RPG Digest

September 2020


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Thanks to all these talented writers who have contributed to every issue of RPG Digest with such enthusiasm. Cover photo courtesy of Sweetfern Handmade






Table of Contents

Dear Cupid by Laura Alston. 2

A Day in the Gun Shop by Tim Whealton. 4

Why Write Fiction? By E. B. Alston. 5

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Life and Works by Rita Berman. 6

Life at Home, World War II by Peggy Ellis. 12

Trailer Park Jokes. 14

Reality and the Wonders of Conscious Matter by Randy Bittle. 15

My Ham Shack in an Armoire – The Prequel by Howard A. Goodman. 17

Remember Mercy by Diana Goldsmith. 18

Good Friends by Marry Willamson. 20

Species Extinction Matters Because by Danisha Kerr. 22

My Environmental Journey Continued by Carol A. Rados. 23

September 2020 Monthly Horoscope. 23

Hammer Spade and the Four Horsemen. 26

School Days: What I Learned by Ruth A. Whitsel 32

Colonial Justice by E. B. Alston. 34

The Diary of Samuel Pepys. 39

Contributors. 44



Dear Cupid

Laura Alston


Cupid, dear, where are you?

I need you to work some magic for me.

This is the only time I’ll bother you.

So, please listen carefully to what I have to say.


When I was young, love knocked on my door,

But I quickly bid love to go away.

Now, I find myself seeking true love.

I need you, dear Cupid, to steer love my way.

Trying to find true love has not been easy.

At the time love knocked on my heart’s door,

I did not take love seriously at all.

Now I ask, Cupid dear, where are you?


A Day in the Gun Shop

Tim Whealton

(Editor’s note: I only made a few minor changes and corrections. This has to be read the way Tim wrote it.)


Maybe you think it would be fun to own your own business. A lot of people tell me having your own business is wonderful. They tell me you can set your own hours, work when you want and do everything at your own pace. I knew better before I started but I didn’t know how interesting it would be working with the public! You just never know what is going to walk through that door!

It was 06:30 am and a man came in looking a little weak. He sits and asks if I have a blood pressure cuff. I say yes but then I asked why do you want your BP checked at a gun shop at 06:30?

He says he has chest pain but doesn’t want to go to the ER and put up with all those tests. I try my best to convince him to let me call 911 but he refuses.

I even have an old EKG machine and print out an EKG. It shows abnormalities but I still cannot get him to go. (It was discarded from the rescue squad but still works)

Later the pain gets worse and his wife takes him to the ER. Doctor says his EKG shows abnormalities and he needs to go to the heart unit. He tells the doctor his gunsmith told him that at no charge.

The doctor calls me to find out if I’m a doctor. I end up explaining how it happened and doctor brings out two pistols for trigger work.

I am teaching a night class for concealed carry. I tell the students to make sure they unload their guns before they come to class.

I specifically say, “Don’t walk in here with a loaded pistol.”

An old lady comes in the door with an old top break revolver, holding it out with her finger on the trigger.

She says, “I think it is unloaded.”

I take the pistol and ask her why she says “think?”

She says, “I did not know how to unload it, so I shot it out the window as I was driving here till it quit going off!”

Another day a man comes in early and asked if we are alone. He had just got a call his wife was having an affair with another man. He said he needed to talk to somebody and since I was open dropped off a rifle for cleaning and sight in. I had to make sure he was planning on using it to hunt deer instead of Dear!

Charlie comes in and asked me help to catch some cows that are out. They are in town in Cove City and running behind the houses. There are six cows each over 1000 pounds. I developed a newfound appreciation for cowboys.

A mother brings in her daughter that has pushed an earring up her nose and can’t get it out. I can see it with my bore scope but I don’t try to remove it because she might aspirate it into her lung. I sent that one to the doctor!

The mother tells others about my flexible bore scope and local people come in to look in their ears and noses. One asked if she can take it home overnight but I don’t loan tools.

A man comes in and was waiting to talk about his rifle. He is looking at a calendar and is upset from looking at a picture of a B52. He explains that he was in Vietnam and his small unit was almost wiped out by a regiment of North Vietnamese troops. They happened to be in front of this force that was headed to attack a Special Forces base. It was sunset and there was no way to evacuate. They were given all available ammo and instructed to dig in. Their officers came by and thanked them and said it was an honor to serve with them. They expected enemy contact shortly after midnight. When the enemy was less than one mile a huge flight of B52 bombers were rerouted from a mission to bomb North Vietnam and they started pounding the enemy force. The enemy force was stopped and forced to dig in. They evacuated his company at daylight with helicopters and he came home two weeks later. He didn’t know why but all these events had come back to haunt him in dreams over 40 years later.

The town drunk comes in extremely intoxicated at quitting time. I feed him some soup and take him home in my truck. I come back to the shop the next morning and find his false teeth on the table.

I am teaching a concealed weapon class and have two old women. One is a retired teacher. Everything must be explained to her. I tell her to shoot the target.

She says, “Wait a minute, tell me why I am going to shoot this person first.”

Her friend speaks up and says “That is a man! If you do not shoot him you will have to cook, clean, and do stuff for him!”

She quickly brings up the pistol and empties it into the target!

 Maybe because I’m a little unconventional I attract situations or maybe it’s because I’m now a two-person business. The new gunsmith, Tim Dittlinger is in the shop with me now fixing guns. He will be getting a lot of stories to tell. You never know what is going to come through that door!


Why Write Fiction?

E. B. Alston


Why does a person choose to write fiction? In this case I can only explore why I write it. Although I’m sure somebody has, I’ve never read an article giving a logical reason to make up stories. We could write non-fiction. There are more real-life stories out there on any subject than there are writers to write them. An instinctive answer could be that real life is so boring but, if you look around, that is patently not the case. I could write for years about incidents at the telephone company about which I am personally familiar that would have readers holding their sides while they laughed. I bet you can too, wherever you work. As Billy Koonce in Jacksonville, North Carolina, said more than once, “All we need around here to have a circus is a few wild animals. We’ve already got plenty of clowns.”

In my case, circumspection must be the order of the day. When my friend Jack Cain, a former Bell System lineman himself, heard that I was writing a story (Those Whom the Gods Love) set on a telephone line crew, he admonished me with, “I don’t believe I’d say too much about what happened on telephone company line crews.”

The first fiction writers were the Ancient Greeks so the genre has been around a long time. In my opinion, the Greek writers have never been surpassed. They have been shamelessly copied, but even our best attempts to emulate them have fallen way short. Who has ever written a better and more tragic story ending than, “And there they lay, two corpses, one death?” (Antigone by Sophocles) My admiration for them is great and when I borrow their ideas, I feel humbled to be so honored as to follow them in this field.

I write fiction because I want to control my story outcome, because I want to use material that I’ve seen and heard without embarrassing somebody, and because I want to choose the destiny of my characters. It comes down to ego. It is a cheap way to play God. Quite a few fiction writers have monumental egos.

It is an art, no less than painting and sculpture. We use words instead of paint and stone and genuine skill endures for a long time. The greatest writers have fared poorly with the critics of their time. Homer is a depressingly arduous read but his stories entertain our souls. Shakespeare relies on too much coincidence but it doesn’t detract from his greatness. Virgil hated it when he was ordered by Augustus to write the Aeneid but who has surpassed his skill as a wordsmith? William Faulkner wrote redneck racist stories that continue to fascinate long after he is gone. Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Maugham and Wolfe were great writers and their characters have molded people’s lives. There are many more and the best ones deserve their accolades.

Perhaps it’s another way to achieve immortality, a megalomaniacal ambition to survive our deaths. Milan Kundera suggests that the pursuit of literary fame is a diabolical snare because the ambition for immortality is inseparably bound to the writer’s probity. We are driven to do our best because we wish to be remembered. It is rank cynicism to write without doing our best.

Flaubert was taken to task for bad writing in Madame Bovary but he knew what he was doing when he told the story his way. When at the end Emma threw her last coin towards the beggar, she was disposing of her entire fortune and yet, “She thought it quite fine, tossing the coin like that. If the reader hasn’t already figured it out, they now know what kind of woman Emma was.

What is the answer? The answer is writers of fiction desire to be masters of their work; another life over which they exercise total control. And since writer’s lives are short, they hope their stories will live forever.


F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Life and Works

By Rita Berman


F. Scott Fitzgerald was born on Sept. 24, 1896. The 22nd Annual F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Festival will be held in Rockville, MD, on October 20, 2018 to celebrate his birthday.  It was founded in 1996 as a conference to commemorate his 100th birthday and in 2013 the name was changed from conference to festival.

The purpose of the festival includes honoring the works of F. Scott Fitzgerald and other American fiction writers, poets, playwrights, and screenwriters as well as promoting the written word by presenting seminars, and lectures. In addition there is the presentation of the F. Scott Fitzgerald for Outstanding Achievement in American Literature.  William Styron was the first recipient in 1996, followed by other distinguished writers including Norman Mailer, John Updike, Pat Conroy, Elmore Leonard, and Annie Proulx.  The 2018 recipient will be Richard Russo author of 8 novels who in 2002 received the Pulitzer Prize for Empire Falls.

F. Scott Fitzgerald was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, and was named after Frances Scott Key, the author of the National anthem who was a distant relative of his father. 

Younger than Virginia Woolf, yet both died within months of each other in the early 1940’s.  And how different their styles.  His novel, The Great Gatsby, published in 1925, has been translated into 42 different languages and remains a classic best seller. It is a much easier read than Woolf’s To the Lighthouse.  That doesn’t detract from The Great Gatsby being of great significance because of the background it provides of the 1920’s. Fitzgerald’s legacy is that he is known as the chronicler of the “Jazz Age.” A wild time of prosperity, booze, and organized crime.

The 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified in January 1919. It forbad the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors. The Amendment was widely and openly ignored. Many historians believe Prohibition opened the doors to organized crime.  The figure of gangster entered American cultural life and was seen sometimes as a nonconforming hero and sometimes a predatory villain in the movies and fiction of the 1930s.[1]

In The Great Gatsby there are hints that Meyer Wolfshiem, a business partner of Jay Gatsby, is involved in organized crime.  Many of the scenes in the book describe wild parties with ample liquor.

The 1920s in the USA, were also a time of change in sexual mores.  The 19th Amendment had given women the vote and women not only sought out opportunities in education, and employment, they felt freer in dress. Fashion changed from long, heavy, restricting garments to short, lightweight, easily worn store-bought clothing.[2]     

Books too underwent change. By the end of the Victorian era, the three-decker novel spanning generations had gone. Stories were being told in fewer words and underlying themes became more obtuse. These works represented  the breakdown of traditional society under the pressures of modernity.[3]

A distinct feature of the modernist novel is its construction out of fragments, the work may seem to begin arbitrarily, advance without explanation, and end without resolution.  The reader has to dig the structure out because what used to be found in traditional literature – the explanations, interpretations, connections, summaries, and distancing is omitted.[4]    Modernists, in general, used sensory image or detail as symbols.

However, F. Scott Fitzgerald was not a true modernist.  Although he wrote in that time period, he had a wonderful way of using words, brilliant in his ability to create a scene, an atmosphere briefly.  John Chamberlain said he had the ability “to catch the flavor of a period, the fragrance of a night, a snatch of old song, in a phrase.”

To me, he had such a light touch, that it was as if he was talking out a story rather than writing it down. Fitzgerald’s novels and short stories tell about the private lives of his characters, the struggles they undergo, how they react to others. Not to society but to other people.

Much of Fitzgerald’s boyhood was spent in Buffalo and Syracuse, New York. The family was not prosperous and it took an aunt’s support to send him to the Newman Catholic School in Lakewood, N.J. in 1911.

Here he apparently spent more time in fooling around than on his studies.  He entered Princeton in 1913 with the intention of making a career as a writer of musical comedies.  He spent most of his first year writing an operetta for the Triangle Club, and consequently “flunked” in several subjects.

He quit Princeton in 1917 to join the Army.  The captain in charge of Fitzgerald’s training platoon at Ft. Leavenworth was Dwight D. Eisenhower but neither man made an impression on the other. Fitzgerald served as a second lieutenant and then as a first lieutenant in the 45th and 67th Infantry Regiments and then as aide de camp to Brig. Gen. J.A., Ryan, but the war ended before he saw active service

While stationed in Montgomery, Alabama, he met and courted Zelda Sayre, a popular girls, known as a good sport who would do anything for the fun of it. When her father, an Alabama Supreme Court Judge, forbade her to do something she would ignore his prohibitions.

“Zelda possessed the qualities that Fitzgerald required in a girl.  She was beautiful, independent, socially secure (although not wealthy) and responsive to his ambitions….She and Fitzgerald wanted the same things – metropolitan glamour, success, fame…”[5]

Nonetheless, during the summer of 1918 she continued to date other men, for she was cautious about marriage to an unpublished writer and her family did not encourage the match.

While serving in the Army Fitzgerald wrote a novel that he called “The Romantic Egotist.”  He submitted it to Scribner’s but it was rejected. 

In his own words he said, ‘the history of my life is the history of the struggle between an overwhelming urge to write and a combination of circumstances bent on keeping me from it.”[6]

“Six months after this rejection I arrived in New York and presented my card to the office boys of seven city editors asking to be taken on as a reporter.  I had just turned 22, the war was over, and I was going to trail murderers by day and do short stories by night.”

“But the newspapers didn’t need me.  Instead I became an advertising man at 90 dollars a month, writing the slogans for display on rural trolley cars.”

“After hours I wrote stories, the quickest written in an hour and a half, the slowest in three days. No one bought them, no one sent personal letters.  I had 122 rejection slips.  Near the end of June I sold one story for $30.”

