Friday, May 15, 2015

Three Widowers In My Life

by June Tuthill Bassemir

At the present time, there are three widowers in my life.  

One is an old H S. boy friend. One is a bit older whose parents rented a cottage of my father’s. The third is another H. S. classmate from Spanish class. 

My communication with each one of them is not known to the other two and I might add we are all Octogenarians.  Driving to the East end of LI is no longer an option for the first two, so our communication is by telephone or the US post.  Neither feels they can overcome the learning process of joining the email generation, justifying their objections to their extreme love of the telephone and the mailman.   The third is email literate but... just barely, sending a love note from Texas now and again.

The H.S. boyfriend worked in the television industry when IT and he were young, so he was more “people” oriented than “hobby” oriented which puts anyone in the later years of life at a disadvantage.   For the last few years, we have enjoyed dining at the various restaurants here on the “East End” of LI. and there are many good places to eat.  However, due to doctor appointments, he ran out of steam before we ran out of restaurants and now he can’t make the 65 mile Toyota journey to Jamesport.  I miss his company and the lobster dinners ...  I clip articles from the local newspaper showing the different places where we have been and that keeps his spirits up.  He follows the Yankee ball games with devotion and I share the joy and excitement of seeing the ball get whacked out of park too...wondering if they will play in the World Series.. yet again.  He is single handedly paying my mail lady’s salary with numerous cards and letters sent weekly, sealed with multiple stickers that he gets for free from those organizations to whom he donates money.

The second widower has been to visit me just once when he came with one of his daughters after an absence of no communication for over 50 years.  He has been invaluable sharing his practical knowledge and advice with the things needing attention around my house.  In exchange for this, I send him essays and stories of our younger days that he reads while sitting in his open garage, facing the activity on the street in front of him.  As a young husband he was in the construction business, (when he wasn’t in bed) and built seven buildings interspersed with giving his wife seven reasons to visit the maternity ward at the local hospital.  He jokes that he never had enough money to go bowling.  When he lived in my Dad’s cottage as a boy, my romantic interest in him was non existent because his family was of the strong Catholic persuasion and I was of the strong Protestant persuasion.  My parental advice was not to marry a Catholic as the Priest would be in the bedroom with us and this vision of course, limited my list of potential boyfriends and a husband.  Now the residue of our upbringing doesn’t matter anymore except if we discuss the Presidential candidates and we try to sidestep that subject while chatting on the phone.

The last friend from the Spanish Class, emails heartfelt expressions of long lost love that he has been nursing for lo these many many years.  I never accepted a date with him although he would ask each time the class was dismissed and we both reached the exit door at the same time.  I dreaded the moment the class was over and often hung back as long as I could, but then he would too.  He came to the 40th and the 50th Class reunions all the way from Mexico where he fled after High School to marry a Mexican woman and sire three kids. He obviously did much better in Spanish class than I did.  He now lives in TX with a son and I am trying to keep his brain active.  He is pleading with me for my phone number to be able to call at Christmas time.  He says that he calls all his friends at that time to explain all his health problems that he’s had during the year.  I’m not eager to hear that as it seems to me to be an unproductive waste of breath but I did give my three digit area phone number.  I told him he has to work for the other seven digits in a little whimsical exercise that I gave him... I also said the rule was that if he called he couldn’t discuss any medical problems and I wouldn’t talk about mine.  Since the end of August he has yet to decipher my phone number hidden in this sentence.....  “Seven too too small Pygmy men, for years ate seven won derful donuts”.  See if you can figure it out.  Of course, if the other half of his brain were active he would be able to get my phone number and any body else’s phone number by calling 411 with the name and address.  Actually there may be another reason he is not anxious to break the code of my small quiz and that is he won’t have anything to talk about.

So much for life here in Jamesport – written by the 11th direct descendant of John Tuthill who landed on LI in Southold in 1640 along with 12 other English families.

copyright June T. Bassemir, 2014

 June Tuthill Bassemir is the widowed mother of four and grandmother of 10.  An artist and writer, she  volunteers as a docent in a 1765 farm house.   June loves old cars and antiques, and has also enjoyed furniture stripping and rug hooking.  "I used to say I was a stripper and hooker.but with so many trips around the sun, no one raises an eyebrow anymore. They only laugh."  June has given up furniture stripping, but is still an avid rug hooker.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

What Will They Think?

by Jackie Welsh

     The First Methodist Church of Dellrose, Tennessee, was an imposing, old brick edifice that stood next door to the small, white frame house where Mama and Papa Meeks lived.  It was just a very few feet away; so close, in fact, that if a person was feeling a bit out-of-sorts and not much in the mood to sit through one of Brother Tomlin’s Sunday sermons, he’d better make sure he stayed out of sight because everybody in town would know it was a case of just being plumb ornery.  You could also be assured that speculation as to the cause of it would be the topic of a good deal of the morning’s conversations.  Now I’m not saying that that’s the reason my grandparents were so faithful in attendance at the church, but then, it didn’t hurt either.

