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.

One day, I was walking through the alley wearing my bombardier leather jacket. It probably was a fall day and very cool in the morning. As I walked by, I looked up eye to eye to Toby right at the window watching me looking at him. It worried me especially because his ears were up as he followed my every step.

I saw him back up the length of the porch and begin running toward the glass storm window. I didn’t wait to see what happened but when I heard the glass window break, I took off toward safety, I thought.

I was wrong.

The crazy thing was I never did anything to Toby but he wanted to do me bodily harm, that was certain.

I ran as fast as I could, jumped up on a stone wall in front of Dale Lougee’s house, and shinnied up the street pole at the corner of Fredette Street and Anna Avenue. I thought I had outsmarted Toby and I was safe. But Toby wanted my rear end—literally. He realized I was higher than street level, backed up for the second time, and with a running start, jumped up to the street pole, right over the stone wall.

He got hold of the right sleeve of my leather jacket with his huge teeth and tugged and tugged on my shoulder. He tore off my right sleeve while I held on for my life, yelling for help at the top of my lungs.

About that time, Mrs. Williams came out holding a broom. I prayed she heard my yelling. She called to Toby,” Bad dog, Toby!”

Thank goodness I shinnied up the street pole or he would have taken of the left sleeve too. I was shaking in my engineer boots. Toby kept jumping up. He wasn’t listening to Mrs. Williams.

Mrs. Williams walked over to Toby and whacked him on the nose with the broom and yelled at him, “Get back on the porch!”

I was surprised that one whack from a tiny thin old lady made Toby as docile as a house cat. He tucked his tail between his legs, lowered his head and walked quickly back to the porch.

Mrs. Williams yelled to me, “Marty you can come down now. He won’t bother you anymore.”

I did not believe her. I yelled, “Mrs. Williams, I’m never coming down until Toby is dead and in his grave.”

She laughed and told me Toby’s bark was worse than his bite. I looked at my right sleeve lying on the ground which five minutes ago was torn from my jacket.

Eventually, I did come down from the street sign, cautiously, gathered my right sleeve, and ran home to tell my parents what happened.

I told the story as clearly and honestly as I am retelling this horrifying experience.

I have been afraid of dogs to this day, but I force myself to make a fist and let the dog smell my hand. I work at getting rid of my fear of dogs. But I still carry the traumatization of my experience with Toby, the beast, from ten years old to my seventy years.

Some people have cats. Other people have dogs. I am happy to have no pets. They would scare me too much. I probably could handle it, but I don’t want to deal with ownership of a pet. When I visit with friends and cousins, cats seem to know I am a kind, gentle person. Every cat eventually comes to me and rubs my leg. When I pat their heads and stroke their backs, they rub my leg again and put their noses in my hand. Cats recognize a sucker!

My brother-in-law Kenny and Lenore’s twin sister Ellen have a brown lab named Cooper. Cooper is well trained and likes to play with his red ball. He also likes to catch a ball that Ellen or Kenny throws into the pool. Cooper will wait until the command is given, then he jumps in the pool after the ball.  Cooper only swims to fetch a ball thrown into the pool.

Cooper comes to me and I pat him on the head and back and he stays with me. I got to like to be with him and some of the fear lessened.

That fear comes back every now and then when I remember the day Toby ripped off my jacket sleeve. I know I’m not supposed to show fear, but after Toby, that’s a tall order.

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.
Continue reading

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

A Tea Story by Noreen O’Brien

I’m not quite sure what it is about England’s Cornwall that creates an urge in me to drink pots and pots of tea simply by seeing an image or hearing the name of the peninsula spoken. Is it the British shows, for example Doc Martin, with its scenes of a windblown village and cottages tucked into the hillsides, or Poldark, with its main character riding horseback, cape trailing behind as he races across the windy cliffs, the ocean waters crashing the beach far below him? Or is it the writing of Rosamunde Pilcher, with her homey stories of island life and cozy fires lit on chilly days that spawn images of pots of tea?

Whatever the inspiration, I find myself relating Cornwall to tea—and by “tea” I mean loose black tea—tea leaves, not tea bags. A full-bodied blend, not an herbal, a green, or a flowery-fruity tea, rather an English or Irish Breakfast blend, well steeped in a Brown Betty teapot, one of which I am still searching for to replace the one I dropped years ago to a tile floor where it smashed into smithereens. Continue reading

Toe Tapping by Dolly Arsenault

When I was about eight years old, my mother strongly suggested that my sister Terry and I take dancing lessons. A woman in our parish, Miss Sylvia, gave weekly classes in tap and toe. Toe dancing held no interest for me. It looked painful and those pointy pink satin shoes couldn’t be worn for anything other than flitting about in a tutu. Tap shoes, however, could beat out rhythms on wooden floors and also on cement sidewalks. Tap dancing was definitely the one I wanted. Terry shrugged and said she’d take whichever I chose.

And so it was decided that my sister and I would sign up. The beginners tap dance class was held on Mondays after school. Before we left for school the following Monday, our mother gave us each a quarter to pay for the lesson. Continue reading

Remember When? by Estelle Cade

As busy parents it was hard to just get through the days sometimes, let alone take notice of those special “small moments” of tenderness or joy. Yet as we live out our lives, those small moments can pop up seemingly out of the blue, but no doubt just waiting in one’s subconscious to be enjoyed anew.

My daughter, an only child for her first five years, was thrilled to know that right after her 6th birthday she’d have a baby brother or sister. She would put her eye to my stomach and tell us: that’s my baby brother in there” – and she was right! She loved being a “Helper” and would happily bring me a clean shirt or some little item. I’ve never forgotten the day I looked into the baby’s room and saw her standing by the crib, singing “Rock a bye Baby” to her brother, as his blue eyes watched her so intently. A tender moment to cherish. Continue reading

Sounds of My Life  by Janet Keyes

Early there were murmurs of adults
reading stories to each other-
near the warm kitchen stove,
grandparents, father, mother.

In summer came the chirps of cricket song,
and wind in pines made whistling sound.
Greenfield added rumbling trains
as raucous city noises would abound.

In teen years I heard music of my peers
the stuff my mother could not love-
and I came to know choral hymns
telling us of God above.

In nursing I heard anguished moans of pain,
from terminal patients unrelieved.
Their doctors’ fear of making addicts
was not to be believed.

In motherhood I cherished tiny sounds
of newborn infants’ little cries,
and when I held and nursed them,
there were gentle happy sighs.

In all the years my kids were growing up,
their noise of living filled my every day,
laughing, joking, squabbling, yelling-
my children went on their way.

 Inevitably, declining times have come,
and lesser sounds are falling on my ears.
Cicadas, crickets, hoots, and howls
serenade me through the years.