Monday, November 17, 2008

Endeavor - A Bright Light in the Sky

Tonight we witnessed an incredible event, the launching of the space shuttle Endeavor. What an amazing sight it was! We watched from our dock on the small lake that we live on and the view was incredible. The shuttle came up over the trees across the lake and lit up the sky with its brilliance. It looked like a bright, flaming ball of fire as it sped across the sky. As it separated, it flashed even brighter. We were able to see it for several minutes as it made its way into outer space.

The conditions were perfect for viewing the shuttles’ launching. You couldn’t have asked for a clearer sky and the stars and the full moon were the perfect co-stars to this phenomenal spectacle. It would have been impossible to see this without being in awe of the entire space program. It is one thing to read that we send astronauts into space but to see it left me feeling so proud of our country’s accomplishments and of the brave men and women who are willing to take this risk for science.

We’ve come so far since that first walk in space and one can only imagine what the future can bring. When I was young, we certainly didn’t think that in our lifetime on a clear, starlit night seven brave Americans would take off to a space station to do “home repairs” on a space station that houses astronauts for months at a time until their replacement arrives. This was the stuff that you saw in the movies and read in science fiction books and now it is reality.

If I seem to be a little carried away with this “routine” flight tonight, it’s because I am. We need to have these moments when we recognize the good that is going on in our country and to reaffirm our faith hat we will persevere and continue to be a great nation. I can tell you as I stood out watching the moon reflect over the water and listened to the splashing of the occasional frog, I unabashedly felt like singing the Star Spangled Banner.

I am proud to be an American and wish a safe journey to our men and women on the Endeavor and hope that their mission will be successful.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Biggest Kid of All

It’s almost time for school to start back here in South Florida. I can hardly believe it. Summer break just went fast this year and I didn’t do all the things that I had wanted to do with the grandkids. I usually have Nana camp the last week before school starts and all six are here most of the week at least during the day. Some of them stay overnight as well.

At any rate, it’s usually a lot of fun and we don’t have any specific schedules. We swim and go out for lunch and sometimes to the Science Museum or to the movies. This year just didn’t work out and I’m starting to realize that I miss it. I did spend a lot of time with them earlier in the summer and I’ve had them a day here and there so it’s not like I haven’t seen them for sure. But the Nana camp was sort of tradition.

Almost as soon as school was out, we took two of our grandsons, one seven and one five to Epcot for a couple of days. We had a blast. It was already hot so I didn’t want to spend all of the time in the parks so I made reservations at the Beach Club which is about five minutes walking distance from Epcot and a short boat ride from MGM or Hollywood Studios as it’s now called.

We’ve stayed at the Beach Club before and it’s a nice hotel with a good restaurant with a character breakfast and a really good seafood buffet with buckets of clams. The pool is the greatest with a huge slide and a sand bottomed pool with a lazy river ride. I found it to be the perfect spot for summer at Disney. Most important, the hotel has a terrific arcade. This is of course, a necessary amenity with kids even at a Disney resort.

Our schedule was to be flexible but pretty much go to MGM the day we arrived and then Epcot the next day. I figured if we went early to the park and did all the rides and attractions that we wanted to do that we could go back to the hotel and spend the afternoon at the pool. MGM was great. We did all the things we wanted including the new attraction Toy Story Mania which was the most fun of all to me. You ride through and try to shoot the targets as they pop up. Actually you don’t shoot so much as you pull a little rope thing. It’s in 3-D so you wear the glasses and it’s a real hoot. I wanted to do it again but unfortunately we had waited for an hour and didn’t want to stand in line again. It’s a new attraction so the wait is long and we’d gotten there too late in the day to get a Fast Pass. So we went on to other things. We watched the High School Musical show which was really fun and we watched the parade and saw Star Wars characters and Power Rangers so the boys were quite happy. I forgot that the Greatest Movie Ride was a little loud and scary because of the Alien monster that reaches down from the hole in the ceiling into the car so the boys didn’t like that quite as much. They’re young though, no permanent damage. We had dinner at Hollywood & Vine which has a pretty good buffet with lots of variety. The boys were happy because there was pizza and chicken fingers and ice cream. We liked it because there were salads and salmon and ice cream. All over the park there were skits being performed and we stopped to watch one that was hilarious about some city street workers and their boss getting voted back in as President of their union. It was very entertaining.

We headed back to the hotel and had planned to go to the campfire on the beach and make S’Mores but opted for the pool instead. These particular grandchildren are used to going to bed pretty early which has been a wonderful thing for my son and daughter-in-law but we wanted to stay out later and they were definitely up for it. They had so much fun in the pool and we ended up staying until about 10 o’clock. They had been up since pretty early so I knew that they had to be tired but they were troopers and didn’t complain at all. Going to bed wasn’t a problem either. I think that they were asleep before their heads hit the pillows. What angels they had been that day. I can’t imagine how they could have been any better behaved.

Next morning right on schedule they were awake at 6:00 am but they got their Gameboys and played until I felt like getting up. We had a quick breakfast and headed out for Epcot. Getting there at opening we knew that we could get on Test Track right away and then we wanted to go to Soaring so my husband the boys took off for Test Track and I went to Soaring to get Fast Passes. I don’t really care for Test Track so that worked. We managed to do everything we wanted by lunchtime and after eating, we walked back down to the hotel and hit the pool. What an enjoyable time we had. The entire day was great. We ate the Seafood buffet that night and then went to the Arcade where we managed to spend about $40.00 and two hours. After ice cream at the Ice Cream shop next to the Arcade, we were exhausted and wanted to go to bed.

I realized that we had been running so much that the boys might not have done all their daily bathroom visits so I told them that I’d like each of them to sit quietly on the toilet when we got back in the room to make sure they didn’t have any stomach problems later. The five year old is a real comedian and most of the time doesn’t mean to be. He was the first to go in the bathroom and after about five minutes, I called in to ask how he was doing and the door opened and there he stood completely naked. I started to laugh and he looked at me and very seriously said, “What? I get naked you know.” Then I needed the bathroom. I laughed so hard. Apparently, I missed the fact that when he goes to potty he removes all of his clothes. It made for a good laugh for his nana for sure.

We had a fun time at the character breakfast the next morning. Who doesn’t love Goofy and Minnie and Chip and Dale all dressed in their surfing clothes? Then it was time to pack and head home. This was a fun, fun trip and I can’t wait to do it again. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m the biggest kid of all on these trips. M-I-C-K-E-Y- M-O-U-S-E.

Having a Magical Day

My husband and I took four of the grandkids up to a Disney Beach Resort last week for a few days. We go to Disney World several times a year because we’re only a couple of hours away and love their resorts so we thought it would be fun to go to their resort on the beach. It’s too hot for the parks for me but having the Disney characters for the kids seemed like a good plan. Besides, Disney resorts are typically great.

I made the reservations a month or so ago and specifically requested adjoining rooms because we would have four children with us. I was assured that would not be a problem. When we arrived and went to check in, the clerk was a total ditz. She said that there was a situation and she didn’t want to be the one to tell me and she would get one of the managers, Buster or Bonnie. Dave came out to talk to us. He proceeded to tell me that there was a problem with the adjoining room and it would not be available until the next night and he would have to give us a room down the hall from the other one. “This is a problem,” I told him. “We have children too young to be in a room by themselves which is why I requested the adjoining room.” “Sorry,” Dave said. “There’s nothing I can do. The room needs some tile work and there’s no other room with an adjoining room. But, if it makes you feel better, we won’t charge you for the second room tonight and tomorrow we’ll move you into the adjoining one. Is that okay?”

Well, of course it wasn’t okay but we didn’t want to drive back home and disappoint the kids. Oh, did I mention that there was also a horrific thunderstorm in progress? The lobby had wall to wall kids running everywhere and hula hooping and lying all over the floor. This was definitely going to be fun!

