, 2012


PETER BILEZIKIAN, MORE THAN A CONQUEROR: The Eulogy read at Watertown Evangelical Church via skype  by Peter's son, James Peter Bilezikian.  Peter died at age 97 1/2 on March 24, 2010.

Anybody who was blessed to see and eat of the garden our father husbanded for forty years would know the pull the very first garden, the garden of Eden,  had on his heart.  Where there were stones and struggling grass and cabbage weeds that flourished and dandelions that ruled, our father planted a garden.  Each spring he would sift through the loam, which became blacker every year because of his nurturing, and pick out the rocks, then the stones, and finally the pebbles, and throw them into the ravine at the edge of our kingdom where the mulberry bush held court.  This garden was to the west of the three bee hives which guarded the back door of our property.  A century old apple tree, whose bark was dappled with age and seniority, reached over the fence from the yard of our neighbor, ‘old man’ Cogan, and shattered the illusion of separation of neighbor from neighbor, and sheltered the hives with a promise of an early feast of pollen and nectar.  The scent from their April blooms covered the hives and blew from a horn of plenty.  It announced the arrival of spring after a winter siege long enough to put recovery from the snow gripped land in doubt.  It was a victory of life over death, and the garden was its celebration.

Like the antediluvian mist that rose from the ground and watered the earth, the fruit of the garden rose from the ground, and hung from a design of poles and pipes and twine, never sullied by contact with the soil in which their roots were buried, ready to be eaten with the sun still smarting on the skin.  It was a feast, a moveable feast, of light and life.

