Search This Blog

Sunday, November 17, 2013

MODERN SIZING!

When did manufacturers and retailers come up with "classic" versus "modern" sizes for women's clothing?  And who dreamed this up anyway?  

I just opened a current Neiman Marcus catalog and the first item is a very expensive woman's sweater. The sizes are listed as MODERN sizes ranging from XS which is a 2 up to XXL which is a 12. When did XXL become a 12 ??? Further in the catalog is a dress with CLASSIC sizes, ranging from XS or size 2-4 up to XL which is listed as being size 14-16. 


Fast forward in the catalog to an Eileen Fisher cardigan. We all know that Eileen Fisher's clothing runs large, but they must just invent their own sizing because their XL is a size 18 even though it would probably fit you if you normally wear a size 20, but their women's plus size 1X is size 14-16???? Crazy enough for you or are their invented sizes used to make people who don't fit into their XL feel better about themselves by dropping the numerical size down in their next size up?  Well, hell, if I can fit into their XL or 18, I guess I should just move up to a plus size 1X so I'm technically wearing a smaller size at 14 - 16!


One of the really disturbing points about this new sizing is for the younger woman and her self-image.  For decades, if not centuries, women have squeezed themselves into clothing and shoes based on size.   We've all seen those shoe cartoons where the very large woman is trying to cram herself into a shoe that wouldn't fit a seven year old child!  


No one wants to wear a larger size at forty than they did at 20, even though life gets in the way, like having children.  Under the new sizing formula, someone who has traditionally worn a size 12 and a medium or large for example, will suddenly find themself just one step away from the plus size or the fat lady department (which is how I jokingly refer to it as I ride the escalator down to the basement of Bloomingdale's to shop)!  


I stopped shopping at Coldwater Creek a few years ago.  Be it a sweater or blouse or jeans, every single item they sell only fits me if I go up a size.  Excuse me, but what is up with that??  So keep your clothing, Coldwater Creek.  You're not going to make me feel worse about buying that cute little cardigan of yours!.  I'll go back to Talbot's where my size is usually still my size. 


It used to be that I could order a white shirt from Ralph Lauren or Talbot's and it would fit exactly like the one I bought last year.  Not anymore!  Although last year's shirts still fit great, with the new ones, the sleeves may be too short or the neck opening too wide.  Lauren changed their sleeve width a couple of years ago which drove me crazy!


Do the manufacturers and retailers have any real understanding of just how hard it is to know your size in their clothing???  I've reach the point where if I want to buy a sweater from J. Jill for example, I'll order the same sweater in two different sizes, fully planning to return the one that doesn't fit.  And in some case, neither fits and I have to order a size smaller!  Have to admit, that feels good for a change.


Following the new modern sizing, I'd have to wear an XXXXXL.  Pretty insulting if you ask me.  Forget the fact that women should have standardized sizes like men's clothing which is a whole nother bailiwick.  I guess the next stop for me is to order my granny panties from Omar the Tent Maker!

Friday, November 1, 2013

A WEALTH OF WHITE SHIRTS!


My husband and I had dinner with our son Robert and his wife Stacey last night.  We invited them out to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary.  Congratulations to the happy couple!

During dessert, I dripped a spot of chocolate on the front of my shirt.  My white shirt, of course.  Which I had just changed into to wear to dinner.

As I was trying to blot the spot with my napkin, my son turned to me and asked, "How many white shirts do you own?"  Thinking quickly, I responded, "Thirty?"  As the three of them laughed, I found myself explaining what white shirts mean to me.  And the more I thought about it, the more eccentric I guess I am, or have become, or always was.  Or is it just a clothing rut?

When I was a young teenager my mother taught me the importance of wearing ironed clothes.  To this day, I really can't wear a shirt right out of the dryer without at least touching it up with an iron.  Even if the shirt is one hundred percent cotton and will turn into a map of wrinkles within minutes of putting it on, I have to start out with a freshly ironed shirt.  This is one of the reasons that I tidy up in the morning in my pajamas; who wants to put on a freshly ironed shirt to wash dishes???

As a teenager, I was really skinny.  In fact, I was underweight at 5' 7" tall and 108 pounds.  I could wear almost anything, and did.  But my favorite go-to outfit was a freshly ironed white oxford shirt with capris and flats.

