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A Letter To The French Docteur Who Monitored My Pulse

Desiree Kendrick

© Copyright 2019 by Desiree Kendrick

Photo of harbor at Nice.

After embarking on a river cruise in Provence, France, I extended my trip to explore on my own. I did my research before I left home and planned my itinerary for Nice. This incident was NOT on my top ten things-to-do list. . . .


Arrival in Lagos, Nigeria

Guy M. Tombs

© Copyright 2019 by Guy M. Tombs


Classroom in Nigeria.

These are first impressions of what was to be a two and a half year stay in Nigeria. There are many more stories to tell.

I am writing now because I wish to set out my first impressions. I am well and have regained some lost sleep. Apparently I shall be posted to Northwestern State, the capital of which is Sokoto. I have heard of its extreme heat. The city is ancient. I believe I can choose to go to the south of the state, to Minna or thereabouts. I shall be teaching at a Teachers’ Training College. There is a dire need for teachers like me in the North. I’ll be teaching English, pretty much as I had thought and so carefully prepared for: English as a Second Language. . . .


My Aunty


Margie Hofman 


© Copyright 2019 by Margie Hofman 


Photo of a german parachuting down.

Aunty, my mother’s sister, lived in a small house with her daughter-in-law and granddaughter. One evening in 1943 they all went up the road to join her other sister and her family as they were all nervous of the bombing.

Suddenly they heard the Germans flying towards London and thought “That’s all right, they are going to London direct and will not bother us. BUT, on their way back, they decided to unload the unused bombs on the countryside near the sea. Aunty’s little house got a direct hit. She came home and the house was flattened in a circle. They heard a noise and there was the pet canary still in its cage. . . .


Small Lives

Bill Cox

© Copyright 2018 by Bill Cox

Photo of a nuthatch.
Small lives, fully lived.
Loving kin, battling rivals.
Brilliant lives, shining brightly,
Fighting the dark embrace,
Of the encroaching night. . . .


Bill Price

Don Shook

© Copyright 2019 by Don Shook

Photo of a hand with a pistol.

A .22 caliber revolver pointed two feet from my forehead was no way to greet that beautiful autumn morning. Were it on stage or another "let's pretend" scenario I could have understood. But this, I assumed, was of dead earnest intent by one of my high-school students whose demeanor defied any semblance of normalcy. With his fat finger on the trigger and a surly grin on his face, he stood above my desk threatening to be my last sight on earth. In my previous teaching jobs I thought I had experienced surprising events; but none even started to compare. . . .


Reborn to Die Again

Amanda Pedersen

© Copyright 2019 by Amanda Pedersen

Photo of a wrecked white car.

The engine of my white Mini Cooper sputtered. The winter’s weather was harsh, and the roads weren’t any better. They were slippery, ice strewn. The temperature gage shows fourteen degrees below zero. Wrapped up in my wool coat, the cold didn’t faze me. . . .

A Dream About The Other World

Laura Labno


© Copyright 2019 by Laura Labno

Photo of people in a que.

I dreamed a strange dream this night. Of course, all dreams hold strangeness of a kind but this one made me feel in that particularly unpleasant way – It left an aftertaste which made me feel drained. There were lots of plots in it, which I'm not quite able to describe but I remember that there was my dad in it. And he wasn't happy. Maybe it's because I talked with him yesterday, thats why I dreamed him. . . .


Should the Government be Involved in Equal Pay for Women?

(Prepared for debate in 6th grade class)

Zinnia Nichols Loller


© Copyright 2019 by Zinnia Nichols Loller


Chart about pay gap.

The way the pay gap works is through interrupted careers, less working hours due to motherhood, and decreased future earnings. These decreased future earnings come to an average of $419,000 during a lifetime (Cable News Network). That’s a lot. None of these things will change with time, making the gender pay gap something that will never be completely resolved unless we do something. . . .


Slight Panic on the Midwest-Bound Express Train

Xiaochen Su

© Copyright 2019 by Xiaochen Su

Photo of a stalled train.

The interregional express train from Boston bound for Chicago suddenly ground to a halt, jolting me awake as I was napping away on the slow weekday afternoon.

Rubbing my eyes, I stared outside the window for clues to what could have brought the regular long-haul Amtrak service to a halt. The setting sun was painting the sky a glowing red, as the wheat field below, ready for their fall harvest, swayed gently in the wind. No station, no town, not even a dirt path that a truck can drive up to. It was, quite obviously, not a routine stop a train would take to unload passengers. . . .


Just Another Night Shift

Laura Labno


© Copyright 2019 by Laura Labno

Photo of concrete wall.

It was a peaceful night shift at the fast food place where I work. Saturday nights tend to get busy at around midnight when all the drunk people come out of the pubs and bars to charge themselves up a little with some oil-soaked chicken and fries. Some occasionally will throw up on the restaurant floor to keep me entertained and others will throw food at the restaurant walls or, in more radical cases, at me. . . .


Grey Lady

Mary Alice Betley

© Copyright 2019 by Mary Alice Betley

Photo of a coyote/dog mix.

Several years ago I taught at a B.I.A. school at Teec Nos Pos, AZ. When I first arrived, I was assigned Apartment #15. As I was moving in, a large collie—type  dog came up to me, acting very friendly but also skittish and frightened. . . .

Spirits In The Night

Albert Vetere Lannon

© Copyright 2019 by Albert Vetere Lannon

I’m not a believer in ghosts, or spirits wandering among us, or in an afterlife with winged angels flitting around the heavens, but I’ve learned in my 81 years that there is so much we don’t know about everything. We know that we don’t know what most of the human brain is used for. We know that at the moment of death several grams of weight are lost, explained by religion as the soul leaving the body. And I’ve had a few experiences I cannot explain that leave me open to ideas I would have once rejected out of hand. . . .

