Nora’s Corner

Dime Store Treats and Treasures

Present-day Dollar Stores were dime stores in my youth, and the merchandise in my dime stores was even tackier than what is in today’s descendants of dime stores. But the treasures I found in Woolworth’s, Kresge’s, and Newberry’s are now…

Looking for Fried Catfish in Maryland

Fried catfish was on the menu of the restaurant where we were eating lunch. My Caplan niece’s boyfriend was excited. He usually had a hard time finding it locally. “Down there,” he assumed we knew he meant south Louisiana, “you…

Alice, the White Rabbit and I

It was the 1933 movie version of “Alice in Wonderland” that first introduced me to this Lewis Carroll classic. The bizarre characters didn’t frighten me because they were played by an all-star cast that was familiar to me. Even though…

Revisiting the Trysting Place

Photo | Lisa Dane

Nora Caplan revisits the historic Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C., during the Christmas holidays.

During the Christmas holidays, my family gave me a rare treat—an auto tour of downtown Washington, D.C. They didn’t know, however, when we took a break at the historic Willard Hotel just how personally significant this landmark was to us.…

Travel Talk

When I was a child, my mother’s strictest rule for me was “Never talk to strangers.” Many years later, I not only unconsciously ignored that rule, but talking to strangers became an essential part of my travel experiences. I found…

Big Bands—Big Business

My father was in charge of the fountain room and dance hall box office of Half-A-Hill, my parents’ restaurant and nightclub near Springfield, Missouri, from 1920 to 1939. He also bought all the supplies needed for this business. During the…

Another View of California

Photo | Submitted

On a recent trip to the northern California coast, Nora Caplan stopped at the Point Cabrillo Lighthouse in Mendocino, an historic site on a headland projecting far out into the ocean.

As a visitor, I’m a fan of California’s diversity of landscapes and historic sites. Over a period of some 40 years I’ve had the pleasure of savoring: The magnificent view of the Pacific from San Diego’s Point Loma with its…

Home Again in Independence

In 1948 I cast my first vote for President Truman. By then my loyalty to him wasn’t just that he was from my home state of Missouri and had taken on the burdens left to him by the death of…

Gifts My Parents Never Gave Me, Part II

Photo | Submitted

Nora Caplan inherited her father’s nose and eyes.

For most of my father’s life he was a specialty grocer and restaurateur. He had acquired a knowledge of how and where to purchase the best and freshest produce, meat, canned goods—every kind of quality food that customers expected in…

Gifts My Parents Never Gave Me, Part I

President Richard M. Nixon used to lament about his childhood, saying, “I never had a pony.” My parents did, however, give me a pony. He was a brown-and-white pinto with a hostile disposition. We shared an aversion to each other,…