And here I am now, fifty years later.  Not so skinny, less tall at 5'6" (sorry, not giving you the poundage!) and what's my go-to attire?  You got it....a freshly ironed white oxford shirt with capris and flats.

But let me explain!  I have those hang-around-the-house white shirts.  You know the ones; they've been
kicked around and aren't new enough to really wear to go out.  Then I have the over sized, all cotton oxfords with the button down collars and long tails, better known as boyfriend shirts.  These shirts are perfect with jeans and sneakers for a quick run to the mall or food store, or for curling up with a good book.  Add to the mix the more fitted cotton with spandex shirts.  These are great under sweaters or vests, or any time you want to "up" your style a little bit.

With the advent of wrinkle-resistant cotton, I now own shirts that you can wear all day and they don't wrinkle.  These are great to wear with your dressier slacks and a blazer, sweater or your favorite shawl.  You could go from the mall to a client dinner in one of these and pull it off.  But don't kid yourself, you still need to iron these shirts.  And they do have one problem.  The fabric is woven differently so they don't really breathe and you wouldn't want to wear one of these on a hot day even though they're one hundred percent cotton.  I also own a couple of white on white prints for a dressier look.  Paired with dress slacks they are perfect!

Last but not least, I own three-quarter sleeve white cotton shirts for summer wear as shown on the left.

Am I in a rut?  I don't know.  I do know that I own shirts in lots of other colors,including solids, plaids and stripes.  I'm even wearing a blue striped shirt in my current profile picture.

Back in 2010, I blogged about Yuka, a young hairdresser who works at Vidal Sassoon in Manhattan.  I was really delighted with her outfit.  It was cheery and fun and colorful and upbeat.  She looked young and hip and made me smile when I looked at her.  But would I dress like that?  Not a chance!  I'd feel like I was ready to work in the circus!

Look at photos of stars like Katherine Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Diane Keaton and even Taylor Swift on Google.  You'll find photo after photo of celebrities wearing the tried and true white cotton shirt.    Call it my uniform, but they're simply timeless and they work and I love them!

I lamented over one of my favorite white cotton shirts last night that had to be retired a couple of years ago. I owned a Ralph Lauren shirt that was made from the softest cotton imaginable.  After owning it for about ten years, I literally wore it to death, because one of the sleeves simply shredded when I bent my arm while wearing it.

I counted my white shirts this morning and my guesstimate was pretty close.  I do own a wealth of white cotton shirts, twenty-nine to be exact!  But they're as different as the colors of the rainbow to my eyes, despite the fact that some would simply refer to each as a white cotton shirt!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

THE BEST LAID PLANS........

I intended to sit down at my computer and start reviewing books again this morning, following a two month hiatus.  April was a very difficult month for our family.  There were many trips to Maryland to visit my husband's sister who was severely ill.  There were also numerous trips to Connecticut to get ready for a friend's wedding.  In mid-April, my sister-in-law passed away, a sad time for everyone, and consequently I wasn't in a blogging mood.

So here I am, finally settled back in New Jersey and ready to work!  Still dressed in my nightgown with my first cup of coffee of the morning, I had just turned on my computer when my friend who works for the Mendham Township Police Department called to ask if my husband's car had been parked in the driveway overnight and if yes, had it been broken into!!??  Luckily, George hadn't left for work yet and when he checked, sure enough, his car had been ransacked.  How did they even know that?

Well, apparently we weren't the only ones hit last night.  A number of cars had been broken into and one had been stolen.  The reason that the police called us was that the detective remembered that we had installed a video security system after our home was broken into last August.  Still in my nightgown, policemen started showing up to check the backup monitoring system for our cameras.  I couldn't figure out how to even reverse the recording on the system's monitor but remembered I could access it on my cell phone.

Scrolling from midnight to this morning, up popped the culprits at approximately 4:22:23 a.m.  Two of them walking down our driveway, one going to the side of the car to open the driver's side door and one going right to the trunk to hunt for who knows what.  Pretty creepy!

This photo shows the men rifling through my husband's car.  (You can read the article on the mendhampatch.com)

We soon found ourselves surrounded by three local officers, two county sheriff's officers and another sheriff's officer who is familiar with home surveillance systems.  Totally embarrassing since I had intended to also clean my office today because unfortunately it looked like IT had been ransacked.  No matter, they were soon able to download the footage of the perpetrators onto a thumb drive, and after complimenting us on the really good cameras we installed (apparently the high number of pixels will make it possible to enlarge the size of the stills when they print them, making the trespassers more easily visible), they were soon piling into their official cars and heading back to pursue their leads.

