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Getting Woke by
50
(64 Stories)

Prompted By Protests

/ Stories

My folks, and my uncles and aunts were always politically active and die-hard liberals ,  and as children my sister and I and our cousins were used to hearing political rhetoric around the dinner table. Yet despite that red diaper babyhood,  I was seemingly apolitical and remained so well into my own adulthood .  …
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Parkchester, Celebrate Me Home by
50
(64 Stories)

Prompted By My Hometown

/ Stories

My hometown?  Like many of us I guess I can claim more than one –  born in Charleston, SC but bred in the Bronx with idyllic summers spent at our family-run hotel in the Catskills.  (See My Game Mother) Then after grad school a year upstate in snowy Buffalo, NY,  then back down for several…
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What Did You Do in the War, Daddy? by
50
(64 Stories)

Prompted By Protests

/ Stories

When our son was young he asked us if we were at Woodstock.  We had to say No,  but we didn’t have an answer when he asked,  Why not? He was disappointed.   I’m sure we went down a notch or two in his esteem. He never asked if we rode the Freedom Bus,  or…
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Kente Cloth by
50
(64 Stories)

Prompted By My Hometown

/ Stories

I live on Manhattan’s upper eastside across the street from Gracie Mansion,  the beautiful 1799 Federal- style house that overlooks the East River and is the residence of New York’s mayor and his family. On any given day I might see cops,  TV cameras, and angry protesters in front of the Mansion,  or buses dropping…
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The Lady with the Torch by
50
(64 Stories)

Prompted By My Hometown

/ Stories

Like many New Yorkers I’m sure,   I don’t take in the local sights unless out-of-towners are in town!   So when friends from China were visiting recently we decided to take them to the Statue of Liberty where I probably hadn’t been since I was a school kid. Tickets to tour the pedestal or climb…
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Soul Collage by
50
(64 Stories)

Prompted By Memorabilia

/ Stories

I retired over 10 years ago and since then I gained over 20 pounds,  and try as I might,  I couldn’t seem to lose them. It’s understandable – at my age loosing pounds and inches is hard,  I’m not a gym rat (in fact we have a treadmill in our apartment which collects dust),  …
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B. Smith by
50
(64 Stories)

Prompted By Chance Encounters

/ Stories

 I was so sorry to learn of the recent death of restaurateur Barbara Smith at age 70 after a decade-long and very public battle with Alzheimer’s.   She and her husband chronicled their years living with the disease in their book Before I Forget. I had followed Barbara’s career since she was a beautiful young model…
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Black Tie Optional by
50
(64 Stories)

Prompted By Embarrassment

/ Stories

Over the years I’ve found myself in the same embarrassing situation at least three times,  most recently this past December when we got a wedding invitation from friends. Their son was to be married on New Year’s Eve at a lovely Greenwich, Connecticut hotel,  so I knew it would be a gala affair.   And sure…
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Fernando’s Fritattas by
50
(64 Stories)

Prompted By Recipes

/ Stories

When my son Noah was in high school the headmaster announced the school would be participating in an exchange program with 20 students from Spain.  The Spanish kids would come to New York for a month,  and at a later date our students would go to Spain.  Families were asked to host and we volunteered.…
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Aunt Babs and Uncle Paul by
50
(64 Stories)

Prompted By Aunts & Uncles

/ Stories

I’ve written about all my aunts and uncles before. (See Call Me by Their Names) Here’s more about my wonderful aunt Babs and uncle Paul,  high school sweethearts who met as kids in the Rockaways. Family legend has it that when he was in medical school at NYU,  and Babs was at Skidmore College in upstate…
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Baby Shoes by
50
(64 Stories)

Prompted By Memorabilia

/ Stories

I’m not the sentimental type,  but when our son outgrew his first pair of baby shoes I decided to have them bronzed – separately. I gave one shoe to my mother-in-law who was then a widow,  and the other shoe to my parents. Years later when my mother-in-law died we took back her shoe,  and…
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Laundry Day in London by
50
(64 Stories)

Prompted By Door-to-Door Sales

/ Stories

Remembering gentler times when we weren’t so wary of door-to-door salesmen and had more trust in the kindness of strangers,  I think about laundry day in London. In the early 1970s my husband had the chance to work there for a year and we grabbed it! I took a leave of absence from my teaching…
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Comfort Food – for Renee by
50
(64 Stories)

