Cartoon drawing of Mr. Magoo, soft-coated Wheaten terrier

Mr. Magoo

I had what I thought was a great idea – to draw cartoon faces of all the people on my staff for the website. I figured it would be a quick and fun project so I jumped right in. That was 17 months ago and I’m almost finished.

The first I drew was, of course, the Chairman of the Board, Mr. Magoo, soft-coated Wheaten terrier.
He was easy – he has no bad side.


The next was going to be my business partner, Jenni O’Toole. But she wasn’t so easy. Drawing after drawing went, crumpled, into the trash. I couldn’t get her whole face to come together and I totally couldn’t get the mouth right. The best one looked like the Cheshire cat. I decided to put her aside and go on to draw the staff.
Maura and Colleen were easy. Get the hair right and the nose and mouth will follow.










I thought I did a pretty good job with Alex, but he said he would really prefer to have a professional do his face. I hadn’t


captured his essence.






I gave up on his essance and went on to Andrew and Emily, our recruiters in the temporary division.







Wendy was by far the easiest, because she obliged me by posing


which allowed me to capture her best side.




I had just two more to do before I had to face Jenni again.



Drawing Leslie, our resident fashionista, wasn’t too hard,
but she was disappointed
that I didn’t do justice to her outfit

Then I came to Marcia. She’s our business manager. She’s scary. She demanded over a dozen proofs. After she finally chose one, I had go back and add a soft lighting effect. Talk about prima donnas!!


MARCIA PROOF 10 with aqua contactsMARCIA PROOF 10 with makeup





At last she picked one and I had nobody left to draw except Jenni.

I tried but STILL couldn’t get Jenni’s face to come together.

Finally, I captured her eyes – both of them – but I still couldn’t get the rest of her face or stop drawing that Cheshire cat smile.


Then I got a brilliant idea that meant I didn’t have carry the burden of drawing her whole face.

All I needed was to draw a wall and have Jenni


looking over it.

Problem solved!



Of all the original characters who are now gone from the streets of Washington, my most memorable was the Queen of Connecticut Avenue.

The Queen reigned from her spot in front of the Mayflower Hotel on Connecticut Avenue in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Tall, regal, and royal in her vibrant turbans and dresses, she reached out to greet her subjects with loud enthusiasm.



Queens can be intimidating, and I was intimidated. The first time I saw her, I practically ran past for fear I’d be singled out for her greeting and embarrassed if I didn’t find a dollar or two to out in the vase that sat on the sidewalk beside her. But the Queen gave you her greeting whether you paid homage or not, and I started looking forward to seeing her.

And what greetings they were! She called out in voice that was melodious, mellifluous, and animated, “Ohhhh, Honey. That outfit – I know it’s new – it works (with the word drawn out to last 4 beats) on you.”

“Ooooh, Sweetheart, that look is good on you! I hope you’re doing something special tonight.”

“Yes Sir, you are looking sharp today! Walking tall! Looking like you can take on the world and all.”

As long as the Queen was there, we had someone to notice new hair styles and fashions. We had someone to care about our feelings. “You look sad. Is the world beating up on you.?”

We had someone to care if we were there, to notice when we were gone, and make us feel that we were missed. “Well, there you are. Where have you been? I hope it’s somewhere warm and fun. I’ve been missing you.”

One of the recruiters in the staffing firm where I worked approached the Queen with the offer of a receptionist job. The salary was around $40,000 / year. “Honey, you are so sweet to think of me, but I couldn’t afford to take that big a cut in pay. Besides, I won’t be here but a couple of months. I plan to spend the winter in Florida.”

I Have A Crush On Dick Cavett

I have a crush on Dick Cavett. I was smitten the first time I saw him on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. His voice! His accent — I really like his accent. His vocabulary! The words he uses and the way he uses them are beautiful and interesting — even when I don’t know what they mean.

More than any other writer, even Thomas Wolfe, Dick Cavett sends me to my Webster’s to look up words that don’t have a hint of ostentation because they fit so comfortably into his clear and rhythmic language.  In his book, Talk Show, he wonders if absorption with magic might, “have spared the world [Dick Cheney’s] predations.” I looked it up. It means the act of pillaging and victimizing for gain; act of a predator.

I used to think it was going to Yale that made him so smart (I called him an intellectual until I read what he said about people who call him an intellectual – that they don’t know the meaning of the word).  But lots of people went to Yale, and they came out economists or commercial lawyers. Only he came out Dick Cavett.

