All posts by Susan Shafarzek

Tsunami Stones by Karen Mittelman

Photo looking through redrocks
 

All along the coastline of Japan, hundreds of tall stone tablets stand as warnings about the possibility of natural disasters. Many date back to the 1880s, when two deadly tsunamis battered the coast and killed more than twenty thousand people. Carved with care, the ancient tablets convey messages from one generation to the next, advising those who read them to seek high ground after an earthquake, and to avoid low-lying areas in case of floods. One of the most well-known is called the Aneyoshi tablet, a four-foot slab of stone placed high up on the … Continue reading Tsunami Stones by Karen Mittelman

Succor by Brett Ann Stanchiu

Photo of bald eagle against blue sky
 

When the pandemic first shut down our world in the spring of 2020, my fifteen-year-old daughter and I were at home, every day, all day. I had been a sugarmaker for years, and the month of March and I were old friends. Well, maybe not friends, but certainly long-time acquaintances. I knew the fickleness of March, how this month can stretch into heaps of snow, or afternoons of blinding sun, or days-long, freezing drizzle. By the end of the pandemic, I sold the property where my family lived and sugared and bought a house in … Continue reading Succor by Brett Ann Stanchiu

Two Soft-served Cones, Please. by Elva Anderson, PhD

Photo of 2 cones of soft serve ice cream
 

Growing up in a small rural town, I felt a strong sense of family, community, and safety. We had farmers’ markets, county fairs with greased pigs, hayrides, pie eating contest, cake walks, musical chairs, berry picking, Sunday mornings worship, and family meals around the table. As a child all appeared to be well. One evening after work, I drove home, and I told my five-year-old brother I was going to treat him to a soft serve cone at the local Custard Stand. Now mind you, at the time, it was the only fast-food place in … Continue reading Two Soft-served Cones, Please. by Elva Anderson, PhD

Dee’s Salon by Jeff Ventura

Pink blossoms on branches
 

Jeff Ventura has earned an Honorable Mention in Streetlight’s 2022 Essay/Memoir Contest The love of a husband for a wife, of my father’s love for my mother, is scattered in my memory like peach blossoms after a spring storm. Sometime in the mid-to-late 70s, my mom—pregnant, and happy to leave the hot production floor of the Bonnie Lane pajama factory in New Bedford, Massachusetts—decided to open her own “beauty shop.” After all, she had graduated top of her class from the LeBaron Beauty School, and had, for a time, rented the best chair at the … Continue reading Dee’s Salon by Jeff Ventura

The Notebook by Susan Valas

Photo of pen on open notebook
 

Susan Valas is the 3rd place winner of Streetlight’s 2022 Essay/Memoir Contest It’s a drizzly-gray day in the spring of 1966. I stroll out the back door and climb into my dad’s Thunderbird with minutes to spare as I wait for my family. Like any eleven-year-old, I rummage through my father’s console hoping to find Clorets gum, or maybe some pipe cleaners. But lurking in a bunker inside of me is a tangle of hope and dread that I will also find a clue. And I do. Below the passenger seat—a throne upon which a … Continue reading The Notebook by Susan Valas

A Special Day by Miles Fowler

Black and white photo of the liberty bell
 

Was I crazy to want to attend two different public events on a single hot summer’s day? Maybe, but after two years of the Covid pandemic, there were a couple of Fourth of July events I really wanted to attend. The first was two events in one: the July Fourth Independence Day Celebration and Naturalization Ceremony at Monticello, which is the historic home of President Thomas Jefferson, located just outside of Charlottesville. And this year, I actually knew someone who was taking the oath of citizenship, a woman who goes to the same church we … Continue reading A Special Day by Miles Fowler

Pandemic Casserole by Catherine Pritchard Childress

Photo of casserole in white dish
 

Catherine Pritchard Childress is the 2nd place winner of Streetlight’s 2022 Essay/Memoir Contest Offering food as a form of comfort for those in mourning is as much a part of my Appalachian upbringing as Vacation Bible School and dinner on the grounds. Where there is death there will be cream soup casseroles and fried chicken, jugs of sweet tea and deli trays. Condolences unaccompanied by a Pyrex dish (name written on masking tape and secured to the bottom) or a lidded Rubbermaid container  (“Honey, I don’t need it back”) are lacking—or so we’ve been raised … Continue reading Pandemic Casserole by Catherine Pritchard Childress

What Killed the Video Star by Betty Wilkins

Photo of Blockbuster store
 

Betty Wilkins is the 1st place winner of Streetlight’s 2022 Essay/Memoir Contest Rewind. By September 2002, I had been out of college for nine months and the student loan officers were calling to collect my debt. I was only working thirty hours a week as a technical writer and editor of university computing documentation, which sounds more glamorous than it was and came with zero benefits. Calvin and I had moved out of a bad living situation with another roommate, so with only the two of us to share the rent and utilities money was … Continue reading What Killed the Video Star by Betty Wilkins

Innocence Abroad by Miles Fowler

Photo of cloth napkins
 

I spent a month in Europe in 1998, doing research for a novel I was planning to write (and still plan to finish). The trip brings back memories, some delightful and others regretful. Often, both had to do with language. I really only speak one language. Even then, I often meet English words I do not know, and it humbles me. So, before I set off, I memorized a few set phrases in French and German, some having to do with negotiating food and lodging, and others to get a sense of where things were … Continue reading Innocence Abroad by Miles Fowler

Whiskey Island Mango Salad by Janine De Baise

Photo of salad with fruit
 

Whenever I say that my extended family camps together in the summer—living in tents, cooking over the fire, and bathing in the river—someone will ask, “And you all get along? For a whole week?” Sure, I say. Of course, I’m lying. My family includes my seventy-something father who loses his temper if he doesn’t get an afternoon nap, my sister Carroll who just stops talking at the first sign of trouble, my sister Laurie who has been known to threaten family members with a sharp knife while making fruit salad, my brother Kevin who refused … Continue reading Whiskey Island Mango Salad by Janine De Baise