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My Little Bit for the Movement by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Protests

/ Stories

Not surprisingly, I can check the boxes in terms of attending the Vietnam protest marches during our college years: the rally on the Boston Common in October 1969, various marches and meetings at Harvard in the spring of 1969 and 1970 and, of course, the massive March on Washington in May 1970. But my participation…
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Deconstructing this Prompt by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Chance Encounters

/ Stories

This is a great prompt.  And it is also very difficult, at least for me, to respond to.  So let me try to deconstruct it instead.  Though I do this with some reluctance. The last time I tried something like this, it was on a consumer protection final exam in the second semester of my…
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Blueberries and Pork Chops by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Embarrassment

/ Stories

To me, the essence of a truly embarrassing moment is that the mere recollection of it, even years later, causes one to cringe.  I have one of those. So much so that I can truthfully say that this is the first time I have ever disclosed it to anyone else (parents, spouses and sibling included). …
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It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad Mad World by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Magazines

/ Stories

Well, no awards for originality this week.  Not only is Mad Magazine referenced in the prompt, it is the prompt’s featured image (that great cover of Alfred E. Neuman carved on Mt. Rushmore).  But that only means that great minds think alike (wink, wink, Retro administrator) because, at least for us Boomers, there was no…
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My Uncles, the (Possibly Unwitting) Gangsters by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Aunts & Uncles

/ Stories

This story is part of my family lore, passed on — and quite possibly embellished — by my mother’s younger brother Paul.  Uncle Paul was quite the raconteur, and also a bit of a wheeler-dealer, so it must be taken with a huge grain of Kosher salt. The story concerns Uncle Paul and his older…
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Putting the “Me” in “Memorabilia” by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Memorabilia

/ Stories

It is not as though I have not saved a fair amount of my stuff, dating back at least from high school.  And I have not (consciously) thrown any of it out over the years.  Indeed, when I retired at the end of last year, I had to set up additional file space at home…
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Scent of a Woman by
50
(71 Stories)

/ Stories

This week’s prompt has not exactly motivated the Muse of Creativity to come and seduce moi.  Sure, smells are evocative — I mean, they are one of only five senses, right? — and I have hardly been immune to their evocation.  But do I have any truly original memories of smells? Who among us non-olfactorally-challenged…
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Home, (Pretty Damn) Sweet Home by
50
(71 Stories)

/ Stories

Part of the fun of writing for Retro is knowing that, given our relatively shared demographics (age, education, affluence, political persuasion, etc.), we are likely to hit very common chords in our stories. Stories that will resonate — be they happily or sadly — with each other.  Layer on top of this the lives we…
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Watch Out For That Bird! by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Superstition

/ Stories

This is not a good prompt for me.  I am, or like to think I am, a thoroughly rational creature.  No superstitions for me.  No “knock on wood” or “lucky” shirts to wear for tests or, conversely, fear of walking under (non-tottering) ladders or crossing of paths by black cats.  Bah, humbug! So I needed…
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Dugan’s Man! by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Door-to-Door Sales

/ Stories

As mentioned, I grew up in a rural town in Connecticut called Bethany.  Bethany was only about five miles (actually five and six-tenths, as I recall the directions my parents would explicitly give out) from the New Haven line, but truly was “the sticks” at that time.  It had only two general stores/gas stations.  So…
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That Damn Dream by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Dreams

/ Stories

I hate to be prosaic, but the simple fact is that the only dream I have had that comes to my mind in response to this prompt is that damn one about not having studied for the exam (hereinafter, the “Dream”).  I have had the Dream regularly ever since — surprise, surprise! — junior high…
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Mrs. Spykman by
50
(71 Stories)

/ Stories

Particularly as I get older, and possibly more maudlin, I see the risk of idealizing earlier life experiences.  Not only does memory fade a bit, but who would not want to embrace a warm recollection of youth?  That said, this is one of the warmest for me, and I’d like to think it was just…
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Mad Dog by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Nicknames

/ Stories

Not surprisingly, I was called “Johnny” as a little kid.  Didn’t love it; didn’t hate it, but it almost entirely disappeared at some point in elementary school.  Only my family and close family friends continued to call me that from then on, and I always allowed them to.  Indeed, it is sad to think of…
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House Arrest by
50
(71 Stories)

/ Stories

It is too early in the COVID-19 crisis, at least for me, to have any real “war stories” about it, other than to acknowledge — as even Trump finally has, if not all of Fox Nation — that it is a crisis.  So I thought I would try to extrapolate instead with some predictions about…
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A Tribe of One’s Own by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Finding Your Tribe