One of dad’s favorite hymns that we would hear him sing impromptu on a Sunday afternoon, or a Saturday evening was…
In The Garden (first verse)
By: Charles Austin Miles, 1913
I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear, falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses
And He walks with me
And He talks with me
And He tells me I am His own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known
To hear this rock hard man break forth and regale his father in heaven always filled me up. To watch him, as a child, climb those cellar stairs that led up to our kitchen, caked in the black dust of the oil burners that he cleaned and bear the mark of the chimney sweep of a century earlier, or the West Virginia coal miner from the mile deep pits of bitumen, filled me with wonder and made my eyes wide when he surfaced to the sunlight of our kitchen and my mother’s smile and me and my sisters’ excitement at the return of our father.
Can you eat violin lessons?  That was the question his mother asked our father when he came home one day, reporting that his middle school would teach him how to play the violin.  But even that pittance to be charged was too much for his immigrant family.  It was from that deprivation that ushered forth the treasure of his soul stored up until he was fully grown and married to a beautiful foreigner (Armenian girl) from Aintab, via Cambridge Massachusetts. Dad made certain that all three children studied a classical instrument for 12 years by the time we graduated high school. When visitors arrived at our home, one, or all of us, were asked to perform on either the piano or the violin.  We children were our parents’ flags of victory over the enemy that had sought our family’s life.  The music that came from our hearts, from the fingerboard of the violin or the keyboard of the piano, was the sound of light bursting forth from the darkness that sought to overwhelm him and his mother and brother and sisters in their childhood.  The love of Christ sounded forth in those notes of the cherubs who were his progeny.  He and mother were more than conquerors.  They gave us life and life abundantly.
Dad would joke about his singing voice, and he was right.  He said the best song he sang and the one in greatest demand was ‘Far, far away’, the farther, the better.  Dad married Lucille Vartanian, Jenny to everybody, who, unlike himself, had a radio quality voice that sang out throughout many a day to the confusion of our friends who called us on the phone.  They would ask what station we were listening to because the voice and the songs were so pretty.  The two became one in their marriage, as was designed by our Father in heaven.  They protected each other from the hardness of the world.  Dad’s hospitality was equal to our mother’s welcome.
I can remember
the cool air seeping through the metal of our screen door, whose shape was
distorted after years of children running into and out of the house. The air
was of spring, an air that wilted in the mornings, after a few months, as the
days sailed into summer. I can remember the people arriving at our house, at
our small home, huge with welcome. It was the look on their faces, when my
mother opened the door, I always scrutinized the look, it was the look of
pleasure at the sincerity of welcome, and the attempt to hide their
excitement at their arrival on our shores, as it was not good form to be so transparent. They
knew they were entering a world of experience, as our house was a
museum of life where everything could be touched and upon which everything
could be gazed. There was conversation and laughter in our home. It was a
conversation that carved time out of the granite block of the darkness of
days. It was a conversation that never tittered, because it was not driven
by clock or courtesy.
That was the rub of it all. Father had suffered through ‘the granite block of the darkness of days’ and yet I never once heard anger or bitterness escape his lips toward the perpetrators of the crime against our humanity.  We were raised in a spirit of forgiveness that blew from the soul of our parents, souls in which the Holy Spirit made residence and which liberated them from ‘the granite block of the darkness of days’. 
Almost every Sunday afternoon there was a ‘thanks God, praise God’ that wheezed out of the lungs of Auntie Mary.  That was her signature arrival as she made her way through the house to our dining room to find us seated at a late lunch to find the chair that had been saved for her.  She was the kid sister of dad’s mother, one who had survived with them through the years of the genocide and the battle for the city of Marash.
It was these several things that informed my father’s and mother’s actions and which described their lives as our parents.  They walked in a spirit of forgiveness, of praise and thanksgiving, a spirit which came from their relationship with the Father in heaven through his son our Lord Jesus Christ.
That was how and why dad was able never to refuse a call in the middle of the night in the dead of winter from somebody whose furnace or oil burner was no longer working.   I knew that because the phone was in the corridor ten feet from the entrance to my bedroom. The ring would awaken me and I would hear my father speak, and the tone of his voice.  He never complained.  He got dressed, put on the layers necessary to survive the blizzard raging outside or the bitter cold of a forever winter’s night and like the Christian paladin he was, ride to the rescue of those stranded under a cold winter sky.  Because he and his family were rescued so many times while trying to survive Marash and the war against humanity, as rescuer, it never occurred to dad to send a bill to those he rescued.  Dad would have said that Jesus rescued us from our bondage to sin, and never sent us a bill, because He paid for the rescuing and the sin on the cross of Calvary.  Dad and mom were examples of those who grew in conformity to the image of Christ, to the mind of Christ.
When Jesus was asked what is the greatest commandment.  He said, ‘to love the lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul, and the second is unto the first, to love thy neighbor as thyself.’  Further on in the New Testament, St. John declares that any man who says he loves God, but hates his neighbor, is a liar, and his father is the devil.  Dad hated certain ideas and philosophies, but not people, not even the people who held those philosophies anathema to his thinking.
“When you are a Catholic, miracles happen.”  This was the evangelism for Roman Catholicism that daddy would hear often enough from Johnny Flynn, a close friend, and one of the salesmen that frequented Newtonville Electrical Company, the business established, owned and operated by daddy and his brother, Uncle Paul.  Johnny Flynn was six feet tall, 3 inches taller than my father, had those telltale Irish brown eyes that looked at home on the face of a boy, but always improbable on the face of an adult.  He was a spare man with unsparing freckles over all his face, faded, then, from the onset of middle age.  He was an average catholic for those days of the last years of the Korean War, if you counted the six children he had.  Dad never took issue with Johnny Flynn’s declarations of miracles awaiting any who were blessed to be Roman Catholic or might become Roman Catholic, or his attempts at proselytizing.  On Christmas Eve, 1951, dad got a call from a friend reporting that Flynn’s home had no heat, and had been that way for a couple of days.  Dad wondered why he had not been told by Johnny, a good friend, and then he realized, no doubt, Flynn was too embarrassed to admit he did not have the funds to pay for a service call.  Dad advised Harry Mooseghian, a protégé of his, to meet him late in the evening so they could embark on an adventure together.  When it was dark enough and late enough, while Flynn’s family slept, the two snuck into the cellar of Flynn’s home, through the unlocked bulkhead doors.  Sure enough, the culprit was a faulty oil burner.  Dad returned to his store, found a model identical to the one Flynn had, stole back into the cellar a second time through the bulkhead doors, and exchanged the good oil burner for the ruined one.  The following Friday, Johnny Flynn, visiting dad along with all the regulars that met there on late Friday afternoons for coffee and donuts, breathlessly recounted the tale of the miracle of waking up on Christmas morning, the week before, to a home well heated.  For two days the Flynn family had shivered through the misery of December cold that hovered just above freezing, and on Christmas morning awakened to a home delivered and resurrected from the dead of winter.  Johnny Flynn, flush with the proof of one more miracle in his life, and because of his deep affection for my father, tried again to convert Peter with, “When you are a Catholic, miracles happen.”  Johnny Flynn went to his grave never knowing the story of his deliverance.
Whether it was helping out widows locally, or Armenian orphans in Beirut, or anybody else the Lord called upon him to help, it was done quietly, always.
On March 24, at 1 a.m. Peter told one of his caregivers, that he was going to die that day.  He sang hymns off and on with her until 5 a.m.  Peter said he was going to be with his wife, his brother, his sister, his parents, and his Lord Jesus Christ.  At six a.m., he called for Irene, another caregiver.  When she arrived at the side of his bed, he looked up at her and said, “I am tired”.  With those last words on his lips, Peter Bilezikian passed into heaven.
Peter would be the first one to quote the following scriptures (Romans 8: verse 35, 37, 38, 39) as a testimony to where he was going following the death of his body.
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Because Peter Bilezikian was one of the sheep in the pasture of our Lord Jesus Christ, The Great Shepherd, he knew that he would dwell in the house of the Lord, forever.

Friday, March 23, 2012

1952 Chevy Graces Maple Avenue in Newton Corner

Caught in an old-fashioned vapor lock on Tuesday night in 80+ degree weather, this 1952 Chevy was boarded onto an automobile trailer on Maple Avenue in Newton Corner, much to Marash Boy's delight!

The simple Chevy coupe was adorned with tail fins possibly from a Cadillac, white wall tires, and an extended transmission shift with an old-fashioned ball top peeking above the windshield.  It appeared as if the automobile trailer belonged to the owner of the car  suggesting that he may be the proud owner of many vintage cars.

Marash Girl's only question:  If your car stalls from a vapor lock on a hot day, why would you drive it on an 80 degree day, even though you're in New England and it's still March 20?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Happy Birthday, Karoun Jan! Ծնունդդ շնորհավոր Գարուն ջան!