Prompted By Recipes

/ Stories

I met Renee about 25 years ago when we were both working as librarians in the Bronx – she at New York Public Library,  and I at Jane Addams High School. Renee had been trained as a book discussion leader,  and as part of NYPL’s outreach to schools program she came to the neighboring Lehman…
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Old Wives’ Tales by
50
(64 Stories)

Prompted By Superstition

/ Stories

I’d never put a hat on the bed. I hold my breathe when I drive past a cemetery. When I see a nun in a habit,  I pull on my buttons. I’d never walk under an open ladder. I always bring the cup to the kettle,  never the kettle to the cup. I never open…
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Sheltering in Place by
50
(64 Stories)

/ Stories

Back in early February – which now seems a lifetime ago  – my husband Danny was told by his cardiologist that he would need surgery to correct a blocked carotid artery.  Of course I couldn’t resist chiding him that years of unhealthy snacking had finally caught up with him. Danny’s surgery was set for Tuesday,…
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(The Lion, The Witch, and) The Wardrobe by
50
(64 Stories)

Prompted By Dreams

/ Stories

Every New York apartment-dweller dreams of more living space,  and I was no  different! We moved into our 2 BR, 2 BATH, RIV VU upper eastside apartment when our son was less than a year old.  We loved  our building,  our local park,  and our neighborhood..  My husband’s office was in the E 40s,  and…
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White Shoulders – for Aunt Frances by
50
(64 Stories)

/ Stories

I’m from a small family and have always felt close to my aunts and uncles.  Now, like my parents,  they’re all gone. (For more about my family see  Call Me by Their Names) My parents were each the middle child of three, and both had strong bonds with their siblings and stayed close despite geography,…
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Hermine’s Morning Joe by
50
(64 Stories)

/ Stories

I happen to be a tea drinker,  but I do like the smell of coffee brewing,  and when the coffee smells especially good I think of my mother-in-law Hermine. My mother was a very good cook,  but Hermine was an extraordinary one.   I,  on the other hand,  never prided myself much on my culinary…
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The Value of a Dollar by
50
(64 Stories)

Prompted By Door-to-Door Sales

/ Stories

I must admit I’ve never sold encyclopedias,  Fuller brushes,  or life insurance door-to-door,  and the closest I’ve ever come to being an Avon Lady was selling costume jewelry at Macys. When I was in college I lived at home and commuted to NYU.  Many of my high school friends also commuted to local colleges,  and…
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Theatre Dreams by
50
(64 Stories)

Prompted By Dreams

/ Stories

When I was very young my parents took me to see the original Broadway production of The King and I,  and I was spellbound.  I listened to the cast album for hours and I dreamed about growing up to be a famous actress. One of my adored great aunts was a star in the Yiddish…
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Cooking with Gas by
50
(64 Stories)

Prompted By Close Calls

/ Stories

“Now you’re cooking with gas.”,  my grandmother used to say.  I thought of her after Hurricane Sandy hit New York on October 29, 2012. Although we live uptown,  our proximity to the East River puts our apartment building in the city’s infamous flood zone A.  When Sandy made landfall that day,  rain and river water…
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Unleavened by
50
(64 Stories)

/ Stories

Passover is a joyous holiday when we Jews celebrate our freedom from bondage in Egypt.  Every year at the Seder we retell the story of our ancestors who followed Moses across a desert in search of a new home in the Promised Land. The Bible tells us that these ancient Hebrews left in such haste…
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Passover Shopping List by
50
(64 Stories)

/ Stories

As the Passover season approaches I often find  myself laughing over something that happened many years ago. We were having 18 for Seder,  and after calling the butcher to order lamb for my traditional stew,  I wrote out a long shopping list for everything else I needed,  and headed for the  supermarket. Not surprisingly,  the…
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And Things That Go Bump in the Night by
50
(64 Stories)

/ Stories

It’s been one week since we started our unplanned Covid 19 quarantine/staycation and I’m still reeling with the disbelief and the worry.  And each day brings news of people we know or of well-known personalities who’ve been affected. Yesterday we learned of the coronavirus-related death at 81 of one of our greatest contemporary American playwrights,…
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9/11 by
50
(64 Stories)

Prompted By Close Calls

/ Stories

I’ll never forget the date my husband’s college roommate Joel came from Newton, Mass to spend a few days with us in New York – it was Monday,  September 10, 2001. On that Monday Joel drove down from Newton to JFK.  His cousin and her three kids were arriving from Israel and Joel picked them…
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Call Me by Their Names by
50
(64 Stories)

