Remember, Part 3

Remember when you didn’t need to venture far from home to see and learn new and wondrous things? It was a time when all manner of cool stuff came right to your door.

Though I was not usually the target customer, I loved the visits we had on occasion from various folks selling this and that. A frequent caller was the Fuller Brush Man. "Hello, I'm your Fuller Brush Man, and I have a gift for you!" Usually, Mom didn't buy anything, but every now and then...

I still have an inherited Fuller Brush clothes brush that is almost as old as I am. It's bristles are bent and it's a bit ratty looking, but I love it.  I’m so glad Mom bought that one.  Written on its hardwood handle is $2.49, but the service that brush has given me? Priceless. I'm terrified something will happen to it. They just don't make them like that anymore.

The best smelling door-to-door salesman wasn't a man at all, of course, but the Avon Lady.  You remember. "Ding dong. Avon calling!"  She was one of my favorites, because she gave us all these neat samples: creams and lotions and, sometimes, cool little tubes of lipstick!  She had everything a girl needed to be beautiful.

Of course, there were also people selling things we never bought, like that guy selling vacuum cleaners. I can’t remember his company, but I remember the way he dumped a bag of dirt on the floor. Oh-oh!  But his vacuum cleaned it up, lickety-split! Wow! Who wouldn’t want that? But we didn’t buy one. We didn’t buy the knives, the encyclopedias or the sewing machine either.

Of course, sometimes I was the target market. For example, there was the guy with the horse. He came through the neighborhoods with this little pinto horse, enough costume stuff to trick you out as a cowboy or cowgirl, and a camera. You put on the chaps, the gun belt and six-shooter, and a cowboy hat, and got on the horse. He took your picture, and in a few weeks: it came; a portrait of you sitting astride your trusty steed, looking just like Roy Rogers or Dale Evans!   Yippee ki-yay kay-yo!

And, oh, the ice cream man! The tinkling music of his truck on the next street over on a hot summer day sent all the kids running inside to beg for a nickel. I remember standing there, twitching nervously, waiting for my mother to find her purse and dig out a nickel. “Hurry! He’s coming!” My favorite Popsicle was banana. (In fact, my favorite Popsicle is still banana.) Root beer and that unnamed blue one were yummy too. Though they are not as ubiquitous today, I’m happy that ice cream trucks are still around. Like an old fire horse, the sound of the truck’s music sends me running, rummaging for a nickel, and another nickel, and another nickel and… How much is that Popsicle these days?

But my all-time favorite was the bookmobile. Remember them? During the summer, I anxiously awaited the bookmobile’s weekly arrival. We'd all stand outside at the curb as the scheduled time approached. You went in through the front door, and browsed your way through the stacks on both sides of the center aisle. When you reached the back, the driver would stamp your books and library card, and you went out the back door with your selections. Having those books in my arms was like holding a ticket to exciting new lands. Thanks to the bookmobile, I learned to love to read, a passion that burns brightly to this day.  Whatever happened to bookmobiles? 

Nobody ever comes to the neighborhood with cool stuff anymore. I kinda miss that.


On Memorial Day, Another Thank You

In ceremonies all over the country today, the fallen are honored for their sacrifice.  Flags wave and marching bands play Stars and Stripes Forever. On the podium and quietly in hearts and prayers, gratitude is offered to those who died in the name of freedom.

But it’s easy to forget that other sacrifices were made when these heroes fell. As Memorial Day ceremonies play out today, there are many beating hearts heavy with loss. Because for every soldier killed, there is a family left behind. Wives and husbands, children, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, grandparents: these survivors have all made a tremendous sacrifice as well. I'm saddened that, too often, their grief and sacrifice goes unrecognized.

Thank you, Families.


For more information about the challenges of military widows, visit:

And for a moving tribute to our heroes and their families, be sure to check out this wonderful slide show by political cartoonists!

Love in 160 Bites, Part 2

(Last week on Sunday 160)

There was this old dude from Duluth
A bit grozzled and long in the tooth  
He looked in the mirror  
And shuddered in horror  
And thought: when did I lose all my youth?

And now, this week's installment:


The old guy decided to travel

Before all of his parts came unraveled

So off to the Keys he went

And he got a small cottage to rent

Then to the nude beach he ambled. 

(To be continued)

Got something to say in 160 characters, including spaces? Visit Monkey Man to play Sunday 160.


100 Word Challenge: It's Tradional!

This was written for Velvet Verbosity's 100-Word Challenge. This week's word is "traditional."