Snake Hunting in South Carolina

Albert Vetere Lannon

© Copyright 2019 by Albert Vetere Lannon

Photo of rattlesnake.  (c) 2006 by Richard Loller.
Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus)

Growing up was terrifying during the Cold War Red Scare years, with Dad a Full-Time Functionary of the U.S. Communist Party. Consumed with their politics and the growing repression, there was little time for me, so I learned that if I couldn’t get positive attention, I would find ways to get negative attention. One of those was collecting and keeping snakes. . . .


Raft of Summer

Don Shook

© Copyright 2019 by Don Shook

Photo of a boy with a fish.

It was a strange Texas spring, with dark May mornings and heavy rains. By summer Ten Mile Creek was filled to overflowing…and we knew that somewhere in the murky depths of Bluehole, the Monster awaited…
My feet were stuck. Instinct screamed for me to tear through the undergrowth, up the steep bank and into the adjoining pasture where nothing on two legs- and precious little on four-had a prayer of catching me. Instead, I stood paralyzed, eyes glued on the brushy far side bank of the creek, desperately trying to identify the thrashing that had sent our pulses racing. A quick glance revealed that Pete too was riveted on the opposite shore. . . .

Like Caves Within Caves

Emily Hart 

© Copyright 2019 by Emily Hart  



Photo of a nuclear power plant.

    The Atomic Clock ticks on inexorably.  Unless we turn back the hands.  

     The bed is cold as I slide into it.  Chan is rolling the rug tightly against the door.  By the lamplight I can see the shimmering of ice on the window sill.  Earlier I swept up a dusting of gray snow from the floor below the window.  There are drifts of cold throughout the house, like caves within caves. . . .


Gomez the Jungle Dog

Brittany Rohm

© Copyright 2019 by Brittany Rohm


My bright green t-shirt clung to my chest, drenched with sweat and morning rain. Mosquitos buzzed in my ear, distracting me from the others that were biting my exposed skin, long rinsed of its bug spray. The sun, high in the sky, tried to fight its way through the dense jungle. Only rays as thin as knife blades sliced down to the forest floor.

At my feet, trotting in and out of the slivers of sun, was Gomez. Not much bigger than a house cat, and black like the night that hung heavy over this part of Colombia, Gomez fit in well with his surrounds. . . .


The Bears of California


Leslie Soule


© Copyright 2019 by Leslie Soule


Photo of California State Flag.

So there I was, pondering what to write about. I had a weird dream last night, after a long weekend of work, gardening at my friend Tom’s mother’s house in Placerville. In my dream, I wandered my house, and it was full of snakes. I like snakes. But in my dream, there were far too many of them to deal with. I had the problem of trying to find tanks for all of these snakes, and the problem was that there were far too many snakes to deal with, and not enough tanks to house them all. . . .

Celebrating Daddy


Kay Harper 


© Copyright 2019 by Kay Harper 



Photo of Kay's Daddy.

Father’s Day – June 17, 2018.

Today, I’m honoring my father not only due to the fact that it’s Father’s Day, but because it’s also the 102nd anniversary of his birth! We lost him in his 76th year, but time has not diminished the profound influence he had on the lives of my two older brothers and me. He was an original through and through, and he taught us to be originals, too! . . .


Black Canyon Mountain Lion

Koji A. Dae

  © Copyright 2019 by Koji A. Dae


Photo of a mountain lion.

From 2001-2010 I worked with a conservation corps in southern Arizona. I spent most of that time camping in various parts of the state and completing projects from rain-water harvesting to migrant trash pickup. Some of my fondest memories come from the more backbreaking, wilderness assignments, where we were more likely to encounter wild animals, such as this time near Black Canyon city in central Arizona. . . .


The Easter Bunnies 

Carol Rotta

© Copyright 2019 by Carol Rotta


Photo of a baby rabbit.

The memory of a little girl and the rabbits she and her younger brother received for Easter—and the humorous events that followed.

Two Easter bunnies came to live at our house. Literally. I was seven and my brother, Bunky, was five when our parents gave us each a baby bunny for Easter. How Mother persuaded Daddy to let us have them remains a mystery—he did not like pets of any kind. We didn’t even have a dog! She probably assured him the man at the pet store had guaranteed both rabbits were the same gender. . . .


Notre Dame Cathedral Is Afire Today

N. Barry Carver

© Copyright 2019 by N. Barry Carver

Photo by Barry Carver. (c) 2019.

15 Avril 2019

Notre Dame Cathedral is afire today.

I am, with the world, wallowing in a grief bigger than buildings, or nationalism, or fire, but I am also assailed with personal memories. I've been trying not to think about it, not to watch the images that are coming in from everywhere, but this fire in Paris is breaking my heart. . . .


Stranger In The Club

Luqman Morrison

© Copyright 2019 by Luqman Morrison

Photo of nightclub scene by Lugman.

This is a story about a time in my life when I sold cigarettes in a nightclub.

I will tell you about him. I always remember him, sometimes with wet eyes and some smiles.

There used to be times when the city of Warri would sleep during the day to wake up at night. It is true that Warri used to be a nocturnal city.

There were nightclubs where boys and girls would go to set their bodies on fire and burn nights away. Beats from loud speakers and cigarettes and hemps and gins and many other liquids in fine bottles were the fuel. . . .


Born In Defiance

Ru Otto

© Copyright 2019 by Ru Otto

Photo of a sunset.

This is the first vignette in my ongoing, but as yet unpublished, autobiographical book, Signs of Life. Coming of age in the 40’s and 50’s was hard enough for a girl without the added challenges of poverty, disability, and alcoholism.  But I became like tempered steel in this intense environment, fired to a shining resiliency in the heat of human passions. . . .


My Maisie


Isabel Bearman Bucher

© Copyright 2019 by Isabel Bearman Bucher 


Photo of a group of teachers near Sante Fe.