/ Stories

Groucho Marx famously wrote, “I don’t want to belong to any club that would accept me as one of its members” in his resignation letter to the Friars’ Club.   Though I consider myself a very sociable extrovert, I have often felt the same way.  And I may come by it honestly, or at least genetically. …
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I Care. by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Caregiving

/ Stories

This week’s prompt is a toughie for me.  To be sure, five years ago, we moved my wife’s mother, then 90, up from Florida to an assisted living facility very near where we live in Massachusetts. Caring for her since then — she is now in the dementia unit, though her physical health remains remarkably…
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Leap Year Anniversary by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Leap Day

/ Stories

I can usually come up with a story about a Retro prompt, though sometimes not without a further, well, prompt, from the Retro Administrator/Muse.  But I really came up empty on this week’s prompt.  I’m an August baby, but early in the month, so I don’t even have to deal with the sort of half-birthday…
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The Old Man by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Family Myths

/ Stories

As we know, not all myths are happy ones.  And that certainly goes for family myths.  So let me tell you about my maternal grandfather, one Albert J. Fleischmann.  Or, as my grandmother referred to him, “the Old Man.”  Or simply “that SOB.” If I ever met the Old Man, I was too young to…
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Kids’ Cartoons: The Real Stars of the Shows by
50
(71 Stories)

/ Stories

Deep rumination about this week’s prompt — and, yeah, a bit of tactful noodging by the Retro Admin to put my storehouse of childhood trivia knowledge to even greater use — has compelled me to write another story on the kids’ cartoons of our youth. I don’t think what I have to say here is…
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The Early, Early Show(s) by
50
(71 Stories)

/ Stories

This week’s prompt is, for me, like a hanging curve ball thrown right into my wheelhouse.  Boy, do I know from children’s TV shows when we were growing up!  As Billy Crystal said in the movie “Forget Paris” when they gave him a paper cup and a copy of Playboy at a fertility clinic and…
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Not the Retiring Kind….. by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Retirement

/ Stories

My long-standing default mode, for better or worse, is smart ass (“SA”).  Thus, I was tempted to only write in response to this week’s prompt something to the effect of, “Look, as I write this, I’ve been retired for a grand total of five weeks, half of which was spent on an incredible cruise in…
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A Political Movement by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Moving Day

/ Stories

Simply put, we were desperate to move back to a deeply blue eastern state.
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Semi-Super Bowl Memories by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Super Bowl

/ Stories

The Super Bowl does not generate in me the sort of  "Where were you when?" navel-gazing that JFK's assassination and the first moon landing did.
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Love Letters. by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Snail Mail

/ Stories

I too have always loved snail mail letters: the inherently personal nature of them (especially handwriting), the tactile nature of them and the sheer anticipation of them.
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My Zelig-like New Year’s Eves by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By The New Year

/ Stories

As "First Gentleman," I was able to enjoy a Zelig-like side life of hobnobbing with NY's rich and famous ("R 'n F").
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The Irishman, a/k/a Deja View by
50
(71 Stories)

/ Stories

Three and a half hours is a long time for any movie, especially for those of us with BBB ("Baby Boomer Bladders"), and my wife had no interest in seeing it. But then the Movie Gods happily intervened.
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Card-y Hearty by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Holidaze

/ Stories

"My mother always stressed to my brother and me the importance of cards for "connection" -- staying close to other people in one's life, both near and far."
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The Lost Cousin of Milwaukee by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Cousins

/ Stories

Linda had inherited my aunt's role as the matriarch of the family -- the unofficial historian and part-time yenta who always knew what was going on with everyone.
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Charity Begins At Home Redux (with apologies to Betsy) by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Charity

/ Stories

I really do a lot of non-profit work and always have.  But, in many ways, I feel as if it was a non-choice given my upbringing.
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You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby… by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Baby Books

/ Stories

When I saw this week's prompt, I immediately thought, in NFL parlance, this would be a "bye week" for me.
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Who the F*ck Is Bernie? by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Surprise!

