All posts by Susan Shafarzek

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

Then We had Ice Cream by Isabel Wolf Frischman

Photo of black man on bench that says "Whites Only"
 

In the summer of 1967, the year of my high school graduation, the Newark, N.J.-adjacent town of Plainfield, where I grew up, exploded with race riots. I was in Washington, D.C. when it happened, working as a G-2 clerk-typist for the U.S. Post Office. I didn’t witness the events in my hometown, where an incident in a diner escalated into full-blown violence in reaction to police brutality against people of color. Fifty-one years later, as an officer handcuffed me for attempting to drape the crown of Queen Isabella of Spain with a foot-square piece of … Continue reading Then We had Ice Cream by Isabel Wolf Frischman

We’re Celebrating by Susan Shafarzek

Photo of fireworks
 

The 2022 Streetlight Essay/Memoir contest has concluded. I’m happy to announce our winners: Betty Wilkins, Catherine Childress and Susan Valas. All three essay impressed our judges with their strength of narrative and their ability to deal with issues that are often hard to encompass. Betty Wilkins, our first prize winner, won honorable mention winner from Streetlight last year, with her essay “Hudy’s Secret Recipe” which appeared in the Fall 2021 quarter of Streetlight. We’re especially glad to see her work again (the contest is judged blind, of course, so imagine our pleased surprise). She’s almost … Continue reading We’re Celebrating by Susan Shafarzek

The Camel’s Hump by Albert McFarland

Photo of people riding camels in desert
 

The Moroccan village was the same color as the surrounding hills and empty desert. The landscape had three primary colors: sandy tan, sky blue, and, occasionally, palm tree green. The young couple, tourists traveling into the hinterlands, found menu choices equally limited where options, like all resources, were scarce. The couple carried their argument from the restaurant into the night. The man, angry, pulled the woman close, roughly gripping her sweater. “Take care what you say.” From the shadows down the dusty narrow side street emerged a small group of young men, boys really. The … Continue reading The Camel’s Hump by Albert McFarland

When Stevie Nicks Was a Witch in Florida by T. J. Butler

Photo of coastline covered with trees
 

When Stevie Nicks was a witch in Florida, I sent her letters on stationery purchased from the canteen. The new girl at the youth residential center told me her mother was Stevie Nicks, and also a witch. I was fourteen, a year into the system. I didn’t ask why Stevie Nicks’s daughter was also there. Anything was possible; lies about mothers, or the real reasons kids were there: I’d been stealing cars since I was eleven, or my teachers kept calling the social workers, or, my mom’s in jail for selling drugs. I heard the … Continue reading When Stevie Nicks Was a Witch in Florida by T. J. Butler

Happy Trails (and Other Lies I Tell Myself) by Amy Bee

Two hikers jumping on large rock
 

I wasn’t going to make it. I’d made a mistake; this whole stupid backpacking thing was a mistake. I trudged a step further. A young guy, about thirteen, with Keanu Reeves hair and an Osprey backpack loosely perched on his shoulders made eye contact with me. He winked, gave me the “we’re in this together” nod, and flashed a peace sign as he loped past. I looked away, crushed. It’s almost funny now, how I gave up not even fifteen minutes into a three-week backpacking trip. I mean, in redemption stories, the part where the … Continue reading Happy Trails (and Other Lies I Tell Myself) by Amy Bee