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Ectopic Pregnancy by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Illness

/ Stories

I began a new job in May, 1981. I had interviewed for it for quite some time, (Walt at MDS), and had to convince two hardcore male chauvinists that I was the right person for the job, though my immediate supervisor was enthusiastic about hiring me. The two older men hired a man my age…
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Necessary Chore by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Laundry

/ Stories

As with cooking, I did not learn to do laundry from my mother. She had household help for much of her life. I learned to iron (a task she NEVER learned) in the costume shop at camp in 1967. That was useful. We had a service that washed the sheets, but we had to make…
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Jason Warner by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Dangerous Deeds

/ Stories

Let me begin by saying that I have not widely shared this story; perhaps I’ve told a handful of people, total, in my entire life. So it is with more than a little trepidation that I share this here, but it fits the prompt perfectly. I thought long and hard before I chose to write…
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Soul Sister by
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(353 Stories)

/ Stories

I used to joke that I had motor oil running through my veins. Thanks to my great uncle: Uncle Meyer, as I’ve written about before, most of the Sarasons came north from St. Louis to Detroit to work for GM (my father worked in Flint for the Chevrolet Division starting in 1937, but after WWII, did…
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He’s Got His Number by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Imagined Lives

/ Stories

We were recently on a deluxe cruise around Italy and Croatia with some well-heeled travelers on a beautiful ship, 600 passengers in all. We certainly didn’t meet most of them, so could make up stories about the lives of people we only saw in passing. Several evenings we had to wear formal attire. On almost…
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Nazis in Chicago by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Prejudice

/ Stories

Antisemitism is on the rise throughout the world for many reasons. The Former Guy, who won the election in 2016, made it acceptable to say whatever dark things one might have only imagined in days gone by. People somehow thought it was great that he “said it like it is” – no filter; being rude…
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Drifting Away by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Ex-Friends

/ Stories

I don’t really believe in “ex” friends. There is an ebb and flow to friendships, but once established, they can usually be revived, even if dormant. Some can be intense for a while, then circumstances change – one of the parties moves away, changes jobs, or life interferes (I have seen an instance where politics…
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Honoring My Father by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Veterans Day

/ Stories

My father joined the Army Air Corps in January, 1941, a full 11 months BEFORE Pearl Harbor. There was no separate Air Force at this time, it was still a division of the Army. He longed to be part of something bigger than himself. He had worked for the Chevrolet division of General Motors since…
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Corvette by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Perfection

/ Stories

When I worked for ASI in Chicago in 1978, Indiana was my territory. General Motors was a national account, controlled by an account manager who had the relationship with the corporate office in Detroit, but I had several satellite accounts including Delco in Kokomo, an hour north of Indianapolis. My contact person was a mid-level…
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Adon Olam by
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(353 Stories)

/ Stories

My beloved Rabbi Al Axelrad, who was the chaplain at Brandeis when I was an undergrad, retired many years later, but continued to lead High Holiday services until a few years ago. He was a true teacher. His services lasted a long time because he quoted from all sorts of outside texts and I always…
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Living in the Historic District by
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(353 Stories)

/ Stories

We are fortunate to own a historic home in the village of Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard. Holmes Coffin House. It has a plaque above the door and for many years, was down the block from the Martha’s Vineyard Museum, which has since moved to a large campus in Vineyard Haven, but the street retains the “Cooke…
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Reading to My Children by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Libraries

/ Stories

I loved to read as a child and would often take trips to my local library, the Sherwood Forest branch of the Detroit Public Library, as well as my school library. I remember the first book I ever read there: “Elizabeth Enters” about the recently deceased sovereign. Even as a second grader, I enjoyed learning…
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A Union Town by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Strikes

/ Stories

I come from Detroit. My family was in the automotive industry. My great uncle, Meyer Prentis (Uncle Meyer) was the Treasurer of General Motors when it was the largest corporation in the world. My dad’s oldest brother was it’s comptroller. My dad worked for the Chevrolet division in Flint, MI before WWII, but upon returning from…
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Creativity For/From Prison by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Prison

/ Stories

Quilting in Angola An extraordinary humanitarian project has been on-going at the Louisiana State Prison for years now. That prison is commonly known as Angola, as that was the name of the slave plantation whose land it now occupies. Louise Kelleher was the co-founder of The Social Justice Quilts Project with Kenya Baleech Alkebu, who…
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Long Term Marriages by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Marriage

/ Stories

David Brooks wrote an op-ed in the New York Times on August 17, 2023 stating that a long, successful marriage is more important to a happy life than a successful career. Let’s think about that for a moment; so many people strive for money, thinking it will buy happiness. But the position stated here is…
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Camp Outs by the Lake by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Fire

/ Stories

I used to love the evening cookouts or sleeping under the stars that we did lakeside throughout my summers as a camper at the National Music Camp (now Interlochen Arts Camp) in Interlochen, MI from 1964-1969. The girl’s side was by Lake Wabakanetta (Duck Lake) and we had a large expanse of sand with a…
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Curled Up With a Book by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Rainy Days

/ Stories

Martha’s Vineyard is predominantly a resort community, particularly in the summer. We go to the beach, exercise in some form, ride bikes, hike the beautiful trails, socialize with friends. So when it rains, everyone comes into town, looking to shop, go to the movies or find something else to do. We happen to live right…
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The David by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Art’s Impact

/ Stories

Though not an art history major, I’ve loved looking at and learning about art since I was a small child. I tend to be very sensitive to all forms of external stimuli, which makes me open and vulnerable to various forms of creative arts and I enjoy most. For example, I have always loved the…
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Phishing Expedition by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Hacked!

/ Stories

Just a few weeks ago, a good friend put a warning on his Facebook page: “Do not accept any friend requests from me; I’ve been hacked!” This is unfortunate but routine these days. The Messenger app of Facebook is notorious for this (and many people no longer use it because once it is corrupted, your…
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Missed the Party by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By The ER

/ Stories

When Dan does something, he gives it 100% and that was the way he again took up bicycling in 2018. He had his first bike accident the day he got his fancy new bike. The tubeless tires fell apart, so that accident wasn’t on him, though he was still taken to the ER and I,…
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Called, Not Served by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Jury Duty

/ Stories

Over my many years as a Massachusetts resident, I’ve been called for jury duty three times. The first time, after waiting for hours with all people called that day (including a cousin of my husband’s), my pool was called into the courtroom. The judge asked if there was any reason why any of us couldn’t…
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Alone But Not Lonely by
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(353 Stories)

/ Stories

I first heard this old Irving Berlin song (which you can hear below) during our 8th week Operetta concert at the end of camp, in August, 1969. The concert was devoted to his songs. It seems to perfectly sum up this week’s prompt, though, as I will explain, it does not apply to me. Berlin…
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Pippa’s Song by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Dawn

/ Stories

My senior year in high school I took voice lessons from a former opera singer. One of the songs I worked on was “Pippa’s Song”, a Robert Browning poem set to music by British composer Ned Rorem. It is short but very difficult and VERY high in the soprano range. If you click on the…
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How a Marriage Failed by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Divorce

/ Stories

My parents barely knew one another when they married. They were coming out of WWII, both living with older sisters who were friends with each other, both aged 32. My father had dated a lot of women, but promised his now-deceased father that he would marry a Jewish woman. My mother, who had low self-esteem,…
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A Tale of Two Betsys by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Question Authority

/ Stories

Something one must remember about me is the environment in which I was raised. My mother had serious mental health issues. My father didn’t want to upset her and instructed us to do the same. We all took a lot from her and that became the norm, until I blew up and fought back, screaming…
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Xfinity Triple Play by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Cutting the Cord

/ Stories

Neither of my children has a landline, nor network TV. One doesn’t own a TV. If he wants to watch a streaming service, he has a projection system hooked up to his computer. He projects the image on a wall or screen opposite the projector. My other child uses her TV for gaming, watching movies…
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Take the Best, Discard the Rest by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Imitation

/ Stories

Remember the old movie, “The Crying Game”, where one of the lead characters passes as a different gender until the big reveal toward the end of the movie? The audience was admonished to not give away the secret so it wasn’t ruined for those who hadn’t seen the film yet. That came to mind when…
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Aging Ain’t for Sissies by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Aging

/ Stories

On my 70th birthday my brother welcomed me to my eighth decade! While he was accurate, that declaration gave me pause. The summer after my senior year in high school I was in a local show, written, directed and produced by friends (including two who went on to conceive MyRetrospect decades later). There was some…
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Alone on Mother’s Day by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Mother’s Day

/ Stories

Mothers are dead. Children are far away, one overseas who celebrates mothers in March, so may not know when Mother’s Day occurs here in the United States. Husband is on Martha’s Vineyard. I am alone with my thoughts. It doesn’t matter, but there is no one to fêtê me, no one with whom to celebrate.…
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What Was the Dream Job? by
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(353 Stories)

/ Stories

My senior year in college I had dinner at Dan’s parents (still living in Newton, MA) every Sunday night. Gladys might help me with my lesson plans first semester, as I was a student teacher and she was a seasoned one. Second semester, after Dan and I became engaged, we talked about the future. She…
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Black Ice by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Danger

/ Stories

After two warm days, January 18, 2001 was cold and sunny, prompting everything that had previously melted to freeze again. I had a morning meeting at the Rose Art Museum in Waltham, followed by lunch with an old friend who had moved to San Diego long ago, so I dressed nicely, even wearing my mink…
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Detroit Storm, 1990 by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Lightning

/ Stories

After I married and moved to the Boston area, I stayed away from Detroit for a long while. Once I had children, the urge to share happy venues from my childhood lured me back. My father died suddenly when my second child was just eight months old, on January 3, 1990. We had the unveiling…
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Over the Rainbow by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Theater

/ Stories

Like so many very shy youngsters, I was drawn to the theater at a young age as a way to hide myself by exploring other identities. Elaine Zeve, my dear second grade teacher, saw something in me and encouraged me to explore other characters to become more self-assured. This story will be a pictorial review of…
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Dan’s Bad Summer by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Trauma

/ Stories

There are many forms of trauma from psychological to emotional to physical. One cannot outweigh or place a different set of values from one to another. In this story, I will describe a horrible accident my husband sustained about 21 months ago, what we know about it and how very lucky we are that he…
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Messed-Up Michigan by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Changing Times

/ Stories

Though Michigan is thought of as an industrial state due to its automative industry, dating back to the beginning of the 20th century, it has a long agricultural history as well, with dairy farms in the middle of the state, and lots of cherry orchards around the Grand Traverse peninsula on Lake Michigan, more than…
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Have a Plan by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Retirement

/ Stories

I came across this story, written 3 1/2 years ago, but never published, the last time the Retirement prompt came up. I’ve decided to publish it now. It is all true today. Dan went to work for Andersen Consulting on January 3, 1994. This is not to be confused with Arthur Andersen, which was a…
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Auld Lang Syne by
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(353 Stories)

/ Stories

Where to begin? MyRetrospect.com has been a huge part of my life since the autumn of 2015. Patti and John Zussman, dear friends since high school, began discussing their idea with me for a baby-boomer community of writers who would share their memories and thoughts  by writing stories to prompts provided by the Zussmans. They…
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PDP-8 by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By My First Computer

/ Stories

My husband was always a tech guy; first a programmer, then a systems guy, then a thinker – a management consultant. I came out of college with a Theater Arts degree and a teaching certificate. As he began grad school, I begged for a job in his office and they took the bait, thinking they…
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Landmarks, Please by
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(353 Stories)

/ Stories

During my years selling software and related services, from 1977-1985, I had various territories through the midwest and New England. Sometimes I drove my own car to see clients, other times I flew into cities and picked up rental cars (I always asked for small cars; I couldn’t see over the steering wheels of those…
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Tiny by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By The Dentist

/ Stories

My pediatric dentist was a tall man, so of course, he was called “Tiny”. As my second teeth came in, it was clear, even before braces were discussed, there was not enough room in my small mouth for those large teeth, so he spoke with my mother about extracting two, possibly four (top and bottom)…
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Points by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Retail Rewards

/ Stories

I helped Mom lick S&H Green stamps and put them in many, many books, but I have no memory of what she traded them in for. As I scanned the Internet, some thermoses looked familiar, so perhaps she traded them for those and the matching cooler, which would be used at Memorial Day picnics at…
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Passed Down Feud by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Family Feud

/ Stories

My maternal grandmother, Belle Perlis (Anglicized from Potocksy) Stein, was the oldest of nine siblings, all of whom came to the Unites States from Bialystock, Russia (territorial Lithuanian). My grandparents came in 1906, as I’ve written about several times in the past. They landed on Ellis Island and made their way to Toledo, lived in…
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Dad’s 50th Birthday by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Assassination

/ Stories

We moved from Detroit to our newly-built home in Huntington Woods (about 2 1/2 miles northwest of our Detroit location) on October 1, 1963. Rick and I had already started in the Royal Oak school system and we were in shock. We were both young in our classes, having needed to skip grades due to…
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McGovern, 1972 by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By First Time Voting

/ Stories

I was eligible to vote in my first presidential election in November, 1972. At that time, I was a Junior at Brandeis University in Waltham, MA, but had registered to vote in Michigan before coming back to school in the fall, so voted absentee, sending my ballot back to Huntington Woods. I proudly cast my…
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Anthro to Wayfair by
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(353 Stories)

