1976- Dreams, Jobs, & Love (Part 3)

Monday afternoon we started rehearsals for Barefoot in the Park. I had been waiting for that mother-in-law part all summer. Right in the middle of a big monologue, Bud stuck his head up the stairs to the rehearsal room, located above the lobby, and signaled I had a visitor. Our director, being noble, called Coffee Break and I went down the steps three at a time. My enthusiasm vanished when the guest turned around and I recognized one of our hosts from the Clam Bar. We arranged to meet at’10:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Wayfare Inn. I had hoped the appearance of three of us would dampen his ardor. It didn’t, but I did. As we walked back to the theater afterward I echoed his desire to meet again saying that my fiancee and I had agreed to date this summer. The implied word marriage sent him rushing off without even a kiss. For weeks I had been waking up hoping to hear the crash of pebbles on the window.

On the two occasions I visited our solitary pay telephone in the costume shop, there had been fittings for the forthcoming production. With luck, and lots of costume fittings, I could hold out as long as George. The winner of course would be the loser. Nightly I still checked the parking lot. Sunday, during noon dinner, our director announced that there would be an emergency meeting in the lounge after coffee. The air immediately vibrated whispers as to whether there was a thief among us, our housing had finally been condemned or was the stew loaded with ptomaine. Each one came up with their own conclusion, mine being that a talent scout had observed me in a Barefoot rehearsal and the meeting was to announce my immediate departure for New York. I was quietly rehearsing a THANK-YOU FOR EVERYTHING SPEECH when our director began talking. Apparently there was a snag in obtaining the rights for the play that was originally to follow Barefoot and they were now switching to an all male play. My joy was overwhelming. Starting tomorrow, other than minimum duties, I had all afternoons free! Sharing my abandon with Dee and Nora in the kitchen, they immediately planned a week of casserole dinner so we could hit the beach daily.

Monday and Tuesday worked well but opening night brought a catastrophe that almost finished Barefoot in the Park and my summer. Wednesday I skipped dinner and spent the extra time at the Chatham Fishing Pier solidifying my lines. The mother did not enter until the middle of Act 1. I avoided the pre-curtain chaos and didn’t make-up until the play started. The first Act went smoothly and the audience was delighted.

Near the end of the play, the mother-in-law, caught in the typical Simon sticky situation, reappears from the neighboring bachelor apartment in same bachelor’s bathrobe and slippers. Only a slight variation from the final plot: one of the feet in the enormous slippers was broken. Between the final curtain calls my stage daughter hugged me and said you were great, that last scene was so real you had tears in your eyes! I said you would have too if your left foot was gradually filling a size thirteen slipper. Help me to the hospital. The quick change in the costume shop located about 50 feet from the back of the theater and linked to it by a rutted dirt road and the subsequent race for my entrance had been too much. I had caught that slipper in a pot-hole, fell, and bounced up to find a definite weakening in the left ankle. By the end of the play the foot had swelled enormously and turned eye shadow blue. The prompt application of alternate ice and warm water did nothing but the medicinal Scotch obliterated all feeling except the memory of the applause.

Thursday morning the doctor solemnly announced that the foot was broken and I must stay off of it for 48 hours. The directors wife and I exchanged glances and I said the Show Must Go On and what can you do to enable me to appear on stage this evening. Oh, he said. Well….(Dramatic pause), I can give you a walking cast if you promise not to put your foot down until eight o’clock tonight. All was saved, modern medicine had conquered again.

That evening, at 8:05, our loyal director mounted the stage steps and announced that due to an accident, one of the cast members was in a cast, but directed the audience not to ignore the total cast but only the foot cast. The real irony lay in the fact that my first entrance came after I had (supposedly) just climbed seven flights of stairs. When I staggered onto the stage there was an unbreathing quiet. I was supposed to pant for a few minutes and did so. The audience had been watching each character’s entrance, with bated breath, for 20 minutes, anxiously awaiting THE cast, and now it-was here. After considering the cast from all angles, I meanwhile dramatically panting, they decided to rise to a standing ovation. I, in character and panting diaphramically, smiled and made a mental note to write Helen Hayes in the morning and ask her to airmail the crown. The review, of course, I framed. Copies were sent not only to family, but also friends and casual acquaintances. There was only one person I didn’t send the review to, I knew he had it already.

The additional free time now with my other duties deleted, gave me hours to dream. And think. Since the left foot was broken, I could still drive the car and began to investigate the surrounding countryside with short excursions. One of the side trips turned out to be the high point of my summer. I caught a matinee of Little Foxes with Geraldine Page at the Cape Cod Play-house. Lillian Hellman herself could not have envisioned a more superb Regina. Afterward, over a lonely cocktail, I contemplated a future in theatre.

To do it well, one would have to subordinate every other desire. There was much more involved than G.B. Shaw’s quote “Those that can, do. Those that can’t, teach.” It was a choice between real life or spot life. Our leisure hour discussion that night delved into philosophical arguments as to the meaning of life and etc. Since Nora and Bud were openly holding hands, the final hour of Last Calls got into a heated debate over man’s intrinsic need to love versus career, goals, family and etc. Fundamentally we agreed but enjoyed argueing over semantics. Sunday dinner and only two weeks of -stock to go. The Hulk and I lingered over coffee and compared notes on Hopes not Fulfilled so far that summer. I was charmed at his disappointment in not getting to know me better until a few days later when I found out exactly why this hadn’t happened.

Both the mornings and afternoons of these last two weeks were to be spent in our final production, a Shakespearean Comedy. My foot problem had eliminated any chance for one of the juicier female parts involving much prancing about the stage, but landed me with the character (I was embarrassed to write this to friends) of the Fairy Queen. She appeared the last fifteen minutes of the play and again solved all the problems of those involved. Luckily I didn’t have to introduce anybody to their long lost son. Tuesday, after breakfast, our director asked me to help on one of the vitally important creative aspects of summer stock. Without investigating further, I immediately said yes and found I had agreed to paint the five by nine foot poster hung on the street in front of the theatre to advertise the final production. I, who had flunked Crafts in kindergarten. One entire afternoon was spent staring at the canvas trying to get an inspiration. I got a good case of sunburn.

Most of the men disappeared shortly after dinner to make up for the all male company. The cooks would be busy for another hour and I had just reread the newspaper headlines for the third time without assimilating anything. Watching the setting sun flicker through the windows of the lounge, I suddenly longed to be home. To be surrounded by the humdrum and mundane. Maybe my period was coming. I even missed doing the dinner dishes. Deciding that two aspirin and an hour at the laundromat might improve my spirits, I hobbled out to the kitchen to see if Nora and Dee wanted any laundry done. Bud was tied up in the ticket office that night and couldn’t make the Leisure Hour. Nora and Dee had gotten teaching positions in the same city and were discussing the possibility of sharing an apartment. Dee had already made arrangements to live with a good friend and felt that the three of them could manage in a two bedroom apartment. From there we went into a discussion of high-school classes and the initial problems of a first year teacher. Remembering my own beginning agonies I laughed and said that anyone who could manage 25 nitwits for three meals a day could certainly handle 30 teenagers in a classroom. At that moment the Hulk entered the bar with two boys in tow. The boys came to the table and stood there grinning at me. I began choking as I recognized Dean and Sid, two of my last year’s drama students.

Still to come: Part 4 (The finally)

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1976- Dreams, Jobs, & Love (Part 2)

The heat in Boston was intense and it drove us onto the Cape a day early. Provincetown was exciting, vivid and packed. I have to laugh when I remember our last dinner there. We sat at a bar overlooking the activity of Fisherman’s Wharf till the sun was setting. Dorothy brought my attention to the fact that the bar had become packed with men. Of the two remaining empty seats, one was on my right and the other on her left. Our dinner waitress informed us that this was the “in” spot that summer for the 25 and over “swingers”. We went elsewhere for dessert. Out last stop was Chatham. And George.

