I Miss Letters


Think about THIS the next time you look through your pile of junk mail…

Penny Wilson Writes

I miss letters.  The kind you used to get in your mail box.  Remember those?  Nobody writes letters anymore.  Even one of my dear friends who is now almost 80, sends emails rather than letters.

I still get a few Christmas cards every year, but even those are not nearly as numerous.  Most people if they do anything at all, they will send you an “e-card”.   Somehow, it’s just not the same.

I remember the thrill when I would find a letter from a childhood friend in the mail box.  It was so exciting!  I remember, making myself wait until I could devote my undivided attention to that letter.  Then I would sit and read it several times, relishing every word.

Remember Pen Pals?  I had a few growing up.  One was a Girl Scout that I met while I lived in the Philippines.  She was a Girl Scout from…

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Miss Stiff


I was trying to think back to when the first real spark for writing happened to me.  In my teens, I would write those, love-sick, heart-wrenching poems to that boy that would never read it.  I never wanted anyone to see what I was writing because it was my deepest, love-sick secrets.  I also dabbled at keeping a diary at different times as a child, but I never stuck with it for very long.

Then in 7th grade, Junior High, I met my English Teacher, Miss Stiff.

Continue reading “Miss Stiff”

Ordinary Day


I smelled rain today and thought of you.

It whisked me back to a time of innocence

And forever-long summers.

You towered over me;

My hand tiny in your grasp.

Your voice, boomed.

All I heard was love.

Big as a mountain

With eyes of sky blue.

You smelled of Old Spice and leather.

An ordinary day with you,

Was an extraordinary day

For me.

You

Were Loved.

(C) 2018 Penny Wilson

 

 

 

 

 

Siblings


There were four of us kids growing up.  I’m the only girl.  I love my brothers.  I really do.  I even loved them, admired and respected them when we were children.  But this (the picture above) is usually what most interactions looked like between me and my brothers.

We fought horribly!  All. The. Time.

I’m sort of in the middle in birth order.  I have 2 older brothers and one younger one.  My poor, sweet younger brother…  Since I could not direct my anger at my older brothers, I aimed my hatred for the male species at him.

Continue reading “Siblings”

#writephoto-Magic-Snow Day


** This is for a prompt on Sue Vincent’s blog.  If you would like to get in on her weekly prompt, you can find out all about the fun here.  Sue gave us the beautiful photo above and the word Magic.  So this is my humble little offering: Snow Day Magic 

I finally released her from my grip and she burst out the front door and into the cold December morning.  It was the most magical of all days; a Snow Day!

A Snow Day means not only do you get to play in the snow, but there is NO School that day!  This is a miracle to a child.

Continue reading “#writephoto-Magic-Snow Day”

A Trip to the Library


I’m sitting on the floor, deeply engrossed in a book on Witchcraft.  The city library will be closing in 20 minutes.  I need to hurry.

This book has me mesmerized.  Spells and incantations.  I must have it.  I add it to the stack.

I stand and look down at my stack of books.  There are 12 of them.  I pick the stack up with a little grunt.

On the 2nd floor of the library, way back in the back;  I discovered this isle I had not seen before!  I have been pouring over the books on the shelves.  Magic and witchcraft!  How titillating, how forbidden!  Some of these books are old and yellowed.  This is all the more exciting to me!  Words from the ancients!

Carefully looking around the large stack in my arms, I walk down the steps and toward the front counter.

I’m 10 years old and it’s summertime.  School is out and I have spent the last couple of hours on this beautiful summer day in the library.

I love the summer months.  This means that I can read as much as I want to without the interruption of school.  The 12 books I am loaded down with will probably not last me a week.

But not all of them are for reading.  Some of the books are just for browsing; like the one on witchcraft.  I also have a big picture book on travel in Italy.

The other books are for reading.  Real reading.  I have a variety.  One is a biography on Abraham Lincoln.  One is a fanciful fiction about a little girl by Beverly Cleary, a favorite author.  There are others too that will be devoured this week.  I average reading about a book a day in the summertime.

I set my books up on the counter and present my library card to the lady working behind it.  She smiles at me, a familiar face here.  Quickly, the books are checked out and I happily walk out into the sunshine.

I hurry home so I can once again study and pick over my selection and decide which one to devour first.