 Ծնունդդ շնորհավոր Գարուն ջան

Happy Birthday Karoun Jan! (Scroll down for the English transliteration of the lyrics so that you can all sing along or click the link and sing along with Adiss!)

Գարուն, Գարուն, Գարուն Է

Գարուն, գարուն, գարուն է,

Սիրուն, սիրուն, սիրուն է,

Էդ քո սեւ-սեւ աչքերով,

Յար ջան ինձ դու այրում ես:

Չար լեզուներին հաւատաց իմ յարը,

Արցունքներով լցվեց սեւ-սեւ աչքերը:

Էս աշխարհը շատ փուչ բան է, հեռանալ

Ուզում էի հեռանալ ու մոռանալ:

Գարուն, գարուն, գարուն է,

Սիրուն, սիրուն, սիրունն է,

Էդ քո սեւ-սեւ աչքերով,

Յար ջան ինձ դու այրում ես:

Էդ քո սիրուց մոլորվել եմ քուն չունեմ,

Ամբողջ գիշեր արցունքներով հալչում եմ:

Յար ջան ինձնից մի հեռացի, սիրում եմ,

Անցորդները կարծում են թե յար չունեմ:

Գարուն, գարուն, գարուն է,

Սիրուն, սիրուն, սիրունն է,

Էդ քո սեւ-սեւ աչքերով,

Յար ջան ինձ դու այրում ես:

Spring, Spring, It's Spring

Spring, spring, it' s spring,

Pretty, pretty, so pretty,

With your jet-black eyes,

Hey babe, you’re burning me.

My love believed in mean gossip,

Tears filled up in jet-black eyes,

This world is very senseless, get away,

I wanted to get away and forget.

Spring, spring, It's spring,

Pretty, pretty, so pretty,

With your jet-black eyes,

Hey babe, you’re burning me.

Your love makes me wander, I can’t sleep,

All night long I melt with tears.

Hey babe, don’t leave me ‘cause I love you,

Passersby think I don’t have a love.

Spring, spring, it's spring,

Pretty, pretty, so pretty,

With your jet-black eyes,

Hey babe, you’re burning me.

Heartfelt thanks to
Christian Garbis (, for helping Marash Girl with this one!

And transliterating into English so all of you can sing along:

Karoun Karoun Karoun eh, siroun siroun siroun eh
Ed ko sev sev atcherov, yar jan ints tou ayroum es

Char lezouneri havadats im yareh
artsounknereh letsvets sev atchereh
Es ashkhareh shat poudj pan eh heranam
Ouzoum eyi heranal ou moranal

Karoun Karoun Karoun eh, siroun siroun siroun eh
Ed ko sev sev atcherov, yar jan ints tou ayroum es

Et ko serits molorvats em koun chounem
Polor kisher artsounknerov danchvum em
Yar jan intsmits mi herana, siroum em
antsnokhnereh gardzoum en te yar gouzem

Karoun Karoun Karoun eh, siroun siroun siroun eh
Ed ko sev sev atcherov, yar jan ints tou ayroum es

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


On one of the most beautiful days of winter (yes, it's still winter!), Karoun began her birthday celebration with her dearest Wilbraham friends, former employer Farmer Llewellyn Merrick of Merrick Farm and Theresa Munn.  The three met at Wilbraham Monson Academy's Fisk Hall (built in 1851) where A CHORUS LINE was about to be performed by the Theatre Guild of Hampden (Massachusetts), directed by Mark Giza, choreographed by Kathleen Delaney with music direction by Tom Slowic.

 Although it wasn't Broadway, it sure felt like it!
 The moments were indeed magical:  perhaps because the birthday party had front row seats, they felt like A CHORUS LINE was performed only for them (although there were 150 other folks watching the show along with them!)

A cast of perhaps 50 (above) pose for applause at the end of the show.

Arnaldo Rivera (Paul), one of the main characters in A CHORUS LINE (left) relaxes after the show in front of Fisk Hall.
Karoun with friends Mark & Monica Gagnon who played Al & Kristine in the show.
Karoun poses in front of Fisk Hall after enjoying the performance of A Chorus Line.
After the show, a light repast with innkeeper Llewellyn Merrick and Theresa Munn in the kitchen of the
Merrick Farm Brownstone Bed and Breakfast, 651 Main Street, Wilbraham, Massachusetts.  For reservations, call 413-596-3559.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Wilbraham, Massachusetts: 10 months after the tornado

There she stood, at the corner of Tinkham and Main Streets in Wilbraham, Massachusetts.  Marash Girl with tears in her eyes.  A barren landscape greeted her.  Houses standing, Merrick Farmstand extant, but not a tree in sight.  Plastic houses on a Monopoly board. Or, to quote Theresa Munn, "Feel like we're living in a new development before the developer put in the trees . . . and the last place I ever wanted to live was in a new development."  Or as Farmer Lewellyn Merrick commented, "It'll take 50 years for trees to grow back." (See Marash Girl's posts of June 2 ff. on the Tornado that hit Western Massachusetts on June 1, 2011.)  Unbeknownst to Marash Girl, at that same moment, Marash Boy was on the top of Wilbraham Mountain, surveying the family land where there was now not a trace of the cabin; only trees -- uprooted trees, trees with broken hearts.

