Sunday, October 19, 2014


The veil between our worlds

Does not easily lift

Yet in rare instances

I seem to drift

Between the two

And talk with you.

Then happiness abounds

And inner peace resounds

Only to flee with the dawn

And this world's life

Continues doggedly on.

We Should Have Snapped A Picture

Memories, like photos of old

With age fade and fall apart

Yet within my heart

Pictures of my little ones shine clear.

They looked so dear.

At six, pretty Linda, the alpha;

Sweet Annie, the omega, at two,

And to even the score,

Stevie and Tommy at three and four.

Could any family ask for more?

All four dressed in Sunday best

To grandmother's for dinner they'd go.

Linda, always first inside the door,

Was ever the leader of the rest.

Now in her fifties, she still is so.

"Is there applesauce, Nonna?" they would ask.

Invariably she would answer,“Surely!”

Why, they wanted to know, did her applesauce,

Not from a store-bought jar,

Taste better than ours at home by far?

After dinner, on plush living room carpet

The boys would wrestle, at first in fun.

Their amused grandfather loved to egg them on

Until one would wail; the other claim he'd won

And then the game was done.

Years later, when visiting at breakfast

My own grandchildren would ask,

“Did you buy donuts, Nonna, for us today?" 

Smiling in remembrance of times past, 

“Surely!" I would say.

We should have snapped a picture.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Coming of Age - Mapping Memories: December 7, 1941

My parents never hired sitters for us. Their policy was that if they could take us along, they did, and if trusted relatives couldn't watch us, the family stayed home. That was why, when one December afternoon my mother said she wanted to see a new movie, Smiling Through starring Norma Shearer, the four of us, my mother, my father, my then-little sister and I climbed into our green Chevy for the short drive to the theater. We were proud of our shiny new car, our first one ever. We were coming out of what my father called hard times. We had our own six-room house, and now an automobile. The economic Depression of the Thirties was winding down, and despite word from Europe of war and treachery, I was secure in the belief that, protected here between two great expanses of ocean, we were safe. My cousin Joey, who I was convinced knew absolutely everything, told me so, and if Joey said it, it had to be true. I had noticed that my parents looked worried when they talked over what was being reported in the Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph, or what newscaster Lowell Thomas had to say over the radio at quarter-to-seven every week-day evening, but I was eleven, going on twelve, and with the optimism of  youth, I was eager for my future to unfold.

Now from the back seat where I sat with my sister, I was just barely aware of a voice droning from the car radio, until I realized Dad must have heard something dire, for he turned to Mother and said, We're in trouble for sure! There's no staying out of it now

Mother started to cry, and I, not fully understanding why, was suddenly gripped with dread. Without further word, my father turned the car around, and in silence we went back home. 

In school the next morning, Miss Nichols, my sixth-grade home-room teacher, led us in orderly file into the gym for an all-school assembly. Most of us had heard our parents discussing yesterday's news, and we  were subdued as we took our assigned places in the bleachers.

We are about to hear a radiocast from President Roosevelt, Miss Anna Ross, our principal, said.  He will be speaking to the whole nation. This is an important, solemn moment. I'm sure I don't have to tell all of you to listen quietly.

The only sound in the gym then was that of President Franklin Roosevelt”s voice over the airwaves, telling us that yesterday, December 7, 1941, a day that would live in infamy, Japan, without formal declaration of war, and even as the Japanese ambassador was in Washington discussing peace, had bombed Pearl Harbor in the United States terroritory of Hawai. Honor and justice demanded vengence. Today I have asked Congress to declare war on the government of Japan and its peoplethe President said.

Joey had been wrong! What could I rely on from now on? I was really scared. 

Today, looking back, I think of it not as a day of infamy, which of course it was, but the day I was cast out on my own to do my own thinking – the day that I, like the world itself, was on the brink of changing forever.