Opening Day Thoughts by Marty Glaser

I woke up at one thirty in the morning, and rather than bother Lenore, I went into David’s old room and started writing. I wrote three poems that would be read for me at the TOPS meeting at the Mill House on Wednesday morning. I would honor three TOPS members who lost weight and qualified for State Division weight loss recognition.

I wrote from one thirty until five am, made oatmeal, and kept writing for the Well Done Writer’s group. I was disappointed that I could not be at the opening of the John Zon Community Center on March 12th in Greenfield. The day of the opening was when I had to receive a steroid infusion at home. I was also unable to be in crowds because my immune system would be compromised.

I decided I would write about Jon Zon and how he came into my life when I was a Special Education (SPED) teacher at the Franklin County Technical/Vocational School. I will never forget his coming into my classroom on parents’ night. This short, balding man wore glasses but had a sparkle in his eyes. He asked me who I was and what I taught. Previous to that, I had never set eyes on him. I introduced myself and talked about my role in the special educational department as a math and study skills liaison between shop teachers and regular studies teachers and my students.

I told John that I was assigned to the classes to insure that my students could understand and apply math principles and calculations in their respective shops. John listened carefully to what I told him and didn’t interrupt. I said that our SPED staff had come from many schools where a strong and professional group of teachers did SPED teaching the way it should be done. I explained to John, that when our students rolled onto our campus from eighteen school districts, we first had to deal with the emotional and psychological abuse they suffered at their feeder schools where they were treated as if they were stupid and incapable of learning.

When these bruised and battered students entered my classroom, I told them, “You are great people. I will act as a liaison between you and your mainstream and shop teachers. If you cannot read well enough to take written exams, I will get the mainstream staff and shop teachers to allow me to read the exams to you. and put your answers down. I will not change your answers or cheat for you, but will be your eyes. You’ll have to think and figure out the multiple choice answers.”

We had to teach the mainstream teachers and shop teachers to allow alternative testing because each student learned differently. If students couldn’t write legibly, I would have them dictate their ideas, I would type, save, and print a copy for the student and the teachers. I would write: “Dictated to Mr. Glaser,” so the teacher would know this student should not be penalized, but judged for the quality of his thinking.

John Zon thanked me for educating him about SPED kids and left. I didn’t know I had just talked the ear off a guy who was on my own FCTS School Committee until other teachers told me who he was. When I saw Jon walking in the hallway, I stopped him and said that I hoped I didn’t make a fool of myself. John laughed, and reassured me. “I always hire the best!”

I am proud that the community center was named in John’s honor. 

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An Imaginary Friend by Ted Scott