***

Mom grumbles at me and tells me to go play outside.  Remember “outside”?  I do spend a lot of time outside and my skin turns as brown as bread in the summer sun.  But I’m drawn to a quiet spot to lose my self between the pages of a book.

A new book, was a new adventure waiting to happen.  I would read the book cover, a tease of what waited within the pages.  Nothing was more exciting!

 

 

 

 

Mutt Love


I had a childhood friend named Nancy.  Nancy had this big dog named Critter.  Critter was a mutt.   Critter was big with mostly brown and white fur.  He had a big long skinny tail that curled up over his back.

Nancy said that Critter just showed up in their yard one day a couple of years prior and never left.  He was full grown and from the look of him had had a hard life.

Critter was nothing special in the looks department, but he was sharp as a tack!

Critter reflected the lifestyle of his owners.  Now don’t get me wrong.  Critter Never went hungry and he never longed for love or attention.  But he was just rough around the edges, like the rest of his family.

Critter had one ear that always laid down.  When a dog would normally perk up their ears, Critter’s were at half mast.  Critter was missing a patch of fur about 6 inches across on one side of his rump.  Maybe a fight during his younger days?  No one knew.

If Critter had been a Mean Junk Yard Dog, he looked the part.  But if you saw him play and wrestle with Nancy and her brothers, you would see a very gentle side of him too.

Nancy and I would walk downtown in the summertime and wander through the stores.  It was something to do on a hot day and Critter would often tag along.

Nancy never used a leash with Critter.  Critter didn’t need one.  As we walked along, Critter might run up ahead a little ways, but he was never out of sight.  If he lagged behind, it wasn’t long before he ran to catch up to us.

If Nancy and I wanted to go into a store to look around, most of the time Critter would just lie down on the sidewalk and wait for us.  Once we emerged from the store, Critter would fall into place alongside us again and we would continue on our way.

I can recall Critter waiting outside half a dozen stores for us as we made our way in and out of these different businesses.

One day we came out of the Woolworth’s lunch counter and Critter wasn’t there.  I looked at Nancy in a little bit of a panic and said “Critter’s not here!”  She said, “He probably just got tired and went home.”

We were on the opposite side of town from where we had started.  I thought for sure that poor Critter would be lost!   Nancy told me not to worry.

We finished our wandering and headed home.  As we neared Nancy’s house, I was looking for Critter but didn’t see him.  I had a knot in my stomach.  I didn’t want my dear friend to lose her dog and I loved Critter too!

Just as we stepped onto the front lawn a squeal came from around the side of the house.   Here came Bobby, the baby of the family, with Critter hot on his heels!  Bobby had one of Critter’s toys and the two of them were play some sort of chasing game.

Nancy was right.  Critter just went home!

I don’t know what ever happened to Critter.  Nancy’s and my lives took different routes.  But I’ll never forget that big lovable mutt.

Ordinary Miracles


I mention a poem by Erica Jong in a post that I did previously called The Ruined Book.  You can see that here if you’d like:  https://pennylanethoughts.wordpress.com/2017/03/29/the-ruined-book/

I was asked why I did not include that poem in my post.  An oversight on my part.  Here it is.  Enjoy.

Spring, rainbows,
ordinary miracles
about which
nothing new can be said.

The stars on a clear night
of a New England winter;
the soft air of the islands
along the old
Spanish Main;
pirate gold shining
in the palm;
the odor of roses
to the lover’s nose. . .

There is no more poetry
to be written
of these things.
The rainbow’s sudden revelation–
behold!
The cliché is true!
What can one say
but that?

So too
with you, little heart,
little miracle,

but you are
no less miracle
for being ordinary. 

Erica Jong

Cherry Street and Mr. Miller


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The best thing about living on Cherry Street was Mr. Miller.   Mr. Miller owned 8 or maybe it was only 6 run down little houses.  The upper row faced Cherry Street and the bottom row faced Beverly Drive.  I can remember us living in 3 different of his houses at one time or another.

Mom waitressed most of the time, raising 4 of us kids.  It was hard on her, I’m sure.  Mr. Miller’s houses weren’t fancy, but they were there when we needed them.  I’m sure my mother and Mr. Miller developed a relationship of sorts after a while, since we had rented from him on numerous occasions.