As she writes this post, Marash Girl remembers her mother's love for trees, and for the poem that she so often recited to Marash Girl as Marash Girl was growing up:

Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918)
      I think that I shall never see
      A poem lovely as a tree.
      A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
      Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;
      A tree that looks at God all day,
      And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
      A tree that may in Summer wear
      A nest of robins in her hair;
      Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
      Who intimately lives with rain. 
      Poems are made by fools like me,
      But only God can make a tree. 
      "Trees" was originally published in Trees and Other Poems. Joyce Kilmer. New 
      York: George H. Doran Company, 1914.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Public Telephone Booth at the Publick House, Sturbridge, Massachusetts

Marash Girl's earliest memories of  public telephone booths (those little wooden and glass havens of privacy in the midst of chaos) was from her years in Kindergarten when she and her two best friends (names now forgotten) would meet privately after school in the telephone booth on the corner of Walnut and Bowers Streets (before Marash Girl arrived at her father's store, Newtonville Electrical Co., Inc., 84 Bowers Street, in Newtonville, Massachusetts, the corner store in Uncle Vartan's brick store and apartment complex opposite the Newtonville Train Station -- yes, there was a beautiful stone train station on Bowers Street in Newtonville!)

Public telephones today?   in this day and age, where else would you find public telephones, much less a public telephone in a booth, but at the Publick House (Sturbidge, Massachusetts)  (See Marash Girl's post on New Year' Day at the Publick House.)  Here's the rub.  To the left of the Public Telephone Booth is none other than . . . an ATM machine!  Can you see the M on the left of the telephone booth in the photo at the beginning of this post?
Please share are your memories of public telephone booths.

Sunday, March 18, 2012


Much of the humor told by Marash Girl's father was at the expense of powerful women.  And it was true that most women who had survived the genocide were powerful by definition.
The following joke takes place in a Protestant missionary gathering where men were 'baring their souls', as it were.

The missionary asked the roomful of men, How many of you are afraid of your wives?
All but one man stood up.  The missionary called on the man in the back row who had not stood up.  Tell us, sir; how is it that when I asked, "How many of you are afraid of your wives," everyone stood up but you.  Are you not afraid of your wife?

The seated man answered:  Just the mention of the word 'wife' (avrat) causes my knees to shake so badly that I cannot stand! Avrat dediğinde, dizlerim titriyordu.

The punch line to the joke, hard to comprehend in an American setting (they say that jokes are very difficult to translate), became an ironic statement that laced conversation whenever guys were joking about being afraid of their wives.  "Avrat dediğinde, dizlerim titriyordu."

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Minister Is Sick!

One of the characteristics of growing up Armenian was the intermingling of three languages -- Armenian, English, and Turkish, and the jokes that resulted therefrom.  As well, humor was often played off between the traditional Apostolic church goers and the new (as of the 19th Century) Armenian Protestants. (See Marash Girl's blog on Protestants and Pambook Jack.)

Here's a joke that plays off of both language and religion, a joke that was told to Marash Boy on his first meeting with his first cousin who had recently arrived from the "old country":

The 19th Century Armenian-American Protestant congregation in Marash (or was it Aintep?) had gathered on Sunday morning, as was the custom, to hear their minister give the sermon.  One of the congregation got up and announced that the minister was unable to attend church that day.  Mixing English and Turkish, as was often done even then, the Armenian, whose knowledge of English was far from perfect, said,  "The minister will not be attending church today.  Sick dir!"

Friday, March 16, 2012

Breakfast on Beacon Hill

Marash Girl used to make Dutch Apple Pancake in the late 1960's when she would bake special treats for Marash Boy's breakfast meetings held weekly at 89B Mt. Vernon Street on Beacon Hill.  The guys who worked at the State House with Marash Boy (who was at that time Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Community Affairs) would come for breakfast meetings before Marash Girl left for work!  After a while, the wives of the guys at the meetings would call (as soon as the guys got to the State House) to find out what Marash Girl had served for breakfast that week!  Had she thought about it, Marash Girl would have prepared a cookbook entitled, Breakfast on Beacon Hill!

One of the very recipes that Marash Girl used to prepare was sent to her via email by Marash Martha.  Unlike the recipe below, Marash Girl would cook the apples on the stove top rather than in the oven, but the method below seems to be much simpler.  Marash Girl omitted adding the Maple Syrup at the end. She served the Dutch Apple Pancake to the State House set with sugar and cinnamon.  Enjoy it either way!

[Marash Martha credits this recipe to William.-Sonoma from years ago]

2 tbsp. butter
4 – 5 large apples peeled and sliced ½” thick
3 tbsp. sugar
½ tsp. ground cinnamon


STIR  these two mixtures together SO THAT IT IS EVENLY BLENDED and evenly situation in the baking pan.


N.B.  Today, Marash Girl often substitutes peaches or pears for the apples for variety!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Coyote Comes Calling

There he was, sauntering purposefully down Maple Avenue (a direct line from Cabot Park, probably his home base), heading north at 5 o'clock (supper time?)  as Marash Girl was heading south up Maple Avenue after taking a late afternoon stroll . . . A dog off leash? she thought.  Couldn't be.  His walk is not that of a dog's.   No, a sleek, healthy looking coyote.  (She hadn't seen one since before the tornado hit the top of Wilbraham Mountain!)  He must not know about the leash law in Newton, she thought.  As they approached each other, the coyote took a neat right turn heading east, right into Marash Girl's driveway.  A visitor for supper? Wonder where he's headed?  But by the time Marash Girl arrived in her back yard, the coyote was long gone.  There goes her dream of having a portable chicken coop in that back yard of hers!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


David and Margaret Gullette offer Snowdrops in March to a Newton Corner neighbor.