/ Stories

Who the f*ck is Bernie?  Hint: it's not the guy in this photo.  
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Harmless Old F*rt by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Ageism

/ Stories

Here's where ageism really grates: when you know that you are viewed by those around you as a harmless old f*rt. 
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The Dog Who Caught the Car by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By The Crush

/ Stories

When I think of crushes, and their implicit unattainability, I always think of the adage about dogs who chase cars. But what would they do if they ever caught a car? 
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What, Me Worry? by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Hacks and Scams

/ Stories

I don't understand what the big deal is with this week's prompt.  Hacks and scams?  OK; I've had a few, but too few to mention.
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The Road to Hell Game by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Games People Play

/ Stories

We concluded that it was a really dangerous game to play - a "Road to Hell is Paved With Good Intentions" game...
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Those Lazy – Hazy – Crazy Days of Summer by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Road Rage

/ Stories

This story has a road rage component, but... it is just one component of a memorable day for which the title seemed quite apt.  Though maybe more crazy than lazy.
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Zeph by
50
(71 Stories)

/ Stories

Zeph was beloved by all in Lowell House, at a time when administrators were not exactly beloved at Harvard.
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Recess and Snack by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Kindergarten

/ Stories

I really have only two distinct memories of kindergarten: recess and snack.
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And the Home of the Grave…… by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Genealogy

/ Stories

I have no interest in being buried in this cemetery. I'm thinking that cremation sounds warm and cozy.
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My Favorite Neighbor: TR by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Neighbors

/ Stories

This is sort of a trick story, since my titular neighbor had been dead a long time before I became his neighbor.  His name was Theodore Roosevelt; you may have heard of him
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Dud by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Fireworks

/ Stories

But, whether related to this initial aversion or not, I have always been reluctant to embrace metaphorical fireworks either.  Just something too ephemeral and excessive for my "all things in moderation" view of life.
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Life Savers by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Honesty

/ Stories

My mother, of course, overheard this and immediately turned the car around, while explaining to everyone that we were going back to the store and that Johnny (what I was called then) would return the package and apologize to the store manager.  Her voice was controlled, but I knew that she was angrier at me than she had ever been in my life.  The other kids moved away from me as if I and/or the Life Savers carried some highly communicable disease. 
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Holy Matrimony by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Honeymoon

/ Stories

Thus was I presented with the first moral struggle of my marriage, not yet 24 hours into it.  I knew I had a hole in one of my socks. 
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Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By First Dates

/ Stories

Just a great slow dance song, so who was I to complain?  Blessedly, Susan seemed happy to dance it with me, slowly and closely.  And the touch and sweet smell of her still slightly damp hair as she rested her head on my shoulder were intoxicating. I pondered the song's title question as we danced, as well as thinking of another, totally incongruous song title, "I Could Have Danced All Night."
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Bethany and Beyond by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By My Hometown

/ Stories

How small?  Well, 2,000 residents at that time - - and, arguably, even more cows and horses.  That said, it was not quite like that proverbial town that was so small that the "Now entering ____" and "Now leaving ___" signs were painted on the opposite sides of the same sign. 
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Pre-Law? Naw! by
50
(71 Stories)

/ Stories

I knew enough about the process to know that, unlike pre-med, there was really no such thing as "pre-law."  In fact, I was amused that the only guys who seemed to label themselves as being "pre-law" were these huge college football players introducing themselves before games on TV. (See illustration in Featured Image.)  I was pretty sure that these guys were more likely to end up as members of the NFL than the ABA.
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Ultimate PE by
50
(71 Stories)

/ Stories

We quickly realized ,,, that the rules of touch football could easily be adapted to Frisbee, so off we went to our high school football field -- turf none of us had ever set foot on other than those in the marching band -- to play what we called, at the risk of obviousness, Frisbee Football ("FF").
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Blue Book by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Exams

/ Stories

" [T]he final grades [were to be] based solely on the grades of the papers, but...any student opting for this waiver nonetheless had to show up for the final exam, sign his/her name in a blue book and remain in the exam room for at least half of its 3-hour duration before being allowed to be dismissed.  [The section leader] was apologetic; many of us were apoplectic...
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Driving Blind by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Learning to Drive

/ Stories

Growing up in the suburbs, getting one's driver's license was perhaps the second most important rite of passage in teenagerdom after puberty itself.  In fact, an argument could be made that, without your license, you might as well not even shave (anywhere). 
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The Grand Tour by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Spring Break

/ Stories

My mother had a very privileged upbringing.  As a result, she still believed that families should take "The Grand Tour(s)" of Europe (hereinafter, "TGT") when my brother and I were growing up, even though this was already a bit of an anachronism.
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“Polly; just Polly” by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Women We Admire

/ Stories

I was initially stumped by this week’s prompt.  As with “betrayal,” I take the term “admire” very seriously, and was having a hard time thinking of any woman (other than Eleanor Roosevelt or my mother) to write about.  But then Suzy, knowing a fair bit of the backstory, emailed me and said, “What about Polly?” …
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Like, You Know, Betrayal by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Betrayal