I guess I should thank the person or persons who broke into our home last year.  We would never have installed the cameras if that hadn't happened.  And if we hadn't installed the cameras, the police wouldn't have been able to know the time frame that the cars were broken into, as well as actually being able to see the people who did it.

Bravo to Mendham Township Detective Taquinto for remembering about our camera system.  And bravo to the police and sheriff's department officers who responded so quickly.  To my neighbors and friends, we live in a difficult time and there have been so many burglaries locally.  Please be aware that we don't live in Mayberry anymore.  You need to lock your doors and your car doors and do your best to keep your families safe.  Get an alarm, install outside lighting, get a dog or do whatever makes you comfortable, but please pay attention to strangers in your neighborhood and don't hesitate to call the police if something doesn't feel right.

Friday, March 22, 2013

THE GOOD COP Carter Ross Series No. 4

by Brad Parks

Carter Ross is a reporter for the Newark Eagle-Examiner.  He's been handed an assignment to investigate and write about the death of a Newark policeman.  Just as he's beginning, the death is ruled a suicide and Ross is pulled from the story.

That should have stopped him, but of course it didn't.  The more he learns about Detective Sergeant Darius Kipps, the more convinced Ross is that Kipps didn't commit suicide.  In fact, he had everything to live for.  Blocked at every turn by the police in his quest, Carter is determined to find out what really happened.

Along with his reporting duties, Ross is constantly side-stepping his boss Tina's quest to have him impregnate her.  She's decided that he's the perfect candidate to fulfill her dream of having a child before her biological clock runs down.  But while Ross is seriously interested in Tina, he's not willing to settle for just being a stud service.

Brad Parks has injected a tongue-in-cheek humor in his characters and THE GOOD COP is a hilarious pleasure to read.   It doesn't hurt that the setting is many of the New Jersey towns any New Jerseyan is familiar with!

I enjoyed THE GOOD COP so much that I've since gone back and read all the rest of the Carter Ross  series.  I'd suggest you start with an earlier one, but they're all fun to read as Ross tears up the turf in the Garden State!

ISBN 9781250005526
Pub. Date:  March 5, 2013
336 pages
Hardcover and eBook

Thursday, March 21, 2013

LOVE ANTHONY

by Lisa Genova

Olivia Donatelli has just lost her autistic son, Anthony and Beth Ellis's marriage has fallen apart.  Unkown to each other, they both retreat to Nantucket to try to make sense of their lives and their futures; one without the son she loved deeply and the other without the husband who destroyed their marriage.

As each woman deals with her own grief and sense of loss, their paths cross only fleetingly before Beth begins writing a story in the voice of an autistic boy.  Since Olivia has worked as as editor, Beth asks her to review her book and Olivia is shocked at the content.  She's convinced that her beloved Anthony is speaking through Beth.

And that's why this book lost me.  As background, let me say that I loved Ms. Genova's previous books, STILL ALICE and LEFT NEGLECTED.  I read and reviewed both of these books, giving them high recommendations.  The author's background in neuroscience lent great credibility to both novels which is why the mystical touch in love anthony was unexpected and jarring.

Needless to say, I was really looking forward to settling down with love anthony. Not in keeping with anything Lisa Genova had previously written, Beth's full book unfolds within the story of the women's lives, in a disjointed and disruptive way.  I found myself skipping over the novel within the novel in order to even finish reading Ms. Genova's newest.  This was a very disappointing purchase, but if you haven't read the author's previous works, you should.  Each was terrific!

ISBN 978-1-4391-6468-6
Pub. Date:  September 2012
309 Pages
Hardcover and eBook

Monday, March 4, 2013

YOU'RE MY DAWG, DOG

by Donald Friedman
Illustrations by J.C. Suares

YOU'RE MY DAWG, DOG is a charming collection of dog terms used in everyday language.

Mr. Friedman has infused humor and his own embellishments while providing the etymology of "dog words", referencing such luminaries as Groucho Marx, Jean Shepherd, Truman, Pat Boone, Mike Tyson, Sarah Palin and Rihanna, just to name a few.  After reading this small tome, you'll be ready for the category of dog terms on Jeopardy!

