Thursday, May 31, 2012

"John Brown's mother said that milk is very best!"

As Marash Girl sat drinking her coffee this morning (decaf au lait, that is, half milk, half decaf), she remembered learning and singing 
(to the adapted chorus above of "Battle Hymn of the Republic") the following song in her Newtonville kindergarten class, the last line of each verse sung with emphasis.

John Brown's mother said that coffee isn't good!
John Brown's mother said that coffee isn't good!
John Brown's mother said that coffee isn't good,
For children growing up!

John Brown's mother said that tea is just as bad!
John Brown's mother said that tea is just as bad!
John Brown's mother said that tea is just as bad,
For children growing up!

John Brown's mother said that milk is very best!
John Brown's mother said that milk is very best!
John Brown's mother said that milk is very best,
For children growing up!

Before writing about the memory, Marash Girl decided to check the internet to see if the lyrics were recorded anywhere, and try as she might, she found nothing relating to John Brown's mother's words of wisdom on coffee, tea or milk.  Who was John Brown's mother, anyway?

Amazing how ingrained a song learned in kindergarten becomes, to remember the song all these years later!  Was it a song instituted into the kindergarten curriculum by the dairy farmers of Massachusetts?  Have any of you ever heard the song? Please share your memories in the comments below!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Tornado Watch Lifted in the Connecticut Valley -- 2011 Aftermath Persists

Yesterday evening, Marash Girl's heart lurched when she heard WBUR's warning that there was a tornado watch in the Connecticut Valley.  Not again . . . A year ago (on June 1, 2011, to be exact), Marash Girl's life changed, as did the lives of all of the folks who summered and loved in the cabin on top of Wilbraham Mountain.

Here's the link to Marash Girl's blogs on the tornado of June 1, 2011.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Traffic Light Control Box gets a facelift in West Newton Square on Memorial Day.  Photo Credit: Marash Girl

Although Marash Girl would have liked to have interviewed the artist, the artist's concentration and earbuds prevented such chatter!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Western Armenian at Harvard

The class in Western Armenian taught by Prof. Avedis Sanjian at Harvard Univesity, a class which Marash Girl took in her sophomore year while attending a college that no longer exists (Radcliffe College) was probably the most valuable class that she took there.  Raised in a church that was multilingual (Armenian, Turkish, and English), and an extended family where the folks on the first floor spoke English and Turkish, the folks on the second floor spoke English and Armenian (and Turkish only if they had to) and the folks on the third floor spoke Armenian (and only Turkish or English if they had to), she grew up speaking English, understanding Turkish (though not being allowed to speak it), and hearing Armenian (though not really understanding it).  After one year of studying Armenian with Prof. Sanjian (who, she later learned, was a distant relative whose ancestors hailed from Marash), she could read, write and speak the language . . . it came in really handy when she married into a family (Marashtsi, of course) that spoke Armenian, Turkish and English!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Massachusetts Chief Justice Margaret Marshall speaks at Radcliffe Day

Massachusetts Chief Justice Margaret Marshall (right) preparing to speak yesterday at Radcliffe Day in the Radcliffe Yard, Cambridge, Massachusetts.  Photo Credit: Marash Girl

Featured speaker at Radcliffe Day was former Massachusetts Chief Justice Margaret Marshall.  Chief Justice Marshall opened her remarks by thanking Radcliffe "for encouraging us to question".  She was awarded the Radcliffe Institute Medal, an award presented annually to "an individual who has had a transformative impact on society." Born in South Africa, Margaret Marshall was the 24th Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court from 1999 to 2010.

Friday, May 25, 2012


It's amazing how much we don't remember.  Or rather, how much we don't know we remember.  Amazing how much place takes part in memory.  Put yourself in the same place with the same folks, despite the passage of years, and the memories flood back, so fast, that they nearly drown you.  Try it.  You may not like it.  But then again, you may!

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Photo Credit:  Kent Barrabee '62

Former Harvard Radcliffe Armenian Club enthusiasts posed for the camera yesterday on the steps of Widener Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Watertown, Massachusetts, at 10 on a Tuesday morning

Possibly the only bar in the world sporting the Armenian flag,  the Greek flag,  the Irish flag with the Donohue Coat of Arms in the center,  the Italian flag, the American flag, and the Irish flag.

Marash Girl walked into a bar in Watertown, Massachusetts, at 10 A.M

The young bartender said, "What are you doing in here?  Get out!"  

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


You remember the old joke, right?

"You can always tell a Harvard man, but you can't tell him much!"