/ Stories

We continue to get lots of catalogs these days, enticing us to buy everything from fancy cruises to kitchenware to clothing. The deforestation caused by these is disheartening. Being so small, it is difficult for me to shop from a catalog, but I do have tried-and-true brands that suit me well. Through the years, I’ve…
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I Get by With a Little Help From My Friends by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Learning To Cook

/ Stories

My grandmother had given up cooking by the time my mother lived at home with her parents after her year studying dance in New York in 1935, so she didn’t learn to cook from her own mother. After she married at age 32, she learned a few basic recipes from her oldest sister’s housekeeper. That…
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Learning to Fly by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Planes and Trains

/ Stories

Until December of 1969, I had never been on an airplane. When it became clear to my father that I’d go away to college (the choice came down to Northwestern in suburban Chicago, or Brandeis in suburban Boston) and I would fly to either location, Dad agreed to let me go to a mini-camp reunion…
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Prinderella and the Cince by
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(353 Stories)

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I loved fairy tales as a young girl. I remember that I was reading “Grimm’s Fairy Tales” when I fell ill during the summer of 1964 and spent a week in the infirmary. I was 11 years old, had thrown up during Sunday morning services, (Our Father, who art in Heaven…blechhh…). The whole camp used…
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412 Beacon Street by
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(353 Stories)

/ Stories

Dan and I have always had specific design ideas. They have changed as our tastes have grown more sophisticated and our financial means also grown and changed through the years, but we always knew what we liked. We married young and started our life together with very limited resources. My father gave us some money…
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From Florence to Boston by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Customer Service

/ Stories

We decided to take our first-ever trip to Italy and began planning in 2010. The trip took place in October, 2011. We reached out to our wonderful and well-traveled Vineyard neighbor, who delights in offering travel suggestions. We told him our thoughts about destinations and price points for accommodations, he came back with a variety…
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S**t Faced by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Drugs and Alcohol

/ Stories

Does anyone remember the days when it was acceptable, even encouraged, to drink at lunch? This story takes place on June 4, 1976. It will later become evident how I remember the exact date. Dan and I both worked at our first jobs at SofTech – he as a programmer; I, a Program Librarian (glorified…
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Derby Evening, 2017 by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Priciest Purchase

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David visited from London at the end of the summer, 2017. A large storm brewed off sea. It didn’t affect our weather, but churned up violent waves and such high tides that we had no beach, which forced its closure. We went over, just to look at the odd sight. So we trundled over to…
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Elaine Zeve by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Favorite Teacher

/ Stories

Because of the peculiarities of the Detroit school system, I had Mrs. Zeve for 2A and 3B, but a whole school year, which was unusual for the Pasteur Elementary School. (I think of her as my second grade teacher, though that wasn’t technically true.) She was a 32 year old divorcée with a young daughter…
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Writing That Paper by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Procrastination

/ Stories

Though he is five years my elder, my brother and I have always been close. He is super-smart and he did help me with some homework when I was a kid and looked to him for guidance. He left for Brandeis as I began 8th grade. My mother’s sisters predicted that I would flunk out…
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One Singular Sensation by
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(353 Stories)

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Shortly after we married, in the mid-70s, we had a lot of friends living in New York City and we’d visit often, driving in, staying on the pullout sofa with Paul and Beth. Jeffrey and Susan, residents to this day, always had a pulse on what was au courant. In 1975 they told us about this…
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Letterman’s Favorite Magician by
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(353 Stories)

/ Stories

Years ago, we attended a fundraiser for affordable housing (an ongoing dilemma) on Martha’s Vineyard. The evening began with a reception on a large property where the Clintons had stayed while he was still in office, then fanned out to smaller parties across the island for special dinners and entertainment. We attended a “magic” party…we…
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Star by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Riding a Bicycle

/ Stories

I must have been around 7 or 8 when I got my first bike, a Schwinn 3 speed with silver fenders and a head light similar to the Featured photo. My father dutifully ran along side me as I learned to pick up speed while gaining my balance. I had to know how to start…
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My Old Valiant by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Car Trouble

/ Stories

I needed a car my senior year at Brandeis, as I would be student teaching at a local public high school first semester. My parents arranged to “sell” me (for one dollar) my mother’s seven year old Valiant (similar to the car in the above photo). Dan, my steady beau, flew out to Detroit to…
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Grandma’s Fan by
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(353 Stories)

/ Stories

Belle Potocsky Beckenstein was married in Bialystock, Lithuania (part of Imperial Russia) in 1902. She was quite lovely, though I have no photos of her from that exact date. I do have the fan she carried at her wedding. She brought it with her when she, my grandfather Samuel and their two small children fled…
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God Speed, John Glenn by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Broadcast News

/ Stories

Being a somewhat sickly kid, I had been out with the flu the day my class took the Iowa Achievement Test in 4th grade, so on February 20, 1962, along with all the others from my Detroit elementary school who had missed that test, I sat in the small, upstairs art room all afternoon taking…
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Lizzie Prensky by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By What's in a Name

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I don’t know when she came to this country from Kovno, Lithuania. She married Sam Sarason in 1895 in St. Louis, MO at the age of 19. Her name was Freya Leah Prensky, but she was called Lizzie in this country. She was very beautiful with dark hair and eyes. Sam loved her the moment…
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Finding My Voice by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Why We Write

/ Stories

It is fair to ask “why do I write”? I ponder that myself. I thought about this question for some time before beginning to write this particular prompt. I never wrote much before being approached by my childhood friends to be a beta tester for their new baby boomer website MyRetrospect. I wrote when an…
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Sissi’s 60th by
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(353 Stories)

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My devotion to my cousin Alan Jackson, and great sorrow when he died young, in 1981 was documented in Action Jackson. I was equally devoted to his young wife, Sissi, with whom I tried to stay in touch after Alan’s death, lost for a while, but reconnected for good in 2000. She and her family visited…
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Homespun Hero by
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(353 Stories)

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My father had a challenging childhood, the youngest of eight children. His mother was bipolar, long before there was effective treatment. She had her last two children to “cure” her because she seemed better when pregnant (something about the hormones that was not understood). She was in and out of mental institutions by the time…
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Blended Generations by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Mind the Gap

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My dad was the youngest of eight children, my mother the youngest of four. They were 39 years old when they had me. I have first cousins whose children are older than me. There is a huge offset in the ages of the generations in my family, so the notion of “generations” is somewhat tricky.…
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To Kill a Mockingbird by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Banned Books

/ Stories

I was a voracious reader in my day and read many books that had been banned at one some point. I read most of them just for fun, or to satisfy a quota to read “so many” books per card-marking period. I read “Huck Finn” in 5th grade. Perhaps I was too young to understand…
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Bedtime Books by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Sleepy Time

/ Stories

My father taught me to say prayers at bedtime: “Now I lay me down to sleep/ Bless my Lord, My soul to keep. If I should die before I wake/ Bless the Lord, My soul to take. God bless Mommy and Daddy and Ricky.” It was years before I realized that was not a Jewish…
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Myopic With a Side of Astigmatism by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By The Eyes Have It

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I began wearing glasses at the age of 8. I couldn’t read the board clearly and knew something was amiss. I had become near-sighted. But my beloved teacher, Mrs. Zeve, wore glasses and she made it seem OK. I got pink, metal frames that weren’t too ugly. My second teeth; big and crooked, came in…
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Songs My Mother Taught Me by
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(353 Stories)

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Mother was very insecure and depressed. She didn’t like to cook, had a maid for much her of life, didn’t know how to do laundry or iron, wasn’t good at domestic chores. She got by. Her entire life, she never drove on a highway. She didn’t like her own looks and projected that displeasure and…
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Cecile and Roman by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Refugees

/ Stories

This week we are asked to write about our forebears’ refugee/immigrant experience. I wrote what I know about how my maternal grandparents came to this country several years ago and will link to that story at the end of this essay. I wanted to tell a more urgent story, given that this story will go…
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Out of the Box by
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(353 Stories)

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Through our years as active art collectors, we attended many art auctions, but rarely bought anything. An exception were the two works we bought from the Mass College of Art in 1994 done by celebrities that we hang in our bathroom, just for fun. We both love Gregory Peck and Steve Martin, so these were…
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Back to Living by
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(353 Stories)

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I consider March to be the beginning of year three of the pandemic. It was in March, 2020 when the virus began to affect my life. My last in-person event at the Rose was a lecture by acclaimed artist Fred Wilson, followed by a select group going to dinner in Waltham on March 3, 2020.…
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Ollie by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Photo Booths

/ Stories

David was a very shy youngster, so shy that his nursery school teachers wanted him to do a transition year. We thought that was not in the best interests of a child who was already interested in reading and math, so instead, we found a small private school for his kindergarten year. There, his best…
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Ban Them All by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Cheating

/ Stories

Russian athletes have systematically cheated for years. The Wikipedia page is too long and complicated to try to condense and enumerate the many faults, going back decades for this story, but let me give you some “highlights”. For years there was state sponsored systematic doping. They have been stripped of 46 Olympic medals. The most…
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Villa d’Esta by
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(353 Stories)

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When I was a child, we traveled mostly to visit relatives and stayed with them. Starting in 1959, we did spend one week in August for five summers up in Charlevoix, a very nice resort on Lake Michigan in northern Michigan. We stayed in The Schutts Guest House, a large house with a broad lawn…
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Who Slept Here? by
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(353 Stories)

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We have a large, one-story house with a basement under most of it. About 800 square feet is finished space. The rest is broken into a series of storage and utility rooms; lots of good space, including direct entry into the garage through the laundry room. When we purchased the house in December, 1986, the…
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Apple Watch by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Time

/ Stories

I am a punctual person. I insist on being on time. It is part of my makeup and it bothers me if I am late or others I deal with (including family members) are not as punctual. I have always had nice time pieces, dating back to my youth, when my grandfather (who owned a…
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Endurance by
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(353 Stories)

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In 1914, Sir Ernest Shackelton and his crew sailed The Endurance to the Antarctic. It was crushed in the ice pack and sank in the Weddell Sea but all of her crew survived. Frank Hurley, the photographer onboard, captured incredible photographs of the entire experience. My husband is fascinated by this story and has read…
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False Memories by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Scouting

/ Stories

When I was young, my older brother was a Cub Scout (wearing a uniform like the image I found online) during two elementary school years. Our mother was a den mother. I remembered neighborhood boys trooping into our basement for meetings and activities. Earlier this month, Rick told me the meetings were at school and…
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American Idol by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Guilty Pleasures

/ Stories

Really? Says every cultured person I know. You watch THAT show…or, you STILL watch that show? Short answer: yes. My father-in-law (who has been gone more than 20 years) introduced us at the end of the first season. Kelly and Justin. Kelly Clarkson won. She did OK for herself. As have Jennifer Hudson and Carrie…
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Somewhere by
200
(353 Stories)

/ Stories

The unusual opening interval is a minor, ascending 7th. It fills one with aching, longing and sets up the dreamy quality of this hauntingly beautiful song. It resolves quickly and those few opening notes are instantly recognizable. Tony has just confessed to accidentally killing Maria’s brother in the heat of the rumble, but they are…
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Mushroom Barley Soup on Sunday by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Comfort Food

/ Stories

On Sunday nights in Detroit, it was good Jewish deli food for our family. Darby’s was the destination, either eat-in or take-out. Built by Sam Boesky (whose brother Ivan was the disgraced financier of the insider trading scandal of the mid-1980s), it could hold 375 people and served 5,000 hungry people daily. My parents and…
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Love the Form Factor by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Newspapers

/ Stories

When first married, we lived across the street from a supermarket. Sunday mornings, Dan would run across the street and buy a Sunday Boston Globe. We whiled away the day reading it, relaxing before going to dinner at his parents’ home. We moved and the paper wasn’t as readily available. I always subscribed to Newsweek…
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Family History by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Group Photos

/ Stories

I come from a long line of family photographers. I love my family history and the information that is embedded in these old photos. I am fortunate to have some dating back many generations. I like to keep the tradition alive. The photo below is the oldest photo in my collection. It is undated, but…
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Getting to Martha’s Vineyard by
200
(353 Stories)

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To get to Martha’s Vineyard, an island in the Atlantic Ocean, 7 miles off the coast of Massachusetts, one must drive on various types of roads and take a scheduled ferry. It has been a tourist destination since the mid-1800s when people arrived by horse carts. Now there are highways for much of the drive.…
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Back to the Gym, but When? by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Resolutions

/ Stories

Does everyone want to lose weight in the new year? My resolution began after seeing photos of myself from our first trip to Italy in 2011. I had never been so heavy. I looked puffy and not like myself. I didn’t want to turn 60 on December 10, 2012 looking like that. I had never…
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Holiday Tradition by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Holiday Letters

/ Stories

I sent seasons greetings to everyone in my cabin, my friends and special teachers when I was in the High School Division at the National Music Camp from 1967-1969. It took me a long time to get through my list. I’d be done right around the new year. I gave that up for years, but…
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Make ‘Em Laugh by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Comic Relief

/ Stories

Over the years I’ve come to appreciate that having a good sense of humor is an essential trait. Several years ago I copied down this quote which I recently found in the notes section of my phone: “Those who lack humor are without judgement and should be trusted with nothing.” Clive James said, “A sense…
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Is She Really Going Out With Him? by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Gossip

