ginnyfan

In search of...Virginia Weidler

864 posts in this topic

> {quote:title=classicstarletsfan wrote:}{quote}"Boy, it must be rare! Awaiting five votes, no reviews, no discussion over at imdb"

> -----

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> Yes its a very rare one. I am a big fan of Child star Virginia and so have just about all her child films. I also have several very rare original scene stills from OUTSIDE THESE WALLS.

>

Well, the good news is that it's a Columbia film, so there's a chance they may show it at some point on TCM. Probably like many rare Columbia films, it will air at 7 AM! ;)

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> {quote:title=ziggyelman wrote:

> }{quote} Well, the good news is that it's a Columbia film, so there's a chance they may show it at some point on TCM. Probably like many rare Columbia films, it will air at 7 AM! ;)

Another chance might be for those who can receive AntennaTV. That service has been carrying a lot of movies made or distributed by Columbia. I've seen films as varied as NIGHTFALL (Aldo Ray), and GOIN' STEADY (Molly Bee) there.

 

That's where I saw THE LONE WOLF SPY HUNT a couple of weeks ago.

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> {quote:title=TopBilled wrote:}{quote}...

>

>

>

> Weidler was known at MGM for being able to upstage Mickey Rooney, something that very few people could do. They did a few films together, one of them being an Andy Hardy picture. I think it would be great to see an evening of these on TCM. And I definitely think Virginia Weidler should be honored in August for Summer Under the Stars, especially since all her MGM films are in the Turner Library and presumably so are her RKO pictures.

 

I should have asked this the day it was posted. What is the best way to go about requesting that these things be done? I would especially be interested in seeing the RKO film since I am much more familiar with the MGM work.

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I think keeping this thread alive is the best way. You are making your interest in her films known to the TCM programmers. They look at posts on these boards.

 

This is an easy request because they can access many of her films, except the Paramount titles which requires them to go through Universal.

 

Keep in mind that they probably have the line-up for this summer already determined but it is not too early to start making a case for next year's SUTS. And certainly, they could do a primetime salute to her any night of the year.

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I wanted to supply a small update to my efforts to find out more about Virginia's exit from show business.

 

Thanks to her website, gloriajeansings.com, and the wonderful couple who run it, I was able to get in touch with actress Gloria Jean to ask her about working with Ginny and whether or not she knew anything about her later life.

 

I had never tried to contact anyone from the business before, so I was unsure what to expect.

 

Within just a few days, I received a wonderful handwritten reply from Gloria. While she said they enjoyed working together, she was not able to offer additional information because they had not stayed in touch over the years. Still, Gloria's note was just so touching to me that she cerrtainly gained a bigger fan on this end.

 

 

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That's a great comment. You are fast becoming my favorite fellow poster around here. Personally, I think there should be a series of 'In Search of...' threads. I think you are on to something, and I certainly hope we can officially unravel the mystery of Weidler's exit from show biz. I would suggest trying to get in contact with any of her immediate family if possible.

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I have considered contacting her two sons, but I'm not particularly aggressive and I fear that if they had ever spoken about their mother after her death, I'd find those comments somewhere. So far, I've seen nothing indicating that either has ever mentioned their mother publicly.

 

Right now, I have a letter outstanding to "one of her contemporaries", but I'm a little less sure of a reply on this one than on Gloria's. With Gloria, I had her website friends assuring me that she would want to help if she could, and she has a reputation for kindness to fans. This letter was sent cold without any assurance of reply.

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Sounds interesting. Some of Virginia Weidler's films will air in July on TCM. I was happy to see a few of them on the schedule.

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Hi,

 

I'm not ready to add anything to my timeline yet, as I am still waiting for answers to some of my outstanding correspondence. I did, however, want to share a couple of things that might be of interest.

 

One is Weidler related, the other not.

 

First, I found the greatest Happy Birthday blog entry to Virginia at http://www.istavisio.com/6/post/2011/3/birthday-of-the-week-virginia-weidler.html . The author gets exactly what I feel about Ginny and her work. One of the comments after the entry was made by yours truly two days before I found myself here, when I was just getting started (and, no, my name isn't anymore "howie" than it is "ginnyfan").

