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THE JOURNAL

V O L U M E 15

2006/2007

OSHER LIFELONG LEARNING INSTITUTE


Northwestern University School of Continuing Studies

On the cover: Maasai Woman and Child Delta Greene


Delta Greene, after retiring from Bell Labs, studied photography at College of DuPage. Her favorite photos are those of people in other cultures. See www.photosbydelta.com.

The Journal
O S H E R L I F E L O N G L E A R N I N G I N S T I T U T E AT N O RT H W E S T E R N U N I V E R S I T Y VOLUME 15

2006/2007

Editorial Board Glen Phillips


MANAGING EDITOR

Susan Myrick
ART EDITOR ASSOCIATE EDITORS

Don Gralen
POETRY EDITOR

Marcy Bloom
PROSE EDITOR

Art Marshall Marcovitz Ethel Peterson Jury Patrice Claeys Shuly Kerstein-Eisen

Poetry Judy Kamin Fran Markwardt

Prose Adagio Micaletti Jo Stewart

Herb Lesser Charlie Shepherd

Brian Treglown Sherwyn Warren

Special thanks to Professor Robert Gundlach, Director, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences Writing Program Special thanks to Stephan Murphy, art consultant, Photography Chair, New Trier High School Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Staff Judy Mann
OLLI DIRECTOR

Lisa Kupferberg
PROGRAM ASSISTANT

Deborah Posley
PROGRAM ASSISTANT

Joan Dry
SPECIAL PROJECTS

Brad Farrar
DESIGN & PRODUCTION

The Journal is a juried magazine produced by members of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Northwestern University, who are actively engaged in peer-led academic study for the pleasure of learning. This edition is funded in part by members and friends of OLLI.
2006 by Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Northwestern University. All rights reserved.

Table of Contents
Poetry and Prose
Wind and Water by Peter Pantarotto . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Who We Are by Glen Phillips . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Rawson Road by Patrice Kaneda . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 A Little Justice by Ronnie Robbins . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 Blues Club by Fran Markwardt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12 Survivors Homecoming by Joseph Hausner . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13 Naples by David Hart . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21 Bone Pickers by Daniel Koch . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22 The Dancer by Elanor Reiter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24 The Widow Says Thanks, But No Thanks by Joyce Yohai . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25 A Poem by Jo Stewart . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26 The Bridge Climb by Fred Fulmer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27 Inhale by Donald Esken . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30 The Hibiscus by Deborah Rosen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .35 The First Day of Spring by Eve Perkal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .36 A Sixties Fantasy by Harriet Friedlander . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .41 The Writing Class by Patricia Thrash . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .42 Prairie Chickens by Larry Gordon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .43 In the Hall by Glen Phillips . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .46 Brother Ray by Patricia Thrash . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .53 Starbucks Saturday by Adagio Micaletti . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .56 If Something Cant Go On Forever, It Will End by Stanley Paul . . . . . . . . . . . . .61 Im Lost by Don Gralen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .63 Moonrise by Jane Broeksmit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .64 Practice by Mariam Dubovik Lease . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .65 Fried Eggs by Susan Myrick . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .66 Dead Eyes by Joyce Yohai . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .70 The Polyp by Don Gralen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .72 De Minimis by Deborah Rosen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .73 Being Staged by Philip Alexander . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .74 The Last Sigh by Allen Cohen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .76 Stacks and Piles by Sherwyn Warren . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .86 Sunday Morning at the Ice House by David Hart . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .87
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The Quest by Charles Shepherd . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .88 The Secret Drawer by Dennis Beard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .90 First Thanksgiving Banquet, Or A Turkey Is Just A Big Chicken! by Irv Kiem . . .93 Words by Fran Markwardt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .95 Natural Selection by Susan Myrick . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .96 Santiagos Story by Harriet OBrien . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .97 Sabor a Mi by Adagio Micaletti . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .99

Artwork
Maasai Woman and Child by Delta Greene . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .front cover A View From the Bridge by George Panagakis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17 St. Basils on a Summer Day by Nancy D. Anderson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18 Shapes by Judit Hausner . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19 Christ Church Shadows by Arthur Altman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20 Sunlit Petals by Bill Martin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .37 Furling the Sails by Roy Slovenko . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .38 Solitude by Paula Wise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .39 Driver Takes a Break Havana by Joseph Dixler . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .40 Winters First Thaw by Allen Cohen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .51 Its a peer teaching group by Fran Markwardt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .52 Blackbird at Ragdale by Barbara Metz . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .57 Indian Artifact by Max Lomont . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .58 Lady in Waiting Uzbekistan by Joseph Dixler . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .59 Blueberry Hill, Goshen, VT by Ethel Peterson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .60 Fierenza, Italia Bridge by Marshall Marcovitz . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .64 Me and My Shadow Under the Bean by Fred Fulmer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .77 Sorting Coffee Beans by Roy Slovenko . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .78 Spring Fever Paris by Bill Martin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .79 Purple Cows by Larry Gordon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .80 Highway from Heaven by Allen Cohen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .81 Feeding Time by Paula Wise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .82 Blue Angels by Fred Fulmer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .83 Early Autumn, Later Afternoon by Ethel Peterson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .84 We could have saved a lot of time by Fran Markwardt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .85 Flower Power Window by Barbara Metz . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .back cover

The Journal, Volume 15

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Northwestern University

Wind and Water


by Peter Pantarotto
Water is deceptive. It barely has touch and feel. Run it through your fingers, and you cant hold it. But give it mass and wind-assist, and its destructive force can rival atomic power. Yesterday, the sea was emerald-green and placid from the shore to the blue-sky horizon. Seven dolphins were gracefully rising and diving, chasing one another to unknown destinations. Pelicans flew by in flocks, following a leader appointed through some mysterious form of selection within the group. Today there is a strong wind blowing toward the shore. The sky is gray, and the sea is a dull, blackish-green and ugly. It is constant motion. Waves are cresting and falling, cresting and falling. Offshore there are dabs of white sprinkled in the water. They look like white caps, but I believe they are the whitehaired heads of long-dead mariners rising to see the sky one more time. Its as if the sea that claimed their lives is giving them a respite from their entombment. But mostly the sea is rushing toward the shore, relentlessly driven by the wind pushing, pushing, pushing. As it nears the beach, the sea becomes a witches brew, boiling, roiling, foaming white. Attacking the shore, it resounds with the din of a hundred thunderAfter all it was just a loan, and its time to take it back. storms. The blackboard beach with footprints, scribbles, and an occasional love message inscribed in the sand is erased by the surging water. A childs sand castle is demolished in an instant like an urban building removed by explosive charges. And the wind keeps pushing, pushing, pushing. It urges the sea to test its reach and targets the dune on the far side of the beach. The sea responds like the little engine that could. I think I can. I think I can. Back and forth it goes. Catching its breath between surges, the sea waits for the wind to give everstronger pushes forward. It surges, pulls back, and surges again, over and over. It crawls across the beach inch by inch. Finally, it reaches the foot of the dune, and the sea nibbles away at the sand, feeding its insatiable hunger. Oh what a feast, it says as it tears away at the dune. Its also enjoying the success of recovering ground it delivered eons ago.

Who We Are
by Glen Phillips
Worn earthen vessels Bake in the noon day sun. Our bodies toil.

Crescendos of waves Spew forth grains of polished sand. Our minds contemplate.

Flitting butterflies Swarm into streamers of gold. Our spirits flourish.

The Journal, Volume 15

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Northwestern University

Rawson Road
by Patrice Kaneda
A dirt road divided by a grassy line, a narrow garden of weeds. A summer house. Beyond and beside, deeper woods yielding lady slippers, jack-in-the-pulpits and sometimes elusive trillium in velvety scarlet and white, bold and seductive secreted in the shade. The road meandered until it stopped at a sweet lake. Bicycles tossed on its banks, We dove, avoiding reeds and cat-o-nine-tails for lurking leeches waited there. We shrieked with the joy and terror of it all. Wrinkled fingers, teeth chattering, towels fluttering like capes of superheroes, barefoot feet on pedals, we returned to the white house. Tearing tomatoes at the kitchen garden. First bite yielding sun and sweetness. At the counter, sandwiches of warm lettuce and butter Brothers bent on adventure with secrets of their own, disappeared. The coop was mine for hot muggy summer days with books, and the faint warm smell of chickens. Moms home-made bread. Finger food. Fresh asparagus that would turn to lace in August. Julys raspberry pie changing to blueberry, Corn, an unseen farmers gift. Filling our stomachs, we three grew like the summer plants. I, twelve, in love with a yearning for love Brothers, ten and eight dizzy with choice, A chicken coop, tenants long ago evicted. We scrubbed, dragged in wicker furniture, Nailed screen where there had once been panes.

A Little Justice
by Ronnie Robbins
The lawyer listened to Anna. I married Salvatore when I was twenty. He was big, fat, strong, and old. Not so old, said my mama, only fortyfive. Old for me! He didnt talk much; he never smiled. I was afraid of him. It was after World War II, and times were bad in Sicily. I was past the marriageable age for a Sicilian woman. We were poor and without money for a dowry. I wasnt much to look at, either. Salvatore was a farmer, the second son in a family headed by his older brother. Youre lucky, said mama, hes willing to take you without a dowry. He says you look strong; youll be a good farm worker and make lots of bambinos. You got a plain face, Anna. You got pimples and a dumpy body; youre no beauty, and we got nothing. Thank the Blessed Virgin for giving you this chance to marry. She was right. I knew it. But that didnt end my fear. Salvatore was known in the village for his bad temper, maybe thats why girls with better chances passed him by. He was old and fat. The prospect of sharing his bed sickened me. We had a modest wedding, and I shared Salvatores bed. I learned that Salvatore was a man of few words, most of them orders or criticism, and he did indeed have a bad temper. I learned how to do all of my farm and household chores rapidly, yet carefully, to meet his exacting standards. I learned to agree with him, never to question his statements or opinions. I kept out of his way when he became angry. Sometimes I didnt move fast enough and received a random slap or punch, but never a concentrated attack, not in those early days. Finally, I learned that Salvatore worked hard. He and I diligently worked his share of the small family farm. He also did carpentry work for hire. He was a good carpenter. Except for food and necessities, Salvatore saved all the money we earned. Salvatore had two dreams. One, the most important plan of his life, was to go to America, work hard and earn more money than he could ever earn in Sicily, save everything he could, and then return to Sicily when he was old and rich. He would live well, he would be respected a patron he would die happy. His second plan was to father many bambinos, preferably sons. They, too, would work. He would save his sons earnings so as to increase his wealth for the triumphant return to Sicily. Salvatore was not a good lover. Neither tender nor warm, he was on a mission to create children, to create future workers. I was his cow. Nightly he mounted me. I learned never to object, even if I was tired or ill. I was afraid of his anger, his slaps, his punches. I was slow to conceive. Maybe my exhaustion and terror were roadblocks. I noticed

The Journal, Volume 15

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Northwestern University

Salvatore often studying me through narrowed eyes. Maybe he was planning to divorce me, I prayed. I should have known better. Good Catholic that he was, divorce would never be a solution. Perhaps he was planning to murder me. Happily, I never found out; I became pregnant, and Salvatore relaxed. One day Salvatore announced, We will go to America now. The bambino will be born in America, and we will return to Sicily when I am old and rich. So we went to America, to Chicago where other emigrants from our village lived. In Chicago the Blessed Virgin gave me a healthy son. Salvatore named him Roberto. I gave thanks that the baby was a boy. Only God knows how Salvatore would have reacted to a girl since I was never to conceive again. Despite Salvatores almost nightly attempts his massive angry body hammering at mine, interspersed with mumbled prayers and threats I remained barren. Salvatore worked hard. In addition to working in a factory, he did carpentry work in his spare time. He earned and saved. He loved Roberto, and he even bought us a bungalow in the southwest-side Italian community. Chicago was so large, nothing like our Sicilian village. Thus, Salvatore laid down definite rules for me. I was always to remain within our Italian neighborhood. I could take the boy for walks in his buggy, later in his stroller. We could visit the local park. When Roberto reached school age, Salvatore enrolled him in the Catholic elementary school attached to our church. I was 8

allowed to escort him to and from school. All of us attended Mass every Sunday. One evening a week Salvatore accompanied me to the neighborhood supermarket. He pushed the cart and chose the groceries. His purchases were designed so I would spend hours in the kitchen preparing and cooking from scratch the abundant meals of Sicily. I walked alongside the grocery cart and, occasionally, I would add something. If Salvatore felt my choice was unnecessary, he removed it. Salvatore paid for the groceries at the checkout. That was my life. I did not handle money other than an allowance of a dollar per day for small necessities. Buy yourself and the boy ice cream bars from the vendor in the park, Salvatore would say lavishly. If I needed to purchase clothing or household items, required medicines, or doctor visits for the boy or me, anything that cost more than a dollar, I had to discuss it with Salvatore. He accepted or vetoed the proposed purchase. As part of the plan for amassing his fortune, Salvatore obtained factory piece work for me, which I assembled in my spare time. He gave me a daily production quota, which often returned me to my workbench at night after the last dinner dish was washed and put away and Roberto was bathed and asleep. Salvatore kept my wages. I had no idea what I earned, nor was I aware of what Salvatore owned, earned, or saved. He was secretive and would not discuss financial matters with me. During those early years in Chicago, I had

one small victory. I convinced Salvatore that if we both learned English, he could obtain a better factory job as well as higher-paying, English-speaking carpentry customers. Also, I could be an English teacher to our boy so Roberto could speak the language before entering school. Fluency in English would give Roberto an opportunity to progress faster and further in school; eventually he would qualify for high-paying employment. My words appealed to Salvatores dream of gold; he agreed that English would be good for us. We attended night classes together at the local high school. Roberto came with us and sat on the floor, playing with his toys. When Salvatore noticed that I progressed faster than he did, he forbade further lessons for me. Youve learned enough, he said. By that time I had a good foundation in the language, good enough for me to build upon so that today I can relate this story to you consigliore, sorry, counselor? Lawyer? Attorney? Dont worry about titles, the kindly man on the other side of the desk responded. Please proceed. Salvatore continued his English lessons. I didnt, but we spoke only English at home for the bambinos sake. We both became relatively fluent. I know that Salvatore received promotions at the factory, and his carpentry business grew with his increasing knowledge of English. Salvatore did not achieve his lifes plan. Fate brought trouble upon us. One night, as was often his custom, sometime well after midnight, I was roused from a beautiful, lingering

dream by his rough hands tearing at my nightgown, his heavy legs straddling mine. Uncontrollably, I mumbled, No! No! No?! Woman, you tell me no! I want bambinos, and you say no! I feed you, and you say no! I put you and boy in bungalow, and you say no! To hell with you, bitch! He slapped me. He dragged me from our bed and threw me to the floor, hitting me, punching, and kicking. He shouted and cursed. I screamed in pain and fear. Roberto awoke, ran to our room, and came upon his naked father assaulting his bruised, bleeding, and naked mother. Our eight-year-old son screamed in terror. Salvatore clenched his chest and fell to the floor. The police, summoned by neighbors, found us in minutes: Salvatore dead of a massive coronary, I a semi-comatose lump lying in a fetal position, and Roberto still screaming. Thus, ten years after Annas marriage, Salvatore was dead at fifty-five. Anna had suffered the worst, but final, beating of her marriage. Eight-year-old Roberto was traumatized and in need of extensive counseling. Several weeks passed since that evening. Anna was now sufficiently recovered to be seated gingerly in an armchair facing the lawyers desk, relating her story, interspersing it with numerous tears; at times she stopped to cry profusely. The Kleenex box on the lawyers desk was almost empty. Anna sobbed bitterly, and she meant it. She was still a Sicilian wife. The abuse, beatings, restrictions, overwork these were her lot in life, her cross to bear.