/ Stories

It seems to me that gossip exists on a sliding scale from harmless to malicious. It can be fun to talk with friends about what’s going on…who is dating whom, who’s engaged, recently married, who’s pregnant, who’s breaking up. The gossip moves on to more catty subjects: has she had work done? Is she Botoxing?…
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Junk Mail by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Chain Letters

/ Stories

I didn’t like chain letters but didn’t want to wimp out either. I always held out hope that something good would come from them. If I got one, I sent it on to girls from my cabin from the previous summer. Interlochen provided us with addresses of all who had attended each year. But, like…
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The Art of Living by
200
(353 Stories)

/ Stories

My parents had very different attitudes towards gratitude; at least that was my perception as I grew up, after we moved from Detroit to the suburbs in 1963 and my mother’s mental health issues surfaced. She was a “glass half empty” sort of person. Nothing ever pleased her or made her happy. Despite all sorts…
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Backgammon, 1975 by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Dice

/ Stories

After our Brandeis graduation in May, 1974, Christie relocated from Chicago to Boston that autumn. She stayed a year before her father summoned her to work for him at Playboy. She worked as a freelance writer, doing pieces for Boston After Dark and a long piece on Robert Pirsig and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle…
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Joe Himelhoch by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Family Medicine

/ Stories

I always burst into tears when we turned the corner and I could see the big Tudor house in a nice section of Detroit where Dr. Himelhoch also had his office. I was sure it meant I would get a shot in my rear end, a painful and humiliating experience. Joseph Himelhoch was a large…
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Katie the Kitten by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Children's Books

/ Stories

“Katie the kitten, a small tiger cat, Is asleep in the hall, all curled in a hat.” Thus began the little Golden Book seen in the Featured photo that David already owned when our neighbor’s cat had a litter of five kittens and we were gifted a cute little female. David was nearly two and…
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Asking the Right Questions by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Regrets

/ Stories

My dad was a genuinely nice guy. He worked a lot when I was young, but we became very close when I went off to Brandeis and he left the auto industry. Ironically, we had more time to talk then. As many in my family knew, there was nothing one couldn’t say to him. He…
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Using My Talents by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Lemons to Lemonade

/ Stories

So-so actress; better stage manager. Didn’t have the drive or thick enough skin to go to New York and try for Broadway; married at 21. Took a crummy job doing data entry. Sang while I key-punched. While eavesdropping on the salesman in the office next door I had an epiphany – I could do this! Took…
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Mel by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Parking

/ Stories

I have already written about losing my parked BMW in 2003 (Finding the Car). Therefore, I will go in a different direction today. During the summer of 1971, I worked as a counselor at the Jewish Community Center Day Camp, situated next to my temple in Oak Park, MI, not too far from my home.…
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With a Baby on the Way by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Children's Books

/ Stories

Before my children were born, they each received the classic Boston tale, “Make Way For Ducklings” as a gift. The book is so popular that in May, there is a Ducking Parade, (children dress up as ducklings) and retrace part of the duckling’s route through Beacon Hill to the safety of the Public Garden. Years…
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Dinner With a Working Dad by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Mealtime

/ Stories

My dad co-owned a car dealership during the early years of my life. He worked six days and two nights a week, so wasn’t home to eat dinner with the family a few nights a week. My mother had a housekeeper who cooked meals in those early years. Those women cycled through, staying a few…
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Paying Respect by
200
(353 Stories)

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We didn’t know Victor 20 years ago. His wife is in a book group with several of our friends. They live in Newton and Martha’s Vineyard and now we, too, are good friends. Victor is Dan’s frequent golf partner and we go to dinner with the couple. One evening, he revealed why he retired early.…
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Drive by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Going to Work

/ Stories

With the exception of walking when working downtown, briefly, when I lived in the Boston (while pregnant with David), and taking the bus in Chicago, I always drove to work. During my many years in sales, I either flew to out-of-town appointments and rented a car, or drove to see clients, using my own car.…
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Finding the Car by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Senior Moments

/ Stories

December, 2003, my first time volunteering for the huge “December Sale” at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. My friend Barbara Cole Lee chaired this sale which ran over several days during the first week of December. She is a force of nature, brought in significant buyers from the art world and beyond…
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The Thought Was Just There by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Senior Moments

/ Stories

Now why did I come into the room? The word was just on the tip of my tongue. What was the name of that actress in the movie we just saw? How about the one where your husband INSISTS he is correct when I can prove he isn’t, or that he’s told you something when…
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Ice Dams, Feb, 2015 by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Home Repair

/ Stories

The winter of 2014-15 was the snowiest we remember in the Boston area with large storm followed by large storm. Then the sun came out, causing some melting of the snow on roof tops, giving way to terrible ice dams from the build up of snow on roofs. We learned the hard way how damaging…
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First Love by
200
(353 Stories)

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From the vantage point of 50 years, I can say that Bob and I were a good couple. We had great chemistry; I have learned that having such “chemistry” and remaining intellectually interesting to one another are motivating factors for me. We had fun together, learned songs and sang together. But I was congenitally insecure.…
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It All Came Together by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By That Summer

/ Stories

There is a certain time in one’s life when she knows she is ready; she is in her prime. That happened for me the summer of 1969, my sixth and final at the National Music Camp (now the Interlochen Arts Camp). Talent matters, but seniority does too. I had put in my time and blossomed…
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Ag Fair by
200
(353 Stories)

/ Stories

The third week of August on Martha’s Vineyard always brings the much-anticipated Agricultural Fair or “Ag Fair”, as it is called. The Vineyard has a huge farming community and everyone gets to show off their season’s accomplishments, from the best pies and jams, to livestock and largest vegetables. There is a whole display hall for…
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Cultural Triple Threat by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Hobbies

/ Stories

I love art, music (mostly singing, but listening as well) and now spend much of my time writing for Retrospect; a cultural triple threat. I have written over 250 stories on everything from my first job; Posing in 3-D, to the harrowing story of my grandparents’ escape from the 1906 Russian pogroms to their trip across the…
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Wedding Memories by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Anniversaries

/ Stories

As an officer of our temple, Dad set my wedding day as June 16, 1974. “Really?” I queried, ” That will be your 28th anniversary. Do you want to share yours with me?” He responded affirmatively and the date was set. My parents were a post-war couple. They barely knew one another and married in…
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Nippon by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Family Trips

/ Stories

In June of 2007, David graduated from Stanford and Jeffrey moved up from 8th to 9th grade; a full-fledged high schooler. We felt a family trip was an appropriate way to celebrate and asked Jeffrey where he’d like to go. “Japan”. “Where else?”, we queried, just in case that didn’t work out. “No where; just…
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Bearing Arms by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Guns Then and Now

/ Stories

The Second Amendment to our Constitution allowed for a well-regulated militia to keep and bear arms to protect the State. In 2008, a court case ruled that individuals could keep guns at home for self protection. They were no longer just to be used for hunting or protection against an enemy of the government. Of…
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Carolina Herrera by
200
(353 Stories)

/ Stories

Some thirty years ago, I searched for a signature fragrance. My mother wore Chanel No. 5.  I wanted something more modern, subtle. I tried Ungaro, Issey Miyake, Creed (the scent of Jackie O and Princess Grace). All seemed too strong for me. I smelled something wonderful on a friend and inquired what she wore. Of…
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Jeopardy by
200
(353 Stories)

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We enjoyed watching gameshows in our household: “What’s My Line?”, “Truth or Consequences”, “Password”, and a few others, but none captured my heart like “Jeopardy”, the original one with Art Fleming as the host. I’d watch when I was home sick, which wasn’t too often. Still, I really enjoyed that show. My senior year at…
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Full Plate by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Cliques and Clubs

/ Stories

Moving from Detroit to neighboring Huntington Woods in October, 1963 was a traumatic event for me. Due to the quirks of the Detroit school system, I skipped the second half of 5th grade. This made me the youngest in my 6th grade class at the Washington Elementary School, a K-6 school, where everyone had been…
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Recycle as a Way of Life by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Recycling

/ Stories

I am lucky to live in Newton, which is a very progressive city of about 200,000 people. They have good schools and services. They began a curbside recycling program of newsprint in 1971, just a year after the first Earth Day, followed in 1975 by adding glass and cans to their bi-monthly curbside pick-ups. That…
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Penny’s Puppy by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Naming Pets

/ Stories

My mother was terrified of dogs. Dogs had been used during the 1906 pogroms against my grandparents in Russia. My grandmother would cross to the other side of the street to avoid coming close to a dog. She instilled that fear in my mother as well. I guess I understood, but I LOVED them and…
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Billie Jean by
200
(353 Stories)

/ Stories

I’ve always loved to dance and grew up in and with Motown and the Jackson 5. Little Michael was a phenom. Great voice, dancing whiz; he could do everything and captivated us. We loved to sing along to those early songs and imitate the dance moves. He outgrew his brothers and became the biggest show…
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How We Listened by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Remembering Radios

/ Stories

Like any self-respecting teenage girl, I listened to Top 40 radio incessantly. As someone growing up in the shadow of Motown, of course, I loved that music, but listened to it all, and think the mid-60s were a remarkable moment in time; Motown and British invasion music flourished side by side. They couldn’t be more…
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Vax Thrill by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Vaccination

/ Stories

At his mid-afternoon press briefing on Wednesday, February 17, Governor Baker announced that anyone over the age of 65 would be eligible for vaccination the next day. The roll-out had gone badly so far, with only health care workers, first responders and those over the age of 75 being eligible to receive vaccinations and many…
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Working Mother and Not by
200
(353 Stories)

/ Stories

My mother graduated from The Ohio State University in 1935. She wanted to study modern dance in New York City and was forever grateful that her father cashed in his life insurance so she could have a year to do that. She studied with Doris Humphrey, whose most famous student was José Limón. Before heading…
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Baffled By Technology by
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(353 Stories)

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I might have been a top software sales rep in my former life, but I never understood how to code or the underlying workings of the software. EVER! I could always call on a smart professional from my division for help going from the general to the specifics of how my company could help the…
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Jonathan Kozol by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Inequality

/ Stories

Growing up in Detroit, I attended an integrated, large elementary school which encompassed grades K-8. At that time, the curriculum was excellent, but even during the years I attended, 1958-1963, it was already over-crowed and I began kindergarten the February after turning 5, as they had split sessions to accommodate the large numbers of students.…
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White Gloves by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Manners

/ Stories

My mother and her two sisters had excellent manners. They always knew what to wear for any occasion, how to behave, how to write a lovely thank you note. Very proper women. And these they taught to their children as well. I used to call them the “white glove ladies”, as you can see from…
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A True Romantic by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Rewatchable Movies

/ Stories

  I appreciate the classic movies and my husband is an avid watcher of Turner Classic Movies. But when I am home and unencumbered, my eyes no longer able to focus on the printed page and I choose to relax alone at night, I have my go-to favorites that I watch over and over. I…
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Dishes in the Dishwasher, Please! by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Pet Peeves

/ Stories

Where did I go wrong? Now the breakfast dish is left on the counter, The ice cream bowl from the night before put in the sink with no water. The peanut butter knife put in the dishwasher, but not rinsed. I tell him – he needs to rinse dishes before placing them in the dishwasher.…
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It’s All About the Hair by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Haircuts

/ Stories

I was born bald. My brother called me Boop-de-Boy because he thought I was a boy, but of course, I wasn’t. By my first birthday I had some fuzz. My mother always styled my hair into a Dutch Boy cut. I always wanted it long. Here is my third birthday. Mother ruled. By the age…
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Mad Men Era by
200
(353 Stories)

/ Stories

I shouldn’t be surprised that I now have such problematic arthritis in my toes that I’ve needed two surgeries in six years. It began when I was a child. My chiropodist had me wear arch supports in my shoes and walk up and down the hallway of my Detroit house, doing special exercises to try…
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It’s a Zoom World by
200
(353 Stories)

/ Stories

March 15, 2020. We were having a socially distant dinner at close friends. An annual winter event of mac and cheese usually followed by watching a Masterpiece Theater episode. This year, nothing suitable was on, so we watched a movie on a DVD. COVID-19 was already surging in parts of the West Coast and we…
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Memories or Home Movies? by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By First Memory

/ Stories

I often get comments about the treasure vault of old photos I provide in these stories. My father was the family record-keeper, both in still and moving pictures. When my parents divorced in 1981, my brother and I insured in the divorce decree that he got custody of those precious home movies (on real 8mm…
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Inauguration Memories by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Inaugurations

/ Stories

I was a child of 8 on January 20, 1961. We came home from our Detroit elementary school for lunch each day. I knew the Kennedy Inauguration was special. The couple had magnetism and charisma to spare and I was caught up in the magic of the moment. I wolfed down my tuna sandwich leaning…
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Moments of Glory by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Valentine's Day

/ Stories

I am an inveterate romantic. Dan teases that I weep at Hallmark commercials. He’s not wrong. I am sentimental. I save everything. I have a dried sprig of flowers from my wedding bouquet, pressed into my Bride’s Book. I have a long memory, for good and bad. Dan can make grand gestures when he chooses…
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Insurrection;Outrage by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Good Trouble

/ Stories

  In 1946 George Orwell wrote, “Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” He went on to complain of the ways political speech had largely become “the defense of the indefensible”. After 75 years his words seem more appropriate than…
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Valerie by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Reconnecting

/ Stories

I met Christie and Emily in 1965 in Intermediate Girls at the National Music Camp in Interlochen, Michigan. We’ve been friends ever since. I moved up to High School Girls in 1967. They both remained in the Intermediate Division, knowing that they would be leads in the Operetta; and so they were. I wanted the…
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Mad Hatter by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Hats