Chatham Light House was to be my flashing beacon for the remainder of that summer. Later on, when some of us from the theater would get ourselves together walking that moonlit beach at the end of a grueling day, I would remember the emotions shared with George that foggy Saturday afternoon.

It was the first time we were together since Christmas. He squired us to dinner that evening at the Wesquasette Inn. The rambling restaurant caps a small hill and presides over a lovely bay. We drank and laughed on the tree shaded patio till the twilight chill blew us inside. After maneuvering for a window table, he ordered baked stuffed lobsters and a delightful puckery white wine for the three of us. No, I don’t remember whose or what wine it was. While dancing in the bar later, I suggested that we drop Dorothy at the motel and go back to his boat. He refused and said since I came with her I would remain with her till we took her to the airport on Sunday. He added that we would make up all lost time the following two days. We did.

Tuesday at noon we parted. George drove back to Lee and I had to report in. In full theatrical splendor I entered the hallway and fell over a piece of luggage. It took me ten minutes to find our noble director. And he was noble, believe me. I only saw him lose his calm once all that frenzied summer. He said I was lucky because I had the only single bedroom in the house. After one look at the room I decided that there was no luck involved at all, it was an oversized closet that you could only get to by going through the cook’s bedroom.

The house itself was enormous and ugly. There were twenty-four of us bedded down in the two ramshakle wings of the main structure. Eight females shared the same bathroom. By the end of the summer we had our processes of elimination down to seconds.

The theater was only fifty feet from the side entrance of our dwelling. It was beautiful. Before I unpacked I had to see the stage to which future generations would point and say SHE spent a summer here. Who cared about the bedroom, I would spend my summer in this plush little theater prancing about the stage.

We had our first group dinner that evening and it was as bad as opening night. Only a few people knew each other and they sat together. The rest of us nervously praised the bread, margarine, dishes, food and the weather. I felt badly because I couldn’t get the names straight… then someone called me Bud.

Over coffee our director made general announcements about how our working day would be divided. We did have some time off; Sunday till noon. The other six days would consist of morning voice and diction classes, lunch, afternoon rehearsals for the following weeks play, dinner, and make-up for that evening’s performance at 7:15. Since we were doing eight plays in ten weeks, we would have to find our own time for memorizing lines. Our first play would open twelve days from now he said, so we moved into the living room for tryouts. The cast list would be posted by nine the following morning. Tryouts. My fingers began to tremble and my nose to twitch. On opening night you could hide in the character, during tryouts you were bare and vulnerable. Since there were only five females picked to act, my turn would come soon and often.

Luckily I was last and encouraged by hearing the others misread the pithy, witty lines of Christopher Fry. I did well and got the part I wanted. An auspicious beginning to my chosen career! Now if I could only manage not to fall when I made my first entrance.

The opening productions were two one act plays. In my play there were three characters, two females and a male. Most of the action was the interaction between the two women. Sheri, the other woman, was 21, luscious and totally devoid of any emotion or feeling that did not pertain to sweet-talking, snarling or clawing her way to success. This did not include working hard. Only my theory of solid effort tempered with occasional lunacy kept me from drowning here in cold cream. She frequently interrupted rehearsal to tell the director that, perhaps I (meaning me) should move this way instead of that, or say thus instead of so. During the first dress rehearsal Sheri neither knew her lines nor all of her blocking but outdid Helen Hayes in charm and sweet apology. That was the only time I saw our noble director throw his cool that entire summer. His anger left her in shreds. It took her two days to regain her normal vigor and then she spent the rest of the summer verbally castrating our director. Except to me.

Saturday morning at 6 A.M. George threw stones at my window. He motioned me down and I scrambled into clothes and makeup in seven minutes flat. As I finished, Flora, one of the cooks, bounded in to tell me that George was in the kitchen. She later told me that he pounded on the door demanding to know which room was mine then came back and demanded a cup of coffee.

I found him there, sitting on the sink and both Flora and Dee fighting over his refill. He patted them both on the fanny, grabbed my arm and whisked me out to his Lincoln. Making love early in the morning on a secluded shore is an experience. The only drawback was one vigorous sandcrabs.

Later, after an enormous breakfast, we talked. We drank more coffee and talked. We could have talked non stop for a year. Since I didn’t have to be back at the theater till one (classes didn’t start till Monday) we managed to cram a whole day of sharing into a few hours.

George picked me up at seven Sunday morning and waited for me while I attended Church. We repeated Saturday except that after breakfast we returned to the beach and walked. George brought up a subject that I usually avoided: marriage. He was separated with his wife wanting absolutely everything. I, happily, was not the cause of the Big Split but was the reason George wanted the final decision quickly. He wanted us to marry the day, the hour, that the divorce became final. I agreed but only if it were late Spring or Summer. George questioned this and I said that I couldn’t legally or morally walk out on my school without giving sixty days notice. He said screw the school. I said I would never be able to get another teaching position… and from the way things looked financially, wouldn’t my working be a real asset? Yes he mumbled, yes God-damn it, yes. He had me back at the theater at 12:58.

Wednesday, opening night. Make-up, panic, lights and applause. Just before curtain call I saw George’s car in the parking lot. He drove 300 miles round trip just for my opening. He didn’t come backstage afterward. I was to see him two more times that Summer.

Thursday at five minutes to five every cast member appeared at the drugstore to catch the Review. Some slinked away, some smilingly walked and one strutted. Me. Even my mental reviews weren’t as glowing as the real one. Geraldine Page, move over, you’re about to be usurped.

Three weeks, two plays, and minus six pounds later, I realized that I hadn’t heard from George. Seeing him for more than an hour would have been impossible but he had neither called nor written and I was vaguely disturbed.

The following Wednesday, during the opening night intermission of JOHN BROWN’S BODY, I saw his car in the parking lot with the overhead light on. I waited 30 minutes after curtain call then checked the lot, his car was gone.

I had missed the beach walk with our cooks, Flora and Dee, and Bud, our house manager, but was in time for a couple of “last calls” at the Wayfare Inn. I was happy that the cooks liked me. If they hadn’t I would have had to sleep on the couch any night they felt like locking their door, and consequently, my closet/bedroom.

That night we had the first thunder storm of the summer. Even the brilliant flashes of lightening couldn’t blur the image of his car with the overhead light on. I took the script of the forth-coming play under the covers with me. The rain chilled wind sent love pats through the two blankets and thick bedspread. Adding my robe helped but apparently it was too cold for the fleas on the beach blanket and they migrated to me for warmth. Even when my single window was tightly closed-there was a two inch gap on the right side of the sill. I could hear the rain plopping on the floor until the sky started to lighten.

The last bell for breakfast rang allowing me seven minutes to dress, make-up, and obtain the bathroom. I managed the first two in a record four minutes but it took another five to obtain free access to the toilet. Flora and Dee allowed me to snatch oleoed toast and lukewarm coffee as I raced through the kitchen to the theater. The cooks were limited to $2.00 per person per day but managed to make the other two meals more enticing by holding breakfast to about $0.15 per. Consequently the starches were astronomical, but the meals filling.

I slithered into line three seconds after the class bell and was annihilated by one glance from Miss Stratford, as we had unanimously nicknamed her, our Voice and Diction coach. Punctuality was next to Godliness she had announced on the first day of class and if one could not manage to be Punctual, then one should not attend class at all…etc… all said with her most clipped British consonants.

For one and a half hours we, breathed, gasped, hollared and beat our diaphragms into fuller and richer consonant sounds. At the end of ten weeks, any one of us could have passed the afternoon in a London pub without being recognized as an American. Release came with the 10:30 coffee break. Most of us sneaked a cigarette while either in the coffee line or the mailcall. Between the two, the time was blown.