 

The other one is that I just found out that my new friend Gloria Jean was interviewed recently for a Christmas website and the podcast that includes it can be found at http://mymerrychristmas.com/mmcepisode17.mp3 . Gloria shows up around minute 16.

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Hi ginnyfan. I just wanted to let you know that I am very happy for you and all the progress you are making in searching for information regarding your favorite!

 

In anything I have every seen Virginia Weidler in I always enjoyed her performances. I think she came close to stealing at least part of the film in The Philadelphia Story. She was just darling in that role!

 

I am at a "stand still" regarding "Julie" but I am not giving up. I am in the process of contacting other sites, and names to get their support for my petition.

 

Any ways, keep up the good work.

 

Thanks

Lori

 

 

 

 

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OK, so tonight I was cleaning up some odds and ends in my efforts. Earlier, I had contacted the blogger I mentioned in my last post, I followed up on my order of back issues of Classic Images, made a post here and then got the bright idea to send one more email to one more stranger who might have information or know someone with information.

 

So I start typing away, get about halfway through my recap of the end of Ginny's career and discover I need to pick up my son at his band concert. So I quickly close the yahoo mail and head out.

 

 

When I get home, there's an email waiting...from the person I apparently sent a half an email to. I really thought I hit save, but I guess it was send. The reply simply says, "Good luck with your research."

 

I had never even gotten to the point where I ask for the person's help. I'm sure the recipient had no clue as to what I why I was emailing in the first place.

 

 

Feeling like a total idiot, I quickly dashed off an apology and an assurance that I wasn't trying to sell a story or manuscript to the person, but only trying to find if the recipient knew of anyone with the answers I seek.

 

 

I just hope I didn't blow a chance at the answers.

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I thought my post tonight would be more about my own research, but I have to pause and write about the wonderful treat in my mailbox last Friday. My back issues of Classic Images arrived. Once again, thanks to MusicalNovelty for pointing them out to me.

 

The first one, issue 56 of Classic Film Collector, contains a fairly run-of-the-mill bio and look at Virginia's career. The one thing mentioned that I didn't know is that in addition to her Broadway activity in 1945, Virginia also played some summer stock. I'd be interested to find out if she had decided that leaving the Vaude-Pic and cabaret circuit and going back to acting, this time on stage, was the better course for her after several years on the road.

 

The other issue, no. 345, is the real gem. This is the one with Jean Porter's column about her good friend. I learned so much that I didn't know and haven't found anywhere else.

 

 

First, I had always thought that Jean and Ginny had become friends in the early 1940s. In fact Jean went to the same school as Ginny's older brothers and she met Ginny, three years younger, when Ginny was about ten. She said that Ginny never spoke unless spoken to in those situations. My own reading has indicated that, despite her success, Virginia was clearly still the little sister in most family situations. Socially, Jean was still closer to Virginia's brothers at that time.

 

 

Jean had a small part in The Under-Pup but their friendship blossomed when Jean was hired for The Youngest Profession, the film where I had assumed they met. At this point, despite their age difference, Jean and Annie Rooney allowed Ginny into their circle. Ginny had her first "pal", or boy friend-contract player Larry Nunn.

 

 

At this point Jean puts a little different slant on Ginny's end at MGM. She says that Virginia didn't like the projects she was offered and considered leaving. Eventually, Jean too would have trouble with MGM because of her dating Edward Dmytryk.

 

 

Jean doesn't mention Ginny's stage work at all and moves on to her marriage. After Dmytryk went to and got out of prison, he and Jean lived in an apartment building owned by Lionel and Virginia Krisel. The Dmytryks had lost a lot of friends over Edward's political problems, but the Krisels stood by them. The two families shared birthdays and family outings together and often went dancing wherever the Weidler Brothers were playing.