I waited for the ditz to get the keys for our rooms and after a few tries, she got them ready and then as a consolation prize, she handed the kids stickers of Mickey and pins that announced that this was their 1st Visit to Vero Beach Disney Resort. I saw the kids looking back and forth at each other with a grin on their faces and as soon as we walked away from the check in counter, they said in unison, “Oh Nana, And have a magical day!”

Magical was about the last adjective I felt like using at the moment, so I gritted my teeth and said nothing. We proceeded to the rooms where of course, the keys didn’t work so my husband, at this point not wanting me to go back to the desk, went back down to get the keys. They actually use those cards but apparently, the check in clerk needed Bonnie or Buster sans Dave to produce them.

We finally got into the room and the luggage came and figured out who would sleep where that night. My husband would go to the other room with two kids and I would stay in this room with two. Good solution but of course, the kids had to argue about who would go where. They’re two sets of cousins so of course, where you sleep is a big deal. That settled we went down to explore.

The resort is on the beach but you can’t really see the beach because there’s sea grapes too tall to see over. That’s so the turtles don’t see the light at night when they come up on the beach to lay eggs. It’s actually not a bad facility but I was still annoyed so nothing was looking good at the moment. We sat down on the huge back porch to discuss where we would have dinner and what we would do next and decided we’d check out the pool. A large nerdy man with his Ipod stuck in his ear and wearing a Safari type hat was sitting next to us and apparently had been eavesdropping becaused he announced that the pool was closed. I said, “Oh well, we just want to go down to see what it looks like.”

“It’s locked and you can’t get in,” he said. That about put me over the top. The rest of the weekend, he was known as the Whumpalump. It’s a small resort so you tend to see the same people quite a bit. Anyway, the pool was actually nice and had a great slide and a nice snack bar area and chairs and umbrellas so I was happy.

The rain stopped and the kids swam for a while before dinner and we had a nice evening. A couple of glasses of wine and things were starting to look up. The kids were great and had fun at dinner and then terrorizing the lobby and gift shop that night. We finally headed up and split up for bed. Then of course, the kids that went down to the room with my husband needed things that were down in our room and it took several trips to get everyone settled in for the night.

The next day was great. We spent the day at the pool and they swam and made hundreds of trips up the steps of the slide and I took great pictures of them hitting the water. Even the drinks were convenient because we bought these huge mugs that the kids could fill up all they wanted at the snack bar and no one got sunburned so all was good. We even got a few laughs in at the expense of the Whumpalump when he went down the slide and splashed most of the water from the pool.

That night we went to the nicer restaurant in the resort and there were no kids in the whole place but our four. You could see the looks on the faces of the other diners when we walked in with four kids. But, it’s one of those times that your heart feels like it might burst with pride. They were perfect children. We ordered and we ate and we had a nice conversation about our day and I loved it. The chef sent out chocolates for them and the server made them ice cream sundaes. Later that night we went to the campfire on the beach and they sang songs and made S’Mores. Well, that was a lot of sugar for the day and you can imagine the rest of the night. They were wound up. We eventually got everyone to bed.

We had gotten settled into the adjoining room earlier in the day. I had gone up to check to see if it was ready and my husband stayed at the pool with the kids. After determining that it was indeed ready for guests, the same ditzy lady made the new keys. You’ll love this; she said, “I’ll have to send someone up to open the door between the rooms.” I had the key to both rooms in my hand so I said, “Or, I could just open the door in the first room and then go open the door in the second room and Voila, there we are.” It took a minute but then she said, “Oh, yes that would work.” Okay, then.

Well, the next day at the pool was pretty fun. They had a disc jockey and limbo and dance contests and a tug of war in the pool which was really funny. My husband and I enjoyed the disc jockey and while in the pool decided to dance and sing along. It was our chance to pay the grandkids back for any earlier times that they might have embarrassed us because they were mortified. None of the four wanted to acknowledge that they knew us. Great fun! Doing the YMCA in the pool is a blast.

Later, my husband and I were sitting watching the kids swim and a man stopped to say that he and his wife had been in the restaurant the night before and just wanted to say that they were so impressed with the kids’ behavior. What a nice compliment! Too often, we are all guilty of making our complaints known but not so often taking the time to say something nice.

By now, you’ve probably (if you’re still reading) figured out, my moment of Magic had arrived. Actually, it had been there all along. I just couldn’t see it for my negativity. So, as you all go about your summer trips wherever they might take you, take time to notice the good stuff and “have a magical day”.

Wheee...........I Got a Wii

I guess I’m going through my second childhood because I really get a kick out of playing video games especially Wii. That game system is so amazing.

Two of my sons and their families have Wiis so I had played it several times and thought it would be fun to have one of my own. So, I started looking to find one. Not an easy task. Apparently, they were pretty easy to get until Wii Fit came out and then an entire new group of consumers joined the Wii craze. I started out by calling around at the usual places: Target, Wal-Mart, K-Mart but no luck so then I set out to the game stores. That’s a real experience going into those. There are some hardcore video players out there. It’s like a whole subculture that I didn’t know existed. When I stopped in one of the several game stores in my area, there would be these guys in their 30’s and 40’s in the store looking for some new game that was coming out and they were very serious about it. I had to go in a several times before I was lucky enough to get one and I saw some of the same guys in there every time. I started to wonder if they worked or just played games.

I went in early one morning after they had just opened and they had one Wii left. Yay! I got one! I was so excited and couldn’t wait until I could get home and hook it up. When I got home there was a message from my daughter-in-law. I had asked what my granddaughter wanted for her birthday and she finally decided and my daughter-in-law called to tell me. Guess what she wanted? Yep, a Wii. So, I put the newly purchased Wii in the closet to be wrapped. She also really wanted a Wii Fit so now I was in hot pursuit of a Wii Fit. Back to the game stores and no luck. No one knew when a shipment would arrive so I was told I’d have to check back. After daily visits to all the abovementioned stores and the game stores, I decided to hit Toys “r” Us and it was my lucky day. They had received a shipment earlier that day and still had three. So I took one and tried to purchase another but they’d only sell one. Where’s my Groucho glasses and mustache when I need it?

Okay, now I had the birthday Wii and Wii Fit but I still wanted one. By this time it was more the challenge than anything. So for a couple of weeks, I made the rounds of all the places that I knew and added Circuit City and Best Buy to the mix so by now I have about a dozen places to check. This had become a mission. Finally, last week I went into one of the game stores and lo and behold, they had one Wii left so I got that. I unpacked it and connected it and played like a kid but I still wanted the Wii Fit. I checked one of the game stores and he said to come back the next day between 11 and 12 and he would be getting a shipment. Ten of eleven, I walked in the store and there was a line. Guess I wasn’t the only one the store clerk told about the shipment. I was number seven in line and we were told the UPS man would be delivering sometime in the next hour.

In the next hour and a half, the seven of us in line got fairly friendly. It was a diverse group: a female firefighter/paramedic who knew my son from the fire department; a mother with three kids, each of which had an I Phone; a woman from New York that did nothing but complain about the people down here in Florida (Hell, they’re all from New York and New Jersey); a guy who only smiled when the rest of us spoke; a belly dancer instructor from Canada who now lives down here; a lady with a very heavy unknown accent; and me. The conversation was interesting to say the least and helped to pass the time.

Ah, finally the UPS man. We all clapped and he must have felt very special to have all these people excited to see him. The guy behind the counter unpacked that box and started ringing up the Wii Fits within seconds of the delivery. I think he was looking forward to getting us out of the store. He looked a little panicky and I started to worry because I was the last in line. He had said that he was getting eight. After doing a quick count, he looked relieved because he had only received seven. That was close! As everyone paid for their Wii and left, it was like parting with old friends. Lots of “Have fun with your Wii; enjoy the rest of your summer; nice to talk to you, etc.” The belly dance instructor gave me her card and told me I should come in and try the lessons and to bring the granddaughters.