My most welcome letter was always that grey high school paycheck. After eight years, I was now earning a livable salary. One third went for the car payment, another third into savings and the final one hundred and twenty dollars went to me for two weeks blow money. The cigarettes evaporated and hands surreptitiously failed the smokey air when Miss Stratford cheerily announced Dance Time. That muscle bruising and pounding half hour was only to be dismissed when it rained. Needless to say, other than nighttime storms, the only day it rained all that summer was on a Sunday. As I limped into lunch I spotted a dark, green Lincoln parked on the street. Taxi! Taxi! I shouted as I raced for the back door of the car. George usually enjoyed idiocy, but not this time. Get in front he said. How much time do you have? Since I didn’t have an entrance until second act, I figured I had a good two hours. George stopped the car in front of Ho Jo’s and reappeared five minutes later with a bag of food.

The cool morning had kept the beach deserted. The in-coming tide erased our footprints as rapidly as George’s words blurred our relationship. I wanted desperately to touch him but knew the emotional timing was bad. His words were simple, but clear. He figured his divorce for about six months hence and would I be present that same day to become Mrs. George. I said I didn’t know. George was 42. I was 28. An immediate decision that would so alter my life required more than just vibrant emotions when I saw him or touched him. I did not know.

He kissed me in front of the theater and said goodbye actress. I was on time for my entrance. My uneasiness about that noon walk dispersed when The Hulk called me to sit at his dinner table. He was an English teacher, 40 and single, and I had gently avoided him after hearing, earlier in the season, his opinions on predatory females. I was interested but only for some daily male companionship. He was subtle. “Where were you at lunch?” he said, you missed our noodle sandwiches. I was highly adept at fencing questions. “Out.” I said. We got into an argument about our fourth coming tryouts for T.S. Elliot’s Confidential Clerk. He asked which character I wanted to do and I said the director. The wordy, dry, philosophical comedy would leave the audience yawningly checking the number of acts in their programs. I was right. When the lights came up for the curtain call it was only the stagehand’s applause that caused the parking lot flight to throw a few handclaps at the stage. Maybe it was me that jinxed that play. With comedy being my forte, I shied away from straight dramatics, and naturally ended up as the tragic widow who made her only entrance the last 20 minutes of the play and straightened everybody out as to who was really married to whom and whose son and daughter was legally whose. It confused everybody, including me.

The only fauxpas I made that summer was during CONFIDENTIAL CLERK’S opening night. The review, with largesse, said it was the only really humorous line in the play. At the climax of the crucial revelations, I pointed to a husky, handsome male and said to the Duke, “…and this, sir, is your long lost daughter.” Sherri, the luscious bitch, had a screaming hernia backstage and accused me of ruining the play. Since everyone ignored her and hustled off, I did the same.

Nora and Dee had already left for the Inn, I was in a hurry to join them. As I left the house Bud grabbed my arm and asked me to tell Nora he couldn’t make the Leisure Hour tonight. I turned to go and he detained me. Hey, he said, that Sherri is a real witch. She had to hit you to cover her blowing four lines in the first act. Thanks, I said. That was one of the few generous impulses I had experienced thus far. Nora, Dee and I became slightly maudlin during the third martini. I was treating because they had produced a pretty fair beef stroganoff for dinner. The only drawback was they forgot the mushrooms. Dee explained that their home ec. major had only prepared them to cook for 150 people and our dining hall of 25 had really stumped them the first couple of weeks. That explained the first three nights of ham, ham hash and ham loaf. Nora passionately defended (no one was arguing, or had even mentioned the topic) her choice of degree as a major effort in obtaining a husband and family, in that order, or any other order. I questioned the value of cooking for 150 as opposed to a mini-gourmet class, but apparently the university only was prepared to mass produce institutional cooks.

Bud raced in at the final last call and walked us, Nora, back to the house. As Dee and I went into our rooms she asked if she could borrow my make-up mirror sometime. I said anytime except before a show. She asked if I was allowing Sherri to use the mirror and my make-up because she had been. I discovered the and there where the bitch had been headed when she left dinner early. After Thursday night’s dinner, I gave Sherri a five minute start and caught her in the act. Get out I said. She was a smooth sweet talker but left with the third, “Get out”. Dee entered her room as Sherri was exiting and, having a German sense of vengeance, I immediately offered Dee the use of the mirror, adding

I wouldn’t be using it for another two hours. Three days later Dee revealed that Sherri had just asked her to borrow my mirror and let her use it. Dee was usually a gentle person. She told Sherri to buy her own mirror and then where to put it. By the end of the summer everyone had turned on Sherri, but, unhappily, and she never understood why.

Sunday morning was a rebirth. Having appeared in six straight plays I had pleaded with our Director for a week’s break and ended with the dubious freedom of Props, 7:30 parking attendant and 9:30 concessions. Since collecting props would be finished by Wednesday eve the other duties would be joys in comparison to the backstage tensions.

Dinner was at 1:00 on Sunday and from 3:00 on Dee and Nora had their only break of the week. At 3:04 exactly, we climbed in my car and headed for the ocean. We spent two joyous hours riding the waves and straggled back to dress for Dinner on the Town.

Thompsonse Clam Bar was crowded but we amicably decided to drink the hours wait for a dining table. Being the only three single women in the bar, the call for the table came too soon. We had agreed to accept any and all offers for drinks, but no one was sterling enough to volunteer the dinner. Just as well. We had chowder, lobster and desert that could have strained the most generous wallet.

Part 3, up next!

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1976- Dreams, Jobs & Love

In 1968 Caroline met Mike, who she married the following year, but the years leading up to their marriage and child were quite an adventure and perhaps one of the most eventful periods of her life. Combining her skills as an English teacher with her theatrical ones she created this humorous recount of her first loves, job and opportunity of achieving her dream of being an actress- and how they all tied into each other. She found a way to express her untold feelings and experience to Mike in the form of this amusing and light-hearted story.

June 20, 1976

Open letter to the man I live with: Hi there!

“Oh my God.” I bear you moan, “Another damn fool note.” “But hang in there, I’ve got something to say” I say.

Now if the shower steam has dissipated your wine fumes and if our daughter isn’t destroying the bedroom – it’s entirely too quiet in there – I would like to jot down a few thoughts. Agreed, thinking is not something in which I excel, but let me try.

The Looks. In particular, your Looks.

Not your physical appearance, nothing can help there, but those puzzled, questioning glances you shoot me whenever we’re mixing socially. Although the word, “socially” is too sophisticated for our mutual friends, you know what I mean.

This will be what I tried to explain last Easter when I cornered you in the kitchen and after I bleated and blathered ten minutes, you handed me two aspirins and went to bed. And remember Christmas, when I had you in a hammar-lock under the tree and you thought I wanted to screw?

Hence, back to, “The looks.” Obviously our three year marriage still needs some work in the area of oral communications. Since we excel in the non-verbal, there’s got to be hope for the other! I like to beat that, “mumble…never understood the real me” bar syndrome.

Are you still with me? Then get a pipe and a warm beer and read on. I’ll keep Winnie occupied in the playroom. Remember last week when I cried because Winnie had torn all my summer-stock pictures off the wall? You said good, the tape was yellowing anyway. And while I sorrowfully re-moved the remnants, enshrining them on the top shelf of the closet, you lectured on the newest developments in the Eastern Chardonnay wines??

For an entire week I glumped over those pictures, they weren’t just an era in my life, they were me. Every time I tried to talk about them, you handed me a glass of wine and lectured on it’s body, bouquet, fruitiness, or the lack of same.