Abundantly illustrated by J.C. Suares, YOU'RE MY DAWG, DOG is witty, informative and rude at turns........a must for the dog lovers or word lovers on your gift list.

Kudos to Mr. Friedman for reminding us of the richness and wit of the English language.  Doggone it, too bad our dogs can't read!


ISBN 978-1-59962-123-4
Pub. Date: February 2013
96 pages
Hardcover 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

NEW TECHNOLOGY....gives me a headache!

New technology makes me feel old!

Don't get me wrong, I have a computer.  I've worked my way through DOS, Windows 1.0, Windows 386, Windows XP and now, Windows 7.  I loved WordPerfect but finally gave up and switched to Word when my floppy disks wouldn't fit into any of the newer computers, although I tried darn hard!  I have more than one email account but even here I'm a little outdated...I still like the user-friendly format of AOL for my email.  I pay bills on line, keep in touch with friends on Facebook, play Pinochle with live strangers on line, sell on eBay and even have this blog.  I have a smartphone, a Kindle, a Nook and a Kindle Fire HD 4G LTE which I know how to switch from WiFi to cell in order to search the web if I'm in the middle of nowhere during a major downpour!  I know how to save data on a thumb drive, flash drive or a DVD.  Thanks in large part to having sons who guided me along the way, I know how to work all of these devices to handle most everything I need to do. But, thinking back on some of the jobs I've had in my life, I guess I have to admit that I am pretty old; in fact you could probably call me a dinosaur!

One of my first jobs when I was a teenager was at Woolworths at the corner of Broad and Market Streets in Newark, New Jersey.  Woolworths in Newark was a three story department store in those days, selling everything from hardware to women's lingerie to 45s to birds and goldfish.  Every Friday was payday and during the lunch hour we would all line up to receive a little brown envelope filled with cash (minus taxes of course).  We had real old time manual cash registers with buttons that you had to press down on really hard so that the receipt would print properly.  Since we had to count out the change ourselves, we received a full day of training to properly work the cash register and prove that we could add and subtract.

At my next job, I worked for New Jersey Bell Telephone, also in Newark, my first brush with technology.  I was a long distance operator back in the day when you actually had to plug the cords into the wall to make the connection.  I loved this job!  I always felt there was an element of poetry and elegance in doing the job properly and inserting the cord into the correct portion of the wall for the section of the country the person was calling.  If you put the metal plug end of the cord too close to one already inserted into the switchboard wall, you received a mild shock.  A supervisor stood behind you at all times, making sure the operators didn't converse with each other or chew gum.  The supervisors would also periodically listen in when you least expected it to insure that you were being kind and courteous.  Imagine that today....!  Now when you call information you can usually catch most of the conversation the operator finishes with her co-worker before he or she will even deign to greet you.

After that, I went through a number of jobs.  I was a waitress, I did cold calls for a shop-at-home carpet company, I worked as a collection clerk for a law firm that did all of the collections for the Bambergers Department Store chain and I worked in the offices of the Benjamin Moore Paint Company (stinky job in the industrial section of Newark).  All typing required in any of these jobs was done on a manual typewriter.  My next position was as a legal secretary for a small law firm and for the first time I worked on an electric typewriter....so cool!  Only problem was, no one had copy machines back in the stone ages, and legal documents had to be typed on onionskin paper in copious quantities using carbon paper.  If you made a mistake, you had to correct all gazillion copies with an eraser and then line the paper up in the typewriter again and hope you retyped the letter in the right spot.  I actually remember making a total mess of a document one day, and after redoing the entire thing, I stuffed the mangled copies under my skirt so I could throw them away in the ladies room which was out in the hallway because I was too embarrassed to throw them into my wastebasket!

Then I decided to work in New York City!  I worked as a payroll clerk for the paymaster in charge of all Seatrain and Hudson Waterways payrolls which was then located on the 27th floor of the Chase Manhattan Bank Building. That was my first brush with a totally new form of technology....the telex, which some of you may not even be old enough to have heard of.  You'd type messages to send to the ships on a telex machine.  The machine would spit out a long coded tape that was about one inch wide and miles long depending on the size of the message.  The tape would then load into another part of the machine that transmitted the message to the ship.  The one saving grace was that you could see the text of what you had typed without having to translate the braille type coding from the tape so you could catch any major errors before transmitting.  An interesting footnote about this job.  I worked here during the time of protests against the war in Vietnam. On two occasions when I arrived at work, the building security people were turning everyone away because the elevators had been bombed out by the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society).