Prompted By Nicknames

/ Stories

My parents named me Dana after two relatives they never knew – my father’s grandmother Dinah who perished in czarist Russia,  and my mother’s uncle David who drowned as a teenager in the Rockaways. I like my name and never minded that it’s a bit uncommon, but it’s always disconcerting when people spell it wrong…
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Minyan – for Uncle Sol by
50
(64 Stories)

Prompted By Finding Your Tribe

/ Stories

I don’t think of myself as an especially spiritual person, but after the death of my husband’s uncle Sol,  I had a religious experience. Sol,  who died just short of his 96th birthday,  was a surrogate father of sorts to my husband,  and grandfather to our son,  and a much beloved presence in all our…
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Yad Vashem by
50
(64 Stories)

Prompted By Finding Your Tribe

/ Stories

I’m not a religious person but I’ve always been proud to be Jewish and deeply connected to my faith – and moreso when I’m in Israel. The summer before he graduated from high school,  my son Noah spent 6 weeks there at a scouting program run by the Israeli army called Chetz V’keshet  (Arrow and…
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Look for the Helpers – for Laurie by
50
(64 Stories)

Prompted By Caregiving

/ Stories

My sister Laurie spent the last two years of her life in a Rockville, MD nursing home –  at 59 she may have been the youngest patient there.  I was Laurie’s medical  decision-maker then and eventually her court-appointed legal guardian. Laurie was strikingly beautiful, her looks and her persona unforgettable.  I always thought of her…
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Birthday Calendar by
50
(64 Stories)

Prompted By Leap Day

/ Stories

When I was a kid I thought it was very special that the year I was born – 1944 – was a leap year and that it had not one but two 4’s in it! And I was proud that I was born in the leap month of February,  but I did wish my birthday…
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Aunt Miriam, Diva by
50
(64 Stories)

Prompted By Family Myths

/ Stories

My glamorous and beautiful great-aunt Miriam Elias lived a rather scandalous life,  or so goes the family legend! Miriam was born in 1897 near Kamenets Podolski, Ukraine in a small village near Odessa.   Her village,  she once told us, was very much like the fictional shtetl Anatevka  immortalized in Fiddler on the Roof.  Her…
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Reading with Hattie, Baking with Julia by
50
(64 Stories)

/ Stories

When our son Noah was young he watched all the usual children’s TV shows of the time.  His favorites, as I remember were Sesame Street,  Mr Rogers, and The Electric Company. Watching The Electric Company,  Noah delighted in Morgan Freeman’s character Easy Reader, and Hattie Winston’s character Valerie the Librarian,  maybe because his own mother…
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Parlez-vous Francais? by
50
(64 Stories)

Prompted By Retirement

/ Stories

When I retired after my long and happy career as a New York City high school librarian I had many options.  I could apply for a waiver and return to work part-time at a city school, sharing the week with another librarian as some colleagues did.  I could apply to the public library for a…
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Wisdom in the Weeds by
50
(64 Stories)

Prompted By Retirement

/ Stories

When I retired friends asked me what I would do with all my free time. ”Oh, I don’t know “ I said,  “probably just more of the same things I enjoy – reading,  theatre,  travel,  tennis.” ”Why don’t you try something new,  try gardening,”  one friend suggested,  “it’s great physical exercise and surprisingly spiritual.  Try planting…
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Mr October by
50
(64 Stories)

Prompted By Super Bowl

/ Stories

Super Bowl,  Final Four,  World Series – it’s all the same to us sports widows, so here’s another sad tale! A few years ago my friends Pat and David and I were planning a reunion for our former teaching colleagues at Jane Addams,  the small inner-city high school where we first met in the 1980s.…
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Sports Fanatic by
50
(64 Stories)

Prompted By Super Bowl

/ Stories

This may not exactly be a Super Bowl story as we’re a baseball family,  but it’s as close as I can get! A few years ago our friend Jon called on a  Saturday morning.  It just happened to be the third day of the World Series. ”We haven’t seen you guys in awhile,  how about…
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Postcards from a Secret Admirer by
50
(64 Stories)

Prompted By Snail Mail

/ Stories

I don’t remember how it started, or which one of us sent the first one,  but when we were in junior high my best friend Stephanie and I began sending each other picture postcards that we’d sign “Love from your Secret Admirer”. I know it sounds like a silly adolescent game – which of course…
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Cherry Coke Redux by
50
(64 Stories)