Have you ever seen Snowdrops covering the ground when there has been no snow all winter?  Today, Marash Girl saw exactly that -- Snowdrops everywhere on the grounds of this beautiful Victorian home.  What are Snowdrops?  They are small plants that bear tiny white flowers, perrennials that not only come up every year (even before crocuses), but spread with little or no encouragement.  And they are beautiful.   Marash Girl asked and she was given this beautiful pot of Snowdrops which she immediately carried to her own Victorian home at the bottom of the hill. If you scroll down, you will see the Snowdrops in their new home.
Snowdrops in March replanted by Marash Girl on her front lawn at the foot of the antique bench reconstructed by Peter in his 95th year. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

DEPORTED: A DREAM PLAY at Suffolk University's Modern Theatre

Saturday was opening night for the new show Deported, A Dream Play by playwright Joyce Van Dyke at the new Suffolk University Modern Theatre in Boston's Theatre District   Using the vehicle of the Armenian experience, DEPORTED deals with the issues of memory, trauma, and pain that so many in the world suffer after loss of family, loss of land, loss of home, loss of joy.  Marash Girl, having seen the play in its early stages was not prepared for the emotional impact that it would take on her. The play touched on all of the realities of growing up Armenian in a post genocidal Armenian American family.  Yes, like Rose, Marash Boy had had to awaken his grandmother from screaming nightmares, a grandmother who had gone on the death march and somehow survived, but had not forgotten; a grandmother who never wanted to share the horrors of her past.  (See Marash Girl's blog, A Tale for Taraf!)  Unlike Marash Girl, Marash Boy responded to the play with joy, joy that the 'Armenian' story had finally left the annals of dusty history books and academic conferences and could now be viewed under the bright lights of the stage in this professionally written and produced drama that deals with the past, the present and the future.

Marash Girl was devastated.  Marash Girl had seen the play in its earlier forms, (click this link to see earlier blogpost) had heard the stories of the survivors first hand; nonetheless, this dramatic production grabbed her and wouldn't let her go. . . every aspect, from the set to the music to the choreography (Armenian dancing) to the costuming, to the casting, to the acting, and first and foremost, to the writing of the play.

After the performance, Marash Girl asked playwright Joyce Van Dyke:  Was this play as difficult to write as it was to watch?   Her answer:  Yes.

If you haven't seen the show yet, you must. It was truly amazing.

Take note of the following pre-performance special events:


March 29, post-show talk : “One by One: Dialogue among Descendants of Genocide Survivors, Perpetrators, Bystanders and Resisters," with Dr. Wilma Busse, Director of the Counseling Center, Suffolk University.  Moderated by Paula Parnagian, President, World View Services.

March 30, 7:00-7:30 PM (play performance follows at 8:00 PM)
“The next generation: Turks and Armenians talk about the future,” with:
Ayşe Deniz Lokmanoğlu, MA candidate in Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University;
Tsoleen Sarian, who works in politics;
Nareg Seferian, Master’s degree candidate in Politics and International Affairs, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy;
Ahmet Selim Tekelioğlu, Ph.D. candidate in Political Science, Boston University.
Moderated by Cynthia Cohen, Ph.D., Director of the program in Peacebuilding and the Arts, Brandeis University.
For tickets, dates and times of performances, go to
Playwright Joyce Van Dyke (right) and Ruth Thomasian discuss Project Save's photographs on the foyer walls of the new Suffolk University Modern Theatre on opening night of the play, DEPORTED: A DREAM PLAY.

After the show, Marash Boy (left) talks with Bobbie Steinbach, the star of DEPORTED,  in the foyer of the new Suffolk University Modern Theatre,  about the problem of reconciliation when there has been no admission of wrong, or as Marash Girl often quips, "How can we forgive something that 'never happened'?"

Monday, March 12, 2012

New Life for an Old Plant

Who would want a plant that's called "Mother-In-Law's Tongue" or "Snake Plant"?

The story of the lost plant that was found.

For days the winds blew, the rains poured and at the end of the street was a lone plant on the edge of the sidewalk, a plant that had blown over in the wind.  It was out on trash day, and it was still out on the next day and the next day and the next.  Loving to save plants from certain death, Marash Girl has been known to salvage a plant from the sidewalk and nurse it back to health, but this plant looked like it had been placed on the tree belt for decoration and had inadvertently been blown over in the wind.  Marash Girl set it upright as she walked by, only to notice it was out with the trash barrels on the next trash day.  Concerned for the survival of an otherwise healthy looking plant, Marash Girl knocked on the door of the house to which the plant seemed to belong.  The lady of the house answered.  The plant?  No, she didn't want it.  Her husband had bought it for her, but she had too many plants as it was, so she had set it out on the sidewalk in the hope that someone would adopt it.  Marash Girl thanked the lady of the house and carried the plant home, still in its plastic pot, without a name or a home.  Placing the plant on her front porch, Marash Girl asked every passer by and soon found that the plant was known as "Mother-In-Law's Tongue" or "Snake Plant".  No wonder nobody wanted the poor thing, with names like that!