Disgusted with himself and all the editors, he went home to St. Paul and informed his family and friends that he had given up his job and come home to write a novel.

He reworked material from “The Romantic Egoist” and named it “This Side of Paradise”. It was about the post-WW1 Flapper generation, and this time it was accepted by Scribner’s in the fall of 1919, after Maxwell Perkins, editor, urged publication.

“The book is so different that it is hard to prophesy how it will sell but we are all for taking a chance and supporting it with vigor,” said Perkins.[7]

Fitzgerald recalled later, “That week, I paid off my terrible small debts, bought a suit, and woke up every morning with a world of ineffable top loftiness and promise.”  His short stories began to sell, among them “The Ice Palace,”   “Winter Dreams’  “The Beautiful and the Damned” and “Bernice Bobs Her Hair” to mention only a few.  I like the Bernice story because it has a nice twist at the end.

This Side of Paradise, was published on March 26, 1920, and became one of the most popular books of the year. Scott and Zelda were married on April 3, 1920. They spent wildly and drank heavily; they were careless and outrageous and brilliant in their self-display.  In 1921, October 26, they had a daughter, who was named Scottie after her father.

The Fitzgerald’s moved to Europe, Paris, and the Riviera and back to America. They knew everyone: Hemingway, and Gertrude Stein, and Archibald MacLeish and the Murphys.”[8] 

Fitzgerald had gathered material for The Great Gatsby novel while living on Long Island after the war, but he wrote most of it in Rome or on the Riviera.

He and Ernest Hemingway met in Paris and became friends with Fitzgerald trying to act as Hemingway’s mentor and promote him.   

Leicester Hemingway, Ernest’s brother said “Ernest’s first books, published in France, made only a few hundred dollars. But that spring, Scott Fitzgerald came to Paris as a successful young American writer. He had heard about Ernest, read some of his work, and wanted to talk to him.  The two proceeded to think the world of each other while occasionally testing each other’s capacity for strong drink.”

Fitzgerald had been an alcoholic since his college days, and became notorious during the 1920s for his extraordinarily heavy drinking, leaving him in poor health by the late 1930s.  He is said to have suffered from a mild attack of tuberculosis in 1919, and in 1929 had “what proved to be a tubercular hemorrhage.”[9]    

Gertrude Stein praised Fitzgerald as the most talented writer of his generation, “the one with the brightest flame.”  Fitzgerald was upset by the compliment as he saw it as a slight to Hemingway. Hemingway’s reaction was that he didn’t feel any resentment or sense of competition because any comparison of flames was “pure horseshit.” 

Here is part of a letter that Gertrude Stein wrote to Fitzgerald after she read The Great Gatsby.  Anyone who has read, or tried to read Stein, will recognize her style immediately.

“My dear Fitzgerald,

Here we are and have read your book and it is a good book.  I like the melody of your dedication and it shows that you have a background of beauty and tenderness and that is a comfort. The next thing is that you write naturally in sentences and that too is a comfort.  You write naturally in sentences and one can read all of them and that among other things is a comfort.  You are creating the contemporary world much as Thackeray did…”

Comparing The Great Gatsby to This Side of Paradise she wrote, “This is as good a book and different and older and that is what one does, one does not get better but different and older and that is always a pleasure.”  Stein plays with her words, repeats them for effect. In her introduction to The Collected Writings of Zelda Fitzgerald, Mary Gordon wrote that Zelda had no use for Stein and considered Stein’s conversation “sententious gibberish.”  

Before her marriage Zelda had shown no evidence of literary ambitions.  Her publication career spanned only a dozen years, from 1922 to 1934.  Mary Gordon suggests that it was a quest for identity apart from her status as “wife of”, as well as evidence of the rivalry that had developed in the Fitzgerald marriage.  Marriage to a celebrated writer made it easier for her to have her work published.  Some of her stories were published under his name, or jointly.  Their daughter Scottie said that Fitzgerald spent many hours editing the stories that Zelda sold to College Humor and Scribner’s Magazine.  “Southern Girl” is her best, in my opinion, because it has leads up to an amusing end.”    

Scribner’s published Zelda’s Save Me the Waltz, in 1932, after it went through revision and five sets of galley proofs.  Even then it was sloppily edited.  It has been estimated that only 3000 copies were printed, and 1400 sold.

Some writers have suggested that Zelda contributed to Scott’s work but having read Save Me the Waltz and her short stories, I found the writing style of husband and wife very different.  As Mary Gordon noted, “her prose is uneven; her flights are high and wild and the form draws its strength from the enigmatic appeal of the fragment.”  F. Scott Fitzgerald’s writing is carefully shaped.

Edmund Wilson, a friend of theirs, said Zelda talked almost exactly the way she wrote – in the nature of free association of ideas and one could never follow up anything.”

Scottie observed, that it was her mother’s misfortune, “to be born with the ability to write, to dance, and to paint, and then never to have acquired the discipline to make her talent work for, rather than against her.”  At the too late age of twenty-seven, she tried to become a ballerina. She began to have breakdowns and in February 1932 was hospitalized at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.   In 1936 she entered the Highlands Hospital in Asheville, N.C.  

After his first book was published, Fitzgerald wrote 8 others, four being collections of short stories including Flappers and Philosophers (1920) and Tales of the Jazz Age 1922.  The Beautiful and Damned was published in 1922, in part an account of his own dissipation, it was a failure but he was in great demand for his short stories.

In 1923 he published a satirical play “The Vegetable, or From President to Postman,” and then for two years he worked on The Great Gatsby. That was published in 1925, and another short collection All the Sad Young Men in 1926. Tender is the Night was not published until 1934 as it took him eight years to complete because he interrupted it to write short stories in order to pay bills - many of which were for Zelda’s psychiatric treatment. His last book, published in 1935, was called “Taps at Reveille.”

For several years after “Taps” was published, Fitzgerald lived near Baltimore, Md, where he suffered a depression of spirit which kept him from writing.  He made several efforts to write but failed, and in an autobiographical article in Esquire likened himself to a “cracked plate.”

When he was more than $22,000 in debt, Fitzgerald went to Hollywood in 1937 to work for M G M.   He owed money to his publishers for advances and loans and was behind in payments for Zelda’s treatments at the Highlands Hospital. His weekly paycheck in Hollywood was to be $1,000.

His first assignment was to polish the screenplay for “A Yank at Oxford”, but he never got screen credit. He was then assigned to write the screenplay for “Three Comrades,” For which he got screen credit. It was a major movie with four stars, Robert Taylor, Margaret Sullivan, Franchot Tone, and Robert Young.  It was a box-office success and ranked as one of the ten best movies in 1938.

In Hollywood he became involved with Sheilah Graham and began drinking again.  Fitzgerald needed Sheilah but his puritan streak disapproved of their arrangement. They maintained separate residences but had a relationship. Sheilah insisted she was not his mistress because he never supported her.   He was still married to Zelda and paying her expenses. Zelda presumably never learned about Fitzgerald’s relationship Sheilah, although she suspected he had someone in California. He thought any definite knowledge about Sheilah might cause Zelda’s complete collapse.

Fitzgerald suffered two heart attacks in late 1940.  After the first heart attack at the end of November, he was ordered by his doctor to avoid strenuous exertion and to obtain a first floor apartment.  He moved into Sheilah Graham’s apartment to avoid climbing stairs.

He felt he was making good recovery and in a letter to Zelda wrote, “The novel is about three-quarters through and I think I can go on till January 12 without doing any stories or going back to the studio.” The manuscript he was referring to was edited by the literary critic Edmund Wilson, and published in 1941 as The Last Tycoon.  In 1944 the book was reissued under Fitzgerald’s original title “The Love of the Last Tycoon.   

On Friday, December 20, 1940, as he and Sheilah were leaving the premiere of a movie, “This Thing Called Love”, he had a dizzy spell and experienced trouble walking to the car.   The next day, Saturday Dec. 21, he waited for a visit from his doctor, and sat eating a chocolate bar while making notes in “The Princeton Alumni Weekly” on the 1941 football prospects.  Suddenly, he started out of his chair, clutched the mantelpiece and fell to the floor.  Sheilah ran to get the building manager who then said Fitzgerald was dead. His physician Dr. Clarence Nelson signed the death certificate noting he had died of a heart attack.  He was 44.

The newspapers gave Fitzgerald’s death prominent treatment.  His obituaries combined nostalgia with a patronizing tone.  The New York Times wrote, “The best of his books, the critics said, was “the Great Gatsby”….this ironic tale of life on Long Island …. received critical acclaim. In it Mr. Fitzgerald was at his best.”[10]          

Dorothy Parker was one of those who went to the visitation at a funeral home in Hollywood and she was reportedly crying and murmured” the poor son of a bitch,” a line from Jay Gatsby’s funeral.

Fitzgerald’s remains were then shipped to Maryland, where his funeral was attended by very few people. The church would not allow him to be buried in his family’s plot in Rockville and he was originally buried in Rockville Union Cemetery.

Zelda died in a fire at the Highland Mental Hospital in Asheville, NC in 1948.  Their daughter, Scottie Fitzgerald Lanahan Smith, gave permission for the Women’s Club of Rockville to have their bodies moved to the family plot in St. Mary’s Cemetery, in Rockville, Md.  

During his lifetime Fitzgerald thought he was a failure but he has now been recognized as one of the great literary figures of the 20th century.

More is known about the professional life of Fitzgerald than about that of any other major American author because so much of the evidence has been preserved.  The year-by-year autobiographical, financial, and bibliographical records he kept in his business ledger include his every sale in the literary market place.[11]  His total income from 1919 through 1936, before he went to Hollywood, was $374,922.58 (after his agent’s commissions) according to his Ledger; an average of $20,829.03 over 18 years.  Between 1919 and 1929 Fitzgerald’s “Saturday Evening Post” story price rose from $400 to $4,000. The Post and the other “slick” magazines paid well because pre-television Americans had a large appetite for magazine fiction.

In 2013 the film based on The Great Gatsby, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby and Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan opened the 66th Cannes Festival and led to a jump in sales of the book.DiCaprio’s performance was said to be magnificent and the granddaughter of Fitzgerald praised the style and music of the film. 

In April 2017 Fitzgerald’s previously unpublished stories were published by Scribner, U.K. in a 384 page book edited by Anne Margaret Daniel titled I’d Die for You and Other Lost Stories. 

   The poet Sylvia Plath will be discussed next month.  She was born October 27, 1932.     



Life at Home, World War II

Peggy Lovelace Ellis


I am woman, as Helen Reddy sang on her Capitol Records release in 1971, and as a woman, I have long believed the real heroes of war – any war – are the mothers who paste a smile on their faces and wave goodbye as their sons and daughters leave for what too often is death at the hands of unknown people in faraway lands. This is particularly true of the mothers during World War II. They had held the family together throughout the deprivations of the Great Depression and now answered the call to hold the nation together during a war so far away. It is long past time for us to honor those women who formed our lives and made us what we are today.

2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the end of the war fought by what Tom Brokaw called “The Greatest Generation.” He referred to the military. For me, the real hero of that war was my mother, Carrie Morrison Lovelace, and I want to take this opportunity to honor her memory.

Five feet, three inches tall, 115 pounds, 34 years old, shoulders squared, head held high, a smile pasted on her face. That was my mom on May 28, 1943, the day her first born, Robert Lee Lovelace, joined the Navy. She had stood beside the grave of one son, who died of diphtheria in 1931, and now faced the real possibility of doing the same for another, although for a different reason.

Bob turned 17 that day. Since the December 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, he had practiced the rolling gait he admired in the sailors he’d seen on the streets of Asheville, North Carolina, where we lived. To keep him from lying about his age and enlisting, Mom and Dad had agreed to permit their devil-may-care son to fulfill his ambition of going to war if he stayed in school until he reached 17. He didn’t allow them to forget. Now, with his usual cocky grin spread ear to ear, he waved a careless good-bye as he climbed onto the train in Asheville. He was off on his great adventure.

The world changed for our family that day.

My daily life during the war years revolved around Mom. Dad worked from daylight to dark as a laborer on the railroad near our home. He had been too young for the first world war, and a necessary work commitment kept him at home for this one. He, his three brothers, and my grandfather kept the tracks in our area repaired throughout the Great Depression and continued during the war years.

Mom was not new to a war situation. One of her older brothers was a pilot and her oldest sister was a nurse in what we now call World War I. Both survived but within a few years succumbed to the tuberculosis they had contracted during their military service. Now, Mom had to deal with her son in the Navy and her next older sister being in the WACS. Bob’s service on board a battleship in the Pacific was a constant worry, and the knowledge that Aunt Bert did clerical work far from battlefields and military hospitals didn’t ease Mom’s concern for her.

In the ensuing months, life revolved around the daily mail delivery. At times weeks would pass without a letter from Bob, then several would arrive on the same day. No matter what Mom was doing, or needed to be doing, she opened the thin, folded sheets of paper, sorted them in order by date, and hurriedly read each before going back through them slowly, trying to decipher the meaning around the blacked-out sections. We knew better than to interrupt.

A primary conversation subject dealt with who received a War Department telegram that day. The ominous yellow envelope never arrived at our door; however, Bob didn’t survive his great adventure unscathed. He spent time in a hospital in Hawaii with shrapnel in his knees, which continued to bother him until his death in 1992.

Before returning to his shipboard duties, he purchased a small, square cushion with the word “Mother” printed on it along with some flowers. I wonder what happened to that cushion, but no one in the family can recall. That’s one of the many things I never thought to ask Mom before her death in 1994.