/ Stories

As a child, we wouldn’t do anything resembling Christmas decorations, but, for some reason, I always had a nice, new straw hat for spring. You might even call it an Easter bonnet. We didn’t celebrate Easter, of course. I remember one such hat was navy blue with an up-turned brim and a velvet ribbon band…
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Days at the MFA by
200
(353 Stories)

/ Stories

Before David had to devote his Tuesday and Thursday afternoons to Hebrew School, the Boston MFA offered a free art program for elementary school children several afternoons a week, open to all comers. We tried to go on Tuesdays as often as we could. It was funded by a foundation grant and was truly a…
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Dedicated Art Lover by
200
(353 Stories)

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Since a young child, visiting art museums has always brought me to a place of peace and beauty. I, myself, can’t make art, but I have appreciated it my entire life. My mother, aunt and cousin often took me to the Detroit Institute of Art. It has an encyclopedic collection, supported by the vast riches…
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An Afternoon With Mrs. Jack by
200
(353 Stories)

/ Stories

I took a course on Northern Renaissance painting with Professor Ludovico Borgo in my last semester at Brandeis. For our final project, we had to write a research paper on a painting from that era that we could visit in person. We had to analyze the provenance of the work, history of restorations, and research…
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Don’t Worry, Be Happy by
200
(353 Stories)

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Dear 21 Year Old Betsy, You pride yourself on high achievement. That is fine and working hard will serve you well throughout your life, but I assure you, life will have its twists and turns. You will not have a career in the arts, but will find enjoyment through them. Go with the flow. Learn…
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Good Manners by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Thank You

/ Stories

I am a relic of a by-gone era. I believe handwritten thank you notes should still be written in response to gifts (except from immediate family members, when a verbal thank you will suffice). As you see, I still have monogrammed stationery (the Featured photo) for writing such notes (as well as condolence notes). It…
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Across the Years and Channels by
200
(353 Stories)

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In no particular order: Schitt’s Creek (laugh riot) Sanditon (disappointing) The Life Ahead Defending Jacob (shot locally around Boston) The Morning Show Never Have I Ever (hats off to Suzy’s son) Hamilton (better than live) The Queen’s Gambit (totally engaging, a true binge) The Crown (4th season, bulimia reigns supreme) Broadchurch (Olivia Coleman, before she’s…
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Slipping Away by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Hello Darkness

/ Stories

I have been surrounded by depression (not just Seasonal Affect Disorder, but true depression) my whole life. My paternal grandmother, dead before I was born, was bipolar. With a depressed mother, I worried in high school, in a melodramatic sort of way, that I was doomed to follow in their footsteps, though there was no…
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Walt at MDS by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Interviews

/ Stories

I worked for ASI for 3 1/2 years, selling video training and associated products to the tech industry. I was a top sales person, but being a professional woman in sales in 1981 was still a novelty. I had no background in software or business. A headhunter introduced me to the team at Management Decision…
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Can You Spell Hello? by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Spelling

/ Stories

Okay, I admit it. I’ve always been a lousy speller. Though one might not expect this from a straight A student, it is true. I can’t account for it. Perhaps it has to do with lack of ability to visualize abstractions in my head. I don’t know; it just is true. In fifth grade  (the…
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Giving Back by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Volunteering

/ Stories

I have done a lot of volunteer work in the last 32 years, since retiring from paid employment. I divide that work into two categories: working on behalf of places that benefit my children and giving back to places that helped me become the person I am. I grew up in a household where my…
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We Gather Together (Not) by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Pandemic Holidays

/ Stories

  The candles in my Featured photo were my mother’s. There are two pairs. I don’t even know how old they are; just a bit younger than I am. They’ve graced countless Thanksgiving tables through the years. Their sweet faces are rather the worse for wear, but they must come out every year and be…
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Channeling Ali by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Fads and Trends

/ Stories

My mother set tight limits on me when I was young. I was not trendy. I did not wear go-go boots, Mondrian dresses, Twiggy eyelashes. She didn’t let me pierce my ears when all my friends did. I did not have a blunt cut “Sassoon” hairstyle. I didn’t go ga-ga over the boy bands of…
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Thanksgiving Eve by
200
(353 Stories)

/ Stories

Dan needed his Brigham’s vanilla ice cream! I had finished all the grocery shopping for Thanksgiving days earlier. The last place I wanted to be at 4pm on the day before Thanksgiving last year was a big supermarket, but Dan wanted his Brigham’s! So I dutifully trekked the mile to the Star Market, grabbed up…
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The Apocalypse by
200
(353 Stories)

/ Stories

While visiting David in London in February, 2016, we took a train out to see Bletchley Park where Alan Turing and the “code breakers” developed the system to decipher the German codes during World War II, as depicted in “The Imitation Game”. Turing is considered one of the founders of modern computer science and we…
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Reflections of the Times by
200
(353 Stories)

/ Stories

  I have never worn my “heart on my sleeve”. We’ve given a LOT of money in this campaign cycle, more than at any time in the past. We truly believe this IS the most important election of our lifetime. I have the date early voting starts for Massachusetts marked in my calendar, though my…
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Telephone Hour by
200
(353 Stories)

/ Stories

A show-stopping number from “Bye-Bye Birdie”, in which I played Randi in 10th grade, is “The Telephone Hour”. Staged better in the theater than in the truly awful movie, it shows all the teenagers, posing in a multi-level platform-cubicle, gossiping on their princess telephones: “Hi Margie, Hi Helen, What’s the story, morning glory? What’s the…
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Not Carrie Bradshaw by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Shoes

/ Stories

  I’ve always had lousy feet. As a child I had to wear “orthopedic shoes” with arch support in them (saddle shoes in the summer, some black velveteen things in the winter, but always heavy, laced up shoes). Never sneakers, never sandals. Not enough support. I rebelled in 6th grade, while my mother was in…
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Making Peace With Mother by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Final Farewell

/ Stories

Mother died three days before her 97th birthday. I described my relationship with her, and her last six days of life in much detail in What I Didn’t Tell You Then. I knew the people at the funeral home in Detroit quite well. The owner, Herb Kaufman, lived around the corner from us in Huntington Woods.…
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My Husband’s Game by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Brain Games

/ Stories

I know the perception is that I have excellent recall of events long-past, but trust me when I tell you, this is a mere shadow of how I used to be. I already know I am losing it. Part of this is due to a migraine prevention medication I’ve long taken called Topamax. It is…
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King Tut by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Lost and Found

/ Stories

From about 1539 BC to around 1075 BC, the Valley of the Kings, in ancient Thebes, was the burial site for the rulers and some nobility of ancient Egypt. Though known about, the exact whereabouts had been lost through the ages, until archaeological excavations led by Europeans during the time of Napoleon began in the…
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Time for Change by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By The Garden

/ Stories

As I wrote about two years ago in Checkbook Gardener, we have a beautiful little garden oasis on a busy street in the heart of Edgartown, on Martha’s Vineyard. This summer, between the pandemic, four months of drought and a less-than-diligent landscaper (not to be confused with Teresa, who continues to take wonderful care of…
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In Harm’s Way by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Fame

/ Stories

Until her death ten years ago, we lived a few blocks away from Patricia Neal in downtown Edgartown, where she had been been a fixture for years. She often sat on her front porch and was pleased to say “good morning” to all who passed by. But the “Martha’s Vineyard way” was to not impose…
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NCC Fundraiser by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Yard Sales

/ Stories

I joined the Newton Community Chorus is September, 2003. NCC is run as a non-profit, and we incur a lot of expenses. We pay dues, which covers the cost of our own music (surprisingly expensive, for those who have never purchased published scores of masterworks before). We pay our conductor and accompanist a fair wage…
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Just Love Them by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By I Swore I'd Never

/ Stories

I am going to turn this prompt on its head. Rather than discuss something I saw a parent do that I swore I’d never do, then did, I’d like to give two examples of behaviors from the older generation that I found offensive and I DID NOT do, guided by advise from my father, which…
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Baby of the Family by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Birth Order

/ Stories

Ken Sarason and Connie Stein were introduced by their oldest sisters, who were good friends, fellow members (and past presidents) of the National Council of Jewish Women in Detroit. The couple had their first date in February, 1946 and married four months later, in a small ceremony, attended only by immediate family, in Toledo, Ohio…
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Weddings Are Complicated by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Forgiveness

/ Stories

My brother was married in the chapel of Hebrew Union College on his 35th birthday. It was not a big, elaborate ceremony, but included close family members on both sides and the many friends they happy couple had made along the way. Rick had already taught at HUC for several years, was well-liked and respected…
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Summer of the Backyard by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Pandemic Summer

/ Stories

We are five months into the pandemic. Massachusetts was one of the hardest-hit states and took a long time to reopen. That’s fine with us. Dan ends conversations saying,”Stay healthy, stay safe, stay sane”.  In a normal summer, we would have moved to Martha’s Vineyard for the season the week before Memorial Day, but nothing…
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Teach Her to Knit by
200
(353 Stories)

/ Stories

I was always a good student, a striver, a high achiever, I got straight A’s. Until it came to penmanship. There I fell apart and got C’s. My second grade teacher, responsible for teaching cursive, called my mother in, bemoaning my lack of manual dexterity and told my mother to teach me knitting as a…
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Motown by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By My Hometown

/ Stories

I grew up in Detroit, Michigan; Motown, USA, in a family deeply involved in the automotive industry. My dad, with a partner, owned a Chrysler dealership and there was always a new car in the driveway (he’s the one just to the right of the car door holding his pith helmet with his arm out…
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Listen, Learn, Change by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Protests

/ Stories

I have watched the coverage over the past several weeks with fury and outrage. I don’t take to the streets for many reasons; arthritic toes, virus in the air, tendinitis in a hip flexor. Those sorts of long walks and demonstrations do not suit me. But I read and watch everything closely and think deeply…
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Risky Business by
200
(353 Stories)

/ Stories

(This story was originally written for the prompt: Changed My Life). As described in Over-Educated, Under-Qualified, I did a lot of data entry on my first job out of college. My title was “Program Librarian”. After entering the handwritten code from the programmer, either into card decks via a key punch (VERY old-fashioned), or typing into…
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Mr. Bienstock by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Embarrassment

/ Stories

Second semester, senior year in high school. I walked into the first day of my last Social Studies class to be greeted by Norman Bienstock, a brand new teacher. This was his first job. He seated us according to a seating chart and called out our names, to put them with our faces and begin…
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Tuesday Was Newsweek Day by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Magazines

/ Stories

I first subscribed to Newsweek as an undergrad at Brandeis. It arrived in my mailbox on Tuesdays. Though I often took literature courses with heavy reading loads, I looked forward to Tuesday afternoons. Those I devoted to reading Newsweek. I’d come back to my dorm room after lunch, get comfy on my bed and settle…
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Uncle Meyer by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Aunts & Uncles

/ Stories

Hannah and Sam Prensky, my great-grandparents, had five children in Kovno, Lithuania. Lizzie, their eldest, was my grandmother. They were prosperous and well-educated. Sam spoke five languages and had a cigarette rolling factory that employed 500 people. Hannah was literate, played piano and passed her quick mind and love of learning on to her children.…
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A Time For Greatness by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Memorabilia

/ Stories

I was raised by a proud FDR Democrat, so it was only natural that I would become a liberal Democrat myself. Even at a young age, before I entirely understood politics, I was a Kennedy fan and supporter. (The title was his campaign slogan.) In elementary school, we came home for lunch. I remember watching…
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Thanksgiving Forever by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Recipes

/ Stories

Imagine my surprise when my dear mother-in-law called, saying she wanted me to host Thanksgiving in 1982. I had never cooked a meal like that before and at the time we lived in a 5th floor walk-up, rented condo, left partially furnished by the owner, with some of our own furniture strewn about. It had…
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Just a Pinch of Salt by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Superstition

/ Stories

Spill some salt, throw it over your left shoulder. Step on a crack, break your mother’s back, Break a mirror, seven years of bad luck. Don’t walk under a ladder. Don’t cross paths with a black cat. Cross your fingers for good luck (or if you were telling a little lie, but didn’t want it…
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The Flowers That Bloom in the Spring (Tra la) by
200
(353 Stories)

/ Stories

(The title is a nod to a quintent from The Mikado, for all you G&S fans out there. Having been in at least three productions, that song popped into my head as I thought about this prompt; it seemed so appropriate.) We had a lovely, fragrant garden in my first house in Detroit providing fond…
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The Social Distance Dance by
200
(353 Stories)

/ Stories

Yes, life has changed for all of us. Statement of fact and gross understatement. Many doctor appointments scheduled for late March or mid-April, now rescheduled for June (who knows if they will even happen then). The few that happen are now via FaceTime or just phone calls. Important questions answered via email (of course one…
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Scared on the North Side by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Close Calls

/ Stories

During my 16 months in Chicago in the late ’70s, I lived in a structure known as a “4+1”, as it had parking under the building, then four floors of apartments above, on the north side of Chicago, off of Sheridan near Lake Michigan. The building was H-shaped and I lived all the way at…
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Jehovah’s Witness Encounter by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Door-to-Door Sales

