For Dave who Disappeared

There is a saying, “If a writer falls in love with you, you can never die.” I do not claim such extraordinary powers, literally or even figuratively. But I do know that I can summon memory to shed light, however briefly, on a person who deserves another look.

The European Tour

My college friend Barbara and I took off to Europe two years after college graduation, in early summer 1968. By then I had moved from New Jersey to Boston but we reunited for the trip. This was my last fling before entering Boston College Law School in the fall. We bought one-way tickets to Amsterdam and checked into a youth hostel on the bank of…

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The Graduate, Then and Now

I attended a women’s college—Douglass, part of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey—in the 1960s. We had our own separate campus and a highly regarded, brilliant faculty, with a majority proportion of female professors. We were especially proud of the school policy prohibiting sororities, deemed shallow and silly at best, exclusionary at worst. I sought out Douglass for the excellent liberal arts education at…

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LOVE THY NEIGHBOR — OVER THE FENCE

My parents lived on a block with four new brick cape houses on quarter acre lots. The kitchens of the two middle houses faced each other, about twelve feet apart, with small double casement windows above the sink. Every morning, after putting the children on the school bus, my mom Rose and her neighbor Madge washed the dishes in full view of each other. Same…

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Mother’s Day Tribute to a Beautiful Rose

When I was five and my brother Stuart two, we lived in a top floor apartment in Newark, New Jersey. Later that year, we moved to a development in the suburbs. Our new house sat on a quarter acre plot with plenty of room for aluminum lawn chairs, a chaise lounge, rose bushes around the pink cement patio…..and the clothesline planted in the middle of…

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CREATIVITY RISING

When I was in grade school, I studied hard. Memorized vocabulary and facts. Turned in assignments on time. Raised my hand in class. Pleased my teachers and my parents. Never missed a day. Colored between the lines. This is what they seemed to want. In their comments in the margins of my report cards, my teachers often wrote, “It is a pleasure to have Barrie…

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INDIANA INTERSTATE

In my senior year of high school, I signed up with a progressive Jewish youth organization for a summer work program in Evanston, Illinois — our mission, to build a storage barn for a fresh air camp. I had never spent the summer away from home. I packed a box of stationery and postage stamps to write to my parents and to my high school…

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A Time to Every Purpose

When I was in my forties, a civic-minded resident nominated me for a seat on the board of a progressive charitable organization, a worthy cause with a commitment to economic, educational, and legal advocacy for women and families in urban settings since 1877. Monthly meetings were scheduled for mid-afternoons in downtown Boston. I took the train in from Salem, leaving my law office for the…

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In the Heart of Pacific Waters

I’m on the island of Kauai for the month of February, staying with my daughter and family in a condo on the South Shore. They don’t live here but are fortunate to be on family leave from their busy working lives in New York City. When they invited me to join them, you could have knocked me down with a feather. I spend most of…

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THREE SENIOR LOVE STORIES

❤️ When my Grandma Rifka died at seventy-five, my Zayda Mutka was bereft. He was twelve years older and you’d think he’d be content to live with his memories for his twilight years. Instead, he offered to take me to Paris—this was in 1970—to visit my grandmother’s family. I wore outfits in the fashionable style of the mademoiselles and ventured out daily to museums, shops…

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Hometown of my Heart: Turning Over a New Leaf

I was the victim of a scam when I was in eighth grade. The library was my safe haven. On the way home from school, I stopped in at the main branch to get a start on my homework. I wasn’t on a sports team, not my thing. I didn’t need to stay after school for glee club rehearsals — I failed the audition. I…

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Hometown of my Heart: What Life Brought at Sixteen

When I was a high school junior in 1961, my classmate, Barbara, was killed instantly in an automobile accident. The driver was her friend, a senior with a new license. It shocked me, a sixteen year old, that someone I knew died. Even my four grandparents were still alive. I didn’t know Barbara well, other than that she was smart, friendly, and destined to do…

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Hometown of my Heart: A Winter Tale

The seasons of the year in New England are distinct, demarcating almost exactly at the three-month mark. Each asserts its strong identity, worthy of poetry. In New Jersey, spring comes earlier, fall arrives later, playing games with the calendar. Tonight, cozy in front of a crackling fire, I muse at the moonlit winter scene outside my window. Memory transports me to another winter, sixty years ago,…

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Hometown of my Heart

Linden, New Jersey is surrounded by the industrialized New Jersey Turnpike and the congested Garden State Parkway. Most know it by the huge Bayway Oil Refinery visible from the Turnpike as they pass through the state from somewhere else to somewhere else. But to me, Linden was my hometown from 1949 to 1972, the scene of my first day of kindergarten with Miss Standish at…

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FOOD STORIES (part two)

I remember every detail of my Grandma Weiner’s kitchen on the first floor of the two family house in Elizabeth, New Jersey. The flooring, a solid piece of colorful marbled linoleum, curled up at the edges where the glue thinned out. The sink faced the neighbor’s house so Grandma could watch them through the window, going in and out of their side door. The Frigidaire sat…

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FOOD STORIES

THE APPLE ADVENTURE: My grandfather had a saying that has come down through our family lore, “Honesty isn’t the best policy—it’s the only policy.” All I have to do is think of my dear grandparents—all four of them—and how they lived their lives. That set my moral compass. One of my goals in life is to honor them always, and it is with them in…

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The Little Holiday That Could

Tonight, the first night of Chanukah, I take out the brass menorah and crack open the box of multi-colored candles. Setting it on my mantel, I am ready to share with you my lifelong experience of the little holiday that has its eight days of minor glory. It’s a Jewish holiday, but not really a religious holiday—no services or solemn remembrance—more of a nod to…

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Music to my Ears

I lost my dad Julius in 1980 when he was sixty-seven. At the time, I thought that was old. Now I’m older than he ever got to be. My father learned to play the trombone in the high school marching band. From there, he became an audiophile and developed a love for every kind of music. Dad became expert in all of the new renditions…

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Origin Story

In my 71st year, going into my third as a widow, I decided to join a newly formed literary discussion group at the local library on Saturday afternoons. It was a step out of darkness, away from the mourning, then grieving, first for my husband, then for my mother ten months later. I had not understood—how could I have known—that recovering from three years of…

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Faithful Friends

I don’t have any pets now. But over the years, we took many different species into our home or yard, including dogs, cats, Oxfordshire sheep, chickens to lay eggs, iguanas, gerbils, turtles, fish. I remember when we found a tortoise wandering on the lawn with a shell the size of a toilet seat. We escorted him back to the lake, never to be seen on…

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