Friday, July 29, 2011



Well, I took my car into Lewes Auto Mall for an estimate for the broken grille. They're not a Cadillac dealer. They are a Buick dealer, but they have been helpful in the past on finding parts and doing minor service. I wanted to have it done here locally instead of having to drive an hour and a half to Salisbury, Maryland to the only Cadillac dealer on the Delmarva Peninsula.

I went directly to the "Collision Center." They not only could help me but they had the Cadillac parts catalog handy!

The part is $129.01 and to install is $124.80 because they have to remove and replace the bumper, which has electricity and washer-water for the headlights involved, for a total of $254.41.

After another two weeks for delivery of the grille, it's as good as new.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011



Tom wrote this next one. His only foray into screenwriting! "DAYS OF THUNDER" was a minor success.
I saw someone in Union Station in Washington, D. C., wearing a jacket with these 'Mello Yello' markings on it. I went up to him and asked him about it. It was a "crew jacket" given to on-site people who worked on the film. I offered him $200. cash which I had in my pocket and offered to go to the bank for more, but he declined.

I was collecting photos! But this "crew jacket" idea fascinated me. I learned that it was typical to give out "favors" to the crew working on a particular film. I bid and won on eBay a CREW JACKET from 'ALL THE RIGHT MOVES.'

For this next film, "FAR AND AWAY," he brought Nicole Kidman over from Australia to star alongside him. It was directed by Ron Howard.
He had seen her in "Dead Calm." They fell in love and married!

I had written him a very nice letter which contained the story of my grandfather being in the Oklahoma Land Run as an off-hand participant and he responded with a signed photo and TWO TICKETS to the film at a theater of my choice. This, of course, further sealed my enthusiastic attention to Tom Cruise.

Coming up, one of his better ones, "A FEW GOOD MEN" with Jack Nickolson, directed by Rob Reiner—a Navy attorney mystery. In it, Tom and Jack do their famous repartee: "Is that clear?"  "Crystal."

"THE FIRM" wasn't very good. The acting was, however. (Based on John Grisham's book.)

And "INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE" finishes off this Saga. It took two viewings for me to appreciate (and catch onto) this fine film.
Check out the awards on "Interview", they're most interesting! (below)

Next, the MISSION series.

Saturday, July 23, 2011



1972:  At a show on Broadway, GINA LOLLABRIGETTA sat near me. She was jeered due to her real leopard coat!

1972:  After seeing ANGELA LANDSBURY in the Broadway play "Our World", we saw her get into her limo.

1972:  Sat behind FLORENCE HENDERSON on a train to NYC. 
I stared, she glared.

1974:  I visited JOE VALACHI, the Mafia boss, in his secure cell in Milan, MI. 
He had a million dollars on his head.

1976:  Was having dinner by myself at an outdoor restaurant in D.C. when the fairly drunk guy of the couple next to me said, "Don't you know me? And this is the famous SALLY QUINN!" 
Well, I realized it was BEN BRADLEE, Editor of the 'Washington Post'. 
I, for once, was speechless!

1979:  Saw the 10th anniversary parade on Constitution Ave. of the astronauts who first went to the moon, NEIL ARMSTRONG, JOHN GLENN, ET AL.

1980:  While in NYC receiving an award at the Waldorf-Astoria for the solar design of my Bastrop, Texas prison, I saw PRESIDENT ELECT AND MRS. REAGAN coming out of the hotel on their way to visit their son Ron. (That evening, December 8, directly across Central Park from me, John Lennon was shot and killed.)

1982:  While on a 4-month stay/study in Florence, Italy, I met GEORGE McGOVERN in Venice's 'Harry's Bar.'

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Milford, Delaware

Scott and Dave had never been to Abbott's Grill and they wanted to try it. So, off we went together with Ted on a Tuesday at noon.

It's good, but not as good as Nage! I say this because Abbott's Grill is owned by Nage, which is one of my very favorite restaurants. So, I was expecting a lot. AND I got a lot.

First of all, the place is decorated very tastefully and is subdued.

The food was delicious. I got a hugh Bison burger that was tender and tasty, made with portabello mushrooms, bacon and pepper jack cheese, with a generous slice of tomato and bib lettuce. Tastiest Bison burger I've ever had.

Ted and Scott had fish tacos which they said were very good. And Dave had turkey sliders with a flavorfull soup.

It was all tasty and pleasing and I would recommend this restaurant.

My only reservation is in comparing it to Nage in Rehoboth Beach. Nage is deliciously inventive. Abbott's Grill has a fixed menu with no innovation—a let down in a quality restaurant. But it's less expensive than Nage! Lunch for the four of us was $72.

