To Tell the Truth Challenge — Episode 4

Well, we have arrived at Week 4 of the To Tell the Truth Contest. How are you doing so far? Do you think you have correctly sussed out truth from fiction?  Don’t forget to leave your True/False vote in the comment section below the authors’ biographies. After we compile all the responses, we will select the winner and announce his or her name and reveal the veracity of each of the ten entrants in December. Stay tuned for one more bonus episode this Thursday, but for now enjoy Marilyn Myerson’s The Haunting: Ghosts in my Life and Diane Henrikson Russel’s Pet Cards and To Tell the Truth. — Editor    Read more  

The Inventor and The Collector: Yin and Yang

Marilyn Myerson

What in the world might induce a man to invent an instrument of torture? Might it be the lure of riches? Fame for innovative ingenuity? Deeply abiding bloodlust? Or might it be based on some kind of principle?

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We are officially in the "spooky season."  Tonight, little ghosts and ghouls will wander your neighborhoods on the hunt for candy and other treats. But Halloween's traditional roots belong to the observance of All Soul's Day, a remembrance of all those who have lived and passed on. Most recently this cultural rite was enshrined in Coco, an animated Disney opus focused on the "dia de los muertos." Today's blog features two stories featuring the inner human spirit with an emphasis on the contrast between good and evil. — Editor

Three Odes to Women

Morrey Grymes
Bruce Zimmerman
Peter Terzian


Poetry has the unique capacity to capture our deepest thoughts, whether they be the experience of mounting grief, tender remembrance or even a flight of fancy. With economy, rhythm and the taste of language on the palate, our three contributors present an array of emotions in Three Odes to Women. –Editors

Favorite Memory of Mom

Ray Ann Favata

My favorite memory of Mom was her ability to produce beautiful wearable items sewn by her hands and heart. She was a good seamstress. Not great, because she could not design and cut out a garment without a pattern like the contestants on Project Runway. She was good because she could purchase a Simplicity (her favorite) pattern, select the fabric and create an outfit anyone would be proud to wear.

She mastered the pinch-pleated skirt. It was always made from a colorful printed fabric rescued from the bargain basement at the local Woolworth 5 and 10¢ Store. Imagine, with just two yards at 25 cents a yard, I had a skirt for a few dollars.

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Cousin Vince and the Kindness of Friends

Diane Henrikson Russell

Author’s Note: I was inspired to write this memoir after taking John Grant’s OLLI class titled, “Life and Death Documents Everyone Should Have.”

I had insomnia on Memorial Day weekend of 2016 and disregarded the advice not to check my phone.

I instantly regretted it when I saw a text message from my second cousin, “Joe.” Our dads were first cousins who were as close as brothers. We both grew up in Des Plaines, Illinois and went to the same church. We had bonded lately over fond memories of our dads.

He reported that Vince, his uncle and my first cousin once removed, had had a stroke and lung cancer. Since he was losing his vision rapidly, he hired a neighborhood woman to be his assistant to communicate with his friends.      Read more

National Poetry Month – Part 2

OLLI Connects continues its annual celebration of National Poetry Month with a selection of poems by four different writers. Thematically linked through images of flight and trees, this edition is entitled “The Aviator, The Fledgling and The Crow.” Please click on the button below to enjoy the poems of Pindie Stephen, Linda Dunk, Morrey Grymes and M.A. Sinnhuber. 
               
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Silver Wedding Anniversary

Junia Ancaya

Beginning in 1949, after narrowly surviving WW II in Europe, my parents Marta and Stefan Orzechowski and I spent fifteen arduous years in exile in Argentina—starting from zero. Meanwhile, Poland, our country, was under the vicious heel of Soviet-imposed Communism.

In spite of our limited resources under the tyranny and chaos of Juan D. Peron’s presidency, after several years, we proudly built a one-bedroom concrete-block house, a ”box”. My parents and I built it with our very own hands (with the help of an amateur roofer) in Barrio Roca—on a scarcely populated, low-priced grassy field northeast of greater Buenos Aires.  (More…)

The Flying Aunts Carry Out Dad’s Wishes

Diane Russell

Before his November 2012 death, Dad expressed the desire that some of his ashes be scattered in the Fox River which bordered our family’s 100-year-old cottage.

This treasured property in Johnsburg, a northeastern Illinois village along the Fox River near the Wisconsin border, was a gift to five generations from my great-grandparents, affectionately known as Little Grandpa and Little Grandma Henrikson. In 1919, Little Grandpa and four co-workers from the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad bought five adjoining riverfront lots with identical small square wooden cottages. The cottage served as a much-loved place for both boisterous family gatherings and solitary meditational times. On his final trip to the cottage in October 2012, Dad was still in awe: “It is so peaceful here. I love it.”

We could not afford to keep the cottage in the family. I felt a multitude of feelings when (more…)

Family Found

Diane Henrikson Russell

1880 portrait of Carolina in Swedish family photo album

The Ancestry.com hint appeared as a leaf linked to Carolina Eugenia Oscaria Tillberg.

Before I reveal the hint, here is some background. Carolina was my great-grandmother. The story goes that Carolina was born in Stockholm, and at age 11, she traveled with neighbors to Chicago and settled in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.  She was supposed to return to her family in Stockholm, but she never went home.

Instead, Carolina at age 20 married a Norwegian man, Bernhardt Henrikson, who immigrated to Sheboygan as a two-year-old boy with his parents and siblings. They raised three children, including my grandfather, and moved to Chicago in 1894 for a job with the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad.  (More…)

My Young Life

Anne Strozier

When my mother became a widow, I was 12 years old, living in Tallahassee, Florida.  The morning of April 20, 1960, I walked into the kitchen just as my mother was hanging up the phone. “Daddy’s had a heart attack,” she said.  I assumed she meant her father, Clough.  No, it was my father who’d had the heart attack.

The day before, my father had gone to a conference in Chicago.  Mother told me she’d be flying to Chicago to be with Dad while our elderly and rather taciturn neighbor, Mr. Yant, would take me and my 16-year-old brother Chuck to school.

Mid-morning, Mr. Yant appeared at the door of my classroom.  We drove home in silence, and I arrived home to be greeted by three anxious neighbor ladies, one of whom still had on pin curls.  I said hi to them and walked into the living room to sit by myself.  (More…)

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