It's Traditional!

The small British lad was thrilled to meet his Mum’s best friend from America. She was a soldier! A lady soldier!  

Archie had seen lots of soldiers on the telly. He knew what to do. He smartly saluted the major.

She laughed, saying, Oh, Archie, you don’t have to salute me! I’m not wearing my oak leaves today.”

Archie’s eyes brightened. “It’s May 29!”

Confused, she said, “Yes, I know.” Her confusion deepened when Archie reached around and gave her a good pinch on the bottom, and then jumped back out of reach.

Winking, he said, “Sorry, Ma'am, it’s traditional!” 


May 29 marks the 350th celebration of Royal Oak Day in Britain, when people traditionally wear a sprig of oak leaves in support of the monarchy. Children call it “Pinch-a-Bum Day,” because if a friend can’t produce an oak leaf
when asked on that day, they are punished with a pinch on the bottom!  I'm sure it's unlikely that a child would pinch an adult's bum (let alone a soldier's!), but that Archie! He's a rascal!

To learn more about Royal Oak Day, click here.


Friday Flash 55: Laughter, Good for What Ails You

Art Linkletter died this week at 97 years old, leaving behind his wife of 74 years. I take this as proof that laughter may well be the best medicine.

Linkletter loved to laugh, and to make us laugh too. His favorite sources of humor were children. Kids say the darndest things, you know.

RIP, Art.


Theme Thursday: Wrinkle Me This

The theme for the week at Theme Thursday is "wrinkle."  For an unusual (and really old) look at wrinkles, I offer you this:

...and some good advice for us all:


Wordless Wednesday: Burgled by a Half-Assed Boat Burgler

Sonny Crockett? Not So Much.

She: You need a shave.

He: Why? Sonny Crockett could carry off a couple of days’ growth.

She: Sonny Crockett was tall.

He: Not so tall. Tubbs was the tall one.

She: OK. But Sonny Crockett was thin.

He: Yeah, there is that.

She: It was a fashion statement with him, like the way his clothes just draped.

He: I’ve got stuff that drapes (wiggling his wattle).

She: You still need a shave. Just sayin’.


Climate Change

Back in the day, we lived in a little neighborhood of cottages clustered around a lake. It was a summer community, a silver lake, an inviting place to come to escape the hot summer sun. But we lived there year-round, even when the lake was white with ice, its black inhospitable depths lurking below. We weren’t alone. Several families braved the winters in that summer place, not because they wanted to look out at the cold and unfriendly landscape, but because that was what life was, a four-room year-round place.

One winter day, around dusk, a knock came at the door. It was the mother of a 10-year-old neighborhood boy, asking, “Is Joey here? He hasn’t come home.” The words were like a stop sign, stopping the heart, stopping time, stopping all thoughts of dinner. She went from one door to another, asking the same question at every house where Joey had a friend. None of these few wintertime residents answered, “Sure, he’s here. Come in, get warm, have a cup of tea.”

At one house, however, one of Joey’s friends said they’d played together that day. "I said bye to Joey a while ago, and came home. Joey prob’ly beat me, though, ‘cause he took a shortcut.” Joey lived on the farthest edge of this almost empty summer community, and the long walk home in the near dark must have been scary. So he’d taken a shortcut.

The next day, we heard the news. Joey’s shortcut through the dusky light had turned into a shortcut through his life. The gaping hole in the ice atop the tarnished silver lake told the story of a small boy’s failed attempt to outrun the dark.

It was strange, but somehow summers on that sparkling silver lake in the small summer community were never warm again.


Love in 160 Bites, Part 1

There was this old dude from Duluth

A bit grozzled and long in the tooth

He looked in the mirror

And shuddered in horror

And thought: when did I lose all my youth?

(To be continued)

Got something to say in 160 characters, including spaces?  Visit Monkey Man to play.

100 Word Challenge: Less Than Meets the Eye

This was written for this week's prompt, "sanitary," at Velvet Verbosity's 100 Word Challenge.

Less than Meets the Eye

Oh, sure, she put up a good front. From the tricked-out look of her, you’d swear she was one of the “good” ones. All proper and polished, the way she was. Not like the rest of us, who, Mama always said, looked like we’d slept in our clothes. “Why cain’t ya'll be more like her,” Mama said after she saw her for the first time. “Girl’s got class.”