              “You’re where?” I said into the phone.  “What do you mean you put ten dollars down on a dog!  I don’t want a dog!  What do you mean Bob and I are getting too old and need a companion?  I don’t need a dog.  No.  I don’t care!  Wha ... ?”

              My daughter went on to explain that she’d been looking for a year for us at the Animal Humane place, and finally she’d found one that she knew would work for us both. . . .



Anna G. Joujan 

© Copyright 2019 by Anna G. Joujan 


Photo of a butterfly.

Grief has no sense of decorum. So it did not occur to me to question my actions when I interrupted the chaplain, with his head bowed and hands folded, to place myself in front of my grandfather’s face. As he tugged on the tubes, wildly waving his hands, and craning his neck up while his head turned side to side, I planted my face in front of his. “Hi PaCharley,” I said. Over. And over. I saw his clear blue eyes. I saw him. He saw me. . . .


Rags to Royalty

Paula Drake

© Copyright 2018 by Paula Drake


Photo of a doberman.

When stopping at the end of the long, dusty, rutted driveway my jaw tightened at the sight of the puppies. I glanced at Sue. Her hazel eyes were fixed on the sight too, four little black skeletons scavenging through a pile of trash. They paid no attention to my friend and me getting out of the truck. Normally three-month-old Doberman Pinschers would have bombarded us with greetings, but obviously hunger overrode playfulness. . . .


Irving Stone's Steadfast Partner

Dale Fehringer

© Copyright 2019 by Dale Fehringer


Photo of Irving and Jean Stone.

Irving Stone was a successful biographer for decades, extensively researching and writing about famous people.  He didn't do it by himself, but was instead greatly helped by a smart, talented, and loving partner. . . .


I REMEMBER YOU...and you...and you...and you...and you...and you...and you...too....

Albert Vetere Lannon

© Copyright 2019 by Albert Vetere Lannon

Fading Tombstone Rose blossoms at Wild Heart Ranch – Spring, 2019

As I struggle with incurable multiple myeloma, chemo-for-life, and the other afflictions of living into my 80s, I reflect on others in those eight decades who have passed on before me, many forgotten now except by their families. These are people, and places, who had some impact on me, who sometimes changed my life, those who really mattered even though they may never have known it. I often could not acknowledge their contributions; indeed, during my drinking days I cast a lot of them out of my life when they got too close to the fraudulent Real Me. . . .

Try It Again

Carol Arvo 


© Copyright 2019 by Carol Arvo 

1953 Chevy Bel Air.

Teenagers have always looked forward to getting a driver’s license.  It is a rite of passage, a dose of freedom, and a first step into adulthood.  This story is about my learning to drive experience in the Chicago winter of 1961. . . .


Be Careful What You Pray For

Carl Winderl

© Copyright 2019 by Carl Winderl

Photo of a player shooting a foul shot.

In high school, and in college especially, I got myself into all kinds of scrapes – bad, bad situations, near-impossible fixes, such tight spots, ones that would’ve tried even Houdini’s celebrated escape artistry.
I was not such a bad kid, at heart though. I was, afterall, a Christian, albeit of the plainclothes variety, circa the mid-60’s to the early-70’s. Not like those born-again fanatics today, finger-pointing heavenward after every 3-point shot, double off the wall, pass caught for a 1st down, ad nauseum. . . .


Robert Flournoy
© Copyright 2018 by Robert Flournoy   
Photo of high school football practice.

In August of 1963 our high school began the dreaded two a day practices.  In the hot humid Virginia heat it didn't help that our practice field was mostly dirt, which turned to dust under the churning cleated feet of football team hopefuls, and then to muddy sweat which covered our young bodies. . . .


The March to Cassis

Andrea Batstone

© Copyright 2019 by Andrea Batstone                      

My husband and I spent two wonderful weeks one May in the South of France with good friends.  We had many wonderful adventures, but the one that continues to make us dissolve in laughter is what we aptly called “The March to Cassis”. . . .


True Tales from the Wild Heart Critterarium

Albert Vetere Lannon

© Copyright 2019 by Albert Vetere Lannon

Photo of a king snake.

Wild Heart Ranch. That’s what my mate Kaitlin and I call the desert acre-and-a-quarter west of Tucson we’ve lived on the past 15 years. The area is called Picture Rocks because of the ancient petroglyphs in the mountains on either side of the Avra Valley. . . .


The New Fire

Karen Radford Treanor 


© Copyright 2019  by Karen Radford Treanor

Photo of a fire outside.

The evening was becoming chill. Overhead purple clouds choked off the last light of the sun, promising rain before the night was over. The little stone church looked well in this diffused light: one saw the essence but not the detail. The patched roof, the balding gilt on the cross on the ridgepole, the weather-beaten door did not look as shabby as they did by day. . . .


Historic Farming with Horses in Berks County
(And the day a team of horses saved the Liberty Bell)

Richard Orth

© Copyright 2018 by Richard Orth
Reinactment of the moving of the Liberty Bell.

. . .The major difference between farming with horses and converting to the 20th Century gasoline farm tractors at the time was the loss of horse manure to be spread on the fields. With six horses in Fox’s large barn, he had a considerable amount of fertilizer to produce his crops. As other horse farmers who knew the advantages of fertilizing with this manure, the absence of this traditional substance made a difference. . . .

Waving to President Kennedy

William Wayne Weems 


© 2019 by William Wayne Weems

Photo of President Kennedy in a motorcade.

Nashville, Tennessee, Saturday, May 18, 1963. I had just turned nineteen years of age a few days before, but that day I was again assisting my Father in his shoe store at 1053 Third Avenue South. A certain excitement was in the air; Nashville was to have a visit from a sitting President of the United States for the first time since Franklin Roosevelt had stopped by in 1934. . . .


Unasked Questions

Patricia M. Snell

© Copyright 2019 by Patricia M. Snell

Photo of Patricia's father.