The Journal, Volume 15

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Northwestern University

My husband, the father of our child, is dead; the boy has seen terrible things and is disturbed and ill. He refuses to speak, he trembles. He needs expensive and lengthy psychological treatment. Its all my fault. I refused Salvatores midnight advances. I never said no before! He woke me from a beautiful dream, I wasnt thinking, I forgot to obey. How could I have dared to say no to my husband? I aroused his violent temper and caused his heart attack. I killed him! Now consigliore, I must pay for my mistake. My husband is dead. I have no money. Who will pay for our bungalow, our bills? How will I get Roberto medical care? How will the boy and I live? You know it will not be possible; life is over for us. You and I are both acquainted with the problem. We have met twice before. Once I came to your office with Salvatore when he bought the bungalow; I came again with Salvatore when he made a Will. Each time I came I signed papers; I suspected what they contained, but I didnt want to know. I told you each time, in answer to your repeated questions, Its okay, whatever Salvatore wants is fine. I know my rights, whatever Salvatore wants is good with me. He loves us and takes care of us, he is our rock. Whatever he wants you do it! I have no objections. I responded exactly as Salvatore told me to before our visits. The lawyer now spoke of facts that Anna had long suspected, inwardly known. None of it came as a surprise to her. 10

Everything Salvatore owned was in his name only. The bungalow, other properties Salvatore had purchased, repaired, and leased; numerous bank accounts he had amassed all were in Salvatores name alone. Then there is his Will explicitly setting forth Salvatores directions. Upon his death, title to all of his property, real and personal, passes solely to his elder brother in Sicily. Anna and Roberto were to return to Sicily, at the expense of the Estate inherited by the brother, there they were to live and work on the family farm with his elder brother and family. His brother would provide for them from the proceeds of the inherited Estate, but only as he saw fit and deemed necessary. Anna, you now have three choices. Remain in this country and live with the child on a widows Social Security benefits and whatever employment you can find. Or, without money or connections, attempt to locate and engage a competent attorney willing to work for free contesting a Will and protecting your rights. Or, return with Roberto to Sicily and live at the brothers mercy and whim. The lawyer knew that although the brother and his family had expressed their regrets, they had not attended the funeral. They had not seen Salvatore and the pregnant Anna since their departure for America ten years earlier. There had been occasional letters to and from Sicily, but no communication in recent years. Salvatore, extremely secretive about his business affairs, had not informed the brother of his wealth or of the Will. He did not want his brother and family

on his back, requesting money during his lifetime. Upon Salvatores death, the lawyer would be the bearer of the glad tidings of an inheritance. The Will lay on the desk between them. The contents of Salvatores safe deposit box deeds to various properties and numerous bank accounts, all in Salvatores name were spread out covering the desktop. How will I live and care for Roberto, sobbed Anna, what will I do? Must we return to Sicily and be ruled by Salvatores brother? Will he permit the boy to have psychological treatment? Is it even available in the village? No lawyer will represent me without a retainer fee. Should we remain here and try to live on Social Security and whatever factory job I can get? How can I work and care for Roberto, he is eight-years-old and mentally damaged? He needs my presence. If I cannot pay the bills, they will sell our house out from under us. Anna began to sob again. The attorney said, Wipe your tears and compose yourself. He rose from his high back chair, walked to my side of the desk, and asked me to stand. He took my two shaking hands into his, we held hands, our eyes locked, and we stood there. I felt myself relaxing. Finally he spoke. I have reflected upon your situation for a long time. Most reluctantly

I have arrived at a conclusion which offers you justice. What I am about to tell you is in complete confidence. Should you ever repeat it, I will deny it occurred. He returned to his seat and looked at me again. Take the Will home and tear it up. Flush the pieces down the toilet. Your husband died intestate without a Will. Answer any future counsel and all inquiries with he had no Will. He gathered up all the documents, placed them into a large Manila envelope, and handed it to me. With guidance, in time I obtained clear title to everything. Twenty-five years have passed since that day. Life has been peaceful, comfortable, and good. I attended high school and college and became a schoolteacher. I never married again, too much fear of what the night might bring. My son is married and a psychologist, probably transference from his own therapy. I have one grandchild and another on the way. I make novenas for the lawyer who died last year. On my mantle I have a small picture of him next to a candle that is always burning.

Ronnie Robbins, thirty-seven years at the practice of law. In retirement I write of what I learned, the human condition. My grandchildren read, disbelieving. Experience, I say.

The Journal, Volume 15

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Northwestern University

11

Blues Club
by Fran Markwardt
After class on the last night Sterling said hed take us to a blues club, a blues club, he said, all of us, me, Richie, little Lorraine, the girl who worked for The Reader, and Regina, oh, Regina, Regina could sing those blues! After Sterling bent our ears the whole semester, going on and on and on about Charlie Parker and all those blues guys he used to know, he said hed take us to a blues club over on Halsted street, the last night, he said, the last night, a blues club, he said. Richie paid the taxi driver and Sterling got us in the door to the wailing saxophones, the muted horns, the big bass fiddle, the old black lady blues singer The drinks were small and weak; we split the cost, bought two rounds, sipped them all night long, and when we had enough we left Sterling, sitting alone at the table, nodding, listening, Im sure, to his memories of Charlie Parker and those blues guys he used to know, on another street in another blues club, another time, I said, another time... we heard blues that night, the last night of class. who walked with a cane and needed help to get on the stage; and when they played and when she sang oh, we heard blues,

12

Survivors Homecoming
by Joseph Hausner
Some Holocaust survivors would never return to the place of their sufferings; the farther away from Europe the better. This is not the way I feel. After liberation, still living in Germany, I revisited the remnants of the three concentration camps where I had spent most of my captivity. My visits were more out of curiosity than from any emotional need. After emigration came a new life, new family, career. I was not anxious to revisit the past, but I could not push it away; the past came back as nightmares, a few at the beginning, then more, and each time worse than the previous. Perhaps if I revisited the places of my sufferings, the place of my first arrest, Auschwitz, and all the other camps until my liberation, that would free me from my ghosts. A vague idea at first, it gradually became a near-obsession. For many years there was not a chance. I did not have the means, then, when I did, there were other considerations. I could not take my family to Auschwitz it did not seem a good place for a family vacation. My first chance came a quarter of a century later, on my first trip to Europe. I was in Germany, not far from the three camps where I had spent most of my captivity. I was driving on the same road on which our work detail of twenty-odd slaves used to march every day from the camp to the work site and back. The road was familiar, the trees, the milestones, even the church spires on the horizon. I slowed down, with my eyes half-closed, secure in the feeling that now, twenty-five years later, I could cover the same road in a warm, comfortable car. Suddenly it dawned on me that the only time in my life I wanted to die was on this very stretch of the road, twenty-five years ago almost to the day. It was a day of a bad accident at the work site, in which I almost lost a foot. In the evening, as our band of prisoners was returning to camp, the pain became unbearable. We marched in a blizzard with an icy wind driving snow into my eyes. I could barely keep up with the others. All my body wanted was to drop out of the line, lie down, and wait for the beating and, perhaps, the shot that would end it all. I gave up hope. I did not fear death; I wanted it. Still I carried on. The memory hurt. I stopped in the middle of the highway, caused a big traffic jam, but the police were quite understanding and almost apologetic when I explained. They had no idea about concentration camps in the area. They escorted me all the way to the outskirts of the village of Kaufering, where my camp used to be. The camp was gone. But there was still time to fulfill another old desire; to walk down

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the main street of the village, to retrace my steps where we used to march from the camp to a giant underground aircraft factory we had been building as slaves. Of all the work details I had ever worked, that construction site was the worst. For years I had nightmares of going through a narrow gap between two tall buildings, or two huge rocks, or two walls, feeling a deep anguish that on the other side there was something terrible awaiting me. At that point I woke up in cold sweat; I never learned what was on the other side. Now as I retraced my steps, I came to the gate of the construction site with the tall dense rows of pine trees on both sides. For a moment, the feeling of horror returned. From this time on the nightmare was gone. This trip ended another nightmare in which, in midst of a blizzard, I am desperately trying to keep up with a group, falling behind and waiting for the final shot. Still my nightmares about Auschwitz did not end. I spent three weeks in Auschwitz at the beginning of my Holocaust year, much of it in a state of shock. Many of the details blurred in my memory except the constant anxiety, the fear for my life. Whenever I dreamt about it, I felt it again and again until I woke up shaking. Seeing documentaries, reading books about Auschwitz made it worse, because they made me recall the details. As badly as I wanted to go to Auschwitz, I dreaded it just as badly.

It took twenty more years until I could do it. This time I wasnt alone. My wife insisted on coming along; she was worried about my sanity. Our arrival at the main camp, the official memorial site, was anti-climactic a huge parking lot with more than a hundred cars and buses disgorging visitors from all over Europe, a museum, an information office, a gift shop, even a cafeteria. Plus the ubiquitous guides offering their services in every possible language. The barbed wire fence mounted on the curved concrete posts was familiar, although it no longer carried high tension current. The infamous sign Arbeit macht frei on the gate was also familiar, but these were the only things that I could remember. Everything else, the brick barracks, the walls, the gallows I could not recognize them. I had never been in this place. The woman in the information office was most understanding. Yes, there was another camp, called Brerzinska, or, in German, Birkenau. Its just a few miles away. She gave us directions. Our drive to Birkenau took us through an overpass over a big marshaling yard. I recognized it: this was where we had been stacked along with other trains of sealed boxcars full of prospective victims, waiting our turn to be processed. Our train was the last that evening. From the marshaling yard the road followed the railroad track leading to the big

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gate, a big brick building with a watchtower on top and, below, an opening just large enough for a train to enter. The one-way train ride, the entrance to hell, shown in every documentary about Auschwitz. Yes, this is the place! We parked next to half a dozen cars and a solitary tour bus. This was not a tourist attraction. We walked in. Inside there was only one group of tourists, Japanese, looking very solemn, plus some elderly people, followed by a few youngsters. Maybe fellow survivors showing it to their grandchildren. We entered and followed the tracks all the way to the selection platform. I was now standing where I had gotten out of the crowded boxcar, where we had been lined up five abreast to shuffle slowly forward. I closed my eyes and could recall the sight, some thirty yards ahead in another group, of my mother and kid brother. That was the last time I saw them. Walking on we came to the spot where two Nazi SS officers one of them the infamous doctor Mengele, the angel of death selected those who would live from those destined for the gas chamber. Closing my eyes again I could recall the gesture with his horsewhip, pointing me to the right, to the small group of men who would survive that night. At the end of the tracks were the ruins of two crematoria and gas chambers, blown up by the Nazis before retreating. The stairs leading to the undressing room were still there and behind, the roofless, crumbling walls of the gas

chamber. How small it looked, the size of a very large living room, now fenced off. There was no way to retrace the steps of those who went in. We continued on, along the road that skirts the perimeter fence. There is a small wood to the left. When I first marched this road, I could see flames behind the trees it was there that they killed and burned the overflow, the victims for whom there was no room in the crematoria. Birkenau is huge, maybe a mile square, still divided by rusting wire fences into sub-camps for the different types of inmates: women, Gypsies, POWs, etc. The barracks are gone, but the chimneys are still standing except in the quarantine camp where the survivors of the selection were held before being shipped out for slave labor. Here about a dozen wooden barracks are still standing; visitors can see them inside and outside. This is the quarantine camp in which I had spent the initial weeks I even recognized my old barracks. It looked much smaller than forty-six years ago. It boggles my mind how it could hold a thousand men. In the middle there is still the sign admonishing the inmates: A single louse can bring about the death of thousands. This long-forgotten sign hit me with the memory and the feeling of what it was to be there. It hurt! It also brought back another memory. A few months later, during the big typhus epidemic, my lice-infested body had been on the

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brink of death. But that happened in another camp The gate to the quarantine camp was ajar. I walked through the gate, out and back and out again, five to six times as if obsessed instead of pinching myself, my way of convincing myself that I was not dreaming. Walking back to the main gate I had an urge to climb up one of the watch towers, to see what the guards could see. I couldnt, the ladder was gone. At the main gate, I repeated the ritual of walking in and out several times. Then I walked up the staircase to the main watch tower on top of the Gate of Hell. Finally, I had a view from above. I went to what used to be the guards toilet. Once restricted to the master race, no prisoner would have dreamt of entering, much less of using it. Now any one who takes the trouble of walking up the stairs could use it, including myself. A small moment of triumph. The Auschwitz nightmares are mostly gone, but not completely. It will take another visit to dispel these ghosts, this time alone. A man shouldnt cry in front of anyone.
Joseph Hausner joined OLLI after retiring from Arthur Andersen. Since then he coordinated several discussion groups. Joe lives in Chicago writing, kayaking, bicycling, reading, and photographing.

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A View From the Bridge George Panagakis

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St. Basils on a Summer Day Nancy D. Anderson


Nancy D. Anderson has enjoyed travel photography for a long time. In her post-legal life, she also enjoys bridge, scrabble, classical music, and, of course, OLLI.

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Shapes Judit Hausner


Judit Hausner is a native of Hungary. After marrying, she lived in Mexico, Ecuador, Greece, and Chicago. She earned Masters Degrees at U of C and UIC.

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Christ Church Shadows Arthur Altman


Arthur Altman, MD, is a retired dermatologist living in Northbrook, currently enjoying four OLLI classes, and volunteering in bonsai at the Chicago Botanic Garden.

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Naples
by David Hart
Sunday morning flows peacefully over the bay-side boulevard, commanded by walkers who stroll in loose embraces, taking the time to savor the warmth of the others arm and the sound of the others breathing.

A sails wake unrolls on the water like a cover being pulled back. The tick of a runners feet on the seawall approaches from behind, passes by like a heartbeat held up to the ear, then fades away into silence.

Vesuvius snags the clouds on their way to the ocean, mimicking puffs of smoke and ash. In the ruins, husks of its ancient victims lie smooth and featureless, as if unfinished.

Far away, in the heart of Rome, unseen by thousands who stop to wonder at her contorted mouth, and her fear-widened eyes, Daphnes marble heart beats beneath Apollos hand. Impossible leaves whisper her name and sprout forever from her fingertips.

David Hart is a retired lawyer living in Evanston.

