Category Archives: Essay/Memoir

Singing at Auschwitz by Diane Baumer


 

For close to thirty minutes that first evening, we danced recklessly and with joy, clasping hands, twirling, and twisting to the beat of the “Havah,” reveling in our freedom and singing with abandon. Our dance line snaked up the auditorium floor and into the Museum’s lobby then circled ‘round the brightly colored kiosks. Forming three smaller circles, we laughed and sang and bumped without grace into one another until finally, as the music died down, we collapsed onto the benches against the wall, out of breath and exhausted. After a few minutes, one of the … Continue reading Singing at Auschwitz by Diane Baumer

Magical Thinking by Judy Longley

Hey Diddle Diddle illustration
 

Memphis, on the brink of World War II, a crowded city, my family squeezed in a small duplex. Mother and Father work in weapons factories. We’re gathered around the radio in our tiny living room. Suddenly a shout bursts from the curved wooden box— “Pearl Harbor has been bombed!” Three years old I hear Mother’s small scream, see my Father’s frown grow deeper. Not sure where or what Pearl Harbor might be, I’m afraid to sleep that night. I lull myself with a favorite nursery rhyme. Hey diddle diddle, The cat and the fiddle, The … Continue reading Magical Thinking by Judy Longley

Tourist by Jim Krosschell

Maine coastline
 

Sometimes a trip starts out innocently. You may not even know you’ve departed. (1963) On summer vacation, a boy and his family travel to the college town on the northern coast. He’s an adolescent, incarcerated for the past year by pimples and prairie, his father having moved them from suburbia to prison – a prison without walls, more accurately with the invisible walls of an ethnic enclave, and him with his driver’s license still several years away. All of this has made the vast flat plain fairly terrifying. The day after they arrive in New … Continue reading Tourist by Jim Krosschell

Lunchero by Larry Strauss

tacos truck
 

I used to think the school at which I taught should have been named Rodney Dangerfield High because nobody got any respect. Oppressive rules treated students like babies. Weapons checks regarded them as criminals. Teachers faced overcrowded classrooms with shamefully inadequate resources and endured blatant—and often profane—rudeness from students and endless interruptions from everyone. We—the teachers—disregarded administrative rules as a matter of course. Other high schools and the district as a whole disdained us because we were small and had no football team, because our basketball team had a reputation for fighting and mayhem (because … Continue reading Lunchero by Larry Strauss

The Yellow House by Judy Longley

tiger swallowtail butterfly
 

Sleep bears me to the farmhouse slanted on a steep hill, commanding the highway below. Yellow clapboard and fieldstone constructed after the Civil War, the first floor a single room of stone, fireplace centering it. I warm my hands at the stone hearth—a rosemary bush flames silver-blue tongues, new stems uncoiling as fast as they burn. Through pungent smoke shades appear: my children young again, interrupted in their play, John, my professor husband with his eternal scatter of books, friends, just passing through and the ghost we all tolerated. A woman we agreed, wearing white … Continue reading The Yellow House by Judy Longley

Her Apron Full of Crinkle Root by Roselyn Elliot

crinkle root leaf and root
 

Make yourself useful! Rock the baby, feed the baby. Move away from that radio, before I pull both your ears and unplug the thing forever. Today, I’ll teach you how to make pickles. First, go to the garden and pick enough cucumbers to fill this pan. Then I’ll show you how to wash them and make the pickling juice. Go, before your mother comes back. Do this for me. My father supported his widowed mother. Dad was Grandma’s baby, her youngest of seven, and he brought her to live with him and my mother on … Continue reading Her Apron Full of Crinkle Root by Roselyn Elliot

Dear Johnny… by Margaret Thacker

Non-Fiction
 

I read your obituary in the paper today. It said you were 49 years old when you died. You left to mourn a wife, three children, one grandchild, a sister, and foster parents who steered you in the right direction. You worked for a construction company and were a volunteer fireman. It had been so long since I’d seen you. I was nine and you were ten. You came to school mid-year, after everyone had been assigned a desk and knew their place on the bus. I was in third grade and you were in … Continue reading Dear Johnny… by Margaret Thacker