Monday, July 18, 2011

CAR CRAZY SAGA -My Continental(s)- 10:

My Continental(s)

Three thousand fifteen were produced from June 1955 to May 1957. It was the last hand-built car made in America.

Among the famous owners were: President & Mrs. Eisenhower,
Ronald Reagan, the Shah of Iran, Juan Peron, Elvis Presley,
Frank Sinatra, Grace Kelly, Cecil B. DeMille, Howard Johnson, Nelson
Rockefeller, Stephen Crane, Barry Goldwater, Jack Baily, Darryl
Zanuck, 'King' Vidor, Eli Lilly, Merle Norman, Jack Warner,
Harvey Firestone, Louis Prima, John Daley, Henry J. Kaiser and
Michael & Elizabeth Taylor Todd.
Elvis' only non-Cadillac!
The Continental Mark lI is 18 feet 3 inches long, 6 feet 6 inches wide
and 4 feet 8 inches high. It's 368 cid V-8 delivers 285 horsepower
using a 4-barrel downdraft Holley carburetor. It weighs 5,190
pounds with the option of rear air-conditioning. It gets about 12 mpg.

The Mark II has power-vacuum antenna; signal-seeking, 'Town and
Country' tube radio; vacuum wipers; vacuum w/s washer; power
steering; power brakes; power seat; six power windows; automatic
three-speed transmission; all leather upholstery (first time these
were all standard!) and a 'step-down' or 'cow-belly' frame.

A retractable hardtop was designed for the Mark II, but was never

Although the technology was given to the Ford Division
which produced the famous '57 Ford Skyliner.

The 'Continental Star' was designed for the new Continental Mark
Il—then it was used for all future Lincolns.

It was the most expensive American car: Cadillac was $5,100, the
Continental Mark II was $10,000! (A Rolls-Royce cost $13,000.)
However, it cost the Ford Motor Company $11,000 to build each
Mark II !

The car was scheduled to be produced for four years. But a
combination of too few customers, and Ford Motor Company going
public, killed the full run.

Of the original 3,015, about 1,000 are thought to be extant. If this is
true, it would be the highest percentage of remaining cars for a
car this old. This is attributed to the fact that it was considered
'special' the moment it appeared and many people treated them
carefully. AIso, many people have preserved the car in storage.

This phenomenon has tended to keep the price of the car down and
there is not much turnover. A 1956 Cadillac convertible tends to cost 
over $70,000 now, while a good Mark II, at twice the original cost, 
tends to be in the $40,000 to $50,000 range. This is expected to 
change soon. Prices have been increasing faster in the last few years. 
The Japanese have begun buying Mark IIs—a certain sign.

Next, Further Information.

Thursday, July 14, 2011



I'm a stickler for car upkeep. My Cadillac XLR has developed a situation I'm wanting to correct.

It's very minor but I'm very particular about the look of my cars.

On the lower front grille, there's a missing piece of the honeycomb. Most people wouldn't notice I suppose, but I do! It's been bothering me for a month.
Again, it's insignificant but I'll bet it'll cost a pretty penny. What do you think it will be?

Next, the Repair.

Monday, July 11, 2011



I don't mean to brag but my ancestry is extremely interesting and impressive. Skip this saga if you're bored, but I'll bet you'll find it fascinating and compelling. This pertains to: Donald Cooke Voth, Donald Voth and Don Voth.

My friend, Austin Clayton, God rest his soul, 
spent hundreds of hours on researching my ancestry.
He was a recluse and a genealogy nut. Every few days or so for years he would come to me with an exciting discovery. The interesting line is on my mother's side. As my genealogy became more interesting, he'd spend more time on mine than on his! I ended up with more than 2,000 people on my list. To print my family tree, so far, it would take 1208 pages!

Austin even had me take a saliva sample to verify certain lines via genealogical genetic testing. They do this using your DNA! I just took the simplest test which linked me strongly into my English and Scottish lineage. It cost $150. You could go up to a thousand dollars for a complete series! The company asked me for a blood sample. They said they wanted to use it for "source code."

The oldest on my charts is Euric, King of the Visigoths, born AD 415.  Although Austin said he had taken my lineage back well into BC, I never got any charts.

We had diagrams the size of wall-charts, delineating my descendancy from various famous, ancient and royal people. This one shows only from Unusit, King of the Picts (39th great, great grandfather) through many but not all of my English monarch ancestors. It's 20 pages.

Just to name drop a few:
My great, great, great, grandfather, Dr. Christopher Columbus Graham, the   
    inventor of Graham Flour.
I had four ancestors on the Mayflower: Francis Cooke, signatory of the Mayflower 
    Compact; also a father, mother and daughter who were picked up from a 
    shipwreck. The parents died on board.