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Bone Pickers
by Daniel Koch
The bone pickers we called them. These were the people we would see in the fields and forests around the old battlefields. They were Japanese visitors dressed for work in the hot sun. They sought forty-year-old bits of human bone in the black soil under the piles of rock along the edges of the steep cliffs facing the sea, and especially among the crumbled ruins lying in the valleys running up to the central mountain range of the island. They would typically be bent over in well-organized groups methodically searching sites. During June, 1944, a battle, a human wave attack, a siege on a group of Japanese defenders trapped inside a cave, had taken place between them and the U.S. forces attacking the island. These bits of bone were all that were left. The island was the final obstacle before the invasion of Japan. I had arrived on Saipan in 1975 to stay for six months working with teachers and students in the local bilingual education program based in Honolulu. There were many evocative sites to view, even on an island that was only nine miles long and three miles wide. There was a lot of time to travel around Saipan, not much had changed from the period after the U.S. had defeated Japan. I remember a visit to the bottom of a small valley that opened into a series of valleys leading to the center of the island. I was shown the remains of a huge old coconut palm, a tree whose circumference was probably five or six feet; the top was festooned with rows of old, 22 rusted telephone wires protruding out from all sides. My guide described a series of attacks and counterattacks around that single tree. It was said that the dead had been piled around that palm in great heaps, Japanese and American corpses mingled together circling the tree and its precious wires. Driving on the single two-lane road that circled most of the island, one could see long, artificial ridges paralleling the length of the road covered with overgrown thickets of the tangan-tangan tree, a fast growing tropical plant that the U.S. had seeded from the air to help revegetate the earth scorched from the battle. The pretty little Japanese towns and villages of Saipan had been pounded into rubble. The U.S. Seabees had come in with their bulldozers, piled all the rock and rubble and ruins into neat rows in order to clear space for rebuilding. I met people who had a hobby of burrowing into these rubble hills, collecting beautiful old Japanese artifacts: antique bottles, pottery, rare old Japanese metalwork in brass and bronze, statues, and bells. I first noticed the bone pickers looking for the old sealed caves, hoping to open them for exploration. The whole island, being underlain with limestone and rock, was honeycombed with caves and passageways. A favorite tactic of the U.S. forces when encountering the Japanese defenders inside a cave was simply to blow up the mouth of the cave and trap the defenders. Naturally, these sites were the most difficult to

find. After thirty years most traces of these sealed caves would be obscured by the undergrowth, but they were the sites sought by the visitors for the human remains. The collection of the bones was the first step in a traditional Japanese ceremony to honor the memory of the dead. The most famous battle site was at the very northern tip of the island. The Japanese general assigned to defend the island and all his staff had taken their own lives within a few feet of the advancing American forces. Their final retreat was in a place labeled in English and Japanese as The Last Command Post. The actual command post was a cave that had been hollowed out under a great rock resting at the foot of an overhanging cliff. For some reason the seabirds would form endless flocks circling around in the air right above this site, and thus the site was always easy to find. Maybe it was the memories of that fierce struggle from a generation before that kept those beautiful white and grey seabirds circling above the place. One day at this site, a large group of bone pickers was gathered, happy that they were at the last step of their entire stay on Saipan and looking forward to returning home. The skulls and bones gathered from the cliffs, caves, fields, and other forgotten places in the ground had been carefully piled in a neat skeletal tower, maybe ten feet in height, just a short distance from the Last Command Post itself. In front of this structure had been placed rows of white covered tables, and on top of them were photographs and pictures of dead veterans, along with piles of local tropical flowers. The Japanese flag of the Red Rising Sun was reverently displayed
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in front of the skeletal tower. The entire ceremony was to be overseen by a black robed Shinto priest; Shinto is the traditional religion of Japan. A Shinto ritual was to be dedicated to the memory of ancestors or relatives of the bone pickers. They were actually on a pilgrimage to honor their memories by gathering the remains and cremating them in a pyre. I was approached by one of their members, selected for his fluency in English. He said, This is the last part of our mission to this island. While we have carefully gathered all of these bones, we do not know to whom these bones belong, either to your nation or to ours. It doesnt matter to us, as we simply wish to honor their memory. I agreed, and I stepped forward to stand with the Shinto priest. He rang a bell, said some prayers, and went to the skeletal tower to light the funeral pyre. As the funeral pyre was lit, I suddenly recalled my own Jewish heritage, a heritage which I thought I had forgotten, so distant from my Chicago roots. I began to say the words of Kaddish, the ancient Jewish prayer for the dead, as I had been taught many years ago. As the grey smoke from the funeral pyre rose to the sky, and as I recited the words of Kaddish for those unknown dead, there awakened in me a new understanding of the meaning of Kaddish. The Kaddish is a call to the living, as they remember the dead, to pray for peace, and to seek to heal old wounds. It is a never-ending pursuit, an eternal quest, for Jew and non-Jew, people of every nation, no matter where they may be.
Daniel Koch has a B.A., University of Wisconsin and an M.A., University of Hawaii. He served as a PCV in Malaysia and later worked in the Mariana Islands.

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The Dancer
by Eleanor Reiter
Three-piece band with ten-piece sound Making melody, waking memory, Take the A-train for people going nowhere. Syncopaced swing, jazz piano ripples, Riffs of the drummer, feather-light shuffle keeping the beat. A roomful of listeners, most of them old, With age-etched faces chapped by the winds Shed coats misshaped by cold-clutching hands. The music, smooth soothing, swirls deep as a lotion. Toes tap in sensible shoes, slowed fingers move, pain forgot. The Dancer, a man in his eighties, moves lightly, impelled by the rhythm. Solid build, yellow t-shirt, russet slacks, a pillar on swivel heels, Suddenly in my view, arms apart. Dance? I shake my head. Thanks, but no. He moves on, I move in, in to the music. And then I see them, together alone in the aisle, She, dyed red hair bobbed short, straight and angular Tall, bony, dull dress, expressionless, Following his lead, breaking and twirling, Dancing telepathically The Lindy of youth, of USO dances, of soldiers and sailors, Girls in short skirts and shiny dark lipstick. The music up-tempo, louder and lifting. And out from our stillness, impelled by our breathing Swirling above us, our own inner dancers, Moving unhindered, supple and skillful, Smiling, alluring, happy and hope-full, Smoke patterns of motion in a no-smoking room. Then suddenly silence. The music is ended, Our dancers descending, clapped in by our hands. O spare us our mirrors, our close-ups, our CAT-scans Inside we are dancers, thick-haired and quick-moving Lithe and responsive, listening to life. 24

The Widow Says Thanks, But No Thanks


by Joyce Yohai
Take your hungry eyes away from me I have nothing to give you Long years ago I was signed, sealed and delivered A contract without end Impossible to pay again the price of a passionate hearts tattoo Enough! It is too dear and much too late For Im alone again, flying free And finding the forgotten girl who once was me

Joyce Yohai has studied writing with Hollis Alpert and Jim Robison. She is working on her memoirs.

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A Poem
by Jo Stewart
make, v.t. to create; syn., originate, cause conceive; see compose, create, invent, produce Digging into that hollow Where dry bones and spiders work Prevail; and shadows make shapes Unknown to the eye and visions Come uncalled, And in that dank Of earthly despair Things real and not real Clamor to be felt Indifferent to fear. Indifferent but still Demanding, surging, Swelling, filling caverns And caverns of space Within. To wake then At the dawn Of a timeless morn. Mourning times hard shell Of days split asunder. Reveals new presences, Shaped and reshaped Planted and Transplanted.
Jo Stewart, first year OLLI member, retired regional director of Chicago Department on Aging, continues interest in aging by conducting writing workshops for folks over fifty-five.

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The Bridge Climb


by Fred Fulmer
The Sydney Harbor Bridge, along with the Sydney Opera house, is one of the two icons of Sydney, Australia, and, some would say, of Australia itself. If you havent seen The Coat Hanger in person, you probably have seen it on TV where it is always featured on around-theworld New Years Eve newscasts. The Harbor Bridge opened in 1934 and with a total span, including approaches, of 3,775 feet, a steelwork arch span of 1,652 feet, and a deck width of 160 feet, it is the largest, but not longest, steel arch bridge in the world. The 360 view from the top of the Sydney Harbor Bridges steelwork arch, 280 feet above the roadway and 440 feet above the water, is spectacular: the Circular Quay and Sydney skyscrapers are to the south; the inner harbor, Olympic Stadium, and the distant Blue Mountains to the west; the Luna Park ferris wheel and high rise business district to the north; and the main harbor, the Sydney Opera House, and, in the distance, the North and South Heads guarding the opening to the Pacific Ocean to the east. I shared this view with nine fellow climbers and our guide in October, 1999. We were among the earlier climbers the Sydney Harbor Bridge Climb had opened just one year earlier after a ten-year battle with various government bureaucracies whose main, but not only, concern had been for the safety of climbers and those below. I had purchased my ticket several days earlier and, as instructed, arrived fifteen minutes before my group was scheduled to meet. The Bridge Climb experience would take about three hours, with two spent on the span and one in preparation. Our group included three women and seven men. One couple appeared to be in their 40s while the rest of the group ranged from their 20s to early 30s. I was by far the oldest at sixty-two. At check-in, we were each issued a locker key and a jumpsuit (fleece jackets and raingear are available if needed) and instructed to remove any unnecessary clothing, don the jumpsuit, and leave all personal items in our lockers. A metal detector was used later to assure these instructions had been followed. Eyeglasses were allowed but had to be secured with a lanyard, which was provided. Wide sturdy belts with dangling steel cables and mountain climbers carabiners were locked in place around our waists and sealed. The belts contained a radio with an earpiece to allow clear communication with our guide on the bridge where traffic and wind noise can be high. Next came a breathalyzer test where we were all able to blow below 0.05%. The final orientation included practice with our cables and carabiners on a simulated bridge with ladders and static lines. Each of us became familiar, under the

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watchful eye of our guide, with the processes we would be using for the next two hours. At last it was time for the real thing. We followed our guide through a heavy metal door and immediately found ourselves on a narrow catwalk well above the ground but still sixty feet below the bridge deck. Our guide checked to see that we had all properly secured our carabiners to the catwalks waistlevel static line, and we got underway, following the catwalk for over 100 yards as the ground dropped away below. We carefully tended our carabiners as they slid along the catwalk static lines until, after a short distance, our guide called a halt, the first of many we would make during our climb. These stops were to serve many purposes. They allowed our guide to share information about the Bridge Climb, the Sydney Harbor Bridge itself, and the Sydney landmarks we would be seeing. They also provided opportunities for our guide to take individual and group digital photographs at strategic points, and, during the ascent and descent, provided time to rest weary legs and catch our breaths. Our guide used this first break to ensure that all radios were working and to reassure us that help was available if any of us got to a point where we could not continue for any reason. He told us that it was not uncommon for individuals to make this decision on average almost one from each group did so. Guides without groups floated on the Bridge and were available to help these folks back to safety. After reaching the stone bridge pylon, we 28

climbed a series of nearly vertical ladders to another catwalk running just below the bridge deck. Hanging at the bottom of the first ladders vertical static line was a set of short cables equipped with carabiners. We were instructed to hook these carabiners to our safety belts before disconnecting our own carabiners from the catwalk static line. At the top of the ladders, we connected our own carabiners to the static line on the new catwalk before disconnecting from the ladder static line. This procedure would be followed at each static line transition throughout the climb, thus assuring our uninterrupted connection to the Bridge. We followed this catwalk only a short distance before reaching another series of ladders which took us up to the bridge deck and then forty feet higher where we took our first steps onto the steelwork arch itself. From this point at the southern end of the eastern arch, we would be climbing on a two-foot-wide walkway with waist-high, narrow, steel bars serving as railings to our left and right. The railings were supported by vertical steel posts at sixfoot intervals. These railings were the only barriers between us and the harbor and bridge deck below. We climbed at a leisurely pace with our guide calling frequent rest stops as the view expanded and the bridge deck fell away beneath us. We learned about the difficulties encountered in establishing the Climb and of plans for expansion to Bridge Climbs in other cities such as Brisbane, Auckland, and New

York. Our guide took individual photos as we climbed ladders and individual and group photos with the Sydney Opera House in the background. I felt a growing exhilaration throughout the ascent and, in spite of the growing height, never felt frightened. We eventually reached the highest point on the arch and took some time to enjoy the fantastic views surrounding us. If you have been assuming that we would now complete our crossing of the Sydney Harbor by descending the eastern arch, you would be wrong. Instead, we moved onto a 160-foot-long catwalk which carried us from the peak of the eastern arch to the peak of the western arch almost 300 feet above the eight vehicle lanes, two train lines, a footway, and a cycle way below. We then descended the western arch, reversing the steps we had taken earlier and heading back to where we started. The descent took less time than the ascent with fewer rest stops and worked a different set of muscles. The catwalks and ladders we encountered mirrored those we had experienced as we started out almost two hours earlier. And then we were back at the heavy metal door and reentered the Bridge Climb Headquarters. The emphasis now shifted to sales. Bridge Climb souvenirs were available, from hats to jackets to tee shirts to mugs and on and on. The Climb fee included one group photo at the top of the Bridge but individual shots were available for purchase in many sizes. I collected my free group shot and bought three individ-

ual photos and a baseball style hat. Our guide came by to tell me how much he enjoyed having me in his group and to make it convenient for me to tip him, which I did. I left the Bridge Climb Headquarters feeling very happy and energized by the experience. As planned, I joined my wife, Judy, outside the Opera House, where she had just completed a tour. She patiently listened as I shared my enthusiasm and pointed out the two groups of tiny ants then making their way up the arch in the distance. She reminded me that she had encouraged me to do the Bridge Climb when I hesitated because of the $80 cost. Six-and-a-half years later a few things have changed. Groups now depart twenty-four hours a day rather than being limited to an 8 AM-todusk schedule and now include twelve rather than ten climbers. The number of climbers in a twenty-four-hour period reached a high of 1,469 in 2003. Prices have doubled for daylight Climbs, with the new twilight period going for $180. Bridge Climbs are now operating in Brisbane and Auckland with one under active consideration for the Brooklyn Bridge. In a recent survey, the Sydney Harbor Bridge Climb ranked fourteenth on a list of the fifty things those surveyed wanted to do before they died. I would have rated it higher.

Fred Fulmer worked for Ohio Bell, AT&T, Ameritech and Belgacom. Retirement now provides time for fishing, reading, photography, travel, cooking, exercise, trekking, and OLLI!

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Inhale
by Donald Esken
Why on earth was I trying so hard get some old guy out of a mental institution? How did I ever get caught up in this mess? Im the one who always avoided other peoples personal problems. So how did I get myself hooked this time? It was a question I asked myself again and again as I drove out to the sprawling, dismal-looking Cook County mental facility on Chicagos far West side. Years ago it was called Dunning, a place for indigent mental cases who couldnt care for themselves. It was an insulting place, whose name was used with a sneer to ridicule someone, Youre so nuts, you should be in Dunning! As I steered into the parking lot past the drab, rusting sign identifying the building, I asked myself, What can I possibly hope to accomplish here? Besides, why isnt the poor guy in a regular hospital and not in this depressing building for unfortunates? He couldnt be that poor; hell, he made a good salary when he worked for me. Wasnt this something that should only concern the mans family and himself? I really didnt need this. One of the joys of retirement was that, at last, I felt free of all the emotional contacts with my employees. No more having to share their countless heart-rending stories. I thought I was finally past all those pathetic tales they had heaped on me for so many decades; but that was until I got the phone call that began with a voice saying, Im sure you dont remember me, but Im Steve Barancik. Before I could respond, the caller went on, Im the son of Marty Barancik. Remember, he used to work for you a few years back? Of course, I answered with enthusiasm. How could I forget? Marty was my chief production manager for over fifteen years, I probably never would have survived without him. Sure, I remembered Marty; he was always upbeat, even when his friends at work teased him mercilessly about being too heavy. He was one of those naturals with an uncanny ability to charm every customer we had. He prided himself as being a dedicated worker, one who seldom took a break except to chain-smoke brown-wrapped cigarettes every few hours. I couldnt imagine why his son would call me, unless he was looking for a job reference. I remembered the times Marty had talked to me about his son, and told the caller, Marty used to tell me about how you were going to be a famous rock star one day. Did that ever pan out? Guess youd be about thirty by now. I could tell by the stillness that Steve was too shy to continue, or he hesitated to talk about something that upset him. So I broke the silence by asking, So, hows your dad doing these days? When he spoke, Martys son sounded as if

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he were in tears. After composing himself, he said, I didnt know who to call because you see, we have no family just my dad and me and and, hes so sick, and wont do anything to help himself Once started, Steves words tumbled out. I thought that if you could just see him, maybe just talk to him he always said you were his best friend. He refuses to eat, and its been almost ten days and now, hes so weak, he can hardly stand. But the doctor I took him to did nothing says hes suffering from deep depression. He says its psychological and put him in County mental. I heard myself screaming, What the hell is he doing there? Marty was one of the cleverest guys I knew. There nothing wrong with his mind! And more important, why isnt he in a regular hospital? This time Steve answered quickly, Hes got no health insurance. When the one he had with your company ran out, he never got any more. Figured hed never get real sick. Truth is, he couldnt afford it; somehow he went through whatever money he had and hes not old enough for Medicare. After he first got sick, Dad kept saying, I know I shouldve gone to see a doctor, but how was I going to pay? Steve continued, apologetically, And with me driving a cab, Im lucky if I can even take care of myself. With my voice sounding angry, I interrupted with, Why didnt you just put him in your cab and drag him to a doctor? Steve seemed to ignore my criticism.