Recently, when a humble graduate of said university expressed hesitance over attending her upcoming reunion with the words, "Who would want to hear what I have to say?", Marash Girl replied, "No worries.  They'll want YOU to hear what THEY have to say!"  She laughed, but whether she attended the reunion or not is another question . . .  

Monday, May 21, 2012

BOUND FOR GLORY: 500 Years of Armenian Printing

Photo by Marash Girl

Prof. James Russell, Mashtots Professor of Armenian Studies at Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University, discusses the origin of the individual letters of the Armenian Alphabet with University of Pittsburgh's Professor Lewis Jacobson, a visitor to the Armenian Library and Museum of America's exhibit, Bound for Glory: 500 years of Armenian Printing which opened yesterday at the Museum in Watertown Square, Massachusetts.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Emily Dickinson & Lyme Disease?

Yesterday morning, as Marash Girl waited in line to fill her paper cup with coffee at the Newton Centre Panera, she overheard a conversation that sounded strangely familiar:  "Yes, Newton and the Northeast is known to be rife with lyme disease -- you have to wear white or you'll never know if a tick has chosen you for its domicile!"  Wear white . . . hm m m . . . . do you think there was lyme disease (unknown to the medical world of the day) that existed in the days of Emily Dickinson?  Is that why she wore white?  Was her withdrawal actually due to lyme disease?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Back Yard, Newton Corner, and Mother Nature

Ever wonder what will happen if you stop cutting your lawn?  Stop noise pollution?  Let Nature do Her thing?  Here's a photo of a Newton Corner back yard after two years of no cutting. . . And Mother Nature did it all!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Ernest Calvert and the HL Latch

Marash Girl remembers the first time she ever saw an early New England home, with HL latches on every door.

It was the first thing that Ernest Calvert told Marash Girl's family as he bowed to enter his (Union?), New Hampshire home, built in the late 1600's or early 1700's.  The house had the lowest ceilings Marash Girl had ever seen; it was lived in by the tallest man Marash Girl had ever known -- her father's best friend, Rev. Dr. Ernest Calvert (born in 1912 as her father had been, but born in Needham, MA, a long way away from Marash, Armenia, where her father had been born), and Ernest Calvert's wife Dorothy (who was not tall at all and could easily fit through the doorways without bowing).  But perhaps that was the point.  Perhaps everyone in the early days was tall and had to bow (reminding them of their place in the world) before entering the doors of their homes, although history tells us that the doorways were low because the people were small!  The doors -- that is what Marash Girl remembers, because on every door, at least the outside doors, were hinges in the shape of HL (Holy Lord), protecting the home with God's Grace. And she remembers the humility of Rev. & Mrs. Ernest Calvert.  Rev. Clavert would blush at any compliment, or even at a subtle sign of love from his wife.  And it was then that Marash Girl fell in love with Dorothy & Ernest Calvert, with brilliant humble people, and with old homes, homes with HL latches, homes with hundreds of years of stories never to be told.

Trying to find reference to Ernest Calvert on the internet, Marash Girl found the following  in  A History of Union, New Hampshire (USA) (1775-1992) by Louis E. Tibbetts
"Dr. Ernest Calvert, Union's minister at the time, assisted me on this occasion. The house was also owned by Justin Moore." and in the same book, she found the following:

Chapter 5, Main Street
On the next lot north was a house (5-27) that was owned, and perhaps built by Thoder Gilman, an old name in this area. At one time, Al Woods ran a store downstairs. James Tucker, the first master of Unity Lodge of F. and A.M. was an engineer on the railroad and lived here in the 1850s before moving to Sanbornville. It is possible he may have moved to Sanbornville when the railroad was extended to Sanbornville in 1871. Two of his daughters were born here, and one married Willis Hansen, another railroad man, well known here and also a member of Unity Lodge. The other daughter married Irving Rice, a railroad engineer and another member of Unity Lodge. He later moved to Dover and lived to the ripe old age of 98, dying in 1957, at which time he had been a member of Unity Lodge for 75 years. This was a sad but memorable occasion when several members of our lodge motored to Dover to perform the Masonic funeral service with many Masons from Dover attending the rites. Dr. Ernest Calvert, Union's minister at the time, assisted me on this occasion. The house was also owned by Justin Moore, followed by Laura Emery in 1921.  

And in Chapter 7 - North Main
Attached to the rear (west side) of the church is Drew Chapel. The cornerstone of Drew Chapel was laid in 1954. It was dedicated June 18, 1961 while Ernest Calvert was the minister. It was named in honor of Ernest Drew, the son of Lyle and Harriett Drew. He lost his life in the Pacific while on a mission in World War II.  