 

 

In 1968, Ginny canceled such an outing with Jean because she "had a little problem." On July 1, she died in her own bed with her entire family and a Christian Science practitioner praying over her. It was only after her death that her best friend learned of the illness that had been known to the family for years and that Ginny's life had been geared to this heart problem. She said she tried to read Mary Baker Eddy books to understand the family's outlook on their faith and Ginny's death.

 

 

This was a very long detailed article and featured several photos I have never seen anywhere else, such as those of the two with Edward Arnold on the night of the Screen Guild Theatre radio broadcast of YOUNGEST PROFESSION. There is also a cute photo of the young Ginny and Baby Leroy in cap and gown.

 

 

This article does a good job of answering one of my major questions, was the adult Weidler happy or bitter? Porter puts that to rest. Ginny loved her family, her friends, and her faith. I knew that George had introduced Doris Day to Christian Science but I was not aware that the entire Weidler family were practitioners.

 

 

Not being one myself, it does bother me a little that Ginny and her family may have avoided modern medical assistance over the years which could have prolonged her life and instead accepted "God's will", but that is surely their business and not mine.

 

 

I am still trying to find a solid answer to my question about the end of Virginia Weidler's movie career and whether or not the stage work was at least somewhat her choice.

 

 

If this post is too longwinded, I'm sorry. I'm just so excited to have found at least a part of the Weidler story I was looking for-and it has been available for the last eight years.

 

 

I leave you tonight with Jean Porter's final sentence: *Virginia Weidler Krisel was/is the nicest person I've ever known.*

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> {quote:title=TopBilled wrote:}{quote}Excellent post, ginnyfan. Thanks for taking us on this search with you.

 

Agreed! I'll second that! Thank you, Ginnyfan!

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Mark and TB,

 

Thank you both for reading and commenting. I've learned a lot about both Ginny and myself through this research.

 

I was a Communications major in college and considered journalism as a career for a time. I've learned that I made the right call when I abandoned that plan. I lack both the organizational skills and tne necessary detachment to be really good at this. I've caught myself, after mailing a letter to someone, saying, "I should have asked X!"

 

The detachment problem is, I think, fairly obvious. The more I read about her, the more photos I find, the more I really like this person. Even though I know how the story comes out in general terms, I find myself rooting for her. I went into this seeing Virginia as a victim, but I'm now hoping to find out enough to look at her as a victor. I want to find some evidence that the career choices made when she was 16 were a little more hers and a little less the industry's.

 

I never felt this way about H.L. Mencken when I wrote about him in college.

 

I've found a lot of little things showing how Ginny's image was evolving from THE WOMEN, through PHILADELPHIA, to BEST FOOT FORWARD and after. I'll try to share them once I have them a little more organized.

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I may've said it before, but I think we all find celebs/film stars that resonate with us.

 

I have a very close friend that Audie Murphy had taken under his wing. Her stories of him are so vivid. Now when I watch Audie on screen, I am seeing things and responding to things are almost extra-filmic. You begin to find the real person and their mannerisms and emotions take on added meaning. It becomes very personalized.

 

I think that is what is happening in your case with Weidler.

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Thanks, TB.

 

I just have to avoid telling people I meet at parties that my current BFF is someone who died 44 years ago when I was ten. LOL.

 

To be continued...

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> {quote:title=ginnyfan wrote:

> }{quote}My back issues of Classic Images arrived. Once again, thanks to MusicalNovelty for pointing them out to me.

>

I'm glad to hear that you ordered and received them. I wasn't sure how available certain back issues still are. I was ready to offer to send you copies of the articles from my old original issues if necessary.

 

You should continue to check out "Classic Images". It's a quality publication (despite my occasional contibutions! - most recently in the Feb. 2012 issue where I wrote a detailed article/tribute to one of my favorite child actresses, Susan Gordon, who became a good friend of mine over the years).

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Thanks, I will check out more issues. The Porter article was in an issue saluting Donald O'Connor and Ellen Drew. Those articles were also quite good.

 

I mentioned in the Susan Gordon thread that I had recently seen her appearance on Route 66. She was always a very believable child actress.