/ Stories

I was a little kid, maybe 4 years old, so my brother was probably 9 at the time, significantly larger than me. We had the kind of roller skates described by Melanie in her 1971 song “Brand New Key”; the kind that attached to our own shoes, then tightened with a key. We were skating…
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Behold It Is the Springtide of the Year by
200
(353 Stories)

/ Stories

“Behold it is the Springtide of the year. Over and past is Winter’s gloomy reign. The happy time of singing birds is near, And clad in bud and blooms are hill and plain.” That is the first verse of my favorite Passover song. I sang it in Junior Choir at my Temple. I even sang…
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Blame It On Brett by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Close Calls

/ Stories

My car radio is always tuned to an NPR station, so I stay informed as I drive around, though in my daily life, my driving tends to be limited. On the day we left Martha’s Vineyard in 2018, the US was embroiled in the Brett Kavanaugh debacle. I packed everything as quickly as I could.…
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Just Out Of Reach by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Dreams

/ Stories

This morning (March 23) I awoke to a wisp; it was there, just out beyond my reach, on the outer limits of my brain. I want to write it down before I forget it. Dreams rarely make sense, but they can give some insight into what’s on my mind. In this one, I was going…
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Life in the Age of COVID-19 by
200
(353 Stories)

/ Stories

Chorus is canceled. Trips to California and Europe, which would include visits with our children – gone. Gym shuttered. Restaurants open for take-out only. “First-world problems”, a friend teases. He is right. We have our health, we have food and plenty of toilet paper (what gives with the run on toilet paper?). I did grocery…
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What’s In a Name? by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Nicknames

/ Stories

Shakespeare usually has something brilliant to say on a topic like this one: “What’s in a name?/A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Like my cousin Mimi (actually Mary Elizabeth), I was named Elizabeth Ann for our paternal grandmother, who was “Elizabeth Prensky Sarason” (so her headstone says), but I never heard…
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Holy Land, Smoly Land by
200
(353 Stories)

/ Stories

By 1972 I was half-way through Brandeis and had not seen my brother in two years. He was studying to become a rabbi at the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, but was spending two years in Israel, one as part of the regular curriculum, the second at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, digging more deeply into…
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Newton Community Chorus by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Community

/ Stories

I first wrote this story for the prompt “Finding Your Tribe” on March 14, 2020, just before the start of the pandemic, and added an addendum as Massachusetts shut down the next week, then came back last year. Our conductor, Rick Travers, starts every season (I joined this chorus 20 years ago) by saying the…
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15 Years of Mother by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Caregiving

/ Stories

After Mother’s sister Ann died in Detroit, it became clear she needed to live close to one of her children. Rick and I each showed her a few continuing care communities close to us (my brother lives in Cincinnati) and she chose to come to the Boston area in 1995 at the age of 82.…
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Pirates of Penzance by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Leap Day

/ Stories

Leap Day is a once-every-four-years astronomical anomaly in the calendar, meant to sweep up the few extra minutes accumulated over the intervening years and set the calendar straight again. It happens to coincide with our presidential election years and I’m sure is a pain for people born on this particular day. When do they celebrate?…
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Channel 56 by
200
(353 Stories)

/ Stories

My second grade teacher, Elaine Zeve, first engenderd and fostered my desire to act as she read “Charlotte’s Web” aloud, doing all the voices and soon discovered that I had a flair for imitation and imagination myself. She came to see me in my high school plays and we were in touch until her death,…
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Roger by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Super Bowl

/ Stories

Roger and my husband grew up in Newton, MA. They knew each other slightly in high school, playing on opposing local after-school sports teams and through mutual friends, but became very close friends at Brandeis. This is their senior yearbook photo. Dan is on the left, Roger with the mustache in the middle on the…
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No Longer on the Move by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Moving Day

/ Stories

Moving is a pain. No one enjoys it. That’s one of many reasons I am happy that I’ve been settled in my home for more than 33 years now. Prior to this home however, it seemed we were on the move every year and a half or two years, either to upgrade locations, or for…
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Anna Pavlova by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Family Myths

/ Stories

My mother always had a wonderful sense of rhythm and a great ability to move her body to the beat of the music. I inherited that and my love of the arts from her. As a close friend, also with a depressed mother, said to me when I called to tell her of my mother’s…
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Magical Memories by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Snail Mail

/ Stories

I loved getting mail. While email is immediate, there was something gratifying, even sensual to HOLDING mail in your hand. You could see someone’s penmanship (mine was horrid; I was a straight A student, but C’s in handwriting. It has only grown worse over the years and I still write letters). There was the anticipation…
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Grundy by
200
(353 Stories)

/ Stories

I have learned that all “tweens” go through tough adolescent years; it seems to be a universal truth. Mine seemed particularly brutal, as we moved from Detroit to a near-suburb, I skipped a grade at this crucial period, the new girls were far more sophisticated and I had a particularly ugly adolescence with buck teeth,…
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A Place For Everything and Everything in its Place by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Get Organized

/ Stories

I am a born organizer and record-keeper. That is just who I am. My degree is in Theatre Arts and I wanted to be an actress, but learned over my four years of college that I was more adept at being a stage manager, writing down all the cues, running the show while in production.…
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New Year’s Tradition by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By The New Year

/ Stories

  We learned long ago that going out on New Year’s Eve was just something we didn’t want to do. Everything was overpriced and you always ran the risk of drunk drivers on the road. So we stayed in with friends and cooked. When David was a baby, I had a few couples over and…
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We Love Movies by
200
(353 Stories)

/ Stories

We see lots of movies throughout the year; this year we even attended three film festivals, though many of those films tend to be foreign and never find distribution. We eagerly await this time of year when the “prestige” movies roll out. When I saw the Golden Globe nominees, I was reminded of some good…
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Birthday Co-Mingled by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Holidaze

/ Stories

My grandfather was born in December in Russia. He didn’t know his actual birth date (no records were kept), so chose Christmas as his birthday. Why not. The world came to a halt and the family would always come to Toledo to celebrate with him. We gathered at a nice hotel and aunts, uncles and…
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Comfort From My Cousins by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Cousins

/ Stories

My father was the youngest of eight children, my mother, the youngest of four and I am their youngest. That makes me the youngest in a large generation of cousins, some old enough to be my own parent. We are a diverse group of people, yet we all get along, have each others’ backs and…
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Charity Begins at Home by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Charity

/ Stories

Among the bedrock principles of Judaism are “repairing the world” and “doing righteous deeds”. These inform the imperatives for social justice and charitable activities, so practicing Jews heed these and find ways to do meaningful work. My family became more involved in temple life as my brother, five years my elder, approached his bar mitzvah.…
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Proud Mama by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Baby Books

/ Stories

I had a somewhat tortured gynecological history (never regular periods, an ectoptic pregnancy in 1981, leaving me with one working Fallopian tube, followed nine months later, with the same IUD in place – the doctor never told me to remove it – by another pregnancy which Dan and I chose to abort for health reasons),…
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Happy 40th! by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Surprise!

/ Stories

Dan didn’t like surprise parties. He didn’t want one for his 30th, so a bunch of his work buddies convinced me to hire a belly dancer to come to the office for his 32nd. He still hasn’t forgiven me. As his 40th approached, our lives had changed. We had two young children, I no longer…
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Bully in Chief by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Bullying

/ Stories

What happened to Melania’s anti-bullying campaign? Perhaps her husband bullied her into shelving it. He seems to have the market cornered as the biggest bully in the country right now. He certainly has the loudest megaphone. A friend told me that he read a story written by an elementary school classmate of the Orange One’s.…
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What is TOO Old? by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Ageism

/ Stories

Trump, Warren, Biden and Sanders are all in their 70s. Bernie just had a heart attack but “feels fine”. My father did too after his first one, until the big one came that killed him at age 76. Jimmy Carter, still swinging a hammer for Habitat for Humanity while battling cancer, aged 95, says they…
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Treasure Room by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Libraries

/ Stories

David took a job with Google DeepMind and moved to London in January, 2015. Google put him up in a two bedroom apartment for two months while he looked for a place of his own. Not wanting to let the second bedroom go a-begging, we went to visit the next month. It had been a…
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First Sale by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By The First Time

/ Stories

I  joined Advanced Systems, Inc. in mid-April, 1978. It began with a two week training program in Elk Grove Village, IL,  where the company was headquartered. I sold follow-on contracts for video training and ancillary products to the data processing industry to existing clients (this was so long ago, it wasn’t called IT yet). Some…
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Jill-Sharon by
200
(353 Stories)

/ Stories

I stayed home after David was born for 18 months. We had moved twice and were now in our “forever” house. In fact, 33 years later, we still live there. Two months after moving in, we began extensive renovations and I began to think it was time to go back to work. I had been…
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Help! My Wallet was Stolen in Spain! by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Hacks and Scams

/ Stories

I awoke to a distressing email from my beloved mentor, former Rose Director, Carl Belz. It said something to the effect: “I left quickly for Spain and today my pocket was picked. I have no money. Could you please wire some money to…such and such a number”. The email was sent to a large number…
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Sorry! by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Games People Play

/ Stories

When we were little, my brother and I loved to play Sorry! by the hour. We’d set up the board on the carpeted floor in our living room in Detroit and hop the pieces around the board, squealing with delight if we could send the other’s pieces back to the start, yelling at each other,…
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Chicago Stories by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Road Rage

/ Stories

I have never personally experienced road rage. I tend to steer clear of drivers who seem to be in too much of a hurry, or are weaving in and out of traffic. I give them wide berth and get away as quickly as I can. Therefore, I will tell two stories from friends during my…
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Global Weirding by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Weather

/ Stories

The sky was dark when I came out of Pilates at 11:30am on Tuesday, July 22. Two of the young women who work at the club were standing outside, looking at the sky with dread. “What’s up?” “There’s a tornado warning for Vineyard Haven”. “Oh dear, I had planned to go there to grocery shop.…
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Dance to the Music by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Woodstock

/ Stories

I heard about Woodstock after it happened. It took place during the last weekend of my last summer at the National Music Camp. I was in the northern woods of Michigan with almost no access to the outside world. I was busy performing the final concert of Operetta: we sang songs of Irving Berlin and…
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Jim and Mara by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Neighbors

/ Stories

I met her “Becky Thatcher-style”; she was painting the white post fence that separated our properties and I introduced myself. We quickly learned that we were both involved in the art world, she as Director/Curator of the Brattleboro Art Museum, I as a board member of the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University. She gave…
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Ancient Canaanite by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Genealogy

/ Stories

Last November, my brother copied me on an email which shared the results of a 23andMe DNA analysis (since we have the same parents, we share the same DNA; yes, I know, we are not identical twins, so we do not have exactly the same DNA, but would have similar threads, so the results are…
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Day Dreamer by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Daydreaming

/ Stories

(Note; this was first written for the prompt BOREDOM on July 27, 2019. I have made a few, minor changes). I get lost in my thoughts, day dream, or fantasize; no time to be bored. My mind wanders back to a happy time that I want to re-live and cement in my memory. I will…
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Becoming by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Beach Reads

/ Stories

Truth be told, I do very little reading these days. I used to love to read and long ago, I read a book a week, but my eyes have betrayed me. I developed severe dry eye 30 years ago and did all I could to maintain my vision. I cauterized my lower tear ducts shut…
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End of Season Glory by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Fireworks

/ Stories

Summers on Martha’s Vineyard start slow, pick up steam, then fly by. The third week in August has a particularly frantic pace, as the Agricultural Fair runs Thursday-Sunday of that week, with a carnival side-show, all sorts of animal displays, judging other displays within the Agricultural Hall; photos, crafts, giant pumpkins, everything from across the…
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A Good Name is All I Have by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Honesty

/ Stories

I cringe when I hear jokes putting down used car sales people. My father began with a used car lot, built it into a Chrysler Dealership. When that ended, sold Buicks for a time, then became the first Director of the Endowment Fund for The Detroit Jewish Welfare Federation, starting in 1970. He was known…
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Cool Deal by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Honeymoon

/ Stories

First a word about “honeymoon”. We were at a fabulous wedding in England last October. The father of the bride began his toast holding up a bottle of mead. He commented that it was the custom in old Saxon English days to offer newlyweds bottles of mead, also known as honey wine, since it is…
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Morning Glory Farm by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Shopping Local

/ Stories

Off of West Tisbury Road, in Katama, the beachy section of Edgartown, just a few minutes away from my home on Martha’s Vineyard, is this glorious farm stand; Morning Glory Farm. They have their own fields and sell their own produce throughout the season, open from just before Memorial Day until the day before Thanksgiving,…
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Basketball Jones by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By First Dates

/ Stories

I was hot and heavy with Bob my sophomore year, but he had a bad habit of wandering off with other girls. This did not make me happy at all! I was really into him, but would entertain offers from other guys when he misbehaved. I loved going to our school basketball games and particularly…
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Degree in Self Confidence by
200
(353 Stories)

/ Stories

I was determined to be a Theatre Major. I picked Brandeis because it had an excellent theatre department and plunged right in, auditioning and landing a small role in the first Main Stage show my freshman year. I took acting classes, speech classes, movement. I also stage managed many plays throughout my four years at…
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Be Careful Who You Follow by
200
(353 Stories)

/ Stories

While watching TV last week, I was absent-mindedly scrolling though Instagram, “liking” random photos of British royalty and Patriots, equally. Somehow, I must have liked and followed something called “julianedelmanofficialfanpage”. If it really was his fan page, it would have been marked with a blue checked circle, as is every account of a famous person,…
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A Lot of Lit by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Exams