     That old church was an important part of their lives and to ours, when we children would go to visit.  It’s next to impossible to think of a visit to Dellrose that didn’t include some memory of the church.  Why, some of life’s most memorable occasions actually took place within those hallowed walls.

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Jackie Welsh was born and raised in Fayetteville, Tennessee and graduated from Middle Tennessee State University with a degree in English.  She married her high school sweetheart and had almost forty years together before he passed away the first day of 2004.  They raised three children and Jackie now has nine grandchildren.  Just this past February  Jackie became the great grandmother of a beautiful baby girl.  Jackie says she has always loved story telling and enjoys writing stories from her memories to give to her family.  She also writes poetry.  Jackie divides her time between Williamsburg, Virginia and the east coast of Florida.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Those of us in the business of the word gather magnificent companions. That is, we make friends with those with whom we are constantly in communication or communion–the writers we read. For we tend to do more than read their works–listen to their side of the conversation. We observe them, go behind their backs to converse with others about them, travel around to see where they have been. It makes no matter if our friends are alive or dead–I dare say, most are legally dead. But to us they are alive and very much parts of our lives.

I have a friend–alive, tangible, still making his physical way on earth–who became enamored of Jane Austen. I do not know what it is about her, but he went so far as to become a member of the Jane Austen society. To me he seems well acquainted with her, having read her novels multiple times and knowing something about her environment. If she were a contemporary movie star, we might see him on the news arrested for stalking her. But she is dead, so he is free to go through whatever of her refuse he can find. Not long ago, he went to the society’s annual national convention and came back humbled: how little he knew about Jane. Compared to her other friends at the affair, he was a mere acquaintance. Those others really knew her. The color of her eyes; one cannot learn that from that one silhouette representation of her in Winchester Cathedral, but the close friends of Jane knew the color.

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Clarence Wolfshohl is professor emeritus of English at William Woods University. He has published  both creative and scholarly writing in small press and academic journals.  He is a member of AAPA and operates El Grito del Lobo Press.  A native Texan, Wolfshohl now lives with his writing, two dogs and one cat in a nine-acre woods outside of Fulton, Missouri.

Saturday, March 21, 2015


by Sandy Gurev

On a blustery December night in Rochester, New York in 1979 my husband and I headed to the Rochester International Airport.  We planned on meeting with other members of our synagogue, Temple Sinai, to greet a Laotian family whose father had escaped after six years in a Vietnamese concentration camp and rejoined with his wife and six children at a refugee camp in Thailand.
Our small group came prepared with shopping bags of coats, boots, mittens, scarves and hats to fit two adults and six children ranging in age between fourteen and six.  Our synagogue sponsored the family.  Our commitment entailed finding an apartment for them on a bus line, providing furniture and kitchen ware, enrolling the children in school, and obtaining Medicaid and Aid to Dependent Families, helping them to find jobs, enrolling them in English language classes and providing friendship.  It was a tall order but we had such a large group of enthusiastic volunteers willing to share the responsibilities.

We were told that the family would be arriving from a refugee camp in Thailand where they had lived for 1-2 years.  Since we anticipated them arriving in lightweight clothing not suitable for Upstate New York winters, we were ready for them with the warm outer clothing.  Much to our surprise they came off the plane fully dressed for snowy weather.  We later learned that the Jewish Federation outfitted them during a flight stopover in San Francisco.  It was the first of many surprises.


 Sandy Gurev is a wife of fifty-one years and mother of two sons and four grandchildren.  Sandy was an elementary school counselor prior to retiring to Williamsburg, VA nine year's ago from Rochester, NY. Her volunteer work includes providing lunch to cancer patients and fitting women with wigs after they have lost their hair.  Playing competitive duplicate bridge and belonging to two book clubs rounds out her time.  Within the past two years she has written a memoir for her grandchildren and a couple of articles for the American Amateur Press Association. Sandy found that writing helped to reduce her perception of pain while she was awaiting back surgery.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Oldtimers Hometown

© Lini Richarda Grol

It is a picture pretty village
down in the valley, with a few sedate stores
garages,and old banks,
and lately as a brave attempt
to elegance with fancy suburbs
for the hotshots, you know
from the big city.

But the heart of the old town
still has a dozens of simply
lovely old homes
for everyday folks.
Hard working people
the likes of you and me.

And yes there are galore
men and women ‘s clubs
and a dozen of train buffs
who gather every so often
just to let of steam
and dream their impossible dream
while fondly watching
their littlie trains circling
the tracks leading no where.

He chuckled softly adding
“ Like some of us
racing all our life and going nowhere grand,
but who are simply content
in finding joy in life itself.