 

Tonight, I'm getting pumped up for ALL THIS, AND HEAVEN TOO in the morning.

 

(OK, it's actually on Wednesday morning. The days are all the same since I retired...)

 

Edited by: ginnyfan on May 22, 2012 8:06 AM

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Per your request ginnyfan. I can tell you now that what caused Virginia Weidler's early death at the age of 41 was the same thing that ultimately caused the death of John Garfield and Bobby Darin. What people say a lot of the time is that so, and so caught rheumatic fever, it damaged their hearts and they died at an earlier age. This however is not really the truth. The truth is that rheumatic fever occurs after the person has had an infection with bacteria called Streptococcus Grp A. (I worked for 15 years in Infection Control,) The majority of the time this infection occurs in the form of a really bad sore throat, e.g. strep throat.

 

The problem is that all three of these stars were born prior to the discovery of antibiotics so no treatment could be given to them, if indeed they or their doctors knew they were infected with Strep Grp. A.

 

 

Any ways what happens is that if the person is not treated properly during that infection, the bacteria causes an inflammatory response in many major organs and joints of the infected person. Unfortunately one of the most common organs that get infected is the heart. What happens is that the bacteria causes the sack around the heart to swell and the bacteria attaches what is called “vegetations’” to the valves in the heart. These vegetations’ have the ability to break off and block a coronary artery and if the blockage is big enough the person will suffer a heart attack or M.I. The vegetation can also break loose and enter into the person’s bloodstream, which causes bloodstream infections or septicemia. This if not treated, can be deadly of course.

 

 

Now in John Garfield’s case I know from all my reading that he most likely caught his Strep Grp A infection from riding the rails on his way home from traveling across country in 1929. He and a friend spent months on the road jumping freight trains, or thumbing a ride to different states working odd jobs to make ends meet. It sounds like they really lived the life of hobos. When Garfield returned to New York at the end of 1929 he was deathly ill with a temperature of 107! He was rushed to hospital and stayed there for three weeks. He was told when he left that his heart was permanently damaged by the infection. (His friend wasn't’t so lucky, he caught tuberculosis and died two months later.)

 

 

In Bobby Darin’s case I am not real sure. I know he was infected in the Strep bacteria as a child and for a good part of his childhood he was quite ill and weak. So I am pretty sure he knew he was living on borrowed time.

 

 

In Virginia Weidler's case it sounds like she was never aware that she was infected with Strep as a child. I read where in later years as an adult she was told that she must have been infected as a child. I guess this is possible, maybe she or her parents thought she just had a really bad sore throat and they treated her appropriately by keeping her fevers down so her temperature never reached as high as Garfield’s. It sounds like too that Ms. Weidler’s parents were not poor, so she most likely had good care, food and rest to get her through this infection due to a strong well fed immune system. Garfield on the other hand was a “slum kid” with a father that was dirt poor and who didn't’t give a rat’s a—about him.(His mother died when he was 7.) He for years had no bed to sleep on but instead had to sleep on a pile of old coats in the hallway, which rats frequently visited him at night. So Garfield’s immune system was probably pretty low when old Mr. Strep came to visit

 

 

The other thing I am not sure regarding Virginia is if prior to her death she experienced any signs of heart disease e.g. chest pains, tightness of the chest, or shortness of breath.

 

 

I know that both Garfield and Darin both experienced these symptoms from time to time, and Garfield had his first minor heart attack at the age of 36.

 

 

Virginia dies at home is all I know. I am not sure if she was actively dying or did she too die in her sleep? I don’t know that much about the Christian Science religion except that they do not believe in doctors or medicine. So, if that is the case I can only guess that her life might have been saved had she seen a doctor and / or sought out medical treatment. It is really hard to tell because like I said I don’t know if she was actively dying or did she suddenly die in her sleep. The other thing is she died in 1968 and I am not sure if open heart surgery was around back then. The problem with these poor souls who have rheumatic fever is that the not only frequently need bypass surgery but they also need valve replacement surgery as well, and sometimes that is just too much for the body to take.