Marash Girl decided to ask  Karoun, whose favorite color is green, if she would adopt the plant. And sure enough, on the very day she was packing to move, Karoun worked her magic.  The plant has indeed found a new mother and a new home (and most likely a new name). Above are the photos to prove it.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Happy Birthday, Deron!

Marash Girl and Marash Boy remember the day you were born! We had a name all picked out for you, but when we looked at you, we knew that the name we had chosen was not your name.  You were so full of God's love and God's peace we could only look to find the right name and find the right name we did:  Deron (from the Armenian Deronagan) meaning "Belonging to the Lord".  And indeed, you have lived your life according to your name.  When kids wanted to fight, you would suggest that they work it out on the basketball court shooting baskets.  When kids were troubled, you cared for them.  When folks needed help, (especially in math or history), you spent hours with them on the front porch preparing them for their   finals, for their college achievements.  For all of this and more, your Newton North High School classmates awarded you the Boys' Senior Cup.

And let's not forget all those prayers you sent up for the Boston Red Sox!

So Happy Birthday, Deron!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

POPcorn! More POPular than ever!

Make fresh POPcorn on your stove top the old-fashioned way and it'll be the most POPular snack at the party.  Even more POPular than brownies!  So how does Marash Girl make POPcorn?  The way her mother and mother-in-law made it.  The old-fashioned way.

To make old-fashioned POPcorn:
Put a heavy stainless steel pan on the stove (the type with a single handle and a cover), pour some olive oil just to cover the bottom, add one or two kernels of POPping corn.  Cover the pot.  Heat the oil.  When the oil gets hot enough, the two kernels will POP.  At that point, while the pan is still on the hot burner, cover the bottom of the pan with dried kernels of POPping corn.  Cover the pan (with its cover) and keep shaking the pan until all the kernels are POPped.  When you hear no more POPping, turn off the heat (or gas), remove the pan from the stove, and pour the POPcorn in a bowl large enough to accommodate all the wonderful POPpcorn you have just POPped.  The aroma will fill the house and its inhabitants with joy!  Now add POPcorn salt or kosher salt to taste. Toss.  Be careful not to over salt.  At this point you can add other flavorings such as garlic powder or garlic salt, etc. etc. 

Recently, some folks have been suggesting that salt and flavorings should be added to the oil.  Marash Girl experimented with adding salt to the oil at the very beginning of the heating process.  The result?  It took much longer for the oil to heat up and for the POPcorn to POP.  (Though not a chemist, Marash Girl believes that the salt lowered the temperature of the oil.)  The result?  POPcorn that was NOT light and airy, that took much longer to prepare, and much longer to chew!

Marash Girl recommends the old fashioned way!  Add the salt after the POPcorn is done.  AND if you really want to have some fun, do it the way Marash Boy's mom used to do it:  Have a sheet already spread out on the kitchen floor so that while the POPcorn is POPping, the young 'uns are waiting . . . as soon as the POPcorn is done, pour it onto the sheet, and let the young 'uns sit around the outer edge of the sheet and feast to their heart's content!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Leave the light on!

The one time Marash Girl's family left the light(s) on was when her mom, known to the kids as Grandma Jennie, left the light on in her oven overnight.  Why?  Marash Girl forgot to tell you the real secret of making firm, delicious madzoon (better known in the popular culture as yogurt).  (See Yogurt: The Recipe).  The real secret?  When you've finished preparing your madzoon according to Marash Girl's recipe, you don't have to preheat the oven.  Simply place the covered bowl of soon to be madzoon in the oven, turn the oven light on, close the oven door, making sure that the light stays on in the oven, and leave the light on overnight.  Or (if making the madzoon during the day) leave the bowl of fermenting yogurt in the oven with the light on for 12 hours. Grandma Jennie's very own secret!  You'll have perfectly set yogurt every time!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

More advice from the Woman from Cohasset

On Friday's drive into Boston, Marash Girl reminded all passengers to buckle their seat belts.  The Woman from Cohasset (see Marash Girl's blog on Mitt Romney and the Cohasset Republican) announced, I never buckle my seat belt.  Well, Marash Girl replied, let me tell you that our cousin was an oral  and maxillo-facial surgeon , and he always reminded us that most of his work came from folks who had been in accidents and neglected to buckle their seat belts.  Well, answered the Woman from Cohasset, my husband was a dentist and I never buckle my seat belt.  What about all those people that get stuck in their cars and burn up because they can't unbuckle their seat belts when their car crashes?  Even though I don't buckle my seat belt, I always keep a sharp knife in the car for those foolish folk who do!  And so do I, echoed her 85 year old friend sitting in the back seat next to her.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Are we taking something for granted?

Yesterday Marash Girl "manned" the polls in a small precinct of Newton from 6 in the morning until 8 at night.  Granted, it was a primary election.  Nonetheless, it was so quiet for so long, she's saddened to say, that her partner inspector commented, "I forget why I'm here. . .!"