He paused and dreamily smiled,
then threw at me adamant:
Well. ..and why not?

Lini Richarda Grol  is a Canadian from the Netherlands and a  life member of the Canadian Authors Asssociation, The Ptofessional Women Writers and of Poetry Societies.  She belongs to the Anmerican Amateur Journalists  and was for 2 years their  Poet Laureate.  Her scissor cuts,  stories and poems are  in  books and periodicals in Canada and abroad.  Lini has been interviewed on television in the Netherlands, Canada and the United States. She received the Canadian Authors Award from the Canada Club for her World War II Novel, “Liberation 1944-45.”  Her poems have been broadcast to schools and general audiences in Canada.  Lini’s book, “Lelawala,” is based on Canadian American Indian folktale.  It was made into a ballet and premiered at the Glen Gould Studio in Toronto.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Midnight At The Oasis

    by Darlene Jennings

“I don’t care who they say they are or where they say they work.  Just don’t let the bums come in without paying,”  screamed my Father.  “They’ll say they work at the Bowery or Sloppy Joes and that I always let them in without paying.  Tell ‘em if they want their dollar back they will have to come see me to get it,” he barked.

Both Sloppy Joes and the Bowery were businesses owned by my father and were located smack in the middle of the amusement district.  Both across from the Pavilion that was the main draw along with the ocean for the thousands of visitors that flocked to Myrtle Beach during the summer season.  The Bowery was a coming of age ritual for all teenagers who wanted to have their first legal beer at the beach. They used to have contests there to see which waiter could carry the most beer mugs at one time. It was home to a few characters such as “Don’t Cry Joe” who was a champion marathon dancer and who later froze himself in a block of ice once just for the publicity.  The house band at the Bowery years after Don’t Cry Joe was Alabama who later after going gold wrote a song that had lyrics about the Bowery and Sloppy Joe’s.
    Sloppy Joe’s was best known for its foot long hot dogs, bingo and 24 hour service.  The sign on the outside said “We may doze but never close.”  And they didn’t...not even during Hurricane Hazel or any of the other hurricanes which later would send the tourists running and the locals boarding up store front glass windows.  Talk with anyone over 50 today and they will tell you that their first trip to the beach included a game of bingo, a foot long hot dog, and petting the poodle in the cage in front Sloppy Joe’s.  Some of the tourists weren’t too bright. They never noticed that the chocolate poodle used to attract them to the game of Bingo inside was won night after night but was returned day after day to its cage. 
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Darlene Jennings is a native of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and dates herself by remembering when "we turned off the two downtown traffic lights in the winter." She grew up with sand between her toes and sand-spurs to boot.  Proud mother of two and grandmother of two, Darlene has been self employed for over thirty years in Community Management.  (A job that sucks the soul right out of you, she says.)  Her relief is community service and writing spur-of-the-moment short stories. Many stories have been shared with family and friends who suggested she write a book.  But that just sounds like another job to Darlene!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Snow and Cold In The Good Old Days

