Friday, March 30, 2012

The Lost House

by Pat Bunsold

     Great!  I was called into the Boss's office and told I had a Junket set up.  Our company was installing a video system in a large plant in Indianapolis, and they needed an expert to oversee the installation.  I would be arriving in mid April, and work on it to the beginning of May.  I always loved junkets.  Free airplane rides, free meals, free hotel room stays.  What a fun time ahead.  And, since my hotel would be out of the city aways, I had the use of a nice rental car.
     My first trip there I scored a nice Lincoln Town Car to drive around in.  It was an upgrade from the normal mid-sized car, and it was great fun to drive around in the Luxury Car.  But I was called back to San Diego and would need another trip to finish the job a few weeks later.  When I arrived back, the boss chewed me out for renting an expensive car.  He said I should drive a cheap car, and this time he booked a little Chevy HHR for me to drive.  

     I arrived at the INDY airport and went to the National Rental car lot.  There was a pretty red HHR for me to drive.  I would need the large open back area to transport the many antennas and equipment that was shipped to my hotel.  The hotel was in Plainfield, not far from the airport, but quite a ride into the city each day.  The job went well, and as the week drew to a close, I finished up early and would drive the HHR around the countryside to explore the Indiana landscape.  As it got dark, I would head on back to the Hotel in Plainfield and get a good rest that night.

    Late that night, I had a wild dream.  I was out in the boondocks, and came upon an abandoned farmhouse that had the remains of a Tribander antenna on the roof.  Inside the house I explored and found a full Ham station from the 50s, still on the operating table.  I forget what happened after that, but the dream kept with me all that night.

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Canvasser

Hilaire Belloc
ca. 1910 
IN that part of the Garden of Eden which lies 
somewhat to the south-west of the centre thereof 
the weather, during the recent election which was 
held there, was bad. It blew, it rained, it hailed, it 
snowed, and all this was on account of the great 
comet, of which the people of that region said 
proudly to strangers, " Have you seen our comet ? " 
Imagining, with I know not how much justice, that 
this celestial phenomenon was local rather than 
national or imperial. 
The Garden of Eden being mainly of a clay soil, 
large parts of it were flooded, and a Canvasser (a 
draper by profession and a Gentleman from London 
by birth), unacquainted as he was with the Garden of 
Eden, thought it a foul place, and picked his way 
without pleasure. He went down a lane the like of 
which he did not even know to exist in England (for 
it was what we call in the Garden of Eden a " green 
lane," and only those learned in the place could get 
along it at all during the floods). 
I say he went down this lane, turned back, took 
a circumbendibus over some high but abominably 
sticky ploughed fields, and turned up with more of 
English earth than most citizens can boast at the 
door of the Important Cottage. He had been given 
his instructions carefully, and he was sure of the 
place. He swung off several pounds of clay from his 
boots to the right and to the left, and then it struck 
him that he did not know how to accost a cottage 
door. There was no knocker and there was no bell, 
But he had had plenty of proof and instruction 
dinned into him as to the importance of that cottage, 
so at last he made up his mind to do something bold 
and unconventional, and he knocked at it with his 
contined at: 

Saturday, March 17, 2012


by alanquigly

Friday afternoon around 12:50PM..... I got off the bus at the old YMCA building which is now a fantastic Veteran Affairs Outreach Center.  I had my earphones plugged in as I was listening to NPR radio on my MP3 players-Sansa. Walking down to the Bank of Utica I kept hearing in my head the chanting of the words to the call to prayer for the Muslims. I thought I was hearing things--which could be a side effect of one of my medications. So I took of my earbuds and lo and behold the Bosnian Mosque was playing over its loud speakers on one of the minarets the call to prayer for that hour of the day.  I stopped to listen and was getting into the rhythm and the words when 1:00PM struck and the sound of bells began to toll in the hour along with a Christian hymn( this was a psalm tone) from the steeples atop Grace Church. In the background Historic St. Johns Church bell tower began its toll.  What a completely uplifting moment I experienced as I just stood there on the sidewalk in front of the Bank of Utica (NY) so wrapped up in the sounds of silent prayer that for a time I experienced that moment of otherness with God. Then gave thanks for the melody in my heart. And then gathered myself and entered the Bank to do my business for the day. What an escaping moment. ...   :D  ....   I have to do that again.    

