From the Horse's Mouth
Behind the scenes tales of San Francisco’s legendary Iron Horse restaurant, as told from the horse's mouth.
After her stint in France (I Found My Tomorrow in Paris), Marilyn settles in San Francisco where she eventually meets and marries Leo Giorgetti, the charismatic owner of the Iron Horse from 1954 to 1973. This is the humorous and heartfelt story of Leo and the birth of "The Horse" as seen through "The Horse's" eyes.
"From the Horse's Mouth" is a slice-of-life peek into a bygone era when the martini was the drink of the day and hats and white gloves where de'rigeur for the ladies. We rub elbows with the likes of Joe DiMaggio and the famous sports figures of the day and join in the pulsing energy of the standing-room-only crowds. Spontaneous visits from celebrities such as Liberace, Sammy Davis Jr, Lou Rawls or Maria Callas, as she serves salad to the customers, are the norm.
Excerpts from the book:
One beautiful morning, Leo opened the doors at 11:00 as usual when an apparition resembling Popeye’s Olive Oil walked in and headed for the bar. She was a sight to behold, wearing a flimsy bathrobe with slippers on her feet and her stringy hair attempting to escape from a “snood” (a flimsy hair-net popular in the 40s).
Leo approached her with trepidation. He cautiously greeted her and naturally asked her wishes. “I wanna drink,” she said. When told the bar was not open yet she launched into a tirade of profanity so vile it made Leo take a step backward. In her delivery of this litany and while calling Leo every name in the book, her robe was not doing the job it was designed to do and it was obvious to Leo and Pucci, the bartender, that she had nothing on underneath. Leo thought "Uh oh, I'm in trouble..."
On December 11, 1941, four days after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and the United States entered World War II, Leo turned twenty-one… he joined the Coast Guard… So it came to be that he was stationed at Orick, California, situated on the northern coastline. During the war it was common, in fact it was often necessary, for servicemen to hitchhike across the country from base-camp to home when they were on liberty. Leo was no exception. His only means of travel was by standing on the shoulder of the lonely two-lane roads and sticking his thumb out in the direction he wanted to go.
One bleak day, a weary traveler, he came home to Half Moon Bay, greeted his father and not seeing his mother asked, “Where’s Mama?”
“Oh, she’s on the other side of the highway. She can’t come home.” "What do you mean she can't come home?"...
I Found My Tomorrow in Paris
Her life in chaos after the termination of a 30 year marriage, this adventurous woman chucks it all and escapes to France to find some meaning to the second half of her life. Not knowing a soul or the language, and step by divinely-led (sometimes comical, but always-challenging) step, she re-shapes her life's course despite a letter from home which threatens to disrupt her journey. Not wanting a frivolous life on the Cote d'Azure, she moves to Paris. What she encounters there, after a serendipitous phone call and a chance meeting with an American business man, is far more then her wildest imaginings. She delves into her past to find her tomorrow. Finally, what she sees on television beckons her home.A story of friendship, betrayal, and discovery of self.
Excerpts from the book:
"While I had envisioned living in an architecturally significant, even romantic edifice (And why not dream?) I find my new residence a rather drab and mediocre building. It seemed enough that I was in France, living on the Côte d’Azur. Naïve reasoning reassures me though that I can always move if I should find something more…well, French... Now, what could be called the kitchen really is a nook with a bar-sized sink. Not four burners—as is the norm—but a two-burner range, a miniscule fridge, and a few skinny cupboards. No gourmet meals prepared in this space. I guess I can stand to lose a little weight. Still, I won’t be able to avoid the kitchen entirely. Necessity will force me to use it on occasion. Necessity also demands some groceries. Soon.
Despite the drizzle and predicted showers for the day, and since I am desperate to get food into the apartment, I decide to go grocery shopping anyway. As a prelude to rain, dark clouds have been piling in all morning, but I figure I still have plenty of time and doggedly embrace the challenge. This is, after all, my first attempt at trying to be French. So off I go, out into the streets of Nice on my first adventure as an actual resident....
With my head in the clouds and feeling giddy, I grab a cart and proceed to fill it. I need everything. Decadent and exotic merchandise surrounds me, things I cannot buy in the States: creamy chocolate spread (wow!), confiture de figue (must be fig jam) and, oh, my goodness! —the milk cartons are not refrigerated. Like the proverbial kid in a candy store I mosey down the aisles, anticipating some glutinous eating back at my new apartment and paying little mind to the other shoppers with tote bags over their arms. I continue to thread my way between stacks of merchandises, plucking various items from their shelves and steering my brimming cart to the nearest checkout stand.
To my amazement the clerk hands me several small plastic bags. What are these? She wants me to bag my own groceries? I plead timidly, “But these are très petites. Unmoved and without so much as a glance my way she points to some larger bags, any of which I can buy for two francs each. I buy three. But she’s not finished. She rambles something off in French, all the while jabbing the air in the direction behind me. Bordering on panic, I glance in the given direction then back to her. What is she trying to tell me? Again, I look over my shoulder. All I see is the produce section. Nothing. I look back at her. Still nothing. But from behind me, whispers of “Américaine” have me turning around yet again. Impatient shoppers have since lined up, each one shaking his head. Then, ah. Beyond their wagging heads and prominently displayed in the produce section—a sign. In French, naturally.
