A Personal Update on Where I’ve Been, and How I’ve Been Incorporating Old Hollywood Into My Life in a Time of Crisis

Hi, everyone! I know it’s been a few weeks since I’ve been active on this blog. Musings of a Classic Film Addict is one of the things in my life that I’m the most proud to contribute my time and effort to, and it’s incredibly saddening for me when I have to neglect it for any period of time for any reason. I was so excited to write an entry for the Movie Scientist Blogathon and pay tribute to the incomporable Jerry Lewis at the same time by reviewing The Nutty Professor (1963), but unfortunately I was unable to participate, and I thought that I owed my readers an explanation for my absence. As you might know, I call the town of Saint Petersburg, Florida my home, and these past few weeks have been especially trying as it was in the direct path of Hurricane Irma. As a result, we spent a good amount of time in preparation before I decided to evacuate with my precious pup Mozart and stay with my family further inland while my fiancé decided to stay and weather the storm. Irma passed over us on the night of September 10th, and continued to pose a threat throughout the 11th as the wind and rain continued at tropical storm levels. While the homestead and our belongings luckily suffered no damage, the situation was still a stressful one, and what was worse for me is that this catastrophe occurred just before my 21st birthday on the 13th of September.

Here’s to the vacation that never came to pass. I hope I can see you next year!

My fiancé and I had been planning the occasion since May, and he took off of work for the entire week surrounding my birthday so that we could travel north to the Wakulla Springs Lodge (where the underwater scenes of my favorite classic horror film, Creature From the Black Lagoon (1953) was filmed) to celebrate and so we could both get a much needed vacation. I tried my best to maintain contact with the hotel before and during the hurricane, as I was well aware that they would be affected too. The staff told us the day before our reservation to call the next morning on the day of our reservation in order to see if the hotel would be open and allow us to visit. I didn’t get to mention this to them, but that posed a problem as we were told to call at ten in the morning while the hotel itself is a five-hour drive from us, and check-in time was at three in the afternoon. That’s short notice even for me! I did as they asked anyway, and if you can believe it, they didn’t answer at all no matter how many times I tried to call, so I suppose they were indeed closed due to the storm. Of course I understand what happened considering the circumstances and after witnessing the destruction in my own area, but I can’t say that I wasn’t disappointed as I wanted to write an article about my visit for this blog and I wanted to incorporate Old Hollywood into my birthday somehow.

Theatrical poster for High Society (1956), one of the many movies that helped get me through this last week.

Luckily I still managed to do that in a small way, as my family stayed in a conference room at my father’s workplace, which doubled as a shelter from Hurricane Irma. It was a lovely building with a glass ceiling (which we’re grateful didn’t shatter onto us), and because it was located at a power plant, we had electricity the entire time unlike millions of other victims of the storm. Even better, the room had a television and a DVD player, and since I brought the majority of my classic film collection with me I spent nearly all of my time watching them. My sister and I started with Random Harvest (1942), which she watched for the first time and absolutely adored, before we moved on to High Society (1956), I Love You Again (1940), This Gun for Hire (1942), and of course finishing the marathon with one of our mutual favorites, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953). Most of them were “feel good” flicks that made us forget our troubles, which was more than welcome, and I especially loved seeing one of my personal favorites again, High Society (1956). I always feel like that film was made for me, and hearing Bing Crosby serenade Grace Kelly with the song “I Love You, Samantha” (which happens to be my name) was more comforting than being wrapped up in a warm blanket in the middle of winter. My actual birthday, if you were wondering, ended up being as incredible as I could hope for considering everything we’d been through. My family moved into a nearby hotel as their home lost power during the hurricane, but my sister and I spent most of the day at our local mall buying beautiful dresses on clearance, eyeing jewelry that was also on clearance, and filling our carts with Marilyn Monroe hand soap that was only a dollar.

A picture of my first drink, the French 75!

My fiancé met with us at the mall and we checked out everything there was to see before going to Olive Garden for my birthday dinner. Say what you might about Olive Garden, but to me it’s my favorite chain restaurant by far as I adore the food, the atmosphere, and of course the occasional Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra tunes being played over the speakers. Of course I made a solemn vow to make my first legal drink one that relates to classic film, and my drink of choice was a French 75, a cocktail made with gin, simple syrup, lemon juice, and topped with champagne and a twist of lemon. The drink was invented during World War I by British soldiers who combined the gin that they brought from home with the champagne that they received from the French, and it was named after their lightweight yet powerful artillery gun. The French 75 is the only beverage mentioned by name in the iconic film Casablanca (1942), and of course I ended up enjoying it more than anything else I had that evening. Interestingly enough, the bartender had never heard of one before, and as I asked for it at the bar the other bartenders and a few patrons were interested enough to form a small crowd as they watched it being made. I felt quite special after that! As if the restaurant was made for me too, our server was incredibly sweet, interested in old movies as well, and against all odds also named Samantha! If the restaurant wasn’t so busy that night we probably could have discussed the subject at length, but everyone involved in the celebrations had fun nonetheless. My sister and dad brought balloons and cake with my name on it, and at the end of the meal they brought out presents, which I’d completely forgotten was a part of birthdays after all of the commotion that the storm brought about.

My wonderful fiancé got me the largest size of Dolce & Gabbana’s Dolce Rosa Excelsa, a perfume that’s been my favorite since it came out (but always too expensive for me to actually buy, so I merely sprayed it on every time I visited a department store), which once again involved Old Hollywood into the occasion as the perfume’s spokesperson is none other than one of my favorite living actresses, Sophia Loren. My family certainly stepped up to the plate too with a stunning sapphire necklace that matches my engagement ring, which happens to be my birthstone as well. That’s about where the classic film references end, but before we left, our waitress Samantha gathered all of the other waiters together, sang “Happy Birthday” to me, and presented me with a delicious chocolate mousse and cream dessert, which I thoroughly enjoyed. From there we all headed back to the hotel, where my sister and I played drinking games and I got as tipsy as I could (it’s not as easy when you’re playing with a lightweight) before my fiancé and I headed home, which I’m delighted to say has power. At the end of the day, I’m sure that my readers can agree that there’s nothing like your favorite movies and your favorite people to get you through trying times, and I honestly don’t know what this past week would have been like without the likes of my loved ones, Bing Crosby, and the delicious drinks of Casablanca (1942). I can only hope that others who have survived Hurricane Irma (or any disaster on his or her birthday, for that matter) had people and movies to lean on for hope and comfort, and trust me when I say that I fully intend to return to this blog now that I realize how much I need old movies in my life!

3 thoughts on “A Personal Update on Where I’ve Been, and How I’ve Been Incorporating Old Hollywood Into My Life in a Time of Crisis

  1. Happy Birthday! Congratulations on being twenty-one and on celebrating in style despite the hard times around your birthday. I enjoyed reading your article, and I look forward to reading more of your articles in the future.

    By the way, I would like to invite you to join my blogathon, “The Great Breening Blogathon:” It is celebrating the life and work of Joseph Breen, the enforcer of the Motion Picture Production Code between 1934 and 1954. As we honor his birthday, which is on October 14, we will be discussing and analyzing the Code era, breening films from other eras, and writing about our own ideas for classic movies. One doesn’t have to agree with the Code and Mr. Breen to enjoy that! I hope you will do me the honor of joining. We could really use your talent!

    Yours Hopefully,

    Tiffany Brannan


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