One of my favorite television programs as a teenager was Victory at Sea. I watched every episode, and the theme music has stayed with me all these 70 years:Don-Don-Don-to-Don – Dant – to – Dant – to – Dant…
The dream of being on a Navy warship and the music stayed with me even after I’d joined the Air Force and become a pilot. And as luck would have it, after completing my F-4E Phantom Fighter Training at George AFB, instead of Vietnam, I was assigned to the 62nd Tactical Fighter Squadron at Misawa, Japan. It was a great assignment, because I have always liked the Japanese culture. (Later I would build a house there overlooking the Pacific Ocean and live off base inside that culture.)
I could have flown to Japan, but instead I decided I’d try to make that lifelong dream come true. Read more
My friends Maxine, Etta and I were open to adventure: a five-day hike on the Appalachian Trail (the AT). It’s 1988, we’re all in our 40’s, elated to take on this challenge. Maxine is a serious hiker, she has helped blaze the Florida Trail, she’s sinewy, brave, and fun-loving. Etta is a racewalker, many miles on her sturdy legs, and my best friend. I feel fairly fit, ready for something different, wanting to prove myself physically adept. “Mens sana in corpora sano”, as my high school motto had it, “a sound mind in a sound body”.
Maxine took me under her wing, and we spent several enjoyable weekends on Florida hikes. I learned to read trail blazes, hammer in tent stakes, tie food way up high in a tree to keep it safe from raccoons and bears. Various incidents are blazed in my memory: trudging cautiously across an endless field dug up and horribly disfigured by wild boar, the uneven trenches ready to turn an ankle without a moment’s notice. Then there was the brownie incident.
Jerry Noland, Susan Harrison, and Andy Mohr – members of OLLI’s Shared Interest Group Community of Readers and Writers share three short memoir personal essays as part of a project of Vivid Memories. Creating layers of meaning and weaving images in a limited number of words (under 500) seems to bring out the best in their writing. You, too, are welcome to send your vivid memories, even a prose/poem, (under 500 words, please) to the group for feedback and tips for editing at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Monday, September 29th 1941 at 8am, Shepsa and Sura Gershunovich appeared at the corner of Melnikiva and Dokterivskaya streets in Kiev Russia, as ordered by the town police.
Shepsa and Sura were decent, God-fearing Russians who worked hard, and followed the laws of Torah. They raised children, eked out a living, and believed that God would provide. They were my great grandparents.
At 9 am, along with over 30,00 other “Yids” who had gathered as ordered, they were marched to Babi Yar, a huge ravine north of the city. They were stripped of their clothes and belongings and layered like plywood into the ditch. Then they were systematically shot to death and buried beneath the rubble. By 8 pm, all the “Yids” were dead.
“Hey man, pull over wherever you can. You can’t see shit in this weather. Turn on those flashers and the strobe. Base, this here’s Steve; I’m with the rookie,” he said shielding the mike against his chest.
Then as if orchestrated, there was hostile stillness.
In an instant, it turned dead calm. Just like the eye of a hurricane. Eerie and chilling silence. Hell, you could almost hear the fish fart. No birds chirping, no crickets or love calls. No animals rustling along the leaf carpeted paths.
Today’s OLLI Connects article does something that very few of our articles do: it takes a political stance. We don’t expect everyone who reads OLLI Connects to agree with it, and we welcome opposing Comments, provided they follow our Comment Policy which you can find near the bottom of this page. We would also welcome a well written opposing article. We are confident–well, pretty confident–that OLLI-USF members can disagree without throwing punches or insults at one another. — Editors
A while back we issued our “Memoir Challenge” and invited you to tell us about that moment when something happened that changed the course of your life. Several of you responded, and we shared your stories here in OLLI Connects. One of our respondents was Peter Terzian, and while his memoir fit the criteria of the challenge, he and we agreed that it lacked the drama essential to a compelling story. Fortunately, Pete’s imagination is not constrained by the events of his real life, and it has produced a fascinating and, of course, yet-to-be-completed memoir. We’ve shared pieces of it in past issues. This time around we’ve put it all together for you. Enjoy! — Editors
I remember meeting her. It was the beginning of September when the days are starting to gently shift into the Fall season. Mark had just broken my heart. He decided having a girlfriend our last year in college was just not doable and, well, sent me on my way. Five years, and he sends me a text saying we were done. As I look back, I know that was a gift, but right then … when it happened … my heart broke. I felt the shards ripping my insides apart. The text came when I was just about to walk through the park to meet him at the fountain … what we called ‘our fountain.’ Overly dramatic I may have been, but at that age, it definitely felt appropriate. The tears just came. Full on sobbing, nose running, tissues all balled up in my hands. I sat down on the nearest bench and was relieved that no one else was around to witness my breakdown. Just me and my broken heart and snotty tissues.
Last October Cath Mason and Bob Strozier taught an OLLI course on “New Yorker Poetry,” and this year they’re back with a sequel, “Here We Come! More Poems from the New Yorker,” on Thursday, October 19, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., in the Compton Park Azalea Room. (Call 813-974-5848 to enroll.)
Bob wrote the following introduction to last year’s course, and we offer it here as both a stand-alone love letter to the magazine and as an enticement to enroll in the upcoming course. — Editors
Growing up, I don’t remember reading much poetry in the The New Yorker unless it was by Ogden Nash, high priest of light verse. Remembered, among other things, for: “Candy is dandy/But liquor is quicker.”
And “The Cow.” “The cow is of the bovine ilk/One end is moo, the other, milk.”
Speaking of farm animals, in March of 1976 I happened across a New Yorker poem about a pig that caught me completely off-guard and left me in tears. It was “St. Francis and the Sow,” by Pulitzer Prize winner, Galway Kinnell, which turned out to be one of his greatest poems. I still get teary when I read it.
Are you a U.S. citizen? How do you know you are or are not? “Oh”, you say, “I was born in the U.S.” Well, all right, but it may surprise you to learn that the U.S. is one of only 35 countries that offers birthright citizenship—the vast majority of the nearly 200 countries on the planet do not do so.
So, what is controversial about birthright citizenship? Simply put, one view shared by the Republicans running for president is that birthright citizenship is a vehicle for illegal immigrants seeking entry into the U.S. Leading the pack is former President Donald Trump who has said that if elected in 2024 he will sign an executive order ending automatic citizenship for children born of parents who have illegally entered the U.S. In his view, birthright citizenship results in “anchor babies” who upon reaching the age of 21 can sponsor parents and family members for U.S. entry. Joining former President Trump are Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy who has said he will add new citizenship requirements. Read more