Unknown to the military censors, Bob showed his skills with a needle and thread. He unstitched a small part of a seam of that cushion and stuck a letter into the stuffing, then re-stitched it with tiny matching stitches. Somehow, Mom knew to search for the letter, and that’s how we learned that Bob was serving on the USS McDermut, a battleship involved in the battle of Leyte Gulf on October 24, 1944.

Bob found another way to communicate his whereabouts and activities to our parents on a more regular basis. He told the censors he wanted to send money home, so, when they finished their blacking out procedure, they returned the letters to him. He had already hidden a note between two bills and, under their watchful eyes, he put them in the letter, folded it over, sealed it and returned it to them.

Mom tended the garden at the back of our lot, then canned vegetables for our winter meals. The chunky applesauce I purchase today in the grocery store doesn’t compare with what she made over the hot wood stove that had to be fed on a regular basis. One of the most used items in her kitchen was the Foley’s Food Mill. It handled apples for sauce and grapes for juice, some of which eventually became jelly. It also gave us tomato juice and crushed tomatoes for fresh vegetable soup, all through Mom’s busy hands.

Margarine came in oblong blocks together with packets of food coloring. In my mind’s eye, I can still see her long fingers working the yellow coloring into the white oleo, invariably leaving streaks.

Ration coupons were a large part of our lives. Mom hoarded them, making sure there was enough to buy shoes for all seven of us who remained at home. She sewed our clothing, often from printed feed sacks. It tested her ingenuity to find small amounts of contrasting fabric to add some individuality to our clothing, but she always managed. She convinced the feed store man to hold for her matching bags of cow feed so we never saw other little girls wearing the same floral dresses or little boys in the same checked shirts. He probably did the same for others.

Another burden on Mom’s shoulders was her ailing mother, who passed away before war’s end. Seeing a certain pie takes me instantly back to the war years. Mom’s parents lived on the other side of town and, to reach them, it was necessary for her to ride two buses. She had time before the transfer to stop at the bakery and purchase her mother’s favorite pie, lemon meringue. I don’t recall that we children visited our maternal grandparents even once during the war years, but Mom visited them weekly. Money didn’t stretch far enough for bus fare for all of us, and there was limited gasoline for Dad’s 1937 blue Chevrolet panel truck, which he used only for emergencies.

Opening and closing blackout curtains was a daily ritual we couldn’t ignore. Mom made sure of that. Her training was such that one of my brothers had blackout curtains on his bedroom windows until he died in 2011.

Air raid drills scared us children witless. We knew they were for practice, but that didn’t matter. It didn’t help that we had to turn off all the lights and sit in the dark while we listened to a battery radio, static and all. It’s a measure of our ongoing fear that we believed German or Japanese warplanes would drop bombs on our little town in the mountains of North Carolina.

Because of a back injury, Dad could not continue working for Southern Railway. After much debate – Bob wouldn’t know how to find us when he came home – we moved to the country where mail delivery was non-existent for several days while the post office got our address straight. Between that, getting settled in a new house, learning farm routine, and getting us situated in two different schools, Mom’s temper was not the sunniest.

Time passed, slowly but surely, until Wednesday, August 15, 1945, when church bells chimed, ringing out over the valley and up Maney Branch Road to our home on the hill. Mom and Dad, with seven kids at their heels, rushed to the long front porch and listened. The chimes seemed to go on forever.

Mom stood on the end of the porch, her head held high, her hands gripping the railing and stared in the direction of our church. We had heard the news on the radio and this confirmed it. Japan had surrendered. The war was over.

For the first time, I saw Mom’s shoulders slump as she shed the weight of the world. After more than two years of duty in the Pacific, her first born was coming home.


Trailer Park Jokes


A little old lady was sitting on a park bench in Trailer Estates, a Florida mobile home park. A man walked over and sits down on the other end of the bench.  After a few  moments, the woman asks, “Are you a stranger here?”

He replies, “I lived here years ago.”

“So, where were you all these years?”

“In prison,” he says.

“Why did they put you in prison?”

He looked at her, and very quietly said, “I killed my wife.”

“Oh!” said the woman. “So you're single...”


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Another two elderly people living in Trailer Estates, he was a widower and she a widow, had known each other for a number of years. One evening there was a community supper in the big activity center. The two were at the same table, across from one another. As the meal went on, he took a few admiring glances at her and finally gathered the courage to ask her, “Will you marry me?”

After about six seconds of 'careful consideration,' she answered, “Yes. Yes, I will.”

The meal ended and, with a few more pleasant exchanges, they went to their respective places.

Next morning, he was troubled. “Did she say 'yes' or did she say 'no'?” He couldn't remember. Try as he might, he just could not recall. Not even a faint memory.

With trepidation, he went to the telephone and called her. First, he explained that he didn't remember as well as he used to. Then he reviewed the lovely evening past. As he gained a little more courage, he inquired. “When I asked if you would marry me, did you say 'Yes' or did you say 'No'?”

He was delighted to hear her say, “Why, I said, 'Yes, yes I will' and I meant it with all my heart.” Then she continued, “I am so glad that you called, because I couldn't remember who had asked me.”


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


A man was telling his neighbor in Trailer Estates, “I just bought a new hearing aid. It cost me four thousand dollars, but it's state of the art. It's perfect.”

“Really,” answered the neighbor. “What kind is it?”

“Twelve thirty.”


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Morris, an 82 year-old man, went to the doctor at The Trailer Estates Medical Clinic to get a physical. A few days later the doctor saw Morris walking down the street with a gorgeous young woman on his arm.

A couple of days later the doctor spoke to Morris and said, “You're really doing great, aren't you?”

“Just doing what you said, Doc: 'Get a hot mamma and be cheerful,'“ Morris replied.

To which doctor said, “I didn't say that, Morris. I said, 'You've got a heart murmur. Be careful!'“


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


A little old man shuffled slowly into the “Orange Dipper,” an ice cream parlor in Trailer Estates, and pulled himself slowly, painfully, up onto a stool.

After catching his breath he ordered a banana split.

The waitress asked kindly, “Crushed nuts?”

“No,” he replied, “arthritis.”


Reality and the Wonders of Conscious Matter

Randy Bittle


A select few ancient Greek individuals were first to speculate about the fundamental principles of reality.  Questions about what the world is made of, the differences between material and immaterial substances, and the role of reason and logic in effective thinking all were considered by Greeks like Thales, Anaximander, Anaxagoras, Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.  Several other noted Greeks wondered what reality consists of during the 175-year period between Thales, the first philosopher, and Aristotle, who began as a student of Plato.

By Aristotle’s time, around the middle of the fourth century BC, the best guess was that the world consisted of four elements: earth, water, air, and fire.  These four fundamental elements were thought to combine in various ways to make everything under the sun.  Aristotle added a fifth element, quintessence, to account for celestial reality.  I mention the ancient Greeks because they initiated the human quest to understand reality, and we owe them a debt of gratitude.  They started the processes of comprehending reality leading eventually to modern concepts of reality 2600 years later.

Today, early in the twenty-first century AD, fundamental human understanding of reality is based upon the physics of atoms, the chemistry of molecules, the biology of cells, and the neuroscience of thoughts and feelings.  We can add sociology, economic theory, and political science to the four basics just mentioned in order to better understand collective human behaviors.  These three sciences of collective human behaviors, plus the neuroscience of thoughts and feelings, are not as precise or as well understood as the three basic components of physical reality: physics of atoms, chemistry of molecules, and biology of cells.

Note that the three basics are concentric, building one upon another.  The inner workings of atoms describe physical reality at the foundational level.  Chemistry describes the organization of atoms into molecules.  And finally, biology describes the organization of complex molecules of atoms into living cellular structures.  These three sciences, physics, chemistry, and biology, are aspects of reality that are true for everybody.  I guess belief in them is optional, due to the human nature of belief and understanding regarding things that cannot be seen.  But not believing in atoms, molecules, and cells would constitute a pretty radical departure from modern understanding of reality.  I personally choose to believe in the truth of their existence and knowledge of their integrated properties.

The reason belief is involved in understanding physics, chemistry, and biology is because atoms, molecules, and cells cannot be seen with the unaided eye.  In fact, magnification cannot visually reveal atoms or simple molecules.  Educated people assume they exist based upon indirect evidence gained from instruments that measure quantities too small to observe without technological assistance.  From experimental evidence, humans have learned that stable atoms are made of quarks and electrons.  Quarks make up the nucleus about which electrons orbit to form a stable atom.

You may be familiar with protons and neutrons as the constituents of atomic nuclei.  This is true, but experimental evidence as well as rigorous theoretical mathematics show that both protons and neutrons are made of quarks.  Therefore everything you see, from marshmallows to cell phones to glass windows to people, anything you can think of, is ultimately made of quarks and electrons configured in accordance with the laws of atomic physics, rules of molecular chemistry, and for living things, rules governing cellular biology.  I am fascinated by the fact that all stable matter consists of only quarks and electrons.  I understand fundamental reality in a way that the ancient Greeks could only dream about.

Even more remarkable than people consisting entirely of quarks and electrons is that humans are conscious.  People are conscious matter capable of understanding the physical reality of the composition of their existence.  I say capable of understanding because not every person understands reality in terms of the physics, chemistry, and biology that describes physical reality.  But the capacity for understanding is there.  Ironically, consciousness does not consist of quarks and electrons like all regular stable matter.  Consciousness is an emergent electrochemical effect resulting from the interaction of quarks and electrons combined to form atoms combined to form molecules combined to form cells inside the brain.

Consciousness is electrochemical fluctuations rippling through the atomic, molecular, and cellular structure of the physical brain.  I like to think of it as mental mind in a physical brain.  This mental mind is much harder to understand than the interactions of quarks and electrons in the physical brain that houses the fluctuating mental conscious activity of thoughts and feelings.  The conscious mind is central to our understanding of reality because it is the mind that produces the framework and essence of understanding.  It is a perplexing paradox that the mental mind, which is a necessary component of any human understanding of reality, is itself so very difficult to understand and all too often subject to errors in judgement and distorted appraisals of reality.

Neuroscience cannot yet fully explain the nature of conscious experience with the precision that the laws of physics explain atoms, the rules of chemistry explain molecules, and the rules of biology explain cellular activity of living organisms.  Although the mental mind excels at constructing narratives generating meaning from sensory inputs, the conscious meanings generated sometimes bear little resemblance to true reality.  This is why I developed my theory of realativity and wrote about it in the June issue of this magazine in an essay titled “Real-ativity.”  Perceived reality differs from person to person, and there is little we can do about it, except strive to share our conscious experience with others through language and emotional cues.

Try to persuade others that your understanding of reality is correct.  Whether it is actually correct or not is sometimes not verifiable, but that shouldn’t stop you from sharing your thoughts.  Keep an open mind because you might find another person’s shared perception of reality may change your perspective and understanding.  And remember, physics, chemistry, and biology offer truths about reality that false opinions and misunderstandings will not change.  You can choose not to believe in atoms, molecules, and cells, but that will not mean they don’t exist.  It would just mean you do not personally understand these independently true aspects of reality.


My Ham Shack in an Armoire – The Prequel

Reality by Howard A. Goodman, N4KYW


I built my current ham radio station into an armoire located in a spare bedroom on the second floor of our townhome. The black armoire contained no clothing or other items, so I was free to do with it what I pleased. My wife appreciated the concept of my ham shack being inside of an armoire, because when I was not on the air I (or she) could simply shut the pair of front doors and my ham shack would transform back into a respectable piece of furniture.

For clarity I should mention, my collection of ham radio equipment is not sprawling—two mobile style transceivers, a QRP (low power) CW (Morse code) transmitter, a shared 12 Volt DC, 12-Amp power supply, and one small 6-meter AM tube-type  “boat anchor,” a relic from the 1960s. Since the bottom shelf was more or less at waist level, I added drawer slides to render that shelf into a pull-out desk. And near the bottom there were several drawers to hold books, tools, and other ancillary items. I was quite proud of my creation. Yet, at the same moment I was reminded this was not the first time I attempted to pursue an armoire conversion.

That time occurred in the spring of 1958. I was busy studying for my Novice license and was looking for something cheap, yet respectable, that I could turn into a home for my ham radio equipment. I wanted something more than an open desk; I already had one of those, a place to do my homework. My opportunity arrived suddenly, when my mom announced that she and my dad were in the market for a new bedroom set. Apparently their current suit, born in the 1930s or ‘40s, had fallen out of favor, style-wise. But it did include one piece that caught and riveted my attention.

To me, a beautiful, timeless mahogany armoire, with a flip-down secretary, no less. Immediately, I began to plan for acquiring it as a home for my ham shack. I measured this, assessed that, began to search for a transmitter that would fit nicely on a shelf inside the narrow but full-length compartment for hanging clothing. I had already concluded my Hallicrafter’s SX-99 general coverage communications receiver would fit nicely in the rear of the secretary section. Yet in my planning I overlooked a rather essential aspect.

Looking back, I now realize I should have first asked for permission to acquire the armoire instead of just assuming it would become mine. When I finally did ask my mother if I could have it, she turned me down. I don’t recall her exact words, nor her reasoning. You see, my mother had this patented way of anesthetizing you before delivering bad or negative news. So I went on for many years, decades, believing that my mother simply didn’t want me to have it.

Only recently, while re-purposing my black armoire into a ham shack did it occur to me that there could have been a more plausible reason for my mother’s decision lurking within the shadows of time. Sure enough, the following scenario surfaced. It was quite likely my mother didn’t want the armoire to be separated from the rest of the old bedroom suit for fear that she and my dad would not receive nearly as much money as they were expecting when they sold it. Even more significant was my suspicion that my mom and dad desperately needed that money to offset the cost of their new bedroom suit. For all I know they may have purchased the new bedroom suit on credit at a time when credit cards had yet to be conceived.