It’s too late to ask my father questions, but it’s not too late to remember him and write about his well lived life.

In April of 2018, the results of a biopsy showed that my father had skin cancer and he had about 4 months to live. He hoped to stretch out that prediction and make it to his birthday in August. We thought we had plenty of time with him before he died, but the cancer was more aggressive than expected. He died on May 19, 2018. . . .

Chicken Caper

Lisa Rehfuss

© Copyright 2015 by  Lisa Rehfuss

Photo of an English setter.
One blistering summer day, Mom took eight of us swimming. Knowing we’d be late getting back, she prepared dinner in advance, cooking chicken three quarters of the way through in a large pan. The pan was loosely covered with tinfoil, then placed on the kitchen counter with a note asking whoever arrived home from work first, Dad or my older sister, Sue, to put the chicken in the oven. . . .


The Slant of Light

Reflections on Aging

Elaine Greensmith Jordan

© Copyright 2019 by Elaine Greensmith Jordan


Photo of Elaine.

This story/essay brings back memories of my teaching days. Those are past now, but the pain and insights gained from remembering have shaped my soul. . . .


Last One Standing?

William Wayne Weems 


© 2019 by William Wayne Weems

Photo of  mutilated image and of Jere Baxter.

First there was the prehistoric stone figure. Mountain ranges in Eastern Tennessee generally run Southwest to Northeast, so a easier East/West path through those heights was prized among native peoples. Perhaps this is what led native craftsmen to sculpt the figure of a bear or a dog sitting on his haunches beside that trail and facing West, his ears struck up high on his head. The first accounts of the descendants of European settlers noted the reverence Native Americans showed to that figure. . . .

House Of My Dreams


Valerie Byron

© Copyright 2019 by Valerie Byron   

Photo of a sunset. (c) 2002 by Richard Loller.

It was a joyous day when I took possession of my new home by the beach. After living in an apartment for so many years, being able to buy a large, beautiful house was a dream come true for me. I had come into an inheritance from my mother, who had recently died, and the money was more than enough to enable me to buy the property and fix it up. . . .


Far To Go

The Life of a Thursday Child

Howard Martin Osborne

© Copyright 2019 by Howard Martin Osborne

Photo of a water lily.  (c) 2003 by Richard Loller.

Without pretentiousness, this preface is an attempt to provide some shading to the themed account of my life that follows. 

It is themed, as in the ‘far to go’ focus that some may observe is at the expense of fuller coverage, such as marriage partners and kids and the unquestionable love and respect I have for them all. They represent a rich vein of detail, most of which remains sufficiently private and does not echo this admittedly left-brained focus on journey. . . .


Two Years in Kadugli

Charleine Sell

© Copyright 2019 by Charleine Sell

Sudan photo.Sudan pic 2.

What had we done?! Our four wheel drive Land Rover crawled along at five miles an hour for two long days. Acacia and baobab trees dotted the landscape during the 500 miles to our assignment, along with unusual high clumps of smooth boulders looking as though they were dropped in piles eons ago. Kadugli, our destination, was a small, remote town in Sudan’s Nuba mountains. We didn’t see a single soul during those two days of travel.


Everglades Adventure

Charleine Sell

© Copyright 2019 by Charleine Sell

Sudan photo. Sudan pic 2.

The year was 1973, and we had just returned home from three years in Swaziland, a small country in southeast Africa, where we served as Peace Corps volunteers. We met there and eventually married in December 1972 in the capital, Mbabane, before completing our service. Because I was a Florida girl, and Jack was from Whidbey Island in the Pacific Northwest, we decided to use our meager Peace Corps readjustment funds to drive from Florida, where my parents lived, to Washington State. We hoped to find a place to settle and make a home. . . .



James L. Cowles

© Copyright 2019 by James L. Cowles

Photo of the Cowles family.

I remember always being leery of him, even though he was my father.  He was a little man, about 5’9” and always wore a hat to cover his balding head.  He was forty years old when I was born and although I’m sure he loved me, he never told me until he was very old and near dying. . . .


High in the Himalayas

June Calender

© Copyright 2019 by June Calender

Mani Rimdu festival in Napal.

I was excited to be going on a trek to a monastery about 17 miles from Everest base camp to see Mani Rimdu, a major fall festival. A trekking company supplied sherpas, food, and a guide. They assigned me a roommate (to be a tent-mate in the mountains). We met in Kathmandu. She was an MD from North Dakota, early 50s as I was. . . .


A Book of Spells and Magical Enhancements

Sara Etgen-Baker

© Copyright 2019 by Sara Etgen-Baker

Photo of the dedication on Sara's book.

This is a true account of how I obtained my first cookbook. Although the cookbook was small, it played a huge part in helping me learn to cook. Its recipes have endured, and now, later in life, its pages hold memories of a simpler time. . . .

A Special Day In 1949

James L. Cowles

© Copyright 2019 by James L. Cowles

Photo of a house in the snow.

Winter came early in 1949 and it came with a vengeance; almost ten inches of snow fell overnight.  I was only eight years-old and I didn’t know that such a snowfall that early was unusual; we were just a few days past Thanksgiving and all I could think about was that beautiful white blanket and I could hardly wait to get my hands on it.  To an eight-year-old, it was a signal that Christmas was just around the corner; what an exciting time in the life of a child. . . .


Playing Cricket In India


Dale Fehringer

© Copyright 2019 by Dale Fehringer


Photo of Dale playing cricket.

We had a day of rest about half way through our cycling tour of India, and we spent most of the day doing laundry, napping, attending a cooking class, and playing cricket.  It was the playing cricket part that produced my worst – and best – memory of that day. . . .


Cutting the Umbilical Cord

Sara Etgen-Baker

© Copyright 2019 by Sara Etgen-Baker

Photo of the Grandad Stainbrook.