Searching for other references to Ernest Calvert brought little luck, but Marash Girl received the following courtesy of Thomas Wilcox, Acting Director of the New England Historic Genealogical Society.

He wrote, "I'm not a professional genealogist but here are a few details about Ernest Calvert:

Ernest R. Calvert was born on 24 June 1912.  He died 2 October 1999 at Binghamton, Broome County, New York.  He was the son of Ernest E. Calvert (born c. 1880 at Scotland) and Pearl R. Calvert (born c.1881 at Canada).  The 1915 Needham city directory, under Stationers, listed Ernest E. Calvert at 545 Highland Avenue.  In the 1917 directory the business address was the same and the family’s residence was listed as 75 Greendale.  The family resided in 1930 at Needham, Norfolk, Massachusetts.  His father in that year was a manager in the retail clothing business whereas in 1920 he was the proprietor of a dry goods store; in 1930 he owned his own home valued at $10,000; he immigrated in 1896 and had become a naturalized citizen.  Pearl immigrated in 1905 and she, too, had become naturalized.  In the 1935 Needham Directory, Ernest R. Calvert was listed as a student and living at home at Dana Place.  In 1943 he was pastor at the Newfields Community Church in New Hampshire.  In 1943-44 he was an instructor in Sociology at University of New Hampshire.  Between 1954 and 1955 Ernest R. Calvert received his Social Security card (002-28-2331) in New Hampshire.  In 1961 he was minister of the Union (NH) Congregational Church and had been since at least 1956.  He was pastor of the Eastside Congregational Church by 1963 until prior to 1985.  In 1968 his wife was a member of the Women’s Fellowship of the State Conference of the United Church of Christ; she (and presumably they) lived in Binghamton, NY.  In 1992, the Reverend Ernest R. Calvert resided at 100 Chenango Pl Apt 902, Binghamton, NY, 13901-2825."
Ernest Calvert was an integral part of Marsh Girl's childhood, an integral part of her father, Peter Bilezikian's youth.  Marash Girl can't help but be amazed that both of her father's best friends (Rev. Ernest Calvert and Rev. Ian MacDonald) were (1) ministers and (2) 1st generation American citizens of Scottish descent.  Perhaps that is where Peter Bilezikian learned to love the poetry of Robert Burns.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Mark Twain, Language and Lickings!

A 10 year old addresses his uncle:

If you don't stop that, I'm going to lick you!

Why are you going to lick me? asks his uncle.

Because you're being mean.

Lick me with your tongue like you would an ice cream cone?


But why? asks his uncle, laughing.

Tom Sawyer would give a good licking to anybody who annoyed him!

Marash Girl credits ABC Joan Metz for this true story!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


If you were walking by Maple Avenue in Newton Corner this morning, at the corner of Church Street, you would have been witness to the aftermath of a crime.  Standing by their Honda sans wheels was the bereft couple who live in an apartment in the house on the corner.  Yes, they have a dog, but the dog didn't start barking until they started sobbing this morning when they found their Honda propped up by two cement blocks, a Honda with no wheels.  The Newton Police were on the scene immediately, dusting for fingerprints (though no black light for semen) with the news that whenever they find fingerprints, the owners of the fingerprints are always from the inner city (and that's not Newton's inner city!)  Apparently the wheels have a ready resale market where the perpetrators of this crime can get quick cash.  Honda owners beware!

Honda sans wheels

Police with kit dusting for fingerprints at the corner of Maple Ave and Church St., Newton Corner. Note cement block under car left by the caring perpetrators of the crime. . .

Monday, May 14, 2012


10 days ago, Marash Girl was in Santa Rosa, California, visiting the Charles Schulz Museum.  What fun that was, even though she missed the comic book giveaway by a day !    The special exhibit through August 12 is entitled, Leveling the Playing Field, a common theme throughout the history of Schulz's cartoons, and the perfect exhibit to be viewed on Mother's Day, if you happened to be lucky enough to be there yesterday. (And mothers who were there yesterday had free admission!) The special event on the day Marash Girl visited?  Children reading story books to their dogs!
Leveling the Playing Field (Image courtesy of Charles Schultz Museum)  - As part of Marash Girl's Mother's Day gift, she was told that her granddaughter Aline would be the only girl on an all boy's baseball team this spring! How history repeats itself!
What fun awaits both outside


inside the museum.  Sculptures and cartoon strips bring smiles and memories to those of us who grew up loving Snoopy, Lucy,  Charlie Brown, and the gang,  all thanks to