I’ve never had an imaginary friend and I’ve never known someone who has, but I suppose that it’s possible so I’ll try to construct one and maybe have some conversations with him.
Or her; maybe that’s the way to go, an imaginary girlfriend. I don’t suppose Val will mind, since it’ll all be imaginary.
I think I’ll call her Veronica, since I don’t know anyone with that name. It might be confusing if I named her Susan or Elaine or any of a bunch of other common names that I associate with real people. To me, Veronica is the name of Archie’s girlfriend in the comic book of 65 years ago. She had long black hair and was sexy and sophisticated, a little too much for Archie, who was better suited to Betty, a sweet blond girl. But Veronica was probably 17 and here I am 79. I’ve got kids in their 40s and grandkids in their preteens, but teenagers are a mystery to me, so I think I’ll have to let Veronica age a little if we’re going to have a successful relationship. I was thinking 40, but maybe 60 is a little easier.
Let’s say that today is her birthday. She’s 60.
Me: Happy birthday Veronica, how does it feel to be 60?
V: Oh; Woe is me. I thought I was 17.
Me: Well, look in the mirror. You can see you’re not 17 anymore; but you’ve still got beautiful hair, even if it is a little different color.
V: Is that supposed to be a compliment? Where are Archie and Betty and Jughead and the rest of the gang?
Me: I think they’re still back in comic book land, but I’ve rescued you. Now you can grow and be yourself.
V: But I liked being 17.
Me: Well I did too, but things change. There was a war going on; well actually just finishing. They ended the draft just in time for me, and the next war didn’t start right away. I was just the right age to miss both wars. Of course I could have joined up if I wanted to, but I had seen enough of what happened to those young men to want to avoid it. And just think of all that carnage and killing; for what purpose? Did it save us from the tyranny of the North Koreans or the Vietnamese? They hardly knew we existed until we were killing them.
V: I didn’t know about those wars. Nobody got drafted in comic book land. You seem to have a thing about wars. Do you still think that way?
Me: Yes. They don’t draft young men these days, but there’s still a lot of pressure to fight. The economy has changed. You can’t just get a permanent job that will give you security and benefits your whole life anymore. You have to worry about your employer being taken over and your losing your job and about your retirement and not being able to send your kids to college. In some ways the military offers the most secure employment. The pay is a lot better than the $70 a month that the Vietnam draftees got, but there’s a lot of downside to the job.
V: Let’s not talk about war anymore. What about all those wonderful gadgets I’ve been hearing about; like the iPhone and such.
Me: You’re right. There are some new gadgets and new things to do. Back then you couldn’t even listen to the radio outside. You had to be plugged in. If you wanted music you had to make it yourself or go to a concert. If you wanted to talk with friends you had to go to their house or meet up at the soda fountain. Now a days, the word is mobile. People are always on the move, and communication is constant. And among teens, it’s texting.
V: What’s that?
Me: Texting is where you type out your words on a tiny screen, then push a button to send your message out. It’s almost like being a ham radio operator and sending out Morse code.
V: But I thought you could talk on an iPhone.
Me: You can, but that’s not the preferred way of communication these days. Young people prefer to interact in chunks. Without the careful synchronization that is necessary in a live conversation. I’m not sure why that is, but my wife does it all the time with the kids.
V: You’re married; with kids?
Me: Yes, I thought you knew that.
V: No, I’m just a 17 year old from 1955. I was hoping we could go on a date; maybe to a drive in. I’d like that.
Me: Well there aren’t any drive ins these days. If you want to watch a movie, you go on Netflix or Amazon Prime.
V: Well maybe I should meet your wife. I’d like to see what she’s like. Maybe we could all go have a soda together.
Me: I think that would be fine, but she probably couldn’t see you or hear you. That’s because you’re not real. You’re just an imaginary friend.
V: How can that be? I can see you and hear you. And we’re having a real conversation.
Me: I’m sorry to disappoint you. This whole thing is Janet’s fault. She was the one who gave out the prompt to tell about an imaginary friend. Maybe you should go back to comic book land.
V: I think you’re right. That was a happier time for me.
Me: OK; Thanks for trying. Maybe next time I call you, you can be my age. Then we’ll have more in common.

An Easy Kind of Day by Alice Thomas

 

Water thrums against my craft

Reminds me of its deep voice

That’s like no other-

Splashing. Battering. Booming.

And this I’ve remembered for over forty years

Yet it still echoes across my bow

Smells like weeds rolled in sand

With fish-guts iridescent in the foam.

Meanwhile, my Shakespeare (rod and reel)

Scrapes against the bench its filament

Tangled in the troller, risen above the wake

And 4 o’clock seems to have quietly crept in

Sculling across my thoughts, as I check the sun’s coordinates

And now, the time of bloody fire has come

Aglow in a red-orange rage– arching behind the oaks

Screeching its tumble right down to course’s end

Time Was Not Our Friend by Janet Keyes

I tried to think of an occasion when time got away from us. Maybe we are the only people who never experienced that, or perhaps we never felt embarrassed enough to remember it. Or maybe we had such an experience and found it so traumatizing that our minds have completely blocked the memory.
I do, however, recall an incident when time was not our friend. We were young, with two small children. We liked to go out square dancing a couple Saturday nights a month. We also did western style round dancing a couple Tuesdays each month. These recreations gave us a break from our routine, and gave Allan’s mom and my mom some quality time with the little ones. As responsible parents, we always left a phone number where we could be reached in an emergency.
On one such evening we were going down to the square dance at the Westover Air Base in Chicopee. We had called ahead to make sure this was a phone that would be answered throughout the evening. You just never know with a government agency. We were reassured, and Continue reading

The Tale of the Footes by Estelle Cade

Once upon a time, Mr. And Mrs. Foote learned that they would be having twins, a girl and a boy. The girl, being in a hurry, was born first and they named her Righty. The boy, a few seconds later, arrived, and they named him Lefty. They were adorable identical twins, and the parents were “toe-tally” thrilled with their tiny baby toes. So sweet, so cunning.