The removal of those pictures was like a physical amputation. All I needed was a brief verbal recovery period. I’m being discrete in saying that we have a bit to learn about the other. Carry on, I’d like to introduce you to me. At least to one facet. In the mail with my divorce decree came my acceptance for that same summer stock. The concise description of my dramatic scholarship far over shadowed the legal terms of divorce. I was flying so high that I hardly noticed the sudden chilly

withdrawal of my fellow teachers. Their reaction wasn’t surprising. Remember Julie? She had been in maternity clothes for four months, finally announcing that she was taking a year’s leave in June and the faculty hot line sizzled with the question as to whether or not she was pregnant!

My parents were thrilled. Their Catholicism quaked with embarrassment in saying that their daughter was a, “divorced woman” and now they could counter with the announcement that she was a Success! After all, said my mother, one who is creative and talented certainly can’t be called Normal.

At that time my teaching position had a title: Director of Speech and Drama. I enjoyed the added “class” but would have preferred a larger paycheck. My students were beautiful. I could have lectured on the sex life of Venetian blinds and they would have responded with the same wide-eyed fascination. From then on I was a somebody. Whenever I headed for cafeteria lunch there would be a small contingent, jostling, nudging each other, trying to physically brush me as though I were something contagious and a particle of star dust might land on them. It went straight to my head and I reveled in it. My senior Thespians were ecstatic and presented the graduation, “Senior Skits” with such dramatic excellence that I knew my rumor had paid off.

Unashamedly I admit to having hinted about a talent scout being in the area. You can understand that I wanted to finish with a flair. I was very emotional the last day of school. Both the seniors and I were wandering the halls eyeing the cafeteria,

auditorium and the classrooms for the Last Time. Summer stock would only be a stepping stone to Broadway and the Big Time. I had ten days between the close of school and theater “check-in” on Cape Cod. Do you remember meeting Dorothy at the faculty party last Christmas? I coerced her into going with me and flying home from Boston. She was forty eight at the time and one of the best sports I’ve ever known. George was crazy about her. I’ll get to him in a minute. Dorothy had that happy faculty of laughing frequently and never bruising the air with empty chatter. She was a beautiful person to be with, and there was never a question of saying or doing the right thing. One of the few times I saw her frown was at a waitress giving us a snow job.

And then there was George. I believe I mentioned him during our per-nuptial discussion of past loves, but just in passing. He only played a minor lead in my life that summer but was the major reason I was on the Cape. The previous summer, just after I had separated, I landed both a waitress job in Falmouth and George. He was in the same situation as I, but perhaps his being 42 kept him a little more together. He thoroughly convinced me that I was not over-the-hill at 28 and that I was quite attractive bait for other fish, namely himself. He was the only lover I ever had until I met you.

Dorothy and I arranged our travel time so that we could lunch with George the second day. The Red Lion in Lee, Massachusetts will never be the same. Due to my eager anticipation, we arrived 45 minutes early and had just started our drinks when George arrived at the dining room door. Gabby he hollered and with arms outstretched raced across the room to hug Dorothy. Dorothy he yelled and swung me in the air, then feinting heart strain from the effort, had the maitre’d assist him to his chair. I’ve forgotten what, or even if, we ate but remember using all my tissues to wipe my running mascara. Afterward we sat in the lounge and plotted our agenda for the week. George was busy now but would meet us in Chatham the following weekend. Dorothy and I planned to spend several days in Boston and then to Provincetown, arriving in Chatham on Friday.

You’re probably beginning to wonder what the hell is the point of all this. There is one and I’ll get to it. By now your hangover should be fully dissipated so go open that ’67 Cabernet you were saving for my birthday. That’s how important this is to me.

To be continued…

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Cuba Redo

Cuba part 3- 2hours

I added this third, “redo” of Cuba- mainly because I could not stand to hear the offensive words of President Trump. This relatively poor country of Cuba was interesting and full of friendly people. And it has to be seen!

Rhode Scholars Group did just that for us, they’re one of the few groups with permission to give tours of the country.

On the eve of the Revolution Cuba was a semideveloped country with more millionaires than anywhere else South of Texas and an urban workforce that had achieved, “the eight-hour work day, double pay for overtime, one months paid vacation, nine days sick leave and the right to strike. On the other hand a 1950’s World bank study found that 40% of urban dwellers and 60% of rural dwellers were undernourished and 40% of Cubans had never gone to school and only 60% held fulltime jobs. The Revolution improved the lives of millions while destroying the middle and upper class. Today the country is still in rough shape and many people rely on the, “Libreta” program which allots a monthly supply of food (actually more like 10 days worth, if even available.) If given the opportunity to integrate back into the world the country could be a developed and prosperous nation. They would of course have to allow for a successful working and business class to emerge again though.

This large and beautiful hotel was the first place we arrived and the last place we stayed. Allowing us to meet and share insight with other travelers.

The room was shared for the three days and it was lovely and allowed us to see the coming and going of the hotel.

The backside was magnificent. You could see the indoor and outdoor patios, the small restaurant, and the pathway headed all the way down to the sea side. 

We stayed at a hotel overlooking the plaza (top/ left) of the city hall building in Cienfuegos.” I inquired about a place to eat and drink and they pointed me to the top floor. When we got up there we were greeted by live music, commotion, and conversation. It felt like a true experience of the culture and social life of the country. It was wonderful!

Their cemetery was beautiful, as you can see in the middle picture.

Part of our tour took us to the countryside to see both the beautiful tropic nature and the lifestyle of the farmers. Of course there were many splendid giant trees that twisted and curled like vines and flowing waterfalls.

Speaking of the farm workers, in one of the art exhibitions we toured there were magnificent wood carvings representing the common people of the countryside. They are very accurate in portraying the appearance and hard work ethic of the people there.

By one of the schools we toured we met some young men making these beautiful hand-crafted cards. They were $8 and, to the protest of other group members, I slipped him an extra $20. The average daily wage is $6 for the entire day!

I also got these postcards of a city drawing done by an art student.

Walking the streets you could see a mix of renovated and restored buildings in the more commercial areas, but as you got father into the back streets the buildings and infrastructure become increasingly dated.

The other prominent and unforgettable feature of the island are the classic cars. After the US put an embargo on Cuba no new American products, including cars and car parts, could be brought into the country. Paving the way for the iconic and never changing classic 1950’s style cars that the island is so well know for. Having to fabricate and maintain their own parts has lead to a very close-knit and knowledgeable car community. 

Cuba was a splendid place to travel. And one day if allowed to go on ones own will and explore the different corners of the nation there are probably some true gems to be found. Many of the beaches and areas were off limits to foreigners. It was also frowned upon to take pictures of people or give them money. I am unsure of why this is so, perhaps the government doesn’t want the extent of poverty to be known or for it’s people to grow too cozy with generous Americans. Either way I managed to do all three and make it out alive!

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Off the Beaten Path

At the conclusion of our Albanian trip, 3 days in Durresi on the Adriatic Sea were needed to unwind. Off season rates were” in season” and we got a top floor suite with a big balcony overlooking the sea.

Hotel Adriatik, Albania

Our view from the balcony overlooked the Beach walk and all the people enjoying it as we would shortly be when heading along the walk to find dinner.

Beach Walk

For the 3 days we were there,  around 6 PM, entire families,  would appear entering the park , purchase ice cream, popcorn or drinks and jovially continue walking the shore.

Our Concierge said that these were mostly poor people who rented small apartments in the older section and had no televisions.  (My feeling was they had something much better.)

While there we visited the Roman 2nd century Amphitheatre  and other sites including one of the  15th century fortifying  Towers the Venetians built….and now converted into a wonderful bar,  and, naturally sampled their wine.

Shipping port, Durres, Albania

Ships have anchored in this harbor since the 7th century BC. And eventually it grew into a vital staging port.

