Say It Ain’t So by
(94 Stories)

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It was the dark winter solstice of December 2020.  Everything was shut down because of COVID, and vaccines were a mere glimmer.  Life was suspended.  Work had stopped abruptly one day in March—I was too old to risk showing up in person, and virtual options were poor—so de facto retirement came more suddenly than I expected. All travel plans cancelled.  Lots of walks in the park with the dog, now with plenty of time for ruminating over life.  Reading. Lots of time on the internet, catching up on e-mails, signing up for book clubs and meetings and zoom sessions.  At Suzy’s urging, I said yes to Retrospect.

I didn’t know what to expect, and after sending in my first story was surprised to get comments on it.  Then I figured out how to read the other stories early in the week and comment on them, and started to recognize the names and styles of frequent contributors.  For someone who has avoided social media, this felt different and seemed like a safe space, and I valued the new connections and interesting stories.  I still do.  Life has taken me far from early days, geographically and socially, and there is nothing else that fills that ecological niche in my life.

Retrospective writing was new for me, though I wrote for work all the time.  Each week a new prompt goaded me into recalling some bit of history to share–sometimes difficult to find or reveal, but the discipline was good.  I wouldn’t have gone those memorable places otherwise, and if not now, when?

Two years later, I have a sheaf of stories in a drawer, travel is fraught but open and I have even met a few fellow Retrospectors in person.  The site has had some technical issues and enthusiasm is apparently waning after seven years in operation.  I am late to the game so it still feels fresh to me, but the future is uncertain.  For me, this would be a great loss: loss of encouragement to write, loss of camaraderie on line, loss of connections.  I hope this is not the end.





Profile photo of Khati Hendry Khati Hendry

Characterizations: been there, moving, right on!, well written


  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    Khati, your stories have been fascinating, your childhood unlike anything most of us have ever experienced. I am so glad that Suzy encouraged you to join us and your writing is brilliant and welcome. I can’t say what the future will hold, but I have enjoyed learning about you with all my heart.

    • Khati Hendry says:

      Thanks Betsy! You were the very first one to leave a comment on my first story, and I was so happy to see it. It has been wonderful and enriching to read all the stories (with pictures!) with different perspectives. Everyone has been so generous with sharing.

  2. Suzy says:

    Khati, I’m so glad you said yes at my urging! Although we knew each other slightly in college, and met once at the Oakland Museum (to see a strike poster that wasn’t there), we have gotten to know each other so much better in these last two years. I have loved reading your stories – all 94 of them – and hope to read many more. This doesn’t have to be the end, we just need some new energy to keep it going.

    • Khati Hendry says:

      But who’s counting ha ha. Thanks for prodding me. And great to get a chance to meet in person several times—I probably wouldn’t have gone to the reunion either, had it not been for you. I know there are more stories out there. Happy new year and fingers crossed.

  3. I feel as you do Khati, I hope we Retro writers can somehow keep this wonderful thing going!

    Your stories have been a delight to read, and meeting you in person – doubly delightful.
    Here’s to a happy and healthy 2023!

  4. John Shutkin says:

    I second Betsy’s comments, Khati. What I have particularly loved about your stories has been not only your beautiful and incisive writing but the unique and truly exotic nature of your childhood. I’d like to think that all of us Restro-istas have led interesting lives, but your adventures have been on a whole different level.

    Indeed, I’ve (humorously) wondered if you weren’t going to admit to us in your story this week that none of these things you wrote about ever really happened to you. In truth, you grew up in Peoria, your father was an accountant and your mother was a homemaker and you just read a whole lot of adventure books in your bedroom as a kid. Say it ain’t so, Khati!

    • Khati Hendry says:

      Ha ha, but of course I did also grow up in St Louis and East Lansing, my dad was an academic and mom a homemaker for a while, I went to public high school and I got a good slice of the life you suggest. But none of the stories are made up. Sometimes the experiences were so discordant that my life felt very fragmented (e.g. no one in Marble elementary had heard of Vietnam in 1959, let alone spoke French). One of the fun things about Retrospect is that it has given me leave to revisit old memories and find common threads. Also interesting to find how much fellow Retro posters have in common with each other while each has such individual stories.

  5. Laurie Levy says:

    Like you, Retrospect was the perfect way for me to get through the isolation of the pandemic and make new virtual friends. Your stories bring a fresh and different perspective. Whatever happens with Retro, I hope you keep writing.

  6. John Shutkin says:

    Again, I’m not sure if Ms. Parker was actually responsible for it, but, as the story goes, after someone remarked about that silly name by asking her, “How do you even make a Hortense?” she quickly replied, “Don’t pay her.”

    Rim shot, please.

  7. Khati, I began writing just a few months before you–and your number of stories has now far outpaced mine,. But I want you to know how meaningful your contributions have been to me. Not only because I always wondered “what happened to all those talented and committed people who passed through the ranks of the Harvard-Radcliffe SDS RAT Troupe! But moreso because you took each prompt (or nearly all that I read of yours) as an invitation to dive deep into a memory, bring us there vicariously, recapture some of the sights and sounds and smells and dialogue. Thanks for all those efforts. Your years writing clinical and professional reports clearly never corroded your ability to write lyrical and evocative prose,.

    • Khati Hendry says:

      Wow, thanks for all those kind words! You always have thoughtful comments about the stories. I was also thrilled to find you in the group (what ever happened to…), and have enjoyed your stories immensely. I hope we can continue to have this forum, and write down more memories before they go.

  8. Dave Ventre says:

    Our Retro stories are quite similar!

    My enthusiasm for writing here has not waned, but I no longer have the backlog of ripe prompts to choose from; I have to hope from week to week that one strikes a chord or awakens a memory.

    As for the admins, I can readily see how years of keeping the place running might wear on one!

    • Khati Hendry says:

      Indeed, there are similarities in our stories! Good to know you still have enthusiasm. It can be a challenge to find a story that answers to some of the prompts but I have sometimes surprised myself once I start digging. I understand admin fatigue too, and hope there is some solution so the site doesn’t disappear.

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