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Grandma Jennie's Cheoreg

Grandma Jennie’s Cheoreg

Dough preparation:
1 pkg dried yeast (place in 1/4 c. warm water with a bit of sugar)
1 c. milk
1 tsp. to 1 tbsp freshly ground mahlab (available at Armenian grocery stores) - Marash Girl uses 1 tbsp.
1/2 Tbsp black caraway seed optional - Sev Goondoug available at Armenian/Middle Eastern grocery stores.
1/3 c sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 c butter, melted
5 c flour
2 tsp salt

1 egg, beaten (to wipe on top of shaped cheoreg before dipping in sesame seed.)
Sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit.  While oven is heating,
mix dough ingredients together with large heavy spoon. Dough should NOT be stiff, but rather fairly loose in order to achieve a soft cheoreg, the way Grandpa Peter liked it.  Set aside the dough to rise in a covered glass bowl, away from drafts.  When dough is doubled in size, punch down.  Take the equivalent of a half cup of dough, roll into 6 or 7 inch strip, circle strip around itself (snail-like) to make a circular roll. 
Place this roll in the palm of your hand, dip top of roll into egg mixture, then into flat dish in which you have placed sesame seeds. (This system gives a delicious thick layer of sesame seeds, not just sprinkles, and saves the trouble of brushing on the egg, then scattering on the sesame seeds.  It was Grandma Jennie's very own secret.) Place plain side of roll on greased baking tray, leaving room for cheoreg to rise (about 1 inch between rolls).  Dough will have risen enough by the time you finish shaping rolls to bake on greased tray in preheated oven for 15 minutes.

Recording this recipe in memory of Marash Girl's mother, Jennie Vartanian Bilezikian and the family visits to her Uncle Joe (Grandma Yester's Brother Yusuf) & Auntie Mogie Bosnian (Ruthie and Didick's mom).  Auntie Mogie always welcomed us with cheoreg in her oven and baking when we arrived, ready to take out and serve us piping hot.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Mitt Romney and the Cohasset Republican

"Mitt Romney -- he's not like those other guys; he's so moral, so honest, I'm going to vote for him . . . ," stated the woman from Cohasset who happened to be sitting in the back seat of Marash Girl's car, on her way to hear Cole Porter at the Emmanuel Church on Friday night.  "Really?  Why do you think that?" asked Marash Girl.  Romney's admirer continued:  "I was on his gubernatorial campaign staff, and he invited me to a party at his home.  It was the most boring party I have ever been to."  "How so?" asked Marash Girl.  The admirer from Cohasset continued:  "He's such a good Mormon that he served no wine, no beer, no alcohol whatsoever, no coffee, no tea.  The party was SO BORING!  That's why I'm going to vote for him!  He lives what he believes. . . And he's soooo handsome! He looks like a President!"

Yesterday, Marash Girl received an unsolicited recorded phone call from Mrs. Mitt Romney inviting Marash Girl to an election night party in downtown Boston.  (Where  did Mrs. Romney get Marash Girl's phone #? It's not on their rolls, and IS on the DO NOT CALL list!) Based on the recommendation of Romney's Cohasset admirer, Marash Girl thinks she'll stay home!  Wonder if Mrs. Romney called the folks in Cohasset . . .

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Koko Boodakian & Sons: I dream of Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair

This past Friday night, at the reception following the Cole Porter Review at Emmanuel Church in Boston, Marash Girl had the opportunity to chat with Michael Boodakian, the son of Koko Boodakian. (Koko Boodakian was a household word in our home full of oriental rugs.) Michael & Marash Girl reminisced about the old days . . . who had the bees?  Was it Peter or Paul?  Did you know arthritis can be cured by bee stings (see WBUR & CURT'S PHOTOS, HONEY BEES & EGYPTIAN HONEY ).   Who had the garden?  Peter!  Your father! He was such a great guy.  I remember his coming to do electrical work for us at Boodakian & Sons Oriental Rugs in Winchester (Massachusetts) and while he was working, Peter was singing, always singing, "I dream of Jennie with the light brown hair!" (See I Dream of Jennie with the Light Brown Hair.)
Michael continued:  "Just before he passed away, I remember picking Peter up at his house; Irene (his caregiver) was with him.  I took them both to the Men's Club at the St. James Armenian Apostolic Church in Watertown.  Peter had such a good time, laughing and joking with the men there; he was such a great guy!  So full of fun!  Always full of fun."
Michael, being Ainteptsi, was a distant relative of Marash Girl's mother, "Jennie with the Light Brown Hair".  He recalled a trip to Los Angeles when he visited with Uncle George Vartanian (Jennie's brother), and Jennie's cousins Uncles Jake (Jakie) and Johnnie Bosnian (Auntie Flora and Uncle Yacob's sons -- Uncle Yacob being Marash Girl's Grandmother Yester Bosnian Vartanian's brother, all from Aintep).  Oh, to bring those days back!!!  But as Peter would say, "Those days are gone . . . forever!"

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Cole Porter Alive and Well at the Emmanuel Church, Boston

Armand Andreassian watching the Cole Porter Review presented at Boston's Emmanuel Church last night by the Andreassian Music Fund.

