from left to right in back row: the Perry brothers and their women: Fred, Heidi, Caroline, Roger, Andrew (who is the president of the family company, Peripole, one of the largest and most successful manufacturers and distributors of musical instruments to schools...also involved in teaching teachers how to teach music to school children). In the front row is the matriarch, Sylvia, 91 years old, Richard and me.

All 4 Perry brothers converged on Salem for last weekend to celebrate with their mother, the indomitable Sylvia Perry. I had been forewarned that Sylvia was having to use a walker and needed round-the-clock care but when Richard and I knocked on the door of her cheerful, spacious bungalow at the lovely Willamette Lutheran Retirement Community where she lives, it was she herself, sans walker, cane or any assistance whatsoever, who threw open the door and welcomed us in. She seemed spry, chipper and thrilled to have her family and friends around her for a delicious lunch that the staff at the center prepared for us all. I forgot my camera and so relied on others to take pictures some of them I include here but I hope I get others so I can name and show some of the devoted people who have made (and continue to make) Sylvia’s life safe and comfortable. There is Mo, for instance, her main caregiver. Mo is on a respirator because she has cancer and is going through chemo, yet her spirit is amazing, upbeat, caring. A truly remarkable woman. One of the things I adore about Sylvia is that she never ceases thanking, acknowledging and admiring all the people who help her. They were all present at all three gatherings. I will be sending a video that I made (with Randy’s help) in which they all introduce themselves..but it is being sent via snail mail. So–later for that. I just learned to use a flip video camera. In 7th heaven!!

me with two women who are caretakers for Richard's mother, Sylvia Perry. I asked one (on the left) what she did and she replied, "I am 'girl Friday'". I asked why and she said, "because I take care of her on Fridays." the brunette takes care of her on weekends, if I understood correctly.

from left to right in back row: the Perry brothers and their women: Fred, Heidi, Caroline, Roger, Andrew (who is the president of the family company, Peripole, one of the largest and most successful manufacturers and distributors of musical instruments to schools...also involved in teaching teachers how to teach music to school children). In the front row is the matriarch, Sylvia, 91 years old, Richard and me.

Here is 91 year-old Sylvia Perry, holding court at the first dinner she so generously hosted-- for all her sons, their women friends, grandchildren and caretakers. This happen in Salem, Oregon on Halloween weekend.

This is Andrew Perry's daughter, Ami and his granddaughter (Sylvia's great granddaughter) Pai.

Anyway, it was a fun weekend, especially cause I could find out things about Richard’s earlier life in Brooklyn and later in New Jersey, things about their father, Mack. Roger, the 2nd son after Richard, seems to have a better memory of details than Richard who had a bigger social life outside the family starting quite young. But Roger recounted some priceless stories.

I am not going into the election results. Still trying to understand its full ramifications. I wish the Dems could have been better and more strategic about telling the full story of all the the Obama administration has done–cause it has been wonderful. Could have been more, yes. Could have been tougher on those Wall Street bad guys who got us into the mess. But health care…I said I wasn’t going to get into it and I won’t. I am optimistic. I liked the president’s talk today. He wasn’t defensive. He was just as he should have been: sober, honest, open. My HUGE question remains: why do so many Americans vote against their base, core economic issues? I must go back and reread “What’s the Matter With Kansas?” It is astonishing and truly sickening that poor and lower middle class people vote to eliminate government–the only institution that can hope to protect their interests as long as it can be wrested away from corporate control!!! and vote to cut taxes for the rich etc etc. We MUST BE BETTER AT EDUCATING THE ELECTORATE!!


Share This Post
  1. Well hello Jane, once lived in Salem in the early sixties, love the people not the rain.
    Your so right about voters Jane.
    Producing something from almost nothing,good creative work ahead of you us working for change. Even with a social system where each person could have a say over his or her Educatioal outlook, the cost is still a issue. By addressing the most vulnerable populations you set out the major obstacles to the full participation in social justice. The economically or educationally disadvantaged persons are likely to be vulnerable to coercion or undue influence from a system bent with a history of abuse. We’re never so vulnerable than when we trust someone-or something. As Gandhi so will said:The measure of a country’s greatness should be based on how well it cares for its most vulnerable populations. The people deserve a budget and social system that invests in the future, protects the most vulnerable among them and helps to create jobs and economic security. That is the right of all people.

  2. I appreciate your comment about the elections and the question as to why the middle class vote against issues they should be voting for. ‘Tis truly a puzzlement!