And then she opened her mouth and, oh, my, the words that came out. Mama was appalled. “You cain’t be carryin’ words like that around in your mouth. It just ain’t sanitary!”


Remember, Part 2

Remember back when we could play outside morning till night? My favorite childhood years were the four years I lived on a street where nearly every house had a least one child. I was nine years old when we moved there, and I had about 15 friends within two years of my age.

One summer, the day began at around 7AM, when my friend Barbara came over and we had fried bologna sandwiches for breakfast. You remember, a slice of bologna with a hump in the middle from the frying, grease seeping into the soft white bread you could smoosh up into a pea-sized ball to use for bait (except for when you needed it flat for a sandwich).

And then we’d head outdoors for the rest of the day, joining the others in the game of the moment. Sometimes it was jacks, sometimes four-square, sometimes dodge ball or keep- away. I was a major tomboy and I liked to play Cowboys and Indians because I always got to play an Indian with the boys. They let me play because I could shoot my imaginary bow and arrow straighter than any of them.

But my favorite time was the evening. It started at dusk with an important ritual. Every night, as we all sat with our families at the dinner table, the street lights would come on. With some innate sixth sense given only to kids, we all knew just when those lights came on. A minute or two before, kids would jump up from the table, saying “I’ll be right back!” and run outside. Up and down the street, you’d hear the screen doors slam: Slap! Slap! Slap! We’d all run and put our hand on the nearest light pole so we were touching it when the light came on. (This was important, because if you weren’t touching the pole when the light came on, you were a monkey’s uncle.) Then “see you later,” and we went back in to finish dinner.

After drying the dishes, we were back out, playing hide and seek in the shadows, or just laying on the warm sidewalk, looking up at the stars and sharing secrets. And if one happened to have a “boyfriend” or “girlfriend,” there might be someone to hold your hand.

Television? We didn’t need no stinkin’ television.

You remember.

Epilogue: I went back to that old neighborhood 30 years later. I found my initials still there, carved into the street light pole nearest my house.


Yeah, Huh?

This was written for G-Man's Flash Fiction 55.

Yeah, Huh?

I never understood the term “frenemy” till then, but that’s exactly what a few of my daughter’s friends were. I wasn’t all that surprised when they turned on her. What did surprise me was when they turned on me.

What the…?

“Well,” she said, “if I’m “Satan’s spawn,” what does that make you?”

Good point.



We're In This Together

He’s not much to look at, but he’s mine.    He’s happy to just be with me, and seldom requires me to entertain him.  Oh, I don’t mean to say that he doesn’t enjoy a good conversation, because he really does.  And he always listens to me when I speak, which is something of a rarity in my life.
When I stumble out of bed in the morning looking like something the cat dragged in, he still looks at me with love in his eyes.  Unconditional love is a wonderful gift, one I’d never known until I met him. 
He is unfailingly loyal. That’s the best part.  “We’re in this together, “ he says, “till death do us part.”   I worry that I don’t deserve him, but that doesn’t matter, because he thinks I do. 
I look up from my book, and smile at him, sitting on the other end of the couch.  He smiles back, and slides down and gives me a big kiss.  Laughing, I wrap my arms around the big dog, and kiss him back.  “We’re in this together,” I say.

In Memorium
Trevor Dog

This was written for Theme Thursday. This week's theme is Pets.


The Superhero

Like everyone younger than logic, she was fearless. Flying high on wings of inexperience, she took risks most learn to avoid and tempted Fate at every turn. She lived in a Land far from reality. She was eternally optimistic: there was plenty of time to grow up, time to move on, time to get ready, and time to get ahead. She had, after all, all the time in the world. There were endless Tomorrows stretched out ahead of her. Playing fast and loose, she beat odds she didn’t even know were against her. She was invincible, indestructible, immortal.

And then one day, her Land was invaded by a Monster and his legions. They assaulted many of her givens, and caused the rest to take shelter in denial. The air became rank with fear, as the Monster’s bombs of destruction exploded first here, then there, threatening the very way of life throughout the Land. She had never thought something like that could happen to her, and she was terrified.

But the one thing she wasn’t was dumb. She quickly realized that the Monster could not be allowed to run rampant though the Land, and that he had to be stopped before everything was destroyed. Casting fear and denial aside, she dug out her best cape, always useful back in her flying days, and put it on. And she became the first Superhero the Land had known.

She fought with all her might, long and hard and desperately. There were times when she was down, wounded and tired, but she quickly got up again, took up her sword, and resumed the battle. The war raged for many months, and though she won some and lost some, she never lost her will to survive. She fought on, until one day she realized the Monster was gone. She had won.

