The Summer of My Dis(content)

Marilyn Myerson

I wring my hands in frustration. They never should’ve sent a 16 year old girl to do a grown woman’s job. “Please, Mrs. Georgiopoulos”, I address the skin-and-bones woman lying mutely in the confines of her narrow hospital bed, her unswerving gaze fixed upward. Is she deciphering secret sketches by Michelangelo in the stained ceiling tiles?

Her recalcitrant silence echoes off the walls, her old lady smell permeates my nostrils. “Do you want tomato juice or orange?” I persist. The hairy mole on her lip flutters its spidery legs as she draws a slow breath. I stare at this creepy-crawly in disgust, thinking no magical potion of citrus is going to make that go away.

“Please”, my whiny tone cannot hide my growing impatience. “Just tell me! If I go back to the office without your menu sheet filled in, I could get fired.” Was that literally true – Who knew? This was my first ever day at my first ever job, dietitian’s aide at the local hospital.

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Boyhood Tales

Bruce Zimmerman
Doug Guido

We are thrilled to have received so many excellent responses to our request for stories about youthful indiscretions. Over the next months your contributions will enable us to print a rolling series of memoirs sure to entertain and bring a smile. And if you are still thinking about submitting something, please turn that thought into action. We can never get enough!

Before jumping into your accounts of edgy moments and risky decisions, we are bringing you two true stories of childhood from the point of view of a 6-year-old and an 8-year-old, who grew up in two different eras. Sit back and reminisce about those carefree days and the choices made and lessons learned before judgment played a role in each decision. And….these stories prove that analysis of pros and cons and decisions to act were definitely at “play” long before adolescence and adulthood. So take a moment to read through Bruce’s and Doug’s tales of boyhood adventures. — Editors

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Earl the Athabascan

Doug Guido


By early 1990, my brief marriage was all but over, about the same time my job was. After a false start with another company in a town where I knew no one, I quit and decided it was a good time to have my mid-life crisis. I went directly from my new ex-employer to the book store and bought two books about a subject that had fascinated me for some time: Michener’s ‘Alaska’ and ‘The Milepost,’ a soup-to-nuts travelers guide to Alaska.

Thus armed with literary fact and fiction about our 49th state, I set off.

The Road to Athabasca

With these words, Doug Guido invites us on an epic journey of more than five thousand miles, criss-crossing the lower forty-eight with a keen eye on his ultimate destination, Alaska. Many adventures lay ahead, including unique experiences in our forty-ninth state. To whet your appetite, today’s story jumps forward in his narrative entitled The Road to Athabasca and describes a surprising encounter with “Earl the Athabascan” from Ft. Yukon, Alaska.

Stayed tuned in the new year for further episodes of a trek which took Doug from Florida, through the western states and northward to Alaska. We will be sure to link the stories together at each episode should you happen to miss one.—Editors

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A Hidden World Under the Skin

Junia Ancaya

Florida, spring 1980

I was in for a surprise on that warm central Florida afternoon. I had just returned from a trip to Canada with numerous black fly bites on my face and neck: large, painful, bright red bumps impossible to camouflage. In this deplorable condition, I entered the examining room in my office.

A couple of patients in their sixties, small and plump, sat holding hands. She had her silvery hair in a long braid flowing down her shoulder and tied with a rubber band. So did he. They were dressed in long-sleeved plaid shirts and overalls. Wore baseball caps and leather boots.  In one word, they had the typical country-folk looks. I sensed in them a nervous anticipation.

The woman checked my face, turned to her companion, and said with a surprised look, “Honey, it seems like the doctor has them too.”

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Make It So!

Neil Cosentino

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

Hiking the Appalachian Trail

Marilyn Myerson

Appalachian Trail — The Hike, 1988                                         

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.

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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.

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Mémoire de l’esprit

Peter Terzian

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

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Putting On Those Dancing Shoes

Robert Strozier

I was 19, living at home in Tallahassee the summer before I entered college—listening to a radio station that played pop hits. “Whoever calls in first with the answer to this question wins a special prize,” announced the DJ: “What character in French literature has a long nose?” I rushed to the phone—and was right! My prize: three free dance lessons at the local Arthur Murray Studio. 

I was welcomed at the studio the next day by a pretty, perky instructor named Ginny, who suggested we take a few spins on the dance floor so she could gauge my skill level. I happily obliged, slinging together an assortment of improvisations on the two-step and trying to cover as much territory as possible. 

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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!

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