  3. My sister who is the Director of Willamette Lutheran is often telling me stories of Ms.Sylvia Perry! I know she is one of her favorite people.
    Looks like a fun luncheon and I could see my sister and brother in law in one of your photos. I know she got to pick you and Richard up at the airport in “Bumble Bee”. Regards, Faye Ann

  4. Jane, just watched Richard in the great new Harry Nilsson documentary. Thought of you.

  5. I’m not so sure the poor and lower middle class did vote against their core values. I bet they just didn’t turn out! There was a dearth of African Americans at my poll location. They were not motivated and hustled like they were two years ago. I think that’s part of this dismal election. Also….ignorance on the part of the under-educated…a big issue.

  6. Jane; thanks so glad to see this as a good friend of Fred’s, who has met several of the brothers and nephews other family members it’s great to see his and Richard’s Mom and others I have heard so much about…I hope you all had a great time and I am also very glad to see you so happy..! TJ

  7. Well, I can’t help but state something on the election results. It was sad to see. I live in the suburbs of Detroit, where people are truly blue collar, union workers . . . . if they even have a job any more after the effects of the Bush years. Yet, people decided to vote republican. Michigan, in one night, became a republican controlled state. And now any work that Obama continues to do to get us out of this financial ruin will be given credit to the republicans. Sigh.
    I just got back from The Rally to Restore Sanity in Washington D.C. I know it sounds like a silly type of rally, but we really do need to restore sanity in this country! I never felt more American then standing there with 200,000 other people who all feel that the loudest voices of this country have gone to such an extreme in either direction. We need to find middle ground. We also, though, need to look out for each other. A country who is not willing to help the poorest citizens is a country who is not remembering the words of equality for all. And for those who say the poorest are lazy, deserving to be where they are, need to walk in those people’s shoes. How do you get a job to support your family when you can’t afford transportation to a job, you can’t afford proper clothes for an interview, you can’t afford childcare, you can’t afford to go to a dentist or a doctor? . . . . Now I am going to stop, or I will end up taking way too much space.

    • My mother’s sign for the Rally to Restore Sanity was great! It said, “Confused Senior Citizens for Sanity!”

  8. A bit off subject, but since Richard is in the record biz, have you all listened to the new Elton John / Leon Russell CD, The Union?

    I have been a long term fan of Leon Russell and am please to see him get attention and remembrance. He is still singing and playing great. Can’t believe he had brain surgery during the recording of the CD, but was right back in the studio in a week!

    He goes clear back to the Shindig….did you watch that, in CA?

    There is a CD called “Signature Songs” Leon Russell (2001), it is a stripped down almost acoustic version of just him, his piano, and his songs. If you have time, take a listen, I am so re-in love with this love songs.


  9. Jane, that is a terrific book recommendation for people who don’t understand the disappearance of moderate Republicanism and why blue collar folks always side with billionaires. Truly, it contains the best explanation out there.

  10. That has been my one and only complaint about the Obama Administration….not educating the electorate in a way they can understand and connect with! He has accomplished so much, but many do not understand what he has accomplished in such a short time.

    Looks like you had a wonderful time, Jane. It’s great to see you so content!

    (And I’m never, ever happier than when I am fishing on a stream….time evaporates….I am always shocked to find out the sun is setting and I’ve been out there for hours. There is nothing like it!)

  11. Thanks, Jane, for weighing in on the election. I, too, am stunned at the result….and, am disappointed that Obama and team didn’t (hasn’t) taken on the Wall Street gangsters that got us into this mess, but, the die is cast at this point, we’ll have to wait and see how things unfold.

  12. Jane, who does your fabulous hair?? Color and Cut??

    • Susan, it is Matthew Shields at the Sally Herschberger salon in Los Angeles

  13. Enjoyed the photos which brings back similar memories of my mother and truly agree with all you write about the election. It’s all about educating those who voted for Wall Street instead of Main Street!!!!!

  14. Jane,

    Well said! Fear was a big tool in this election used to get people to vote against their interests. Good news though in CA and MA election results.

  15. I do so agree, Jane.. why do folks vote against
    their self interests, especially economic? what
    can be done to eliminate corporate welfare, let’s call
    it what it is.. I am going to check out the book you
    How do we teach the electorate to disconnect from the
    Mass mind of fear and false information? Before 2012
    Which is really starting now.. the next election..