Stated another way, throughout my entire childhood my mom did an exceptional job of hiding from my brother and me the fact that we were, during much of that period, poor.



Remember Mercy

Diana Goldsmith


Living for the last five months in fear of an unseen enemy who has managed to infect the whole known world is something I never dreamt of and perhaps would seem to be more the stuff of a nightmare!

However as a child born just after the last World War would I have considered a world where one can change one's sex, marry someone of the same sex, have children by surrogacy.

Where in some countries the state will send you to be "re- educated" if you practice the wrong religion, a euphemism for brainwashing. Or where the state deems it acceptable to kill foetuses by practising abortions but trying their hardest to keep very premature babies alive. The difference being on the terminology of when a foetus becomes a baby!

Or as Eve found out in the Garden of Eden that the fruit from the tree was good to eat. However she soon found out she wasn't satisfied and man has ever since been unsuccessfully searching for things to satisfy his desires.

Reading the book of the prophet Habbakuk showed me how it's okay to complain and to question our God as to why He has allowed certain things. Perhaps now more than ever in these unprecedented times.

I read the three chapters a few times and came up with my paraphrase of the book:-

Remember Mercy


First complaint Are you listening?

I have been crying out for help

Are you listening, Lord? I see only evil.

Why must I watch all this misery.

I see only destruction and violence!

The innocent suffering

The babies going hungry as their mother's helplessly look on shedding silent tears!

The young being violated and sold for others pleasure.

There is no justice

and the law is corrupted!

Are you listening, Lord?

The Lord replies I am listening.

Look at what I am doing.

I am raising a people who are greater than you have known.

Who are bent on violence.

They will destroy all in their path

And their strength is their god!


I Cry Out a Second Time in Complaint


Surely you will not destroy us!

You raise nations to punish us for our sins not to utterly destroy us!

Is it right that you watch

while we are caught like fish in nets.

And they glory in their destructive forces.

I want to see how the Lord will answer my complaint now! I wait.


Now He Speaks!


Write my answer down clearly Send it with a messenger to All, even to those not yet born. It is a message for all people.

See the proud who trust in themselves!

But whose lives are crooked.

Wealth will not satisfy and the arrogant know no peace!

Those who get rich by extortion

Will be be brought down by those they ripped off.

You yourselves will be plundered.

Those who have built an empire on dishonest gain will find no peace

I, the Lord of Heaven's armies have promised!


All the earth will be filled with an awareness

Of the glory of the Lord!

All the gods and idols made by man are lifeless

All the earth will be silent before me

Now I Sing a Prayer in Reply


I have heard all about you Lord

I am filled with awe at all you are doing.

 At this time of our deep need.

As you did before help us,

and in your anger remember mercy!


I see you Lord moving across the world In power with glory as a glorious robe.

Your coming will be as brilliant as the sunrise

As you walk, the earth will tremble.

Why did you part the sea?

Were you angry?

No. You sent salvation to your people.

You who has stopped the earth

In its rotation.

You who rescued your chosen people and saved them

As the cities lay in ruins and though

There is no food to eat as the crops have been destroyed.

The fields lay empty and barren.

The cattle and sheep have long gone

Yet, yes, yet will I rejoice in the Lord?

I will rejoice in the God of my salvation!

For in anger you remembered mercy!



Good Friends

Marry Williamson


Bob and Tom were friends and had been for nigh on seventy years. They had met on their first day at primary school and had both left school at sixteen to work on the railways. They had courted and married in the same year. They each had a son and a daughter and had pretty much lived parallel lives. They had never fallen out and were in perfect harmony with each other. Not so much their wives. Although they were also lifelong friends there was often friction between them. Mainly to do with the children. Each maintained their kids were cleverer, prettier and more successful than the others.  These tiffs, however, never lasted long and both Bob and Tom had learned over the years to ignore them. The children called the other’s parents Uncle and Aunt and were comfortable in each other’s houses.

Now Bob and Tom were in their late seventies, retired from the railways and drawing their pensions. Both were widowers, their wives having passed away in the same year. Bob’s wife left him with Tilly, her cat.  Bob had never been particular fond of Tilly but was quite happy to look after her. The children had suggested that Bob and Tom move into an old people’s home together but they had dug in their heels and stayed independent in their own homes. They had each bought a tablet and attended the ‘silver surfer’ classes that were given free of charge by Age Concern in their local library. They had learned to ‘face time’ each other and took great delight in playing scrabble on line. They also passed the time doing woodwork and learning to draw and paint at their local adult education centre. They had even joined the cookery classes and learned to cook up a mean beef chilli and spaghetti bolognese. In short, they had never been so busy. On Tuesdays they met in the park if it was a nice day or in the cafe in the High Street if not. On Thursdays the cafe did a half price breakfast and Bob and Tom met for that at 09.30 each week. The lady in the cafe always kept the table in the window for them.  On Fridays they met in the Rose and Crown for a pint.  The weeks rolled by. One day over their pint in the pub they realised with a shock that both would be eighty soon.

“Where has the time gone?”

After their second pint they started to speculate who would go shuffling off the mortal coil first.

“Look”, Tom said, “whoever goes first must give the other a sign that he is bowing out”.

Bob was not sure. “How would you do that?” he asked.

“Oh”, Tom said “we would find a way”.

Over the weeks they both forgot this conversation.

One early morning at 04.35 Bob was woken by an almighty noise. It sounded as if something heavy had fallen over in the lounge. He dragged himself out of bed and struggled downstairs, cursing Tilly.  What had she done now?  She was prone to wander in and out of the garden during the night and sometimes the sound of the cat flap woke him. But this sounded louder than that. As he got to the lounge at first he could not open the door. It needed a good shove and something shifted behind the door. As he got in he saw the picture of Lyme Regis had fallen off the wall and was wedged behind the door. He had bought that picture one summer when the four of them were in Lyme on holiday.

As they had walked past a pie shop they had seen the sign over the door by the side of the shop that said: ‘Art Gallery upstairs. Come and have a look’.

As the wives walked on to the fossil shop that also sold jewellery Tom and Bob had climbed the steep stairs to the Gallery.

The first thing they saw when they were upstairs was the picture. Bob had instantly fallen in love with it. Now here it lay. The glass was broken and the frame warped.  Tilly was cowering under the sofa, her eyes wild and panicky. As soon as she saw him she shot out from under the sofa and through the door.

He heard the cat flap. “Oh yes”, he thought, “you split, Tilly, and leave me to clear up the mess. How did you do this anyway?”

He thought she must have jumped up at the picture but for the life of him he could not think why. Also, it was strange that the picture ended up propped up against the door at the opposite side of the room. In addition he was pretty sure that he had not closed the door. He always left it open for Tilly so she could come and go. The only thing he could think of was that he had closed the door absentmindedly last night and Tilly got trapped and panicked. He cleared up the glass and went back upstairs shaking his head and cursing Tilly.

The next morning at ten o’clock the phone rang.  It was Tom’s daughter with bad news.  She had got worried when she phoned her father at nine and got no reply. As it was a Wednesday she knew he was not meeting Bob and had to be at home. She had driven over and found him dead in bed. Massive heart attack the doctor said. He would have died at once and would not have known anything. Bob slowly put the phone down. He found it difficult to process the news. Only later in the day he remembered something. He phoned Tom’s daughter and asked what time Tom had died. “Doctor thought sometime in the early morning. He was not sure precisely what time”. Bob knew, though. 04.35 precisely. He never told anybody. That remained a secret between him and Tom.



Species Extinction Matters Because

Danisha Kerr


That was as far as I got. What is so important about a species anyway? Why should I care if the blue-tailed spotted hummingbird goes extinct? There are more than enough problems in the world without trying to protect some pathetic unknown critter. I quickly scribbled down an answer. “Species extinction matters because the more that die the fewer we can worry about.”

Thirty five years later and that question still clings to me. It's true; what I put. If a species dies out; we can't do any more for it, and our attention quickly drifts to something new; something more exciting. Away from useless creatures and towards real issues that matter. That’s why I dedicated my life to the Anthropocentrists. Don’t get me wrong- I get the whole ‘every species relies on another for survival and if we kill the greater horned moth all humans will die’ thing. What the people conveniently fail to remember is that we have developed. Upgraded. Maybe in the past we relied on bees for pollination or cows for milk. Nowadays, we can synthesise the exact same products and processes- and the result is normally healthier or less polluting. The truth is, there is no need for creatures anymore. They have outstayed their welcome and it's time for them to move on. The Anthropocentrists are just catalysing the process. Call us terrorists of the natural world; but I knew we were doing you a favour. All of this was for you. It still is.

Even now, when I am utterly powerless, I curse my stupidity; my unwillingness to respond or even acknowledge the truth. I ought to explain. I had a simple yet vital role in all this. Anyone could have done it in their back yard. We used a virus- a specially enhanced one that recognizes certain DNA and attacks it. It was perfect. We would program it; release it and wait for the death of another species to be announced on the news. It was fool proof. Untraceable. Each time we got a bit bolder; a bit more daring. We moved onto larger and more socially acclaimed animals with each success. Soon iconic animals like bears, chimpanzees or eagles were decimated. Terrible things, viruses. Unavoidable, and incurable. Such a shame. The results were not immediate- far from it. Many species resisted for a while; but all were eventually annihilated. Our entire downfall was due to one mistake. One so insignificant that it was overlooked without a backward glance.

What I didn’t appreciate, in my ignorant world of success and self-fulfilment, is that we too, are a species. Homo sapiens to be precise. 98.8% of our superior DNA is indistinguishable from apes. And it doesn’t take much for a virus to mutate. The disregarded viruses modified; under our radar and under anyone else's. We camouflaged it too well. And now it is coming for us.

Species extinction matters because I didn’t really know the answer back then. Now I never will.



The use of travelling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are. Samuel Johnson


My Environmental Journey Continued

Carol A. Rados


These are things that I have done since my article in the August RPG digest.

Best Buy accepted my charging cords that no longer work for recycling there.

Food Lion have recycling bins that include plastic, metal and glass containers.  Yes!  I can put my glass there.  They also have a bin for paper.  I will take my mixed paper there.  I am so glad I found someone in my community that recycles these items.

I am saving plastic for the RAW program.  I emailed them and they came by my house and picked up the plastic that I left for them near my curb.

My dish soap bar did not work out.  I now use Method dish soap because the bottle is made from 100% recycled plastic and the cleaners are plant based.  I found a similar product at Lidel.  I may try theirs later.

Maple syrup in a glass container was found at Lidel.

Publix asks that we remove the Zipper from Zip Lock bags before putting them in recycling there.

Recycling tasks were done.  I took mixed paper and plastic bags to Food Lion.  I took Styrofoam to Publix.  I took printer cartridges to Office Depot.  I took things to the Salvation Army.  I admit that I used gas for these tasks.  It would be better for the environment if I take the recycling when I shop.

An article that I recently read suggested that using a vacuum with a filter helped remove microplastic from our personal and home space.  The article agreed that we need to keep plastic out of our dishwashers. 

As I look at my closet, I observe that I have about 1/3 garments that are made of cotton or linen and the rest are made of synthetic fibers.  I never wash synthetic items in hot water.  Cold water is best.

Mighty Nest was a resource for toothpaste packaged in a glass jar.  I am going to give it a try.

“Inconspicuous Consumption, the environmental impact you don’t know you have” by Tatiana Schlossberg is a book that I am currently reading.  It is a difficult read for me.  I have to take in a few pages at a time.

Thank you for letting me share my environmental journey.


September 2020 Monthly Horoscope


Aries (Mar. 21 – Apr. 20) As September 2020 begins the Moon is passing through fiery Aries. This gives you lots of energy to start new things and express yourself creatively. The bad news is that Mercury has stationed (appears to have stopped moving) in your house of creativity, temporarily frustrating the flow of that energy. While this won’t last very long at all, it will give you a perspective on how you sometimes use your emotions. This is a great time to learn more about surrender and to synchronize with the timing of the Universe. This will be a very important lesson at mid-month when Sun and Mars (two powerful planets for Aries) conjoin in your sixth house of ambition and life direction. In advance of this period take the time to feel passionately about what you’d like to manifest in your life.


 Taurus (Apr. 20 – May 21) Venus is the ruler of your Sun sign and therefore a powerful planet for you this month. As the month begins she is located alongside Saturn in your third house. This will be an important time for third house matters particularly communication, writing and business. Saturn’s placement here allows us to look at motivation in these areas. What would you like to communicate or accomplish? Where do you hold back in these areas and how can you change that? Venus will enter your fourth house of home and nurturing on the 7th and remain there until October 4th. Use this period for home improvement and getting closer to the family. Give special attention to the children. The energies of romance and creativity are in the air.


Gemini (May 21 – Jun. 21) The emphasis this month is on fourth house affairs: home, family and your emotional self. Things may feel just a bit overwhelming in the first half of the month. Challenges appear on the 9th as karma revealing Pluto in your house of relationship squares Mars in the fourth house. The Sun and Mars conjunct in your fourth house on September 14th providing an opportunity for breakthrough or meltdown. This is a time to nurture yourself, sort out relationship needs sensitively and be with the family. There may be deeper, nagging questions about career and life direction that are at the heart of your frustration. What do you need in this regard? It’s time to be really honest with yourself so you can achieve the fulfilment you deserve.


Cancer (Jun. 21 – Jul. 22) Saturn’s “Who am I?” transit of your Sun sign gets an energetic, creative bounce from the Sun, Mars and Jupiter moving through your third house of mind, communication and business. Your mind is fertile and active and can help you out of a creative rut. The enlightenment or attitude adjustments near the 9th can be turned into action in the second half of the month. September offers great opportunities to make new friends, promote yourself, advertise your business or create an internet presence.


