My encounter with a beautiful woman at the drug store revealed that my attitude had changed toward them.
This isn’t the woman I encountered recently at Walgreens while receiving my third COVID shot. That woman was fuller-figured and had black hair. But she could easily have been her sister or maybe even a top-secret clone.
Our encounter was brief, but memorable.
Both books go directly to the source – the citizens – when writing about cities. Carl Carlsen did not depend upon the local historians, nor did he rely on the preconceived notions of contemporary news hacks. He sought out the guy living in the tenement demolished when a car crashed into it and the Black woman who owned her own hair salon and retired in her early 60s. These people, not the pundits, experienced the drudgeries and triumphs of neighborhood living.
Continue reading “Brickyard Stories 2.0: A Lynn MA Neighborhood Before and After Urban Renewal, edited by Carl Carlsen”
IN WHICH I don a uniform but not the dogma
“Oh, you’ll find out. Boy, will you find out!”
This ominous statement, tossed my way by my cousin Sam during our final balmy picnic of summer, was half-warning and half-taunt. He’d approached me after the apple bobbing and said, “Hear you’re going to sister school next month.”
“Now you’re getting older, your body’s starting to change,” said Dad. “Any questions?”
“How do you stop getting hard in church?” I asked.
“Don’t be ridiculous. That never happens.”
“I just heard . . . in school. Some of the guys . . .”
“It doesn’t happen if you’re Catholic. You know all about impure thoughts by now.”
“Yeah, but . . .”
“You just got confirmed for chrissake.”
“Not sayin’ it was me.”
“Then who? Better not be that Channing Johnstone character.”
“I’m just asking, what if it happens? What are you supposed to do?”
“You say a prayer or something.”
“But what if some girl’s sitting in the next pew and . . . and looking real pretty . . . and things get out of hand and suddenly you gotta get up and take communion?”
“How the hell should I know? Ask Father Berube.”
–from “Questions I Tormented my Dad With”
IN WHICH we are truly blessed.
I never did ask Father John Berube that question, but not because I didn’t trust him. He was eminently trustworthy. Every Danvers Catholic kid I knew swore by what he said. About anything. The reason why was . . . complicated. Oh, so complicated.
From “Questions I Tormented My Father With
“What’dya think Pete? Less than an hour and we caught a whole bucket of pickerel.”
“Yeah. All right, I guess.”
“All right? It’s been one after the other.”
“We’re fresh outta luck.”
“Only a minute since the last one.”
“Yeah, and the last one got off the hook and escaped.”
“So he’ll tell the others to watch out. Bye bye fish.”
“Don’t be ridiculous.”
“We’re all done. Might’s well go home.”
“A quitter never wins and a winner never quits.”
“A quitter gets to watch Captain Midnight.”
“Don’t be a wise guy.”
“Do fish go south like birds?”
“No! And you know they can’t talk, right?”
“Whales squeal to each other.”
“Who told you that?”
“These pickerel can’t resist our tasty sea worms.”
“Who knows what they been eating? They don’t look right.”
“Now you’re skating on thin ice.”
“No ice here. If we were ice-fishing, we’d need an auger for the hole and a fish house.”
“We’ll quit when I catch the next one.”
“When’s that gonna be?”
“Few more minutes.”
“Already been a few more minutes.”
“Shut up! You’re scaring the fish.”
Dating at thirteen is never what you expect: a mishmash of guesswork and lucky moves.
IN WHICH I learn not quite enough about love.
On the playing field of girlfriend getting, my best friend Steve scored a touchdown his first try.
The first time I met Keith Connes, he was getting raked over the coals.
We were attending a writers group meeting in the Florida retirement community of Sun City Center. The group had been hijacked by Christian fundamentalists.
It’s not often that a wondrously bizarre story drops into your lap.
But when it does, I believe it must get told, and as soon as possible. Have you ever heard of News of the Weird, that syndicated email column begun in the late 80s? It supplies digests of outlandish stories that happened the previous week, like a woman canceling her marriage to a ghost because it “kept disappearing.” Well, this is one of those stories. And it happened to me.
IN WHICH I learn the Facts of Life. Twice.
Dad picked the wrong time and place to explain The Facts to me. The time, well that’s complicated. I’ll get to that. But the place . . .