This is the site for our Ferry departure and thank God for the marvelous taxi driver or we would have missed it entirely.He had to park the taxi and help us with luggage for a half mile, then through passport clearance  and boarding. I know Mike tipped him well because he grinned and said “When are you coming back?”

Our cabin was small, 2 double decker beds (good, needed one for luggage), small bath with a shower over the sink(?)—but a large porthole.  Dinner offered in the Cafeteria from 8 to 10 and it was excellent. I took my coffee out to the top deck and noticed  2 ships paralleling I asked a deck hand and he said “We travel in trios because of potential hijacking.”

I went to the bar for another glass of wine.

Arriving at Bari

You see the last trucks exiting while 80+ people are lined up inside the left doorway… having been breathing the toxic fumes for an hour and being told to wait there. (If they ever want to get our money again: PEOPLE exit first!)

Picked up rental car hereHad to walk from the port to pick up our rental here. No problem, Mike carried the heavy stuff and I just sneezed and sneezed and….

Restourant at Montefalco

Stopped for lunch at a small village.  Food looked good but I couldn’t taste it….but the fresh air  was  delicious. Now on our way to see some of the 300 year old “Troulli  Houses”.

Trulli Houses

These were located in the middle of a narrow street in the village. Most of the owners advertised their shops on the outside to take advantage of tourism….but you had to drive a block to find a parking space. And we did!

alberobello_h1

Looks like a Hobbit Village!

Farmers originally built these Troulli  houses because they were inexpensive, expandable and moveable. They’re made of concentric stone rings and stone floors. The roof pinnacle  locks the last layer in place, double walled filled with rubble for insulation, and water drainage from the roof to a cistern below.  The originals were one large and one small room.

We found  one “For Sale” as we drove out of the village and stopped. The front door was open and we were fascinated by its simplicity!

We continued to Montefalco, not from road signs–nonexistent–but we saw it at the top of the hill.

Montefalco

The name means, “Falcon’s Mount”, not for the bird, but because of its sweeping views and lofty position. In the 13th century, with many warring tribes abounding, the height of the city was extremely  important.

Around Villa

 

There was a sign for the, “Villa San Luca” and the single lane took us to the front of the Villa. This building,  16th century, was everything you expected: classically formal dining room, a large friendly bar/patio with an excellent view.

 

Hotel Villa San Luca, Montefalco

This view from our balcony overlooked the surrounding mountains, vineyards and a large pool which had closed 2 weeks earlier…sigh…but it was October!

Panoramic_view_of_Assisi

It was Sunday  and I wanted to attend Mass at the Assisi Basilica di San Francisco and the 1228 burial site. There was no room left in the larger upper church so we squeezed in to the lower church (13 century) which was to accommodate the growing number of Pilgrims who came to honor St. Francis of Assisi.

The Lower level Church

A lovely ceremony but a little overwhelming with the smells of vino and garlic. Communion was a tussle with some rotund women pushing and pummeling to be first. When 2 of them “sandwiched”  me, I just stopped and said  “Appre’ vous  Madame”…loudly—then they backed off.

Afterward  we had coffee and toured this wonderful site. There was a local winery nearby and, of course, we had to taste their wares. Mike and the owner needed no translation for the “international” wine discussion while I got into the tasting and loved the Trebbiano Spoletino.

Since our formal dinner last night at the Villa, we wanted to find a local restaurant in the nearby village  of Montefalco. Our hostess gave us parking directions to the top of the hill, stopping outside the town, and walking through the main entrance. We understood her directions after seeing the single lane street.

Glad it hadn’t rained:  wet cobble stones are hazardous! The setting sun was reflecting  on the surrounding mountains and we watched till it dipped.

Cobblestoned streets

The Frederico II ‘s specialty that night was “wild boar” and I can’t think about it without drooling.

federico-ii

That was a trip (and a meal) to remember!

9/3/2015

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Living in the Raw

Mike is doing a, “happy dance” visiting Fangoria Winery. You can see (on his right knee) where he actually knelt to see and smell (not kiss) the vines.

This young vineyard manager took us up and down the rows of vines explaining what they were doing (most vital in the US) in their way of irrigation- which is none.

Their water comes from the mountains and the rivers.

The vineyards swoop down to the Black Sea Below. With occasional rain coming from the mountains.

Finally I got them to move along by screaming, “I am freezing!”

I chose this primer sparkling wine house again because the view of the highs and the lows and how they supplement the growing grapes. The local stone dates to the winery founding in 1860.

Our next winery was Karakezidi Wine Making House. And what is particularly unusual for this winery and farm is that it is all totally organic.

Yanis’s wine cellar.

This is the hospitality room where Yanis brought us to sample some of his wine. It is also his, “hospitality” room and includes the following options: music, dining, wine tasting, and much more. Yanis is center, Mike is on the right and Charles Gordon left. The man who wrote the book, “The Russian Wine Country- Sleeping Beauty Awakens” and that is what brought us here.

He played several instruments while we ate lunch, everything grown organically on the farm of course. Then with the wine he sang beautifully. A warm and friendly man who wanted to hug us as we left, but being about a foot shorter than I, I kept it reasonable by putting my cane between us.

 

Yanis dispersing wisdom which he loves to do and… does it well. Look around the inside of his house. And now we are going to go outside and look at his house- built by his and his family’s hands.

 

If you notice the swimming pool you wouldn’t want to jump into it because it would be colder than the Devil.

Further down you will find a very luxurious garden built by Yanis and supplied with plenty of fertilization from the animals: goats and chickens he has roaming around at all times.

We thoroughly enjoyed Yanis’s rural and organic lifestyle- most especially his wines and to top all this off the excellent organic meal and hospitality he provided.

2/24/2018

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Zero Hour Part 2

The Aliens are coming! The Aliens are coming!

This probably would have been the title to my essay in my response to Caroline’s Martian piece. She told me she had given this as an assignment when she was teaching and it was the students job to either write their thoughts on it or continue their own story. So I will do both. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and it reminded me why Caroline was an English and Theatre teacher. I could just as well see this being turned into a short play. Out of the many English assignments I had in my schooling I can’t remember one that would be this fun! My continuation is at the bottom of part two, be sure to read part one found below before reading this..

Part 2

I didn’t mean to,” said Mom. “Drill‘s a Martian?”

“No. He’s—~well—-maybe from Jupiter or Saturn or Venus. Anyway, he’s had a hard time.”

“I imagine.” Mrs. Morris hid her mouth behind her hand.

“They couldn’t figure a way to attack Earth.”

“We’re impregnable,” said Mom in mock seriousness.

“That’s the word Drill used! Impreg-—- That was the word, Mom.”

“My, my, Drill’s a brilliant little boy. Two-bit words.”

“They couldn’t figure a way to attack, Mom. Drill says–he says in order to make a good fight you got to have a new way of surprising people. That way you win. And he says also you got to have help from your enemy.”

“A fifth column,” said Mom.

“Yeah. That‘s what Drill said. And they couldn’t figure a way to surprise Earth or get help.”

“No wonder. We’re pretty darn strong,” Mom laughed, cleaning up. Mink sat there, staring at the table, seeing what she was talking about.

“Until, one day,” shispered Mink melodramatically, “they thought of children!”

“Well’.” said Mrs. Morris brightly.

”And they thought of how grownups are so busy they never look under rose-bushes or on lawns.”

“Only for snails and fungus.”

“And then there’s something about dim-dims.”

“Dim-dims?”

Dimens-shuns.”

“Dimensions.”

“Four of ’em And there’s something about kids under nine and imagination. It’s real funny to hear Drill talk.”

Mrs. Morris was tired. “Well, it must be funny. You’re keeping Drill waiting now. It’s getting late in the day and, if you want to have your Invasion before your supper bath, you’d better jump.“

“Do I have to take a bath?” growled Mink.

