Showing posts from July, 2018

Alice in the Boarding House

After divorcing her alcoholic husband in 1901, Alice found herself poverty stricken with five children to care for. Having a large home as part of the divorce settlement, she calculated the cost of room and board and then advertised six rooms for rent. 
An eclectic group of men were soon living under her roof. The boarding house rules were simple: No chewing tobacco or alcohol, breakfast at six, and dinner served exactly twelve hours later. 
One additional rule applied at meal times: Polite conversation was required to keep your seat at the table.

There was plenty of political strife and poverty across the nation yet Alice demanded that meal time conversations have, “Ample decorum with no vulgarities.”
Hundreds of meals were shared by a former banker, a craftsman, two steelworkers, a millworker, and a school teacher. These men came from different segments of society, yet shared a single wash room and ate meals together. 
The haughty banker knew how to return America to prosperity, but he d…

The Stories Bookmarks Can Tell

I noticed a folded piece of notebook paper tucked near the back of the book I was reading. I unfolded it and saw my son’s handwriting. 
He’d outlined his projections of what his nephew would be like when he was older. The list included what his nephew’s favorite sports would be along with his top school subjects, foods, and his anticipated full height and hair color. 
This was penned while sitting in a labor and delivery waiting room before his nephew’s birth. He’d left it in the book he’d been reading. 

I found the old bookmark while reading with his nephew—thirteen years after it had been written about him. 
A bookmark with a story to tell.
Long ago, my mom, the librarian, found lots of interesting bookmarks left in books—but there was one I always wondered about.
While shelving books at the library, Mom noticed a piece of thin white paper protruding from the top of a thick novel. 
“Sally” had written a short letter and had either forgotten where she’d put it, or perhaps never intended to …

Slow Days of Summer

Summer always meant visiting my grandparent’s farm. It was a different world—from the small brick building that held a bustling kitchen with its large walk-in refrigerator, to the huge shop that smelled of engines and grease. 
Outbuildings hid farm equipment from past generations and the old barn still smelled of hay and horses, although it had been years since there had been either. 

An ancient hand pump dispensed refreshingly cold well water on the hottest of summer days and the windmill captured the slightest breeze making a creaking sound as it spun.
These were the slow days of summer. School was a distant memory and I could finally relax.

I rode my dad’s old bike with its single gear—up and down wheat field-lined roads. I tamed feral barn cats, collected eggs, picked apricots, and saved a lifetime’s worth of memories.
And just like that, my summer visits ended. There was college, marriage, work, and then a baby. 

One hot day I came back to visit—to recall those slow days of summ…

Stand in America

Standing on the sidewalk in front of the ferry terminal, I waited for my ride. Several taxis idled nearby. Just in case I hadn’t noticed the taxi closest to me, a man climbed out of the driver’s seat and waved.

His smile dazzled brilliantly against his ebony skin. I smiled back. He walked over. “I give you ride?” he asked politely.

I explained that I had someone coming to pick me up. His smile barely faded. He gestured to the Seattle skyline behind him and asked, “You live here?” 
I pointed to the water behind me and explained I lived across the water, about eighty miles away.  He nodded excitedly, “America is wide!” The way he used the word “wide”  was so endearing. I chuckled. “I learn English in school here.” He explained, “I want to stand in America.”

He’d waited years for the chance to come from Kenya. Now he drove taxi, studied hard, and loved talking to people—he said that’s how he practiced his words. 

My ride pulled up, and the taxi driver opened the door for me, waved at my…