 

 

So, Darin dies at age 37 after his second open heart surgery in 1973. He needs both his artificial heart valves replaced because he failed to take his pre-treatment antibiotic before a dental procedure. He then develops an infection after his dental procedure which of course attacks his valves. His surgery lasts 6 years, he is taken to the recovery room and dies there without regaining consciousness. From all accounts he knew he was suppose to take those antibiotics but didn't’t.

 

 

Garfield dies at the age of 39, after not sleeping for two nights in a row, playing 10 strenuous rounds of tennis, and then eating all the wrong foods. If he really died in his sleep or while doing something else it is not clear. The women whose apartment he died in had a lot of “holes” in her story. She also refused to let the police in when they got word Garfield had died. The police after one hour finally were forced to breakdown her door. (Makes one think was she trying to fix "things" or hide something she didn't want the police or press to know.)

 

 

Virginia died at age 41, very young for a woman even in 1968. I don’t imagine she lead the rather wild and at times foolish life styles that both Darin and Garfield did.

 

 

I would just like to know if she knew she was dying or did she really just suddenly die in her sleep?

 

 

So with Darin, I know his life could have been saved had he only taken his antibiotics prior to his dental appointment. I am kind of mad at Darin for this stupid move. I really loved him as a singer and he could have given his fans many more years of enjoyment.

 

 

With Garfield, I am not sure if his life could have been saved.Maybe if he really wasn't feeling well and did allow his friend to call a doctor. I really think though that he was so stressed and upset about the HUAC mess, the FBI following, his phone being tapped, his blacklisting and then seeing his friends turn their backs on him was just too much. I kind of believe what his daughter said, "My father didn't really die of a heart attack but more from a broken heart."

 

 

With Virginia I am pretty sure her life could have been saved had she sought out medical treatment. However, I guess her religious beliefs would not allow her to do this. I can imagine that her fans might have trouble understanding her decision.

 

 

It is very sad though that all three of these very talented people had to die at such early ages.

 

 

I hope this helped somewhat. I also hope you don’t mind that I brought both Darin and Garfield in the picture but I thought it was interesting that all 3 basically died from the same thing.

 

 

Please feel free to ask me anymore questions regarding Virginia’s early death. Especially if you find out how she actually died. (Did she know she was dying or did she die in her sleep.)

 

 

Lori

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Thanks, Lori. All I really know is what Jean Porter wrote in her column on Virginia. The story goes that they planned an outing for Mother's Day, the families often went out together and Virginia called to cancel, saying she had a small problem, couldn't go and would be in touch. She then states that Virginia died at home with family surrounding her holding hands, praying and singing so if by actively dying you mean that the family was called together because "it's time" the answer is yes.

 

The timeline gets a little confused by Jean on this point because she states they planned a Mother's Day outing for JUNE that Ginny cancelled, probably because she was getting worse. If we believe the Mother's Day part, Ginny was ill for about 45 days before death. If we believe the June part, it's more like two or three weeks.

 

Jean uses the rheumatic fever explanation and indicates that Ginny and the family knew, her life was controlled to allow for it, but her friends never knew until her death, or at least Jean didn't know.

 

I wish I knew a little more about Ginny's commitment to Christian Science and whether she avoided Western medicine because of it. I know from reading that Christian Science doesn't preclude modern medicine but that some practitioners think the traditional medicine and spritual healing would conflict.

 

So I'll ask another suppose question. If we assume Ginny relied solely on her religious practice at this point, what common treatment for the 1960s was she bypassing and could it have prolonged her life to any great extent?

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Hi ginnyfan. Number one it sounds like Ginny was actively dying. If she was sick for that prolonged of a time. And with her family at her bedside, holding hands and singing well her death sounds like it was not a suprise to anyone.

I still am not sure what symptoms she was displaying and you mentioned something about her life was controlled due to the rheumatic fever. I am assuming you mean she basically "took it easy" did not overly do any type of physical activity. This is very important for patients with rheumatic hearts!

Both Garfield's and Darin's doctors continually told them to "slow it down" but neither man did. (Men!) Just kidding.