Leo (Jul. 22 – Aug. 22) You feel creatively fertile, ready to give birth to some new talent or aspect of who you are. This is a good time for precisely that as doors are opening in your job or your career field. Don’t let your anxiousness get the best of you early in the month. Pay close attention to family and home needs so that they receive appropriate and conscious attention. Finances should be doing well but avoid increasing your debt load without due consideration. Better to save up for bigger and better things ahead.


Virgo (Aug. 22 – Sept. 22) Happy Birthday! What a powerful month astrologically! The planets that rule the three fire signs are all transiting through Virgo near your natal Sun. Also, Mercury, the ruler of Virgo, enters your sign on the 10th. Finally, a New Moon, auspicious for new beginnings, takes place on the 14th, conjunct benevolent, expansive Jupiter. This will be a good test for you. You are burning with inspiration, ambition and likely yearning for a new sense of direction. It’s time to re-balance that rational, analytical part of you with your feeling, heart and passion for life. It simply won’t suffice to plan things out in your usual methodical manner. You are going to have to feel this energy of possibility palpably with your body. It is a resonance, a frequency of vibration, which you have to nurse, nurture and grow. Feel the power of your passion for life. Your passion represents your sense of Knowing and Truth about who you are and why you are here. The ‘plan’ you are always needing will reveal itself. Trust yourself and the Universe. Being in control is vastly overrated. Jupiter leaves Virgo on the 24th and won’t return until 2021 so seize the day!

Libra (Sept. 22 – Oct. 22) Venus and Saturn, Libra’s two biggest planetary allies, begin the month conjunct one another in your house of career, status and responsibility. This suggests that the energies of change in these areas – energies set in motion last February and March – are moving toward resolution in the next six to eight weeks. Use this time to ‘lighten up’ with your sense of over-responsibility. If you can’t love your work, then try to work with love. Take the pressure off of yourself wherever you can. Do things around the home to make you feel more cosy and special. Your perceptions of yourself and what you value are changing. Enjoy the ride. Finances can show improvement at the end of the month just in time to buy yourself the birthday present you really deserve.


Scorpio (Oct. 22 – Nov. 21) You may find the first days of September 2019 a bit like slogging through mud that’s up to your hips. Pluto, the ruler of Scorpio, and Mercury have just switched from retrograde to direct motion. Use the first week in September to inventory and integrate Pluto’s second house lessons (talents, self-esteem and what you value) which came in during the April to August period of retrogradation. By the 11th your focus will have shifted to eleventh house affairs where Sun, Mars, Mercury and Jupiter will be congregating. The eleventh house is the house of friends, networking, promoting oneself, ones ideal, long-term goals and money generated from career. There is lots of energy available so pay particular attention to these areas of your life. Get a good grasp on your idealism and expectations so you don’t torpedo the potentially powerful results. You simply can not change other people. Change the lens through which you view them by adjusting your beliefs about yourself. There is a big ‘ah-ha’ to be found in reading or studying higher teachings that you are drawn to.


Sagittarius (Nov. 21 – Dec. 21) Your usual optimism may be a bit challenged when the month begins as Chiron, Neptune and Uranus – all retrograde – are lined up in your second, third and fourth houses which represent your fundamental values, thoughts, beliefs and feelings. There are some deep issues percolating which require your awareness. Your inspiration and motivation will be piqued soon enough, however. On September 14th there is a New Moon taking place conjunct transiting Jupiter who is the powerful ruler of your Sun sign. On the 15th Sun and Mars are conjunct. These two potent events both take place in your tenth house of career, status and responsibility. The portal is open if you would like to do some healing or service-related work. This is the time for you to dream things as they could be and say ‘Why not?’ What’s in the stars for you in 2021?


Capricorn (Dec. 21 – Jan. 20) The Moon in fiery Aries provides motivation at the beginning of the month and pulls us out of the disorienting effects of Mercury, Chiron, Uranus and Neptune retrograde. A lot of energy can be focused on relationship opportunity. That can mean a chance for romance for those who are actively seeking. For others, it signifies focusing on existing relationships and what they are telling you. Don’t overlook the lessons here. You would do well to be more honest about what you need and your vision for the two of you. Your thoughts would be welcomed. Opportunities for creative expression are at a peak this month. Let your creative talents fly. There is also a great deal of inspiration to be gained from ninth house affairs, travel or higher teachings. Visit your teacher, take a workshop or read a book that will help you to shift your perception.


Aquarius (Jan. 20 – Feb. 19) Saturn’s transit of your sixth house has you focusing a lot these days on your goals and life direction. Even though the last few weeks have made things as clear as mud, don’t sweat it. The transformative power of the Sun, Mars and Jupiter in your eighth house of change may be very revealing. 14th and 15th will crystallize many things for you. Consider pending possibilities carefully. If you are the overly idealistic ivory tower type of Aquarius, it is time to get your heart and feelings out of cold storage! You are a great catalytic agent for change and reform so don’t keep it to yourself. Synergy is the secret to being a happy Water Bearer. Give the healing waters of the gods away to whoever will receive from you and you will be always happy. The 24th and 25th are green light days for you to take action.


Pisces (Feb. 19 – Mar. 21) Saturn transits through the later degrees of your house of creative self-expression. Your creative energies are looking for just the right avenue for expression. Don’t rush the process; take your time to find what feels right for you. Saturn tells you to go within and find the muse or motivation that suits the new you. Transiting Sun, Mars and Jupiter oppose your natal Sun making relationships fertile ground for challenges, especially mid-September 2020. There are likely some matters that have been left hanging that require discussion. Clarify with your partner what works for you and what does not and what is negotiable. You have let the ball be in ‘their’ court long enough this lifetime. If you feel in a rut socially, some new, stimulating, supportive friendships may be in order. You are flexing your spiritual muscles now. Have faith in yourself.

Courtesy of Yearly Horoscope.org


Hammer Spade and the Four Horsemen


Chapter Nineteen


An hour before sunset, Cheriet pulled off the road to give everybody a stretch break and decide where to make camp. Nisreeno tugged on Jim’s arm to get his attention and whispered something to him.

“Nisreeno says there’s a small oasis with a well of good water about three kilometers ahead,” Jim told the rest. “She said to turn left at the twin peaks and take the track between them.”

Dave and Cheriet were impressed.

Cheriet followed Nisreeno’s directions to an idyllic little patch of green about the size of a football field. The well turned out to be a round hole in the ground. If you were alone and fell in, you would never get out. They saw water sparkle when they looked down into it. Nisreeno scrambled behind some bushes around a tall date palm and produced a bucket on a rope. Soon they were drinking fresh, cool, clear water.

Cheriet unloaded the stove and the pot, set them up in the shade and built a fire from palm leaves. Nisreeno filled the pot with water while Dave and Jim unloaded sleeping bags, cots and a case of MREs.

Jeff stayed alone on the truck looking sullenly into the distance, refusing to help.

Soon they had hot water for coffee and to heat their meals. Jim opened the case to offer Nisreeno her choice.

After dinner, Nisreeno got a towel and washcloth, dipped a bucket of warm water from the pot and walked behind a big boulder for privacy.

“She knows what’s what,” Dave observed.

A few minutes later, she returned looking freshly scrubbed.

She stopped in front of Jim. “I am clean for my husband,” she said with a shy smile.

When they discussed the watch schedule, Nisreeno surprised them by offering to take a watch.

“Which would you prefer?” Dave asked.

“The last one,” she replied. “I can start breakfast.”

“We must be armed,” Dave said, nodding his head toward Jeff.

“I am proficient with firearms,” she replied. “He must be watched like a hawk.”

Wow! Dave thought. Jim had a wife who would protect him!

When night began to fall, Dave put out the fire. Nisreeno struggled to set up her cot. Jim wouldn’t notice that she needed help. Dave became exasperated and helped her. He showed her how to set it up and placed her cot right beside Jim’s. Then he handed her the sleeping bag Cleopatra had used, and showed her how to open and close it.

Soon Dave was on watch, Cheriet was already snoring. Jim and Nisreeno were snuggled inside their separate sleeping bags.

“What do American women call their husbands?” Nisreeno asked Jim.

“By their first names.”

“What is your first name?” she asked.


She was quiet for a while before she said, “James is a good name. It is a strong name. The brother of Jesus, the Christian Messiah, was named James. He was a very strong man.”

Jim grunted.

“Dave calls you ‘Jim’,” she said. “What is ‘Jim’?”

“It’s my nickname.”

“So your wife should call you James and your friends call you Jim?”

“You can call me Jim, too,” he replied. “It’s okay.”

“What is okay?”

“It means it’s alright to call me Jim.”

“Okay, Jim,” she replied, emphasizing k in okay and the m in Jim.

By then Dave had difficulty controlling his laughter.

“Nisreeno, could I go to sleep?” Jim asked. “It’s been a hard day.”

“Am I annoying my new husband?” she asked.

“Yeah,” Jim replied.

“I do not wish to annoy my new husband. After I learn your ways, I will not annoy you.”

“Just be quiet and go to sleep,” Jim said firmly.

“I will be quiet, Jim,” she said with the strong m. “I am too excited about my new husband to sleep.”

“Being quiet is good enough, Nisreeno.”

“Okay, Jim,” she replied with a strong k and m.

Dave burst out laughing.

“What’s with you, Dave?” Jim asked.

“She is gonna be the toast of the town in New Bern, North Carolina,” Dave replied between guffaws.

“What is ‘toast of the town’?” Nisreeno asked.

Jim didn’t answer and Dave kept laughing.



At light the next morning, Nisreeno had a fire going, coffee brewing and was cooking flatbread on a rock.

Jim came over to check her out.

“Good morning, Jim,” she said with the strong m.

“Good morning, Nisreeno.”

“How is my new husband this morning?”

“I feel a lot better than I did yesterday. Did you get any sleep?”

“Yes,” she said as she turned over a flatbread to brown on the other side.

“It smells good,” Jim said approvingly.

Dave came up. “How’re the newlyweds today?”

“We are okay,” Nisreeno replied with the strong k.

Dave smiled at her reply. “Smells good,” he said, watching her move the cooked flatbread onto another flat rock farther from the fire and put another on the hot rock. “Quite an operation.”

When the last flatbread was done, Nisreeno moved it to the warm stone and produced five eggs, which she cooked one at a time. When each egg was done, she flipped it onto a piece of flatbread, rolled it up and handed the first one to Jim, the next to Dave. Cheriet arrived in time for number three.

Dave called to Jeff. “Do you want a hot breakfast?”

“I haven’t finished the MRE from yesterday.”

“The new bride has done you a favor and fixed you a hot breakfast. Do you want it?”

Jeff sailed off the back of the truck, where he had spent the night, and came to the fire. When Nisreeno handed him his rolled flatbread and egg, he thanked her. She offered the last one to Jim, but he shook his head, knowing it was hers.

They were getting along better, Dave thought as he watched her clean up, douse the fire and fill everybody’s canteen with cool well water. He noticed that she had already folded her sleeping bag and cot. In addition, her hair was brushed and her face was freshly scrubbed. Jim seemed to be looking at her in a slightly new light. Maybe Cleopatra’s advice had been on the mark.



They were packed and on the track by eight. It was a grueling day in the hot sun, riding over a rough track where the truck was in four-wheel-drive most of the day. That night they stopped at the oasis where they had camped on the way in. A party of tourists had already chosen the best spot.

Jim had spent part of the day in back with Nisreeno and that night, he helped her set up her cot.

Cheriet told Dave how expertly Nisreeno handled the AK-47. She already knew how to check to see if it was loaded and she checked the magazine before she let him go to sleep.

“We are safe with her on guard,” he said.

“She’s quite a gal,” Dave remarked.

“Jim thinks she is a simple tribal girl. He does not know how much of a woman she is,” Cheriet said. “He thinks because she grew up in a remote desert village that she is not a modern girl. He will be surprised after we get to Tamanghasset.”

“What do you mean?” Dave asked.

“Her family is prominent. Her father owns a chalet in the ritziest part of Switzerland.”

“Is that so?”


Dave didn’t feel sorry for Jim any more.

After dinner, when Dave was on first watch, he saw Jim and Nisreeno facing each other on separate cots and talking. The full moon came up. The surreal, desolate landscape resembled an alien planet. He thought about the strange fate that threw this man and woman together. It was hard to imagine two people with more diverse backgrounds. They were like two beings from different planets. Even their personalities were different. Jim was a phlegmatic loner, with a caustic wit, who was prone to alienate people by wearing his competitive nature on his sleeve. Nisreeno was a vibrant, upbeat, witty, good-natured girl with a penchant for mischief making. In addition, she was very clever and she knew more of the world and the essence of life than she revealed. Dave thought she might not be as innocent as she seemed. The blood of her uncle flowed in her veins. It would be hard to fool her.

Dave watched them say goodnight and Jim turn away from her to go to sleep. Why didn’t the fool kiss her!




Chapter Twenty


They stopped a few miles outside Tamanghasset to stretch their legs, settle up with Cheriet, sort through everything and figure out what to do with the things they acquired, but didn’t use. Nisreeno and Jim walked away from the truck to be alone.

While Dave and Cheriet were occupied, Jeff slipped off the truck, moved stealthily to the side away from them and pulled one of the AKs out of the truck bed, slung it over his shoulder and quietly stole away.

“You want the MREs?” Dave asked.

“No, but I can sell them at the market,” Cheriet replied.

“How about the AKs?”