Thats just what I did. When Dad got so bad he could barely walk, I got him to a doctor had to promise the guy Id pay him over time. He finally agreed. He told me Dads not eating wasnt a real sickness; he needed a psychologist. He said the people at that County place would figure out why hes refusing to eat. Besides, the doc said, no one else will take him, not without some kind of coverage. And the place is free. I attempted to calm my caller. Look, Steve, I learned long ago that I dont have all the answers. Who am I to second guess the professionals? Maybe his doctor really knows whats wrong with your father. Do you really think theyll be able to take care of him at that place? Steve asked. Id feel a lot better if you could just look in on him. Hell be treated fine, I tried to assure Steve and myself. Im sure that just because hes poor, he wont go without care. Even without insurance someone will take him in. It may be slow, but eventually public health services take care of everyone. That was easy for me to say. So, in spite of my confident words, a nagging doubt gnawed at me, and I had to ask, Didnt your father have any X-rays taken? Or an endoscope to see if maybe theres something wrong with his stomach? Nothing, nothing at all, Steve murmured. He never took any tests. The doctor said no one would do all of them without some kind of insurance. And this doc didnt see that it was urgent so he couldnt send him to an emer31

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gency room. He gave him some pills. But Dad couldnt keep them down, so he just refused to take them. Thats when the doc said he was sure the problem had something to do with Dads head. Dammit, I all but shouted. What kind of a doctor would do something like that? Did Martys indigence provide an easy excuse for his doctor to unconsciously turn his back, and not bother to prescribe, or neglect needed consultations and, hell, even to overlook the most basic examinations? Because my answers were so upsetting, there was no way I could say no to Steves request. Maybe Marty was a victim of the System. In the past, I was often able to steer Marty out of other troubles, and maybe now I could help him again. At least, Id try. As I got out of my car and approached the main entrance of the building complex, I took a deep breath, the way I would do before entering a funeral home to prepare myself for the grief I was sure to confront. The second I pushed through the thick, glass, outer door, I was confronted by a brawny guard, armed with a menacing pistol holstered at his side. He wore a shiny gold badge, and a large embroidered patch on the shoulder of his crisp tan uniform read SECURITY. He shoved a worn clipboard into my hands and demanded I fill out answers to half a dozen identifying questions. He kept my drivers license, assuring me Id get it back on my way out. After running a thick finger along a long printed list to confirm who I was visiting, he 32

said dully, Barancik, Martin? Yeah. Here he is. Section G. Through those doors on your left. Then just follow the signs along the way. Ill buzz you through. I had seen bank vaults less secure, and struggled to push through the heavy wire-reinforced glass doors. The long, dim corridor I entered smelled from disinfectant, and seemed to go on for a hundred yards before an arrow directed me to turn left. A hundred feet more took me to yet another heavily locked door with a printed sign that read Section G. A small card printed in English and Spanish required me to push a button to announce myself. Im here to see a patient, I shouted irritably at the microphone imbedded in the window, and then I spelled the name. I asked myself, Could a penitentiary be any more threatening and unfeeling? After what seemed like a minute, a piercing, horn-like buzzer sounded, not unlike those action-movie sirens that warn of an imminent explosion, and the thick glass door opened automatically. I entered a large room filled with soft, comfortable furniture in pastel colors, and walls decorated with colorful posters. A dozen men and women of various ages were reading, playing Scrabble, and enjoying card games, while a few gazed at chessboards. Inside the door I found a high, official-looking counter with a plastic plaque that read Patient Information. The empty chair indicated I would have to wait for directions to find my old friend.

To my right an attractive woman, who seemed to be in her twenties, looked up from the magazine she was reading and approached me. She was tall and thin, with straight blonde hair that hung to her shoulders. She had a small face with ashen, but flawless skin, and I was taken with her enormous bright eyes that searched my face as if she thought she may have known me at one time. Im afraid youll have to wait if youre looking for the attendant, she said. It wont be long; she should be back any minute. Then she purred almost seductively, Maybe I can help. Who did you come for? Im looking for a man named Barancik. Marty. Came in a few days ago. Maybe you know where his room is. Hes supposed to be in this section. She didnt answer right away. Instead, she looked up at me with eyes that suddenly clouded over like someone in deep prayer or meditation. She explored my face intently, and then in a low, whimpering moan pleaded, Arent you here to see me? Arent you my father? I was so stunned with sorrow over her sudden transformation that I couldnt make any kind of answer. Fortunately, in the next second a woman in a dull green uniform came up and gently put her arm around my new friend. She led the young woman back to her chair, saying, Amy, you know youre not supposed to talk to visitors. Amy looked up plaintively at the attendant and whined softly, But that was my father. Cant you see? Hes come for me. Hes going to

take me home. Shaking her head from side to side, the attendant led me to the tiny room of my old friend. I phoned Martys son when I got home, but not before many hours of calling everyone I knew who might help. Finally, I got some good answers from one of the religious charities in town. Your father doesnt belong in that place, Steve, I hollered. He has no more business being there than you or I. I talked to him hes sane as ever. Hes sick. Very sick from what I can see. He wont eat because he cant. Its not because he wont, its because he has trouble swallowing and breathing. Insurance or not, youre going to get him the hell out of there! What can I do? They told me no one else will take him, Steve answered. Look, Steve, I called around and found out that St. Anns hospital, over on Chicago Avenue has to take him in. I spoke like a teacher talking to a fifth-grader, trying to spell out exactly what Steve had to do. St. Anns must take in patients from a County facility. By law they have to take in anyone from there that needs medical care. Heres the phone number and the name you should ask for at St. Anns. Shes head of Social Services there. I cant do it only a relative can get him in there. Remind her that I had called her earlier today and repeat that its an emergency. Tell her Marty needs tests and a feeding tube or hell be gone before they can help him. And do it NOW! 33

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The next morning the Social Services woman told me that within an hour after the ambulance brought Marty to St. Anns, he was connected to multiple IVs and being fed through a tube; X-rays were scheduled for later that day. I went to the hospital that evening. As I waited outside Martys room for some tests to be completed, a doctor slowly approached. He closed a thick file hed been reading and asked, Are you a relative of Mr. Barancik? Im his brother, I lied. Hows he doing? The doctor answered somberly, Not good. Lightly tapping the metal cover of the file, he said, Just looked at his radiology report. Both lungs. Metastasized too far. Too late for surgery or chemo, Im afraid. He looked directly at me, noticeably uneasy. Theres nothing more we can do now. This oat cell type is fast. If we had seen him a couple of weeks earlier, maybe... His voice trailed off. Well keep him here as long as we can and make him comfortable, he continued, but were not allowed to keep him too much longer; weve got to send him to a hospice for special care. You can rest assured, theyre good people, theyll take good care of him. I felt a pain searing my chest, as the words that demanded to be screamed out stayed glued in my throat words that should have been shouted: Sure, hes comfortable now hes in a large private hospital! Where were you guys before? Where was everyone when 34

he needed them? There was no way youd have seen him weeks ago. No way in hell because he was poor! And that meant nobody gave a good goddamn. Where on gods earth is the insurance that would have guaranteed somebody would pay attention enough to take just some simple tests? I knew it wasnt this doctors fault, and the only way I could respond was with a choked murmur, Thanks for your help, doctor. Ill tell his son when he comes by. He should be here any minute. I looked up and spotted two nurses just leaving Martys room. One of them signaled me to say it was OK to go in. I wiped my eyes, took a deep breath and went in to see an old friend.
Donald Esken, after thirty years in advertising, thanks OLLI for encouraging him to write for pleasure and for enabling him to join the Journals talented contributors.

The Hibiscus
by Deborah Rosen
A throwaway, bought in the last hour of the sidewalk sale. Three coral flowers one dollar, tax included.

Next morning, the day-long flowers dead, I stow the plant at the back door for trash day.

But nippled buds hide within the leaves and one by one their rosy tips emerge.

My admiration builds for its implacable pace. I am hostage now to this green-willed growth.

I want to see one leaf frill loose, one flower curl. Plant, motionless as paint, defies me.

I prey, dusk, dawn, afternoon, on its naked soul, shift water, drought, light, Mozart, Keats.

In all-night vigil I aim my flashlight, see the flower fall, and loathe my reflection from the mirrored wall.

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The First Day of Spring


by Eve Perkal
Muse, my muse, where are you? Have you been gone for good, or are you merely hiding?

My loves are gone and I am lonely. Will you not come and keep me company, Inspire me; infuse an aging heart with memories of long ago When love and passion pulsed though every vein?

Today is the first day of Spring, Though temperatures belie the fact. Yesterday, two robins, hopping in the yard, appeared confused; Had they misread the date? Where did they come from, had they traveled far?

I have so many questions, But not many answers.

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Sunlit Petals Bill Martin


William Martin and wife Ann, NU alums, live in Highland Park. A computer biz retiree, Bills into travel, OLLI, and volunteering for Habitat for Humanity.

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Furling the Sails Roy Slovenko


Roy Slovenko is a retired chemical engineer and oilman, an inveterate world traveler, and nature photographer whose photo galleries can be viewed at www.royenko.com.

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Solitude Paula Wise

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Driver Takes a Break Havana Joseph Dixler


Joseph Dixler was an industrial designer in the manufacture of graphic arts equipment. Now he enjoys travel, art, architecture, ethnic cultures, and cultivating orchids.

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A Sixties Fantasy
by Harriet Friedlander
I was a closet hippie a wannabe flower child Longed to wear beads & fringe & let my hair grow wild. Belonged to the Establishment, but thought that it was a bore Believed the acid trippers that there is SO MUCH MORE.

Read Kerouac & Ginsberg, sang songs by Bobby Dylan Liked psychedelic colors, found news from Woodstock thrillin. Wanted to join a commune, farm organic beans & oats Going Back to the Land was romantic; considered raising goats.

Walking barefoot through the flowers in a long & flowing skirt With groovy sisters, brothers, & lovers all together in a yurt The counter-culture beckoned, so fanciful, and so free Had dreams of dropping out & in (without the LSD).

Tried to sound like Joan Baez, played folk songs by the hour Took up guitar, reached for a star, but talent did not flower. Bought a madras bedspread, put peace stamps on all of my mail, Tried a controlled substance, but never could inhale.

Remain a closet hippie a wannabe flower child Try to make some yippie, but results are usually mild. Still believe in the causes, & that someday dreams do come true So please accept this poem and love & peace to you.

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The Writing Class


by Patricia Thrash
A certain exhilaration entered the room When the words all agreed to point in one direction. Robert Bly I like to think a quickening of spirits not specified or identified animates our time together a kind of elevation, enlivenment marks our Wednesday rendezvous:

a certain exhilaration enters the room when one of us shares words written to be read with others gathered round the table

words sometimes feather-light, sometimes from a deeper, darker place, words pointing us in a direction to be considered, pondered, puzzled over, responded to, remembered.

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Prairie Chickens
by Larry Gordon
I remember an unusual ballet I saw many years ago at Ravinia entitled The Kitchen. As the audience takes their seats, the curtain is open and the stage dark, except for one bare light bulb, a nightlight. The stage set, a restaurant kitchen with its commercial restaurant equipment, can barely be seen in the dim light. The ballet begins when a lone dancer, one of the restaurants employees, dances out onto the stage. He struts around, turns on a few lights, strikes a match, and lights the oven. He removes food from the refrigerator and puts on the coffee. All is in preparation for the day just starting up in this restaurant kitchen. The dancer turns on more lights, and the stage brightens. The kitchen help gradually straggle in and report for work. The chef and the sous-chef are dressed in their black-andwhite checked pants, white coats, and toques; line cooks in similar, but less pretentious uniforms. The maitre d wears his tuxedo, the hostess, her little black dress and a white corsage. The dishwasher has on his fatigues, the busboys and waitresses, their restaurant uniforms. They each dance out onto the stage with beauty, grace, and precision. The kitchen gets busy. Tensions develop. The chef asserts his authority over the souschef. A waitress angrily gesticulates over an order. Relationships unfold. Romances blossom. At the swinging doors in and out of the kitchen is where it all happens. The chef and the hostess, attracted to each other, exchange flirtatious glances. A waitress and a busboy make eyes at each other. The dishwasher snitches a pinch on the bottom from the salad-girl. They rush about all aflurry, hips thrust forward, legs and feet turned out. Pirouetting and on pointe, they balance trays of dishes lifted to their shoulders, steal kisses, and furtively embrace, in intimate pas de deux. The pace quickens. The kitchen becomes hectic. The swinging doors are in constant motion. The action intensifies and builds to a furious crescendo. It then tapers off and begins to subside. As the end of the restaurant day approaches, it all winds down to a subdued close. At the conclusion of the ballet, the chef and the hostess, the waitress and the busboy, the dishwasher and the salad-girl, in pairs, leave the kitchen hand in hand. Finally only one dancer remains on stage. He dances around turning off the lights, except for the nightlight, and then he, too, leaves the stage. The kitchen is again dark, empty, and serene. The ballet has ended. The cast take bows to loud applause and warm ovation. I am sad this imaginative ballet is over, but I have enjoyed very much a beautifully realized production. I walk to my car with a feeling of great pleasure. As I drive home,

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beautiful images dance in my head. A year ago, intrigued by an article in the Outdoors section of the Chicago Sun-Times about an opportunity to observe prairie chickens in their mating ritual, I make a reservation for one of only eight observation spaces available daily during the six-week mating period in early spring. This spring, I drive 250 miles to the southern Illinois town of Newton and stay overnight at a beautiful hunting lodge. I wake up very early the next morning in order to get to the nearby office of the Department of Natural Resources by 5:15. There, I join seven other barely awake ornithologists for a halfhour hike through dark fields to two rudimentary observation blinds. We enter our blind, sit down on hard wooden benches, and are instructed to keep as quiet as possible so as to not disturb the prairie chickens. Peering with the our binoculars through narrow slits in the wall of the blind, we attempt to discern what is happening on the grassy field 125 yards in front of us, still dim before daybreak. Each year, Monarch butterflies fly thousands of miles from as far away as Canada to return to their mating mountain in Mexico. Emperor penguins, upright on short stubby legs, march miles from the sea to their harsh Antarctic mating ground. Copper River salmon breach the rapids on their rigorous journey to the Copper River spawning grounds. Whales, having roamed the seven seas, gather in great pods to mate. Sparrows return to Capistrano. And prairie chickens, 44

instinctively, mysteriously, majestically, return each year to this mating ground to perform their exotic ritual. One by one they arrive at the field in front of our blind, just as dawn lightens the sky by the slightest amount. As the mating ritual begins, I am reminded of The Kitchen, the ballet I had seen so long ago, albeit much more comfortably seated, at Ravinia. This field, their mating ground, is, for them, a parade ground. And these prairie chickens do parade, especially the males. There are about fifteen or eighteen of them. They are flashy. They strut. They puff out their brilliant, glistening, iridescent yellow cheeks to the size of a twelve-inch baseball. They thrust out their chests. They fan out their enormous white tail feathers in extravagant display. They attempt to strike up interest from the three females and to seduce them, right there, on the field. Youthful, motivated, eager for conquest, and driven to spill their sperm, these cocks are ready. The females are coy. They seem disinterested. They are reserved. Demure. Dignified. Skillful geishas. Haughty prima donnas. Perhaps they exude sex appeal, but it isnt apparent to the observer. The gentlemen confront one another right in front of the ladies. They stare one another down. They intimidate one another. They fly up, as though choreographed, in ferocious tantrums. They explode together in furious flurries of wings and feathers.

The females, bored, dont even notice these peregrinations. They look the other way. These gals are drab. Plain Janes. Hootchie-mammas not. No exotic dancers, these chicks. Negligees, silk stockings, pasties, G-strings, come-hither expressions, centerfold poses; these are not part of the repertoire. These hens do not need accoutrements to be sexy, to exert power over these guys, to attract them, to excite them, to compel them. No. Innocently, naturally, extemporaneously, she bespeaks her desire. How, the observer cannot know. Amid all this frantic commotion, she makes her selection. Gives her signal. Allows the anointed gentleman to approach her. He mounts her. She has submitted herself to him. Or has he submitted himself to her? In a passionate pas de deux, his great body and huge outstretched wings tenderly overspread her and shield her, like an umbrella, and protect her as though from a scorching-hot noonday sun. On this field, in their brief moment of privacy, in heady and ecstatic embrace, they thus consummate their brief affair, their momentary betrothal. Dawn ends. The sun rises over their mating ground. The sky brightens. Their mating ritual gradually subsides and comes to a close. Though not as in The Kitchen where the dancers leave the stage in pairs hand in hand, the prairie chickens leave their mating ground and fly off one by one, as they had arrived, perhaps to reunite another day as couples to tend their hatchlings. The field, their stage, is again empty and serene. This ballet has ended.

I leave the blind, and, as at the conclusion of The Kitchen, I am thrilled. I feel reverence. I congratulate myself for having made the journey to southern Illinois to observe this stirring spectacle. I hike back to my car. I leave behind this mating ground, this romantic exhibition of Natures grandeur, this innocence, this Eden; and I return, exhilarated and awed, to the city.