However, as they began to walk Mrs. Foote noticed that Righty’s little toes turned out as she began to walk and that Lefty’s little toes turned inward. Fearing that this might hamper their agility, she enrolled them in Miss Toe Knees School of Dance. The children took to dance immediately! Righty found Ballet to be the perfect style for her and the second that Lefty put on those shiny black tap shoes, he was off and away! Continue reading

Toby the Beast! by Marty Glaser

 

I used to walk between two houses on my way to school. The house on the left was the Williams house and the house on the right was the Shaidas’s house. There was an alley way between the two that I had to walk down to reach Anna Avenue and Lenox Street to get to Silver Lake School.

The Williams family had a huge beast of a dog they called Toby. Toby would sit out on the front porch behind a plate glass window.  Every time I walked past Toby, I would talk to myself and say,” Nice Toby!  Be a good dog to me!”  I swear he could sense that I was petrified by his presence on his porch. I was afraid to even look at him so I never made eye contact with the beast.

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It’s Coming!

Where I Come From, the new collection by members of The Well Done Writers Group will be available soon. Here’s a sneak peek at the cover:

Cover of Where I Come From by The Well Done Writers

Back Cover Text:

The question of where one comes from is not answered simply with the town where we were born or the region where we grew up but by a myriad of places, experiences, and people who conspired to make us who we are.

The original “Where I Come From” poem was written by George Ella Lyon, Kentucky Poet Laureate 2015-2016. The poem and the writing prompt that grew out of it has traveled around the world and has been used in schools and jails and at family reunions – and also in writing groups.

Lori Thatcher brought the prompt to the members of The Well Done Writers, a Greenfield Senior Center Writing Group. This book contains some of the writers’ responses.

Adrift in The Guest Room by Janice Lepore

Margaret ran her fingers through her hair, contorted her face, and adjusted her glasses. Muttering seemed to be her ready response to every frustration these days. Why was it when she read some interesting comments, a string of words that tantalized the imagination, an alphabet soup way of addressing an issue, that she could never remember exactly how it went, where she read it, or who said it, without agonizing over who, what and when?

Readjusting the pillows, best she could, she closed the fairly new publication she had been wanting to read. The author’s first two books had been best sellers for several weeks. One was even made into a movie. The premise of this story was how something that happened to the boy when he was seventeen changed his life forever. The author’s face showed that he was fairly young. The back cover of his third book said he lived in North Carolina with his wife and two sons. Where did he get his ideas? Obviously not from the experiences of his many years in the school of hard knocks.

There had been an interesting article in the morning paper about a man who wrote journal style dribble to counteract the drudgery of a factory job for years He wasn’t on the List, so to speak, but his two very different style books had been recognized with several awards. He explained that he spent his mornings with pen and paper at the library and simply reacted to some idea that raced through his head. On the other hand, he acknowledged that he was fortunate to have a wife who was impressed with his ability to describe events and situations; and therefore willing to support the family for a year. It was a challenge he was enjoying with confidence. It made one feel good inside to read this kind of news story.

Back to the novel, Margaret commanded herself. She had to keep her mind occupied. The doctor had been evasive, to say the least, as to how long she would be propped up in bed with an ankle that resembled a tree trunk, and an elephant-sized foot. Muttering aloud, she congratulated herself on having designed such a comfortable guest room with a lovely view of trees and sky. Chuckling to herself, she acknowledged that she had never intended to be the guest!

Glaser’s Laws of Economics  by Marty Glaser

My mother and father taught me Glaser’s Laws of Economics.  They drummed them into my head and my brother’s head thoroughly.

My folks got married during the Depression and scraped and saved. They never let anything be considered junk; everything was used. When my dad started his dental practice in Athol it took him many years to establish himself and make any money. But they had faith in
G-d’s plan for them, faith in the goodness and honesty of most people, and faith that things would get better.
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Some Lines Witten while Sitting in the Atrium at Dartmouth (NH) Medical Center By Estelle Cade

I bought a hat the other day.
It was so cute, it fit so well;
It’s definitely you,
my friends all say. 

I bought some shoes the other day;
bright red, and so in style that
just to look at them
makes me smile.

Dressed up now,
from toes to head –
look at what’s next,
Old Age said.
There is a magic cloak for you
It comes in many colors.
Some will wear it gracefully –
(and then there are the others..) Continue reading