The New England Light Opera (NELO), Boston area's professional operetta and musical theater company,  last night sponsored by the Andreassian Music Fund, presented the timeless songs of Cole Porter in a revue entitled, "Night and Day: A New Cole Porter Celebration".  The show was presented in architectural magnificence at the historic Emamnuel Church on Newbury Street in Boston.  With the original cast of this revue, the performance featured June Baboian, Kaja Schupper, Brian DeLorenzo, Mark Morgan and joining the cast for the first time at the piano, Margaret Ulmer.  The cabaret atmosphere, small tables with candles, wine and dessert, made for a convivial evening.

As she watched the show, Marash Girl remembered her mother, felt that her mother was with her, singing along, laughing, tapping her foot to the music, getting up and dancing to the more danceable tunes.  Her mother, known as Grandma Jennie to the kids, would be waving to June Baboian, exclaiming how amazing it was that her friend, Rose Baboian of cookbook fame, had such a talented granddaughter on stage, a wonderful actress with a powerful and beautiful voice.  Grandma Jennie would be so excited to go back and tell Rose how much she loved the show.  But then, Grandma Jennie and Rose were probably watching the show from above and loving every minute of it!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Old-Time Religion, Old-Time Hymns, Old-Time Hymnals

Free Catalogue of Antique Hymnals
So stated an email to hundreds of university libraries. . . but Marash Girl got to wondering . . . why is it that she loves hymns, and the hymnals recording those hymns?  Why did she purchase antique hymnals from a library that no longer wanted them?  Why did she carefully catalogue the hymnals? 
And why Marash Girl's fascination with hymnals?  Do the hymns she loves most have their beginnings with Rev. Trowbridge, missionary from Boston venturing into the Ottoman Empire in 1825?  Or with the Protestant Missionaries in Marash, (Turkey)a bit  later in the 19th Century? Or with her great great grandfather Rev. Sarkis Bilezikjian in 1865, first minister of the first Armenian Protestant church in Marash, Ottoman Empire?  or with her Uncle Vartan (Rev. Vartan Bilezikian) in 1895? Or in Watertown, Massachusetts at the United Armenian Brethren Evangelical Church in the early 1940's?  Not sure.  But what she does know is that she loves hymns and has loved them ever since she was a wee one and would hear her little churchful of survivors (survivors from the 1915 Armenian Genocide at the hands of the Ottomans), many of them old (they seemed to her then), widows all dressed in black, joyfully singing in Armenian, Turkish, and English:  "This is my Story, This is my Song.  Praising my Savior All the Day Long, This is my Story, This is my Song; Praising my Savior all the day long."  All of their sorrows were left behind when they sang.

That song had been translated from the English that the Missionaries brought to Marash into Armenian.  The hymnal Marash Girl grew up with (and the hymnal she most loves) was written in Armenian, Armeno-Turkish, and English as well, by the Rev. E. E. Elmajian, who gathered these old-time hymns into one volume: SPIRITUAL HYMNS OF WORSHIP - HOKEVOR YERKER BASHDAMUNKI - RUHANI IBADET ILAHILERI [IN ENGLISH, ARMENIAN & ARMENO-TURKISH].  581 hymns in harmony (treble & bass clefs) in all three languages, plus 15 responsive readings, topical index, index of first lines & titles, everything in all three languages. [Elmajian had fled into the mountains during the genocide of 1915-1918  in order to escape death,  had lived on berries and leaves for years in the (Tarsus?) mountains until he learned sometime in the 1920's that the war was over and it was safe to return to civilization.]

Whenever Marash Girl is happy, she sings hymns; and whenever she's in trouble, she sings hymns.  They bring joy to her life; they serve as prayers more eloquently than any prayer she could utter.

And so when Marash Girl (as proprietor of was offered a large collection of antique hymnals, she could not refuse. She offers them to you with the following question:  Whence cometh your love of hymns?

To request Marash Girl's catalogue of over 350 antique hymnals, please email

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Coyotes on Centre Street?

Walking back from Newton Centre's Panera (their "Wednesdays in February" promotion -- free coffee from 7-9 AM -- a good excuse for a 4 mile walk), Marash Girl encountered the above sign posted on the telephone post at the corner of Centre Street and Clinton Place, a quarter of a mile from the shops in Newton Centre, in a thickly settled, heavily trafficked area of Newton.  The sign read, "Predators are killing family pets -- Coyotes and foxes are preying on cats and small dogs.  Many cats are missing or dead.  Please keep your cats and dogs in, except when escorting dogs."  Really can't imagine a cat that wouldn't climb a tree rather than allow itself to be caught by a coyote, and there is a leash law in Newton forbidding dogs off leash except in off-leash doggie parks.  So what gives?  Is this just another effort to scare Newton residents into obeying the law? (And Marash Girl is not talking about the law of nature here . . .)
Dead End -- was that a warning? (see Marash Girl's blog, The Dead Man's Float) -- that was the second sign at the corner of Centre Street and Clinton Place; being ever curious, Marash Girl decided to follow the street to its "Dead End" to see what was dead about it.  Following Clinton Place westward one block, Marash Girl turned North where Clinton Place became a dirt road traversing back yards for the equivalent of two blocks.  And there it was.  Across Cotton Street, a wall separating Cabot Woods from the rest of the civilized world, a wall behind which, no doubt, coyotes and foxes could live in peace.