“You do. Why is it children hate water? No matter what age you live in children hate water behind the ears’.”

“Drill says I won’t have to take baths,” said Mink.

“0h, he does, does he?”

“He told all the kids that. No more baths. And we can stay up till ten o‘clock and go to two televisor shows on Saturday ‘stead of one!”

Page 4

“Well, Mr. Drill better mind his p’s and q‘s. I’ll call up his mother and —-“

Mink went to the door. “We’re having trouble with guys like Pete Britz and Dale Jerrick. They’re growing up. They make fun. They’re worse than parents. They just won’t believe in Drill. They’re so snooty, ‘cause they’re growing up. You’d think they’d know better. They were little only a couple years ago. I hate them worst. We’ll kill them first.”

“Your father and I last?”

“Drill says you’re dangerous. Know why? ‘Cause you don’t believe in Martians! They’re going to let us run the world. Well, not just us, but the kids over in the next block, too. I might be queen.” She opened the door.

“mm?”

“Yes ‘2”

“What’s lodge—ick?”

“Logic? Why, dear, logic is knowing what things are true and not true.”

“He mentioned that,” said Mink. “And what’s im—pression-able?” It took her a minute to say it.

“Why, it means—” Her mother looked at the floor, laughing gently. “It means—-to be a child, dear.”

“Thanks for lunch!” Mink ran out, then stuck her head back in. “Mom, I’ll be sure you won’t be hurt much, really!”

“Well, thanks,” said an.

Slam went the door.

At four o’clock the audi-visor buzzed. Mrs. Morris flipped the tab. “Hello,

Helen!” she said in welcome.

“Hello, Mary. How are things in New York?”

“Fine. How are things in Scranton? You look tired.”

“So do you. The children. Underfoot,” said Helen.

Mrs. Morris signed. “My Mink too. The super-Invasion.”

Helen laughed. “Are your kids playing that game too?”

“Lord, yes. Tomorrow it’ll be geometrical jacks and motorized hopscotch. Were we this bad when we were kids in ’48?”

“Worse. Japs and Nazis. Don’t know how my parents put up with me. Tomboy.”

“Parents learn to shut their ears.”

A silence.

“What’s wrong, Mary?” asked Helen.

Mrs. Morris’s eyes were half closed; her tongue slid slowly, thoughtfully, over her lower lip. “Eh?” She jerked. “0h, nothing. Just thought about that. Shutting ears and such. Never mind. Where were we?”

“My boy Tim’s got a crush on some guy named–Drill, I think it was.”

“Must be a new password. Mink likes him too.”

“Didn’t know it had got as far as New York. Word of mouth, I imagine. Looks like a scrap drive. I talked to Josephine and she said her kids- that’s in Boston–are wild on this new game. It’s sweeping the country.”

At this moment Mink trotted into the kitchen to gulp a glass of water.

Mrs. Morris turned. “How’re things going?”

“Almost finished,” said Mink.

“Swell,” said Mrs. Morris. “What’s that?”

“A yo-yo,” said Mink. “Watch.”

She flung the yo-yo down its string. Reaching the end it– It vanished.

“See?” said Mink. “Opel” nibbling her finger, she made the yo-yo reappear and zip up the string.

“Do that again,” said her mother.

“Can’t. Zero hour’s five o’clock: ‘By.” Mink exited, zipping her yo-yo.

On the audio-visor, Helen laughed. “Tim brought one of those yo-yos in this morning, but when I got curious he said he wouldn’t show it to me, and when I tried to work it, finally, it wouldn’t work.”

Page 5

“You’re not impressionable,” said Mrs. Morris.

“What?”

“Never mind. Something I thought of. Can I help you, Helen?“

“I wanted to get that black-and-white cake recipe–—”

The hour drowsed by. The day waned. The sun lowered in the peaceful blue sky. Shadows lengthened on the green lawns. The laughter and excitement continued. One little girl ran away, crying. Mrs. Morris came out the front door.

“Mink, was that Peggy Ann crying?”

Mink was bent over in the yard, near the rosebush. ”Yeah. She’s a screbaby. We won’t let her play, now. She’s getting too old to play. I guess she grew up all of a sudden.”

“Is that why she cried? Nonsense. Give me a civil answer, young lady, or inside you comet.”

Mink whirled in consternation, mixed with irritation. “I can’t quit now. It’s almost time. I’ll be goo. I’m sorry.”

“Did you hit Peggy Ann?“

“No, honest. You ask her. It was something—-we1ll, she’s just a scaredy pants.”

The ring of children drew in around Mink where she scowled at her work with spoons and a kind of square- shaped arrangement of hammers and pipes. “There and there,” murmured. Mink.

“What’s wrong?” said Mrs. Morris.

“Drill’s stuck. Halfway. If we could only get him all the way through, it’s be easier. Then all the others could come through after him.”

“Can I help?”

“No’m, thanks. I’ll fix it.”

“All right. I’ll call you for your bath in half an hour. I’m tired of watching you.”

She went in and sat in the electric relaxing chair, sipping a little beer from a half-empty glass. The chair massaged her back. Children, children. Children and love and hate, side by side. Sometimes children loved you, hated you–all in half a second. Strange children, did they ever forget or forgive the whippings and the harsh, strict words of command? She wondered. How can you ever forget or forgive those over and above you, those tall and silly dictators?

Time passed. A curious, waiting silence came upon the street, deepening.

Five o’clock. A clock sang softly somewhere in the house in a quiet, musical voice: “Five o’clock-—five o’clock. Time’s a-wasting. Five o’clock,” and purred away into silence.

Zero hour.

Mrs. Morris chuckled in her throat. Zero hour.

A beetle car hummed into the driveway. Mr. Morris. Mrs. Morris smiled. Mr. Morris got out of the beetle, locked it, and called hello to Mink at her work. Mink ignored him. He laughed and stood for a moment watching the children. Then he walked up the front steps.

“Hello, darling.”

“Hello, Henry.”

She strained forward on the edge of the chair, listening. The children were

silent. Too silent. .

Page 6

He emptied his pipe, refilled it. “Swell day. Makes you glad to be alive.”

Buzz.

“What’s that?” asked Henry.

“I don’t know.” She got up suddenly, her eyes widening. She was going to say something. She stopped it. Ridiculous. Her nerves jumped. “Those children haven’t anything dangerous out there, have they?” she said.

“Nothing but pipes and hammers. Why?”

“Nothing electrical?”

“Heck, no,” said Henry. “I looked.”

She walked to the kitchen. The buzzing continued. “Just the same, you’d better go tell them to quit. It’s after five. Tell them—” Her eyes widened and narrowed. “Tell them to put off their Invasion until tomorrow.” She laughed, nervously.

The buzzing grew louder.

“What are they up to? I’d better go look, all right.”

The explosion!

The house shook with dull sound. There were other explosions in other yards on other streets.

involuntarily, Mrs. Morris screamed. “Up this way!” she cried senselessly, knowing no sense, no reason. Perhaps she saw something from the corners of her eyes; perhaps she smelled a new odor or heard a new noise. There was no time to argue with Henry to convince him. Let him think her insane. Yes, insane! Shrieking, she ran upstairs. He ran after her to see what she was up to. “In the attic!” she screamed. “That’s where it is!” It was only ‘a poor excuse to get him in the attic in time. Oh God, just in time.

Another explosion outside. The children screamed with delight, as if at a great fireworks display.

“It’s not in the attic!” cried Henry. ”It‘s outside!”

“No, no!” Wheezing, gasping, she fumbled at the attic door. “I’ll show you. Hurry! I‘ll show you!“

They tumbled into the attic. She slammed the door, locked it, took the key, threw it into a far, cluttered corner. She was babbling wild stuff now. It came out of her. All the subconscious suspicion and fear that had gathered secretly all afternoon and fermented like a wine in her. All the little revelations and knowledges and sense that had bothered her all day and which she had logically and carefully and sensibly rejected and censored. Now it exploded in her and shook her to bits.