This is a true account of my thwarted attempt at cutting the umbilical cord with my family. My altered plans forever changed my perspective of family and awakened my understanding of the power of synchronicity. . . .

One Day In Winter

Deon Matzen

© Copyright 2018 by Deon Matzen


Photo of Beijing University Pagoda.

I could say it was a cold, snowy, wintry day, but that would not be accurate as it seldom snows in Beijing. It was cold and wintry, cold enough to go ice skating on the lake at the Summer Palace. The ice there was about fourteen inches thick. It was COLD. . . .

Country Dad, City Daughter

Patricia M. Snell

© Copyright 2016 by Patricia M. Snell

Dad was a country boy at heart. My heart belongs in the city. We both persevered and learned to live and prosper where we were transplanted. . . .

What I Didn't Do In Costa Rica

Evan L. Balkan

© Copyright 2019 by Evan L. Balkan

Photo of red-eyed tree frog from Costa Rica.

A rumination on the balance struck between independent adventure travel and family vacations. . . .



Evan L. Balkan

© Copyright 2019 by Evan L. Balkan

Drawing of Robert Johnson, 1936.

A wonderful trip to Ecuador began in Quito, a lovely city that nevertheless presented some real challenges. Those challenges threatened to "overwhelm the wonderful" until a simple but unforgettable act. . . .


You Can't Go Home Again, Again

Evan L. Balkan

© Copyright 2019 by Evan L. Balkan

Photo of a salamander.

In late spring 2018, I traveled to Ecuador, where I first visited the cities of Quito and Cuenca before exploring a volcanic crater and trekking in the Andes, topping out at just above 13,000 feet while wild llamas eyed me warily from behind precarious crags. Three weeks later, I was in Costa Rica with my wife and two daughters where we did what people do in Costa Rica: swim, zipline, jungle trek, and generally revel in all that eco-wonderland has to offer. But it was the trip in between that was the most “foreign” of the three: on a warm Sunday afternoon, I went to Bowie, Maryland, the town where I grew up. In 2001, we moved out of what had been my childhood home, and despite living only an hour or so away, I hadn’t been back since. . . .


Not Just Another Dead Junkie
Telling Dave Castro's Story

Albert Vetere Lannon

© Copyright 2019 by Albert Vetere Lannon

Photo of Dave Castro.

A not-so-young man attracted to the new and hopeful swirl of activity was a San Quentin inmate who had been a heroin addict, thief, and convicted criminal. His name was Dave Castro, and he was my friend. . . .


The Pennsylvania Dutch Easter Spirit

Richard Orth

© Copyright 2018 by Richard Orth

Photo courtesy of the Schwenkfelder Library Archives, Pennsburg, PA
A Dutch woman in the greater Oley Valley area dyeing Easter eggs and onion shells on her corn-fed stove. Simply marked by turn of the century photographer, H. Winslow Fegley, “A Dutch woman dyeing Easter Haas eggs with onion shells,” Fegley took many photos in the Oley Valley area of Berks County. Was this farmwoman one of our past residents? Photo courtesy of the Schwenkfelder Library Archives, Pennsburg, PA

Of the various seasons of the year there is none so nostalgic or enchanting to the rural Pennsylvania Dutch than that of Easter. Perhaps almost everyone in America with an agrarian past feels the innate excitement of this time of the year as we anxiously await the rebirth of the earth. Long winter months, which in the past found our ancestors busily practicing folk crafts and arts as an interlude to their year-long lives as tillers of the land, are not much different from today's. As daylight begins to linger in the waning winter weeks our senses become aware of the gradual renewal of spring life, which is otherwise so taken for granted were there not a phenomenon known as winter. . . .


Pennsylvania's Elusive Sunbursts

Richard Orth

© Copyright 2018 by Richard Orth

Photo of a sunburst on a barn.

Most Pennsylvania Dutchmen of Berks and Lehigh County realize that their local hex-sign painted barn stars are not amulets of protection for man or beast on their farmsteads. However, these fabled and colorful geometric designs, identifying our beautiful
countryside as home to quaint, Germanic Pennsylvania Dutch farmers. In examining the writings of authorities on our Pennsylvania Dutch (German) Culture, I favor the research of Frances Lichten, about these historic, folk art designs on our barnsides, as being traditional sunbursts. Having made a major study on Pennsylvania German material folk art furnishings and artifacts in the early 20th Century, Lichten compared hex-sign (barn star) motifs to the use of sun symbol designs on objects in our native Rhineland Culture. . . .

When I See Lily Again

Emily Hart 

© Copyright 2019 by Emily Hart  



Photo of book cover, "Portrait of Jennie."

I have always loved the hauntingly lyrical novel A Portrait of Jennie, by Robert Nathan and the 1949 film based on the book.  So this story came to be about another artist who has an encounter out of time.  Fiction is the place where truth abides.  There is a bridge.  Believe what you know. . . .


A Miraculous Day

Judith D. Galleros

© Copyright 2018 by Judith D. Galleros


Photo of Judith.

Mrs. Galleros…Judith….Ma’am…Ma’am Judith….Galleros…words I heard as I drifted myself into consciousness. “ “You collapsed!” one of the voices exclaimed! “How are you feeling at this moment dear?” another voice interrogated. 

Limbs trembling, I said, “Please call my husband.” Then a male teacher grabbed my arm to pull me up, but I begged, “I need some garments.” I had it vaguely understood how I wetted myself. My weary thoughts tried to recall what happened before the fatal incident. . . .


Tales of the Road 

Life of an Uber Driver


P. S. Gifford
© Copyright 2019 by P. S. Gifford 


Photo of a person calling Uber.

 A Dog’s Life

So yesterday's driving was at times frustrating, boring and ultimately satisfying.

It was a particularly slow Sunday but I needed just seven rides to meet my bonus for the weekend. I thought I could achieve this in three hours- four at tops. This hope was reinforced as my first four rides arrived quickly. They were pleasant enough rides, jovial conversation and banter and decent tippers to boot. What more could I ask for? . . .