Charles M. Schulz, 
Born: November 26, 1922, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Died: February 12, 2000, Santa Rosa, California

Replication of Charles Schulz's studio, with the actual desk, globe, chair and bulletin board
at which Schulz worked daily, creating Peanuts.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


Lilacs for Mother's Day

Marash Girl had always wanted lilac bushes -- her mother had loved lilacs -- they were the first sign of spring for the house on Lowell Avenue in Newtonville.  They grew to the right of the little front porch. All Grandma Jennie had to do was to reach over the porch and cut armfuls of lilacs which she would lovingly carry into the house, filling pitchers with water and lilacs and placing the bouquets throughout the living room and the dining room.  The whole house was soon redolent with the scent of lilacs.  And there was no guilt in the picking because she knew that the more lilacs you gather, the more grow the next year.  If you never pick your lilacs, Grandpa Peter told us, you may end up with a lilac-less bush.  So lilacs were guilt free, free for the picking, free for the loving.  And now Marash Girl will have her very own lilacs in the front yard, lilacs that will remind her of her mother whenever she sees them in bloom in early spring, whenever she reaches over the porch banister to gather those blooms into her arms, whenever she fills her pitchers with water and lilacs and places the bouquets throughout her living room and dining room, whenever her house is redolent with the scent of lilacs.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Just resting . . .

One of Dad's favorite jokes is the following.  It was brought to mind this morning when the phone rang and my husband asked if it had wakened me; No, I  answered. I'm just westing.

Here goes:

A woman opened the door of her new refrigerator and found a rabbit sitting on the top shelf.  Surprised (to say the least), the woman asked the rabbit, What are you doing in my new refrigerator?

The rabbit answered:  This is a Westinghouse, right?  Well, I'm Westing.

(Peter and Paul Bilezikian as Newtonville Electrical Co., Inc., in Newtonville, Massachusetts, were one of the first purveyors of Westinghouse goods in the New England area, in the days when rabbits talked like 'wabbits'.)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Vella Cheese, Sonoma, California

Delivery of fresh milk to the Vella Cheese Factory, Sonoma, California

(Phelim) Have you taken her to the cheese factory yet?
(Marina) No, we went to the coast.
(Marina) What about the cheese factory?
(Marash Girl) That's okay.  I don't have to go cheese tasting.

Allergic to wine, Marash Girl had studiously avoided (hopefully with grace) the wine tastings that beckoned at every winery they passed on their many travels through Sonoma and Napa.  But cheese tasting?  Could California cheeses really be any match for Vermont?
Photo Credit: Marina Sweeney
As Marina put it, we've saved the best for last.  And indeed, the cheeses offered at Sonoma's Vella cheese were varied, and delicious beyond description.  On the way to the airport, assured that the cheeses would last the trip in the hold of the plane, (they do fine when we ship all over the country by UPS, commented the gal offering the freshly cut samples of cheese), Marash Girl agreed to stop at the Vella Cheese Factory where she literally ate her words! 
Three blocks of unmatchable cheese made it back to the East Coast with Marash Girl, unscathed!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Over the hill?

"I'll never be over the hill.  I haven't yet managed to climb it!"  Dan Langdale

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Last Day in Sonoma

Last Day on Farm Road, Sonoma, California - My favorite gate is closed - Stay tuned for more on Sonoma!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Pacific Coast North of Sonoma - "Scenic Route"

Looking South, Marash Girl, almost blown over by the winds, attempted to walk down to the Pacific Coast.
Looking North along the Pacific Coast after deciding not to head down to the beach.
 A native of South Africa,  the red Ice Plant, encroaches onto the Pacific beaches.

Another variety of Ice Plant along the Pacific.

Ice Plant along the Pacific.

"Doesn't say nothin' about the sharks!"

Mustard Plant borders the plains along the Russian River. Legend has it that the monks tossed mustard  seed out along the road as they travelled from mission to mission along the California coast, bright yellow flowers to mark their way from southern California to the last mission in Sonoma.

The Russian River meets the Pacific.  Mustard Seed in the foreground.

Thanks to Marina driving North in her BMW 5 Series along Highway One and the Russian River, Marash Girl experienced all of the above, passing through Bodega, population 126,  Guerneville, Population 116, Jenner population 170, Duncans Mills, Population 85, and -- wow -- Monte Rio, population 1150!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Valley of the Moon - Sonoma, California

Full Moon shining through the 'Popular' Tree over the Valley of the Moon, Sonoma, California