/ Stories

A story called CHERRY COKE I posted awhile ago at the prompt THE CRUSH seems to work here too,  so am posting again,  here’s the link. Cherry Coke
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Moving Day Blues by
50
(64 Stories)

Prompted By Moving Day

/ Stories

I haven’t moved very often in my life, in fact for the past 40 years we’ve lived in Manhattan in the same “7 rms, river view”.  We love our apartment, our building,  and our neighborhood,  and don’t plan to move any time soon. But over the years I’ve had the moving day blues when good…
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The Irishman by
50
(64 Stories)

/ Stories

I must offer this quick take on The Irishman  and a plug for it’s re-recording sound mixer, my cousin Tom Fleischman! I’m proud to say Tom has won many awards including a 2012 Oscar for his work on the film Hugo, and has worked with Scorsese on many other films and loves the guy.  Here’s a link to…
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Second Career by
50
(64 Stories)

Prompted By Get Organized

/ Stories

I must admit I take little pride in my culinary skills,  am not a fashionista,  and may not be up on pop culture or as knowledgeable as I should be on world events,  but one thing I am is organized!,   Yet over the years little did I know that organizing would actually become my second…
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Bless the Bread by
50
(64 Stories)

Prompted By The New Year

/ Stories

A new year for many of us means a time to take stock,  to make resolutions,  or to once again start that illusive diet.  But for my son Noah it means the rock, jam-band Phish will be on tour at Madison Square Garden once again for several consecutive nights. A few years ago the New…
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Parasite and Roma by
50
(64 Stories)

/ Stories

I love the movies and try to see all the good stuff. Last month I read the glowing reviews of Parasite ,  the new South Korean film directed by Bong Joon-Ho,  the Palme d’Or winner at Cannes.  And then when friend after friend after friend recommended it,  I was really intrigued and put it on top…
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Third Degree Burn by
50
(64 Stories)

Prompted By Holidaze

/ Stories

Last year at about this time I  burned the top of my foot.  It was very painful and looked pretty bad,  and so I went to the dermatologist. He examined the wound and asked me how it had happened.   For some reason I was too embarrassed to tell the whole truth,  and so I…
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Early Thanksgiving by
50
(64 Stories)

Prompted By Holidaze

/ Stories

As I was preparing for Thanksgiving last month I thought about a Thanksgiving we celebrated several  seasons ago. That year as  November approached  I fretted over the many regrets I’d gotten in the past to my Thanksgiving invitations. One of my cousins and his family usually celebrated with his in-laws;  another often went to an…
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My Cousin Rick by
50
(64 Stories)

Prompted By Cousins

/ Stories

We were shocked some months ago to learn of the sudden death of my cousin Rick at age 66.  The family gathered in Rochester where Rick had lived, and several of us spoke at his moving memorial service. Since childhood my redheaded cousin had suffered a debilitating mental illness.  His devoted parents Mary June and…
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Retreat by
50
(64 Stories)

Prompted By Cousins

/ Stories

A dozen or so years ago my cousin Kathy called from DC and asked me to join her the following month for a Jewish women’s retreat. Because geography had always kept us apart,  spending a weekend with my cousin was wonderfully appealing and a women’s retreat would be a new experience for us both. Kathy…
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Surprise Party by
50
(64 Stories)

Prompted By Surprise!

/ Stories

When her husband Andrew was about to turn 40,   my friend Simi decided to throw him a big surprise party and she asked for my help. We were both stay-at-home moms then with plenty of free time on our hands for surprise party planning.  In fact for weeks before the party we must have…
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Bus Stop by
50
(64 Stories)

Prompted By Ageism

/ Stories

While I was waiting at 86th Street for the Fifth Avenue bus the other day, a young woman, probably in her 20s,  walked up to me and asked where she could get the limited. I told her the limited bus stop was about two blocks south,  and she thanked me and started walking down Fifth.…
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College Girl – for Aunt Hannah by
50
(64 Stories)

Prompted By Ageism

/ Stories

“One is never too old to learn.”,   Hannah told us when she announced she was starting college in her 80s. My husband’s aunt Hannah was the gentlest soul I’ve ever known.  No one in our family can remember her ever saying a harsh or an unkind word. Hannah and her siblings fled Hitler’s Germany…
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My Favorite Beatle by
50
(64 Stories)

Prompted By The Crush

/ Stories

Like every girl of my generation, I had a favorite Beatle and about a year ago we actually met! My husband and I were having lunch at Lexington Candy Shop on Lex & 83rd,  a favorite local coffeeshop.  The place prides itself on it’s celebrity patronage with signed photos on the walls of Woody Allen…
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Cherry Coke by
50
(64 Stories)