“I’ll take them and the ammunition.”

“How much was the truck rent?”

“Five-hundred and fifty American dollars.”

“Plus we owe you one-hundred a day for eleven days and your part for returning our gear.”


“There’s no way a taxi can haul Nisreeno’s eleven suitcases to the airport so we need you to pick them up tomorrow and take us to the airport.”

“I will meet you at the hotel two hours before your flight leaves.”

“Better make that two and a half hours. I don’t know how quick Nisreeno gets ready.”

Cheriet laughed. “Be prepared for a huge surprise tomorrow,” he reminded Dave.

“The way I see it, we owe you $2,650 in cash. Suppose we give you the rifles, ammo and MREs for hauling Nisreeno’s luggage to the airport.”

“That is fair,” Cheriet replied. “I would have done it for nothing just to see your expressions tomorrow morning.”

“Then we’ll forgive you for sticking us in the cave to die,” Dave said with a grin.

“I humbly apologize for that misdeed. I am glad that you got out, but for the life of me, I cannot figure out how you escaped.”

“You wouldn’t believe it if I told you.”

“I have seen many strange things in my life.”

“Nothing could have been as strange as that was.”

Nisreeno came to them to say that Jeff was missing.

“I bet he stole something and took off,” Jim said as he climbed into the back of the truck.

“One of the AKs is gone,” he said after checking.

“I didn’t figure he’d steal the MREs,” Dave mumbled. “Does this mess up our deal?” Dave asked Cheriet.

“No, it is not much. Besides, we may find him dead beside the road on the way to Tamanghasset.”

“Did he take any ammo?” Dave shouted.

“Naw, and he didn’t take any magazines either.”

“To think Cleopatra traded her freedom for his,” Cheriet mused philosophically. “What a sorry trade.”



Cheriet dropped them off at the L'Hotel Tahat a Tam where they took three rooms, one for Dave and Jim, one for Nisreeno and the one beside it for her luggage. After they were reminded how dingy the place was, they wished they had camped in the desert.

They met for dinner in the hotel restaurant, and wished again they had camped out. Nisreeno was quiet while they ate, excused herself early and went to her room.

“Why don’t you stay with her tonight?” Dave asked Jim.

Jim didn’t reply.

“Give it a try. She’s your wife according to them. Cheriet told me that she comes from a prominent family. Cleopatra was right when she said you ought to try to make this work.”

“I thought about it, but I just can’t.”

“Why not? She’s very pretty. She has a good head on her shoulders, and she’s not too good to work when there’s work to be done. She’s devoted to you, and she will be until she dies. You won’t find many women these days you can say that about.”

“Shut up and leave me alone!” Jim replied testily.



The next morning, Dave, Jim and Cheriet waited outside by the truck for Nisreeno to appear. They were dressed in khaki trousers and open-neck golf shirts. Jim expected Nisreeno to wear slacks.

Dave hadn’t mentioned to Jim what Cheriet had said about expecting the unexpected and he was puzzled about what that meant.

Jim was about to complain that Nisreeno was late when she appeared in the doorway, a stunning vision in the glare of the morning sun. She looked like a Parisian model in a white, knee-length Chloe Milano knit dress, a navy blue Chloe cropped military jacket, matching navy Christian Louboutin leather high-heeled pumps and a navy Saffiano Fori shoulder bag.

Dave thought no woman had ever looked more beautiful than Nisreeno looked that morning.

The dark-eyed beauty came to Jim and asked, “My husband, do I look okay?” she said with the strong ‘k’.

“Sure,” he stammered staring open mouthed at the vision before him.

She slipped on a pair of designer sunglasses and said to Dave and Cheriet, “You may bring out the rest of my luggage.”

They rushed inside her room to comply while Jim stood mute before Nisreeno.

“See what I mean,” Cheriet said after they were inside her room.

“She’s the most beautiful woman I have ever seen,” Dave said.

“Everything she’s wearing is top of the line,” Cheriet said as he grabbed two heavy suitcases.

“She must be wearing five thousand dollars’ worth of clothes,” Dave replied as he grabbed two more.

“At least,” Cheriet replied.

“We look like tramps traveling with her.”

While they loaded her luggage onto the truck, Jim found his voice. “You’re very beautiful this morning, Nisreeno.”

“I made myself beautiful for you, my husband,” she said, looking into his eyes. “I want my husband to be proud that I am his wife.”

“I ought to help them with your suitcases,” Jim said, changing the subject.

“Let them do it,” she replied. “I prefer to stand in the morning sun beside my new husband.”

He could only repeat what he had already said. “You look beautiful.”

“I am beautiful just for you, but I am the same woman you won at the card game.” Then she reached into her purse and took out a wad of bills, counted out ten and handed them to him. “They will complain at the airport about how much luggage I have. Give the baggage handler this and he will not complain.”

“I’ve got money, Nisreeno. You don’t have to spend yours.”

“I do not mind. I have plenty of money.”

They made it to Airoport Tamanrasset without further incident and bade Cheriet farewell. The money smoothed their way through baggage check-in.

When they got to the waiting area, Dave picked up a local paper that another traveler left in the seat. There was a picture on the front page of a man with an AK-47 lying in a pool of blood on the floor of what looked like a bank. He handed it to Nisreeno.

“Isn’t that Jeff?” he asked.

She read the headline to them. “American gangster killed in bank robbery attempt.”

“How’d he do that?” Jim asked. “He didn’t have any ammo.”

Nisreeno read further and said, “Jeff didn’t know the gun was empty, but the bank teller did. He alerted the bank guard who shot Jeff on the spot.”

“Can’t say I’m surprised,” Dave mused. “He didn’t have much on the ball.”

Jim agreed. “He should never have left the U.S.”



Soon they were on their three-hour flight to Oran. Dave asked Nisreeno if she traveled much.

“Not since I graduated from college,” she replied.

“Where’d you go to school?” he asked.

“I received my grammar school education at a convent school for girls in France. I attended Surval Mont-Fleuri in Montreux, Switzerland, for secondary school and college.”

“So you spent most of your childhood away from home.” Dave said.

“Yes. I was miserable in school away from my family.”

“Do all the girls in your family attend those schools?” Jim asked.

“Yes, three of my cousins were in school the same time I was. It is a family tradition. We are a traditional people.”

“I’m surprised that you didn’t meet a boy you liked while you were in college,” Dave said.

“Surval Mont-Fleuri is a girl’s school.”

“What was the curriculum?” Jim asked.

“Normal academic subjects, plus French, German, English and Italian. It is also a finishing school for girls.”

“What’s a finishing school?” Dave asked.

“They taught us proper manners, how royalty should behave, how to walk, how to smile, how to use silver properly and how to converse with high-ranking people.”

“I noticed how graceful you are in heels,” Dave said.

“We spent many hours practicing how to be graceful.”

“You surprised us this morning. We had no idea how cosmopolitan you could look,” Dave said.

“Yes, I know. I dressed to impress my husband.”

Dave laughed. “You sure pulled that off.”

“I want my husband to love me.”

Dave wasn’t sure which kind of love she was referring to, so he let that one lie. He wondered if Jim, who was sitting in seat beside her, staring out the window, got the message.



School Days: What I Learned

Five Vignettes

Ruth A. Whitsel



At eight years old, in the third grade, Delores became my new friend.  A few times after school, I went with her to her home where her mother greeted us with warm, fresh-baked cookies.  Being a latch key kid, I envied that.  Perhaps it was the cookies that made me trust her.

One day after school, I told Delores a secret.  I don’t recall the secret, but I do remember telling her how important it was to keep it to herself.  She promised; crossed her heart, hoped to die; and talked about sticking a needle in her eye, if she ever told anyone.

The very next day after school I discovered that Delores had told!  I was furious!  When I confronted her and tried shaming her, she giggled and said, “So!  It doesn’t matter.  I can go to confession tomorrow.”  That was the end of my friendship with Delores.



My Philadelphia public school had a student population that was almost all white.  In our fourth grade class, there was one Black girl, whose name was Glenda.  One day while in the school yard talking with a classmate, Glenda came up to us with a handful of pretzels.  She offered one to each of us, very generous of her, given the scarcity of pretzels in the schoolyard.  My friend said “No,” but I accepted.  When Glenda walked away, my classmate looked at me, then at the pretzel, and said, “You aren’t going to eat that are you?”  I popped some into my mouth, smiled and said, “Why not?”



In sixth grade, Mr. Kealy was our teacher.  Most of us loved Mr. Kealy, therefore it was exceedingly painful when Mr. Kealy reprimanded us.

Fred Rule occupied the desk right behind mine.  I disliked Fred.  He had a sneer on his face, and his ears were dirty.  Maybe Fred knew that I could not tolerate him.

One afternoon, as Mr. Kealy was teaching in front of the class, Fred started intermittently pulling little jerks on my pigtails.  Each time I turned around and glared at him.  Then he put his dirty shoes on the skirt of my yellow cotton dress where it hung over the edge of my bench.  This time I turned and scolded him in a whisper.

Suddenly, Mr. Kealy said, “Ruth Ann, leave the room.”  I replied, “But he………”  Mr. Kealy interrupted me with,  ”I said, leave!”  For the rest of the afternoon I stood in the hallway outside of my classroom, enraged and humiliated.



The locker room, one of the social centers in our junior high school, was a place for greetings, morning conversations, after- school laughs from the day, essential gossip and plans for the weekend.  The boys’ and girls’ lockers lined opposite sides of a long, narrow aisle, divided by a wooden bench.  It was very important to know whose locker was nearby.

Unfortunately, the locker room remained off limits during the lunch hours.  For some reason, my friend June Schrey, and I had to get in there in order to get something out of our lockers.  We sneaked quietly down the empty hallway and quickly slipped through the doors. Just as we began to open our lockers….…..UH – OH!  In stomped the on - duty lunch period teacher.  After a stern reprimand, we were sent to Mr. Williams’ office.  He was the principal.  The man seemed okay from a distance, but this proximity was very new.

Both June and I were good students, and certainly had never been sent to the principal’s office.  We sat there in his outer office for hours, waiting, terrified, imagining what was going to happen to us.  Were we going to be suspended?  I pictured coming home and facing my mother with a suspension slip.  The wait was agony; the anxiety, excruciating.  Each time the bell rang to signal a change of classes, we were startled by the sound breaking through our silent anguish.

At 3:30 Mr. Williams called us into his office.  Surprisingly, he turned out to be rather kind, giving us a short lecture and sending us on our way.  Nothing happened.  Time had been the punishment.  Relieved, we could breathe freely again.



At fourteen years old in ninth grade, I was the new girl in a new neighborhood.  Dave Hirst, a boy I recently met at a party, seemed to be interested in me.  The day after the party, everyone talked and acted like he was my boyfriend.  I‘d never had a boyfriend before then, so even though he only came up to my shoulder, it was alright with me.

Meanwhile, for two weeks I had been begging my mother to let me wear her 40s style, yellow corduroy jacket with the shoulder pads. I didn’t really notice the shoulder pads at the time.  She finally relented, so, feeling very stylish, off I went to catch the bus.  That was the end of Dave.  My new boyfriend was already gone.  Years later, when we had become friends, Dave told me he had hated that yellow corduroy jacket.

Meanwhile, back at the locker room……The day before Christmas break, several of us girls decided to wear mistletoe in our hair at school.  At the end of the day, in the crowded locker room aisle, Walt Schuman leaned across the dividing bench and kissed me.  He was one of the best looking, smartest boys in our class.  I knew it was all in fun, but I was so flattered!  Thus arose the beginning of my exit from feeling goofy and unattractive.

So, what did I learn in school?


***  Religious beliefs can be distorted to suit one’s own ends.

***  Racism abounds.

***  Life is NOT fair.

***  If you break the rules, you WILL get caught.

***  Last, but not least, what you wear REALLY does matter.


Colonial Justice

E. B. Alston


The year was 1691. They had been missing for two weeks when they sheepishly crept into town at dusk. He was arrested the moment they stepped into the town square. Her father had seen to that. The girl was firmly escorted home and confined to her room. 

Abigail had been the apple of her father’s eye. He insisted that she had been kidnapped, but this was obviously not the case judging by her behavior when she had to be torn from the arms of her lover. 

Cooler heads were advising him to let them be. They were old enough to marry and everybody knew they were in love. She was a mature girl of fifteen and he was almost eighteen. Let them get married right away. Then the legends of their elopement would grow into a happy story to be told at family gatherings. 

Her father would have none of that. And when his wife sided with the cooler heads, he went into a rage. She had seen him like that before and retreated back into her kitchen. She had lost too many of those battles and she had no stomach to fight this one.

He raged like a mad bull and would have hung the young man on the spot if the sheriff hadn’t forcibly prevented him from doing it. They persuaded him to wait for the magistrate from Concord who would arrive next month. Her father was determined to use every bit of his considerable influence to see that the boy was convicted. Then he would let frontier justice be exacted in the fullest sense.

Seth T. Wagstaff was the most prominent man in this little Massachusetts settlement. A lot of the local men worked at his sawmill. Retail merchants were dependent on his business. None of the townspeople had the fortitude, or were in a position, to oppose him.

The boy’s family lived a few miles away in the fishing village of Green Harbor. He was the youngest of six sons and three daughters. All of the sons were big, strapping outdoor men who fished and farmed with their father. 

Their father was a taciturn man. When his father tried to reason with Wagstaff, he refused to meet him. His father then went to the sheriff but the sheriff was afraid to release the boy for fear of angering Mr. Wagstaff.

Everybody in town, except Seth Wagstaff, agreed what should be done but nobody had the courage to act.