A reprint from The MoreStories Place, February, 2009

By Harold Ratzburg

When I read the news from years back in the Marion (Wisconsin) Advertiser, being an Old Geezer, I always start remembering how things were back in the good old days.  Kay Reminger's  article about the"Joys of Winter Weather in the January 15, 2009 paper also stirred up a coupla flashbacks.  And like most Old Geezers, it always seems that my memory of the way things were back then means that we think that we had it a little tougher than kids and grownups of today.
Take for instance snow and winter survival.  I read where Wisconsin is having record snowfall this year.  The weather stations on TV keep us pretty well up to date, so I always keep an eye on the weather in the old home town.
It does seem that when I was a kid-----and we had to walk 4 miles to and from school in the blizzards, up hill, both ways----(well, maybe it was only 1 3/4 miles, and we did get a ride to school cause each morning Dad had to haul our milk to the cheese factory which was just kitty corner across the road from Maple Valley Grade School)  And truthfully, if it was too cold, Dad would come top pick us after school or somebody else was there to help out.
But on some days we had to hoof it all the way home between the snowbanks.  One year I remember the banks that had been plowed up beside the road where really heavy drifting occurred, were so high that walking on the top of the banks, like any red blooded kid would do, we could reach up and touch the telephone wires along side the road.  I am wondering if Wisconsin still gets snow like that?  Part of it was also the snow plowing equipment the Country had.  I remember the big plows, which I believe were called "wing plows", that had a special blade that could pile the drifted snow really high beside the road.  I wonder too, if the counties in Wisconsin still have the big "V" snow plows, that were needed to open the roads after a real heavy storm and drifting.  Most plows I see  today in New Jersey are the simple single blade that can be angled to one side or the other.
Childhood memories also include one winter when we had an ice storm on top of about 10 inches of snow.  The crust was so thick that you could walk on top without breaking through.  It was heaven for a kid with his Flexible Flyer sled.  (Hey, did you know that you can always tell an antique collectible Flexible Flyer by the way the runners at the rear do not curve up and back into the sled so that there is no way that you can spear yourself in the leg when running with the sled to make a "belly flopper" start down the hill?  Those old sled's runners came straight back almost to a point.  Us "collectors" know all that stuff.) 
Anyway, getting back to the ice sledding, we had a hill that gave us a run of about  two or three hundred yards---on ice--- so it was a real kick.  Our only problem was that the run went from the cow pasture down to an open field at the bottom of the hill and there was a barbed wire fence to separate the two. Us kids tied the bottom strand of barbed wire to the top one between two posts so that there was clearance enough for us on our Flexible Flyers, but we had to be careful to slide through the fence where the wire was tied up the highest.  That got a little dicey on glare ice, but I am happy to say that we managed to hit the right spot every time and never tore ourselves up on the wire.  We had one heck of a week of sledding before a melt came and ruined it for us.
I don't believe that there are too many old Geezers around anymore that can remember the old farm house refrigeration systems.  Those systems centered around the farm "ice house", which was a wooden frame building, (on our farm I remember it as being about fifteen by twenty feet) filled to about four or five feet with sawdust, in which ice was buried in the winter to keep it from melting in the summer.  In the warm weather, the ice was dug out of the sawdust a block at a time and carried into the cellar in the house where there was a home made ice box, made by my Grandpa.  It consisted of a heavy wooden frame and sides, lined with tin of some kind.  That's where we used to keep the milk and other food from spoiling. 
On special occasions when  company dropped in, a block of ice was dug out of the sawdust and chipped up, and put around the old hand cranked ice cream maker to make good old home made ice cream.  That was always a real treat for us kids.
Now, how do you suppose that the ice came to be buried in the sawdust in the first place?  There were no ice delivery trucks around.  No Sir Ree.  That there ice came from Kinney Lake, about three miles up the road from our farm, where the big campground is located now.  The way it worked was that people got together to help each other, so at some appointed time, they would show up at Kinney Lake with their horse drawn sleds and ice cutting tools, and cut the ice blocks out of the lake and haul it home on their horse drawn sleds.  This could be done because back then, it was an accepted fact that the roadways would not always be clean down to the pavement or gravel surface.  There was a frozen layer of packed snow over the whole roadway which made sledding possible.  Come a thaw, that kinda killed the surface for the sleds, so ice for the iceboxes had to harvested in the coldest part of the winter. 
The ride to and from the lake was a long one behind a team of horses.  Dad did not get our first Ford-Ferguson, kinda high speed, rubber tired tractor until 1942.  The old Fordson tractor with the big iron cleats on the wheels that we had before just was not suitable for a slow haul of three miles, and those iron cleats were not welcome on the roadways either.  It's weight on the ice of Kinney Lake could have caused a problem also.  Come to think of it, hand cranking that old Fordson to start in that cold was almost, if not totally, impossible.  It was difficult enough in warm weather.  On the really cold winter nights, the old Model A Ford family car was kept in the cow barn so that it was warm enough to start in the morning.
Working with a team of horses made one daily job a llot harder.  That job was to clean the cow barn.  Those damn cows produced plenty of fecal matter (also known as cow sh---oops, I mean manure) in the gutters every day so it had to be shoveled out twice a day.  Motorized barn cleaners were unknown back then.  To make it more difficult in the winter, with lots of snow, it was sometimes not possible to haul the manure away in the wheeled spreader and spread it directly on the field because the snow was too deep, but it was possible to haul it out to the field with the horse drawn sled and put it on a pile there until spring came along.  Bottom line, it meant that that good old fecal matter had to be shoveled three times as much, first to get it out from behind the cows, then unloaded by hand from the sled, and then shoveled by hand AGAIN to put it in the manure spreader to fling it out on the fields.  Hopefully, when you were finally spreading the stuff, if you could manage to drive INTO the wind, it made the job a lot more pleasant and cleaner for the driver.  Those old spreaders were quite good at spreading the stuff up high and around, and a good stiff wind could really carry it forward.
Enough of the memories of an old Geezer.  I hope you have enjoyed my rambling old stories.

            Copyright 2009,  Harold Ratzburg

 Harold Ratzburg was born at the start of the Great Depression and raised on a Dairy Farm in Wisconsin.  He served four years in the US Air Force in the 50's and was stationed in Germany, where he met his wife Anneliese, who helped get him through College to become a Civil Engineer.  After a time as a Highway Engineer and College Instructor, he wound up as a City Engineer of a small town in New Jersey.  Twenty four years later he retired to become an old geezer telling old stories on his new fangled computer.