Prompted By The Crush

/ Stories

I must confess I often find myself googling my college crush. Actually M was more than a crush,  he was my steady boyfriend during my freshman and sophomore years,  until I took a camp job that following summer and met someone else.  But that’s another story. M was a class ahead of me and after…
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Library Lesson by
50
(64 Stories)

Prompted By Libraries

/ Stories

I can’t let this week’s Libraries prompt go without thinking about my time in library school. I was an English lit major in college and on track to teach high school English.  But an aunt and a family friend were librarians and they both encouraged me to consider that field.  It sounded perfect! I applied…
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West with the Night by
50
(64 Stories)

Prompted By Libraries

/ Stories

Walking down a tree-lined block in the East 80s the other day I passed a brownstone with a pretty patio fronting the street.  There on a small table someone had  left an open library book. Always curious about what others are reading,  I looked through the wrought iron gate to see the title – it…
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Magazines for the Principal by
50
(64 Stories)

Prompted By Magazines

/ Stories

I had a long and happy career as a school librarian,  the last years spent at Jane Addams,  a small vocational high school in the south Bronx.  The neighborhood was poor and rather sketchy,  and the students,  burdened with lives lived in those mean streets,  were sometimes difficult.  But our dedicated faculty strove to educate…
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The Diary of a Young Girl by
50
(64 Stories)

Prompted By Libraries

/ Stories

Among my friends and the distaff side of my family are many very accomplished women – doctors, nurses and therapists, a pharmacist and a research scientist, lawyers, two judges and a diplomat, a film editor, a TV producer and a theatrical director, several writers and artists, and a publisher and two poets. Also among them…
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Rosie and Milt, the Literary Lady and the Second-Story Man by
50
(64 Stories)

Prompted By Hacks and Scams

/ Stories

My uncle Milton wasn’t exactly a hardened criminal,  but the truth is he was once caught breaking and entering. Most of the time Milt was a mild-mannered, slightly absent-minded professor of chemistry at Smith College and lived with my aunt Roseanne in Northampton, Massachusetts in a wonderful Revolutionary-era house at the end of Poplar Hill…
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No Dice! by
50
(64 Stories)

Prompted By Hacks and Scams

/ Stories

Try as I might, in my seven decades – most of which were lived in New York City of all places – I can’t remember being the victim of any shady deals or crooked schemes. I never shot craps in Vegas nor have I even been to Foxwoods. I was never conned in a dark…
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Why I Blog by
50
(64 Stories)

/ Stories

As this week’s prompt is Writers Choice I’ve chosen to write about writing!  Here’s a piece entitled Why I Blog that I originally posted several years ago on my own blog World Thru Brown Eyes. It could well be entitled Why I Write for MyRetrospect! One evening over a year ago, with no forethought that…
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Our Noisy Nanny by
50
(64 Stories)

/ Stories

When my maternity leave came to an end and I was ready to go back to my teaching job, we knew we needed a nanny for our two-year old. Mary Rambatt had cleaned house for us weekly for years and we asked if she could care for Noah while I was at school.  Mary loved…
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The Great Hampton Babysitter Heist by
50
(64 Stories)

/ Stories

When our son Noah was very young we spent several summers in the Hamptons in a rented house a short drive from both the beach and the town. One summer my husband Danny invited his business colleague Stan to join us for a weekend with his wife Lynn and their two sons. Noah was about…
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Aruba Nights by
50
(64 Stories)

/ Stories

Somewhere among all the art work, photos,  and birthday cards I’ve saved over the years are a few sheets of drawing paper with crayoned sketches,  fastened together with string to make a little book – a precious  piece of memorabilia from my son’s childhood. Noah must have been about four when we took him on…
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My Game Mother by
50
(64 Stories)

Prompted By Games People Play

/ Stories

When I was a child my grandmother owned a small  hotel in the Catskills where my family spent idyllic summers.  Sadly when I was 11 she was no longer able to run it and the hotel was sold.  But when I think about the hotel, it seems only yesterday we were all there. My father…
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Fender Bender by
50
(64 Stories)

Prompted By Road Rage

/ Stories

Not quite a road rage tale,  but one that could have been! When my husband turned 60 he bought himself a birthday present – a light green Ford Thunderbird convertible.  Needless to say he loves that car,  and although I’d always thought of cars as basic transportation,  I must confess I love that T-bird too!…
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