Other jobs followed.  I worked as a secretary in the Rehabilitation Department of Morristown Memorial Hospital, ran the office for an emergency elevator repair company, worked in the office of the Morristown Senior Citizen's Center and also worked many different jobs as a temp.  I was the office manager for a Morristown architectural firm where I met my husband and then for a large law firm in Newark.  But the technology during this period remained pretty much the same.  Electric typewriters and adding machines were the tools of the day; no more counting on an abacus!

Next I took a job as a temporary secretary for Carteret Savings.  This quickly morphed into a full time permanent position as a mortgage underwriter.  That job was really fun!  Like being a detective, examining documents to decide if people qualified.  By this time we had xerox copy machines so everything was easier.  Also during this time the fax machine was introduced in offices.  Way cool, you could rubber band a typed page to a large roller and when you turned it on the roller would spin and spin while transmitting the information to a receiving fax.  Also during this time, Carteret moved us to larger offices and introduced the staff to the Nixdorf Mainframe Computer which took up about a city block of space and had to be temperature controlled in order to supply us with the simplest data on pages and pages of green and white striped computer printouts.  Remember these anyone?

Other jobs followed, but not much was changing in the world of technology, but now we were moving into the realm of HOME computers!  Our older son was the first in our family to get a home computer and it was a crazy Atari that worked in DOS.  The printer paper was pretty much the size of an adding machine tape and since Al Gore hadn't invented the Internet yet, the Atari really only worked like a glorified typewriter, producing very tiny pages.  Around the same time, my husband got his first portable phone; a crazy contraption that took a technician about three hours to install in George's car.  The shoebox sized phone was mounted on a post drilled into the floor of the car and if you knocked it off of it's post you better move your foot if you didn't want a large bruise!

Back to where I started and why technology today gives me a headache.  It seems that you just barely acclimate yourself to a new device like an iPad or Kindle Fire when it's replaced by something bigger or better or smaller or thinner and you're stuck with this obsolete relic.  Forget disposable diapers, I'd like to know how many computers, laptops, eReaders and cell phones are filling up the landfills?!?

This entire blog entry came about because my younger son did this drawing of me tonight when we went out to dinner.  He drew it on his over sized Samsung Smartphone with a stylus in about three minutes.  Never mind that he depicted me as a chicken in a purple coat, I was amazed by the Sketchbook X app Bill  used as I watched him switching back and forth between the sketch and a color wheel to insert the chosen hues.

I totally lusted after the Sketchbook X app, even though my Android Smartphone isn't all that smart and isn't smart enough to have a stylus.  And even though I can't draw anything that looks representative of anything except possibly a flower, I still want that app.  My Smartphone isn't even smart enough to have the flashlight feature, and though it takes great pictures, I'm not scheduled for an upgrade with my Verizon contract.

My point is that every time some new and improved technology comes along, by tomorrow or the next day, some new widget or gadget is introduced that makes yesterday's hot item look like a telex machine.  I'm just glad I have some brain cells left after the sixties to embrace some of the ever changing devices.  This is why new technology gives me a headache!

March 1, 2013 Footnote:   My husband asked me how I could have held so many jobs in such a short time. No, I wasn't hopping around from job to job like a bunny!  Having grown up in Newark, I was intent on starting a life and the best way to start was to earn money.  Most times when I was in my teens and twenties, I had two jobs, sometimes three.  For example, when I worked for the collection attorney, I also worked evenings for the carpet company and weekends as a waitress.  

THE JAMES DEANS - Moe Prager Series No. 3

by Reed Farrel Coleman

Moe Prager is a former NYC cop, a sometimes PI and half owner of a small upscale chain of wine shops.  He had almost made detective with the NYPD when he was pensioned out because of a serious knee injury.  He and his wife are struggling with their grief following Katy's miscarriage.

Bored to distraction with the retail liquor business, Moe almost doesn't mind when he is bullied into investigating the disappearance of Moira Heaton, a young intern to up and coming State Senator Steven Brightman (a la Chandra Levy and Gary Condit).  Wealthy mover and shaker Thomas Geary has his mind set on backing Brightman for higher office and since Brightman is still under a cloud of suspicion because of Moira's disappearance, Geary strong arms Prager into taking the case to clear Sen. Brightman's name.