Larry Gordon retired from a lifetime in the bakery business in 2000 and joined OLLI. H e has three wonderful sons and daughters-in-law and six delicious grandchildren.

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In the Hall
by Glen Phillips
Mrs. Abigail Cassidy worshipped Bingo cages glorious, golden, latticed spheres rattling with orbs of good fortune spinning, not too fast, not too slow, always the same mesmerizing speed. Tonights Bingo cage stopped. Sister Margaret Mary Hendricksens gnarled, rheumatic hand plucked out a white ball. She jotted its number in her log and handed it to Father Burke. The priest yelled, G forty-seven. The nun smiled; the young mans enunciation was correct and audible. Abigail looked at the ceiling. Dont let me go home empty handed, Lord. She sighed. She knew her six Bingo cards, arranged as a triangle, lacked the called letter-number combination. Yet she scanned the cards. Professionals, she believed, always check. Her ample, middle-aged torso rose and fell with resignation. The peppermint in her mouth lost its flavor, and her linen shawl dampened with sweat. This mid-Summer Friday night in her local VFW hall was frustrating and depressing. To call this windowless, cinder-block room painted prison gray a hall was gothic humor. Overhead fluorescent lights blinked intermittently; the floors vinyl tiles were either missing or cracked with age. A bar at the back contained bottles of soda, plastic cups, and no ice. A faded American flag on its stand behind the priest hung in yesterdays glory; it had forty-eight stars. As Abigail anticipated the next call, a thin, gray-haired woman whose starched white blouse smelled of lilacs touched the chair to Abigails right. Saving this for anybody? No, please sit down. Maybe youll bring me luck. Im Abigail Cassidy. Sitting, the newcomer turned and shook Abigails hand. Ellen Kradakis. She put her purse under the chair, planted both feet on the floor, and placed three cards in a straight line, the middle one precisely one inch from each of its neighbors. As the next call was as bad as the previous, Abigail foresaw defeat and scattered her concern on new ground. You know, Ellen, I gotta win the next game. Its for tonights big prize. Rents due, and Im short. Spent too much on Bingo cards these past weeks. Apparently uninterested, Ellen rearranged then rearranged again her three cards as if playing a shell game. Abigail tilted her head and lowered her voice. If I pay the rent out of the food money, Tom, thats my husband, will notice Im serving a lot of spaghetti. And then therell be hell to pay. Not that hed hit me, mind you, but hes got a mean tongue, especially after a beer or two. So I keep coming back, week after week, trying to get ahead; but my lucks turned sour.

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Mrs. Kradakis nodded while staring at her cards. Abigail took her silence as acceptance and understanding. Abigail touched the brooch on her floral dress. Im not that superstitious, mind you, but Im wearing the same pin my departed mother gave me, the same pin I wore last week when I won $20. Im sitting in the same front row at the same plywood table, on the same brown metal folding chair. I can tell from the pattern of scratches on the seat. She pinched her pale cheek. And this is for luck. No winner having identified herself, Father Burke motioned to Sister Hendricksen to start the cage. Tonights event, sponsored by the Ladies Aid Society of St. Catherines Catholic Church, required an appropriate caller. The pastor had volunteered Father Burke, the new, young priest in the parish, to do the honors. Always smile and, for the love of God, dont make a mistake, the old man had told him. You have no idea how much bitching and moaning Ill endure if you slip up. Looking at Abigail from the slight stage on which he stood, the priest saw a happy-go-lucky Irish woman, but the good nun bore an uncanny resemblance to a Macbeth witch. No, he would not make a mistake. The halls congregation was ten rows of three tables each of working class women aged twenty to eighty. They spent their days clerking in Wal-Mart, assembling lamps at a Stiffel factory, or caring for children whose mothers had to work. Abigail washed floors and toilets at a nursing home. And while there was conviviality

in the hall and a sense of equality, there was also desperation, sadness, and smashed expectations. Packs of yapping children crawled under the tables. On hands and knees, they journeyed the length of the rows, weaving around and between tree-stump legs smelling of shoe polish and tapping the floor with a nervous beat. Occasionally the boys and girls came upon toes painted with stripes or stars. Not all of the legs they encountered were crossed; sometimes they stared; sometimes they hurried on. The wondrous wheel spun, and Sister Hendricksen performed as expected. B eight, Father Burke said. Bingo! called out a woman at the back of the hall. The priest held up his hands. Please leave your markers where they are until were sure we have a winner. One of the ladies from the Society scurried to the woman jumping up and down in the aisle and then bellowed each of the numbers across the top row of her card. Sister Mary passed judgment by flicking a confirming hand upward after each number was read. We have a winner, Father Burke announced. OK, everyone, the next and last game is worth $300. Relaxed, one with his flock, Father Burke became a carnie pitchman. Now thats a lot of money, ladies, so youll need to be attentive. Just to be sure, were going to take a fifteen-minute break so you and I can attend to basic needs. Smiling up at Father Burke, Abigail commented, Its nice to see a priest with a sense of 47

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humor. Sister Margaret Marys face looks like a carved bar of soap, the same tight lips and beady eyes as when I had her in eighth grade. Ellen emerged from her cocoon of silence and nudged Abigail with her elbow. Good looking man, that priest. Abigail, unused to focusing on physical aspects of a man wearing a white collar, said, I guess so. Then, embarrassed, she rearranged her cards. They now formed a rainbow of hope or a frown of despair depending upon ones perspective. She looked at her neighbor. I dont think Ive seen you before, Ellen. You must be new to the parish. What mass do you go to? Im not from this parish. I go to St. Johns. Oh. The Greek Church. Most of us here go to St. Catherines. Abigail stared at Ellen the way a wolf might stare at a German Shepherd a genetic poor relation. Ellen, a bank teller, said, My husband and I go to services every Sunday. We look forward to it; well, he doesnt appreciate it as much as he should. But in time he will. The wolf lowered her gaze. I go to early mass every Saturday and Sunday and sit in the front pew. Cant get my husband to attend, though, not even once a month. Tom was an altar boy; parents prodded him to become a priest. Since his time in Vietnam, he says hes had enough useless praying and stupid sermons. And because Mrs. Kradakis had become the anonymous airplane seatmate never to be seen again, Abigail added, He 48

doesnt laugh much anymore. But then I dont either. Mrs. Kradakis smoothed her black skirt. It was a difficult time. Many people were damaged and are still angry. But maybe youll win tonight, and youll both be happy. With her forefinger Abigail traced a small cross on each of her cards. Toms happy when hes with his good friend Mr. Guinness. If I could afford it, I wouldve bought more cards; you know, increase the chances of winning. No, no! Work with what you have. When you win youll have a bigger profit. Look at me, I only have three cards. I dont need the money. I come for the fun of it. I love the excitement when someone wins. Have faith. Abigail stood. Well, right now I have to go to the washroom. Would you watch my cards for me? Thanks. With the speed and agility of an experienced Bingo player, Abigail rushed to the back of the hall and joined the line. No men other than Father Burke being present, the ladies used both rooms. As she was returning to her seat, Abigail noticed Ellen leaning over Abigails cards. Probably comparing her cards with mine, she thought. She settled herself, smiled at Ellen, and blessed the cards again. As Father Burke stepped to the podium, a collective breath wrapped him like a shroud. He bowed his head and then gestured to Sister Margaret Mary to begin the game. N twenty-eight. The priest smiled warmly and was cheered when Abigail smiled as well.

O fifty-nine. Abigail squirmed and grinned. B eleven. Abigail was incredulous; she had a chance. G forty-eight. A drop of sweat rolled from Abigails hairline, past her left eye, and onto her lower lip; the taste was stimulating. Her eyes had primal bonfires; her slip rustled, a dry sound like a lioness moving through tall African grass. God is good, she thought. As the sphere rotated and glistened in the light, Abigail longed for release from misery, and, for a moment, loathed the witch who controlled her fate. With the calmness of age, Sister Margaret Mary extracted a ball, noted its identity, and handed it to the priest. Holding it aloft with both hands, Father Burke, aged with stress, said, I thirteen and waited. Nothing. A great Aaah moved from the back row, cascaded over the heads in front, and washed over the priest. The game would go on. Bingo! I have Bingo! Ellen Kradakis waved her hands over her head. No! You cant! Its too soooon! Too soooon! the crowd yelled. I do! I do! Ellen stood and faced the mob, cheerily ignoring their malice. Father Burke spoke from his mountain top, with a veneer of composure. Ladies, ladies, please be quiet. Well check the numbers to be sure theres no mistake. A mistake, the chorus chanted. Theres a misssstake! A Ladies Aid member stepped from the shadows and moved toward Ellen. She was

mid-way to her table when Abigail rose, fists clenched at her side, chin thrust forward, eyes envy black. Cheater! You cheated! Saliva flew from her mouth. Ellen froze. Her accuser stood inches away; Abigails spittle sprinkled her face and blouse. I do not cheat. Ever, she said, folding her arms across her chest. Abigail waved her fists and cried out, You stole the winning card from me. Without breathing, I saw you when I was coming back to the table. Her eyes blazing with anguish and angry tears, she pointed to Ellen and accused her with the certainty born of desire. You switched one of your cards for mine. Abigail shuddered; a great eruption was coming. Everyday life has moments of high drama when an accidental audience witnesses true struggle. Some draw meaning from the occasion. Now, at this moment, the hall hushed and watched. Even the children were silent. Although the woman from Ladies Aid had rooted when the scene began, Sister Margaret Mary had not. Like a leaf blown from a tree, she swirled to Abigails side and touched her fist. Oh, Abigail, whats wrong, child? The ancient words, their soothing tone, years of obedience to women in black all contributed to the tears Abigail now shed. Sister, this woman took one of my cards. Im sure of it. Shes one of those Greeks. She doesnt belong here. She doesnt even want the money, and, and I need it so bad. The nun placed a hand on the other fist and turned Abigail; the two faced each other. 49

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And you were going to hit her? Abigail began the slide toward childhood. No, Sister, I know its wrong to hit. She bowed her head and touched the nuns habit with her hair. I just want whats mine. The nun asked, And why is it yours? The question, unintentionally therapeutic, caused Abigails arms to drop. Sister, Ive worked so hard and have so little to show for it, Sister Margaret glanced at Father Burke for help but he was sitting, his head in his hands. Im sorry youre feeling so bad, Abigail. I hear good things about you from the people at the home. Youre well liked, you know. Raw hands dont put steak on the table. Abigail, what do you hope for? Abigail paused, took a deep breath. I came here tonight to play Bingo, and I hope I win. Im so sorry for the outburst. Sister Margaret squeezed Abigails shoulders, whispered, I, too, hope you win, dear, and stepped to Ellens side. Which card has the Bingo? Ellen pointed to the card in the middle. Referring to her log, the nun matched each call with the number on the card. Satisfied, she looked at Ellen and said, Im sorry, dear. Father Burke said, I thirteen, and you have I fourteen. This is not a winning card. OK. I guess I made a mistake. I sat in the front row because I have a hearing problem. Then, as if also deaf to Abigails emotional deluge, Ellen nodded apologetically to the

other players, sat, and waited for play to resume. Sister Margaret grimaced and hobbled to the golden cage. Father Burke stood and shook his head. Laughter splattered from the audience; tragedy had become comedy, and the ladies were refreshed. Abigail returned to her seat. Sorry, she muttered, wondering if Ellen heard her. Ellen rearranged her cards. Once the cage began to spin, Abigails hope returned. Seven rotations later a friend of Abigail won the $300. Abigail did not rejoice. After Sister covered the sphere, the audience drifted from the hall to places where they were welcome. Abigail walked home, cleansed but pragmatic. She hoped Tom was passed out in front of the TV; she would win a night of peace. She knew hard times lay ahead but there were also more games to be played.

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Winters First Thaw Allen Cohen

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Its a peer teaching group.


Fran Markwardt

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Brother Ray
by Patricia Thrash
I first learned what it was like to be a member of a minority group when growing up as a Methodist in Bolivar, Mississippi, located in the Delta, where Baptists covered the land like locusts. Our small but dedicated band of Methodists met for Sunday services twice a month. We five young members of the Sunday school class met in the balcony at the back of the church. Our teacher, Mrs. Mattie Morris, a prim and fussy woman whom we addressed as Miss Mattie, had been a missionary in China. After saving as many souls as she could, she had found her way to Bolivar, where she taught Latin at the high school and married Horace Morris, who was in no way disposed to the mission field or regular church. Their only child, a fat and awkward boy named Maurice, was inclined to pick his nose. It was difficult for those in my class to imagine how Maurice had been conceived. During our Sunday sessions Miss Mattie often spoke of our Christian duty to save the heathens in other lands. She asked us to sign pledges to abstain from liquor and to help the Methodist missions abroad. Abstinence posed no problem for me, as I already knew that everyone in dry Mississippi was a teetotaler or a closet alcoholic who supported the local bootlegger. But even at an early age I could not fathom that we Christians were somehow the saved and our task was to impose our beliefs on people in China and Brazil. Other than Miss Matties persistent entreaties, being a Methodist was quite relaxing compared to what my Baptist friends went through regularly. I know, because I joined them for church and the evening youth group on the Sundays when there was no Methodist service. Except for my Jewish friend Miriam Udelson and my fellow Methodist Ann Marie Roundtree, all my friends were Baptists. Clearly, this was where the action was; the Baptist preacher gave us plenty of it. The Baptist minister, known simply as Brother Ray, was a winsome bear of a man with glistening black hair, clear blue eyes, a beaming smile, and a booming voice. He was an engaging preacher whose command of the language was sometimes startling. I remember especially his reference to the menty, menty blessings God gives us. He closed every service with the same altar call: Wont you come? Wont you come to the altar for Christ before it is too late? Jesus wants you. Wont you come and cast all your cares on the Lord as we sing just one more verse of Softly and Tenderly Jesus is Calling? Sometimes we sang as many as six verses before one of the regulars Brother Ray could always count on would come down the aisle, tears streaming, to be welcomed by his embrace and whispered words of comfort.

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While Methodists sprinkled Baptismal water, those who joined Bolivar Baptist Church were submerged in the square concrete baptismal pool behind the sanctuary. This was a favorite event. The purple velvet curtain opened to reveal the pool where Brother Ray stood, arms outstretched, to welcome each sinner dressed in white. We watched to see which clothes would cling as the convert, often one of our classmates, head bent back and nose pinched shut by the preacher, was gently dunked into the water and brought up, dripping and saved, into a new and purer life. To pass the time during Brother Rays lengthy sermons, some of us would go through the hymnal and whisper the title of the hymn, adding, Between the sheets without a shirt on. Safely through another Week between the sheets without a shirt on was irresistibly risqu to Protestants approaching puberty. Baptists were against dancing, but that didnt stop half a dozen of us who loved this diversion from sponsoring a dance at the town hall on a Saturday night. This was a first, and it was a great success. The next evening, as we sat in the front row for the evening service, Brother Ray seemed particularly sorrowful as he began his sermon. Last night as I lay in my bed I thought of those young sinners, lost and lone, falling into the Devils clutches. Let us pray that they will see the deadly dangers of dancing, discover the error of their ways, and sin no more. We bowed our heads just 54

to be polite even though we didnt think jitterbugging put us in jeopardy. Brother Rays wife Ramona was a goodlooking woman with an ample physical presence as well as a glorious voice, and she had Brother Ray firmly in her control. There were never stories about Brother Ray and women in the congregation, like those you would sometimes hear about other ministers. Since all Baptist ministers are called to a church, they can also be dismissed. Unlike Methodists, who are appointed by the conference, Baptist preachers are always accountable to their local flock. The typical Baptist cycle is adulation for the first year, enthusiasm for a year or two after that, then little puffs of doubt and whispered dissent, followed inexorably by some event that causes a stir, disenchantment, and then, inevitably, dismissal. Sometimes the church splits, with half the members forming a new congregation on the other side of town. Everybody loved Brother Ray, and it was hard to find anything to criticize. He was unlettered, but his preaching was heartfelt and convincing. His pastoral manner was comforting and consoling; and his ability to recruit new members was legendary. Bolivar Baptist Church grew enormously during his tenure, and the congregation built a big new church. Then, according to the Baptist way of doing things, it was time for him to go. Brother Ray did not leave of his own accord. One morning, seeking respite from the demanding work of saving souls, he

escaped up Highway 61 to Memphis to take in the annual springtime festivities of the Cotton Carnival. Unfortunately two of his stodgiest parishioners, uncharacteristically seeking a good time, were also in Memphis to enjoy the bands and the floats. Stopping in for a sandwich at a restaurant on Cotton Row after the parade, they spotted Brother Ray in a darkened back booth. They were about to say hello when they saw he was drinking beer. Shocked and saddened, they withdrew discreetly. But they knew it was their Christian duty to report Brother Rays indiscretion to the church trustees, which they did as soon as they got home. Soon Brother Ray was gone, one more evangelist fallen from grace. Brother Ray disappeared from our view for a few months. Before too long, however, word came that he had a storefront church in Memphis. Within a year he was back in the Delta, this time in Malvina, ten miles away, doing what he did best: building a new congregation. He did this not for money, nor for fame, but simply because, as he would tell you, he was called, compelled by the spirit, to do the work of the Lord wherever the Lord sent him to do it. Of all his menty blessings, he would tell his new congregation, this was the greatest.