I was the last to pay and when my Wii Fit was handed to me, I thought this was a very unique experience. The entire search and the wait in line had been fun. I was left hoping that playing with the game itself would be as much fun. After playing a week or so, I have to say it is definitely fun and the Wii Fit makes you get a little exercise. I love the fishing and the target shooting. Now, I’m heading out to get a Guitar Hero. Who knew that I could become a rock star at my age? What’s next? Hmm…I wonder what I did with that belly dance instructor’s card.

I Have a Really Good Excuse

Over the years, I have been late for work or appointments on occasion but I always have a really good excuse. Take this morning for example, I was late for my manicure appointment and I knew that my reason for being late was perfectly justified and totally unavoidable. I was brushing my teeth and buttoning up my jeans when my electric toothbrush fell out of my hands into the sink. It was running, of course, so it started spraying toothpaste and water everywhere and I was trying to get it and it splashed toothpaste into my eye. Funny, huh? Well, it hurt like the devil. It was burning and I couldn’t see so by the time I got my eye rinsed out and reapplied my eye makeup, I was late.

Of course, Mariella that does my nails understood and was sympathetic about my eye just like she was the time I had the problem with the bird. That time really was understandable. No one could be expected to leave home with an Anhinga sitting on their pool deck with a piece of fishing line wrapped around its beak. The poor thing was dancing all around and looked so pitiful. So, I called Animal Control and then followed their instructions about trying to secure the bird so they would come get it. They suggested that I use a recycling bin to place over the bird. Well, that sounded easy enough. Hah! I emptied the recycling bin in the garage and very quietly went back out onto the patio and eased over to the end of the pool where the bird sat. Just as I went to put the bin over his head, he went ballistic on me and jumped into the pool. At this point, I should have let him drown because I don’t really like Anhingas anyway. They sit on the dock or the boat and poop all over the place while they dry out their wings. But I am an animal lover basically, so I figured I’d get him out of the pool with the pool net. What a sight! He swam to the opposite end of the pool as I ran back and forth chasing him like an idiot. If any of my neighbors across the lake were watching, they must have had a good laugh.

I was really getting tired by now and surely he was, too. Besides, I was late for my manicure appointment. I came inside to call to tell them I was rescuing a bird and would be there as soon as I could. I knew that they would understand. By the time I got back outside, he had made it out of the pool and was over by the pool fence under a chaise lounge. I started over and he immediately started another hissy fit and fell through the fence onto the shrubs below. Now, he was off my patio but he was stuck in the shrubs. I got the pool net again and by this time, I had stopped talking in the soothing tone that I had been using. It was now more of the, “Get out of there, you little son of a bitch. I should have just let you drown” tone. Finally, I managed to get him loose from the shrub but he still had the fishing line wrapped around his beak. I came back inside to call Animal Control back and tell them they needed to come pick up the dead bird because I knew that I was either going to kill him or he would die with the line wrapped like it was. When I came back out, there was another Anhinga sitting a few feet away from the one I’d been rescuing and lo, and behold, the fishing line was off my bird’s beak. I was so relieved and very happy that I had been able to help him. About five minutes later, I looked back out there and guess where he was, yep ....... on the boat pooping. So much for wildlife rescue. It’s one of those times that you recall the saying, “No good deed goes unpunished.”

I wouldn’t want anyone reading this to think that I am usually a tardy person. Some people are just habitually late and it’s usually something very avoidable like they overslept or had a flat tire or some other silly excuse. While I on the other hand try hard to be where I’m supposed to be on time and I usually am except when really important things like this pop up. Then there was another time I had a really good excuse was when there was so many walking catfish on the road that I had to pull over to the side until they got across. My boss at the time understood perfectly. He looked at me a little skeptically but then decided, "Who would make up such a story?"

The House Down the Street

Every neighborhood has a house that seems to harbor some aura of mystery. Sometimes it’s unfounded and only the product of overactive imaginations but sometimes there is some force of evil that lives within. Often, the truth about what goes on inside such a house only comes to light too late.

When I was a little girl, there was a house on our street that all the kids were afraid of. It was a really old two story house with clapboard siding that was peeling badly. The shutters were huge and the ones on the second story in the front of the house were usually closed. There was a fence around the house and a huge front porch that wrapped around the entire front.. The shrubs in the front of the house were overgrown and the grass was always high.

At night the house was pitch dark except for the faint light you could see through the front windows. The house was so creepy and so sinister that you felt like it was watching you when you walked by. .

During the day, you could occasionally see someone peering out the lace curtains at the windows downstairs but you couldn’t see their faces clearly. We knew that an old woman lived in the house with her son who was a little strange. Neither of them came out very often. They had their groceries delivered by Clarke’s Grocery on the corner. The kid that worked for the grocery store said that he had instructions to knock and leave the groceries at the front door. Back then it was very common to have an account with the grocery store and to call up and charge your groceries and have them delivered.

One day my friend Kay and I were walking past the house and Calvin, the son, came from around the side of the house and yelled at us. We ran away screaming like two crazies. Later when we told the rest of the kids, they all wanted to go back to see if he would come out again. Kids are so daring. Kay and I were afraid to go back there so we went home.

That night around 7:00, there was a knock at the front door. My mother answered and it was Timmy’s mother. Timmy was one of the kids that wanted to go back to the house earlier that day. He had never come home for supper and she was worried. None of the other kids had seen him since that afternoon. My mother made me tell her what I knew.

Timmy’s mother, Mrs. McAllister, left to go down to the house which she said belonged to Mrs. Davis. She was worried about Timmy but didn’t seem to think that anything could have happened to him at the Davis house. She said that Mrs. Davis was just an old lady that couldn’t get around very well.

My mother called Mrs. McAllister later to see if she found Timmy but there was no answer. The next day, all the kids were talking about Timmy and his mother and saying that they were missing. We went to their house but no one answered the door. This went on for a week and finally, we decided that we had to find out what happened to them. We knew that we had to go to the Davis house.

We walked up to the gate and opened it and slowly walked up the front porch steps. The boards in the porch creaked with every step we took. We noticed that there was an area on the side that had been dug up and covered over with fresh dirt. The sight of this caused me to shiver inside. But there were six of us and we thought that no way could Calvin grab all six of us and if he grabbed one, the others would run for help.

As we approached the door, the lace curtains moved and we knew that someone was watching us. I wanted to run right back out that gate but stayed as Christopher knocked on the door. No one came and he knocked again. Finally, we heard someone making a shuffling noise from inside the house and we expected the door to open soon. Still, no one answered the door.

We decided to walk around to the back of the house and that’s when we saw the shovel covered in red leaning against the side of the house. It looked like blood. About that time, we heard the front door opening and we all ran in different directions screaming as we ran.
We met up at the corner and made sure that everyone was accounted for. I told them that we should go for help and we walked over to Clarke’s Grocery Store. Mr. Clarke laughed at our story and said he was sure that there was nothing wrong. Mrs. McAllister and Timmy had probably gone to visit her sister in Macon.

None of the parents would listen to us. They all said that we were just being silly and should stay away from Mrs. Davis’ house and stop bothering her. Well, that was fine with me. I sure didn’t want to go back there but I still wondered what happened to Timmy and his mother.

It’s been a long, long time since I grew up and moved away from there and to this day, I still don’t know what happened to them. They never came back to their house and Mrs. McAllister’s sister came and moved their things out of their house. The police went to the Davis house but couldn’t find any proof that anything sinister had happened there. Mrs. Davis and her son, Calvin, claimed that they had never seen Timmy or Mrs. McAllister. She also complained to the police that the neighborhood children were annoying her by knocking on her door and running away. The police officer told us to stay away. We asked about the place in the yard that had been dug up recently and he said that Calvin had buried the family dog there and the blood that we saw on the shovel was really red paint that had partially peeled off.