/ Stories

I view the term ["betrayal"] as representing a very devastating act.  You know; like Caesar getting the shiv at the Senate. And, while I'd like to think my life has been pretty interesting (at least to me), I  was skeptical that I had ever been party to something that truly traumatic. 
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A (Very Small) Room of My Own by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By My First Apartment

/ Stories

It required a convertible sofa, as there was no way that a regular bed could be put in there and allow for any other furniture.  I used to semi-joke that it had the advantage, when the sofa was unfolded, that you didn't have to get out of bed to go to the bathroom...
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Take the Money and Run? by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Close Calls

/ Stories

I checked the WSJ for the stock price, did the math and took a deep breath.  Gentlemen don't tell, of course, but the resulting number was deep into eight figures, and that was before the decimal point.
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Not My Type by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Good Riddance

/ Stories

"...if I were still chained to a typewriter, not only would I not be writing this story (duh), I probably wouldn't be writing any damn stories at all."
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Applesauce Cake by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Recipes

/ Stories

Ironically, applesauce cake is sort of the "Holy Roman Empire" of cakes.  At least my mother's recipe contained virtually no applesauce, and you certainly couldn't taste it. 
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Cakequake by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Disasters

/ Stories

"[D]isasters" are inherently subjective; they are in the eye of the beholder.  As Mel Brooks noted, "Tragedy is when I cut my finger.  Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die."
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Independence Daze by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Independence

/ Stories

"I have long thought about the interplay between personal responsibility and personal independence and the arc of them through life.  At birth, one has no responsibility and no independence.  As one becomes an adult, one has (or should have) greater independence but also greater responsibility.  And I remember thinking in college that this was the optimal point: huge independence but with very little responsibility (so long as one didn't flunk out)."
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You’re So Vain…. by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Hair

/ Stories

And my point is this: men are just as obsessed with their (ideally long, straight) hair as women are, and I am (or was) Exhibit A.
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Shower the People by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Babies

/ Stories

"...apologies to all for my being guilty of a veritable hat trick of semi-venal sins in this piece: bragging, name dropping and laziness."
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Book -ish by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Libraries

/ Stories

"...at some point my mother, observing my compulsive reading, suggested that quality, not quantity, might make me a happier reader in the long run. A wise mother."
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I’m Not the Type…. by
50
(71 Stories)

/ Stories

Like all good boomers (especially Jewish ones), I still blame my mother for my own failings; in this case, my lack of typing skills.
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Watergate Vignettes by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Watergate

/ Stories

Let me just offer the first two personal vignettes that come to mind...
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Softball Wizard by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Sports

/ Stories

[Being captain] required a steady stream of memos to be circulated around the firm (by uniformed messengers; these were pre-email days), and I did my best to lard them with incredibly stupid puns and many humorous riffs
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Roomies by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Roommates

/ Stories

Roomies -- sometimes it just works out right...
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Mustang Katy by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By My First Car

/ Stories

Boy, Mustang, beautiful girl. Life is good.
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My One Drive-In Movie Story by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Drive-Ins

/ Stories

Here is my one drive-in movie story. It could probably form the basis for a John Hughes movie. I would have the Anthony Michael Hall role.
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Me On Cream (or vice versa) by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Concerts

/ Stories

I was not big on going to concerts, for various reasons, so I particularly recall going to a Cream concert my sophomore year of college.  That said, while it was either at Tufts or Brandeis, for the life of me I can’t remember which one (or how I managed to find the venue in those…
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My Father’s Advice, In Brief by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Father's Day

/ Stories

My father was a brilliant and pretty complicated guy, and I could go on at length about him.  Although a doctor, he was at least as much a writer (starting with journals he kept when he was in China during WW II) and did not suffer from a lack of opinions, or a desire to share…
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Doing Time on the Group W Bench by
50
(71 Stories)

/ Stories

I was on the Group W Bench... This was the place where all those mother rapers, father stabbers and father rapers who were considered morally unfit to join the Army and kill people were made to sit, possibly forever
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A Cast of Thousands… by
50
(71 Stories)

Prompted By Friendship

/ Stories

If I get the chance, I intend to write more specifically about my own friendships later — including my side of one of the previously written about friendships (though I couldn’t have said it any better, and feel exactly the same).  But I first wanted to publish my somewhat quirky take on the permanence (or not) of friendships, It…
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