After the war was over and the smoke had cleared, she looked around and surveyed the rubble left behind. Many parts of the Land had been ravaged. Where once there had been bounty, there was now barrenness. Structures had been flattened. Expectations had been unalterably altered.

But she knew the Land could be rebuilt, and it was. New structures were erected, looking as good as those taken down by the Monster. The seeds of new prosperity were planted, and new expectations developed.

But one unexpected outcome of the war was her realization that life in the Land was perhaps not as eternal as she had once thought. Perhaps there really wasn’t all the time in the world. Though one might suppose that this was a bad outcome, one would be wrong. After having fought and won against the evil Monster, the Land was moved closer to reality and life was made forever better. Foundations and armaments were reinforced, made stronger than before to protect against any future attacks. Social programs were put into place to prepare the Land to be more self-sufficient and successful in the future.

So while she occasionally missed the wild and free antics she’d enjoyed before the Monster came, she was happier than ever before. She had learned that, true, there were not endless Tomorrows laid out in front of her, but Today was a much better place.

She never really put away her cape after the war, though. Battered and torn though it was, she kept it nearby, just in case she might need it again. She was a Superhero, after all.


Remember, Part 1

Remember what it was like before we got caught up by the high-speed technology train, and were rushed into the future at breakneck speed? Life was simpler. I know many would say that it wasn’t better, that all our technological advances are, well, advances. But it was simpler; you can’t argue that. 

Take toys. Kids today yearn for complicated whiz-bang toys that, at the end of the day, often languish on the closet floor. Remember when a refrigerator came boxed in a magical castle, and after the pesky refrigerator was out of the way, you could climb into the castle and rule your kingdom?  Remember when a bike was just a bike, and the jazziest accessories were a bell, handlebar tassels and playing cards clipped to the spokes for that zoom-zoom-y "putt-putt-putt" noise? Remember when skates had four wheels, and you attached them to your shoes with a skate key that hung around your neck?

You don’t remember that??? (sigh...)


Friday Flash 55: Walking Into the Light

This is my entry for Friday Flash 55. For lots more 55s, visit G-Man here and look in the comments.

Walking Into the Light

Photo by Asit Kumar/AFP/Getty Images

Brand new, they crawl from Earth’s womb.

They move toward the light, following an instinct born before man.

The siren song of the sea calls them home, 
a place they have never been.

It’s the natural order of things. 

But human beings are so disorderly.

Tonight, when they walk into the light, they will die.

Ft. Lauderdale Tries to Help


Alice Audrey started a word association game on her blog.  If you'd like to play, click this colorful Association button (immediately below), and you'll find the rules.

It's a different approach from the typical meme, so I thought I'd give it a try.  But I'm thinking I may have jumped into the pond too soon, and that learning how to swim first might have been wiser.  I'm not sure I'm "getting it," but I'm in, so here goes.

If I'm following the chain correctly (and I suspect I'm not), here are the responses so far, starting with Alice and ending with me:

1.  Excitement (Alice Audrey)
2.  Thrill (Hootin' Anni)
3.  Suspense (Hazel)
4.  Murder (Thom's Place 4 Well Whatever)

and now mine:

5.  Premeditated

I think I'm now supposed to tag someone else or leave it open-ended for anyone to join in.  I'm choosing the latter, since I'd be in trouble were someone to ask me how it works.  In any case, it'll be interesting to see how it all turns out.

100 Word Challenge: The Big Day

This week's prompt 100 words of prose or poetry is "Swimsuit." I'm diving in with this entry. For more, visit here and check out the comments.

The Big Day

“Bye, Papa.”

There’d be hell to pay if he knew where she was going, but as far as Papa knew, Millie was headed to work, where she scooped ice cream for the tourists like a good girl.

Not today! Today was the day of the big dive she’d been waiting for all summer. She went to the shop, but only to change into her new swimsuit in the storeroom out back.

At the pier, Millie climbed up to the diving platform. She waved to the crowd below, then she and Baron soared off the platform, rushing to meet their future.

Click here to learn more about the women who rode The Diving Horses of Atlantic City.

This video profiles the most famous of these women.  It's pretty interesting (despite all the typos).


Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Speechless Wednesday


100-Word Challenge: A Blunder of Consent

This week's prompt 100 words of prose or poetry is "consent." This is my entry. For more, visit here and check out the comments.