/ Stories

When I entered Brandeis, it still had a General Education requirement, so I had to take courses across varying disciplines, not only in my major of Theatre Arts. I wanted to get all those requirements done quickly, so freshman year, I took French 10 (all literature, read in French), Humanities 1 (all literature), Theatre Arts…
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Patricia by
200
(353 Stories)

/ Stories

We had mutual friends from our high school class on Facebook, so when she sent the request, I accepted. I honestly didn’t remember her from Dondero. She has told me that she was very shy (as was I, but I was busy with choir and the plays). We were never in any of the same…
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More Dance, Less Volley Ball by
200
(353 Stories)

/ Stories

Let me be clear. I am not an athlete and never enjoyed any sort of organized team sport. Just built that way. So PE was definitely not my thing. I am barely 5′ tall, small-boned, terrible hand-to-eye coordination. Great sense of rhythm, good dancer. Yes, dancing is good exercise. Anyone done a Zumba class? So…
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Kiss Your Ass Goodbye by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Cold War Coping

/ Stories

All of us of a certain age remember the “duck and cover” drill, as if ducking under our desks would shield us from nuclear fall-out. We labeled it the “kiss your ass goodbye” move. After World War II, as more countries, particularly our mortal enemy, the Soviet Union, obtained nuclear capability, some built their own…
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Pink Ribbons on my License by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Learning to Drive

/ Stories

We took Driver’s Ed during a free period in high school. Since I was in choir, took PE for two years, then a semester of typing, I didn’t have any free periods until second semester of my junior year in high school. I was already 16, so I was 16 1/2 by the time I…
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At Our Peril by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Earth Day

/ Stories

Climate change is real, pervasive, and all but overwhelms me when I think about it. Every day there is some new, shocking story about devastating storms in the south, floods in the midwest, tornadoes, hurricanes, melting of the polar ice cap, warming of the ocean, bleaching of the coral reefs. The list of  disasters caused…
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The “I Know Nothing About Taxes” Blues by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Taxes

/ Stories

I went straight from being my father’s dependent to being a married lady, so I have only signed a tax return. I have never done my own. I wouldn’t know where to begin. When we were first married, our taxes were simple. We had no investments, very little savings and made very little money. As…
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Neruda by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Poetry

/ Stories

I read Lorraine Hunt Lieberson’s obituary with great sadness and keen interest. She passed away in 2006, aged 52 from breast cancer. She was a leading mezzo-soprano of her day and, though I’d never heard her perform, our lives intersected at a few points. She had also attended the Interlochen Arts Camp in her youth,…
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Jackie by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Women We Admire

/ Stories

The epitome of grace, class, and intelligence, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis was, from the time I was very young, my idol. She married John F. Kennedy when I was a baby and she set about having babies too. She was married to JFK a mere 10 years and was pregnant five times, resulting in only…
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11th Birthday by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Betrayal

/ Stories

My mother was still in a deep depression, too tranqed out on Miltowns to take care of me, much less plan a birthday party. Dad owned a car dealership; worked six days and two nights a week. He cared but just wasn’t there. We had been in the neighborhood 2 1/2 months and I didn’t…
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Road Trip with Family by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Spring Break

/ Stories

I had the IUD inserted just before coming home for spring break my junior year at Brandeis. It was a Dalkon Shield and not really meant for young women like myself. I lay in bed for the rest of that day, bleeding and in pain. In fact, I bled for a long time after. I…
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Roach Motel by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By My First Apartment

/ Stories

We married after I graduated from Brandeis in Waltham, MA in 1974. I went home to Huntington Woods, MI to prepare for the wedding. Dan lived in the Boston area with his parents, so found our first apartment at 1105 Lexington Street, in Waltham, almost in Lexington. He worked in Waltham and within two months,…
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“Retro” Revival by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By New Beginnings

/ Stories

She was bereft at the thought that we wouldn’t write weekly. We were a close-knit group and loved reading and commenting on each other’s stories. We had become long-distance friends and in one case, even met and spent a lovely day together. But when Suzy reached out, I told her I needed some time off.…
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Moving On by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Turning Points

/ Stories

Patti and John Zussman are among my oldest and dearest friends. So I was pleased and honored when they contacted me, nearly three years ago, to be a beta tester for their new website “MyRetrospect.com”. They explained it was a story-sharing medium for baby-boomers to tell their tales, based on prompts the site would provide.…
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Simple Gifts by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Gifts

/ Stories

He gave me all kinds of intangible gifts. As I wrote in Dude – A Message of Love, I knew Dude Stephenson virtually my whole life as he was my operetta teacher for five glorious summers at the National Music Camp, Interlochen, MI from 1965-1969. He taught me the value of being an important member of…
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Holmes Coffin House by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Home

/ Stories

We looked for two years. Did we want in-town, or in Katama, closer to the beach? Finally, we bid on and had an accepted offer on a house on Main Street across from the Old Whaling Church; a small cape, but we knew our architect, Patrick, with whom we’d worked since our first Back Bay…
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Gladie and Erv by
200
(353 Stories)

/ Stories

Before I gave Gladys and Erv Pfau their first grandchild, of unknown sex (I was 32 years old, had been married to their oldest son for 11 years but was too young to have amniocentesis, so we didn’t know if we were having a boy or girl until the moment of delivery), they gave the…
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Gotta Sing by
200
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Songs We Sang

/ Stories

I LOVE TO SING. I have sung as long as I can remember. My mother sang Broadway show tunes to me while she bathed me when I was a little baby. I learned all those songs, mostly Rogers and Hammerstein or Lerner and Lowe and could sing then on command, on pitch and well. One…
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Going Home by
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(353 Stories)

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This is the first memory piece I ever wrote, long before Retrospect, or taking the Chilmark Writer’s Workshop. I wrote it in 1994, immediately after the events in the story took place and I tucked it away. I had to get my thoughts out. As you can see from the comments below, I’ve shared it…
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On the Eve of Destruction by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Politics

/ Stories

The last time I wrote to this prompt was November 7, 2016, the day before our world turned upside down. In that essay, Born Blue, I described what a proud liberal Democrat I was. And I remain so, though these last two years have sorely tried my faith in humanity. My husband went to bed at…
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DSS Twins by
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(353 Stories)

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I have never been much of a prankster. I don’t like having them played on me, usually don’t find them funny and am not creative in thinking them up. So this is a difficult prompt for me. I never created mischief on Halloween, or any other night, for that matter. The closest I came was…
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Jewelry Girl by
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(353 Stories)

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The night after my father died I received a call from an older first cousin, trying to console me. He remembered that I was a serious little girl who LOVED jewelry. Funny, but not a surprising combination, since my maternal grandfather owned a jewelry store in Toledo, OH and when we visited, I would press…
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Yesterday by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Beatles vs Stones

/ Stories

Yes, I know, “Yesterday” isn’t on “Rubber Soul”, but this is the only original Beatles album I own. My mother didn’t approve of me listening to that sort of music, so I had to sneak it, by plugging my ear phones into my transistor radio. How could you not love the infectious upbeat, cute guys…
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Op Tails by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Parties

/ Stories

I went to work for Management Decision Systems in May of 1981. It was a young, vibrant company founded by John D. C. Little and Glen Urban of MIT Sloan School, Len Lodish of Wharton and two of their brightest students, Jay Wurts and Rick Karash, to do marketing models. It expanded to do all…
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Painful Still by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Middle School

/ Stories

The memories are still painful. A close friend once wished I could have a selective lobotomy to block them out. My family moved from Detroit to a near suburb when I was just shy of 11. In Detroit, if your birthday fell between December 1 and the end of February, you started school in the…
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Checkbook Gardener by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By The Garden

/ Stories

I have a notorious black thumb. I killed a philodendron in my college dorm room and those things are indestructible. I killed all my house plants, so replaced them with good-looking silk ones. No fuss, no muss. But that is indoors. The great outdoors is less and more capricious. Back home in Newton, MA, my…
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Information Pollution by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By The Social Network

/ Stories

I recently heard Nicco Mele, head of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard, speak. He doesn’t use the term “Fake News” to describe the hi-jacking of truth by our president, Russian hackers, trolls and bots who spread lies or disinformation via Facebook and Twitter, or the abundance of verifiably false…
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An Up and Down Year by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By 1968

/ Stories

The radio alarm woke me the morning of June 6, 1968. I listened to the news, silently wept and pulled the covers over my head. I couldn’t get out of bed. After some time, my mother came in to see why I wasn’t up yet. “They got Bobby”, was all I could get out between…
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No Shrinking Violet by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Nudity

/ Stories

Charlie leered at me, “Hey doll, did you pop out tonight?” Charlie was Charles Werner Moore, a much-respected director, actor, and acting teaching at Brandeis (though I wouldn’t take a course with him until the following year) and director of the first Main Stage show my freshman year at Brandeis. He never learned young womens’…
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Small Town 4th by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Independence

/ Stories

We are lucky to spend our summers in the historic town of Edgartown on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, seven miles off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts. We own an old home right in the old village, a few steps away from Main Street, abuzz with activity all day on the nation’s birthday.…
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Fit For Life by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Diets

/ Stories

Truth be told, I was always slender, but my weight varied by a few pounds in college. Then, along with my friends, I’d go on the Atkins Diet…no carbs, only protein and 8 big glasses of water a day. The weight would fall off me. I’d eat eggs, hamburger (you couldn’t get good meat at…
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Dude – A Message of Love by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Teachers & Mentors

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I met him when I was 9 years old. My older brother was Nanki Poo in the Intermediate production of MIKADO at camp that summer. Clarence “Dude” Stephenson directed the Intermediate and High School productions of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, as well as other plays and musicals at the National Music Camp (now Interlochen Arts…
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Born That Way by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Babies

/ Stories

In the eternal “nature vs nurture” debate, I can assure you that both play a big factor in how one’s child turns out, but babies are born with certain traits that cannot be denied. David was born 10 days after his due date; I labored for 37 1/2 uncomfortable hours and he was whisked off…
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A Grand, if not Royal, Wedding Portrait by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Vintage Photos

/ Stories

March 5, 1895. That is the caption in my photo album. These are my grandparents, Samuel Sarason and “Lizzie” (Fruma Leah) Prensky (changed to Prentis by her younger brother Meyer in 1925) on their wedding day in St. Louis, MO, as referenced on the bottom of the photo. I love everything about this photo. I…
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Is That You, Mrs. Schwartz? by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By The Twilight Zone

/ Stories

We live in a large, one story, L-shaped house. Though 70 years old, we are only the third owners. It is a contemporary, and was built as a retirement home by “Mom” and “Pop” Schwartz, who made their fortune in corrugated boxes. It sits on a corner lot, one block west of Boston College. The…
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Oblivious by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Student Activism

/ Stories

I drifted through high school, worried about my grades, seeking good roles in the school plays, yearning until I could be in the top choir (I didn’t like being in the all-girl’s Glee Club and Girl’s Choir…we sang simple songs and at one point, I was made an alto simply because I had a strong…
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The Sarason Clan by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Aunts & Uncles

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Lizzie and Sam Sarason had eight children over the course of 17 years. Lizzie (for whom cousin Mimi and I were named) was seriously ill with bipolar disorder. No one knew how to treat this at the turn of the 20th century. She had the last two children, including my father, the baby of the…
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From the Sublime to the Ridiculous by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Restaurants

/ Stories

I grew up eating simple, 1950s food. On Sundays we went to, or brought in from, deli food from Detroit delis, either Billy’s or Darby’s. My favorite was getting a large bowl of mushroom barley soup. Like Proust’s madeleine, I still search for soup as delicious as the one from my childhood. I have found…
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First but not Best by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Best Picture

/ Stories

My older brother and I were Disney nuts. We loved all things Disney. I skipped piano practice so I could watch the afternoon TV show as a kid. My first movie, as a four year old was Fantasia, some lovely stuff there, but some pretty scary stuff too. I don’t remember my reaction, but I’m sure…
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Proximity to History by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Watergate

/ Stories

Watergate. The word is redolent with history, even more so now with an imperiled special prosecutor, a sitting president trying to malign real news sources, looking more corrupt by the day. We are reminded of Santayana’s quote…those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. We seem poised at another Watergate moment; just…
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Volunteering by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Retirement

/ Stories

We had a “retirement” prompt in early February, 2018, so the dates in this story are old, as you can ascertain by looking at the date stamps in the comments section. Also, since writing this story, there has been a “nanny” prompt, which I will link to within the body of the story at the…
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Carol by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Roommates

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There was no Facebook or Instagram in 1970. I sent a postcard to Brandeis with my preferences: neat, non-smoker. Over the summer I received one back: Carol from Brooklyn. She received a similar one with my name and address. I later learned that she thought I would arrive in over-alls (the East Coast kids called…
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The Good, The Bad, Even Some Ugly by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By A Year in the Life

/ Stories

If I may steal from Dickens, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”. 2017 had a lot of both, beginning with the still surreal inauguration of the Orange Monster. I keep thinking he has struck a new low, but he keeps surprising me. I made sure to stay occupied and…
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Cruise to Normandy by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Vacations

/ Stories

I like history. When I read (now I have eye problems that limits my ability), I read biography. So my husband and I always wanted to tour Normandy and better understand what happened during the beginning of the liberation of Europe. The Americanization of Emily is one of my favorite movies and we agree that the…
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Pain Addiction by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Marijuana

/ Stories

I walked into my college alumni party on my birthday last month; a cold day in December, which also happened to be my 65th birthday. I was greeted by many from the Brandeis administration whom I knew. While chatting with one, she said, “Do you recognize him from your class, Betsy? He’s doing an interesting…
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Usdan Lives by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By That Night

/ Stories

When I arrived on the Brandeis campus in the autumn of 1970, it did not have a student union, though one was under construction. We were the last class to use the old mail room. Our new student union, “Usdan” officially opened on November 1, 1970. The night before, with barely any furniture to get…
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Cutting the (phone) Cord by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Technology

/ Stories

I love my iPhone (even the earliest iteration, pictured above), but even before cellular technology, just having a cordless phone was a huge leap forward for me. I remember that first big brick with the antenna. We got it when my first baby was born; it was on a little table beside the chair I…
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More I Cannot Wish You by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Being Different

/ Stories

I came to college incredibly naive about all things sexual and gender-related. As a theater major, I was certainly surrounded by gays; I was totally unaware. Perhaps they were too, as many were still closeted in the early 1970s. My junior year, I won the role of Sarah Brown in “Guys and Dolls”. The show…
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Chair For Life by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Reunions

/ Stories

Founded in 1948, Brandeis is a young university with a small, largely uninvolved alumni base, though the university is getting better at grooming their younger alumni. The Alumni Office knew they had a winner in me right from the start. I used to stop in and visit, particularly after my kids were born. I’d take…
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Breasts by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Gender Roles

/ Stories

Every female mammal has some form of them. They are functional. Yet for centuries, (mostly) men have dictated style and ferver about female breasts, both how much was decent to expose in fashion and how large was fashionable at any given moment. From the annals of art history and “Rubenesque” women in the 1600s to the…
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Pfau Family Halloween by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Trick or Treat?

