Posts Tagged ‘ poetry ’

BEAUTY QUEEN TELLS ABOUT HER ADVENTURES IN LIFE

THE HUMAN RACE

LIFE’S REALITIES FROM A FORMER BEAUTY PAGEANT WINNER

 

     Lee Turner was one beauty pageant queen who wasn’t afraid to tell her true story,  looking at life and death as she lived it.

     Here’s the still-timely interview I wrote 26 years ago:

     Despite their years, the expressive brown eyes are youthful and unmistakable trusting. As we sat across from each other in a corner booth at Buffy’s coffee shop in old downtown Torrance, California, Lee Turner revealed what those eyes had seen in 74 years of life.

     I’ve never used the word sweetness to describe a woman’s face. But in Lee’s case, it was a perfect fit. Even before she spoke, her eyes would reveal the emotional thoughts behind them.

     It wasn’t all good. It wasn’t all bad. Yet there were moments of terror that still lingered in her memories. There were moments of love, restlessness, confusion — and times when she felt “on top of the world.”

     For Lee, motherhood was one dream that never materialized. After several miscarriages, she could never have a baby of her own.

     The last pregnancy lasted six months.

     “It broke my heart,” she remembered. “But looking at the world today, maybe it’s just as well.”

     Although she shrugged away those memories, she recited “My Great Desire,” a poem she wrote after she lost her last child, as if it happened just yesterday.

     “I wish I had a darling boy to tuck into his bed,

     To put away each baby toy and smooth his tousled head.

     I’d walk so proudly down the street

     And take his chubby hand

     And smile at ever one I’d meet

     And look upon his face so tan!

     God, is that too much to ask,

     A favor which seems quite small?

     I would try to master the heaviest task

     If you would heed my call.”

     A half-century before we met, in the former Torrance Auditorium, Miss Leila (Lee) Mae Combs, a striking 24-year-old brunette paraded across the stage in a one-piece swimsuit and high heels.

     In competition with nine other young women, she won, selected as the first Miss Torrance in that city’s history.

     “The country was still very poor then. The Torrance Moose Lodge sponsored the beauty contest. I came prepared to sing a ‘song poem’ I wrote. But it wasn’t necessary.

     Lee walked away not only as Miss Torrance 1939 but was awarded a new swimsuit, a beach towel, a robe, a free hair shampoo and set at a local salon, and the opportunity to compete in the Miss California beauty pageant in Venice, Calif.

     “I lost that one,” she said, smiling.

     Beauty contest winners, Lee noted, “have it made today. If they were asked to compete for the kind of prizes I won, they’d say, ‘Forget it!’ In my day, the honor of being selected as a pretty woman was important.”

     As a young women, her favorite actress was Clara Bow. “I wanted to be like her,” Lee said. “In 1940, she moved into a girlfriend’s apartment in Hollywood, worked as a waitress and taught ballroom dancing while pursuing an acting career. But Hollywood never beckoned.

     “A couple of producers offered to show me their etchings,” she said, giggling. “I told them, ‘No way!'”

     She would never forget the Sunday morning of Dec. 7, 1941, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. “Even now when I think of it, I break out in goose bumps.”

     On that fateful day, Lee and her first husband, Eddie Guillow, a crane operator, were newlyweds living in a small house near Honolulu Airport.

     “I was sitting at a breakfast table writing a note to my mother on a Christmas card when I heard the sound of a plane,” Lee recalled. “It kept getting louder and louder. Suddenly, the house seemed to explode.”

     A Japanese Zero riddled her home with machine gun fire, the bullets penetrating the breakfast nook only a foot from where she was sitting. “I ruined the note,” she said, laughing at the irony. “I dove for a door jam, thinking it might be an earthquake.”

     Then a second plane zoomed overhead, dropping a bomb that exploded across the street, sending chunks of shrapnel into her house. About the same time, her husband was operating a crane near the battleship USS Arizona, which was under heavy attack. “When the Arizona exploded and sunk, Eddie had to dive off the crane and swim under the burning oil to safety.”

     A year later, back in the U.S. while walking with her sister-in-law, Lee said she “hit the dirt” when a plane passed overhead. “I felt embarrassed. But when my sister-in-law started laughing, I told her, ‘It’s not funny!'”

     Her husband was killed in a crane accident in 1947. Five years later she married Ken (Buck) Turner. A maintenance supervisor for the Torrance Parks Department, her husband died several months later.

     “It seems that everywhere I go, something drastic happens,” said Lee, who grew up in Torrance in a family of eight children and graduated from Torrance High School there.