THE JAMES DEANS is a good mystery, with plenty of twists and turns.  But the best part is Moe Prager.  He's a likable protagonist, using his luck and hunches to get to the heart of Moira's disappearance as well as providing the reader with the color and flavor of Brooklyn, Coney island and surrounding boroughs.   You can't miss with this one!

Lynn's note:  My son and daughter-in-law bought me a bag of books for Christmas....thank you so much!  Knowing how much I love to read, they're hard pressed to find mystery and thriller authors who are new to me.  One of the books in the bag was THE JAMES DEANS by Mr. Coleman.  

I was in the middle of a bunch of other books and finally started this one on February 12th.  Since then, in the last fourteen days, I've literally plowed through the entire Moe Prager series -- all seven books --and I've loved them all!  One of the nice things about Mr. Coleman's series is that Moe Prager lives his life and ages as the books are written, unlike some other authors' recurring characters who seem to live in a time warp.  

I cannot believe Reed Farrel Coleman's books haven't been as well recognized as others in the mystery/thriller genre.  They are, in a word, TERRIFIC!  Try one, you won't be disappointed!

ISBN 978-0-9792709-8-7
Pub. Date:  varies - 2005 - 2008 - 2012 eBook edition
212 pages
Paperback and eBook

Saturday, February 9, 2013

DON'T GO

by Lisa Scottoline
To be released April 2013

Having just finished a couple of very intense books, I decided to give DON'T GO a try since it was written by one of my favorite legal thriller writers.

Dr. Mike Scanlon is serving in Afghanistan, a handy theme when presenting the reader with hand-wringing drama.   He's notified that his wife has died from a household accident, leaving his infant daughter with relatives.  Now, Mike Scanlon is a doctor so you have to assume he is working with some brain cells. But Ms. Scottoline's protagonist makes such dumb decisions that you can see very early on just where this book is going and it's frustrating at best.  I was actually moaning out loud to a friend that I couldn't believe he went back to Afghanistan and couldn't believe he signed a poorly worded temporary custody agreement with his wife's sister and her attorney husband.   My friend kept telling me to shut up and even threatened to turn off her hearing aids since she wanted to read the book after me.

I have to admit that I've always tried to skip over the chick lit books written by some of my favorite mystery and thriller writers; John Grisham, David Baldacci and Lisa Scottoline to name just a few.  Without the tension and intrigue of the thrillers written by these authors, the chick lit crossover novels they produce just seem to fall flat.  What I realized is that these authors take themselves too seriously for the chick lit genre and fail to add the humor and comedic touch that make books by Jennifer Weiner, Sophie Kinsella and Helen Fielding such a pleasure to read and a fun way to spend an afternoon.

That said, DON'T GO is trite and predictable and takes itself too seriously.  I was forced to finish reading this book to see just how bad it was, and it was bad!   I would suggest you DON'T GO to your favorite bookseller or library for this one.

ISBN:  9781250010070   
Pub. Date:  April 9, 2013
384 pages    
Hardcover and eBook 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

KILLING THE POORMASTER, A Saga of Povery, Corruption and Murder in the Great Depression

by Hollly Metz

In Hoboken, New Jersey in 1938, as in other cities in our country, thousands of people were unemployed and literally starving.  The position of Poormaster was created and poormasters were given a budget and charged with doling out the necessary aid to assist people in their towns.

Unfortunately, Harry Barck, the poormaster for the City of Hoboken, New Jersey was one of the worst examples of someone entrusted with this power.  He was a cold hearted, stingy and mean man who went out of his way to further humiliate those he was appointed to serve; proud when he denied aid to the neediest of families, while filling the pockets of town officials and family members with the aid money.  

Joseph Scutellaro was just one of the many unemployed, struggling to even feed his family.  On February 25, 1938, Mr. Scutellaro followed the rules of the time and applied to Mr. Barck for aid, for money and for coupons for stale bread to keep his family alive.  Instead of doling out the very barest of assistance as he was charged to do, Mr. Barck suggested that Mr. Scutellaro's wife prostitute herself to feed the family, rather then asking for aid from the city.  Driven by frustration, anger and fear for his family, Joseph Scutellaro wrestled with Harry Barck in the poormaster's office, and either by accident or on purpose, Mr. Barck died from having a paper spindle pierce his heart.  Despite his claims of innocence, Joseph Scutellaro was arrested for the murder of Harry Barck.