”There, there,” she said, sobbing against the door. “We’re safe until tonight.

Maybe we can sneak out. Maybe we can escape!”

Henry blew up too, but for another reason. ”Are you crazy? Why’d you throw

that key away? Damn it, honey!”

“Yes, yes, I’m crazy , if it helps, but stay here with me!”

“I don’t know how in hell I can get out!”

“Quiet. They’ll hear us. Oh, God, they’ll find us soon enough—“

Below them, Mink’s voice. The husband stopped. There was a great universal humming and sizzling, a screaming and giggling. Downstairs the audio—televisor buzzed and buzzed insistently, alarmingly, violently. Is that Helen calling? thought Mrs. Morris. And is she calling about what I think she’s callin about?

Footsteps came into the house. Heavy footsteps.

“Who’s coming in my house?” demanded Henry angrily. “Who’s tramping around

down there?”

Page 7

Heavy feet. Twenty, thirty, forty, fifty of them. Fifty persons crowding into the house. The humming. The giggling of the children. “This way!” cried

Mink, below.

“Who’s downstairs?” roared Henry. ”Who’s there!”

“Hush. Oh, nonononononoi” said his wife weakly, holding him. “Please, be

quiet. They might go away.”

“Mom?” called Mink. “Dad?“ A pause. ”Where are you?”

Heavy footsteps, heavy, heavy, very heavy footsteps, came up the stairs.

Mink leading them.

“Mom?” A hesitation. “Dad?” A waiting, a silence.

Humming, Footsteps toward the attic. Mink’s first.

They trembled together in silence in the attic, Mr. and Mrs. Morris. For some reason the electric humming, the queer cold light suddenly visible under the door crack, the strange odor and the alien sound of eagerness in Mink’s voice finally got through to Henry Morris too. He stood, shivering, in the dark silence, his wife beside him.

“Mom! Dad!”

Footsteps. A little humming sound. The attic lock melted. The door opened.

Mink peered inside, tall blue shadows behind her.

”Peekaboo,” said Mink.

END

Multi dimensional figures entered the attic. Their radiant white-blue light held the silhouette of a human body, but there was a constant pulsing an churning of energetic waves; twisting and binding, breaking into new links and waves of energy only to collapse among themselves and then begin anew to surge with dynamic life and movement. All this held within what appeared to be a body like visage of a human being.

The Martian spoke to the frightened and huddled parents.

“We have been monitoring your species from afar in what we could best describe to you primitive third-dimensional beings as a multi faceted observatory prism. You see, this dimension is only one of many, in fact, of an infinite.

Another Martian interjected and continued the lecture,

“A compounding and infinite helix of dimensions stemming and extending from one another while also retracting an condensing back into Itself. After your species discovered the splitting of atoms and thus the atomic bomb, you created a major disruption in the cosmic forces. Now while I can explain this next part to you I cannot comprehend it to you.”

At this point Mink, who had been standing in the background, slid back down the ladder making her escape. The Martian continued,

“In short, Quantum physics states that it is possible for an atom to be present in two different locations at one time, defying your concept of time and space. BUT this is an absolute truth and when your species split their first atom here, you also split it in another dimension, reeking just as much havoc and destruction as you did with it here. Only in one of the other universes you destroyed an entirety of a people. A people who had evolved not just to your simplistic 3 dimensions but 64! This level of consciousness cannot even be comprehended by your pathetic minds. The breadth and scope of their Self-realization was some of the highest in the cosmic hierarchy. And you ants destroyed them! That is why we have come to eliminate all of you who are corrupt and culprit to this atrocity.”

“WHAa!.. Whaah how-how-ow do we know if we are worthy to be spared?” Gasped the mother.

And with that the alien reached both its arms toward the parents faces, extended a finger and said,

“With one touch between your eyes slightly above the brow in the center of the forehead a great light and energy will surge through your beings, electrifying them with the knowledge of the universe, of creation and destruction, of good and evil, light and dark, the manifest and the umaninfest, of existence in and of itself to the absolute purest form knowable. To knowledge itself. To God. And upon realizing your Primal Nature you will no longer be able to exist as such and will vanish from your place.”

Just then a loud mechanical sucking-sound filled the room. It was Mink with a hand-held vacuum and a hose attachment. She reached the head towards the Martians and their liquid like bodies began to be sucked into the tube like loose dust. If there was one place no life could live, it was a vacuum.

Written by Caroline Botwin and Kevin Klimczak. Author & Web Editor.

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Zero Hour

Oh, I was to be so jolly! What a game! Such excitement they hadn’t known in years. The children catapulted this way and that across the green lawns, shouting at each other, holding hands, flying in circles, climbing trees, laughing. Overhead the rockets flew, and beetle cars whispered by on the streets, but the children played on. Such fun, such tremulous joy, such tumbling and hearty screaming.

               Mink ran into the house, all dirt and sweat. For her seven years she was loud and strong and defiant. Her mother, Mrs. Morris, hardly saw her as she yanked out drawers and rattled pans and tools into a large sack.

“Heavens, Mink, what’s going on?”

“The most exciting game ever!” gasped Kink, pink-faced.

“Stop and get your breath,” said the mother.

“No, I’m all right,” gasped Mink. ”Okay I take these things, Mom?”

“But don’t dent them,” said Mrs. Morris.

“Thank you, thank you!” cried Mink, and (boom) she was gone, like a rocket.

Mrs. Morris surveyed the fleeing tot. “What’s the name of the game?”

“Invasion!” said Mink. The door slammed.

In every yard on the street children brought out knives and forks and pokers and old stovepipes and can openers.

               It was an interesting fact that this fury and bustle occurred only among the younger children. The older ones, those ten years and more, disdained the affair and marched scornfully off on hikes or played a more dignified version of hide-and-seek on their own.

               Meanwhile, parents came and went in chromium beetles. Repairmen came to repair the vacuum elevators in houses, to fix fluttering television sets or hammer upon stubborn food-delivery tubes. The adult civilization passed and repassed the busy youngsters, jealous of the fierce energy of the wild tots, tolerantly amused at their flourishing, longing to join in themselves.

“This and this and this,” said Mink, instructing the others with their assorted spoons and wrenches, “Do that, and bring that over here. No! Here, Ninny! Right. Now, get back while I fix this.” Tongue in teeth, face wrinkled in thought. “Like that. See?”

“Yayyyy!” shouted the kids.

Twelve-year-old Joseph Connors ran up.

“Go away,” said Mink straight at him.

“I wanna play,” said Joseph.

“Can’t!” said Mink.

“Why not?“

“You’d just make fun of us.”

“Honest, I wouldn’t.”

“No. We know you. Go away or we’ll kick you.”

Another twelve-year-old boy whirred by on little motor skates. “Hey, Joe! Come on, Let them Sissies play!”

Joseph showed reluctance and a certain wistfulness. “I want to play,” he said. “You’re old,” said Mink firmly.

“You‘d only laugh and spoil the Invasion.”

Page 2

The boy on the motor skates made a rude lip noise. “Come on Joe, them and their fairies Nuts!” Joseph walked off slowly. He kept looking back, all down the block. Mink was already busy again. She made a kind of apparatus with her gathered equipment. She had appointed another little girl with a pad and pencil to take down notes in painful slow scribbles. Their voices rose and fell in the warm sunlight.