Seth had not come to this new world to allow it to become a cesspool of sin like the England he had left fifteen years ago. He had come to a clean, new place free from the sin and degradation of the old world. Except for the godless natives, it had been pure and unspoiled.

He and his wife had seven daughters and no sons. Abigail was the youngest and by the time she arrived, he had given up on having sons and focused his affection on her. The other six daughters thought their father was cold-hearted and escaped into marriage as soon as they could entrap an eligible young man. It helped that they were, including Abigail, comely and well groomed, thanks to their mother who was the daughter of an obscure aristocratic family back in England. 

One of Seth’s daughters had already caused him great embarrassment. She had blossomed into a statuesque and flirtatious beauty who wore tight dresses and stylish hats to church. Her husband relished his wife’s attractiveness and approved of her showing herself off.

Oddly enough, the one who complained most about her was his brother who told everybody that would listen how his brother was besotted of this flouncing, jiggling Jezebel. She had a sensuous walk and she would flip her dress in a way that showed her ankle and the calf of her leg. The tavern window was full of faces when the lookout announced that she was passing by.

Alas, the man she had married was oblivious to the slings and arrows of a Puritan population. He was having a grand old time and didn’t care what anybody thought of his prize. There were plenty of men in their little community who were willing to take his place.

The girl’s mother had encouraged the relationship between Abigail and the boy who was named Nathan. He was good-natured, clever, and he had learned to read and do math on his own. Abigail’s mother thought that was a noteworthy achievement and this boy might go somewhere in this god-forsaken backwater settlement.

Abigail’s mother’s plan backfired when their passion got out of hand and they ran away. Now, there was literally hell to pay. Abigail was probably pregnant. The shame of being an unwed mother with a bastard child in a Calvinist environment was too awful to contemplate but she doubted if Abigail had thought about the consequences.

Seth’s anger prevented him from looking to the future in a realistic way. The shame of what a pregnant unwed daughter would do to him in his position as elder in their church had not yet entered his mind. What he would do when that occurred was not pleasant to think about.

Things calmed down over the next few weeks while the town waited for the Magistrate from Concord to arrive and try the case against the boy. As the big day approached, an undercurrent of anticipation began to envelop the little community. 



On the day of the trial, the magistrate wearing his judicial robes and powdered wig set up court in the local tavern.

Magistrate Thomas Echols was of sober demeanor and not given to officiousness or legalistic finesse. People thought he had a lot of common sense. 

He was an easygoing, rotund man who enjoyed a fine meal served well and a pint of local stout afterwards.

Everybody wondered how Magistrate Echols would fare when Abigail’s father lit into him. Would he cave in like everybody else or would he possess the mettle to pronounce a just verdict and allow the young couple to get on with their lives?

The tavern was full that morning when Abigail’s father arrived in time to see Nathan brought into court in shackles. The boy’s father and brothers filled the benches behind the accused.

The Magistrate banged the gavel.

“We are here to try a kidnapping charge brought by Mr. Seth T. Wagstaff against Mr. Nathan James Williams of Green Harbor,” he announced. “Will the accused stand?”

Nathan stood up.

“Son,” Magistrate Echols said sternly, “You have been accused of kidnapping. Do you understand the severity of the charge?”

“Yes Sir,” the boy answered with a clear voice.

“Then how do you plead?” the Magistrate asked.

“I am innocent, Your Honor.” 

“Who brings these charges against this young man?”

“I do,” Seth Wagstaff growled.

“Who is your witness?” the magistrate asked.

“Don’t need a witness. Everybody knows he kidnapped my sweet Abigail.”

The magistrate paused. “I wish to question the victim.”

“Why, Your Honor?” Wagstaff asked. “He kidnapped her.”

“This young man is being tried for a capital crime. Don’t you think we ought to hear from the one witness who knows what happened?”

“My daughter has suffered enough. I see no need for dragging her before this court.”

“Is your daughter in the courtroom?”

“My daughter is at home. She did not wish to relive her shame and disgrace.”

The magistrate called the bailiff. “Bring the victim to the courtroom.”

Seth objected strenuously and threatened to have the magistrate removed from his post.

The magistrate announced a recess while the bailiff went to get Abigail and escort her to court.

An hour later the bailiff returned with Abigail. She was crying as she approached the bench. The magistrate motioned her to a chair beside the table he was using as his judicial bench and waited for her to regain her composure.

“What is your full name, miss?” the magistrate asked gently.

“Abigail Porter Wagstaff,” she replied softly.

He pointed toward Nathan. “Do you know that young man?” he asked.

“Yes,” she replied.

“Do you know that he is being tried today for the crime of kidnapping you?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Did he kidnap you?” the magistrate asked gently.

Wagstaff protested. The magistrate banged his gavel for quiet.

“No, Sir,” she replied in a trembling voice barely heard in the courtroom. 

Wagstaff rose from his seat in fury. “She knows not what she says.” Wagstaff shouted.

The magistrate banged his gavel. “Mr. Wagstaff, you are intimidating the witness,” shouted the magistrate. “If you persist, I will order the bailiff to remove you from this court and have you locked up.”

Wagstaff became livid and was barely able to force himself back into his seat.

The magistrate turned to Abigail. “So you willingly left your home with Nathan?”

“Yes, Sir,” she admitted in a trembling voice.

“Why did you go with him?” the magistrate asked gently.

“Because I love him,” she replied tearfully.

“Did you obtain permission from your father to leave with Nathan?”

“No, Sir.”

“Why not?”

“Because Papa hates Nathan and said he’d kill him if he came to see me anymore.”

“Do you know why your Father dislikes Nathan?”

“Yes, Sir.”


“He wants me to marry somebody with more money than Nathan’s family has.”

“Do you realize what you have done by defying your Father’s wishes?”

“Yes, Sir. After what we have done no decent man will want me for his wife.”


“Nobody but Nathan.”

“Is Nathan a decent man?”

“He is to me.”

“If your father agreed, would you marry Nathan?” he asked gently.

“Yes, I would.”

“Does Nathan want to marry you?”

“Yes, he does.”

“I wish to ask you one more question. Will you swear that what you say will be the truth?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Did Nathan kidnap you?”

“No, Sir.”

“Did you go with him willingly?”

“Yes, Sir. It was my idea. He did it because I begged him to take me away from Papa.” She paused to wipe tears.

Wagstaff protested that she was lying. The bailiff shoved him back into his chair.

Abigail continued. “Nathan tried to talk me out of it and promised that he’d wait for me as long as it took for me to get Papa’s permission.”

“Is what you said the truth, Abigail?” he asked gently.

“Yes, Sir.”

The Magistrate looked at the boy sitting on the bench. Nathan felt agony for Abigail in her defiance of her father.

The magistrate addressed Nathan. “Has she told the truth?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Do you love this girl?” he asked.

“Yes, Sir,” he replied without hesitation.

The magistrate paused and appeared to be studying some papers on the table before him.

Wagstaff was adamant in his accusations. If he found the boy innocent, there was no telling what he would do to obtain retribution for the wrongs he felt must be punished.  He was now concerned about the girl. She had embarrassed her father in front of everybody in their community. What could he do to protect the young couple and at the same time give Wagstaff time to cool off and accept the reality of the situation?

It was clear that the girl loved the boy and a month of being locked up a prisoner in her home had not diminished her affection for him. He admired her spunk in the face of a livid parent who was determined to hang her lover.

While the magistrate reflected on his burden, everybody else in the room awaited his verdict with breathless anticipation. Would he bow to Wagstaff or would he do the right thing and declare the boy innocent of all charges? The magistrate absentmindedly shuffled the papers on the rough table while he thought.

Tension in the courtroom was high when he asked the boy to stand.

Without further ceremony he announced his verdict. “Nathan James Williams, I find you guilty of the charge of kidnapping Abigail Porter Wagstaff.”

A low murmur swept through the crowd. Wagstaff smiled broadly. He had been vindicated. The crowd was stunned.

The magistrate continued. “I sentence you to thirty days in the county jail.”

Somebody in the back of the room laughed. This was not the penalty Wagstaff had expected.

Then the magistrate faced Abigail. “Abigail Porter Wagstaff, I find you guilty of aiding, encouraging and abetting your own kidnapping.”

Wagstaff rose from his bench to protest. The magistrate banged his gavel for silence.

“I also sentence you to thirty days in the county jail.”

Abigail broke down in tears. Wagstaff was enraged. The crowd clapped and hooted Wagstaff down. Nathan looked stunned. Pandemonium reigned in the courtroom. 

The magistrate banged his gavel for quiet.

“Both sentences are to begin today,” he announced. “The bailiff is ordered to remove the prisoners from this court and take them to their place of imprisonment.”

Then he motioned for the bailiff to approach the bench. “Put them in the same cell away from the other prisoners,” he whispered. “Have the jailer’s wife prepare their meals.” He paused. “And they are not allowed to have visitors.”

The bailiff couldn’t help smiling as he led both prisoners away.

Abigail was still crying. Nathan put his arm around her shoulders to comfort her.

The magistrate called for the next case.

Originally appeared in a collection called 4 Women



Life in Moccasin Gap

Brad Carver

September 2010


            Greetings from Moccasin Gap, where our men are handsome, our women are strong and our kids are above average. We’re having an election here and our state representative, Winkie, will win the representative spot again. That’s right, Winkie. Winkie always wins the primary and the election. No one runs against him. They know they don’t stand a chance of winning. They know they will get beat miserably if they run against Winkie. “Why is that?” you’re wondering? Because his name is Winkie, that’s why. How could you not vote for a man named Winkie? It sounds so harmless. How could a man with the name Winkie do any harm to anybody?  Everywhere you go you hear the same thing, “We’re voting for Winkie. Winkie will do a great job. Winkie is our man. Winkie will do what’s right.”

            Actually, Winkie has done nothing for Moccasin Gap. I’m not sure he even shows up to vote in the legislature. All Winkie does is take the tax payer’s money and sits back in his big leather chair that we bought and smokes big cigars, that we also bought. Winkie has everyone in Moccasin Gap fooled and he knows it and he knows it’s because his name is Winkie. Giving himself a nickname like “Winkie” was a phenomenal political move. In fact, it was beyond phenomenal; it was illustrious. I think every politician should learn from ol’ Winkie. They should get a really harmless nickname if they want to get elected. That will assure them a win.

            Obama should change his name to “Obie”. It sounds like “Opie”. Then everyone will think of Mayberry and he will surely win the election again. Harry Reid should change his name to “Reidy” and Nancy Pelosi; well Nancy Pelosi should change her name to “Ding Bat”. I wonder what vice president Biden should change his name to? “Dummy” comes to mind, but he could never win with a name like that, but if the shoe fits...

            I can’t believe the people of Moccasin Gap are so ignorant as to vote for someone just because of their nickname. But I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; if you get enough fools together you can get elected to anything. I believe Obama proved that in the last election. The world is full of ignorant people; they’re even here in Moccasin Gap. Bless their hearts. Ignorant and all doped up on valium and morphine thanks to Dr. Feelgood down the road.

            I’m thinking of running for county commissioner, so I’m going to change my name from Brad to “Birdie”. How could you not vote for someone named Birdie? It’s so harmless, you know, like Winkie. What harm could a man with a name like Birdie do? I could certainly do no more harm than Winkie. My campaign slogan could be: Vote for Birdie. He won’t poop on your wind shield; he will poop right on you.

            Ya’ll take care now, you hear? And come see us sometime. The weather is fine here in Moccasin Gap and we have a representative named Winkie. How can you go wrong?



The Diary of Samuel Pepys

Elizabeth Pepys


3rd. There come many merchants to get convoy to the Baltique, which a course was taken for. They dined with my Lord, and one of them by name Alderman Wood talked much to my Lord of the hopes that he had now to be settled, (under the King he meant); but my Lord took no notice of it. This day come the Lieutenant of the Swiftsure (who was sent by my Lord to Hastings, one of the Cinque Ports, to have got Mr. Edward Montagu to have been one of their burgesses, but could not, for they were all promised before.


4th. This morning come Colonel Thomson with the wooden leg, and G. Pen, and dined with my lord and Mr. Blackburne, who told me that it was certain now that the King must of necessity come in, and that one of the Council told him there is something doing in order to a treaty already among them. And it was strange to hear how Mr. Blackburne did already begin to commend him for a sober man, and how quiet he would be under his government, &c. The Commissioners come to-day, only to consult about a further reducement of the Fleet, and to pay them as fast as they can. At night, my Lord resolved to send the Captain of our ship to Waymouth and promote his being chosen there, which he did put himself into readiness to do the next morning.


9th. This afternoon I first saw France and Calais, with which I was much pleased, though it was at a distance.


11th. A Gentleman came from my Lord of Manchester to my Lord for a pass for Mr. Boyle, [The celebrated Robert Boyle, youngest son of Richard first Earl of Cork.] which was made him. All the news from London is that things go on further towards a King. That the Skinners' Company the other day at their entertaining General Monk had took down the Parliament arms in their Hall, and set up the King's. My Lord and I had a great deal of discourse about the several Captains of the Fleet and his interest among them, and had his mind clear to bring in the King. He confessed to me that he was not sure of his own Captain, to be true to him, and that he did not like Capt. Stokes.


14th. This day I was informed that my Lord Lambert is got out of the Tower, and that there is  proffered to whoever shall bring him forth to the Council of State. My Lord is chosen at
Weymouth this morning; my Lord had his freedom brought him by Capt. Tiddiman of the port of Dover, by which he is capable of being elected for them. This day I heard that the Army had in
general declared to stand by what the next Parliament shall do.