But this true story deals with so much more than a death, even if it was murder.  It's the story of desperate people and horrible events during the Great Depression.  With no one looking over their shoulders, poormasters had free rein in deciding how to spend the aid money.  Some did what they were supposed to do and helped the very poorest of their townspeople; and then there were the Harry Barcks, not even doing the barest minimum to keep people alive.

Mr. Barck's death and Mr. Scutellaro's trial turned the national spotlight on the City of Hoboken and the plight of everyone in the country suffering just trying to exist.  Joseph Scutellaro was saved from the electric chair when his attorneys, led by prominent New York Attorney Samuel Leibowitz, argued that the struggle between Mr. Scutellaro and the poormaster was a symbol of the larger social ills of the time.

We've all heard stories from relatives who lived through the depression, but Ms. Metz has delved deeper and unearthed a heartbreaking story of despair and greed during that tragic era.  The position of poormaster disappeared in the 1940s, replaced with social assistance programs that still exist today.

KILLING THE POORMASTER is a hard book to read and even harder to put down.  Well written, it depicts the gut wrenching desperation and corruption that occurred in Hoboken, and it should be on everyone's "must read" list.

ISBN:  9781613744185
Pub. Date:  October 1, 2012
320 pages
Harcover and eBook

Monday, January 28, 2013

HAPPY 2013 EVERYONE!! (A little late)


I've been MIA on Monarch Book Reviews for quite a while and I apologize to my  faithful followers.

Toward the end of the summer our home was broken into.  The thieves took too many things to list, but most importantly, they robbed me of my sense of safety and comfort in my home.   I spent many sleepless nights worrying over the "what ifs".  Luckily I was away when it happened, but since the burglary occurred during the daytime, what if I had been home when they broke in?   What if they came back?   It took almost two months to deal with just the missing checkbooks, credit cards and other personal items, as well as the insurance company, not to mention the many many upgrades to our home alarm system.

We added motion lights outside and it took a while to get them to work properly, spending more than a few nights with so many lights on all night long, you could probably see us glowing on the moon!

Not long after returning to New Jersey, Hurricane Sandy hit our state with a vengeance.  Unlike so many people, we were fine; just without power for ten days.  As collections of donated items for the hardest hit at the Jersey shore began, I met a neighbor on my street who was accepting donated clothing.  As chance would have it, her home had been  broken into just that week as well as another on our same street.  You can imagine how all the worry and what-ifs returned.

But through it all, I spent my time with books; lots of books!  Books by Yrsa Sigurdardottir, Sue Grafton, Camilla Lackberg, David Baldacci, Kathleen Grissom, John Grisham, Dana Haynes, Cara Black, Michael Connelly and many others.  I made quick work of everything written by Robert Crais (love Elvis Cole!) and  Ake Edwardson.  Most were enjoyable, some were wonderful and some just okay.  But I'm sorry I wasn't able to focus on my blog and send my regular book reviews out into the Ethernet for others to enjoy.

2012 wasn't all doom and gloom.  There were many bright spots.  Our older son and his wife celebrated their fourth wedding anniversary!  Our younger son moved to NYC and is in a wonderful new relationship.  He also adopted a rescue dog named Ralph.  Ralph is a nine year old mini Schnauzer and he's an absolute delight!  He's a silly looking little dog and he's always messy and unkempt and constantly makes you smile!  Our older son's longtime friend and his wife had their first baby and it's been great seeing the photo updates.  Last, but certainly not least, my husband and I celebrated our 32nd wedding anniversary on January 10th.

There are even more new "men" in my life.  My husband finally realized a lifelong dream and is now the proud owner of two Clydesdales.  Mike and Sherman (they came with their names) are truly gentle giants, weighing in at about 1,800 pounds each, but acting like eager puppies! George now spends his vacation time mucking out stalls, riding Mike or Sherman and teaching them to work as as team pulling a cart.  The "men" are pictured here with our good friend Pete.  George rode a Clydesdale many years ago when he was a member of the Junior Essex Troup in West Orange, New Jersey.

Needless to say, I'm glad that 2012 is over and that we're just at the beginning of a bright new year.

Hope you'll come back and join me for new adventures and book reviews in 2013!