On My Guard

Brenda Wussum


© Copyright 2019 by Brenda Wussum

Photo of Brenda.

This is story about a friend who was almost kidnapped and my own fears about night buses.

go to fix my hair and it takes a while. Braids usually take long hours and I am at the salon a little after midday. I hadn't envisioned that the style of braids I had decided on would take longer than usual and I would be out late, again.

It is past 9:00pm. The hairdresser is finished with me and the market has closed a few hours earlier. To make sure I did not have to leave home the next day, change buses twice and travel across the bridge to this side of town again, I had insisted, even pleaded we finished up that night. Talk about customer satisfaction! She gave in to my demand and led me to a roadside shop outside the market to finish the braids. . . .


The Quail, .410 and Coyote Ben

Don Shook

© Copyright 2018 by Don Shook

Photo of a quail.

The jolt to my shoulder was unexpected, the recoil painful. My Dad laughed, then scowled as if to say, “Go ahead, try it again.” Reluctantly, I pulled the trigger and fired his ancient .410 shotgun, this time hitting one of the tin-cans lined-up on the rock ledge some thirty feet away. How could I have missed the others? It was a shotgun. A week later the weapon became my sixteenth birthday present. I loved my new old .410. . . .


Five Pounder

Don Shook

© Copyright 2019 by Don Shook

Photo of a Texas ranch gate.

Ages ago, when a boy, I accidentally caught a two-pound bass on a cane pole rig using a night crawler. My Uncle Johnny had shown me where to cast the bait. I was thrilled and the experience sealed my love of fishin’ for life.

A bamboo pole, an eight-pound test monofilament line, and a tiny barbed hook was my only equipment, my uncle’s advice my only technology. From that point on, I would pursue the wily largemouth bass with a vigor rivaled only by my pursuit of the lovely Ellen Morgan during my stint as a high-school quarterback. Over the years, I certainly landed my share of fish, though I never hooked nor scored with Ellen. . . .

Sisters: Looking Back

Eileen W. Fisher

© Copyright 2019 by Eileen W. Fisher


Soldiers looting and beating Jews.

Much has been written about the challenges that parents face when raising a child with a disability. Much less has been written about the challenges to the sibling of the child with a disability.

This is my story. . . .


A Southern Memory

Robert Flournoy


© Copyright 2018 by Robert Flournoy   


Photo of a bob white quail.

I never know what to say when someone asks me where I am from. I was born in Memphis and the family moved before I was one. By the time I was six we had managed to live in four different states, finally to wind up in El Paso, Texas, where my father was sent in 1952 after he came back from Korea. He was a career military officer. We were to move many times after the Texas assignment, traveling the world. Home was the house where we lived. That was fine, but my parents knew that we needed family roots and a sense of place that was more permanent than our transient lifestyle afforded. So, in the days before interstate highways and air-conditioned automobiles, we loaded up the family car every summer and drove to Alabama and my grandparents' farm. . . .


Spreading Holiday Joy - Now, and Throughout The Year

Albert Vetere Lannon

© Copyright 2018 by Albert Vetere Lannon

Photo of Albert

In our world of never-ending war, of hatred and division, of cronyism and corruption, of mistrust and fear, the holiday season offers a chance to take a deep breath and let in the peace, joy and love that we crave and deserve.

For many, it is the joy of celebrating the birth of the Prince of Peace; for others it is the act of selfless giving, or family gatherings, or decorating the tree, or the lighting up of holiday displays, or the wide-eyed happiness of children opening presents which just might have been delivered by Santa Claus. “‘Cause Mom, I heard the reindeer on the roof. I did!!”

In the avowedly atheist home I grew up in, Christmas was still a big deal. Mom and I shopped for a tree on Christmas Eve when New York Street vendors were slashing prices to sell off the ragged – but to us, beautiful -- last of their stock. Dad made a wonderful holiday lasagna with little meat balls. Friends came over to share drinks, fellowship and politics. My little sister and I got to stay up until midnight so we could open our presents. . . .


"Ici on parle siSwati"

Karen Radford Treanor 


© Copyright 2018  by Karen Radford Treanor

Photo of Njabuliso and the flame tree blossoms.

When we went to work in Swaziland, a tiny independent kingdom in southern Africa, it was expected that we would try to learn the local language, siSwati, a cousin to siZulu. The Swazis often laughed at our efforts, but were unfailingly enthusiastic and helpful, and many impromptu tutorials were delivered by friendly strangers at the market or bus station. . . .


The Diary of Anne Sophia Palk

Nicole Van Zyl

© Copyright 2018 by Nicole Van Zyl
Photo of Anne Palk.

Anne Sophia Helmore (known throughout her life as Annie), was born on 12 January 1844 in Lekhatlong, a mission station in Griqualand, west of Kimberly. Her father, Holloway Helmore, was there working as a missionary from the London Missionary Society. Anne was the second oldest of seven children from the marriage of Holloway Helmore and Ann Garden. . . .


Another Little Christmas Tale

Doug Sherr

© Copyright 2018 by Doug Sherr

Photo of a skier.

The old mansion was quiet. I had pulled the weights off the chain that powered the grandfather’s clock in the hall to quiet the awful clack, clack, clack. I stormed and fidgeted around the dark house. My German Shepard, Sean, followed a few inches behind me as I stalked about peering out a window and abruptly moving to another window. Outside, the freezing wind sailed bits of garbage over the days-old dirty snow. A cat ran across the empty street and disappeared under a building looking for shelter and warmth. The night before when sleep wasn’t a possibility, Sean put his head on my pillow and stared at me, knowing that I was in trouble. I ordered him to leave, but he wouldn’t. Even a whack on the nose that made him blink couldn’t make him leave. I hugged him and said I was sorry. He kept his head on the pillow and it helped for a minute. . . .