/ Stories

Costumes and candy, trick-or-treating, pumpkin carving and leaves rustling under foot, parades at school. All made up happy times when my kids were young and Halloween rolled around. Autumn in New England is so beautiful with the brightly colored leaves on display. We always hoped it wouldn’t be too cold or too wet when we’d…
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Getting it to Snow Was the Most Difficult by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Special Birthdays

/ Stories

I was rushing to pack for Boston, but took the phone call. It was my client at the Farm Bureau Insurance in Indianapolis, calling to say the signed contract was being FedExed to my office. Perfect way to start my birthday weekend. Dan and I had lived apart for almost 8 months by this point,…
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An Ode to Surrogate Mothers by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Generation Gap

/ Stories

“Don’t trust anyone over 30!” I remember the phrase well, but somehow, though I did some eye-rolling back in the day at things my parents said, I never embraced the philosophy. My parents were the babies of their respective families and were 39 when I was born. I am the youngest in a large generation…
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Follow the Fold and Stray No More by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By The Road Not Taken

/ Stories

Shy people often come alive through acting. I was no exception. Though a skirt-hugger as a little girl, I started singing publicly as a 7 year old, and acting at about the same time. Everyone thought I had some talent and I was encouraged to pursue it. I was passionate about it. With the stage…
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A Cautionary Tale by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Hitchhiking

/ Stories

I didn’t know Maria well. She was a senior and I, a freshman, in the autumn of 1970. She was thin with a puff of blonde curls surrounding her pleasant face. We had mutual friends and we were driving to one’s house at the western end of the Mass Pike late one Saturday evening, exactly…
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9-11 in the Pfau Household by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By 9/11

/ Stories

We came off the Vineyard just before Labor Day, 2001 to a house in renovation chaos and our family in chaos. My in-laws had always spent the parting days of summer with us on the Vineyard, then the beginning of the fall with us in Newton, but Erv passed away the previous May. Gladys still…
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Over-Educated, Under-Qualified by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Working

/ Stories

I graduated from Brandeis in 1974 with a degree in Theatre Arts and a Massachusetts Secondary Teaching Certificate. I also got married a month after graduating. Dan, my new husband, worked at a small software company in Waltham, MA called SofTech, but would start graduate school in the fall, though he continued to work part…
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Article II, Section 1 by
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(353 Stories)

/ Stories

The Democratic Party has won the popular vote in six of the last seven presidential elections, but lost the office of the President due to the Electoral College. The Electoral College has GOT to go! The framers of the Constitution had a population made up heavily of farmers, many of whom were illiterate and lived…
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IBS and Then Some by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Illness

/ Stories

It came on with no warning in mid-March of 2003…unrelenting diarrhea, sometimes several times a day. After a few weeks, I visited my doctor who ordered tests of my upper and lower GI tract. All unpleasant, but proved normal. Not meaning to be too graphic, but I had never been “regular”, and would have occasional…
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A Really Big Show by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Variety Shows

/ Stories

Gathering in the den with my family to watch variety shows was a weekly treat, from The Ed Sullivan Show to Carol Burnett; we ran the gamut. My dad loved sports, but that love wasn’t shared by my mother, so he watched alone…though I often was in the room and now can follow any sport that…
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Please Don’t Eat the Daisies by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Drive-Ins

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One might think that drive-ins would be a big thing in the Motor City, since Detroit was the birthplace of the car culture, but I have only one memory of going to a drive-in movie. As a youngster, the whole family piled into my dad’s Imperial. He owned a Chrysler dealership and always had the…
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Peter Pan in the Backyard by
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(353 Stories)

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My older brother and I were both artsy kids. We both still sing and I was a Theatre major in college. As children in Detroit, we loved to listen to classical music and I followed him around like his shadow. We both loved the same movies and shows on TV. We looked forward to the…
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Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Summer of Love

/ Stories

14 years old, out of braces, in contact lenses…I had arrived! The ugly duckling had blossomed. 1967, my first summer in High School Division at the National Music Camp (now the Interlochen Arts Camp) and I thought I was BIG STUFF! I got to wear powder blue knee socks, designating HSG, no longer red socks…
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Cruisin’ for Burgers and Broads by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Camp

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The summer before my senior year in college I worked as a counselor at a Jewish overnight camp near Ann Arbor, MI called Camp Tamarack. I was assigned to a cabin in the Pioneer Girls, the oldest girls at the camp. The group was situated a little away from the main camp. There was no…
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Rolling Thunder Revue by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Concerts

/ Stories

It was a secret. We only knew about it because a good friend on the Brandeis Student Senate contacted us. We had already graduated, but he got us tickets and we lined up outside the gym on that cold November night in 1975, waiting for legends of our musical lives: Dylan and Baez (performing together…
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My Grandparents’ Story by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Immigrants

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Belle Potocsky and Zalman Beckenstein were married in the “old country”; Bialystock, Lithuania in 1902. I have a dress that Grandma wore to a ball when they were courting. These were not “shtetl” Jews like in “Fiddler on the Roof”. They were educated and erudite. My grandmother’s dress is a beauty, with a train and…
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Ruth Paige Dance Studio by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Lessons

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I always loved to dance, but was a sickly kid, so my mother withdrew me from dance lessons. I came back as an adult beginner to ballet class in my early 20s. Though never great, I truly enjoyed it. I have a wonderful sense of rhythm, can dance modern and “pop” very well, but enjoyed…
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South Beach Nymph by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By The Beach

/ Stories

We are lucky to own a home on Martha’s Vineyard. This paradise island, 7 miles off the coast of Massachusetts, has been settled since the early 1600s, and been a vacation destination since the 1800s. Comprised of six distinct towns, we own a historic colonial, the Holmes Coffin House, built in 1829 in the village…
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Expect the Unexpected by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Graduation Advice

/ Stories

I recently witnessed a highly successful businessman query a 20-something about her background, her upbringing and her 5-year plan. I remember a mentor telling me to make a 5-year plan. I can assure you, things never worked out as I anticipated. I always loved the arts, my degree is in Theatre Arts and I have…
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No More Vietnams by
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(353 Stories)

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My 10th grade Geometry teacher was William Sturley. He had just graduated from college and received a one-year deferment to teach us. He had gone through school on an ROTC scholarship and was due to ship out to Vietnam as soon as this teaching year was over. He was small and sturdy with glasses, an…
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A Tribute to my Father by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Father's Day

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I lost my father, suddenly, more than 27 years ago. I miss him every day; his gentle spirit and home-spun wisdom.  At the time of his death I had a 4 year old and an 8 month old child. I realized there was so much I wanted to ask him, to know about him. He…
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Venice Biennale 2017 by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Travel

/ Stories

The Venice Biennale began in 1895, making it the oldest and most important art fair in the world. It showcases contemporary art from across the globe for six months every other year. Twenty nine countries like the U.S., France, Germany and Canada have Pavilions that have stood in the Giardini, once a large park, since…
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Are You Betsy From Brandeis? by
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(353 Stories)

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A women I didn’t recognize came up to me after class in the gym last year. “Are you Betsy from Brandeis?” Guess so. Turns out we were classmates, sort of. She had transferred into my class our sophomore year, but graduated a year after me, so I really did not know her. But somehow, she…
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The Walk-In Closet by
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(353 Stories)

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My mother had great style and a certain elegance, but no self-confidence. In fact, she actively disliked her looks. She used to say she had the map of Jerusalem on her face. As a grown-up, I tried to disabuse her of this notion, but to no avail. She was a self-hating Jew. Nevertheless, she always…
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Kate by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Pets

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In 1987, the neighbor’s cat roamed around and got knocked up. They gave us the last of the litter, a sweet little female. David was two at the time and had a few children’s books about kittens; in each the protagonist was named Kate so bestowed the name on her. I’d had a dog growing…
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No Friend Like an Old Friend by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Friendship

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My dearest camp counselor wrote this to me in 1966: You call me friend, but do you realize how much the name implies? It means that down through the years, through sunshine and tears, There’s always someone standing by your heart. And I would have you know, where ever you may go, There’s always someone,…
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7th Grade Science Fair by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Science

/ Stories

Though always a good student, the arts and literature were my bailiwick. I had to work hard at math and science to get good grades. Thus, when Mr. Perkins, who I had for 7th and 8th grade science, announced that we all had to do a project for the Science Fair, I struggled for an…
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GOAT (still) by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Sports

/ Stories

Haters gonna hate, but I gotta tell you, it is fun to root for a winning team. Over the last couple of years, I have become quite the Patriots fan, political bedfellows aside. I grew up in a household with a father who watched football, baseball and golf constantly, then I married a huge sports…
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Barbie by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Toys & Games

/ Stories

The general store in Charlevoix of 1959 seems so quaint when I think back on it now; the wide floorboards, the glass display cases and large open shelving. I wonder if my Sarason grandfather’s store in turn-of-the-century St. Louis was similar. We vacationed in this northern Michigan resort destination for five summers and the morning…
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Planned Parenthood Before Roe v. Wade by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Women's Lib

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E asked what I was doing for birth control. In February of 1971 we were both freshmen in college and had both just lost our virginity. I visited her in New York City over Intersession, after my exams, before the start of second semester. At Brandeis, all freshmen were issued a Birth Control Handbook, published…
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Dance Class by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Dance Crazes

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As we prepared for bar mitzvah parties in 1964, my mother put me in a local dance class, which met in someone’s basement one day a week. All the “cool” kids were in the group. I was not cool, but took the class anyway. We learned to waltz, two-step and fox trot. Basic dance steps…
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Wait Until Your Father Gets Home by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By In Trouble

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My brother, five years my elder, and I, were remarkably well-behaved children. He was quite passive, liked to read, listen to classical music and watch “The Mickey Mouse Club” on TV. I was a little more obstreperous, but still knew how to mind my manners. I just wanted attention. Our mother was always frazzled, our…
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French-style by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By The First Time

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Freshman year in high school, the musical was “The Fantastics”, which it really was. I got called back for the female lead of Luisa, but the role went to a junior, which was fine. I was thrilled to be called back. With such a small cast, I worked on make-up. It was a great, friendly…
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Secret Family Recipe by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Cooking

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Perhaps because he was the youngest of eight, raised by an older sister once his mother was institutionalized when he was 12, or maybe because he didn’t marry until he was 32; for whatever reason, my father liked to cook and was good at it. If we had Thanksgiving at home, he did all the…
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I Like Ike by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By What We Wore

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Being a Boomer, I have lived through all the style changes through the years. I wore pretty organdy dresses with patent leather Mary Janes to birthday parties in my youth. I had a dress coat with matching hat each season as I grew. I remember the introduction of velcro into the wardrobe (it made a…
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Blizzard Betsy by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Snowy Days

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With minor modifications, this story was originally written for the prompt Snow, in 2017, but it will be new for most of the current readers. ———————————————————————————————————————————– The weather report called for snow, but none had come yet, so we all went to work; no call for alarm. It started snowing around noon on Monday. I…
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Unstuck in Time by
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(353 Stories)

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In “Slaughter House Five” Kurt Vonnegut wrote, “I’ve come unstuck in time”. I am not sure if that is the appropriate phrase, or if we are through the looking glass, but we are definitely not bending toward Dr. King’s moral universe this election cycle; far from it. Every day brings some new, disgusting revelation, whether…
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Chocaholic by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Temptation

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I LOVE chocolate – fudge cake, fudge, frosting, M&Ms, 3 Musketeer Bars. You name it. Each has a particular association for me. As a youngster, my family vacationed in Charlevoix, MI, a lovely resort spot on Lake Michigan. In their downtown was a fudge shop named Murdick’s. We would wander over, watch them make the…
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My Love Affair With Daniel Day-Lewis by
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(353 Stories)