A Blunder of Consent

When I withheld my consent,
I thought of you as someone
Who would understand, someone
Who saw me as I am, someone
Who knew that the picture I paint of my life
Doesn’t include the colors of too much, too soon.
That’s not the way I see myself.

When you assumed my consent,
You considered yourself first, as someone
Who sees only himself reflected in my eyes, someone
Who is the center of his own universe, someone
Who gets what he wants, when he wants it,
God’s gift to women:
That’s the way you see yourself.

We were both wrong.


10th DOM: Between the Sheets

The current prompt at Tenth Daughter of Memory is "Between the Sheets."

Invisible Between the Sheets

The young woman woke and looked out the window.  What a welcome sight it was after seeing nothing but shades of grey for so long!  The sky was bright blue, dotted with fluffy pillows of clouds, and everything seemed touched by a warm yellow glow.
She loved days like this, when the delicate springtime sun has finally chased off the lingering chill of a long hash winter.  After months of being locked indoors, she was anxious to go out and perform her annual welcome to warm weather.  Today was the day she’d hang the wash out on the clothes line for the first time this year.
She took her time pinning the wet laundry to the line, and enjoyed every minute of it. This always seemed like a new beginning, a chance to start over.  She hung the sheets first, and as she started on the clothes, she laughed at the sound of Tommy playing between the sheets.  He loved darting back and forth, shouting, “I’m invisible. You can’t see me!”  At five years old, being invisible was his favorite fantasy.  Every now and then, he’d be very quiet, and creep up slowly, popping out of his cover of white, and shout, “Boo!”
She braced herself for his sneak attack.  He’d been quiet for a few moments, and she knew she was about to be “surprised.”  But as she fastened one of her husband’s shirt to the line, she realized the attack was too long in coming.   Something must have distracted him.
“Tommy, come out of there now.  I don’t want you getting my clean sheets all dirty.”  She waited, but Tommy didn’t come out.   “I mean it, young man. I have a lot of laundry to hang, and I don’t have time to come find you.  We’ll play hide and seek when I’m done.  Tommy?  Tommy!"
She started pushing her way through the wet, white forest of sheets. " TOMMY"
There was nothing but silence.  Tommy was nowhere to be found anywhere between the sheets.
"T-O-M-M-Y !  !  !  !  !"
Hearing his wife screaming in the backyard, he hurried out to the back yard as fast as his cane would allow him.  He could see her feet, but she was hidden from sight between the sheets.  He tore the wet sheets from the line and tossed them aside.  Reaching her, he gathered the shrieking old woman into his arms.  “Sshhh,” he said.  “It’s okay. It’s okay. Sshhh.” 
This was his annual welcome to warm weather, he thought, as he tried to calm her.  It was the first nice day of springtime, a day just like that day thirty-seven years ago, when their son Tommy had disappeared from between the sheets.


100-Word Challenge: Confessed

This week's prompt 100 words of prose or poetry is "confessed," and  this is my confession.  For more, visit here and check out the comments.

Her Confession, Delivered Too Late

She and her new husband stood waiting to be introduced for the first time as husband and wife. “Ladies and gentlemen, I’m honored to present Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Johnson!”

The doors opened, and as they walked though to join their guests, the room burst into a loud cacophony of sound. She gasped, and looked around in astonishment. Scattered around the reception hall, several of his relatives were standing, joyfully banging on pots and pans with serving spoons!

Laughing, her husband said, “It’s called a callithump. It’s for good luck.”

“Um, honey,” she confessed, “I don’t really like percussion music.”


Crazy Eights?

My "mom," Titanium of Element 22, told me to go out and play. One should always do as Mother says.

So here's the game we're playing:

1) Go to your photo files, select the 8th photo folder.
2) Select the 8th photo in that folder.
3) Post that photo along with the story behind it.
4) Then challenge 8 blogging friends to do the same.

Here's my crazy 8th.

(The photo isn't one I took, obviously, but it is the 8th in the 8th, so here it is.  I was always afraid it would show up on the Internet. I just didn't know I would be the one to put it there.)

The story?  Long ago and far away, in a job long since finished, the costume prize was mine. 

And my eight nominees to play along?

1. Mojo
2. LouCeel
3. G-Man
4. Järnebrand
5. West Valley Daily Photo
6. Roy's World
7. Grandmother
8. California Girl

These folks are all excellent photographers, and have interesting things to say as well.  Go visit.  You won't be disappointed.