Author: Norman Hill

Four Cinderellas: A Delightful Time Warp

Who would’ve thought that today I’d be close to owning four versions on DVDs of the same classic fairy tale—three down, one to go? From the early 1950s, the Disney animated version was first. It was brilliantly drawn, and contained several timeless songs. Two comic tunes were “Cinderella, Cinderella” and “Bippety Boppety Boo.” In 1957 and 1964 there were two TV special versions. Both featured musical scores by Rogers and Hammerstein II, although some of the songs differed. Fourth, still being shown, the latest non-musical version of Cinderella has other aspects to recommend it. The animated version did a...

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Marie Curie—Greatest Female Scientist

Marie Curie  is considered to be the greatest female scientist, and perhaps even more significant, the most inspirational female scientist. Her achievements include being the first female to win a Nobel Prize, the first person to win two Nobel Prizes, the only woman to win prestigious awards in two fields, and the only person to win such awards in multiple sciences Her scientific achievements include formulation of a scientific theory of radioactivity. This involved techniques for isolating radioactive isotopes. She isolated two hitherto unknown elements, polonium in 1898 and pure metallic radium in 1910. Curie was born in Poland in 1867....

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Island Magic: A Welcome Cruise Addition

My wife Maralyn and I have always loved cruising. During our most recent Caribbean trip on Holland America’s ms Eurodam, in March, 2015, we were delighted to watch the steel drum quartet from Trinidad known as “Island Magic.” On a week’s cruise, during evenings after dinner, we usually plan to see two sessions of the ship’s singers and dancers. This time, we decided to take a fling and also see an unknown band, the Island Magic. We weren’t sure whether this was reggae or calypso. Either would be okay, though reggae wasn’t our first love, as Broadway-style singing and...

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The Farm at South Mountain in Phoenix

By Norman E. Hill and Maralyn D. Hill Often, when a destination includes the word “mountain,” we think of a hideaway tucked far and up into the hills, with a steep ascending access road. This is not the case with The Farm at South Mountain, which hosted a lunch and tour we recently attended. Located a little south of Southern Road and 32nd Street in Phoenix, the Farm packs fascinating variety into its ten acres. It includes three unique restaurants, botanical and succulent nursery markets, massage and yoga facilities, farmers market produce and photographer services. Across time, there have...

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Poetry and the American Popular Song: What a Combo!

“Poetry? Poetry? YECH! Poetry is for girls!” This was yours truly talking, as an acne-dripping, unhappy teenager. What changed my mind so drastically and “shaped up,” so to speak, my world view? Maybe it started with words from a freshman English teacher. Although she was not particularly likable, her argument has always  stayed with me: “You ask yourself, ‘Why study Literature when I’m surely going to be an engineer?’ Well, if you do, you’ll be a better engineer.” But more than her assertion, however relevant, my turnaround came with my interest in music. This would be the popular variety,...

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Jonas Salk: Polio Miracle Worker

Jonas Salk, as an M.D., was interested in research as a virologist, rather than in the actual practice of medicine. And he was willing to take risks to speed up and aid his research and seek outside funding to help his endeavors. This funding took him outside a somewhat sheltered world of academic research and into interaction with various advocacy groups. Born in New York to Russian-Jewish immigrant parents, Salk received his medical degree in the city. He was able to research influenza, where the virus causing the disease had recently been discovered. Both government and medical authorities were...

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The Society Queen Who Dethroned Prohibition

Pauline Sabin, the Society Queen who Dethroned Prohibition Throughout history, speeches have been made that served to inspire and stir audiences. In Shakespeare’s play, Augustus inspires listeners to take vengeance on Julius Caesar’s assassins. In England, in 1940, Churchill’s speech, “We shall never surrender,” rallied the British people from seeming defeat by Nazi Germany. In the U.S., on March 4, 1929, a similar emotional reaction occurred, but in the opposite way. In a select audience in Washington, D.C., Pauline Sabin, wealthy socialite and member of the Republican Party National Committee, waited hopefully for the speech of the new President,...

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George Burns—From Straight Man to Late Great Man

George Burns’ career in show business arguably has no parallel. It took the deaths of the two people he loved the most—wife Gracie Allen and best friend Jack Benny—to provide him with opportunities to succeed strictly on his own. And he made the most of these, becoming for 20 years, from age 78 to 98, one of the most celebrated personalities nationwide as a comedian (make that “humorist”), actor and author. When asked about retirement, his answer inspired more than just a few senior citizens: “Retire? Retire to what?” or “Do what, sit around and trim your cuticles?” He...

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Three Not Well (Enough) Known Pocono Americans

By Norman E. Hill Photos and Maralyn D. Hill During our recent trip to the Pennsylvania Poconos, we had the opportunity to study three notable Americans. These three, although not household words, made significant accomplishments during their lives and deserve further acclaim. They are Jim Thorpe, Asa Packer, and Gifford Pinchot. Jim Thorpe Thorpe, born in Oklahoma in 1888, was 50% Caucasian and only 50% Native American. Both of his parents were half and half. But he always seemed to consider himself a Native American. On his own, he entered an Industrial School (probably a high school in Pennsylvania)...

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Corfu Island—Greece Off the Beaten Path

By Norman Hill Photos By Maralyn D. Hill Corfu lies off the extreme northwestern coast of Greece. Because the country’s border is not straight, Corfu does lie south of the northern city of Thessaloniki, which is farther east. The Adriatic Sea, off Corfu’s shore, is fairly close at this point to the Italian coast. History Unlike the rest of Greece, Corfu Greeks were never subjugated by the Ottoman Turks, although it was attacked twice by them. Instead, the island was controlled by Venice for a substantial period, around 1376 to 1797, when Napoleon took over from Venice. French domination...

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Tour of the Parthenon, Athens, Greece

By Norman Hill Photos By Maralyn D. Hill Maralyn and I toured this wonder from ancient Greece, her for the 2nd time, me for the 1st. The old song goes, “Thanks for the memory….The Parthenon and moments on the Hudson River Line.” For me, the Parthenon trumps the Hudson River Line any day. In a guide by Matt Barrett, “Athens Survival Guide”, he describes the Parthenon of Athens as “…the most perfect building built by the world’s most advanced civilization and even though we have been studying it for centuries we are still not sure how they did it.”...

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1864 Presidential Election: from rebuff to robust victory

On election night, November 8, 1864, as the day’s ballots were being tallied, President Abraham Lincoln anxiously stayed by a telegraph at the War Office. Believing in certain defeat the previous August, his hopes were raised a little by September military victories, but by election time, he was still quite apprehensive. In September, in despair and expecting defeat, the President wrote a secret memo of intent, stating that between November and the new President’s inauguration in March,1865, he would work with the new President elect and continue his utmost efforts to save the Union. By August, 1864, incumbent Abraham...

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