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Starbucks Saturday
by Adagio Micaletti
She stares, thoughts ascribed to space, A grimace masks her indulged face, Shrieks wanton look devoid of charm, Ponders the table, drapes an arm.

Slouched silent, his turn to stare Glazed gaze stalls beyond her chair. His fingers on the cup rim trace Void words rob time, withheld, risk grace.

Her fingers fiddle, rake her hair. A tarnished ring hangs heavy there. Colloquial, but do not talk Glare in blank prose, sip and gawk.

Truths brutal to the fragile soul Will not ask afraid, still know. Repressed desire strings shadows bow. Instinct, regret in ego grow.

Nearby young lovers nuzzle, coo. Eyes acting dance roles lovers do. Stolen touches ensure, ensue. Cherish, whisper, forever you.

Adagio Micaletti is working on a memior, Black Sheep in White Cashmere.

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Blackbird at Ragdale Barbara Metz


This work was produced with the support of the Ragdale Foundation residency.

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Indian Artifact Max Lomont


Max Lomont came from France in 1940. He retired from The Quaker Oats Company and appreciates that fourteen years in OLLI keep the little grey cells working.

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Lady in Waiting Uzbekistan Joseph Dixler

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Blueberry Hill, Goshen, VT Ethel Peterson


Ethel Peterson paints wherever she is. Her favorite painting sites are Vermonts mountains. Her most recent show was this fall at the University Club of Chicago

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If Something Cant Go On Forever, It Will End


by Stanley Paul
One evening some time ago, I was working late at my office, trying to complete a section of the plans for a building my architectural firm was developing when my cell phone rang. Ill bet the call is from my mother. Dad probably walked out of the house, got lost, and Mom cant find him. Hes always showed up before. So I thought as I grabbed the phone. Yes, Mom, Im sorry Dads late for dinner, but you know he always gets home. Everyone in the neighborhood knows him and so do the police. Give it some time. Mom, I know youre concerned, and I am, too. Just relax and wait a while longer before you call the police. Isnt that the doorbell ringing? You answer it, and Ill wait on the phone. After a few minutes, my mother was back on the phone to say that the police found my father and brought him home. He was all right, although a little vague about where he had been and why. It seemed to me that his wanderings were occurring more frequently. To reassure my mother and to acknowledge to myself that we had a problem, I said, Im glad Dads OK. Ill fly down to St. Louis this weekend so we can talk. I love you both, and Ill see you soon. Thanks, Greg, she said. I think I need some help. I was in St. Louis for three days and joined my brother and his son, a doctor, for a number
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of meetings about how to proceed with our parents problem. We consulted Dads doctors and learned that the mini strokes he had had were probably continuing which is why he was increasingly forgetful and vague at times. Mother was now showing signs of stress from having to watch Dad all the time. Then Mom, Dad, my brother, his son, and I met with a social worker to talk about the possible options and learn Moms and Dads reactions to them. Finally, everyone, particularly my father, agreed to consider a trial stay at an assisted living facility after we inspected a few of them. We finally decided on a place called Countryside Manor that seemed to have all of the amenities. Dad would have his own large and sunny room with a private bath. There were many planned activities, and the food was reportedly very good. The staff-to-patient ratio was excellent, and the staff appeared, and was said to be, competent. A doctor was always on call should any of the thirty-five or so residents require medical attention. The grounds were attractively landscaped, surrounded by a high wall softened by ivy that indicated to us that Dad could walk safely in the fresh air. Mom would be able to visit a few times a week since it was fairly near their home. Both would have peace of mind, we thought, if they could see each other. She needed to know that he was well cared for, and he 61

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needed that connection to his life and family. The weeks went by quickly, one blending into another, and we realized that the trial stay seemed to be a permanent solution. I was able to visit St. Louis several times over a fourmonth period, and frequent phone calls to my mother and brother kept me aware of Dads slowly deteriorating health. About six months after my father had moved to Countryside Manor, I drove to St. Louis one weekend and, with my mother, went to see Dad. It was a beautiful day, sunny with wispy clouds in a blue sky and a slight breeze. One of the staff told us Dad had a good week, ate well, and was calm most of the time, participating in many of the group activities. As a matter of fact, he was outside with a group right now. Making our way around the building to the terrace, I stopped to admire the lawn and colorful plantings, glad we had been able to find, and afford, such a place. About 200 feet away, a group of about twenty people were sitting at tables under large umbrellas, seeming to enjoy the day. When I spotted Dad at one of the tables, Mom said, Greg, why dont you walk over and talk to Dad by yourself. See how hes doing. Ill sit on this bench and wait for a while. I walked slowly toward the group, and as I moved closer, Dad looked content and even slightly younger. When he saw me, I said, Dad, its Greg. I was thrilled that he recognized me. Smiling at each other, we hugged. I asked how things were, and he looked at me before replying. 62

I feel fine, but I want to ask you a question. Sure, Dad. What can I do for you? Look over at the people I was sitting with. Do you see the lady wearing a blue blouse and white skirt? Well, Im in love with her, really! Do you think I should tell my wife? Well.well, I said, startled and stalling for time. Since you asked me I think you shouldnt do that right now. Why dont you wait a while and see if you continue to feel that way over a period of time. Then we can talk about it again. Okay? Dad stroked his chin, and I could see him pondering my answer. Finally, he said, I think youre right; Ill wait. When I walked him over to Mom, he seemed to have forgotten his question, and we had a pleasant visit, leaving when he appeared tired. On the drive back to Moms apartment, she said, He looks better, I think. I agreed. Yes, he really does. But I wondered what was happening inside his head. Three months later, my brother called to say that Dads heart was failing, and I needed to come to St. Louis immediately. When I arrived, Mom was sitting next to Dad, holding his hand. I could see he was dying. With a little smile on his face, he murmured, Im in love! Through her tears, my mother smiled gently and said, Ill always love you, Ben.

Stanley Paul left Russia to become an American citizen, artist, political cartoonist, industrial designer, art director, advertising executive vice-president, and creative director, and now, writeramazing!

Im Lost
by Don Gralen
Im lost, my neighbor said, about his life without the wife he buried after a marriage lasting fifty-eight years. Here today, gone tomorrow, a clich applied to others is now his own harsh reality adrift in a life sadly diminished.

He eats, he fitfully sleeps, he carries on. Daughters visit, neighbors bring food. Empty space remains. Soldier on I say but not to him. Buck up, there is no choice, are words I cannot utter. When my time comes I hope I am first.

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Moonrise
by Jane Broeksmit
Between the Motel 8 and McDonalds signs the full moon rises in stillness without advertisement.

Jane Broeksmit divides her time between an apartment in Chicago and a farmhouse in Dwight, Illinois. She and her husband John have six children. OLLI has reinvented me.

Fierenza, Italia Bridge Marshall Marcovitz


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Practice
by Mariam Dubovik Lease
The back of the lagoon where polluted water finds the lake; not pretty, patched, down-driven isolation. I can do the work of mourning here, imagine memory, change its face. Brutal, the work of letting go. Come as a stranger, imaging the bodys love into air.
Mariam Dubovik Lease is a retired university teacher of English with a special interest in poetry and in the making of poems.

Marshall Marcovitz was sipping a cappuccino in Florence when the photograph he wanted appeared in his minds eye: a daydream image in la Bella Italia..
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Fried Eggs
by Susan Myrick
Emily Webb, the main character in Thornton Wilders play Our Town, dies an untimely death during childbirth. The audience joins her in the graveyard, where she greets the town residents who have preceded her. Despite counsel from the more experienced, she asks to leave her grave and return to the living world to relive a day of her life. The Stage Manager advises her, Choose an unimportant day. Then, as if offering a hint to the audience, he speaks what he knows she is not ready to hear, It will be important enough. Emily insists. I can choose my birthday at least, cant I? Emily moves across the stage from the graveyard to relive the day that was her twelfth birthday. As she pauses at the edge that divides death from life, the audience joins Emily as she watches her mother bustle about over breakfast and the details of the day. Emily gasps at the sights and sounds that greet her. Oh, I love it so! she cries. I, too, wish to return to the kitchen of my childhood, not from the perspective of the grave, but from a distance carved wide by the current of years. In my imagination, I walk lightly, as if on eggshells, so as not to scramble my memory but watch it unfold. Perhaps I can, like Emily, retrieve the details and find among them something I did not see or hear at the time. Every morning my mother fried eggs for our family of five. We gathered for breakfast daily in the crowded nest of our kitchen, a tradition lost to my adult family, who parade through single file to begin the day. Although my eyes are closed to the present, I cannot yet see my mother or the others; I can only hear their sounds. Our mornings did not begin with the quiet shuffles of the sleepy, like my adult family; rather, they were lively, noisy affairs. Commotion began in the kitchen with my mothers preparations. Amid the clatter of dishes, pans, and utensils, clap-snaps of metal cabinets, and frruncks of the refrigerator door, I hear thumps crisscross the green linoleum floor and perks perk from a stainless steel coffee maker. Whiffs of frying bacon and brewing coffee float aloft the clamor from the kitchen into my bedroom on the other side of a kitchen wall. Mother covers the round Formica table with an easy-care tablecloth, then loads it with sturdy Centura glass plates, silver-plated flatware, cloth napkins in engraved napkin rings, and coffee cups on saucers. In the center of the table, onto the Lazy Susan, she places sugar, half-and-half (sometimes cream), sweet butter (never, ever margarine), and two or

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three homemade jams (sometimes my favorite, Kiefer pear preserves). Now she can prepare and bring to each place setting fruit, orange juice, or hand-cut grapefruit halves. At last she fills our glasses with milk. Before beginning breakfast, my mother washes and tiptoes into her clothes for the day. She wears carefully ironed skirts and blouses, maybe a bit of lipstick. Her eyes, a bit gray with irritability, and her hair, which has a mind of its own, betray the early hour. Not until later in the morning do the cowlicks settle and the bed-flattened hair soften at her cheeks. Time has turned the once golden sheen in her hair to dull brown. After a quiet entry into the kitchen, my mother switches on the clattering rhythms of the breakfast band. The racket rises, disembodied, incongruent with the dance-trained grace with which she pulls together the family meal. Turning toward the short counter to the right of the door and next to the refrigerator, she starts the coffee. A wheeled cart, on which she keeps bread and her prized four-slice toaster, stands at the other end of the counter. Although we children long for the comfortable conformity of white Wonder Bread, she feeds us on the serious density of Pepperidge Farm, whole grain, sourdough, and reisen bread, a concoction that stunk and stung like bad cheese. Reisen was Dutch, like my stepfather, and a favorite of my parents. It is my stepfathers job to sit near the cart and to toast and hand out slices. No soggy cold

toast allowed. Slices leap, butter-melting hot, from his juggling fingers onto our plates. Mother holds high standards in the matter of hot toast, although when it burns, we are expected to eat it without complaint. But first my stepfather scrapes the burned surfaces with a sharp knife over the trashcan, leaving a spray of brown and black crumbs. After starting the coffee, Mother carries the eggs and some variety of breakfast meat from the refrigerator to the stove on the other side of the kitchen. Bacon sizzles on weekdays, but other meats are reserved for weekends, like sausage, or, from my mothers southern background, country ham and buttered grits (which counter the overwhelming salty character of the ham). She turns the white knob on the oven to warm and places the cover from her square electric frying pan onto the unused, cold burners so that she can remove the electric cord stored inside. Then, plugging the ends into the pans handle and into an outlet on the stove, she switches the thermostat to the bacon setting. Once the pan is hot, she pulls and lays pieces from the package of bacon, slice by slice. To keep the strips of golden red from curling, she sets a flat lid called a bacon press, on top. After standing over the electric pan and nursing the bacon to perfection, she removes it to a plate draped with paper towels, which then goes into the warm oven to perfect the bacons crunchy quality. Mother will march to the table with her bacon, flat, crisp, and blotted greaseless.

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Before beginning the eggs, she pours excess bacon grease into a special aluminum container with a filter. My mother uses the filtered fat to flavor her dinner dishes. Since the dishwasher darkens aluminum, the filter has to be washed by hand. My stepfather sits at his chair, ready to make toast at the appointed and exact moment. When Mother begins to crack eggs into the hot and bacon-flavored pan, she calls us to the table. We are to be seated and ready when the eggs are done and hot. As each naked and innocent egg sizzles, it is subject to strict inspection. If Mother is particular about the toast and bacon, she is zealous about the quality of the eggs. She grew up spoiled on eggs purchased directly from farmers. So our eggs, even though storebought, had better be fresh, or they and their source are roundly scolded. Fresh means thick, well-defined white borders and plump yolks that stand up above the white. Whether or not food in general or eggs in particular met her standards, we never wasted a bite, and she never let her eggs get away without critical assessment. Once and finally seated, a sip of creamy coffee smoothed my mothers sharpest edges and sparked her eyes to their natural blue. Despite high standards, breakfast was the easiest meal to co-ordinate, the one that ran on routine and freshened hope, and it was the most pleasant of our daily family meals. Milk did not spill as often as it did when the nudge of fatigue and ripples of small disappointments 68

joined us at dinnertime. At breakfast the comfortable present lingered; it stretched endlessly, as if childhood was our eternal abode. Now that I have tiptoed back to my mothers kitchen and brought my adult eye to the scene, I am touched by the industrious, even reverent, attention to the mundane details of our breakfast times. Such parental devotion meant, on some level, beyond the distractions of routine and bustle, that life, together with its fleeting quality, was honored and not taken for granted. Yet, I also recognize Emilys pain in response to her mothers matter-of-fact love. On stage, Mrs. Webb does not recognize Emily as the daughter who has returned to relive her twelfth birthday. She speaks to her, as if no time has passed. I want you to eat your breakfast good and slow. I want you to grow up a good, strong girl. Only the audience and the Stage Manager can hear Emilys exclamation. I cant. I cant go on. It goes so fast. We dont have time to look at one another. Dare I return to my mothers kitchen and break the spell of the breakfast routine with the plea Emily directs to her Mama, Just look at me one minute as if you really saw me. Could I snap my mother from the trance of the present, tear her attention from the days immediacy? I am listening, but I do not hear an answer from my mother. Perhaps silence is the lesson to learn from the playwright, but I am not ready for it. Neither was Emily, who continued her

plea, Mama, fourteen years have gone by. Im dead. Youre a grandmother. The Stage Manager had warned her that she would not only relive her birthday, but she would also watch herself living it. Worst of all, she would know the future. The sweet spell of the present, the fleeting dance with eternity, ended one April day as Mother pulled the mornings eggs from the refrigerator. She was forty-two, and I was a college senior asleep in my old room on the other side of the kitchen wall, the morning hubbub gently nudging, poking me awake. My sister Sally, fifteen-years-old and an early riser, was setting the table. Mother turned from her frying pan to speak to my stepfather, to ask him a question. Broken words tumbled out. What? my stepfather laughed. He thought he heard a tease in her voice. Frustrated, Mother snapped back, throwing more incomprehensible lumps of sound at him. Alarm poked, then shoved him from his comfortable spot at the toaster to help her limp body into the living room around the corner and onto the couch. The clatter of paramedics, the morning shattering into discord, woke my thirteen-year-old sister, Lisa, and me. My memory of the morning dissolved forever into confusion. Except for one detail - the awkward, squealing wheels of the blanketed gurney rolling my mother away. Damage from the stroke altered her personality and required her to walk with a cane. Disability and loss muffled forever the familiar sounds, routines, and rituals of our family life.