     Another calamity she found herself in the midst of was the devastating Long Beach earthquake in 1933. “It was a very foggy Friday afternoon,” she recalled. “I was in the kitchen of my second-story apartment fixing french fries when the building began to sway and shake.

     “Polytechnic High School was right next door. It’s tower collapsed and fell onto my front yard. I was 18 years old and terrified. When I sat down at the breakfast nook, a second temblor tore the gas stove from the wall and knocked me out! When I came to, I was covered with french fries.

     “I was trapped in the kitchen. Rescuers had to break into the room to get me out. Other than a bump on my head and being scared half to death, I was fine.”

     At that time, I asked, “At your age, with all these experiences, what have you learned about survival?”

     “I live today as if it were tomorrow. I have girlfriends. I like to go places. I was a liberated women long before my second husband died. I don’t like to see what’s happening in the world. But I love visiting downtown Torrance.

     “I plan to be around long after everyone else is pushing up daisies,” she said with  that sweet-faced smile.

     Suffice to say: Lee Turner, if she’s still alive today, was my favorite beauty queen.   Ever!

 

                        — Boots LeBaron —

 

 

THE SYMBOL OF BLACK SLAVERY ENDS TODAY (JULY 10, 2015)!

THE HUMAN RACE

 

SOMETIMES A LITTLE POLITICAL RISK IN LIFE WORKS!

If you experiment with life,

Undoubtedly you’ll suffer strife.

Failure can be remorseful

But lessons learned resourceful.

To gamble on a bright tomorrow,

Procrastination may result in sorrow.

Without risky experimentation,

How does one weigh true jubilation?

Symbolizing the brutal act of black slavery,

today the Confederate battle flag comes down

Ending its metaphorical reign of savagery.

After 150 years, fueled by political myopia, no longer

Shall it wave its toxic message across our  U.S. Utopia.

Challengers of fate’s perplexing test

Now have a chance to be politically  the best.

Too unpatriotic to endure, the prejudicial gambol

Has trapped  such ruthless aspirations in a bramble.

Never knowing your true potential

Doesn’t mean you’re inconsequential.

Even evildoers who’ve survived on sheer luck,

Their bullyrag has finally become mired in the muck.

 

Boots LeBaron —

THANKS TO MOM, THERE’S A ‘HAPPY FATHER’S DAY’

THE HUMAN RACE

DADS WILL NEVER KNOW THE FEEL OF IT

 

Mommy, mommy

soon to be,

oh such fun

is pregnancy.

It takes nine months

to meet fruition.

That’s when daddy

lacks intuition.

When he watches

mom deliver,

chances are his

lips will quiver.

If men could feel

what labor’s like,

quick as a wink

they’d take a hike.

Carrying life for

all those months,

isn’t the same as

having mumps.

Experiencing life

inside the womb

is one ordeal he

can’t presume.

When breasts expand

with life’s nectar,

guys go stupid with

this conjecture:

Giving birth’s

like passing plumbs,

one painful roar

and out it comes.

So for all your dads

out there (including me),

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!

 

Boots LeBaron

SURVIVING LIFE’S INSURMOUNTABLE ODDS!

 

THE HUMAN RACE

TRUTH BE KNOWN:  THERE’S NO COUPON FOR MIRACLES

It’s the words that meld together

creating thoughts and fears reflecting

every person’s ongoing struggle to find

a semblance of peace of mind in an

over-populated world compacted by greed,

violence, desperate naivety, and a

a message of faith that inexcusably

guarantees the kind of miracles that will

fulfill our hopes, dreams and schemes.

In every conscience, such declarations

scour the most intimate corners of our

mind — not always in an enlightening sense.

To reach Valhalla, we must somehow find

strength as individuals to ignore our

fears and human flaws to reach that final

destination when Odin welcomes us to his great

hall. No matter how painful or debatably

misleading the promises, they are

convincing enough to satisfy any doubts

that linger before Odin’s final embrace.

All we need is a shred of truth

to fulfill our hopes and dreams

and fuel our trip to Valhalla.

Actors as well as other celebrities,

bless their charismatic and

artistic hearts, are members of a talented

gang of theatrical creatures capable of

articulating believable messages

that provoke self-examination.

Even Odin’s disciples must be capable

communicators. Otherwise, these

artists will anger the gods by not

bringing home the bacon.

The precious delivery of descriptive

observations, visual expressions, the

use of metaphors and similes, reach the

mind of those who are open to reason.