Friday, March 16, 2012

Concerning Belle Carpenter

An Awakennig

by Sherwood Anderson
in "Winesburg, Ohio" 1919


BELLE CARPENTER had a dark skin, grey eyes, and thick lips. She was tall and strong. When black thoughts visited her she grew angry and wished she were a man and could fight someone with her fists. She worked in the millinery shop kept by Mrs. Kate McHugh and during the day sat trimming hats by a window at the rear of the store. She was the daughter of Henry Carpenter, bookkeeper in the First National Bank of Winesburg, and lived with him in a gloomy old house far out at the end of Buckeye Street. The house was surrounded by pine trees and there was no grass beneath the trees. A rusty tin eaves-trough had slipped from its fastenings at the back of the house and when the wind blew it beat against the roof of a small shed, making a dismal drumming noise that sometimes persisted all through the night.

When she was a young girl Henry Carpenter made life almost unbearable for Belle, but as she emerged from girlhood into womanhood he lost his power over her. The bookkeeper's life was made up of innumerable little pettinesses. When he went to the bank in the morning he stepped into a closet and put on a black alpaca coat that had become shabby with age. At night when he returned to his home he donned another black alpaca coat. Every evening he pressed the clothes worn in the streets. He had invented an arrangement of boards for the purpose. The trousers to his street suit were placed between the boards and the boards were clamped together with heavy screws. In the morning he wiped the boards with a damp cloth and stood them upright behind the dining room door. If they were moved during the day he was speechless with anger and did not recover his equilibrium for a week.   

The bank cashier was a little bully and was afraid of his daughter. She, he realized, knew the story of his brutal treatment of her mother and hated him for it. One day she went home at noon and carried a handful of soft mud, taken from the road, into the house. With the mud she smeared the face of the boards used for the pressing of trousers and then went back to her work feeling relieved and happy.

Belle Carpenter occasionally walked out in the evening with George Willard. Secretly she loved another man, but her love affair, about which no one knew, caused her much anxiety. She was in love with Ed Handby, bartender in Ed Griffith's Saloon, and went about with the young reporter as a kind of relief to her feelings. She did not think that her station in life would permit her to be seen in the company of the bartender and walked about under the trees with George Willard and let him kiss her to relieve a longing that was very insistent in her nature. She felt that she could keep the younger man within bounds. About Ed Handby she was somewhat uncertain.

Handby, the bartender, was a tall, broad-shouldered man of thirty who lived in a room upstairs above Griffith's saloon. His fists were large and his eyes unusually small, but his voice, as though striving to conceal the power back of his fists, was soft and quiet.


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Look for justice in heaven ...

by Kevin Schmitt

My dad said that jokingly after regaling me with the one and only anecdote that cast his dear sainted mother in law in a less than perfect light. The misunderstanding occurred on November 11th, 1918. Grandpa Lenard rode Mae into town to purchase some item that could not be made on the farm or bartered for amongst the neighbors. Cash was in short supply. But then, cash was ALWAYS in short supply if you were a homesteader. Sundown would come early and with it the winter cold, so Lenard didn’t allow his young mare to dawdle on the four mile trip into town.

Chaska was a pretty small place back in those days, and Lenard wasn’t on its main street a minute before someone yelled to him that the war was over. He was glad to hear it of course, but he didn’t have any relatives in the conflict, and the only thing that really mattered to him was his farm. It required so many things, and Old Man Winter wasn’t going to be a comfort to him in the coming months.