ALL PRODUCE MUST BE WEIGHED AND MARKED BY THE ATTENDANT.
Mon Dieu! I rush past the line of grim faces to the produce clerk who carefully weighs and marks my little treasures. By now a wave of heat has spread over the back of my neck, and even my ears feel hot. I rush back to the clerk in a state of sweltering humiliation and toss my remaining groceries—in their très petite bags—onto the counter, which has not stopped moving in my absence. I search the counter area, but…where are my other groceries? My face is pulsing now with heat and blinking, I imagine, like a neon light: Look! Look! Américaine! The cashier tallies my bill, and finally she looks at me. Totally distraught and not about to hold up the line a second longer, I press my money into her extended hand, hoist what few goodies I have, and start for the exit, my eyes fixed straight ahead. I cannot walk fast enough back up these linoleum steps, thinking how the smallest things can so quickly shatter a confidence. The closer I get to the doorway I feel the outside air starting to cool my face. I draw in a slow, steady breath and try to regain my composure.
Out into the street the first tiny drops tap my nose and cheek. I look up. Apparently, I misjudged the weather too. Very dark clouds are about to give way. I hug my Tres petite bags to my chest and dash from the site of my disgrace for home. I just hope the bags that are getting soaked will hold together.
No such luck. Worse. My bags burst over the counter top, and in the solace of my kitchen nook I delve into the soggy mess.
No poulet (chicken)
No riz (rice)
No Swiss cheese or oranges..."
"While October brought the beginning of school, it also heralded a change in the weather. The sun softens earlier. Sometimes it completely disappears under low-hanging overcast skies that grow more and more somber, until darkness envelops the city. An eerie mist slithers up then, from the river to the streetlamps, and casts reddish haloes over the boulevards. It’s another world after dark.... Weekly mornings, on the other hand, run on the predictable rhythm of ritual.
Each near-dawn the alarm clock gets me up and about my morning ministrations: a thank-you meditation, a shower, maybe some yogurt and a banana, then off into the pre-dawn darkness for a short walk along the Champs Élysées. After two blocks, I venture down into the truly dark bowels of Paris for the metro, in which several passengers and I sit trance-like until our underground destination. From there we disembark and scurry through dimly lit tunnels past vendors hawking their wares and, eventually, resurface into the still-dark Parisian mist—like rodents venturing out from our holes. My destination? Boulevard St. Michel.
I follow along the bank of the Seine.
The Seine... It reeks of centuries of use, lost lives, and eons of waste. The muddy, unforgiving flow advances along its course, an innocent receptor of untold atrocities. What forbidden secrets it must hold. The river begs forgiveness for its part in receiving spoils of hundreds of decades of abuse. Yet its mindless, soothing surge forgives all and accepts its destiny—a landmark of truth.
From across this flowing dark mass the bells of Notre Dame toll out the hour. One… Two… Three… Eight reverberating bongs. I stop to gaze at its illuminated Gothic towers and listen. I feel heaven’s angels all around me in what feels like timeless, unnatural peace. This spiritual something stays with me for two blocks more. It lingers as I step inside the building of education and clump three flights to my classroom. It lingers, until I fix the ear-phones to my head and hear the first drone of “Maintenant étudients. Répétez.” The exchange of realities is instant, and repetition is my world for the next several hours..."
Raves and Reviews
I Found My Tomorrow in Paris
"The true story of a middle-aged, recently divorced American woman who plans a six month educational visit to Nice. But, she loves France so much, she heads to Paris, studies at the Sorbonne, extends her visa, and lives life to it's fullest. While reading, I pictured Marilyn as Mary Tyler Moore singing "She's going to make it after all," in French while tossing her beret in the air. This book is full of positive thinking and can make even the biggest nay sayers believe they can accomplish anything they want." -Goodreads Reader Patti Wilson
"A wonderful memoir about a plucky middle age woman who, after child rearing and marriage, finds the desire and freedom to seek her own dreams. She sets off on the adventure of a lifetime in France while changing the course of her future. I enjoyed accompanying her as she dined in Bistros, walked the promenades, learned the language, and became a student at the Sorbonne. I admired her determination as she navigated the challenges, setbacks, and joys of establishing herself alone as a French resident and starting anew. A quick and inspiring read!" - Amazon Reader Jill M.
"Absolutely wonderful book. A fun read - hard to put down. A very inspirational book for any woman (particularly older) who wants to adventure out to new experiences and self-discovery. A story of new friendships and characters you would love to have as friends. Highly recommend as a well written, interesting, inspirational and fun account of new beginnings." -Amazon Reader Janice Greene
"A book for all women who want to start over and feel the ambiance of living in France while learning about one's self." -Amazon Reader Gloria Simmons