Thursday, January 20, 2011

This Moment In Time

It is January 20, 1961.  I am twenty years old and working in Chicago.  My co-workers and I are heading for Ted’s Snack Shop, where we go for coffee each morning. 
As we exit the elevator, Donna is talking excitedly, full skirt swishing from side to side, heels of her stilettos echoing on the marble floor.  "Well, I’ve decided on the color of my bridesmaids’ dresses,” she says, patting her foot-tall beehive with one hand and smoothing her skirt with the other, "A delicate shade of lilac.”
She will have eight bridesmaids at her wedding at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in July.     
"Oh, my gawd,” Judy says, taking a deep drag from her Lucky Strike, “Seems like no time since my wedding.  And look at me now!”
We all laugh.  Judy is eight months pregnant.
“Hope your labor is as easy as my sister-in-law’s,” Shirley says, “It lasted only two hours.”
Shirley is twenty-six and lives with her parents.  She is serious and quiet, hair and skin the same color.  A very devout Catholic, she goes to church each morning and lives vicariously through her brother’s children, attending this one or that one’s christening, school activities.
“It should be easy for her to drop another one,” says Judy, “It’s her sixth!”
"Oh, Judy," Winnie says in her heavy German accent, "Don't be so crude!"  
Winnie is in her fifties, twice divorced, and very outspoken.  I am both shocked and fascinated by Winnie.  But I like and admire her.
Carlene and Rosalie, two girls from Central Illinois who live on the Near North Side, are talking about the guys they met the night before.  They often invite everyone to join them at bars on Rush Street for happy hour.  I don't know what happy hour is, but I don't tell them.  I'm afraid they'll think I'm ignorant.  I can't go anyway; I'm married.

"My break will have to be a short one," Therese says, "I've got to type up a bunch of stencils for Mr. Mayfield."

Therese is thirty-two and single.  She is very pretty and has a great personality but says she's tired of dating.  A voracious reader like me, we often exchange books.  She has been very helpful in making me feel welcome, including me in all activities:  going out to lunch, parties thrown for various co-workers’ weddings, baby showers.
They all have.         
As we enter Ted’s, John F. Kennedy’s voice rings out loud and clear from the small black-and-white TV on a shelf in a corner far above the coffee-drinkers’ heads:  “I, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, do solemnly sweah…”
I gaze at my friends' smiling faces as our young President is sworn in, not knowing this moment in time will be etched in my memory as long as I live.  

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Late Corn

As I said in a recent post, I chuckled all the way through my story about retired school teacher Miss Lily McCabe.  I felt she was sitting alongside, dictating it to me in her soft, holier-than-thou voice. 

Late Corn is in the January issue of Front Porch Review.  I hope it gives you a chuckle as well.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Amazing Grace

The winter issue of Rose & Thorn Journal is now available for viewing.  It contains my fiction piece, Amazing Grace, the story of an insecure young woman who is driven over the edge in her efforts to live up to her mother-in-law's expectations.

Regardless of how many times I have been published, it is always a thrill to see my work in print. 

Thanks, dear readers, for your support and encouragement along the way.  It means the world to me.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Farewell, David Nelson

I mourn the loss of shows like The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriett, where children treated their parents with respect and always did the right thing.  It was a model for which young people could aspire.  Although I later realized how unrealistic the show was, and what mediocre actors they were, at the time I thought they were great.

Especially David and Ricky.

As most everyone knows, Ricky went on to become a famous rock & roll singer.  I loved Poor Little Fool.  But David was my favorite.  I thought he was much more handsome than Ricky, and he had such a sweet way about him.  (When he appeared on screen, I swooned!)

David, the last remaining member of the Nelson family, died yesterday.

Farewell, David.  Thanks for the memories.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Happy Birthday, Favorite Grandson

Chase at six.  (We were playing hide & seek.)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Glass of Milk

One day, a poor boy who was selling goods from door to door to pay his way through school, found he had only one thin dime left, and he was hungry. 
He decided he would ask for a meal at the next house; however, he lost his nerve when a lovely young woman opened the door.  Instead of a meal, he asked for a drink of water.
She brought him a large glass of milk.
He drank it slowly and asked, "How much do I owe you?"
"You don't owe me anything.  Mother taught us never to accept pay for a kindness."
"Then I thank you from my heart," he said.

As Howard Kelly left that house, he not only felt stronger physically, but his faith in God and man was strengthened. He had been ready to give up and quit.

Years later, that young woman became critically ill. The local doctors were baffled.  They finally sent her to the big city where they called in specialists to study her rare disease.

*Dr. Howard Kelly was called in for the consultation. When he heard the name of the town she came from, he went to her hospital room. He recognized her at once, so he went back to the consultation room determined to do his best to save her life. From that day, he gave special attention to the case.

After a long struggle, the battle was won. Dr. Kelly asked the business office to pass the final billing to him for approval. He looked at it, wrote something on it, and the bill was sent to her room.

She feared to open it, for she was sure it would take the rest of her life to pay for it all. Finally, she looked, and written on the side of the bill were these words: 

Paid in full with one glass of milk.


Dr. Howard Kelly

*Dr. Howard Kelly was a distinguished physician who, in 1895, founded the Johns Hopkins Division of Gynecologic Oncology at Johns Hopkins University.

(Excerpt from Mac Anderson's "The Power of Kindness".)
All words and pictures © 2008 Brenda G. Wooley