Becoming a Poker Player

Sheldon Busansky

I remember hurrying home from elementary school whenever my mother had her friends over for bridge and sitting by her side to watch them play. Later, occasionally I was allowed to play a few hands of pinochle with my father and uncles on Sunday night, and then in high school I visited a classmate and often played hearts with his father and twin sisters. Cards were for me what sports were for many of my friends.

When I entered college in 1951, I decided to focus on bridge and often played in tournaments and at the local bridge club. I eventually became friendly with an exceptional bridge player, and we frequently partnered in a Friday-night cash game at the club. My only involvement with poker was an occasional afternoon penny ante game with some dormitory friends. I usually was a winner and my friend Marty always lost.  (More…)

The Joy of Reading – This Rough Magic

Cindy Knox

I was quite young when I first tried my hand at writing, and I found that descriptions were my Waterloo; I had to draw inadequate pictures instead. Dialogue seemed easy – should I have gone into playwriting? However, any type of description stopped me cold immediately. I’m envious of anyone who can describe a place, a person, a house, a tree – or a dolphin – so clearly that I can visualize it perfectly.

Fortunately for her readers, author Mary Stewart had no such problem, and we are placed in settings that are vivid, colorful, and speak to all the senses. Another plus for a perennial romantic like me is that her heroines are usually young, attractive, brave and educated. They are the highly idealized “me” from decades ago. This sentence from her obituary in The Guardian on May 15, 2014, sums it up: “Stewart’s fans were above all attracted to her wonderful storytelling, which she saw as a skill she was born with – ‘I am first and foremost a teller of tales’– but also by the warmth and vivacity of her characters and the sharply drawn settings.”  (More…)

No Fleas in Sight

OLLI Shutterbugs

The Indie Flea Market, a classy event with an ironic name, seems to draw all the beautiful young people in Tampa to the Armature Works every third Sunday of the month. So the OLLI Shutterbugs went to check it out in May.

Dozens of friendly, mostly young, artisan sellers of handmade clothes and jewelry, soaps, plants, greeting cards, cookies, gelato and other wares stood and sat at rows of stalls, some of them unable to keep from dancing to the pervasive beat of piped-in music. They were well outnumbered by the even younger, upbeat crowd, with the occasional baby and dog, that filled the aisles. You have to love crowds to come here, and for photographers who like to take candid shots of people, what better way to spend a summery afternoon? And, of course, it’s air-conditioned. (More…)

The Last Liberty Boat

David Campbell

David Campbell and Joe Callahan

Joe Callahan was my best friend in the Navy. We weren’t together very long, but while we were, we were virtually inseparable. When I returned to the Wilson after my leave to get married, Joe was on board fresh out of Internal Communications Electrician school.

The gun fire control gang, my unit, and the IC electricians both worked out of the IC room, home to the main fire control computer and the ship’s main gyro compass, the heart of the internal communications network, because all navigation and fire control systems were connected to it. IC electricians maintained the compass and the circuitry connecting it to other systems, as well as the sound-powered telephone system. The fire control guys and the IC gang were joined at the hip.  (More…)

Tornado on the Way!

Diane Russell

What started out as a pretty, warm day in northern Iowa ended as a dangerous night when a tornado formed suddenly in southern Minnesota.

In August 2017, my husband and I were in northern Iowa with some fellow roller coaster friends to ride the coasters at Arnolds Park Amusement Park on Lake Okoboji. The nearby towns were so tiny that we had to stay at a small motel in Spencer, Iowa, 30 minutes south.  (More…)

Resilience

Lorraine Watson

There are many definitions of resilience, but simply put, resilience is “thriving despite adversity.” Unfortunately in today’s world, there have been many opportunities for behavioral scientists to study both adults and children who have experienced horrendous and traumatizing events in their lives: natural disasters, man-made disasters, and personal attacks resulting in physical and emotional injury. Psychologists and other social scientists have tried to understand why some people bounce back (or up) after adversity and others struggle to function in their daily lives.

Multiple research projects have shown that there are three basic traits that most resilient people have in common.  (More…)

England During the War Years

Jack D. Plimmer

At the age of 12, I was not prepared for the war. It was a dark cloud that cast its shadow over what promised to be an enjoyable part of my life. I had just passed the 11-plus exam and had a scholarship to the local grammar school. My future looked rosy, but there were clouds on the horizon.

In England, we knew for some time that war was on its way. As I grew older, I read the national newspapers. They convinced us that Hitler’s aggression soon would be directed against England. The papers were full of news about Mussolini’s conquest of Ethiopia and the Spanish Civil War. The Spanish Civil War was a harbinger of what was to come. It polarized European thought and opinion. The newspapers gave detailed reports of the aerial bombing, sieges, battles, massacres, the flight of civilians and all the terrors associated with the war. The nightmare grew closer.  (More…)

Come wiz Me to ze Casbah!

Shelly Belzer

One of the phrases people of a certain age have imprinted on their memory was not spoken by Charles Boyer in the movie “Algiers,” which he made in 1938 with Hedy Lamarr, although comedians continued uttering it in a bad French accent for years afterward.  “Come wiz me to ze Casbah” was probably most famously spoken at the movies by Bugs Bunny.

“Algiers” was an American remake, down to some of the same camera angles, of the 1937 “Pepe le Moko,” starring the French film icon Jean Gabin.  With scenes of those movies in my mind’s eye, I set foot in the Casbah in Tangier in April.    (More…)

Cape Cod: Finding Her Secrets

Judy Huge

On hearing I was fresh from building a house on Cape Cod, the first 84 people I met after moving to Wisconsin 18 years back broke into huge grins as they leaned in to confide, “You’ll love Door County. It’s the Cape Cod of the Mid-West.” There was no doubt they felt proprietary. I guess that’s the way I feel about “my” Cape and why I’d like to make a few introductions.

The Cape I know is a bit shy. She hides her secrets on winding dirt roads, in the hollows of dunes, deep in the coolers of one-named ice cream stands or high on the shelves of artists who craft each coffee mug so the warmth you feel holding it on a winter morning seems to have come directly from the hands of the one who shaped it.  (More…)

Soviet Women in the Brezhnev Era

Diane Russell

“Do you have any abortion pills?” Marina whispered. Stunned, I answered a vehement “Nyet!”

For seven months from September 1979 through March 1980, my first husband did research for his doctoral dissertation in Tbilisi, Georgia. I learned firsthand about the Georgian woman’s lifestyle, which contrasted with the image presented in Soviet propaganda. Georgia lies 1,000 miles south of Moscow, bordering Turkey and the Black Sea, and was one of 15 republics of the former Soviet Union. Americans recognize Georgia as Joseph Stalin’s birthplace.

As a 27-year-old American woman with knowledge of conversational Russian, I befriended several young Georgian women who wanted to improve their English. However, my friends preferred learning about the American woman’s lifestyle.  (More…)