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Taxes, Shirley Temple, and My Mother

February 19, 2014

 

A Trio of Remembrances:

 

Taxes, Shirley Temple, and My Mother

 

by Alice Jane-Marie Massa

 

 

            As I gather together and organize important papers for my tax preparer, I certainly think of my mother (1914-2001).  For her, the happiest season of the year was tax season.  Unlike most people, my mother loved preparing taxes; and for many years, she prepared the tax returns for our family, her mother and brother’s grocery store, and her sister’s restaurant.  My mother was very happily in her element when all the tax papers were neatly spread over the kitchen table and/or dining room table.  If I never took a photograph of her perusing all the tax papers, I assuredly keep this photograph in my mind’s eye. 

 

            After my sister and I started our teaching careers, my mother also prepared our tax returns.  Unfortunately, neither my sister nor I inherited any of my mother’s business sense nor love of tax preparation.  Although my dad (chief fire and safety inspector) was quite content with my mother’s doing the business work for the family, he took over some of this role in the latter years of my parents’ almost 55-year marriage, when sadly my mother was no longer able to prepare the tax returns and do other family business.  As my mother’s mind gradually slipped into a simpler and more narrowed space, my parents selected an especially warm and friendly, highly intelligent, theatrical and musical couple to prepare our taxes.  I have always been so grateful to Lou and Laura Savage whose smiling faces and gentle ways helped my mother to transition to another stage in her life—a stage where someone else would prepare our taxes.  When I accompanied my parents a couple of times on these tax preparation expeditions, Laura was so respectful of the tax preparation work my mother had relished for so many years.

 

            During the late years of my parents’ marriage and the initial three years after the death of my dad, one of the joys of my mother’s final years was watching Shirley Temple movies.  Thus, when Shirley Temple Black died on February 10, I not only thought of the darling, dimpled child actress and her delightful movies—I thought of the happiness these movies brought to my mother, especially between 1997 and 2001. 

 

            When one of Shirley Temple’s first famous movies Bright Eyes initially hit the silver screen in 1934, my mother was in business college.  While I do not know if my mother ever saw a Shirley Temple movie in a theatre, I am certain that my mother watched these memorable movies with my sister and/or me when we were growing up without dimples and without a hairdo of 56 curls.  How many times did we watch “Curly Top (1935), Dimples (1936), Poor Little Rich Girl (1936), Heidi (1937)?  Even though I recall loving to sing “On the Good Ship Lollipop” (from the movie Bright Eyes) and “Animal Crackers in My Soup” (from the movie Curly Top) in punchy Shirley Temple style, I am certain that I watched her movie Heidi the most often—probably as many times as I saw Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz.  Just as clearly as I picture Judy Garland dancing down the Yellow-brick Road with the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion—I clearly can picture Shirley Temple tap dancing with Bill “Bojangles” Robinson in their famous staircase scene.  Mr. Robinson danced with Shirley Temple in four movies, including The Little Colonel (1935).  both Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm and Wee Willie Winkie are other Shirley Temple movies that come to mind.  President Franklin D. Roosevelt praised the child actress for her lifting the spirits of a nation during the Depression Era; through the movies available on video cassette, Shirley Temple lifted the spirits of my mother after my dad passed away. 

 

            Long after Shirley Temple Black’s acting career was behind her, she served her country in other ways:  Mrs. Black was ambassador to Ghana and then ambassador to Czechoslovakia.  When Mrs. Black appeared on the news for serving as ambassador or for receiving a lifetime achievement award, I recall that her “Bright Eyes” still sparkled and twinkled with that special gift which she shared as a young child who truly deserved to win a special Academy Award at age six.

 

            Now, as life so often moves in full circles, my mother’s great-granddaughter Lanie—who, at age eight months, charms us with her precious smile, sweet disposition, delightful laugh and darling ways—has dimples.  I wonder if, with those dimples, Little Lanie will grow up to be an actress, an ambassador, a business woman, a teacher, a violinist, or whatever she wants to be.  “Oh, my goodness!”

 

 

God bless Shirley Temple Black for the joy she gave to our country and to my family!

Alice

 

February 19, 2014, Wednesday

 

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4 Comments
  1. I hate taxes. Always have, always will. Thank God for my wife having the patience to muddle through them every year. I was the designated file sorter and calculator supervisor. I just tried to find Heidi on Descriptive Audio through the internet. No luck. frown. I remember watching her movies when I was a little tyke, and I do remember Heidi as one of my favorites, next to the Little General. God bless Shirley Temple, and may your mom forever rest in peace. dp

  2. You know what they say about great minds thinking alike. This was a good post, Alice.

  3. “Oh, my goodness!” Your “Trio of Remembrances” is filled with fond memories, Alice. Thank you for sharing them with us.
    Love, Mary

  4. Paula permalink

    Dear Alice, Once again you bring me into the weaving of time and memories as you shared your parents lives (pieces of them) with such poignancy. You paid a loving tribute to two very important women! Thanks for sharing and taking me down your “memory road” once again.

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