Eventually, Mrs. Davis died and Calvin moved away. He’s probably living in some other neighborhood today and hoping that some unsuspecting person will come to visit. He’s very tall, probably six feet or more and has one eye that sort of looks off in a different direction and very thick and dark hair. He doesn’t speak much and walks with a strange limp. So if you have a strange house in your neighborhood and the person living there fits this description, I wouldn’t go there alone if I were you. It just might be Calvin living right there in your neighborhood.


When I was about eight years old, we moved across town to a different neighborhood. I didn’t know anyone and spent the first few weeks playing by myself. I rarely ventured away from the front porch but one day I walked down the street.

The neighborhood was made up of mainly Victorian style houses, all two story wood framed houses most of which were painted white and had extensive gingerbread trim. They all had huge wrap around front porches and the street was lined with ancient oak trees. It was a very pretty street and most of the houses were very nice. Some of the houses like the one we lived in was so large that it had been divided into apartments. One house on the street, however, was very dark looking. It needed painting and it looked like no one lived there. I stopped in front of the house and looked at it through the picket fence wondering why someone would leave a house to deteriorate like that.

About that time, I heard a soft voice, “Hello, come here. I’m so glad that you came to play.” I looked up and saw a girl about my age with the prettiest golden blonde hair I had ever seen. It was in long curls and tied with a blue ribbon that matched the dress that she was wearing.

I thought to myself, “She must be going to a party; she’s dressed up so pretty.” I wasn’t one for dresses but even I had to admit that the dress was beautiful. It was blue and long with a white pettifore over it. I had never seen anyone dressed like that but she did look lovely.

I opened the gate and walked over to the side porch where she sat and said, “Hey, why are you dressed up so in the middle of the day? Are you going to a party?”

She laughed and said, “Of course not. This is my day clothes. You’re funny. What’s your name? My name’s Rebecca.” I told her my name was Mary and I had just moved in down the street.

She clapped her hands and said, “I’m so happy that you are here. I’ve been so lonely and no one has come to play in such a long time. Come inside and we’ll go up to my room to play. I have lots of dolls and a beautiful tea set and we can have tea.”

“Won’t your parents mind if I come in,” I asked. But she was already running up the service stairs to the upper floor and calling for me to follow which of course, I did.

She certainly had not exaggerated about her doll collection and her beautiful china tea set. Her room was right out of a fairy tale and fit for a princess. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was thinking about my room at home which was so tiny and had only a bed and a dresser and a small stool. But I knew my mother had worked hard to provide that so I felt guilty even comparing it to Rebecca’s princess room. She was the most unusual girl I had ever met but she was so sweet and so happy to have me there that I forgot about everything else. We played for hours and I realized that I had to go home. I knew that my brother would be looking for me. He was supposed to keep up with me while my mother was at work.

When I told Rebecca that I had to leave, she begged me to stay and play longer and promised me that she would give me one of her dolls if I would. “You can’t leave now; we have to feed the dolls their lunch and then put them down for naps, “she cried.

I promised her that I would come back the next morning. Finally, she accepted that I had to leave and walked me back down to the French doors leading out onto the porch. She watched as I left and I saw that she had tears running down her face. I felt terrible but I knew that I would be in big trouble if I didn’t get home.

My mother was happy that I had made a friend and told me to behave myself and asked if I had thanked her mother for letting me come to play. That’s when I realized that I didn’t see anyone else while I was there, only Rebecca. I told my mother that I would thank Rebecca’s mother the next day when I went to visit.

The next morning after I had done my chores, I headed off down the street. As I approached Rebecca’s house I thought again how scary it seemed from the outside. Inside it was beautiful and so elegant. I had never seen a home so lovely. It looked like something from a different time. Rebecca was looking out the French door just as I had left her the day before. She jumped up and down and squealed in delight as I walked up the steps to the porch. She called out, “I thought you would never get here. I’ve been waiting for hours for you.” She had on a dress that was identical to the one from the day before and looked so beautiful that I wanted to cry.

I followed her up the stairs just as I had done the day before and we laughed and played again for hours. “I have not had so much fun in such a long time,” she said. “You must stay with me forever. Here, I want to give you one of my dolls to have for your very own.” Later, when I told her that I had to leave she started to cry again and I promised that I would be back later in the afternoon. She insisted that I take one of the dolls home with me.

“Oh, I almost forgot, I need to thank your mother for letting me come to play,” I said. Rebecca looked at me rather strangely and told me her mother had gone out for the afternoon.

It was starting to rain so I rushed out and ran all the way home. I put the doll in my room and went into the kitchen to help my brother start dinner. I told him about the little girl and when I told him where she lived, he said, “You must be mistaken. No one lives in that house. The guys said that it’s been vacant for years and it’s haunted.” I got mad and told him he was just jealous because I had a new friend and she wanted me to visit every day. My brother assured me that he was not kidding and then I started to worry.

Later when I went into my room I spotted the doll lying on my bed and I took it and ran back into the kitchen to show my brother. “If she doesn’t exist, how could she give this to me?” I asked holding the doll up for him to see. He had no answers for that but I could see that he wasn’t convinced.

After dinner, it was still light out and my mother was busy so I slipped out and ran down the street to Rebecca’s. The house was completely dark and I thought she must not be home so I walked back to my house. I figured I would get things straighten out the next day. I would have her come home with me to show my brother that he and his friends were wrong. The next morning, I went down to Rebecca’s but as I approached the house, I saw an old woman getting into a car. She looked at me and asked what I wanted. I told her that I had come to play with Rebecca and she got really angry. She called me a mean little girl and asked how I could be so cruel to make fun of an old woman. “You know that my daughter Rebecca died fifty years ago,” she yelled at me. I started to cry and ran home.

I went into my room and cried for hours. Later I told my brother and he just looked at me. I think that he thought I had gone crazy for sure. I went down to the house every day for a week and never saw Rebecca again. I put the doll away and eventually forgot about it.

After we moved away, I heard that the house sold and the old lady that had told me that she was Rebecca’s mother had died. No one stayed in the house for long and eventually, it sat vacant again. Several years ago when I went home to visit, I decided to visit that old neighborhood because I had heard the homes on the street were starting to be renovated and the street was getting popular again. I parked my car and walked from the house where I had lived down towards Rebecca’s house and was surprised to see a little girl sitting on the front steps. The house still looked vacant and had a FOR SALE sign in the front yard. I walked over and said, “Hi, do you live here?”

“No, I’m waiting for Rebecca, “she said.

Come On June, We've Got to Get to School

Today’s my older brother’s birthday so of course I’ve been thinking about him. He lives in Georgia and I’m in South Florida so I only see him a couple of times a year. I call him pretty often so we keep in touch. But, when I really start to think about him and our relationship I have only one point of reference that really matters to me and that goes back to our childhood.

My mother had to work because she was the sole support of the family so my brother was left to keep an eye on me. Mother left for work really early so my brother was supposed to get up and get me up and make sure that I got ready for school and of course ate breakfast. Not so difficult one would think but I was a brat. I didn’t know it at the time of course but thinking back now, I’m surprised my brother didn’t kill me.

The first thing that happened every morning was my hair was in knots all over my head and I would scream and carry on about brushing it. My poor brother would be left to try to get the knots untangled but invariably ended up pulling out half my hair in the process. I was mean as a snake in the morning and didn’t cooperate in the least. If my brother was lucky, I would drink some coffee and then I was a little nicer. I was seven and there were no Starbucks so he would boil water for me to have some instant coffee. I’m thinking about now that he was way too nice to me.