  16. It was great to see all these pictures! Sylvia sounds like such a strong, creative person who has accomplished a lot in her life! Her having and raising four sons are her greatest accomplishment, I think! The staff who takes care of her sound wonderful!:)

  17. Jane, you (and perhaps a few others who commented) need to read the following piece:
    Personally, I am not sure Obama, or anyone else, can educate the electorate. We appear to have eliminated “critical thinking” as a skill – it is certainly no longer taught in our schools. Further, it is extremely difficult to find intelligent debate on any issue from people running for office. All they do is scream at each other – much like Congress. Makes for great TV – not so much for informing the electorate. People no longer READ – newspapers, books, etc. They get their “information” from mostly biased media in the form of bullet points or sound bites. This does not make for coming to a rational conclusion on who or what to vote for or against. It is a fact that there are successful programs of ALL kinds in our country – and we have but to find them and copy them! The reason this is not happening is that the people with the money and the power have a vested interest in keeping the status quo! Until we can stop corporate influence, there is not much chance to change things.
    I am very much looking forward to your book!
    Bonnie Preston

  18. Thanks for dancing at our Halloween show in Salem! A good time was had by all!

  19. I think Obama is a very good president.
    he can do great things for the country, but it takes time

  20. Salem is not far from Portland where our house is. Wish I could have been a mouse hiding in the room….. Looks like a fun time…

  21. Richard’s mother sounds like someone I would want to be when I get up there, but I have 30 years to get there & probably won’t be able to afford caregivers by then but I have spent a lot of time being one to family and neighbors.

    I was expecting the House to go, but I live in Flori-duh and we now have a criminal (Medicare fraud) as our governor & a lunatic as my congressman. He doesn’t live in his district, he is a black Birther, was almost court-marshalled in the Iraq war, and you’ll love this — contributes article to a magazine that advocates that women should be sex slaves to men and wear slave choke collars. There is a deafening silence here.

    I am a big Obama supporter, but he has to grow some brass balls and stop being friendly to the republicans or it is all over. And he needs to start doing it NOW. Thanks for letting me sound off.

  22. Jane,

    Thank you for being a voice of reason. I’m a new reader of your blog who’s here in search of sanity!

  23. I am generally a Democrat and appreciate the health care legislation that was passed… but attack Wall Street? Small business provides more than half of the jobs in this country and many get their funding from investors including Wall Street. Most people who work on that street in Manhattan are generally hard-working middle-class people just trying to support their families.

    Ok, just to put in my two cents. Nice blog, btw.

  24. HOORAY! You asked the question that needs to be ASKED AND ANSWERED: Why do people of modest means vote AGAINST THEIR OWN INTERESTS and the future security of their families? I have a far right Republican friend who wants to eliminate pensions, Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance, and yet was first in line to collect government FEMA money to rebuild her chimney after the 1994 Northridge Quake. And, Jane, let’s not forget the MORAL HIGH ROAD they take. Maybe families will be strengthened by the need to band together for survival in future years. Speaking of which, I saw Romanza — nice job — haven’t seen Troy since he was 4 years old and I saw him all over St. Monica with Tom. Tom is an AWESOME father — always engaged, affectionate, interested. Troy must be a great Dad himself now with that role model!

  25. I agree with you Jane about the statement that many folks vote against their interests and is it racist????? This is the only conclusion that I have come to,having a grandmother who was very much aware of the depression, lived through it and your father starred brilliantly in THE GRAPES OF WRATH, I have been so surprised to hear well dressed, driving nice cars, folks complain that we are in a great depression. Is it that folks were so use to a high standard of living and their children so indulged that they cannot adjust to the current financial crisis ? There is alot to think about not to mention the current middle east conflict and how that is being looked at.

  26. My parents were always die hard Repblicans until they became old and started collecting Social Security/Medicare etc. Suddenly their political views switched. But at least they got it … 🙂

  27. Hi Jane. Excellent, I agree with you about the mid-term election. Looking forward to the two new films, they sound so different. Cool mention for Richard Perry at The Howling Hex blog, Chris.

  28. That was neat. Glad to hear the family stuff and that you were in my home state for Halloween. Very cool.

    On the election, it’s disappointing, but Oregon bucked the tide and maybe with these next two years more will see where we need to go if we want to keep our culture healthy. Education is sure the key.

  29. Jane,
    I loved your hour with Opera. Back when I was getting an advanced degree, I did the JF workout at least 3 times a week before running several miles. I was devoted to it and have been going to gym ever since. Of course, we are also politically on the same wavelength. Do you remember visiting a small college in western Kansas (Fort Hays State University) back in the 60’s? I was there, baby and
    at every war protest I could get to.
    Thanks for being there, Jane, through all the years for all the reasons. The movies, the exercise tapes, the marriages (yours and mine), the kids and grandkids, the causes and . . .well thanks for sharing it all.

  30. I was truly disappointed in the mid-term election. The Republicans were very effective at spreading dis-information and fear mongering. Are Americans really that ignorant?

  31. The problem with big government, it seems, is that it just becomes another humongous corporation run by individuals who are driven by the very same impulses that drive those who run other big corporations, so we may simply end up with an even more unsavory incarnation of whatever we attempted to get away from in the first place.

    After all, human nature is human nature, and history has shown that today’s idealistic revolutionaries have an unfortunate tendency to turn into tomorrow’s oppressors, as so beautifully illustrated by George Orwell in his Animal Farm.