If one tragedy wasnt enough, she died of cancer at the age of fifty-seven. My mother has not visited us from the grave as far as I know, but I am the one who wants to return to the kitchen of our past. I want to stop her, mid-breakfast, before the bacon is cooked. Mother, I would say, Your grandchildren are grown. One is married, a doctor, and she has a little boy, your great grandchild. Among your other grandchildren, there is a PhD, a talented artist, a computer wiz, and a teacher who is a dancer like you. You missed the joyous birth of Lisas third son, a handsome heart-breaker, and then the sorrow of her divorce. I dream of stepping back in time, like Thornton Wilders Emily, but I ask for better luck than hers. What answers might emerge if Mother and I could crack the shell of time, scramble it to suit us, and celebrate over fried eggs?

Susan Myrick grew up in St. Louis, graduated from Washington University in biology, and loves living in Chicago. Retirement means busier: writing, photography, reading, OLLI, and family.

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Dead Eyes
by Joyce Yohai
The aisle-seat passenger smiled as I glanced up into his eyes and then sat down next to me. An old terror crawled up out of its pit and came alive again. Could it really be? Was that the same pleasant smile, the same soul-dead brown eyes? I dared not look at him again. All I could do was lean back, close my eyes, and let the memories come, memories of a day many years before, the most terrifying and, yet, in the end, perhaps the luckiest day of my life. I was fifteen and very bored. My parents had rented a house for the summer in a small town near Albany in upstate New York. It was a pretty house in a lovely country village, but there were few teenagers and nothing much for me to do but walk and swim in the mushbottomed lake and write letters and what my parents called moon about. The highlight of my days was a two-mile walk past an old, 1770s cemetery to and from the clapboard post office and village store. I would go there each day to send and sometimes receive mail from friends I thought were so lucky to have stayed back in Brooklyn. The country air touted by my mother and father was choking me. I felt stuck, stuck for the whole summer and achingly lonely. Each day as I walked, a small, shiny red truck would pass by, and a man in his twenties, or perhaps a little more, would smile and wave. At first I turned up my nose and looked away, but little by little, as the summer wore on, I started to smile and wave back and to feel a sort of recognition. I assumed he worked somewhere nearby, and, after all, his hair was so neatly combed, and his truck so shiny-red and polished, he had to be OK, didnt he? One day near summers end, as I sat idly on the low stone wall of the ancient cemetery, he came along and stopped right in front of me. What are you doing here? he asked. Oh, just looking at the old tombstones and admiring the scenery, I answered, trying to sound grown-up. Well, its nice here, but I know a place, not too far away, thats really beautiful. I can take you over now, if you want. Although I had been warned time and time again never to accept a ride from a stranger, a stubborn rebelliousness took over, and, against my better judgment, which I squelched, I climbed up into the cab of the shiny red truck and pulled the door shut. At that very instant I knew Id made a big mistake, but something, pride perhaps, wouldnt let me ask to be let out. I made stupid conversation. I remember telling him that my uncle was the local chief of police. When he asked the name, I made one up.

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He drove for almost ten miles, promising wed be there soon. Suddenly he turned right onto an unpaved road with a heavily wooded hillside rising on the right and scrubby level farmland on the left. At the far end of the road was the only structure visible, what appeared to be a large, old, dirty-white farmhouse with a rusty-orange roof. There was no one in sight. We got out. He told me there was an amazing stream and flowers up there through the woods at the top of the hill. Did I really believe him? I dont know. I think I was more embarrassed at the thought of seeming childish than afraid of following him. Besides, there didnt seem to be anywhere to run to. He took my arm, and we started up into the dark, muddy, mustysmelling woods, past half-buried boulders smothered in dank, wet leaves. About halfway up he stopped and took both my hands and said, You know whats going to happen, dont you? What, exactly, did he say after that? Ive never been able to remember, but I do remember hoping I could talk my way out of the whole mess. I was nave enough to believe I could dissuade him. Fortunately, he released my hands and let me talk, his soul-dead eyes fastened on mine all the while. Finally he said, Okay, its timeI can knock you out and do what I want, or you can cooperate. At that moment I heard a laugh from the road below. There was a small group of people heading toward the farmhouse. I glimpsed a red sweater through the trees, and I knew I had

to run for my life, right then. I took off screaming with all my might and ran downhill at top speed, falling once and hitting my hip hard on a boulder. I was up like a shot and crashed, still shrieking, out of the woods and onto the road in front of a startled group of older adults who turned out to be summer boarders at the old farmhouse. He was going to hurt me! I screamed as they gathered, clucking, around me. Who? Where is he? they asked. Where are you from? And I told them. How will you get home? they asked. I shook my head. I had no money. Just then dead-eyes came out of the woods and, nice as pie, said, Ill take her home. My screams must have been heard in the next county. To my relief, he, whose name Ive never remembered or probably never knew, sidled off into his truck and drove away. Those blessed people dug into their pockets and came up with ten dollars for me. One of them walked down to the farmhouse and called a taxi. By the time I got home, I had a fever and a very bruised, very painful hip. Now there was one thing I knew for sure. Although dead-eyes had not managed to kill me, my mother would finish the job if she ever found out that my disobedience had put me into that condition and into such danger. I never told her the truth. I never told anyone. I said Id been standing on the cemetery wall and had fallen off. After more than a week in bed, my fever

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abated, and the enormous bruise on my hip turned from purple to acid green. For years my left hip told me when it would rain or snow. We never went back to that town, and I locked the whole dreadful experience away. Much later on, I came to understand that my cowardice in not telling anyone might well have put other innocents at risk. I cringed and pushed the thoughts away quickly. Then, after many years, life brought a man to sit beside me, a man with a pleasant smile and soul-dead brown eyes. The same eyes? I thought so. But a lot of time had passed. How could I be sure? And what could I have done about it, even if I were right?

The Polyp
by Don Gralen
The polyp came out bleeding its protest, the abnormal cells splayed on its surface like nicks on a butchers finger. The voice of doom called them cancerous, unwelcome cells caught in time to stop a ruthless malignant colonizer.

Spared the surgeons sword, I reclaim a life no longer imperious and eternal. Denial of my mortality wiped out by a half inch of diseased tissue. Resigned to my humanity I live on, sanguine but moved now nervously to the edge.

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De Minimis
by Deborah Rosen
Ozone, only .00005 percent of air, nearly nothing a princess pea in an oxygen world. Explosive gas that smells like dental drilling. Pale, blue, toxic a gauzy layer twenty-five feet high in the atmosphere, but flat and compressed, measures less than the thickness of a butterflys wing. Some ozone vapor has dissipated, leaving emptiness. Who will mind a hole in the air over Patagonia at earths far tip? The skys still blue where rocks and water meet. Merely farmers sheep going blind. Wool from sightless sheep will knit quite fine.

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Being Staged
by Philip Alexander
I. Cherry Jam I slip out of bed, go downstairs, pull a salted matzo from a box, lather it with cherry jam. Unnoticed, a cherry pit cracks to splinters under pressure from my bridgework. I dispose of the mess, glad for whats left of my mastery. With brisk authority the wren on the clock squeaks the arrival of 3 AM. We had a wren house once, Ann and I, the cock gentle with his hen a model lover outside the bedroom window of our cedar-shingled ranch. Ann sleeps upstairs. She has her own ills, fights them without all my wordiness about the soul, sin, world-sorrow. I spoon out jam, finger it for pits, think of todays schedule of scans. To pray but not to be monkish. To do right by my body. To do rooted work, reading, writing, service. To move up to $10 wines. To stroke Anns hair, wipe her tears. To hate less, to laugh like Falstaff. Rules for this old man, waiting. II. Snow Before breakfast a call from the doctor: my markers worse, he needs more tests. Outside tiny pebbles of snow dot the plastic covers on the newspapers. Its late November, and Christmas lights already shine from the tree lawns of my next door neighbors young Republicans charming with me, a relic leftie musing about old wars, young love, FDR.

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III. Laras Song At this mornings MRI a Pakistani tech with Omar Sharif s mustache. Inside the tube I remember Julie Christie, (where is lovely Julie now? dead I think) black hood against snow at Zhivagos hideout. Full of hope Laras song mixes in my guts with the machines jackhammer beat. In the MRI waiting room two men in their eighties with walkers, a woman late fifties in trim yellow slacks reading Proust. No eye contact the rooms first commandment. In two weeks ending today I will consume tests costing Medicare twenty thousand, a years keep for fifty Haitians. I smile at Anna Quinlans column, glance at the walker men, blue hands on aluminum bars.

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The Last Sigh


by Allen Cohen
Paint chipped, color faded, decaying walls and stalls Strike the melody that is quietly hummed through the village.

Old women with older faces, playing fan-tan and selling Their smiles to camera-snapping tourists for ten dollars Hong Kong.

Dust-powdered wares sold with indifferent glances.

The village will soon take its last sigh, The young have gone.

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Me and My Shadow Under the Bean Fred Fulmer

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Sorting Coffee Beans Roy Slovenko

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Spring Fever Paris Bill Martin

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d will be used full image is larger an

Purple Cows Larry Gordon

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Highway from Heaven Allen Cohen

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Feeding Time Paula Wise

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Blue Angels Fred Fulmer

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Early Autumn, Late Afternoon Ethel Peterson

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We could save a lot of time if we ignored these.


Fran Markwardt

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Stacks and Piles


by Sherwyn Warren
My house has books and papers everywhere, Some piled neatly, stacked with loving care. Most should be shelved, arranged in bookcases, Or attic, closets or storage places, But sit close to where they might be read, On desk, mantel, table, lounge chair or bed. Books on books, on papers, on a magazine, Or photo albums of places Ive been. Most have been perused or somewhat looked through Or wait for review when Ive naught else to do. Not much for arranging, I confess, My house is called a disorderly mess. When looking for something lost in a pile, I vow to straighten things up in a while. When conscience says, Organize, its a need, I find urgent items I still might read. Perhaps these habits impair my affairs, But Im willing to let that be solved by my heirs.

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Sunday Morning at the Ice House


by David Hart
From the depths of the chute a rumble, like a quake, swelled, impossible to contain. The block of ice was expelled through the flapped hole as if from between a womans thighs. It was shiny in the sun, wet and new, the product of a process too wonderful, or awful, to be witnessed. A leather-aproned man caught it with tongs that bit into its sides. He wrestled it up a ramp and groomed it with a chain saw to fit our ice chest. The chips that flew glowed briefly, like stars entering our thick atmosphere, then died on the sawdust floor. We covered our ears against the screams of the saw, and our breath came in white puffs that fell at our feet and shattered like glass ornaments. Once the wine is chilled and drunk, and the music silent, we will tip the chest and let the luke-warm dregs pour over the grass we have matted with our bodies. The thirsty ground will drink it with a sigh.

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The Quest
by Charles Shepherd
Retirement can be a shift into permanent PARK, and I decided to find something meaningful to do for the rest of my life. Looking back on my career, I concluded that I had not accomplished anything that the world would remember me by. Oh, at one time, I had such great ambitions. Nothing short of a Supreme Court Judge; maybe the ambassador to the United Nations; or, at least, the social chairman for a local VFW. I hadnt discovered something like the cure for polio; or climbed anything like Mt. Everest; or invented anything like run-proof pantyhose. I could have gone on and on. But I didnt. Upon reflection, I decided that it was not too late to make my mark; however, what to do now was not an easy question to answer. I prayed for divine guidance from the likes of Plato, Aristotle, and Willie Nelson every day from the time that my feet first hit the floor in the morning. Finally I had an epiphany after by pure chance, you understand I watched a Victorias Secret fashion show on TV. Of course, I only wanted to listen to the music. But as I peeked at the runway occasionally, I pondered and wondered just what is Victorias Secret? Nobody knows, I concluded. Otherwise why would everyone make such a big deal about ladies unmentionables? Clearly, a mystery. Should it be solved? Could it be solved? Could the answer be as important, by todays standards, as the Quest for the Holy Grail? I concluded, YES. Why, you ask? Just because its there, thats why. It could be grist for my mill. Clearly it could be my last shot to be remembered and be famous. I fantasized at the potential of my notoriety. The world was sure to love the man who discovered Victorias Secret. My new dream drove me on. I hiked up my shorts and marshaled my energy to start the Quest. I began by reading past issues of the Victorias Secret catalogue. Next, I hung around Victorias Secret stores and tried to get first-hand evidence to get a feel of where the secret might lie. Need I remind you, it wasnt easy. First it was the stares, ugly stares. I soon had my face slapped more times than a whole nursery of newborns bottoms. It got to the point that I was barred from most shopping centers. I must admit that the pictures of me on the posters hung on shopping centers walls flattered me. Every time I looked at them, I felt a rush at the thoughts of my impending fame. To overcome my inability to do hands-on research, I attempted to reach through the Internet some of the estimated ten-and-a-half million people who watched the TV program to ask them to help me with my Quest. However, I ran into another problem. Many software programs blocked my attempt to

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communicate with women about their underwear. Hard to understand. I admit at this point that I was downtrodden, and my spirits were lower than a snakes belly in a rut. My wife and I were no longer invited anywhere, nor would anyone go out with me, including my wife. I soon discovered that a Quest is a lonely journey. I got to the point that I went to OHare just to be around people. My favorite peoplewatching spots were the security checkpoints at the gates. I could watch people going through them for hours. After several weeks, I became an astute observer. I discovered that when many women walked through the metal detector, they set off an alarm. Then, when they were personally monitored by a wand, it was discovered that they were wearing a bra that had metal in it. Viola. The wire had to be Victorias Secret. Who woulda thunk it. Right under everybodys nose albeit, just a little way. What a relief. I am proud to announce to the world that Ive done it. I am confident that once the world knows of my discovery, my goal of achieving a significant accomplishment in this life will have been reached. My Quest is over. I can return to my family, my friends, and a few shopping centers once my posters are taken down and the statute of limitations has run. I am proud to say that my tombstone will proclaim my notoriety with these words:

What once was used to build a fence Victorias Secret uses to enhance The objects that God has forgotten No longer need to be stuffed with cotton. What she uses to uplift and inspire Is nothing but plain ol number eight wire. So thats the SECRET harbored by Victoria. Discovered by this curious man from Peoria.

Charlie Shepherd finds OLLI an oasis of interesting people and intellectual challenge. Writing is his love; OLLI provides an outlet to continue his romance.

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The Secret Drawer


by Dennis Beard
Damn it, Mabel, bellowed Big Al, I dont trust that milkman. Im telling you to keep that drawer closed and locked when hes around. Listen to me. The milkmans no stranger. Ive known Cliff for fifteen years, said Mabel, knowing the remark would aggravate her husband. I was payin the milk bill when you saw him. That was a week ago. This is Sunday. Were at the dinner table. Weve got company. If you cant be pleasant, at least be quiet. Be quiet! Whatd ya mean be quiet, he roared. Who do you think put the food on this table? I did! If it wasnt for me, youd go hungry. And Ill say what I wanta say. He morosely stabbed two large slices of beef, loaded them onto his plate, and passed the platter to his right to his sister Agatha, growling, Here, take some meat. Al glared at his wife at the other end of the table. Why the mashed potatoes, Mabel? You know I like em plain boiled. Who are you tryin to please, the relatives or me? Agatha was sitting across from Al and Mabels daughter Susie, who Al looked upon as a moocher. She was there with her baby and her husband, referred to as No Nuts by the Big One. At Mabels end her sister Lily and her husband Tom ignored Als comment about the potatoes. Mabel was a mildly rounded woman with a round face to match, a ready smile, and eyes that could reflect kindness or cynicism, the latter especially where Al was concerned. Knowing that Al hated company but loving it herself, she had invited her family favorites, with Agatha as a sop to Al. Earlier Al had lumbered downstairs from his bedroom, reeking of a hangover, and they had all sat down to a table loaded with food It was then that Al brought up the subject of Cliff the milkman. Al was suspicious because twice a week Cliff managed to sell Mabel cottage cheese in insulated plastic tumblers, eight of which were on the table and filled with ice water. The Big One hated the sight of those tumblers, and he especially hated that a week ago hed caught Mabel riffling through the greenbacks in the money drawer, counting out money for the milk bill while Cliff watched. Damn it, Mabel, that milkman could sneak in here anytime, pry open the drawer, and make off with all that money. Not Cliff, said Mabel, laughing. Hes honest. Just because youre a crook, doesnt mean everyones a crook. Where do you get off callin me a crook? You think I dont do real work because I dont march off in the dark every mornin with a lunch pail in my hand and a shovel over my shoulder like your brothers do, and your dad before them.