Once this ordeal was past and I had dressed, he would try to hurry me along so we wouldn’t be late for school. I would put up a fight every morning and try to get out of going but he managed to get me there. Unfortunately, he couldn’t make sure that I stayed. He would walk me to my class and see me inside and then go upstairs to his classroom. I would wait for a few minutes and if it was a morning when Mrs. Oliver, my second grade teacher, was out of the class for some reason, I would sneak out and leave the school and walk the seven blocks to where my mother worked at the dry cleaners. I can’t even imagine now what it must have been like for my poor mother and my brother wondering what I would do next.

My mother would call the school and let them know that I was with her and then some days she would walk me back to school and some days she would let me stay with her at work. I’m not sure whether I disliked school that much or whether I wanted to be with my mother, but I was a terror. Thankfully, I managed to grow out of that (or somewhat anyway).

All of this came to mind this week when I was going through some things and came across a drawing that my brother sent me a few years ago. It’s a simple stick figure drawing with him dragging me by my hair and a caption, “Come on, June, we’ve got to get to school.”

Ah, memories. For some reason, this just struck me funny and I laughed until I cried. I guess my brother earned his spot in Heaven putting up with me. That’s why whatever he’s done or failed to do over the years, I can only see the brother that combed knots out of my hair and dragged me to school. He’s not much on sending cards or calling on birthdays and always apologizes for that but I just draw out of that bank of memories if I ever feel slighted and so far, he’s still way ahead.

Ships in the Night

Sara jumped when Mrs. Anderson, the librarian, walked up behind her and tapped her on the shoulder and said, “You have to leave now, I need to lock up.” As she gathered up her things, Sara glanced up at the huge clock that hung next to the entrance door and saw that it was after six. Then she looked out the huge windows overlooking the river and noticed that it was dark and there was fog starting to settle on top of the murky water.

“How did I manage to sit here for so long,” Sara wondered. She knew that by the time she walked the four blocks to her bus stop and then made the long ride home that it would be 8:30 or later. Her mother would be worried again.

The last of her things shoved inside her backpack, Sara headed out the door onto the upper level of Factor’s Walk. At that point she really had planned to run the four blocks and try to catch the 6:30 bus but then she heard the tug boat and knew that she wouldn’t make the 6:30 bus. She rushed down the walkway and headed for the steep stairs leading down to River Street. Hearing the horn on the tug boat Sara knew that a ship was headed into port and she wanted to watch it go by. She had sat all afternoon at the library and not a single ship had come through. Sara loved the huge cargo ships and loved to stand and fantasize about what part of the world they had travelled from and the lives of the men on board.

The ships were the big reason that she came down to the library almost every day. She would sit in front of the big windows in the library snuggled in one of the huge overstuffed chairs and dream of going to all the exotic places the ships would travel to. Reading was of course the other draw to this cozy little branch of the library. Sara loved to read more than anything. She could read for hours and did. Most nights she stayed up until midnight or later reading some mystery or love story. The next morning she would be dragging when her clock went off and she had to get up for school but in her backpack were five new books. That should keep her busy for a few days or at least until Monday when she would be back at school. The library was too far to go on weekends and besides she had to work on Saturday.

Darkness came fast when it was foggy like tonight and Sara had to watch the steep steps to keep from falling. Huge oak trees blocked most of the light from up on Bay Street and down below on River Street the lights were always dim because most of them were gas lights which she loved even if they provided so little lighting. She could see the outline of the huge ship coming up the river but the visibility was poor due to the fog.

Sara noticed that there were very few people down on River Street and realized that everyone would be hurrying home from work and not hanging out to watch ships come into port. Watching the ships coming in or heading back out to sea was exciting to her but most people didn’t pay that much attention.

As she headed over closer to the river, Sara noticed a young man standing by the rail watching the ship as it slowly made its way into the channel. The tug boated tooted every now and then to let the ship know that it was headed in the right direction. The young man turned as she walked closer and smiled. Sara wasn’t really thrilled to have anyone else share the experience of watching the ship come in with her but smiled back to be polite. She thought to herself, “What strange clothes he’s wearing. They look so outdated.” But then her attention was back on the ship and trying to see where it was from. It appeared to be from an Asian country judging from the writing on the side and the flag looked like one that she had seen before that was from China.

The young man moved closer to where she was standing and said, “Don’t you think that ships are exciting to watch? I come here often and wait for one to come in. Oh, I’m so sorry, forgive my manners. My name is William Palmer. I am pleased to make your acquaintance, Miss?”

Sara was so surprised at the way he spoke that she took a few minutes to reply. “Hello, I’m Sara McLean. Nice to meet you, William. And yes, I do love the ships and find them to be very exciting. In fact, I find them so exciting that I missed my bus to come down to watch it.”

With that, William smiled and told her that she shouldn’t be down on River Street after dark alone and asked what her parents would say if they knew her whereabouts. Sara was a little indignant and said, “Well, my father is deceased and my mother knows that I can take care of myself. I come down here all the time and I really don’t need some stranger telling me what I should and shouldn’t do, thank you very much.” This was only partly true because while her mother knew that she walked down to the library from school, she didn’t know that she came down to the lower level of River Street. Sara wasn’t sure that her mother would be pleased with that knowledge.

William immediately began to apologize for being so rude as to question what she did but he explained that River Street was a very dangerous place at night and really wasn’t safe for a young woman to be wandering around alone. He assured her that he meant no disrespect and was only concerned for her wellbeing. Sara had to smile because he was so serious and also because he really was so good looking. She had already noticed but after talking to him, she thought he was about the best looking guy she had ever seen. His eyes lit up when he spoke and his smile was so sincere.

The ship was almost directly in front of them now and it was so huge and magnificent. There were lights on every level and she wondered what it looked like on the inside. She knew that it was a working ship and probably wouldn’t be elegant by any means but still it was from a foreign country and she was curious about it and its occupants. William turned to her and said, “You should be careful standing so near the railing. If you lost your balance, you would fall right into the river.” Somehow, Sara didn’t mind nearly so much this time when he gave her advice and smiled to herself.

The ship was slowly moving past and the fog down the river gave it an eerie look, like a ghost ship. Sara knew she should head up to Bay Street and start her walk over to her bus stop but she really was enjoying William’s company and didn’t want to leave just yet. She was jolted out of her thoughts by William’s voice asking, “Sara, would you like to walk for a while or do you have to leave? I hope you don’t have to go just yet because I want to know more about you.”

The two walked and talked for a long time. Sara was so attracted to William that she had forgotten all about why she had been upset earlier when she came to the library. The betrayal of her friend and boyfriend seemed so long ago yet it was only earlier in the day. How could one of her very best friends, someone that she had known from second grade do such a despicable thing? Judy knew that Sara and Jimmy were dating and yet she had invited him to a party and had not invited Sara. But then, Jimmy should have told Sara instead of going to the party. Oh well, he had gone and apparently, he and Judy were now the “item”. Sara had felt like such a fool in school when she found out. All the girls who had been at the party on Saturday night had made comments all week and she had not paid any attention. But then, she had been sick most of the week and had missed school a couple of days. She had wondered why Jimmy hadn’t called to see how she felt. “What a coward! He should have had the decency to at least tell her, and Judy, she was such a bitch,” Sara thought to herself as she recalled how much pleasure Judy seem to get from telling her that she and Jimmy were together.

William had been talking all this time that her mind had been wandering back to the day’s events and now she was trying to catch up with his conversation. “No more wasted time on Jimmy and Judy,” Sara told herself. “William is much more exciting and definitely better looking. He’s older and more polished and I can’t wait to show him off!”

Realizing that they had walked all the way to the end of River Street and would have to either turn around and head back the same way or go up the steep stairs to Bay Street, William said, “We should go back down to the better lit areas because this is so out of the way and I’m not comfortable with your being here. There’s been problems with gangs of ruffians robbing unsuspecting townspeople and then beating them up and throwing them into the river.”

