Mood Lifters Surviving the Summer of 2020

I've watched and read an eclectic selection of films and books this summer. Here's those I guarantee will lift your mood and turn the summer of 2020 into the summer of love.

It Does Grow on Trees!

In this film, Irene Dunne, of Penny Serenade fame, plays Polly, a delightful mother of three who needs $$ to repair a screen window and to pay for school lunches so her oldest daughter doesn't have to bring a greasy lunch sack to school. When Polly wonders how she'll get the money, a $5 bill floats through the window. After that, every time the family needs something, shoes, a dress for the dance, movie tickets, the exact amount floats in--from the two trees in the backyard. One blooms $5 bills while another $10.

Dean Jagger, of White Christmas fame, plays Polly's husband. He doesn't believe that money grows on trees nor, if it did, should they spend it. After all, imagine what free money would do to the economy! What a fiscally responsible Republican he is! If only Cary Grant had played Polly's husband, then I wouldn't have minded his economic lessons. Oh, well, Dean Jagger was good too. He came to appreciate Polly's wisdom. Because Polly knew the world was full of wonder and trees that bloomed money.

Love is News

In this film, gorgeous Tyrone Power tricks lovely Loretta Young into giving him an exclusive interview about her upcoming wedding for his newspaper. Loretta Young naturally spends the rest of the film making a fool of Tyrone and, even more naturally, falling in love with him. Some of the plot is borrowed from other, better films, like a jail scene stolen fromĀ Bringing Up, Baby, but since we've all seen the better films more times than our age, this one is at least new and full of Loretta Young in clothes as lovely as she is and getting the best of a man.

Don Ameche plays Tyrone's boss, the editor of the newspaper. and he does a good job! I was so shocked to see him in a role that he had to play against type.

By the Great Horn Spoon

I saved the best for last. This is a ripsnorting adventure book about twelve-year old Jack and his butler who set out for gold-rich California. And it's not just any butler who accompanies Jack. This butler is Praiseworthy. Yes, that's his name, the only name worthy of him. I would place him head-to-head with Jeeves as best butler in the world, way above Mr. Carson. And if I wasn't already infatuated with Praiseworthy, he won my technical writer's heart by learning to box from a how-to book.

Jack sets out for California to help his Aunt Arabella keep her home. She had taken Jack and his sisters in when their parents had died. The letter he penned to her goes like:

Dear Aunt Arabella, Constance, and Sarah,
By this time you know that Praiseworthy and I have joined the gold rush to California. Please do not worry. We are getting plenty of exercise. Our ship is racing The Sea Raven to San Francisco.

Along the way, Jack and Praiseworthy meet Good Luck, a pig; Cut-Eye Higgins, a villainous dentist, and Pitch Pine Billy who teaches Jack to drink coffee. You'll want to meet them too! Sid Fleischman, the author, meant this for kids but why let them have all the fun?

I listened to an audio version, which was a full-cast recording, with each part read by a different actor. That truly added to the lively experience. I looked into the Disney film version called The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffins, available on Disney +, which looks shudder-inducing horrible. Don't watch it. Instead listen to the audio version. I got it from my public library so your library might have a copy too. By the Great Horn Spoon, you've got to read this!