 

I do believe that Ginny's life could have been prolonged had she only seen a doctor and agreed to treatment. Treatment probably would have been antibiotics, steroids, lots of rest, and maybe some oxygen therapy. She probably needed replacement of at least one of the cardiac valves, and maybe bypass surgery. I just found out the first successful open heart surgery occured here in the US in 1952. So in 1967 or 1968 I would imagine that improvement in surgical techniques had occured. So, yes her life probably could have been prolonged, and especially if she had open heart surgery and it was successful she might have lived to see the birth of her grand-children.

 

Again I hope this helps, and please let me know if you have any further questions. I like answering medical questions.

 

Thanks

Lori

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Lori,

 

You have given me a lot of information. I'm glad I asked you to be my "guest expert" this week.

 

I feel fortunate that I've gotten answers that settle a lot of my questions about Weidler's life. I now feel a lot better than I did after I read the dismal bios that appear on the internet. Ginny appears to have really had a good life post career. And that puts my mind at ease, silly as that may seem to others. (My teenage son refers to "that actress Dad's stalking.")

 

Additionally she seems to have had a really beautiful death, if such a thing exists. I wonder if she actually had a hand in planning it out, since she was as you say actively dying.

 

Now I really need to learn more somehow about the end of her movie career. I'm still waiting for a reply to the last letter I sent out, but I probably should also be trying to determine who is actually still alive and, of those, who might be responsive to my inquiries.

 

I've actually been spinning my wheels a little this month.

 

Edited by: ginnyfan on May 28, 2012 7:56 PM

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Hey ginnyfan. Now you got me interested in Ginny's passing. Do you know what the official cause of death was? Was an autopsy done? Also, if you can try to find out what symptoms she was displaying the weeks or days before her death would be helpful in putting the pieces together. If she had a high fever I would think she died from a bloodstream infection. If she was very short of breath, weak, and with swelling in her feet and ankles I would like maybe she died from congestive heart failure. I don't think it could have been a heart attack because when people die from that they usually have extreme chest pain, feel like an "elephant" is sitting on their chest, the heart stops due electrical problem and then they are gone. People don't actively die from a heart attack.

 

 

It is a real shame she died so young. I know during my quick research on her I read she had two sons. I am sure they were heart broken they lost their mother at such a young age.

 

Your teenage son sounds funny.

 

Thanks

Lori

 

 

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Lori,

 

I really don't have anything more on Ginny's death. I checked the California and SSA death indexes, but they don't show cause. I really think ordering up a full D/C might be crossing the line a tad.

 

I think that based on Jean Porter's writing and your evalution of the scant evidence, we can assume that it is much more likely that Ginny died of one of the causes you mentioned as opposed to myocardial infarction listed on most of the child actor websites.

 

We know that something happened that changed her health situation, made her cancel her family outing with Jean and that she went downhill from there. I have no medical experience of my own and never paid enough attention when my parents talked shop, so I'd be hard pressed to decide which of your two possible causes is more likely. If the timeframe is from Mother's Day to July 1, wouldn't that be an awfully long time to linger with a bloodstream infection? If Jean is just confused and it was a Father's Day outing, that becomes a little more likely.

 

I wish I could read the intent of Ginny's telling Jean she "had a small problem" and would be in touch soon. Does this mean that Ginny thought that whatever medical setback she was having would be short lived and that she'd be back to normal soon? Or was this Ginny's way of covering something serious since she had never told her friend of her health problems? I am, of course, assuming a connection between the broken date and her illness since I think Jean implies such a connection in her tribute.

 

If we assume that Ginny was having a mild episode of something at the time of her call to Jean-something she thought she get over shortly-but she then proceeded downhill from there, would that narrow the possibilities any?

 

I realize I'm writing a book over two paragraphs of an article an 80 year old wrote about an event from 37 years prior, but it's the most I've seen on the subject.

 

Gee Lori, I was preparing to move on to another subject this week, but you've got me all worked up over this one again.

 

Which is absolutely fine, btw. Thanks for being interested.

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