No person is honestly content with

what lurks in the dark regions of another

person’s mind. We all come equipped with

guilt as well as joy glands that

need massaging. Bullshit exists

in every member of the human race.

Literary craftspeople, essayists,

poets, TV talking heads or office moguls

who paint glorious promises they never

keep have been known to preach rewards,

then deliver nothing.

That’s their talent. They come armed

with words. And you are the target.

Never lose faith in strangers.

But be skeptical. Purity might be

believable, but is not always

attainable. Despite our self-disparaging

selves, the adventures we experience

en route to Odin’s palace, make life’s

challenges worth the aggravation.

Must we agonize over our questionable

wisdom? Should we ride with the anguish

we are spoon fed with daily doses?  

It’s up to you. Go figure!

 

— Boots LeBaron —

SHE DANCES ACROSS THE PACIFIC WATERS

THE HUMAN RACE

 

A WOMAN TO BEHOLD

From her euphoric whispers

come a redolent breath

that blinds the senses

evoking intimate thoughts.

 

As she moves across

the Pacific waters

stirring the tides,

the sea rolls in ecstasy.

 

The swells become waves

crowned by crests as

crispy white as stars

in the blackest night.

 

At day’s early light,

they dance endlessly

raising their mighty arms

in graceful pirouettes.

 

Boots LeBaron

 

BOTSWANA: A PARADISE FAR FROM THE HUMAN JUNGLE

THE HUMAN RACE

BOTSWANA: A HALF-A-WORLD-AWAY

 

I sit on the veranda

a half-a-world-away

watching the golden sun

in its last breath of day

filter through silhouetted leaves

of the ebony and acacia trees,

then quickly fall beneath

the silent Chobe River

leaving nothing but stars

guarding Venus

and her lantern moon.

And not too soon,

I marvel at the distance

I’ve traveled to get

where thoughts run free,

a half-a-world-away

from what is home to me.

To reach this

untamed place,

was such a human race.

After an eternity of soaring

on man-made wings,

I found this hideaway

where elephants

rule as kings.

IMG_1973

Where lions make love

for hours on end,

where pythons

coil, constrict and bend.

Giant Tuskers trumpet

and hippos bellow

in this

wild-animal bordello.

Leopards hunt,

warthogs grunt.

Zebra,  giraffe,

Cape buffalo,

they all play host

on this fertile land  

that has no coast.  

As eagles work the breeze,

scores of vultures

perch high

on limbs of trees.

Mosquitoes sting.

Myriad birds sing

in glorious cacophony.

They hoot and caw and chirp

in their inimitable

high-pitched harmony.

Crickets

tuned just right

play their

Stradivarius legs

throughout the night.

For those who must return

to their civilized encampment,

where plastic reigns

and torment gains,

Botswana is

enchantment.

A visit

permits a glimpse

at secrets we’ve been

blind to.

A moment just to ponder

was well worth

the wander.

Flying half way

round the world

aboard a 747,

proved to me,

at least:

It takes time

to get to heaven.

 

Boots LeBaron

 

(Overlooking the Chobe River,

a tributary of the Zambezi River

in southern Africa’s Botswana)

 

LOVE IS ROMANTICALLY NUTS!

THE HUMAN RACE

 

LOVE: LIFE’S UNPREDICTABLE, NEVER-ENDING COMEDY

LOVE IS NUTS!

Have you ever been lonely in a world

jam-packed with humanity? Have you ever

wondered about your destiny in a society

that frequently seems senseless?

Have you ever searched for the being

behind the face, behind the smile,

behind the whispered words of promise

and found emptiness? Ouch!

The quest for love can be painful.

Like buying a used car. To get the feel

of it, you’ve got to drive it for a while.

Love is a word, so fragile, an angry breath

can destroy it. It can break a heart,

sooth a soul, rattle a psyche

or give a weakling Herculean strength.

For the sake of it, Romeo and Juliet

croaked. For most, a love affair is

an erratic maiden voyage.

Whether it’s documented at the

license bureau or stored in the heart,

every relationship encounters

tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis

or at least turbulent sprinkles

that test steadfast durability.

Everybody talks about love,

frets about it, writes about it

and sings about it. Nobody, even

Shakespeare, can fully explain it. Why?

Because love is nuts! Yet we’re all

scrambling in search of it.

The divorce courts are full of people

who’ve had their fill of it.

When viewed from a casting couch, a

watering hole, spiritually, or through the

eyes of a marriage counselor, love is one

never-ending soap opera that

stars everybody. Including you!

Boots LeBaron — 

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