All posts by Susan Shafarzek

The Shooter by Martha Clarkson

Photo of geese in sunset colored sky

Today we drive north for an hour to find the snow geese migration. The geese are in the area for six months, so it shouldn’t be hard. Migration, as in come to roost. The barista in our favorite French coffee shop says, when we tell her where we are headed, “Hmm, I don’t think I’ve heard of that,” even though we know she grew up in the area and we just recently arrived and still know about it. Steaming our milk, she adds, “I once saw a field of swans, maybe that was them.” The … Continue reading The Shooter by Martha Clarkson

God Bless the 800-Calorie Sandwich by Angela Townsend

Photo of a sandwich from the side

So, here’s the thing about the Meemaw cookbooks. I have no desire to make any of this stuff. But it gives me metaphysical peace to know that someone in Arkansas is eating the 800-calorie sandwich. The Meemaw cookbooks are the dozen Taste of Home Annual Recipes volumes I’ve acquired. With systematic, inexplicable pleasure, I began collecting them the week V. moved out. The 2nd Avenue Thrift Store asked $2.99 per candy-colored hardcover, so I merrily cleaned them out. I intentionally left behind the Cooking Light Annual Recipes. I can and can’t explain any of this. … Continue reading God Bless the 800-Calorie Sandwich by Angela Townsend

Moosehead by John Matthews

Photo of pitcher of beer and full glasses

I had just helped a young neighbor, much younger than me, dig an annoying stump out of his yard. We were tired and muddy, but he invited me into his house for a breather. “Have a seat,” he said, pulling out a kitchen chair. “How ‘bout a beer? I’ve got Heineken and Moosehead.” I paused. The choices were so unexpected. “Wow, my two favorite beers in the world! How can I decide?” “I can’t really tell them apart,” he said. Without waiting, he uncapped one of each and set them before me. I hoped he … Continue reading Moosehead by John Matthews

Under the River Bridge by Paul C. Rosenblatt

Photo of bridge to field under sunset

The summer before I turned fifteen I often biked with my two best friends to Chicago’s River Park, thirty acres of grass, trees, paths, playgrounds, and a swimming pool. The park was a green haven in our gritty urban neighborhood that was packed with apartment buildings, stores, factories, gas stations, warehouses, restaurants, and everything else that made Chicago livable and tense. River Park was bisected by the North Branch of the Chicago River. It was an odd looking river because it had been lined with concrete in the 1930s. It looked and often smelled like … Continue reading Under the River Bridge by Paul C. Rosenblatt

My Father Unknown by Laura Shaine

Photo of the box of a 23andMe DNA kit

How do you knock on a door that, all your life, you imagined opening? I stood at a fateful address on the edge of the historic district of Old Cloverdale, in Montgomery Alabama. I had never been to Alabama before and until now, had only one important contact here—Harper Lee. Before my first memoir was published, Harper Lee had read it and written to me, “A beautiful story I shall cherish for years to come.” I was thrilled, of course, but still uncertain— what was my story? Ever since I could speak I had searched … Continue reading My Father Unknown by Laura Shaine

Another Season of Winners by Susan Shafarzek

Bouquet of red, purple, and green flowers, amongst green leaves

We’re happy to announce the 2024 Streetlight Essay/Memoir contest winners. With an emphasis on memoir, the winners are as follows: First Prize winner, Sandra Hopkins, in her essay, “Tongues of Fire,” gives us a deep glance into a childhood lived actively. In a piece that is both touching and amusing, she shows how the relationship between generations can be both complicated and beautiful. An artist, born and raised in Virginia, this author shows a fine awareness of the telling evidence of personhood Second Prize goes to Jeanne Malmgren for “Blindsided,” a precisely written story about … Continue reading Another Season of Winners by Susan Shafarzek

Angels by Margarita Meyendorf

Photo of pink zinnia amongst leaves

We were a half-hour drive from our destination and already thinking of the cool lake we were going to jump into and the scrumptious lunch we had packed when suddenly, my husband Miky accelerated and the connection between the gas pedal and the engine was gone. Just gone. There was nothing there. He pumped the gas pedal, but to no avail. Were we out of gas? No. He went through the gears—we had no gears. Our beloved 1991 VW Westfalia pop-up van sputtered forward in first gear for a few feet more, then in the … Continue reading Angels by Margarita Meyendorf

Weeds Don’t Weep but Gardeners Do. by Nancy Halgren

Photo of single dandelion

Diligent was the only word that could be applied to my father’s pursuit of dandelions in our front yard. Clearly Iremember him in his worn work boots, laced to the top, socks rolled down touching, and an old white t-shirt and shorts of some kind, though never cut offs. Covering his head would be an old sailor’s hat turned down like a white mushroom cap. His clip on sunglasses would cover his regular ones, and the milky colored plastic nose protector was attached to the bridge. He would be bent over with his trusty pocket … Continue reading Weeds Don’t Weep but Gardeners Do. by Nancy Halgren

There’s a Beer that Tastes Like June 1981 by Harry Lee James

Photo of fully pint of beer

Once upon a time I was a soldier living in a small town on the eastern most edge of what was known at the time as West Germany. To the East, a little over a mile away, lay a continuous line of fences, mines, walls, watch towers and enemy soldiers that stretched north and south as far as the eye could see. All of that vast array of potential violence marked the end of an old war that waited to be resumed if enough reasons and grievances could be sounded to wake it up from … Continue reading There’s a Beer that Tastes Like June 1981 by Harry Lee James

Le Francais et Moi by Miles Fowler

Photo of french flags on masts

The other day, I was watching a TV program set during World War II. An American bomber group was about to drop leaflets over Nazi-occupied territory. The French text of the leaflet appeared briefly on screen, and I hit the pause button. I got the gist of the leaflet. Maybe eighty-percent. It was something like, “It has become necessary to bomb this town. Leave immediately.” This would be terrific except that I have studied French on and off for more than sixty years. I grew up with a father who spoke French. One of his … Continue reading Le Francais et Moi by Miles Fowler