I don’t remember a lot about how Mr. Miller looked, except that he had gray hair.  He was a kind man with a bright smile.

In the summertime, Mr. Miller would pull into the neighborhood on his motorcycle.  It was a big bike with the saddle bags on the back and all the bells & whistles.  He would spend time giving all the kids in the neighborhood rides on it.  He didn’t give rides in the way you would think.  He would pile as many kids on that bike as he could!  There would be a couple in front of him, on the tank, a couple behind him, maybe one on the handle bars and maybe even one on the front fender!  Then he would slowly putt around the neighborhood with all us little kids squealing with delight!

Now days, of course you would never think about doing such a thing!  The parents would sue!!  But this was in the 1960’s, when the world was much different than it is today.

Mr. Miller made sure that every kid that wanted a ride had a turn.

Mr. Miller must have loved kids.  He would save the toys that were left in his rentals and pass them out to the needy at Christmas time.

Mr. Miller’s houses were furnished.  Even though they were a bit shabby, he tried to decorate or dress them up a little.  When you moved into one of his houses, not only would you find furniture, but you would also find pictures on the walls.

I was in elementary school when we lived on Cherry Street; so some of my memories might be a bit fuzzy.   But I do remember Mr. Miller always being very kind and patient.

One hot summer day, I poked my head inside the open front door of a house that I knew was vacant.  There was Mr. Miller, with sweat pouring down his face.  He had sawhorses set up with a piece of plywood on top for a make-shift work table.  He was slopping paste on the back of a strip of wallpaper.

I think Mr. Miller Loved wallpaper!  Maybe it was cheaper than sheet rock & paint.  Whatever the reason, he used the stuff a lot!

I can remember a bathroom that was wallpapered with pretty ladies in big hats.  Some of the ladies where applying lipstick.  Some of the ladies had big feathers in their hats.  I thought that paper was so pretty and glamorous!

One bedroom that I remember quite well had a ceiling that was wallpapered with a background of dark blue with white stars covering it.  You slept under the stars at night!

Life on Cherry Street was hard for my mom.  She was struggling to raise 4 kids alone.  Back then, you didn’t get Food Stamps, you got commodities.  From the government, we got big blocks of cheese or big cans of peanut butter.  The kind where you had to stir the oil back down into it.

Money was Always tight.  There were times when we would have pancakes for dinner; because that’s all there was.  Mom would try to make light of the situation.  We would have a pancake eating contest!  I could Almost eat as much as my big brothers, but not quite.

Clothing was either church donated, hand-me-downs, or second hand.

In the summertime, to make our shoes last longer, Mom would take scissors and cut the top of the toes off a pair of tennis shoes, so that as our feet grew, the toes could hang out over the front edge.  These became our sandals for the summer.  Somehow, Mom always managed to get us shoes before school started in the fall.

Looking back on this time is bitter-sweet.  I was very young and very innocent.  I never felt that my life was a hardship.  I was happy.  I had friends; I had a family that loved me.  I went to bed at night tucked into my nice warm bed, under the stars!  I didn’t know that I lived any different than anyone else did.

I thank God for Mr. Miller and his houses on Cherry Street.

 

 

V – View of the World


little girl

V – View of the world

Towering over her, she looked up into Grandpa’s eyes.  Smiling back at her, he held out a gnarled hand.   She took it.  His hand swallowed hers, making it disappear.

Looking into her sparkling blue eyes, Grandpa was never happier than when he was in her presence.

Her questions were non-stop.  “Grandpa, what’s that dog’s name?  Why is his hair three colors?  My hair is only one color!  If I had a dog, I would name it Ralph.  What would you name your dog Grandpa?”

He took it all in, loving every second and as patiently as he could, he answered her questions.

She let loose of his hand and ran on ahead; her hair flying out behind her.  She plopped down in the grass and picked the first dandelion she could reach.  She blew HARD, scattering the little seeds to the four winds.

Grandpa smiled as he approached.  It as if the sun had lit up that spot just for her.   Her hair shone and danced around her shoulders.  She looked up as Grandpa neared, her teeth were set in a wide grin from ear to ear.

“Grandpa!  Help me!  There are so many to blow!”

Grandpa looked down at her and said “Honey, you don’t have to blow them all!”

She looked around her, wide eyed.  “Oh thank goodness!”