All around them the city bummed. The streets were lined with good green and peaceful trees. Only the wind made a conflict across the city, across the country, across the continent. In a thousand other cities there were trees and children and avenues, businessmen in their quiet offices taping their voices or watching televisors. Rockets hovered like darning needles in the blue sky. There was the universal, quiet conceit and easiness of men accustomed to peace, quite certain there would never be trouble again. Arm in arm, men all over earth were a united front. The perfect weapons were held in equal trust by all nations. A situation of incredibly beautiful balance had been brought about. There were no traitors among men, no unhappy ones, no disgruntled ones; therefore the world was based upon a stable ground. Sunlight illumined half the world and the trees drew in a tide of warm air.

Mink’s mother, from her upstairs window, gazed down. The children. She looked upon them and shook her head. Well, they’d eat well, sleep well, and be in school on Monday. Bless their vigorous little bodies. She listened. Mink talked earnestly to someone near the rose bush—-though there was no one there.

These odd children. And the little girl, what was her name? Anna? Anna took notes on a pad. First, Mink asked the rose bush a question, then called the answer to Anna.

“Triangle,” said Mink.

“What’s a tri,” said Anna with difficulty, “angle?”

“Never mind,“ said Mink.

“How you Spell it?“ asked Anna.

“T-r-i—“ spelled Mink slowly, than snapped, “Oh, spell it yourself!” she went on to other words. “Beam,” she said.

“I haven’t got tri,” said Anna, “angle down yet.”

“Well, hurry, hurry!” cried Mink.

Mink’s mother leaned out the upstairs window. “A-n-g-l—e,“ she spelled down at Anna.

“Oh, thanks, Mrs. Morris,” said Anna.

“Certainly,” said Mink’s mother and withdrew, laughing, to dust the hall with an electro-duster magnet.

The voices wavered on the shimmery air. “Beam,” said Anna. Fading.

“Four-nine-seven-A-and-B-and-X,” said Mink, far away, seriously. “And a fork and a string and a–hex-hex-agony–hexagonal”

At lunch Mink ,gulped milk at one toss and was at the door. Her mother slapped the table.

“You sit right back down,” commanded Mrs. Morris. “Hot soup in a minute.” She poked a red button on the kitchen butler, and ten seconds later something landed with a bump in the rubber receiver. Mrs. Morris opened it, took out a can with a pair of aluminum holders, unsealed it with a flick, and poured hot soup into a bowl.

Page 3

During all this Mink fidgeted. “Hurry, Mom! This is a matter of life and death! Aw—“

“I was the same way at your age. Always life and death. I know.”

Mink banged away at the soup.

“Slow down,” said Mom.

“Can’t,” said Mink. “Drill’s waiting for me.”

“Who’s Drill? What a peculiar name,” said Mom.

“You don’t know him,” said Mink.

“A new boy in the neighborhood?” asked Mom.

“He’s new all right,” said Mink. She started on her second bowl.

“Which one is Drill?” asked Mom.

“He’s around,” said Mink evasively. ”You’ll make fun. Everybody pokes fun. Gee, darn.”

“Is Drill shy?”

“Yes. No. In a way. Gosh, Mom, I got to run if we want to have the Invasion!”

“Who’s invading what?”

“Martians invading Earth. Well, not exactly Martians. They’re–I don’t know. From up.” She pointed with her speed.

“And inside,” said Mom, touching Mink’s feverish brow.

Mink rebelled. “You’re laughing! You‘ll kill Drill and everybody.”

 “I didn’t mean to,” said Mom. “Drill‘s a Martian?”

Part 2 of the story coming next week.

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Cuba: Part 2

Of course how could one go to Cuba without seeing monuments and tributes to Che Guevarra, the famous liberator of the country. Whether his liberation was a good or bad thing is open to interpretation. This mural was on the side of a hotel in the Revolutionary Plaza, not one we stayed at though. Castro used to give hour long lectures in this plaza. Interesting note on Castro, he did not like this image used on building and murals and while you would see his picture often you would not see monuments to him. I would have been curious to hear what the locals opinion of him was. I assume mostly positive, but I suppose it depends on who I’d ask.

At one point in our journey my belt broke so Mike and I took to the streets of Cienfuego to find a new one. We found a friendly old man at a vendor booth who sold me a lovely leather belt, for $4… I think we should have take advantage of the economy and done a little more shopping.

This gorgeous Cathedral and plaza was located next to one of our hotels (back left). It’s a classic example of Spanish colonial style architecture. The cobble stone is made of a soft coral stone that is beginning to erode after nearly 400 years of use. The interior was beautiful but we really only got to stand in the doorway as it cost extra money to tour the whole thing. During the Communist rule the Catholics were allowed to practice, but to a very limited extent.

We had an opportunity to eat on the top level of the hotel that overlooked the back of the church. It was beautiful and I wish we had got a picture from that perspective. But we did mange to get a picture of an alley way in the old town district of Havana.

Speaking of beautiful design, many of the statues of Angles and other figures around town were exquisite. These were in the cemetery in Havana and I took a moment to stand in awe and admiration at them.

Another magnificent structure in the cemetery.

This massive fort was right across from one of the hotels we stayed at in Havana at the harbor entrance. It was fortified as with most major cities in case of an attack.

After the embargo placed on Cuba in the 1950’s no new cars were imported. They had to maintain what they had, which included fabricating their own replacement parts. These cars were in exceptional condition and found only with in the towns or cities, once you started leaving the urban area more donkey and carts appeared.

The Nacional Hotel of Havana was built in the 1930’s and is the largest and nicest hotel in Cuba. We stayed on the 4th floor and overlooked the plaza where we could people watch and see performances in the plaza.

A beautiful luxury hotel, the lobby was marvelous and large. Food could be eaten inside or out and if it’s raining you eat in.

There was a dance performance near the hotel that we got to see. A nice experience of of local art, both music and dance.

I made an appearance in this picture from a museum we visited and especially enjoyed the picture of the old man farmer who I liked so much that I brought a original picture home. He was a good representation of the common man found among the country. We really enjoyed the trip and hope that in time more of the country will open up and the tourist and explore further.

(People told us that there was no tipping allowed but you know how that goes when you have good people doing wondrous things.)

We got many of these pictures from a fellow tour group member and artist, Mike. This is a link to his video slide show of pictures accompanied by music.

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Cuba: Part 1

This was our first glance at the city of Havana under the auspicious watch of the tour group. We planned to tour the cities of Havana, CienFuego and Trinidad. We landed in an airport and were then shuttled to a hotel. Driving through the streets one could really see how old and isolated this country has been.

Almost all the cars were old, but they had painted them and used them as cabs. Our first meal was brought by and enjoyed with local fisherman. Their boats sat out on the sea while they dinned with us on the shore and regaled us with stories of their lives. About how they only saw their wives and families three times a year. Of life on the sea and how they enjoyed their beer.

The fishermen were one of the most interesting experiences of our trip. We got to interact with some of the locals, most of whom spoke English so we got a feel for the community. They were jovial and laughed a lot. We met this group in a small town on the outskirts of Havana, it was a very homey and wonderful experience.

We enjoyed seeing the classic buildings and colors of this culture. We learned they have to repaint them every year because of the harsh weather of both moisture and salt, and extreme heat.

The town had musician street preforms, this guitarist played classic Cuban music and had a container next to him for tips, hoping that there would be enough there for dinner that night. The average person lived off of $6 a day here.

This was a glimpse into mostly Havana, more to come!..

Special thanks to Mike and Carol who took most of the photos and made them into a video:

“Hi There, 

         Visiting Cuba was very eye-opening for me. I’ve gained a whole new understanding and deep appreciation of Cuba and it’s people.  

         I put some snapshots together of our trip to Cuba last month. The pictures are basically in chronological order and put to music from local musicians that we visited. I don’t know what the lyrics are saying but I like the music.

I hope you enjoy the slide show.”

Here is a link to the video: https://youtu.be/MUP8jd2Kr6Q

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