    Once a big, powerful government infrastructure is in place, it can be abused for all kinds of nefarious purposes by future administrations who may be less caring about the general welfare than the current administration may be. And I think that’s what people are scared of.

    The other worry, of course, is that the entire system may collapse under its own entitlement weight, i.e., that the infamous “law of unintended consequences” may kick in. We must be careful not to inadvertently create the very opposite of what we wanted to create.

    It’s all very complicated. Without a solid grasp on history, economics, human nature, and how it all hangs together, it is very difficult for the average person who—besides work, family, and a social life—doesn’t have the luxury of devoting him- or herself full-time to studying the world in all its complexity to arrive at a fully informed conclusion as to what’s going on.

    At least I, personally, find that the more I inform myself, the more I become aware of how much I don’t know, and the more aware I become of how much I don’t know, the more insecure I become as to who I should vote for.

  32. As a current resident of the infamous what’s the matter with state, I have to tell you that I am very discouraged about folks continuing to vote against their own interest. And it is no longer just Kansas, nor was it really ever, but the state has such a long history of progressive stances on so many issues that it affords such a pristine example of how, and why, this devolution happens. Folks of every stripe should read the book, and see the documentary. It offers some explanations, but no answers.

  33. Jane,
    I just saw your interview with Oprah & it was just wonderful. I love your honesty. I was just wondering if you would mind sharing your plastic surgeons name. You look marvelous!!! Keep doing what your doing. Thanks, Linda

    • Linda, go to “Ask Jane” for your answer which I have answered a lot.

  34. post comment : Starting to feel that he political process is more like a film plot.
    Our system is a fast moving train headed for the washed out overpass ,we concerned about who this conductor are for each car , but is really does not matter. The conductors are going to tell you ” everything is fine say in you seat and don’t worry”. The Engineer just keep moving along ,could be anyone as Engineer ,does not matter his job is just to get form A to B. The only person who is of importance is the person who puts the break on, could be anyone , just to stop the train so we all don’t fall in the great gap. But the train just keeps on going and going on and on…

  35. Love the image of the single person putting on the break to stop the runaway train! If each of us (putting the onus on myself first) who are scratching our heads and wondering why people would vote against themselves were to figuratively and literaly stand up and put the break on that would be something!

    We all gave so much to the 2008 election that many of us were still resting on that momentus victory, as well as just trying to survive the economic aftermath of the Great Recession, that we essentially sat this one out. But there is no rest for the weary.

    But it may not be as bad as it seems. The mid-term elections are not as earth shattering as our sensationalism-addicted media and culture are making them out to be. Theoretically speaking things were a little one-sided and maybe needed more balance. As in most midterm elections, the party not controlling the White House gained ground. A check and balance system is what our political system favors. Theoretically….

    Unfortunately, we optimistic liberals want to assume that everyone will do the right thing and play together nicely. But much of the republican leadershp has made it clear that that ain’t gonna happen. Their agenda is simple – defeat Obama. Whether that agenda is good for the people doesn’t seem to be a concern. And many of them are misguided and believe that anything Obama has proposed is not good for the people. Maybe “misguided” is not the correct term – but I try to give people the benefit of the doubt.

    I am a strong proponent of Obama’s agenda and the direction he is moving – even with the war. Because he is making strides, he is moving in a direction – and honestly, what do I know?! These are tough, tough problems, some that are centuries old. Everyone, Dem’s included, need to give the guy a break. What exactly were people expecting?! God knows I wouldn’t want to be in his shoes and I feel pretty good about him wearing those shoes and doing the best he can.

    A healthcare system that operates for profit is amoral in my opinion and I will not be satisfied until we have a national healthcare option with am emphasis on prevention. I want the big pharma and AMA lobbyists to be trounced and silenced because they DO NOT have anyone’s best interests in mind but their own. I in no way believe that they are best suited to call the shots for healthcare in this country. And I think Obama is doing what he can to move in that direction. That’s a lot of money, power and tradition to go up against. The fight has only just begun. And he needs support now more than ever.

    Therefore it is time to speak-up and speak loud. From whatever pulpit or vehicle you can find. Let’s get busy.

  36. I think the way to a better future for our country is really bound up in the golden rule – Do unto others as you would have them do unto you! This was beautifully illustrated in about the last 15 minutes of a Frontline episode a few years back. Here’s the link to the transcript.
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/workplace/etc/script.html The transcript is long, but it’s worth the time!

    I honestly believe that voting your own economic interests is a recipe for disaster. We need to look next door, get to know our neighbors and help our neighbors. I think while there are things the gov can do that are helpful, a desire for government interventions can be a way to shirk our personal responsibility to BE the solution! I think at least some of our troubles in America are a result of our isolation from each other…

Leave a Reply