His shadow was still in the doorway of the hardware store when a fellow church member grabbed hold of him and fairly dragged him into the neighboring saloon for a victory toast. Now I need to make it very clear that my grandparents were not strictly against the consumption of alcohol, but they only used it when they were sick, or at someone’s wedding. Saloons were given a wide berth, since they were patronized by the worst possible sort. But since Lenard’s pockets were now empty, he felt safe enough. It seemed highly unlikely that anyone else would squander their money buying him a drink.He was wrong.

Well, all I can say is, it was a good thing that Mae knew the way home. It wouldn’t have been so bad except Lenard had to go and fall off his horse when he was about halfway across the east field. You see, there was a terrible influenza epidemic raging across the United Stated back then. People were terrified of this 20th Century plague because it killed the young and strong just as efficiently as the old and weak. Almost three quarters of a million people died from it, and it was on Grandma’s mind as she ran across the field to her husband.

Anne was very relieved to discover that her husband was not going to die. But that relief lasted about four---maybe five seconds. We don’t know exactly what happened at that point in time. Grandma wouldn’t tell and Grandpa couldn’t remember. But the important thing is that she forgave him eventually.

She must have. They had five children afterwards.

Horse With No Name - America

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Daddy Long Legs

by June T. Bassemir

Where do Daddy Long legs come from?  Do they walk in the door when I am not looking?  Do they come up from the tub drain?  Do they hatch from something like the bugs that appear in flour when it is old?  Or do they come up from the basement on the pipes under the sink?  This is a mystery in my pristine white tiled bathroom!!

I was never bothered with them before and so the question never really needed to be answered.  But this winter, whenever I looked into the bathtub, THERE was a daddy long legs resting on the bottom or hanging overhead by a thin web.  Now I know they are good, I mean they are supposed to eat other insects but the only thing in my bathroom – that is – in the tub is soap scum.  Is that what they like to eat?  

Tonight was the last straw.   I turned on the light and there on my toothbrush was a young daddy long legs.  This is too much!  In the tub is one thing, but sharing my toothbrush?  No way!  He raced across the marble sink top in a hurried frenzy to get away; then fell into the sink.  One thing I know and that is they like water …cold water, that is.  As the cold water swirls them around they fold up their legs and wait for the action to stop.  Then they unfurl their legs and begin to climb out.   Fortunately I have very hot water.  I don’t know where they come from, but I can tell you where they go when the water gets too hot ...  and I let it run.


Friday, March 2, 2012

The Epidemic

by Stephanie Heigh

My mother Edith was a very young child when the raging influenza epidemic of 1918 assailed our country.  This horrible health crisis emerged as the worst of its kind in American history. In ten months 675,000 lives were lost to Spanish Influenza. This number is larger than the total deaths of four of our wars combined.
It all began in Fort Riley, Kansas, when one Army private fell ill with a sore throat, headache, and fever.  More victims quickly followed, and in one day over 100
soldiers were affected. From there the highly contagious illness with its horrific symptoms spread like wildfire and engulfed the entire nation. Far more extreme than the initial signs were the ones which soon developed in most patients, ultimately causing death. These people suffered from labored breathing, projectile nosebleeds, and violent coughs. Their lungs became filled with bloody fluid, fevers soared as high as 107 degrees, delirium abounded. A plague was sweeping America.
In New York City over 3000 residents became ill in a single day. On October 23 over 800 people died. These numbers surpassed those of many other cities; as a result New York became known as one of the deadliest places in the nation.  In January 1919 the death rate began to climb higher. It was during this month, in the Borough of Brooklyn, that my mother's memories are focused.
Young children did not actually understand what was happening, And so it was with Edith, who lived in a walk-up apartment, known as a cold water flat, with her parents, grandmother, and older brother and sister. She recalls her surroundings quite vividly, including the kitchen, the warmest room in the dwelling because of the coal stove, which was used for cooking. It provided the only source of warmth for the family, but very little of its heat extended beyond the kitchen door.