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I love movies. But I had never loved a movie star; not until Daniel Day-Lewis swept me away in The Last of the Mohicans. Actually, it is my husband Dan who claimed that I was in love. An old friend referred to my condition as obsession. She would know. She’s a therapist. That didn’t stop her…
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Alumni Choir by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Traditions

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My own family has no traditions to speak of, but when I arrived at the National Music Camp in 1964 (now the Interlochen Arts Camp), it was full of traditions. Some I would help add. Camp had been around since 1928 and became an integral part of my life for decades. Now I just send…
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Moose and Squirrel by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Cartoons

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Stroke, stroke, bail…bail..bail…bail! If only you could hear my accent. Moose and Squirrel, Boris and Natasha (did anyone else see her resemblance to the original Barbie?), Dudley Do-Right, Mr Peabody and his boy Sherman. My brother and I loved them all, and reveled in the silliness of the Cold War cartoons with our heroes always…
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Family Sharing by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Gratitude

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It is that time of the year when we take stock of our blessings and enumerate what we are grateful for. It feels trite and yet appropriate to feel gratitude that my children are well and have good values; that I feel love and respect from my family and friends, that I have health and…
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Where Did the Dream Go? by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By The American Dream

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My maternal grandparents came to this country from Bialystock, Russia in 1906 to escape the pogroms. They raised four children, my grandfather ran a successful jewelry business in Toledo, OH, were free to worship as they pleased and found prosperity in the heartland of America. One could say they lived the American Dream. Two of…
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Born Blue by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Politics

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My mother was a proud FDR Democrat and preached it at home. My father’s family grew up quiet Republicans, transplanted to Detroit from St. Louis. We never got him to admit who he voted for in 1960, but he became more liberal as he aged. I was not quite four years old during the 1956…
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Saying Shema on the Rosary by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By The Great Beyond

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My maternal grandparents met, married and had their first two children in Bialystock, Russia at the turn of the 20th century. They survived the pogroms (race riots promulgated against Jews) in 1906, hidden by Christian neighbors and fled to the United States with their babies in 1906…yes, immigrants. My grandfather had been a prosperous watch maker,…
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Costumes to Keep by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Halloween

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Growing up in a neighborhood in Detroit full of kids, Halloween was a big deal. My dad would carve the pumpkin in the scrub sink in the basement. We also lived a few blocks from two large cemeteries, so it really was spooky. We ran in packs from house to house, holding our breath. Houses…
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Mama, Don’t Let Your Children Grow Up To Be Cowboys by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Best Advice: Money

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As workers, we used what tools we had easily at our disposal to save: IRAs. But other than that, we enjoyed being DINKs (dual income, no kids). We didn’t have children until we’d been married 11 years. At that time, we set up a college fund and started to set aside serious money each month.…
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The Band Shak by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By In the Band

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David came home for Christmas break from Stanford freshman year and announced he was going to join the band. I scoffed. He had played piano in elementary school, so perhaps remembered how to read music, but knew no other instrument that would help in a marching band. “What will you play,” I queried, “the triangle”?…
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Waiting for Christie by
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(353 Stories)

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We spent the day before in Ogunquit, ME. I walked the beach with my dad and got a bit sunburnt. We had to drive 1,000 miles to get me from Huntington Woods, MI to Waltham, MA for the start of my freshman year at Brandeis University. It was September, 1970. Campuses across the US were…
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Bryce by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Something Wild

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We looked at Jupiter and its moons just before it set.
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60% of the Revenue, 40% Less Stock by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Working

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I interviewed for a year, but it was a start-up and they weren’t ready to hire salespeople. I was looking to leave the software company I worked for and come to this one, as the product was a good fit with what I already knew. In fact, it could serve as a friendlier front-end to…
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Broken Toilet Valve by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Floods

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(Note: this story was originally published in August, 2016 for a “Disaster” prompt.) The call came very early that August morning in 2007. We were both still in bed on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. I heard the voice of my Brazilian cleaning lady from my house in Newton. She was very upset, talking quickly,…
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How Do You Spell PFAU? by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By How We Met

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“You know I almost didn’t ask you out”, said Bob. We had been dating six days, were in bed, post-coitus. “A guy named Dan Pfau told me you were a tease.” “Who is this guy to call me a tease (since I, obviously, am NOT!), and how do you spell PFAU?” I queried, quite upset…
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Mean Girls by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Good Riddance

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I am so glad I am not in middle school and no longer have to deal with cliques and mean girls. Thank goodness I grew up and survived that phase of life.
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What I Didn’t Tell You Then by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Turning Points

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How could I respond “I love you”? You always ended every conversation “I love you…”, waiting for me to respond in kind. I always heard your criticism in my head: “stand up straight”, “don’t wear your hair behind your ears”, “you missed that note” (screamed from another room as I practiced my singing while taking…
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Tin Lizzy by
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(353 Stories)

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My dad lost his Chrysler dealership, due to bad business deals and the UAW going on strike, leaving him with no inventory, in 1967. My mother’s 1967 Plymouth Valiant was the last car to come from that dealership. I student taught my senior year at Brandeis and needed a car, so I bought it from…
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Sound the Call to Dear Old Interlochen by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Camp

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I spent six glorious, formative summers at the National Music Camp in Interlochen, Michigan. Founded in 1928 on an old logging camp, in a pine forest, between two lakes, it is the granddaddy of arts camps and was heaven on earth for me and like-minded friends. We waited all year to get there and not…
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Frae Bonnie Scotland by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Travel

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I had a Scottish nurse when I was a baby. She called me her “wee little treasure” and gave me dolls that said, “Frae Bonnie Scotland” on them. Her name was Jean James but I called her Jean-Jean. I loved the way she spoke and the way she cared for me and my brother. Because…
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He Called Me “Boop-de-Boy” by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Siblings

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Rick was alone with our mother for almost 5 years. I was not welcome when I came along. I was a hairless creature. He thought girls should have hair, so I must be a boy, right? He called me “boop-de-boy” and tripped me as I learned to walk. But as I became more fun to…
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A Borrowed Story From My Neighbor, a Judge by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Independence

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The Honorable James L. Oakes and his wife Mara lived next to me on Martha’s Vineyard until his death in 2007. He was kind, patient, brilliant and I adored him. Mara, with whom I remain close, shared this article on citizenhood, reprinted from the Brattleboro Reformer, on July 4, 2010. She gave me permission to…
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I Wanted the Fairy Tale by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Weddings

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Dan and I started dating during my Junior year at Brandeis. He graduated that year, but lived locally, and would come by after dinner to spend the night. He always began phrases, “When we are married…” Finally I said, “Do you really think we’ll get married?” He responded affirmatively, so I said, “Why don’t you…
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Seven Double Chivases on the Rocks by
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(353 Stories)

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I moved to Chicago in 1978 to take a sales position with a company willing to hire me. My husband stayed in Boston and we commuted for 16 months, seeing each other every second or third weekend. The photo is me, “dressed for success” in August of 1978. I have no photos of “AL”. My…
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No Valediction by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Graduation

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1970 was a turbulent year. Four of us graduated with perfect grade-point averages, but we were not asked to give remarks at graduation. I think the school feared what we might say. It was just a few weeks after protesting students at Kent State were shot by National Guardsmen. So I had to be content…
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Girl Stories by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By What We Read

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I was an exuberant reader, often reading by flashlight under the covers when I was supposed to be sleeping. I heard my 3rd grade teacher telling someone in the school hallway that I tested at a 10th grade level at that tender age. I loved “girl” books and there were plenty in my household, hand-me-downs…
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Action Jackson by
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(353 Stories)

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(I keep updating this story as I learn new information about my long-lost, but still fascinating cousin.) The last time I saw him was in October of 1980. He’d called my office a day earlier. “You’ve got to come up over the weekend. It’s fantastic here.” Trying to get a room in Woodstock, VT over…
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Keypunch! by
200
(353 Stories)

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“Over-educated and under qualified”. That’s what the folks at SofTech said to me when I was desperate for a job in August of 1974. I had graduated the previous May from Brandeis University, magna cum lauda with a BA in Theatre Arts with honors and a Massachusetts teaching certificate in Secondary Speech and English. Married a…
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Second Choice by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Prom

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I was not a “cool” kid in high school, and, though I had run through a fair number of dates, I never had a long-term boyfriend. As prom time approached my senior year, I desperately wanted to attend that rite of passage, but things were not looking good. My two best friends had been in…
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Memories by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By The Things I Keep

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I keep memories. The photo is me in 1972 wearing a cherished dress brought from Russia by my maternal grandmother in 1906. It was part of her trousseau, four years earlier. My mother and I were the only women in the family small enough to fit into it. When it became too fragile to wear,…
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Different Types by
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(353 Stories)

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My parents were very different. We were never quite sure why they married in the first place, or how they stayed together as long as they did. Dad was a home-spun philosopher, having come from a difficult family situation. His mother was bipolar, started in and out of mental institutions when my dad was 8…
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One Toke Over the Line by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Altered States

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I was a goodie-two-shoes, as straight as they come. I never tried drugs during high school, though I dated a “druggie” Junior year. He came over on my birthday, high as a kite and sang “Happy Birthday” while hopping on one foot. I was amused; my mother didn’t get it. He visited once when I…
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Boston Strong by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Sports

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  I have never been an athlete – no hand-to-eye coordination; never enjoyed participating, always enjoyed watching. Lately I’ve become a gym rat and workout six days a week, staying fit with Pilates and other forms of working out. My husband always was a sports enthusiast, on intramural football and softball teams in college, but…
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Play List for Life by
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(353 Stories)

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My mother only allowed me to listen to classical music for a long time. I was a serious singer, took voice lessons, attended a music camp in summer, but wanted to be like the other kids and listen to rock and roll too. I got a transistor radio with an ear piece and broke the…
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Posing in 3-D by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By My First Paycheck

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The Brandeis Theatre Department hired a new scenic painter in 1973. In addition to painting all the backdrops, he also taught a life drawing course and advertised for models. I had done a little modeling during my time at Brandeis, but nothing note-worthy. This was a real class, taught by a master, so I signed…
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Nicky by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Pets

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My father and I were crazy about dogs. My mother was terrified of them. All my lobbying fell on deaf ears for years. Finally, my brother was off to college and I was a lonely 14 year old. Evidently, my mother had had an interesting discussion with an aunt while I was at school one…
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What is Faith? by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Faith

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What is faith? I struggle with the concept. We were minimally Jewish, attending services sporadically, though my brother and I were faithful Sunday school attendees, until my brother was 12. He was not being prepped for a bar mitzvah, unlike every other boy in his class. Girls still weren’t able to be “called to the Torah”…
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Belle & Zalman by
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(353 Stories)

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My mother’s parents came from Bialystock, still part of Russia when they met in 1902. I have a fancy dress from Grandma’s trousseau that she brought over on the ship. My mother was always proud that her family came over second-class, not steerage. My grandparents married in 1902 and were successful. She had a maid…
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Charlevoix by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Vacations

/ Stories

Charlevoix. For five glorious summers my family stayed at the Scutt Guest House in the resort town on Lake Michigan for a few weeks in August, beginning in 1959. I believe it became quite a well-heeled resort, but at the time it felt cozy and lots of our friends and family from Detroit also made…
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Shy Child by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Lessons

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I was so shy, I was a skirt-hugger. I loved to play with my dolls, the kids in my neighborhood and was dazzled by the performing arts. My first love was ballet and I started lessons at the age of seven. With flat feet and a sickly constitution, I wasn’t very good, and often missed…
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Movies That Made a Difference by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By What We Watched

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I tend to love romantic movies; big sweeping costume dramas, though occasionally go for thoughtful dramas. It is difficult for me to pick just five that have rocked my world, as I love to come back to favorites and watch them over and over again, just for pure pleasure. So I will share my top…
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Donn goes to Nam by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By War & Remembrance

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Camp was a strict place and we were not supposed to fraternize with the staff, but my best friend and I were fascinated by Donn. 1969 was the second summer that he and his sister had come to work as part of the back-stage theater crew, she on costumes, he on scenery. They were several…
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Lanny by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By The Crush

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Lanny was SO cute. We were in 10th grade Geometry class together and our lockers were close to each other. I barely spoke to him throughout all of high school, but he sat next to me in that one class. He was a wrestler; at that point, the lightest on the team, though eventually he’d…
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I Always Wanted Long Hair by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Hair

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I guess girls are supposed to have hair. I was born bald so my brother, five years my elder, called me “Boop-dy Boy”. He was confused. Eventually I grew hair, nice, shiny, straight, almost black hair. I always wanted to grow it long. My mother, for some reason which she never shared with me, wouldn’t…
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Moon Reflections by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By Moon Landing

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The moon has a spell-binding hold on our collective imagination and never more-so than the summer of 1969. That summer was my sixth and last summer as a camper at the National Music Camp (now Interlochen Arts Camp) in Interlochen, MI, the granddaddy of fine arts camps, set in a pine forest between two lakes…
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Brisket by
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(353 Stories)

Prompted By What We Ate

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My mother was insecure in life and insecure in the kitchen. Having me around made her nervous, so I was forbidden to watch. I didn’t learn to cook in her kitchen…a story for a different day. With her limited cooking skills, she cooked the same menu every week: Swiss Steak on Monday (barely edible –…
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