My Transylvanian Family

Theresa D’Aiuto Sokol

In 1989 the fall of the Berlin Wall signaled the end of a 40-year Cold War to the jubilation of millions around the world. But how many of us have a personal story of the struggle, heartbreak, despondency, and alienation endured by individuals caught between two opposing political ideologies during that period? Little did I know what I would learn about this subject when I first moved to Europe in 1982 to begin my performing career at a German opera house.

Early on I met a tall, impressive bass, an ethnic Hungarian from Transylvania (formerly a part of Hungary ceded to Romania after WWII) with an unusual last name and charismatic demeanor…

Read more

Komi’s Northern Lights

Junia Ancaya

When we see what is happening in Yemen and Ukraine, we sometimes feel that more human suffering is taking place now than the world has ever seen before. And that’s not true. Most of us are old enough to remember WW II as having been a recent event when we were children. Some of us experienced it. The horrors taking place now are real but not unique.

Junia Ancaya and her family suffered the brutalities of both the Soviets and the Nazis during that dreadful time, and she has written about it in two books she’s published and here in OLLI Connects. In this issue she adds another chapter to her family’s saga.

Read more

Three Vivid Memories

Jerry Noland
Susan Harrison
Andy Mohr

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 readersandwriters.too@gmail.com.

Read more

Lapsitting

Marilyn Myerson

“Hey, you’re not really mad at me,” I said, gently tugging on his curly chest hair, already graying and smelling so deliciously of him. “Look, look, that’s a smile coming out, I can see it, I can see it!” And, as if my very words cast a magical spell, his facial expression changed. From a puckered brow and a frown, my powers of alchemy brought light into his eyes and a smile broke into blossom on his lips.

He wasn’t mad at me; I could regain my sense of invulnerability, at least in the present moment. Sitting in his lap, I felt at ease, warm, loved, and, above all, safe. Maybe I could even talk him into taking me for a piggyback ride! He would stroll through our small apartment, his strong hands holding on firmly to my ankles, and I would delight in my newfound height, being on top of the world, literally and figuratively! I could gaze intimately at the patterns in the ceiling plaster; I could glory in the texture and feel of the upside-down tulip-shaped light fixture. I was above it all. From this vantage point, I was the monarch of our apartment and thus the whole world -what joy!

Read more

How I Became Asian?

Bharat Pathakjee

I was born in India and given a name which originated at the time of Alexander the Great, who when reaching the Sindhu River with his armies, could not pronounce the word Sindhu because his language had no sound for the letter “s.” And so, Sindhu became Hindu. The name morphed to India during the British era when a classical education was highly prized. Yet where the classical Greek has the Iliad and the Odyssey, Vedic India has the longer epic poems Mahabharata and Ramayana, texts which explain my first name. The origin of the word Aryan enters modern use after the linguistic linkage by William Jones in his 1794 translation of the Indian Laws of Manu.
Read more

 

Back to the Future – Wildcat Style

Diane Russell

He was her first love. Their romance was mercurial, as many high school romances are. 

Lois Wessling, my mom, graduated from Roosevelt High School in Des Moines, Iowa, in the spring of 1939.  Ray, her boyfriend, planned to attend local Drake University.  Of course, Lois wanted to live near him as a college student, but her parents did not want her to attend Drake and be near Ray. Lois came up with a Plan B: she was accepted at Iowa State University in Ames, 35 miles north of Drake, so she and Ray could visit each other on the weekends. One problem with Lois’ plan was that she chose home economics as her major. Her family was wealthy enough to have live-in maids, so she had not honed any domestic skills. Nevertheless, Lois prepared for her move to Iowa State in September. 

One August evening at dinner with her parents, Lois’ future changed forever.

Read more

Remembering a Great American

Don Menzel

Oh, I’m not talking about a President or famous patriot. Oh no, I’m remembering an ordinary farm boy who knew his duty and joined up to bring the tyrant Hitler and the Japanese militarists to their knees in WWII.

Do you remember December 7, 1941? Probably not unless you are over 90 years of age. I was 28 months old, so my memory is lacking. But soon after that horrific event, the United States declared war on Japan and Germany. And then an incredible thing happened. Uncle Sam called on Americans to join the fight and guess what–the Greatest Generation stepped forward. This story is about one of those Great Americans, Don T., a farm boy who grew up in a rural central Illinois village (population 1200 in 1940). In 1943, he graduated from high school with the war raging in Europe and the Pacific.

Read more

 

The Flag in the Window

Mary Bowers

The whistle screeched from the old kettle, heralding its success in having boiled the water. Louise turned off the gas under the kettle and poured the boiling water into a chipped mug. As she stirred the tea in the mug, she thought again about how that mug had gotten chipped. Davey was almost two when he tipped the empty mug, hoping for a taste of the sugary tea. His little hands couldn’t contain the weight of the mug, and the edge of it fell against his beautiful left incisor, leaving chips in both the mug and the tooth. Louise recalled the hoop-la when Davey lost the chipped tooth the day he turned five. The new permanent tooth had so far lasted the rest of his life…

                                                                                                                 Read more

Following in Their Footsteps

Joan Weaving
Anne Strozier

At this time of year we celebrate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. We members of the older and (hopefully) wiser generation often take a moment in the midst of being entertained by our children and grandchildren to pause and reflect on our own parents. Looking back through time at the choices they made and at the memories their presence built in our own lives is both poignant and beautiful. This week’s blog features two short memoirs, each a richly detailed and lovingly scripted reminiscence of a beloved parent—because, after all, we stand on their shoulders.— Editor                                           
                                                                                                                        Read more

Stories like the ones you are about to read satisfy our common need to share the experiences of our own past, our family histories and the singular events that helped create our individual life path and personal identity. And now we ask you to please share a part of your story in our upcoming Memoir Challenge. More details are given at the end of this week’s edition. — Editors 

Feast of St. Joseph

Poem by Patricia R. Antolino

It is a little-known fact that millions of Italian families, whose ancestors arrived during waves of immigration in the late 19th and early 20th century, mark an ethnic and cultural celebration in mid-March. Overshadowed by the overwhelming popularity of St. Patrick’s Day on March 17th, this holiday and other traditional Italian observances are hinted at in films like The Godfather, where an iconic scene features bystanders lined up along a parade route following a statue adorned with dollar bills. On March 19th, Italians commemorate the Feast of Saint Joseph (Festa di San Giuseppe) with parades and processions throughout the northeastern states and in New Orleans. Bakeries and families eagerly anticipate the sale and purchase of special fried and baked sweets native to the cuisine of Sicily and the Neapolitan region of Southern Italy. This week’s blog honors those traditions and sentiments with an ode to Italian ancestry and a recipe for the Italian confection most associated with “the festa,” zeppole, a sweet delight which holds an honored place in the pantheon of Italian cuisine.  Editor

Read more

Verified by MonsterInsights