Snow God

Doug Sherr

© Copyright 2018 by Doug Sherr

Photo of a skier.

Passion is as addictive as drugs, but there are no twelve-step programs for passion. Some activities: surfing, rock climbing, and skiing are good candidates for the obsessed. Left behind is a life that is measured by clocks, quotas, and the whims of idiot bosses. People who live by those clocks often use the term bum to define people who follow their passion. Those people often fail to appreciate the incredible discipline these bums have to perfect their craft. I didn’t realize I was a ski-bum until it was too late. True ski bums switch hemispheres so that it is endless winter. The lesser ski-bum works the summer pounding nails or waiting tables or handling four-wheel drive tour vehicles up the mountain for tourists equipped with the latest boots and gear who would never think of hiking further than from the jeep to the picnic. . . .


Bringing Home the Turkey

June Calender

© Copyright 2017 by June Calender

Turkeys in a back yard in the snow.

The old Bronco coughed and started. Frank liked to get to the gym early and a holiday simply meant he’d mostly have the place to himself. Britt was sound asleep. They had no plans for the day, no family near-by, except Uncle Jake who hated holidays. Yesterday’s bright sun and the overnight temp drop meant fog. This morning’s fog was ghostly gauze drifting through the trees. The road was empty this early. Amazing how many people barrel along on these narrow roads that weren’t quite town and not quite country where scattered houses sat shyly among old trees. Frank was going over 40 himself. The road followed the course of Rocky Creek. . . .


Sweet Sixteen    

Kirby Wright


© Copyright 2018 by Kirby Wright 



Photo of Julia Wright.

Julia Wright strolled a shoreline boardwalk fringed with kiawe trees. The last of the Chinese ponds was still in operation and she could see a gathering of ducks on a muddy bank. Julia had just turned sixteen. She had on her black-and-white striped swimsuit, with black knickers and white lace-up boots. She preferred walking Waikiki not accompanied by her sisters—Sue and Kay were popular and could steal the attention of admirers. Sue, her big sister, was tall and wore tight-fitting dresses that showed off her curves. Kay, her kid sister, dressed more conservatively but nonetheless attracted the educated set.

Julia preferred Outrigger Canoe Club types, those outdoorsy boys with great tans and good senses of humor. But the malahini men who’d traveled vast distances by steamer to see Hawaii also intrigued her. Some of those malahinis had brought wives but she still saw them stealing glances at her. And why shouldn’t they? She was a brunette with the figure of a New York City model and the face of a playful angel. . . .


Night Sky: A Memoir

Tylyn K. Johnson

© Copyright 2018 byTylyn K. JohnsonE

This is the story of a scar on my face cutting through my eyebrow, from when I was but a small child. I had taken some time to reflect on the significance of that moment in my life and relationship with my younger brother, as if it were the scene of a narrative of another’s making. And while what “meaning” I have extracted from it may have been of little consequence, it does illuminate some bit of my existence for me, which I want to think is enough to merit sharing as more than a tale told to others at parties. . . .


My Mother's Story: My Mother's Legacy

Eileen W. Fisher

© Copyright 2018 by Eileen W. Fisher


Soldiers looting and beating Jews.

Just as every immigrant has their own story, so does every immigrant’s child.

No one’s voice remains to tell my mother's story other than mine – the story of an orphaned Jewish teenager from Russia who manages to escape to America in 1922, at age fifteen.

It was only from time to time that my mother was even willing to talk about her childhood — and, usually in response to some event or bit of news. But even then, she would only speak briefly. If I persisted, her face would tense up; she would purse her lips and ask me, “Eileen, why do you want to talk about such sad things? We’re living today. The past is gone.” And I loved her too much to upset her further. . . .


How Mary and Joseph Spent Christmas Eve

Carol Arvo 


© Copyright 2018 by Carol Arvo

Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem.

Once upon a time, a long time ago, in a far-away land without any snow, Joseph and his wife Mary traveled to the capitol of their country to be counted in the yearly census for their city. It was a long trip. Cars, trains and airplanes weren’t invented yet. Joseph and Mary didn’t have too much money in their budget for the trip, so they couldn’t rent a camel and had to settle for their dependable donkey as transportation.



Paul Marion Fleetwood

© Copyright 2018 by  Paul Marion Fleetwood


Photo of a C-47 port engine.

 I went AWOL to see my sweetie (and got away with it).

It was the winter of 1952 at Ethan Allen Air Force Base near Winooski Vermont.  I was a lonesome Airman who had been away from home and my sweetheart for way too long.  Constantly bored with the winter and mundane duties of working in the Crypto room, I was always looking for a way to get back home by hook or crook.  My sweetie lived in St. Louis some 1200 miles away and I didn't have "leave time" or money to get back there often.  But somewhere around December 1952 an opportunity presented itself. . . .


The Haircut

Kathryn Lynch

© Copyright 2018 by Kathryn Lynch

Photo of a white man getting a shave from a black barber.

We can never forget the contributions that the “greatest generation” of American GI's made to our country. We think first of those who died and gave it their “all.” It is easy to forget the GI's who were mechanics, cooks, supply personnel, intelligence officers, or others who performed support services for the soldiers in the trenches.  This is a story about my Dad, who was a military policeman. His small, enduring contribution to race relations, is one of my fondest memories. . . .


Ballet Class

Reese Conners

© Copyright 2018 by Reese Conners

Photo of a line of ballet dancer's feet.

Releve,” tighten your core, squeeze your inner thighs, shoulders down, heels up, chin on a shelf, roll towards your big toe, lengthen the back of your legs, relax your face…

“There! Hold that.” I hear, as I attempt to morph myself into one of the simplest ballet positions. An overwhelming amount of corrections to concentrate on, pain simultaneously coursing through my calves threatening my foundation. Why am I putting myself through this? Day after day and week after week of my hair pulled so tight to my head that my face stretches upwards. Countless blisters and black toenails with bruises to accompany them. Yet, today is a good day. With only the tendinitis in my right ankle to bother me, adrenaline overcomes my pain with ease. . . .


