Saturday, February 1, 2014

Untitled Essay on Patience

by Audrey L. Barclay

"Patience is a virtue." Or so we were taught when I was a schoolgirl. It is a virtue with which few of us are born, but must be cultivated daily in order to develop it to best serve our needs. It is not acquired.

While rummaging in a seldom used closet a few days ago I came across several forgotten jigsaw puzzles. Most of them I'd worked more than once, but it had been a long time ago, so with my usual impulsiveness I selected the largest and gaudiest one in the group, set up a card table, and went to work. What matter that there were any number of more worthwhile things I might be doing with the precious time that's passing so rapidly?

I hurriedly stirred the bits of cardboard searching out the straight-edged outer pieces. In no time at all I had the outline in place except for two or three elusive pieces that would, no doubt, be easily found when I started the filling-in process. Then my trouble began.

I separated as many sections as I could find of a building depicted in the picture, and while I was at it I also set aside parts of the flower garden. I thought if I could fit those pieces of the puzzle I could work all around it, filling in from all sides. The afternoon passed, and all I had was perhaps a dozen pieces fitted. And I was as tired as if I'd worked all afternoon, besides being so frustrated I was tempted to chuck the whole thing in the trash can. However, I hadn't time to be bothered with it right then, so I left it to prepare dinner.

While waiting for my meal to cook I wandered back for one last look at the puzzle. Suddenly I was inserting pieces as fast as I could pick them up! They'd been there all the time, but in my impatience I'd been overlooking them. Suddenly it came to me that I'd had as good an illustration of the meaning of "patience" as one could hope to find. I'd had many similar experiences in solving all sorts of puzzles, in sewing, in writing, almost everything I've ever tried to do. When the going got rough and everything I tried to do went wrong, if I got away from it for awhile and put my mind on other things, I could return later to find the problem had all but solved itself.

Patience is not an attribute with which we are born. It often must be learned n the hard school of experience and must be cultivated daily if it is to be kept alive and growing.


Editor's Note: In addition to patience, another quality that Grandma Audrey seems to have found virtuous is frugality. She loved to write, and she wrote on anything and everything. I thought you might enjoy seeing the pages on which she inscribed the above essay:

If you'll click on the images to enlarge them, you'll see the typewriting showing through from the other side of the paper. These were mimeographed sheets headed "General Information" and, judging by the text, had been prepared for distribution to teachers. You might also notice that before Grandma began writing her essay on the back sides of these pages, one corner of the top page had already been used for mathematical calculations.  

I wonder how many of her grandchildren have mastered both patience and frugality. Not I.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Cake Snatcher

Remember when I told you Grandma Audrey wrote a lot of fact-based fiction? Today's story is a perfect example. In this one she changed the names of everyone but Robert Clary. The Markles were really the Barclays, Audrey and Erna, and the Markles' son Lynn was my father, Paul Linvel Barclay.

Here's the story:

The Cake Snatcher
by Audrey L. Barclay

You probably don't watch "Hogan's Heroes" on television for the same reason I do. It's an entertaining little comedy, and Hogan's great, but it has a special meaning for me because it features Robert Clary. He's one of the few celebrities I ever met.

We went to visit our son several years ago when he was assistant manager of the Statler Hotel in Detroit. Lynn told us immediately on our arrival that we were to spend the last night of our visit as guests of the hotel, where he had already reserved the "Presidential Suite" for us. He knew, with our limited travels, it would be an exciting experience for us, besides enabling us to get an early start on our return journey.

We visited with the family until late bedtime for the children that last evening, then Lynn returned to the hotel with us. There we found the welcome-mat spread. A lovely arrangement of flowers for "Mr. Markle's mother, courtesy of the hotel," and a big box of fancy candies "for Mom and Dad, from Lynn" awaited us in our suite. Then we went down to the supper-club for refreshments and the floor-show.

Our experience of social night-life was limited to what we had seen on television or in the movies, so we hardly knew what to expect, certainly not the homage we received from the moment we entered the room. Waiters came flocking from every direction to serve Mr. Markle and his guests, and the orchestra swung at once into Mr. Markle's favorite number in our honor. The scene had the unrealistic qualities of a fantastic dream or a bit of play-acting; I had to keep assuring myself it was neither, but stark reality.

We were escorted to a choice balcony table by some half a dozen waiters, each vying for the honor of serving our party. The head-waiter insisted he would take our order, but the others hovered near, making frequent suggestions. The order finally given, we sat back to enjoy the floor-show.

Just as Robert Clary began his performance the chef arrived from the kitchen to place his contribution before me, a lovely cake, nicely boxed for carrying. I was speechless, and oh! so self-conscious at being the center of so much attention. My son sat there grinning at me like the cat that ate the canary and having the time of his life.

The little Frenchman finished his act and started from the floor. Swerving, he darted up the steps to our table, snatched up the cake, tucked it under his arm and ran, with nearly every waiter in the place in hot pursuit. They overtook him, seized the box, and came marching back in a body, the head-waiter bearing it aloft as though it was a diadem on a silken pillow.

It was the grand finale of the show, of course, but fun, and that's why I like to watch "Hogan's Heroes," with Robert Clary. It brings back memories.



I have one more piece of memorabilia related to the time my father spent in Detroit's hospitality industry. Ripped out of a magazine, it's a page bearing a Cranbrook House Motel ad that featured him. I'm not sure what year it was, but in the ad my dad was touting the benefits of individual room phones, so maybe that'll narrow it down for you. Sometime in the '50s, I think. (Click on the photo to enlarge the ad.)