Sara was speechless. “Ruffians? Unsuspecting townspeople? Where did William come from to talk like this?” It sounded like something someone from decades ago would have said not a young man in 1964. And those clothes he was wearing. “Who wears a suit with that funny little collar and she could see a watch chain from underneath his jacket.” He was still talking and as she looked up to see his face, she saw shadows moving from behind the end of the building.

“William,” she said quietly but with fear in her voice, “there’s someone behind the end of the building watching us.” “No, don’t turn around. I don’t want him to know that I saw him.” William took her had and slowly started walking back towards the better lit section of River Street and told her to keep walking and not stop for anything. They tried to pick up their pace and suddenly from behind they heard, “Hey, what’s the hurry? Don’t you want to stay and visit with me and my buddies?”

“Oh no,” Sara thought, “There’s more than one of them.” She hoped that they weren’t planning to rob and kill them but immediately discounted that idea as being ridiculous. She had not heard of anyone being mugged down here in a long time. But then, she didn’t really pay much attention to the news. William kept moving and pulling her along but stopped when two guys stepped out from the shadows of the building up ahead. He turned and looked behind them and there were two more standing a few feet behind him and Sara. “What do you want?” William asked. “Money? I’ll give you my wallet and inside you’ll find all my money.” The guy who had spoken before laughed and said, “Oh, we’ll definitely take your money, pretty boy, and we’ll also take that watch hanging from the chain underneath your jacket and then we’ll see what the little lady here has to offer.” His laugh was not pleasant and his eyes were dark and full of malice. He and the others came closer to William and Sara and grabbed William’s wallet which he had pulled out to give them. Then the one who had done the talking reached over and jerked the watch from its chain. “Wait,” William said, “My grandfather gave that watch to me and it’s worthless to you. Please don’t take it. You have my money.”

All of the guys laughed and then one of them snatched Sara’s backpack from her arms and then grabbed her. William tried to stop them and got a jab to his jaw for his trouble and then a hard punch to the stomach. When he fell to his knee from that, one of the guys kicked him in the ribs. William groaned and tried to get up but fell backwards. They all laughed and when Sara tried to pull free, the one holding her held her tighter and put his smelly face up to hers and said, “Oh, you’re not going anywhere, missy, you are going to spend some time with me and my friends.” “We have a great little spot to party and we won’t have to worry about any one interrupting us.” Again, the group of hoodlums laughed.

William was partially up by now and with the guys’ attention focused on Sara, he had managed to pull a small derringer from his inside coat pocket. When the guys turned and saw the gun pointed at them, the look of surprise on their faces was priceless. Sara tried to pull herself from the smelly one’s grasp but he held tighter. “Please just let me go,” she said. “Leave before someone gets hurt.”

There was no laughter now but you could tell the group was not planning to just walk away. They had all been drinking and they didn’t appreciate anyone interupting the fun that they had planned. They had been watching Sara and William for quite awhile and had waited until they walked down to this dark, deserted section of the river to make their move.

“Let her go now and I won’t shoot you,” William said. “We can all walk away with no damage done.” One of the boys spoke up, “You can’t shoot us all with that little wannabe gun.” “It probably only holds two shots at most.” Sara could see that William was trying to think what his move should be and he was not overly confident. She felt the hot breath of the one holding her on the back of her neck and could feel him moving his feet pushing her along in front of him. They were getting closer and closer to the river’s edge and the railing here was not very high. She tried to shift her weight to make it harder for the guy to move but she stumbled and started to fall. The dark water below was getting closer and then she was in the cold murky Savannah River. As she was falling, Sara heard commotion and thought she heard a gun shot. Then everything was dark and she lost consciousness.

Sara felt someone pulling her from the water and she remembered being turned over and patted very hard on the back. She coughed and sputtered and water came up and she was finally able to breath. In the darkness, she saw William’s face and she knew that it was he that had pulled her from the water. Then everything went black again and she awoke to people over her and saying, “Miss, are you okay? Were you in the water? Can you speak?” Sara looked for William but he was no where to be seen and she asked the men around her where he had gone. “No one was here when we came along”, the man in the suit said. The other man who was so fat that he could barely bend down said, “I heard this man here yelling for someone to come and help him and I came over but no one else was here but him and you.”
The man in the suit asked the fat man to stay with her so he could go down to a tavern and call the police and an ambulance. When the police came they asked Sara what happened and she told them about the gang that had attacked her and William. The kindly policeman asked what happened to her friend and Sara told him that she didn’t know. When she fell into the river, the gang was still there and William had a gun trying to stop them from robbing and hurting them. An ambulance arrived soon and it was determined that Sara should go to the hospital to be checked out but she insisted that she was okay and she needed to find William to make sure that those awful thugs hadn’t hurt him. The policeman assured her that he would look for William and the guys who had attacked them.

Later at the hospital, Sara was deemed to be okay and extremely lucky for someone who had apparently fallen into the Savannah River. Not many survive from that, she was told. Her mother and brother arrived to take her home and she was so happy to be in her own bed but she couldn’t sleep. The soup that her mother had insisted that she eat was barely touched and her mind kept racing back to the scene on the river. Sara’s mother hinted that there would be some discussion the next day on her being down on River Street but for now she was just happy that her daughter was safe.

The next morning a policeman came to Sara’s house and wanted to ask her some more questions about the night before. He had no answers for her about William’s whereabouts or about the guys that had snuck up on them in the dark. “There are so many tunnels and hiding places along there that they could have gone anywhere after you fell in the water” the policeman said. “You are one lucky little lady to be here, I can tell you. We’ve had so many muggings along that stretch of River Street and I can’t even imagine why a young lady would be down there alone at night.” Her mother was quiet but Sara knew that wouldn’t last for long. She was in for it when the policeman left for sure. She tried to tell the policeman and her mother that she had not been alone, that she had walked down there with a young man that she had met and his name was William Palmer and he was really nice and he had saved her life. He had pulled her from the water and had pounded on her back to make her spit up the awful nasty water from the river.

The policeman looked at Sara and said, “I’m not sure what you think happened, Sara, but I’ve been on the Savannah police force for twenty-five years and when I was a rooky cop, the first dead body that I ever saw was on River Street. It was a young man that had tried to stop a gang of thugs from killing a young woman. She was okay but they shot and killed the young man. His name was William Palmer and he fits the description that you gave me perfectly. You must have read something somewhere about that happening and dreamed that he tried to rescue you. I can assure you that it couldn’t have been William Palmer. He is very much deceased.”

After the policeman left, Sara was in shock. There was no way that she had dreamed this. She had met William while watching the ship come by and they had walked and he had held her hand and …….. “No, no, no,” she cried. “I will not believe that he wasn’t real. He saved my life. I have to find him.” Sara’s mother had planned to give her good talking to when the policeman left but her daughter looked so distraught that she didn’t have the heart to say anything to her just yet. “Later,” she thought.

Sara spent the day crying and sleeping in that order. Her mother had to leave finally for work and had told her to stay in bed and rest. Her brother would be home later and would check on her. “Okay,” Sara said. “I’ll stay put.” No sooner than her mother had gone, Sara jumped up and dressed. She barely took time to brush her hair. The bus was late and for a change, she was happy about that because otherwise she would have had to waited an hour for it to arrive. The ride into town seemed to take forever and she knew that she must look like death warmed over to the other riders. She tried to keep her face down so no one could see her red, swollen eyes.

