Aunts Laura and Francie contacted us to say that Vernon Tietjen, their uncle and our granduncle, had passed away at the wonderfully old age of 98.
Laura writes: Uncle Vernon was really different from ACT, your grandfather. He was
not overly burdened with feeling dutiful, responsible, or serious, the
way your Grandfather was. He was really into enjoying life, and from
all appearances, he really did! Some of the great loves of his life
were jazz music, reading and writing and conversing, the fine art of
making and enjoying martinis, driving fast sports cars, especially
Porsches, playing sports such as golf and tennis and table tennis,
traveling the world, and WOMEN WOMEN WOMEN. Early on he worked as a
sportswriter, first with the St. Louis papers, later on with NY's
Herald Tribune. Then he went to Saudi Arabia to work in public
relations for Aramco, his lucky family in tow, and we would see them on
their stateside vacations, full of exotic stories about visiting places
like Beirut and Bali, and bringing us the most wondrous gifts from
Europe and the Middle East. [See his business card here.] I guess that's what I'm most grateful
for---that Uncle Vernon's life opened my eyes to the Big Wide World and
all the marvels it contained. And his own newspaper columns would tell you more too. Until just a few
years ago, he wrote a weekly column in the local newspaper in The
Dalles called "Et cetera, et cetera" in which remembered and mused
about his life, the people in it, and mostly about how lucky he was.
They make fun and interesting reading, especially the tributes to his
wonderful wife and best friend Edna (his "partner in crime," as
daughter Lynne puts it), and his son Jim, who died on Valentine's Day
Uncle Vernon really loved jazz, and told Laura that his very favorite song was "Skating in Central Park." You can listen to it here ;)
When I was growing up at 515 East Main in Annville, Saturday nights were such a pleasure. We'd have dinner, listening to A Prairie Home Companion. Then Mom would go to her bed, and Dad and I would sit with her, or out on the porch (summer) or in the living room (winter), listening to Celtic folk music on the radio -- whatever came on afterward -- and reading. I wasn't much of a partygoer in high school, for this reason. Nights at home were all I really wanted.
And so it is at Melleray. I went there for a Saturday night recently. We cooked hot dogs on the fire listening to PHC. There was a brilliant neon sunset, too, and then the stars began to pop out -- the sky so clear we could see the Milky Way.
Alas, It is not Indian summer now -- as I write, it's a wee twenty degrees in Chapel Hill! We're having a very unusual cold streak. And all of you in the North can roll your eyes at me now ;) But in honor of warmer times, here are a few photos right from the cusp of summer-fall, including the first pictures of Melleray's new sheep and sheepdog.
I do most of my writing at Caffe Driade, a wonderful forest-enclosed coffee shop off of East Franklin. The night before the election, I was there as usual, and Jesse - one of the baristas - was showing off his latest creation. I got a good picture of it.
Tuesday night was transcendent. I was at OCSC, a scruffy bar in downtown Carrboro where two hundred of us were crammed together watching the results come in, and watching tens of thousands of more people streaming toward Grant Park in Chicago, bundled up under orange street lamps, and I thought, The winds are changing. The bedrock is shifting. Then at 11:00pm I saw those words on the screen, and covered my mouth crying. Our dreams had become real.