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Youd die if you ever did an honest days work, said Mabel. Whata you know about work? he retorted. You wouldnt know what it takes to face the public and make decisionsmake deals. I gotta make decisions every dayseparate the big potatoes from the little potatoes. My work is all strain. Mental strain. You wouldnt know about that. Mabel laughed until tears came to her eyes. No, Al, livin with you, I wouldnt know nothin about mental strain. The others had their eyes on their plates, shoveling in the food, tasting nothing, and pretending that everything was normal, which it was. Al had been a young man during the Depression, and he did not trust banks. All his money was hidden in the house, most of it under a false floor in his closet, but the big lower drawer of the desk in the living room was stuffed with cash, mostly twenties. There were plenty of fifties and hundreds, too. It was one of those unexplained family mysteries that he allowed Mabel a key to the drawer, demanding that she keep the presence of the money secret, but knowing all the while that shed defy him. Defying him was her keenest pleasure, and berating her was his. When dinner was over, most of the family were hoping for real conversation and parlor games. But not Al. He rose from the table and hurled another warning, Keep that drawer closed when strangers are in the house. Another

thing. No more mashed potatoes. I like em plain boiled. Mabel broke into her seemingly goodnatured laugh, but it was a mocking laughter, announcing that she and everyone present knew he was nuts. The back door slammed behind his threehundred-pound frame, and he limped on his arthritic hip to the garage and drove off. He headed for Schneiders Tavern on Pulaski just off Addison, where the atmosphere was subdued. Still, there were bowls of potato chips set out, and this reminded him that he liked them plain boiled. The men who lined the bar were mostly his age. That is to say, their hair was graying, and their bodies evidenced a certain lack of tone. Their employment was such that they had idle time. They were better off, they thought, spending that time at Schneiders than enduring the pressures of domestic life. Following that Sunday dinner Al and Mabel endured three weeks of subdued, intermittent sparing. Then on Tuesday evening, three weeks and two days later, the Big One arrived home inebriated and apoplectic. That afternoon he had been drinking in Schneiders. As usual he was complaining about his insufferable wife, his moocher of a daughter, and her even worse husband, No Nuts. The regulars nodded in commiseration and stared at the diminishing foam on their beers. In the middle of all this, Mike, a taxi driver, walked in and slapped his hand on the bar. He ordered a Bud and said, You guys aint

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gona believe what just happened to me. I get this call, see. Some old dame up here on Damen. Shes a blabbermouth, see, and she comes out with this story. Her daughter, name of Suzie, she sez, is livin up in Skokie and is down with the flu or somethin. Well, this old gal has been on the phone with Suzie, and Suzie is cryin about how she aint got no milk in the house for the baby, and she cant get to the store on account of the flu. Mike took a large swallow. So what does this old babe do? This is the good part. She hands me a quart of milk and two twenties and a ten that she takes outta this desk drawer practically overflowing with cash. God knows how much money is in there. She sez the ten is for the cab fare, one of the twenties is for me. I should take the milk for the baby and the second twenty to the daughter in this co-op on Louise Street up in Skokie. The goddam payoff is, theres an A&P on Oakton right behind this Suzies co-op. What a waste. Al sat silently on his stool, his eyes narrowed to slits, his jaw set, teeth grinding audibly. She was a kindly old broad, Ill say that, the driver continued. But ridiculous. Her old man ought to kick her in the ass. And all that money. Jesus! All that money. Cant get my mind off it. He swilled the last of his Bud. Well, gotta get outa here. See you guys.

At home, the Big One collapsed, gasping in his chair, stared at the secret drawer and spilled his anger. Later, Mabel phoned Suzie and told her the story, slapping herself on the knee, tears of laughter running down her cheeks. Her heart filled with the joy of living.

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The First Thanksgiving Banquet, Or A Turkey Is Just A Big Chicken!


by Irv Kiem
When I was a young boy living at home, my mother considered me a poor eater I didnt know she was a poor cook. She was a Depression cook my father loved chicken soup, and she made it often. The poor white carcass was taken from the pot and moved under the broiler to be the main course along with the inevitable mashed potatoes and the wedge of iceberg lettuce covered with Kraft French dressing. Other favorites were well-done liver and onions with well-done beets, well-done Swiss steak with well-done string beans well, you get the idea. Even the desserts were well-done baked apple or bread pudding. It was not until I left home that I learned that the words roast beef covered a multitude of sins. Why was the rare rib roast beef in the restaurant so different from the well-done brisket, and each called roast beef? This style of cooking followed me to college at the fraternity house. Every Sunday we had roast chicken, mashed potatoes, peas, and slaw. The repetition was so depressing, we finally took the untouched remains to the bedroom of the man in charge of food and, after removing his socks, handkerchiefs, and underwear from his dresser drawer, we carefully placed each course in those divided compartments. He was not amused but he was instructed.
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By the time I had left home and arrived in Chicago, I knew I had to learn to cook. I could not afford to eat out daily in the kind of restaurants that represented an improvement over what I had known as Home Cooking. The Peoples Gas Company offered a cooking course in their Michigan Avenue auditorium. I found myself to be the only male among 200 women in the audience, all focused on an overhead mirror above the ingredients. The demonstration teacher was preparing a recipe for leftover Spam as a casserole. I left the hall and bought the Esquire cookbook for bachelors. This large picture book was long on graphics and short on copy. The idea was to be able to follow the recipes while reading them. The basic message was to teach you to create seven meals everything else was a variation on these seven. For example, all steaks and hamburgers were to be broiled, and a roast was a steak too big to fit under the broiler. Chickens and ducks were treated pretty much alike; Hawaiian style or Cantonese called for brown sugar and canned pineapple. You get the idea. I even invented some new salad dressings like mocha cream made with sour cream, seasonings, and instant coffee whipped together in my blender. Oh yes, I had a blender and a rotisserie, too. It was then I decided to make Thanksgiving dinner for four. I told my room-

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mate, A turkey is just a big chicken. My mother had made a bread crumbs, apple, walnuts, and wine stuffing I could easily reproduce. I would go to the A & P and buy cranberries and make the sauce from scratch. I hate those little paper cups of cranberries you get in the restaurants. No big deal... if you can read the directions on the package, you can cook. After placing four or five bags of fresh Ocean Spray cranberries in my cart, I passed an aisle display of brown rice and felt creative enough to substitute the rice for the bread crumbs. I bought the turkey, apples, walnuts, wine, and, happy in anticipation of the forthcoming culinary triumph, I went home to begin cooking. The first obstacle was the decision whether to cook the rice stuffing separately or put it into the turkey to cook. If it didnt cook long enough, it would have the texture of buckshot; if it cooked too much, it would be mush. I hedged. Half went into the bird; the remainder surrounded the turkey in the pan. Now, the cranberries. I opened all four packages and emptied them into a two-quart pan. The directions were still unread, except I knew sugar was the main ingredient. By the time I read the instructions, I was already in trouble. The whole red mass was near boiling over. When I had found a pot big enough to hold it all, a cauldron covered three of four burners on the stove. When it was cooked, the where to or how to cool it was the biggest problem. 94

With potholders I lugged it to the windowsill. Before I could correct the balance of weight distribution, a wide red river of cranberries ran down the pitched roof. Not a serious loss; enough left in the pot to serve eight. I suppose you can hardly wait to find out how the dressing turned out, can you? Well, my expectations were realized: the stuffing inside the bird was undercooked, and the stuffing outside was well done just the way mother used to make it. The turkey turned out great, and why not? After all a turkey is just a big chicken!

Irv Kiem has a Bachelor of Journalism, University of Missouri. He was a marketing executive with Helene Curtis, Mennen, Playtex, Whitehall Labs and Vice President at Hartmarx.

Words
by Fran Markwardt
Today I missed the fish the frozen one in pieces like slices about an inch thick straight through its middle. I cooked it with tomatoes and onions and celery; it was delicious. What was its name? Yesterday it was a whole country, the day before an after-shave lotion guys in high school used to wear. A week ago a green vegetable went missing, the one whose leaves you pull out to eat. If I didnt know any better, Id think a sneaky thief were following me around, waiting to grab them when Im not paying attention. But heres the funny thing: they always come back within a day or so, as if that sneaky thief quietly picks my lock in the middle of the night, returns them intact, puts them in their places.

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Natural Selection
by Susan Myrick
Fossil remains Found sandwiched lifeless In a sunless land Instruct

Life forms Minds too, Of the inadaptable Immutable Branch Are dead ends And end dead

Between the history pages of the earth

Genes Minds too, Of the adaptable Mutable Branch Take note And quantum leaps

To escape the darker destiny of sunless strata

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Santiagos Story
by Harriet OBrien
To be a teacher is more than being a conveyor of facts and theories. A significant aspect of teaching is related to its close association with the development of the values and coping mechanisms of young people. In this lies a considerable challenge to the educator. Human beings are unique with individualistic, unpredictable approaches to personal problems. After years of pleasant, calm activity in the classroom, I experienced a dramatic week which will always remain sharply clear in my memory. My teaching schedule varied from day to day as science teachers had some days when classes met for two periods. On the other days the students knew I was available if they dropped in for advice. I welcomed this, and usually their problems dealt with issues such as getting a date for the prom or convincing a strict teacher that they were really trying. Santiagos problem was more serious. His mother remarried one year after his father died. Santiago knew his new stepfather strongly resented having to support him. His stepfather constantly told him he was seventeen and should be working. The stepfather would then tell how he worked full time when he was sixteen and helped support the whole family. His mother, anxious to get along with her new husband, told Santiago to ignore her husband and to continue to study for his diploma for the next few months. When I talked with Santiago, I often felt he was not telling me all of his problems. I could see that he was very distressed. His grades were dropping; the possibility of getting his diploma in June was diminishing. The last day that I saw Santiago, he came in with a pretty girl. He introduced his freshman friend, Sarah; it was clear he was very fond of her. Sarah assured me that Santiago was going to study very seriously. I did not get an opportunity to talk to the two of them further that day; I had to tell them that I had to get to the assembly hall. Two days before this my co-worker had suddenly dropped dead of a heart attack in the classroom next to mine. I had been asked to give a speech in honor of him at the Memorial Day assembly. As I proceeded with my speech praising this fine man, the loving father of seven children, I saw Santiago listening intently with Sara at his side. In my speech I told the students how the oldest son of my deceased friend had spoken at his fathers funeral. His son had told the large group that his father was always there whenever any of his children needed him or wanted him. I also noted that I had often observed the kind, concerned manner he displayed with each of his four boys who attended the school. When the assembly was over, Santiago stood at the door with Sarah. He was calm; but I could see there were tears in his eyes as he quietly told me he wished he still had a father

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like I had described. I was very affected by his reaction. I had to tell him I had to hurry back to my classroom to be on time for my next class. The assembly was on Friday; Memorial Day was on Monday. Tuesday morning as I was having a hurried breakfast before leaving for school, I casually listened to the television news. To my utter amazement, the announcer said that a young boy named Santiago and his companion, Sarah, had been killed while sitting on the railroad tracks in southern Wisconsin. The newspapers did not cover the story nor did the school administrator mention the event. I have never learned any more about the situation. Even now, years later, I deeply regret that I was not able to do more to help Santiago and Sarah.

Harriet OBrien, PhD, University of Chicago, degrees in educational psychology, English literature, and physics. I had an enjoyable career teaching physics in Chicago Public schools.

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Sabor a Mi
by Adagio Micaletti
We write to taste things twice, in the moment and in retrospection. Anis Nin For a psyche that has taken more chances than the odds of the lottery, writing is a new frontier. Can I tell the truth on the page? Conquer old taboos, take the risk? Chew thoughts swallowed, never digested, regurgitating with the first draft. To recall, laugh, cry, regret, surrender then dissect and examine the lessons purged from the abyss. Strip bare a shy, secretive soul exposed. Record a time in history and share with the reader one American womans life, her dreams, ambitions, mistakes, tragedies, and triumphs. To communicate with the senses, style, and symbols the depth of what I want to share with no one there. Find a new way to play; keep passion alive when dancing relents. Frolic and flirt with new words, fashion options. To sit with each story, the preparation, honing, and strength of revision; desirous to share a morsel of spirit and heart. To explore, to understand, to pour out of my head and heart through my hand onto the page, segments mined from the storage locker of my soul. Blend with new knowledge of form and style; simplify my palate to pen, paper, computer, printer, and return to my first love, the library. To write a story that resonates, that people will read, anxious to turn the page, talk about. The adventure of writing as if no one is reading and search for the core; face the undercurrents and algae-covered fear. The ordinary turned
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the love, mistake, pain, challenge, decision made each an opportunity. To write with French author Colette in mind, lying on her pillowed bed, compelling her to taste the homemade sausage, fresh bread, and rosemary-roasted rutabagas. To touch satin, chenille, an untied shoelace, a Brancusi bronze, a dying hand. To see the colors within a rainbows arch, a fledgling ballerinas pointe, a story published, and new parents. To hear music, every buzz, splash, poem, horseshoe clink, gravel road ping, a school mornings pounding on the bathroom door. To smell bacon outside, basil, lilac, a childs hair, fires of applewood and pine, library stacks, wet oil paint on canvas. Feel a hungry kiss, sand-salted-sheets linedried, a whisper on the nape of the neck, the piercing pain of first ridicule, the loss of a treasured child. Reaching inside until my eyes moisten, my throat swells, my mind distracts hesitant to push through. Taste plump blueberries in a sweating bowl that overflows, primed to sort out the shriveled, under-ripe pop each juicy mouthful, relish every burst of flavor. To revisit the firsts: love, betrayal, lie, death, disappointment, victory, not knowing which will be the last. Edit to the gourmand and desire to master a discriminating palate with revision and humor. Instincts, intuition, tradition, family humble me; this is what I am to do, honor the gifts, learn, and share. I write to savor. Sabor a mi. 99

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Northwestern University

Publication of The Journal, Volume 15, was made possible by donations from the following members and friends of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Northwestern University. We are deeply greatful for their confidence and support.

ANGELS ($100 and over) Marceline Bloom Joan Dubin Joseph Glaser Donald Gralen Judy R. Kamin Marshall Marcovitz Glen Phillips Deanne Rogers

PATRONS ($2549) Katharine Bixby Maxine Ehrenberg June T. Fox Barbara Schaffer Jaffe Frances J. Markwardt Portia M. Mercier Kate Ollendorff Jaime Trujillo Atie Zuurdeeg

SPONSORS ($5099) Dennis Beard Frederic E. Fulmer Frank W. Glaser Lawrence N. Gordon Delta Greene Linda Keane John Palmer Jr. Ronnie Robbins Charles E. Shepherd Helen A. Widen FRIENDS (under $25) Pat Burke Batia Levy Mariam Lease David S. Liner Susan Myrick Elanor Reiter Maria Weiner Monique M. Woel

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This publication was produced by Northwestern Universitys School of Continuing Studies.

In addition to the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, the School of Continuing Studies offers part-time evening degree and professional development programs for working adults.

Northwestern University School of Continuing Studies Wieboldt Hall, Sixth Floor 339 East Chicago Avenue Chicago, Illinois 60611-3008

Phone: 312-503-6950 scs@northwestern.edu www.scs.northwestern.edu

If you wish to purchase this publication, send your name, address, and a check for $12.00 payable to Northwestern University to the The Journal, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, 405 Church Street, Evanston, Illinois 60208-4220.

Flower Power Window Barbara Metz

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Northwestern University School of Continuing Studies 405 Church Street, Evanston, Illinois 60208-4220 ISSN# 1558-8939 $12.00