Sunday, August 16, 2009

Solving the Riddle of Lora Direnzo

This afternoon after listening to an NPR piece about the perils of too much internet, too much "Facebooking" and after seeing two Facebook "friends" voting yes on surveys bashing universal health care and supporting Glenn Beck, I was ready to say goodbye to it all -- not life, mind you, but blog, vlog, "personal networking" and all of that nonlife.

Just as this thought was hitting me, the message below popped up in delayed response to this post from more than a year ago

"To solve the riddle of "who was Lora Direnzo"....she was a real person. She immigrated from Canada to NYC, and finally to SFO. She lived many many years on Montgomery St in SFO. She was a flight attendant for The Flying Tiger Line. Her job allowed her to travel "off the beaten track" and she collected music along the way, music of every genre. She didn't look at all like Kim Novak, she was a very tall, dark haired Italian woman. In her youth she was a stunning woman. I flew with her for 25 years and knew her as well as anyone. She never let people get too close. She was a loner, always in her own world. I often wondered if she was lonely, but I think the music was her friend. If you happened to be on the same floor in a hotel while on a layover you could always hear music coming from her room. Sadly she died in January of 2008. She was 77. I was in her apartment once, and was amazed at what she "collected". So...if you own an album with Lora's name on it, know that you are holding one of her treasures. She was a unique woman."
-- CLee

I hadn't even made it to the third sentence before my cheeks were drenched in tears. I can fully explain why or how the story of Lora touches me on such a deep, deep level. Perhaps because I could say many of the things could be said about me -- okay, save from being an Italian woman.

We often think about what our legacy will be, especially if it will not be carried on by our bloodline, by some great work we created or some noble change we brought about. What if all that is left behind is a memory of our strong independence, our sense of taste and style, respect of our remaining co-workers and the scattered debris of our belongings in thrift shop bins. These humble remnants may be the profundity of life. Tonight, I pulled out that record of Lora's and lit a candle for her, conjuring up images of her in her finely tailored wool uniform as she served coffee over the Pacifc with grace and style.

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12 Comments:

At 10:19 PM, Blogger Aunty Christ said...

What an awesome, crazy, touching post.

 
At 10:27 PM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Aunty - And to think it came on a weekend when I had just said, "Why do I waste time blogging". This sort of connection really makes it all worth it.

 
At 3:38 PM, Blogger Aunty Christ said...

Well, aside from it being a cool story, I'm glad you're not going to quit blogging. That would be bad.

 
At 4:12 PM, Blogger Gregg Biggs said...

Aunty - Thanks. Getting to know you and Rich has been one of the perks of blogging. Facebook just isn't equal to blogging.

 
At 9:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was a flight attendant who flew overseas many, many times with Lora. She was truly unique. She took a photo of me in a shipyard in Libya we happened to wander into and to this day it is my favorite image of myself. I think of her from time to time and every time I see that photo. I'm glad I have something from her. You are lucky to have something she enjoyed. She was quite a lady.

 
At 9:40 PM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Anonymous - Thanks for sharing another story. I must say that my odd connection to her has been one of the most amazing experiences I've had with the internet. I don't know what it was about seeing the stamp with her name on those records that told me that this was a woman with class and distinction. I hope I have honored her memory properly.

 
At 12:49 PM, Anonymous Art Colon said...

As a new hire pilot with Flying Tigers,I remember Lora Direnzo well.I have often thought about her and now that she is gone I wish I had contacted her, just to see how things were going. She was special, very special.

 
At 2:45 AM, Blogger FRANCES said...

"who is Lora Di Renzo"...she is my aunt. She is my hero. I could not sleep tonight and got bored with the TV and so turned on my computor to check email and then for no apparent reason typed in...who is Lora Di Renzo...and was surprized to see the Flying Tigers logo! Lora was a very strong, independant, well travelled lady. She started her career as a flight attendant very early and was one of 4 survivors of a crash in Managua Nicaragua March 5 1959. I have photos of the crash and tons of pictures of her travels and some of the people she met. She did indeed live in Hamilton Ontario Canada, moved as far south as Florida for a while, (I still have an aunt, her sister, that lives there) and eventually moved to San Francisco and lived in an upper appartment on Montgomery St, until she died of cancer in 2008. She called me in Dec. of 2006 and swore me to absolute secrecy about her deteriorating condition. I kept her secret for over a year. In the end Lora lived a lot longer than she thought she would and gave away her treasures to trusted friends, sold off much of her collections to pay for her medical bills, and died peacefully in hospice care. It was my duty to make copies of her last words that she recorded on cassette, and distribute a copy to her surviving sisters. I have tons of music from her and photos and letters and doodle art work that she made into place mats and some of the best childhood memories and crazy photos from when she went wild with a fish eye lense on her camera one Christmas. She is missed by all of us. Her mother lived until 3 months shy of her 101st birthday. There are currently only 3 of Loras sisters still alive. Her niece, Fran

 
At 10:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I lost touch with Lora years ago and am grateful for these posts. I am sad to hear of her illness and passing. Lora was one of the most interesting people I have ever known. I flew with her from 1979 to 1990 and had many fascinating adventures with her. Once we took a small ferry to a tiny farm island in Okinawa, Japan. In the dot of the town that was there, about a dozen elderly citizens were conducting a New Year's prockers store. arade, cheered by homemade sake in a jug. Lora, I, and our friend Houston were invited to join and we danced in the streets with everyone for an hour. Another time, on her birthday in 1980, we were in London and I bought her a spiked leather bracelet at a punk She loved it and proudly wore it all day. Lloyd J.

 
At 10:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Somehow, in the post I just made, the words "rockers store" migrated from after the word "punk" to the middle of the word "parade." Cheers.

 
At 10:12 AM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Thanks for the further insights on Lora, Lloyd. I continue to be amazed and touched that my life has been oddly touched by those who knew her and sense that I too have been touched by her legacy. It makes me rethink what an "afterlife" may actually be. Long may she fly.

 
At 4:59 PM, Anonymous FRANCES said...

RE LORA...FEB 4 2016, I have not looked at this blog for quite some time...the address on the back of the record album cover...1526 6TH ST...I believe it is where she lived in Miami Florida...all rental units in that area (small divided homes) and most importantly close to Miami Int. airport where she would have flown out of, and close to her sister who is still alive today and lives on Southeast 8 Court. Lora did fly for Pan American Airlines for several years and their head quarters are in Miami.

 

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