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Baby of the Family by
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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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You’re Gonna Be A Star by
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By Chance Encounters

/ Stories

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 a computer terminal, the program needed to be compiled. With the…
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Mr. Bienstock by
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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 Springtime of the Year by
100
(200 Stories)

/ Stories

“Behold it is the Springtime 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By Finding Your Tribe

/ Stories

As I wrote in Gotta Sing, I have loved to sing my whole life and did so in some fashion during my first 18 years of life. After marrying, going to work full-time, then having children, I no longer had opportunities, beyond the occasional lullaby or shower singing to exercise that love. I sang with a…
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15 Years of Mother by
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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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Shy Little Girl by
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By Kindergarten

/ Stories

Because the Detroit public schools were already overcrowded in 1958, I began kindergarten in February of 1959, as did everyone whose birthday fell between December 1 and February 28. Semesters were separate entities and I was always half way through with a grade when summer came until we moved to the suburbs, when I was…
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Global Weirding by
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By Boredom

/ Stories

Who has time to be bored? 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 live it over and over. I will write something to a special friend, sometimes…
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Becoming by
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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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Family Defined by Place by
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By Family

/ Stories

In 1994, I picked a bone with Thomas Wolfe who wrote “You Can’t Go Home Again”. I had stayed away from Detroit a long time, but at that moment, I found that it could be instructive, even therapeutic to return home. I was born at the close of 1952. Eisenhower had just been elected, we…
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On the Eve of Destruction by
100
(200 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
100
(200 Stories)

/ Stories

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
100
(200 Stories)

/ Stories

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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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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Alumni Award for Mike Wallace; Redux by
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By Fame

/ Stories

If you think you know this story, read the addendum, added to bring the reader up-to-date two years after this story was written. It will only be public for a week, then will be made private again.  August, 1996. Committee reports were given before the National Alumni Board meeting at the Interlochen Center for the…
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Checkbook Gardener by
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By Teachers & Mentors

/ Stories

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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By Aunts & Uncles

/ Stories

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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By Retirement

/ Stories

I had already told the “powers-that-be” that I was pregnant, would work several more months, but not return after I had my baby, when the rumors of lay-offs began swirling in October, 1988. I sauntered into Barry’s office. I had worked for him some years earlier at a great sales job (he had fought to…
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Carol by
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By Roommates

/ Stories

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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By Halloween

/ 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 Most Difficult by
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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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A Long, Hot Goodbye by
100
(200 Stories)

/ Stories

We always knew he was brilliant, but as we gathered around the computer on December 17, 2006 to press the button for early decision acceptance into Brown and read “CONGRATULATIONS”, we screamed and I cried a bit, then I called his special ed school, where they all screamed with joy too. Jeffrey was their first…
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9-11 in the Pfau Household by
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By What We Watched

/ 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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By Drive-Ins

/ Stories

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
100
(200 Stories)

/ Stories

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
100
(200 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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By Camp

/ Stories

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
100
(200 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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By Immigrants

/ Stories

Belle Pototsky 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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By Lessons

/ Stories

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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 Stories)

/ Stories

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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By Father's Day

/ Stories

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
100
(200 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
100
(200 Stories)

/ Stories

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
100
(200 Stories)

/ Stories

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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By Pets

/ Stories

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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By Friendship

/ Stories

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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By Women's Lib

/ Stories

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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By Dance Crazes

/ Stories

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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By In Trouble

/ Stories

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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By The First Time

/ Stories

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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By Cooking

/ Stories

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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By What We Wore

/ Stories

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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By Snow

/ Stories

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 watched from the sixth floor as the cars started leaving. I thought I’d wait a while, hoping the single-lane driveway would clear out a bit. Big…
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Unstuck in Time by
100
(200 Stories)

/ Stories

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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By Temptation

/ Stories

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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Vi-improved by
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By New Beginnings

/ Stories

The  blog was called  “Today, I feel…” and began on Feburary 3, 2014. He sent us the link many months later, called and told us he had “gender dysphoria”. We didn’t know what that meant. Our blue-eyed second born, who had so many issues growing up, seemed to be doing pretty well. After years of…
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My Love Affair With Daniel Day-Lewis by
100
(200 Stories)

/ Stories

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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By Traditions

/ Stories

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 add. Camp had been around since 1928 and became an integral part of my life for decades. Now I just send a…
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Moose and Squirrel by
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By Cartoons

/ Stories

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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By Gratitude

/ Stories

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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By The American Dream

/ Stories

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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By Politics

/ Stories

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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By The Great Beyond

/ Stories

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 1905, 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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By Halloween

/ Stories

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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By Best Advice: Money

/ Stories

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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Have (More) Faith by
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By Parenthood

/ Stories

I have two children. David came out ten days late, with a full head of dark hair after a long, difficult labor. Jeffrey burst into the world on his due date in just four hours with blue eyes and blond curls. I used to joke that their personalities were set then and there. David overcame…
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The Band Shak by
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By In the Band

/ Stories

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
100
(200 Stories)

/ Stories

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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By Something Wild

/ Stories

We looked at Jupiter and its moons just before it set.
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60% of the Revenue, 40% Less Stock by
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By Working

/ Stories

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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Flood by
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By Disasters

/ Stories

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, “The toilet in Jeffrey’s bathroom broke. There’s water everywhere. I’m trying to mop…
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How Do You Spell PFAU? by
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By How We Met

/ Stories

“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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By Good Riddance

/ Stories

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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By Turning Points

/ Stories

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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By My First Car

/ Stories

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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By Camp

/ Stories

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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By Travel

/ Stories

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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By Siblings

/ Stories

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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By Independence

/ Stories

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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By Weddings

/ Stories

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
100
(200 Stories)

/ Stories

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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By Graduation

/ Stories

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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By What We Read

/ Stories

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
100
(200 Stories)

/ Stories

(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
100
(200 Stories)

/ Stories

“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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By Prom

/ Stories

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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By The Things I Keep

/ Stories

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
100
(200 Stories)

/ Stories

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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By Altered States

/ Stories

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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By Sports

/ Stories

  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
100
(200 Stories)

/ Stories

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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By My First Paycheck

/ Stories

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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By Pets

/ Stories

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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By Faith

/ Stories

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
100
(200 Stories)

/ Stories

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
100
(200 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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By Lessons

/ Stories

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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By What We Watched

/ Stories

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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By War & Remembrance

/ Stories

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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By The Crush

/ Stories

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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By Hair

/ Stories

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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By Moon Landing

/ Stories

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
100
(200 Stories)

Prompted By What We Ate

/ Stories

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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