The bus stop closest to River Street was about four blocks away and Sara was exhausted by the time she ran most of the way. She went down the steep stairs two at a time and hurried down to the area where she had met William the evening before. Surely, he would know that she would come and would wait for her there. Not too many people were around and those that were didn’t pay her any attention as she walked down River Street. She looked at everyone that she saw but none of them were William. “Where could he be” she wondered and kept walking. Soon she found herself getting near the area where they had been the night before when they were attacked. She couldn’t believe that she had come back to this spot but in the daylight it didn’t look nearly as frightening. No sign of William anywhere. Sara walked all the way down and looked where she had fallen into the river the night before and marveled at the fact that she was alive to tell about it. “All because of William” she thought. She shuddered to think about what would have happened otherwise. Finally, she turned and started to walk back and then she saw something shining from the sun’s reflection. She walked over and reached down and picked up William’s watch. He was real and he was there. “I knew it all along” Sara said to no one. She put the watch in her bag and rushed back up to Bay Street.

The police station was several blocks away but she made it pretty quickly. She was so excited about finding William’s watch that she barely noticed the walk. When Sara asked to see the policeman that had visited her house earlier that day, the lady at the desk motioned for her to go down the hall and turn right, first office on the left. Sara hurried down to his office and knocked on the door. When the officer saw her, he was surprised to say the least. He had thought that was the last of Sara McLean he would have to deal with. Sara walked in and took the watch from her bag and said to him, “See, this is William’s watch. One of the guys snatched it from its chain and must have dropped it when they ran away.” “I went down there to look for William and I found it lying next to the spot where we were last night.”

The officer looked at the watch and saw the inscription on the back which left no doubt who the watch had belonged to. He looked very tired and when he spoke, his voice quavered a bit. “I didn’t tell you the whole story this morning.” He had to wait a minute before he said, “William Palmer was my cousin and when I had go down to the river that day, no one knew who the body was so when I walked up and I saw William’s face, I was heartbroken. We had been more like brothers than cousins and I could not believe that he was lying there dead.” I told my boss, the officer in charge, who he was and they told me that I should leave. Someone else would handle it because it was a family member.” “I wanted to stay but I felt sick and I also knew that I had to go tell his family.” “This watch belonged to our grandfather and he had given it to William in honor of his having been accepted to the University of Georgia.” “He was to have left the next day and had gone down to the river to watch the ships come and go as he often did.” “Apparently a young woman was being harassed by some thugs and William went over to help her. One of them shot him pointblank and then ran off. The others were so scared that they ran, too, but one of them told what happened.” “No matter, William was dead and none of us would ever be the same.”

That’s when Sara saw the tears on the officer’s face and she felt so badly that she had brought up such painful memories but how could any of this be true? “I don’t understand any of this” she said. “If William is dead, then who did I meet on the riverfront last night and where did this watch come from?” “I can’t accept this. I know what I know and I met him last night.”

The officer took her arm gently and asked her to go with him. They went out to his car and drove to Bonaventure Cemetery. When they went through the gates, Sara said, “Is this where he’s supposed be buried?” “Yes, he’s buried near the back by the river so he can hear the ships when they pass” he said. They got out and walked to the back and there it was, a lovely headstone that read, “William Edward Palmer, Born January 15, 1921 – Died March 28, 1940”. “March 28?” Sara whispered. “That was yesterday. How can that be? He died on March 28 but twenty-five years ago.” Sara was crying now and could barely speak but she said, “I don’t know how this can be happening. I met him, I talked to him and he held my hand. He saved my life.” Grasping for straws, she said, “Maybe he had a son and I met his son.”

The officer quietly said, “No Sara, he didn’t have a son and I don’t know what happened last night but we never found his watch until you found it today.” “He died twenty-five years ago trying to save a young woman from being attacked and he appeared last night to save you.” “I think we should let it go at that.”

Sara was quiet as the officer drove her home and before she got out of the car, he said, “Sara, sometimes we don’t know everything about this world and this is one of those times. You needed William last night and he was there. That’s the way he was. Go on with your life and don’t dwell on it.” “Our family will always be grateful that you found his watch.”

As the years passed Sara spent many days and evenings watching the ships come and go but she never saw William again although she looked every time she went down to River Street. She moved away and it faded from memory somewhat but when she went home to visit last year; she saw an article in the newspaper that made her heart jump. A young woman had been attacked on River Street and she told the police officers that a young man that she had just met had saved her. She had been knocked down and was left unconscious and when she awoke, the young man had gone and so had her attackers. The police were looking for the young man to see if he could help identify the attackers. Sara looked at the newspaper’s date and saw that it was March 28, 1989.

Southern Cemeteries

I've loved Southern cemeteries since I was a young girl. There’s just something about them that I find intriguing. I’ve been to cemeteries in lots of other places but most seem very cold and not a place you’d want to stay for long.

In the South, we visit cemeteries even if we don’t have anyone buried there. We go and walk through them and look at the names and admire the headstones. It’s really rather bizarre if you think about it but seems perfectly natural to those who do it. Quirkiness is quite common in the South.

We make cemetery visits to pay respects to family members when we go to Savannah but occasionally we’ll visit some of the other cemeteries just because they are so beautiful. We were in Savannah recently and found ourselves out driving near Bonaventure Cemetery and decided to visit. My younger brother is buried at the adjoining cemetery and we had gone to visit there so we were in the neighborhood. Even the drive in is beautiful. There are huge oak trees lined with Spanish moss hanging down like massive beards on an old man. The cemetery is on a bluff overlooking a river and there are benches by the water to sit and relax. I don’t think I’ve ever been there that there weren’t several people just sitting and looking out over the bluff at the river. Occasionally a boat will come by and the people on board will wave as they pass.

Bonaventure Cemetery is very old and over the years the trees have become monstrous in size. They provide shade and also provide homes to the many squirrels that live there. I’ve wondered what the squirrels get to see at night when the place is so dark. Do you suppose the residents come out to play? I’ve wondered about that as I’ve walked through during the day and I’ve decided I might not like it as well at night.

The Colonial Cemetery downtown dates back to the early settling of Savannah. It’s a treasure trove for history buffs looking to do tracings of old headstones. The story is that during the siege of Savannah by the Union army during the Civil War that the Union soldiers used the cemetery to camp in. They reportedly burned fires in the crypts and removed bodies in the mausoleums so they could sleep in them to keep warm. Considering the age of the cemetery, it really is in remarkable condition and is very interesting to visit. One of the popular ghost tours visits this cemetery and tells some tales of the various residents living there. It’s pretty spooky at night.

When I was in junior high (I’m really dating myself because there was no such thing as middle school), my school was two blocks from the cemetery. We didn’t have an outdoor area for physical education class so we walked to the cemetery and used the back side to play dodge ball and any other activities our teacher decided we needed to do to stay fit. This same spot is called the dueling grounds because that is where duels were conducted back in the colonial days. There are many stories of those killed there before dueling became illegal but we never even thought about it as we played there. This goes back to the affinity for cemeteries that we Southerners seem to have I suppose.

Now the cemeteries are all fenced and gated and I personally think that this is to stop the kids from going there to park and make out. Cemeteries were very popular make out spots when I was a teenager. Not that I ever went, mind you, but I knew lots of kids that did. I’m not sure why but somehow parking in a dark and spooky cemetery while fighting off some pimply faced kid with hormones stuck in overdrive doesn’t sound nearly as romantic as it did back then.

Maybe being older, now I just enjoy the peace and quiet of walking through during the daylight hours. I like to think about the people who are buried there and what their lives had been like. But I have noticed that I will always reach for my husband’s hand and it is a nice place to stop and have a little kiss. Hey who knows, maybe some of that make out appeal is still there.

The Wedding Dress

Carly jumped as the clock struck six. She had been lost in her thoughts, thinking about the details for the party later that night. Halloween was her favorite holiday and she wanted everything to be perfect.

