Friday, December 17, 2010
It Really is A Wonderful Life!
Thank you, Tina for the invitation to ‘reprise’ my recent Inkwell Inspirations blog post and share it with my friends at Seekerville. I’m usually here everyday anyway and today I brought the treats. Zuzu’s, a great café in George Bailey’s hometown has offered to cater. I hope you’re hungry, because they have awesome baked goods, sandwiches and soups. Next year, Ruthy and I may just be entering the Cinnamon Bun Eating Contest!
So. Have you had your "It's A Wonderful Life" fix yet this year?
The movie is based on “The Greatest Gift,” by Civil War historian Philip Van Doren Stern. The story goes that Stern got the idea while shaving one morning in 1938, shopped it around with no bites, and later decided to just send the story out with his next Christmas card mailing. Somehow the story ended up before movie producer Frank Capra.
It was the story I had been looking for all my life! A good man, ambitious. But so busy helping others, life seems to pass him by. Despondent. He wishes he had never been born. He gets his wish. Through the eyes of a guardian angel he sees the world as it would have been had he not been born. Wow! What an idea. The kind of idea that when I get old and sick and scared and ready to die -- they'll say, 'He made The Greatest Gift.' -Frank Capra
Capra jumped on the idea for a movie and was in New York City in November 1945 trying to talk Jean Arthur into the female lead. From there he supposedly left to visit his aunt in Auburn, NY, and likely would have traveled up through Ithaca and Seneca Falls. A barber in town, Mr. Bellisima, recalled a discussion with a man named Capra, about family roots in Italy. He didn’t realize a ‘celebrity’ was in his shop until the movie came out.
This isn't a scene from the movie, this is Seneca Falls, N.Y. What do you think?
It’s quite possible Capra crossed the steel bridge and caught sight of a plaque honoring Seneca Falls resident Antonio Varacalli. In April 1917, this hero dove into the icy canal waters to rescue a girl attempting suicide. Varacalli saved her but was overcome by fatigue and drowned. His story is worthy of its own movie.
If the town fit the setting Capra had in mind, then the bridge and this story would have sealed the deal. So little Seneca Falls NY claims the title “The Real Bedford Falls” based on a lot of ‘evidence’—debatable, sure, but who wants to argue with so much good feeling?
Karolyn Grimes, the movie’s Zuzu comes each year to lead the festivities when Seneca Falls hosts the “It’s a Wonderful Life” Festival. "Zuzu" has her own amazing story and spreads cheer and encouragement year round. She’s as beautiful and warm in person as you’d hope, and I’ve enjoyed meeting her in person.
New this year is the It’s a Wonderful Life Museum and a clever play simulating a ‘live’ radio show. Those who’ve seen it say it’s not to be missed. Guess I’ll be going next year. To add to the fun, the actors were seen around town in costume and character.
This year's celebration was Dec 10-12, but Seneca Falls welcomes visitors all year as it's also the home to the National Park Service as the Birthplace of Women's Rights. Come and visit the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York. We love tourist dollars!
For more, click on these links:
The Real Bedford Falls
Chef Casey Galloway serves up a warm one from her oven.
This year’s schedule of events-- It’s a Wonderful Life Festival Dec 10-12
Karolyn Grimes, "ZuZu"
Above, "It's A Wonderful 4k Run" breaks across what has become known as the George Bailey Bridge.
I’m glad you stopped by to share some history of It's a Wonderful Life! We’ll be drawing two names for winners. I’m giving away an autographed copy of ZuZu’s cookbook containing vintage recipes and some memories and factoids about the movie. Frankly, when I got a chance to look through it I had second thoughts about giving it away. Seekerville will be giving away a DVD of It's A Wonderful Life too. So, if you’re a big fan of the movie or know someone who is, let us know in your comments. Winners announced in the Weekend Edition.
For more holiday fun in the Finger Lakes, the idyllic town of Skaneateles hosts Dickens Weekends in December, with costumed participants roaming the streets while shopkeepers and strolling carolers welcome shoppers and big fluffy snowflakes too.
If you love a Victorian Christmas, watch for “Prince Albert is to Blame” December 21 at the Inkwell.
Debra E. Marvin tries not to run too far from real life but the imagination born out of being an only child has a powerful draw. Besides, the voices in her head tend to agree with all the sensible things she says. Debra likes to write, weed and wander and is blessed to have the best family and friends in the world. She’s thankful each day that God is in control, that He chooses to bless us despite ourselves and that He has a sense of humor.