Godgifu Mercia (Lady Godiva) and her husband:

Lorenzo "il Magnifico" de Medici:

(Notice a Bourbon King of France and a Stuart King of England!)

An English royal who won Staten Island, NYC in a card game with Charles I.
Joan Plantagenet (Joan of Arc).
A Brother of (Great Uncle) Jesus Christ! (This one really surprised me: an only 
    near-Eastern famous relative. PLUS, WHAT a find! Austin just casually 
    mentioned it one day. He never did give me a chart though. [There's a name for 
    the group of descendants of Jesus' brothers. Does anyone know it?])
Four saints: King Saint Louie IX of France, Saint Stephen I of Hungary, Saint 
    Margaret of Hungary and Saint Fernando of Castile.

Two Medici popes: (Popes could then be married.)

2 - Holy Roman Emperors: Charlemagne

and Maximillian I..
Five - Emperors of Byzantium.
Roman Emperor. (Austin just told me this one day, but I never heard who it was.)


Sunday, July 10, 2011



I decided to write 'My Italian Adventure' on the morning of August 15, 1986, when I was in Marianna, Florida working on the design and construction of my new prison project. In fact, it was 3 a.m!

The night before, I was spending a sleepless night, thinking about this and that, when I started to recall, in some detail, my wonderful time in Italy. Incidents from the entire period kept popping into my head. I then made myself concentrate only on the time before Ed had come to visit me in Firenze—to see how many aspects of the trip I could remember. It became so interesting to me and so exciting that I decided to pick up the story the next night. As I was falling asleep around three, I thought, I should write this down!

While I was writing this short story, I gave copies to various people to hopefully enjoy the story and also to give me feedback. Most were kind; some very helpful:

Judy, a neat lawyer at my weight reduction clinic, read an early version. She said she got so excited about the description of the food, that she had to go out to an Italian restaurant! Oh, well!

Kay, the executive assistant to my boss at work, liked it so much, she insisted that, I bring in my sketchbook. I brought her not only my sketchbook, but my photographs and postcards as well. She was delighted to see the photos and able to connect them to the story right away. She had just travelled to Italy, and liked reliving parts of her trip. She helped me pick out the best pictures for the story.

One day, I was sitting in the waiting room at my clinic, and was talking to Judy about ltaly. A lady whom I had seen there before, but did not know, overheard us and began to talk about being in Rome a few months before. She related, "There's a neat square in Rome that has a restaurant with the best chocola..."

"Tartufo Nero," I interrupted, "and it's in the Piazza Navona at the Ristorante Tre Scalina!"

Neither she nor I could believe that we had made that connection. None of the other people in the waiting room of the weight reduction clinic could believe we were sitting there, talking about a particular dessert that was only available halfway around the world! She divulged that directly across the piazza is a little trattoria that, reputedly, has the finest cappuccino in Italy, cautioning me to remember that they only serve it in the morning, which is the only time Italians drink cappuccino—yet another reason to return to Italy!

The spelling of 'tsatskes' was difficult to discover. I asked several people at work. No one knew. I asked Scott, my boss, whose wife is Jewish. He called home and his wife and mother-in-law (after an hour-long consultation) came up with 'tchotchkes', adding that if I really wanted to know the accepted spelling I should get The Joys of Yiddish by Leo Rosen. Sure, I thought, I'll just pop out and buy it. I finally asked Gayle, my boss's secretary. "Who's Jewish around here?"

After explaining what I was up to, she responded, "Harriet in Research would probably know."

Harriet explained that Yiddish is not a written language, therefore, there are several ways to spell the word. It's written phonetically. She suggested, 'chachkas'. I liked that for I had tentatively typed in ‘chakas.’ She also suggested that I go talk to Gerry in our Medical division.

Gerry knew less than anyone. But when I mentioned The Joys of Yiddish, he suggested I go to our library. I shrugged that off assuming that our specialized prison library wouldn't have such a book.

However, the next day, when I was in the library asking two other questions: the correct spellings of "Shirley MacLaine" and "Versailles." I off-handedly asked the librarian if he had a copy of The Joys of Yiddish. "Yes," he said matter-of-factly. Sure enough, there it was on the shelf in paperback. There were six spellings with ‘tsatskes' preferred that I'm now using. I looked at the definitions and saw not only my intended usage of 'bric-a-brac', but also another curious definition of 'a sexy, wanton woman'! At the end of my visit he said, delightedly, "It's the first time in months that I've had to use three reference books to look up information for the same request."

My adventure in Italy lasted four memorable months. Believe it or not, it took me four months to create this short story, so once again

  ---Life Imitates Art.