Her costume was laid out on the bed. Afraid of messing it up, she wanted to wait until the last minute to put it on. Her make up looked perfect. She could hardly believe that she looked like a dead person but that was what she had wanted to achieve. Carly was planning to be a bride.....a dead bride. She still wasn't sure why but she had gotten the idea when she found the wedding dress in an old thrift shop downtown a few weeks ago. That was when she decided to have the party. Later, she was surprised at her own self because having parties was not her thing. But something happened when she picked up the beautiful old wedding dress. It was in remarkably good shape to be so old and it fit her perfectly.

Tom, her boyfriend, had agreed although somewhat reluctantly to dress like the groom of the dead bride. "We'll be the talk of the town in these costumes," she thought smiling to herself. For some reason it brought her a lot of pleasure to imagine their being bride and groom even if it was just for the party. In reality, she knew that Tom had been seeing other women and she was hurt over it but felt helpless to do anything about it. He didn't know that she knew and Carly wanted to keep it that way. If he cared about her, he would have to decide on his own to date only her.

As she walked through the house Carly clicked off the items on her list. The food was out and looked delicious, the bar was stocked and the candles were lit and provided just the eerie look that she wanted. Her little cottage had been transformed into a "haunted house", cobwebs and all. As the clock stuck seven, Carly smiled thinking that even the clock added to the creepy ambiance that she wanted to set for the party.

Walking back up the stairs Carly had no idea how creepy things would get before the night was over. She slipped on the wedding dress and when she looked into the mirror, she hardly recognized herself. The makeup looked so much more realistic with the dress on. Staring into the mirror she thought she saw a strange greenish glow that seemed to surround her. The dressed hugged her so tightly and for a moment she wished that she had not bought the dress and wondered if the party was a mistake. This was all so unlike her. As quickly as the thoughts entered her head, they vanished and she suddenly felt almost protective of the dress. The dress was far too beautiful to hang in a thrift shop to rot. She briefly wished that it was a real wedding that she was dressing for. Carly put on her grandmother's red garnet necklace and picked up her dried bouquet of flowers. "Can't have the bride get married without some dead roses now can we?" she thought. As she walked out the room, the green glow followed her.

The doorbell rang as Carly came down the stairs. Tom was the first to arrive as she had planned. He looked so handsome in his tuxedo. Carly picked up the small boutonniere from the table in the entry to put in his lapel. Tom, a little surprised at her appearance, said "wow, Carly you look amazing. You really look like a dead person. How on earth did you get that greenish glow to surround you?"

Before she could answer, the doorbell rang and the guests started to arrive. They all marvelled over Carly and Tom's costumes and remarked on the realistic makeup that she had applied and how her dress looked so eerie. Carly barely recognized the voice in her head that was was laughing and saying, "Oh, it's not eerie yet but it will be."

Everyone was enjoying the food and the punch that Carly had made. It was in a cauldron and had smoke drifting up from it. For some reason Carly couldn't remember when asked what was in the punch but everyone seemed to like it. As the evening wore on, she felt strange and decided that she wouldn't have anymore punch. It was almost midnight and Carly felt that there was something that she needed to do but couldn't remember what. She went into the kitchen and brought out a cake. Everyone was a little surprised that she had gone to the trouble to have a wedding cake. Carly was confused and didn't remember buying the cake but she set it down on the table and asked Tom to help her cut it. Tom, by now, had gotten a little tired of this entire wedding scenario. He wished that he had told Carly that he wanted to break up before the party and knew that he would now have to wait until another time. He was annoyed at the elaborate fake wedding that Carly had prepared and snapped at her when she told him he should make a toast. "This is out of hand, Carly. It's not a real wedding, okay?"

That was the beginning of the horror that followed. Carly became angry and instead of cutting the cake with the knife she held in her hand, she stabbed Tom in the chest. At first the guests started to laugh because they thought that it was all part of the facade that had been created. The blood gushed from Tom's chest and he fell over into the cake. Carly had a strange look on her face and she laughed and kept saying, "darling, now we'll always be together."

The guests panicked. Someone yelled, "This is not a game. Let's get out of here." The clock struck midnight and the lights dimmed and the doors all slammed shut. They tried to open them but they were locked. Carly was still laughing a shrill and demonic laugh. Her eyes were like ice blue glass and she had Tom's blood all over her dress. She was kissing him now and telling him that she loved him. The music seemed to get louder and everyone was screaming and looking for a way out of the house. Two of the guys decided to try to grab Carly and take the knife from her. Coming up from behind they managed to get their arms around her and she fell to the floor with them on top of her. The knife went flying. During the scuffle the dress was torn so badly that most of it was ripped from Carly as they tried to stand her up.

With the dress off Carly immediately became alert and when she saw Tom she started to scream loudly. "Oh, my God, what happened to Tom, please call an ambulance now," she yelled.

The police and the ambulance came and when the guests told the police what had happened, Carly, looking totally mystified, exclaimed, "Have you all gone mad? I would never stab Tom. I love him." The paramedics pronounced Tom dead and took him away. The guests were asked to stay and give statements and Carly was taken to the police station.

After Carly was found guilty of murdering Tom, her house and all of its contents were sold. No one could explain why she had killed Tom or her strange actions afterwards. A few noticed that when the dress was removed, it seemed to change Carly's behavior but they didn't dwell on it for long; it was just too bizarre.

A couple of years later in a little thrift shop on one of the side streets downtown, a young woman was looking through a rack of clothing. She stopped when she spotted the wedding gown and although she wasn't getting married, she felt compelled to buy the dress. It was in remarkably good condition and fit her perfectly. Later as she hung the dress in her closet, she smiled and ran her fingers over the lace and thought to herself, "I think I'll plan a costume party and of course, I'll be a bride. Bob can be the groom."

What Did They Think That September Day?

Today's September 11th and I am reminded of the sadness that I have felt since that day seven years ago for the families that have had to go on without their loved ones.

Like so many, I think about the shock of realizing that day that we had been attacked. I remember being afraid and having this horrible ache inside that just wouldn't go away. And then I remember getting mad and feeling the need to strike back. I think the anger was necessary in the beginning to keep from giving way to the fear. And then I remember feeling pride in our country and knowing that we had come from good stock and that we would get through this. I had always been patriotic but what I now felt was much stronger and much deeper. I felt that I had taken being an American for granted and now I needed to step up to the plate and show my appreciation for living in a country that offered the freedoms that we have grown accustomed to. This was the first time that I felt the debt of those who fought to give us that freedom weighing heavily on my shoulders.

I'd like to say that I've done remarkable things since that realization but in fact I've simply changed the way I live my life. I've always been generous with money and willing to donate to worthy causes. Now I feel that I also have to be generous in spirit and with my words and my time. I no longer hold grudges and forgiving people for any injustices (both real and perceived) is so easy now. I simply get up every day and start over. I've learned tolerance where I didn't have a lot before. None of this may seem to have anything to do with what happened that day but somehow in my mind being thankful and tolerant and compassionate seemed to be my way of proving that terrorists couldn't destroy our way of life. It was my way of fighting back. Their hatred of us is what drove them to commit such heinous acts. Hating them back couldn't be the answer for me.

I played around with poetry when I was a teenager because I think it was a necessary outlet for all those emotions that we go through as teens but I had not even thought about writing it since then. For some reason though, I felt the need to write this. I don't submit it with any thoughts of it being "poetry". It's just my thoughts and feelings two days after what I consider to be a moment in time that changed me and my outlook on life.

What did they think that September day?
That taking our loved ones away would kill our Spirit....
When they struck on that beautiful, perfect September day,
Did they think that destroying buildings
Would make the American people sway
From the democratic principles that we live by?
Did the hatred in their hearts cloud their judgement?
Did they honestly think on that September day
that they would make us give in to terror, to hatred, to fear?
That we would abandon our pride, our love of freedom?
They should know form our History that this would not be true.
Freedom is our way of life and we've always sacrificed
Our lives when necessary for it to prevail.
What did they think that September day?