On The Tonight Show, then on The Dick Cavett Show, I watched him interview some of the most famous people of the 20th century. What set him apart from other interviewers for me, and apparently for the celebrities as well, was his kind of respectful irreverence. He was adorable. I’ll bet Ethel Barrymore (theater legend and Drew’s great aunt) had a crush on him too when he introduced her saying, “My next guest is no bowl of chopped liver, but a real high class broad.” I can’t imagine anyone else doing that. (I heard this in the 70’s so forgive me if I got the person or quote wrong.)

Then suddenly The Dick Cavett Show was gone. I kept waiting for him to reappear in a new show, but he didn’t. Then, last year, thanks to the magic of Google, I found him. The web had his quotes, his bio, even videos of his interviews. I was elated.

I discovered he had written a new book, Talk  Show. I ran to the book store to buy it. Allowing myself a few pages a day, I made it last from December through spring. Then I made an even more exciting discovery – one that will keep us together. Dick Cavett has a blog in the New York Times (see my blog roll)! Now I’m following him.

I don’t wish to offend Mr. Cavett, or frighten him. He doesn’t need to get a restraining order. I’m not a stalker and I’ve never followed him or anything. I don’t even know where he lives. And if I did, I’d stay a discrete distance away – most of the time.

Wall To Wall Carpets – One Of Life’s Ponderables

 My Aunt Pauline was something! She had red hair and a red head’s personality – flair and joie de vivre (she’d have loved that description) – everything a red-head should have.



She greeted her world and every experience with relish, and she had a way of speaking that made me feel whatever she said was new, different, and exciting. She could make taking Grandmama to visit Papa’s grave sound exciting.
I loved going to her house which was right around the corner, so I was able to go on my own to visit her from the time I was seven or so. She had things nobody else had – she had a waffle iron!!

Aunt Pauline was all about what was pretty, what was stylish, what was new, and what nobody else ever talked about.

There wasn’t anybody else on Petain Street like her. Of course she didn’t actually live on Petain Street but around the corner on Craft Highway which was pretty much the same except it was paved with cement instead of red clay.

Christmas time, when I was six or seven, the whole family gathered at Aunt Pauline’s house where Mama or one of the uncles gathered us for a group picture. I came across it a few days ago and it’s probably why I woke up thinking about her.
I was in front, then were my favorite cousins Carolyn, Margaret, and Mary Gayle. On the next row

The cousins gathered at Aunt Pauline's house for Christmas Eve

The cousins gathered at Aunt Pauline's house for Christmas Eve

were Patty and Polly. I stood in the front because I was the youngest in the family, except for Johnny, and he lived way away in Brewton so I didn’t count him – I was the baby. Everybody else was dressed between Christmas-y and casual.

All dressed up for Christmas with rollers in my hair

All dressed up for Christmas with rollers in my hair

I was all dressed up in a ruffled Christmas dress — except for some reason I don’t know I had rubber rollers in my hair.

After the photo, my cousins dispersed leaving me to play with my dolls while the adults talked. I wasn’t paying attention until Aunt Pauline made a declaration I found so remarkable, so unexpected, so far removed from my world that it captured my full concentration. I stopped playing and pondered the words I would never forget.

“Nobody has carpets that are wall-to-wall anymore. It’s not the style. All the magazines show carpets stopping at least two feet away from the walls — as an accent.”

I was mesmerized, unaware of any other voices, or any discussion there may have been about this trend in home decorating – just Aunt Pauline’s.

I’d had never known a single house in Prichard to have the now unstylish wall-to-wall carpet, or an accent carpet either. Even if we could afford carpets, Petain Street was paved with Alabama’s famous red clay and the clay dust got ground into every piece of furniture and every curtain.

The old wood floors in our houses, if they were covered at all, were covered with linoleum. It came from the store in big roles that were printed to look like carpet, with blue, red, purple, and green flowers. But the colors quickly dulled as the clay and sandy soil of land nearly at sea level were ground into it by our shoes.

Even before the linoleum dulled, jagged lines of cracks appeared in it. Nobody would ever think of paying extra to have the linoleum laid and glued down by men from the store. “What? Waste all that money on something we can do for ourselves?” So the linoleum buckled even while it was being laid and it cracked with the first footstep.

“Nobody is putting in carpets that go wall-to-wall anymore. It’s not the style. All the magazines show carpets stopping at least two feet away from the walls — as an accent.”

What more is there to say? It’s a riddle and I still don’t have an answer. I suppose carpet’s the punch line of this posting. More about Aunt Pauline later.