Donald Cooke Voth, Donald Voth, Don Voth

Saturday, July 9, 2011



I arrived in New York via Pakistani International Airlines from Paris. The plane was quite a bit behind schedule, and I missed my connecting flight to D.C. I called Ed to tell him, and he seemed rather upset. I said, "Well, at least, welcome me home!" He did. When I finally made it home three hours later, I discovered why he was so upset. He had ordered a big, dark blue limousine to pick me up. He sat for over an hour in that limo, excitedly awaiting my homecoming. (He was consoled, however slightly, by the champagne from the limo's bar.) I was disappointed that I missed it. But I was thrilled with the thoughtfulness of it.

I was glad to be home to hug Liza and get into the swing of things again. I did miss my other home though. With each arrival of a box from Firenze, my excitement about my adventure rose again. The rug finally arrived three months later. I was becoming concerned that it was lost. We put it under my grandmother's round, oak dining table. It was again


About three months later, I got a call from Arnette Zerbe saying she and her husband, Anthony Zerbe, were coming to Washington for Jenny's debut with Baryshnikov's American Ballet Theater! They wanted to take me and Ed to dinner and to their daughter's debut. We invited them over for drinks before the performance. How exciting! Arnette and I had a delightful time recalling our adventures in Italy. We all enjoyed getting to know each other. Anthony truly was 'Saint Anthony'—very special. 
Anthony and Arnette Zerbe today.
Jenny performed flawlessly. Afterwards, she and a few of her friends from the ballet troupe joined us for dinner. Off we went, packed like sardines in my old Jag to the American Cafe on Capitol Hill. One of her ballet friends was Cynthia Gregory—the Prima Ballerina Assoluta

She's a very down-to-earth woman and a lot of fun. We all had a ball. Baryshnikov was to come along but got another offer. I asked Jenny if she had enjoyed the telegram from the Parsons' Italian trip group. She said, "Yes. So you're the one who sent that!" 

When we were about to leave the restaurant, the waiter said to Anthony as he brought him back his charge card, “We were all wondering exactly who you were. You looked familiar, but we couldn't quite place you. Thank goodness you carry the American Express Card.” (Oddly enough, it was Cynthia Gregory, not Anthony, who would do one of the ‘Thank Goodness You Carry the American Express Card' television commercials a few months later.) As we were walking out, one of the waiters came up to Cynthia and told her how much he had enjoyed her performance the night before.

  ---Oh Fame!

Many times since my return I have wistfully thought about
 my Italian adventure.


Friday, July 8, 2011


AUTO GALLERY, Lewes, Delaware
Car Wax

I took my Cadillac XLR in for a wax. The Auto Gallery has a great reputation and I wanted to try them.

Bryan Hecksher, the owner, greets you as if you were a long-time customer and friend.

Terry, the receptionist, and Miles, the watchdog,
make you feel equally at home. They took great pains with the car for 3 hours!

While in the waiting room, I struck up a conversation with Bob, a retired military man who has lived all over the world who is also a retired policeman. We talked about the various cars we had owned, enjoying awing each others' tales. I showed him on the iPhone some of my cars—the 1956 Continental Mark II and the 1966 Lincoln Continental 4-door convertible—while he regaled me with stories of his 1953 Henry J. Finally, I thought he would be stumped by my first car:
1963 Karmann Ghia, Type 34 "RAZOR-EDGE".
"I had one of those," he exclaimed! I was flabbergasted. It turns out that he owned one when he was stationed in Germany. They were never imported into the United States. So, I'd guess he and I were among the dozen or so Americans who ever owned one!!! I've NEVER seen another one.

Well, it's the most beautiful wax job I've ever had! It's perfection. Fredo, the technician, first gave it a through cleaning and then took it clear down to the finish
by polishing ALL the spots away: swirl marks, water spots—everything before applying the wax.
I've never seen it look so good—even when I bought it it didn't shine like this.
And the cost was very reasonable at $90. I gave Fredo a $10 tip.

  ---I'll definitely go back and I'll recommend it to all my friends.

Monday, July 4, 2011


Lewes, Delaware

Robert and Timothy invited me to lunch at one of my favorite places: GILLIGAN'S. It's right on the Lewes and Rehoboth Canal in Lewes, half in an old Key West boat pearched on the bank!

The bar and kitchen are in the boat. The restaurant is on an extended deck along the water.
Half the deck is under two, huge glorious cherry trees.

The food is good but the setting and view are extraordinary!

I had a scrumptious crab cake (the house specialty). One of the best I've ever had!
Timothy and Robert had fried clam strips which they said were delicious.

I'm adding this restaurant to my favorites.