Transitions - Chapter 1

Doug Sherr

© Copyright 2018 by Doug Sherr

Photo of the RichardLindabury-10-13-2011.

This story is the first chapter of a memoir. It details the moment when I knew I needed a new life and what i did about it.

The Triumph fired on the first kick. It’s a little sad when an English motorcycle is one of the more reliable things in life. When the bike was warmed up I still didn’t take off. The next twenty minutes would be a delightful ride down Chicago’s waterfront, but waiting for me was a windowless office and laboratory. At age twenty-six, I felt like that little kid on a perfect day who wants to play hooky; who just wants to play. I turned off the bike and went in the house to call the boss and skip a day. When he answered, I blurted out that I wanted to quit. Frank Iwatsuki was a brilliant engineer and a fine man.

He said, “Oh, that’s good Douglas, because you’re a terrible engineer. You should be an artist or poet or something.”. . .


A Successful Woman

Luxhmee Jaypaul

© Copyright 2018 by Luxhmee Jaypaul

Photo of a monarch butterfly.

In a small town lived a girl called Roshni. She was the sole daughter and has two brothers. She had educated and ultra-cultured parents who love her a lot. Furthermore, she livedin an extended family. She has spent an amazing childhood with her brothers and cousins. She was a dream weaver and she cherished her dreams a lot. She loved simple living but high thinking. She always wanted a happy life. She had her own ideologies and she followed it by heart. . . .

The Speech Contest

Charleine Sell

© Copyright 2018 by Charleine Sell

Girl at microphone.

As a shy, skinny, too tall ninth grader, I was devastated to learn I had been selected to give a speech before the whole school

September in St. Petersburg, Florida is always hot and humid, but during my ninth grade year in 1961 at yet another new school, I had a frightening experience that made me shiver with fear. I had attended 7 different schools over the years. The more recent ones were all in the St. Petersburg area; seventh grade at Madeira Beach Junior High, eighth grade at Lealman Junior High, and now ninth grade at Southside Junior High. Needless to say, I was a shy girl, skinny and too tall, who spoke in a whisper in class if I was called upon, and never ever, ever volunteered an answer. . . .


Pickle Girl

Kathryn Lynch

© Copyright 2018 by Kathryn Lynch

Photo of a bowl of pickles.

At the end of the Second World War, the country of Japan lay in ruins. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were piles of rubble from atomic bombs with badly wounded people wandering around glassy eyed in need of medical care. People were starving throughout the nation because farmers, fearing Allied attacks, had failed to plant their yearly crops of rice.

It fell to General Douglas MacArthur and his Allied Forces to to enter the devastated country, spend time there, and attempt to “fix” the problems the War had created. Their efforts proved so successful that within 10 years, the average Japanese citizen was four inches taller (diet changes), lived an average six years longer (medical care), and enjoyed growing business success (trade with Europe and US). . . .

Second Job

Kathryn Lynch

© Copyright 2018 by Kathryn Lynch

Photo of a $20 bill on a printer.

A few years into her retirement, it became abundantly clear to the Old Lady that her Social Security Retirement check of $800 a month would support a very frugal lifestyle, but it would not extend sufficiently to cover extraordinary expenses or expensive repairs. At the age of 80, heart disease had reduced her days to resting in a recliner, and her nights to sleeping in the same chair. A long plastic tube emerging from an oxygenator, pumped oxygen into her system to assist her breathing. She was, in effect, a disabled shut-in. It was not clear, under these circumstances, how she could devise a plan to supplement her income.

The Old Lady pondered this problem for several months. When no solutions came to mind, the stress of unpaid bills frequently interrupted her sleep, driving her blood pressure dangerously high. Finally, in the middle of one very long night, she awoke abruptly and the answer, so awesome in its simplicity, had been right in front of her the entire time. She needed a job to make money, so she would MAKE MONEY! . . .

The Resurrection of Palley

Kathryn Lynch

© Copyright 2018 by Kathryn Lynch

Photo of marijauna growing in the woods.
. . .“What's that?”, asked the girl, pointing to a yellow swathe of color that was too large to be a bush or flower. The boy, who had little interest in flowers, but who could fix anything with moving parts, was driven by curiosity to see what lay partially hidden beneath the tangled weeds.

It's an old forklift”, said the boy, “rusted out, dirty, tangled with blackberry vines., paint faded until it nearly melded with the dead grasses.” “Useless!”, he repeated, but the challenge of fixing the impossible stirred within him. . . .



David Njuguna

© Copyright 2018 by David Njuguna

Photo of a mosuito.

Having long been plagued by the mosquitoes that reside in my backyard, I decided to write about the life of just a single one of them. I can’t be completely sure her name was Maya, but for the sake of the story, I assumed it was. Some bit and pieces might be a work of my imagination (the meeting with her suitor for example). . . .



Razel Suansing

© Copyright 2018 by Razel Suansing

Photo of a gesha.

Braids in my hair droop alongside my silky majestic gown. Dazzling chandeliers hover above me, crowning me with their enchanting illuminations. My father kisses me good night. I see him still wearing the bracelet I crafted for him when I was six. The tangled twigs tied along his wrist where his lifeline lies. . . .

Not Just Another History Lesson

Anne Organista

© Copyright 2018 by Anne Organista

Photo of name on 9/11 memorial plaque.

Every teacher has his or her moments of glory; those moments when students rise above their expectations or when lesson plans go awry only to be salvaged by a completely unexpected situation. I say this with much candor. In all my years of teaching, many little things made me happy, feel appreciated and loved. Nevertheless, it was this one event in 2001 back in the Philippines, when I felt especially proud. . . .



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