On top of the stove sat a constantly steaming tea kettle, and almost daily there were evident the aromas of delicious home cooking and baking. My grandmother
and great grandmother used the best ingredients obtainable at the neighborhood grocery, butcher shop, and produce stands. Included among these were the
freshest and most potent bulbs of garlic they could find. It is this pungent herb that Edith claims saved her father from coming down with influenza, although he was regularly exposed to it as he rode the subway to his job as a tailor.

However, it is not the health benefits of garlic that are to be credited, but rather the unmistakable smell. According to my mother, my grandfather had asthma, and as a result exhaled heavily with every breath. Thus, his fellow subway riders instinctively moved away from the source of the odor. No virus ever came close enough to infect him.

Meanwhile, Mom was not so lucky as to have escaped becoming ill. The family doctor, who of course made house calls, declared that her case was not serious. Poor Dr. R. seemed almost to appear slightly jealous that the members of my grandparents' household had remained almost unscathed. For his own sister had just succumbed to the flu.  Doctor or not, there was nothing he had been able to do to save the young woman.

My grandmother insisted that her youngest child remain confined to her bed in the large, cold front bedroom. So obediently Edith huddled beneath the quilt, feverish and cranky.

Every so often her mother would come in and anxiously feel her forehead to see whether her fever had risen, and to administer to her with hot liquids. No solid food was permitted, as it was presumed to raise the temperature during such a nasty illness.
Eventually my grandmother found it necessary to go out shopping, and my great grandmother was left in charge of my ailing mother and her brother and sister. In a split second little Edith sprang out of bed, disregarding how feverish she was, peeked into the kitchen, and saw that the coast was clear. Her grandma was off in another room. She scurried to the table and quickly broke off a piece of the hard crust of a freshly baked rye bread.  This had always been her favorite food, and she was not to be denied.
Gobbling the delicious treat as fast as she could, she cuddled back under the cozy quilt, a handmade one which had been stuffed with chicken feathers … hand
plucked and saved. When enough feathers had been accumulated they became part of a most desirable gift for any new bride. My mother's quilt was one my grandparents had received for their own wedding.

The window next to Edith's bed was completely frost covered and icy to the touch. But she was bored, and once the last of the bread had been gulped down, she began with her cold little fingers to scratch away some of the icy covering. Finally she was rewarded with a small circle of clear glass, which afforded her a view of the street below.

The sight she recalls most vividly, one which has never left her memory, she has described to me many times over the years. As she peered out with wide
eyes, she saw a horse drawn black wagon proceeding slowly past her house.  Behind it walked several people in sorrowful poses. Heads down, sobbing and holding one another, they followed the dray to the cemetery where their loved one would be buried.
This scene was one that was to be repeated countless times in as many places. For the next several days, during my mother's illness, she was witness to this somber, tragic tableau over and over.
Puzzled and strangely uneasy, she questioned her mother about what she had seen. My grandmother, Fanny, explained that the people in the wagons had been very
ill, and that they were being taken somewhere that would ease their way to heaven. The explanation satisfied her, but the images of those many funeral processions remain with her to this day.
Now, when winter is upon us and flu shots are widely available, the disastrous epidemic of 1918 is a chapter in history. But to a small child who lived through it and survived, it was to remain an unforgettable life experience.

                            copyright 2010 by Stephanie Heigh

Stephanie Heigh is retired and has lived in Sullivan County, New York most of her life, along with her husband Robert, a retired elementary school teacher.  Writing, as well as reading, has been her passion since she was old enough to read cereal box labels.  Among her other interests are music and her 11 grandchildren. The most beloved job Stephanie ever held was in her small hometown library, where she had the pleasure of recommending books to the many patrons who asked.  The best perk, however, was having first access to any publication while it was hot off the press.  The library is still somewhat of a second home to her, despite the convenience of the  internet at home.  Visiting there provides a warmth and human connection no computer can boast.