Tag Archives: love of mysteries

Sometimes Rainy Days Were the Best Days In the Catskills

17 Sep

There is something special about a rainy day.

Perhaps it is my memories of summer time respites. On rainy days we were not expected to run around outside, we could stay in and read a book. I still love reading a book on a rainy day! It brings me such joy.

My friend and I were diehard Nancy Drew readers one summer. I remember wonderful rainy day afternoons lying on her bed near the window with our Nancy Drew books. We wanted to read every single one! I think we got close to accomplishing our goal.

Other days we worked on art projects. She wanted to be a dress designer and was always making paper doll dresses. Designing her own special dresses to fit the paper dolls we had. Hundreds of dresses were produced on the kitchen table during summer rains. And yes, she did study fashion design in college!

But for me the love was reading. I love murder mysteries and I am sure that this love started on those rainy summer days. I loved when our fathers came up on the weekends, especially if they brought along another yellowed-spine Nancy Drew book. However, I was not that picky, I read my brother’s Hardy Boy mystery books as well.

On those miserably cold rainy days that occurred in the 1960s in the Catskills, my grandfather would bake. That was a joy. The smell of fresh bread and cookies in the house was wonderful. He had an entire bakery shop set up in his basement, the remains of his bakery, which he had sold in the early 1960s. The giant mixer, the pans, the cooling shelves were all there. We would help him braid challah and shape cookies. Then we would run up and down the stairs with the pans for my Grandma and Mom to put into the oven. Sometimes we had three ovens going: in the house, in the bungalow and in the apartment where my friend stayed. It was a great rainy day event, especially since we knew we were going to have treats to eat!

My Mom did not always like rainy days, especially if there were clothes hanging on the line. We had no dryer then!   When the rain started we often ran as fast as we could to get the items off the line and hang them around the bungalow. This was especially important in summers when there was a lot of rain. We sometimes would run out of dry clothing.

One summer we actually did run out of clothes. I remember my Mom telling my brother to stay out of the lake! My brother was known for ‘falling’ in the lake. (Although one of my cousins admits helping my brother ‘fall in’ a few times.) Well you can imagine what happened. He was in the lake with his last dry pants. I do not really remember what happened. But I think he had to stay in the bungalow for a day or two in pajamas!

It was on rainy days that I learned to knit and crochet. I would sit with my Mom and Grandmas and all the other women knitting away in someone’s bungalow while having tea. While they knit sweaters, I and the other younger ‘girls’ had easier projects to work on. Those sweaters lasted forever. There are still some in the family.

Mahjong, gin rummy and canasta were important rainy day events for the Moms and Grandmas. While we played our board games, sitting on the floor; they played their games at the kitchen table. As soon as my sister and I were old enough, we were introduced to the importance of Mahjong.

It is true that on sunny days we were outside riding our bicycles, swimming, picking blueberries, running around, playing on the swings, and just having adventures. But sometimes a rainy day was really the best day in the Catskills. It gave us a chance to recharge and relax. Actually, I guess every day in the Catskills was truly the best day ever.

I AM the Grand Master GumShoe!!!

3 Dec

I love gentle murders.

Not real ones, of course.   Rather the ones in a ‘cozy’ mystery.  Where someone dies at the beginning of the book.  Someone I don’t care about.  But then my fun begins.  I get to try to figure out who committed murder.

I don’t like murder mysteries where the author puts you inside the mind of the murderer.  Or mysteries where you know who did it from the beginning. Or murders that are vicious and mean.

I want to be the detective on a murder, where I get to examine the clues and see if they add up to the murderer as the story unfolds.  I flip back to pages I read before to check facts.  Doom to the author and editor who make a fact error in the story!  I will find it!

Mysteries are my way to relax.  I read intense best sellers….I read literary ‘masterpieces’….I read Pulitzer and Booker Man prize winners. But for true enjoyment, I want … I need…a mystery.

I also love live performances.  My husband and I have season tickets to three different theaters in the Kansas City area.  And we attend additional shows at other venues when something catches our attention.

So imagine my delight when I discovered,  “The Mystery Train”! Every two months, a new murder occurs on a ‘train.’  The people in the dining car….a private room in a local restaurant… participate in the mystery.   There are four or five actors leading the show, including a conductor who keeps everyone on course.  But they also chose people from the audience to play some of the characters.  WOW!  Murder! Mystery! And Audience participation! What more would I want to do for an evening?

I have gone twice.

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The both times I went with my husband, Jay,  and good friends, Beti and Jules.  The first time,  I was chosen to be one of the participants in the story.  I was Mrs. Rita Radcliffe, a rather bossy woman.  (My sister called it typecasting when she heard the story.)

I loved it.  I got a bit of a costume and a bit of the story, along with a partial script.  I had to answer questions when members of the dining audience came to ask.  But I also had the opportunity to guess who was the murderer.

I did not do well.  It is very hard to discover information and form a hypothesis, when people kept coming and asking me questions about my character.  But I was polite and did the best I could.

We did send Jules to several tables to question the other characters in the play.  But even with this input, none of us did well.  And Jules is an attorney.

But we had a wonderful time, and a good meal.

So we decided to try it again, when the mystery changed.  This time we arrived a little late.  We were put at a table with other people, instead of one by ourselves.  None of us was chosen to play a part.  So I could devote my entire brain to mystery solving.

I LOVED it!

I listened to every word.  I took notes.  We sent Jules to interrogate the other actors and characters again and report back to us!

And I heard something that no one else paid attention to or noticed.

How do I know? I was anointed “The Grand Master Gumshoe.”   We had write “who” we thought did it, “why” and “how”. My deductions were correct, just like Sherlock Holmes.

I received my own magnifying glass and a blue velvet case to keep it in.  But more important, the actors told that I was the first person to ever mention one specific clue in my explanation.  They had not even realize how important that one clue was until I wrote it down. But to me it was “elementary, my dears!”

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I admit, I am proud of this accomplishment.  When my sister came to visit, I showed her my magnifying glass every day of her five- day stay.  She might have become tired of seeing it. But since she was in my house and had no escape…and I keep it in my family room…she was doomed to keep viewing it.

Beti told me to carry my magnifying glass with me at all times to show it off.  Perhaps that is a little much?  However, I am proud to let the world know that I am and was the Grand Master Gumshoe, of one showing, one time, one night of the Mystery Train.

How can I top that?