15th (Lord's day). To sermon, and then to dinner, where my Lord told us that the University of Cambridge had a mind to choose him for their burgess, which he pleased himself with, to think that they do look upon him as a thriving man, and said so openly at table. At dinner-time Mr. Cooke came hack from London with a packet which caused my Lord to be full of thoughts all day, and at night he bid me privately to get two commissions ready, one for Capt. Robert Blake to be captain of the Worcester, in the room of Capt. Dekings, an anabaptist, and one that had witnessed a great deal of discontent with the present proceedings. The other for Capt. Coppin to come out of that into the Newbury in the room of Blake, whereby I perceive that General Monk do resolve to make a thorough change, to make way for the King. From London I hear that since Lambert got out of the Tower, the Fanatiques had held up their heads high, but I hope all that will come to nothing.


17th. All the morning getting ready commissions for the Vice-Admiral and the R. Admiral, wherein my Lord was very careful to express the utmost of his own power, commanding them to obey what orders they should receive from the Parliament, &c., of both or either of the Generals. My Lord told me clearly his thoughts that the King would carry it, and that he did not think himself very happy that he was now at sea, as well for his own sake, as that he thought he might do his country some service in keeping things quiet.

18th. Mr. Cooke returned from London, bringing me this news, that the Cavaliers are something unwise to talk so high on the other side as they do. That the Lords do meet every day at my
Lord of Manchester's, and resolve to sit the first day of the Parliament. That it is evident now that the General and the Council do resolve to make way for the King's coming. And it is clear that either the Fanatiques must now be undone, or the gentry and citizens throughout England, and clergy must fall, in spite of their militia and army, which is not at all possible I think.


19th. At dinner news brought us that my Lord was chosen at Dover.


20th. This evening come Mr. Boyle on board, for whom I writ an order for a ship to transport him to Flushing. He supped with my Lord, my Lord using him as a person of honour. Mr. Shepley told me that he heard for certain at Dover that Mr. Edw. Montagu [Eldest son of Edward, second Lord Montagu, of Boughton, killed at Berghen, 1685.] did go beyond sea when he was here first the other day, and I am apt to believe that he went to speak with the King. This day one told me how that at the election at Cambridge for knights of the shire, Wendby and Thornton by declaring to stand for the Parliament and a King and the settlement of the Church, did carry it against all expectation against Sir Dudley North and Sir Thomas Willis. [Willis had represented Cambridgeshire in the preceding Parliament.]


21st. This day dined Sir John Boys [Gentleman of the Privy-Chamber.] and some other gentlemen formerly great Cavaliers, and among the rest one Mr. Norwood, [A Major Norwood had been Governor of Dunkirk; and a person of the same name occurs, as one of the Esquires of the body at the Coronation of Charles the Second.] for whom my Lord give a convoy to carry him to the Brill, but he is certainly going to the King. For my Lord commanded me that I should not enter his name in my book. My Lord do show them and that sort of people great civility. All
their discourse and others are of the King's coming, and we begin to speak of it very freely. And heard how in many churches in London, and upon many signs there, and upon merchants' ships in the river, they had set up the King's arms. This night there came one with a letter from Mr. Edw. Montagu to my Lord, with command to deliver it to his own hands. I do believe that he do
carry some close business on for the King. This day I had a large letter from Mr. Moore, giving me an account of the present dispute at London that is like to be at the beginning of the
Parliament, about the House of Lords, who do resolve to sit with the Commons, as not thinking themselves dissolved yet. Which, whether it be granted or no, or whether they will sit or no, it
will bring a great many inconveniences. His letter I keep, it being a very well writ one.


22nd. Several Londoners, strangers, friends of the captains, dined here, who, among other things told us, how the King's Arms are every day set up in houses and churches, particularly in
Allhallows Church in Thames-street, John Simpson's church, which being privately done was a great eye-sore to his people when they came to church and saw it. Also they told us for certain that the King's statue is making by the Mercers' Company (who are bound to do it) to set up in the Exchange.


23rd. In the evening for the first time, extraordinary good sport among the seamen, after my Lord had done playing at nine- pins.


24th. We were on board the London, which hath a state-room much bigger than the Nazeby, but not so rich. After that, with the Captain on board our own ship, where we were saluted with the
news of Lambert's being taken, which news was brought to London on Sunday last. He was taken in Northamptonshire by Colonel Ingoldsby, in the head of a party, by which means their whole design is broke, and things now very open and safe. And every man begins to be merry and full of hopes. [Colonel Richard Ingoldsby had been Governor of Oxford under his kinsman Cromwell, and one of Charles the First's Judges; but was pardoned for the service here entioned, and made K.B. at the Coronation of Charles II. He afterwards retired to his seat at Lethenborough, Bucks, and died 1685.]


25th. Dined to-day with Captain Clerke on board the Speaker (a very brave ship) where was the Vice-Admiral, R. Admiral, and many other commanders. After dinner home, not a little contented to see how I am treated, and with what respect made a fellow to the best commander in the Fleet.


26th. This day come Mr. Donne back from London, who brought letters with him that signify the meeting of the Parliament yesterday. And in the afternoon by other letters I hear, that about twelve of the Lords met and had chosen my Lord of Manchester Speaker of the House of Lords (the young Lords that never sat yet, do forbear to sit for the present); and Sir Harbottle Grimstone, Speaker for the House of Commons, [He was made Master of the Rolls, November following, and died 1683.] which, after a little debate, was granted. Dr. Reynolds preached
before the Commons before they sat. My Lord told me how Sir H. Yelverton (formerly my schoolfellow) [Of Easton Mauduit, Bart., grandson to the Attorney General of both his names. Ob. 1679.] was chosen in the first place for Northamptonshire and Mr. Crewe in the second, And told me how he did believe that the Cavaliers have now the upper hand clear of the Presbyterians.


27th. After dinner came on board Sir Thomas Hatton [Of Long Stanton, co. Cambridge, Bart.] and Sir R. Maleverer [Of Allerton Maleverer, Yorkshire, Bart.] going for Flushing; but, all the
world know that they go where the rest of the many gentlemen go that every day flock to the King at Breda. They supped here, and my Lord treated them as he do the rest, that go thither, with a great deal of civility. While we were at supper a packet came, wherein much news from several friends. The chief is that, that I had from Mr. Moore, viz. that he fears the Cavaliers in the House will be so high, that the other will be forced to leave the House and fall in with General Monk, and so offer things to the King so high on the Presbyterian account that he may refuse, and so they will endeavour some more mischief; but when I told my Lord it, he shook his head and told me, that the Presbyterians are deceived, for the General is certainly for the King's
interest, and so they will not be able to prevail that way with him. After supper the two knights went on board the Grantham, that is to convey them to Flushing, I am informed that the
Exchequer is now so low, that there is not 20£ there, to give the messenger that brought the news of Lambert's being taken; which story is very strange that he should lose his reputation of
being a man of courage now at one blow for that he was not able to fight one stroke, but desired of Colonel Igoldsby several times to let him escape. Late reading my letters, my mind being
much troubled to think that, after all our hopes, we should have cause to fear any more disappointments therein.


29th. After sermon in the morning Mr. Cooke came from London with a packet, bringing news how all the young lords that were not in arms against the Parliament do now sit. That a letter is
come from the King to the House, which is locked up by the Council 'till next Thursday that it may be read in the open House when they meet again, they having adjourned till then to keep a
fast to-morrow. And so the contents is not yet known. 13,000£. of the 20,000£. given to General Monk is paid out of the Exchequer, he giving 12£. among the teller's clerks of Exchequer. My Lord called me into the great cabbin below, where he told me that the Presbyterians are quite mastered by the Cavaliers, and that he fears Mr. Crewe did go a little too far the other day in
keeping out the young lords from a sitting. That he do expect that the King should be brought over suddenly, without staying to make any terms at all, saying that the Presbyterians did intend
to have brought him in with such conditions as if he had been in chains. But he shook his shoulders when he told me how Monk had betrayed him, for it was he that did put them upon standing to put out the lords and other members that come not within the qualifications, which he did not like, but however he had done his business, though it be with some kind of baseness. After dinner I walked a great while upon the deck with the surgeon and purser, and other officers of the ship, and they all pray for the King's coming, which I pray God send.


MAY 1, 1660. To-day I hear they were very merry at Deale, setting up the King's flags upon one of their Maypoles, and drinking his health upon their knees is the streets, and firing the guns, which the soldiers of the Castle threatened, but durst not oppose.


2nd. Mr. Dunne from London, with letters that tell us the welcome news of the Parliament's votes yesterday, which will be remembered for the happiest May-day that hath been many a year to England. The King's letter was read in the House, wherein he submits himself and all things to them, as to an Act of Oblivion to all, unless they shall please to except any, as to the confirming of the sales of the King's and Church lands, if they see good. The House upon reading the letter, ordered 50,000£. To be forthwith provided to send to His Majesty for his present supply; and a committee chosen to return an answer of thanks to His Majesty for his gracious letter; and that the letter be kept among the records of the Parliament; and in all this not so much as one No. So that Luke Robinson himself stood up and made a recantation of what he had done, and promises to be a loyal subject to his Prince for the time to come. [Of Pickering Lyth, in Yorkshire, M.P. for Scarborough discharged from sitting in the House of Commons, July 21, 1660.] The City of London have put out a Declaration, wherein they do disclaim their owning any other government but that of a King, Lords, and Commons. Thanks was given by the House to Sir John Greenville, one of the bedchamber to the King, [Created Earl of Bath, 1661, son of Sir Bevill Greenville, killed at the battle of Newbury, and said to have been the only person entrusted by Charles II. and Monk in bringing about the Restoration.] who brought the letter, and they continued bare all the time it was reading. Upon notice from the Lords to the Commons, of their desire that the Commons would join with them in their vote for King, Lords, and Commons; the Commons
did concur and voted that all books whatever that are out against the Government of King, Lords, and Commons, should be brought into the House and burned. Great joy all yesterday at London,
and at night more bonfires than ever, and ringing of bells, and drinking of the King's health upon their knees in the streets, which methinks is a little too much. But every body seems to be very joyfull in the business, insomuch that our sea-commanders now begin to say so too, which a week ago they would not do. And our seamen, as many as had money or credit for drink, did do
nothing else this evening. This day come Mr. North (Sir Dudley North's son) [Charles, eldest son of Dudley, afterwards fourth Lord North.] on board, to spend a little time here, which my
Lord was a little troubled at, but he seems to be a fine gentleman, and at night did play his part exceeding well at first sight.




E. B. Alston: Author, columnist, literary critic, and sometimes poet. His work has been published in various newspapers, telecommunications trade magazines, and books. He is the Managing Editor of the magazine.


Laura A. Alston: lives and writes in Inez, North Carolina. Her first book, My Pet Rocky Renee, was published in June 2010. In addition she has published Too Many Goodbyes, You Gave me Wings and a book of her collected poems, From My Heart to Your.


Rita Berman: was born in London, England and now lives in Mebane, N.C. Her business, travel, and writing advice articles have been published in more than 500 diverse newspapers and magazines in the United States and Gt. Britain. Her reference book, The A-Z of Writing and Selling, was a Writer's Digest Book Club selection for September 1981.  Her other books, available on Amazon.com are Still Hopping, Still Hoping, (2012), The Dating Adventures of a Widow, (2013), The Key, (2014), Parallel Lives, (2016), Ariana Mangum's Books and Columns (2017),and Military Wives and Widows Tell Their Stories, (2018).


Randy Bittle: is a self-taught independent philosopher who is still learning.  He has two books, both collections of essays, available on Amazon.com. His latest book, More Colors Through My Mental Prism is also available.


Peggy Lovelace Ellis, has been a freelance editor for 48 years, and a published author for considerably less. Over the past 25 years, she has published regularly in such magazines as Good Old Days, Reminisce, Reminisce Extra, Rock and Gem, Aquarium, True Story, Splickety, Woman’s World, Highlights, and Righter Monthly/Quarterly Review. She publishes in the Divine Moments series, Merry Christmas Moments (November 2017) and The Right Words at the Right Time (forthcoming). She has compiled and edited three anthologies for her writers’ group: Challenges on the Home Front World War II (2nd edition World War II Amazon, 2020), Lest the Colors Fade (Righter Books, 2008), and A Beautiful Life and Other Stories (Righter Books, 2010). Each contains her short fiction, memoirs, and research.


Diana Goldsmith: Diana has been attending and now runs a shared learner’s ‘Writing for Pleasure’ group for the past 8 years.  She is an avid reader especially historical crime and loves Anne Perry’s books about Victorian England. She lives in Chard, Somerset, UK.


Howard A Goodman: A veteran of corporate society his entire working life, Howard discovered his passion for writing—an occupation that had lurked subliminally in his subconscious—thanks to the grim reality of suddenly being forced to make a major mid-life career transition. Though he didn’t grow up in the South and is not particularly partial to grits, Howard considers himself a Southern author of sorts. In contrast to those who spin tales of being raised dirt-poor on a tobacco farm, Howard's focus is on the lives of corporate professionals and their families—the thousands who flocked to the upscale cities and towns surrounding North Carolina’s high-tech Research Triangle Park—the Neo-Southerners. Howard resides in Cary, North Carolina.



Carol Rados lives in Greenville NC with her husband.  She grew up in Hollister, NC.  She worked as a Rehabilitation Counselor for the North Carolina Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.  In December 2015 she retired.  Her interests are doing volunteer work as a member of the Service League of Greenville, participating in Life Long Learning classes through ECU, reading, water aerobics, playing Mahjong, and she is involved at Congregation Bayt Shalom, her synagogue. She is very interested in using less plastic, and doing other things to improve our environment.  She is the sister of Gene Alston, the publisher.


Tim Whealton: writes a regular column from New Bern, NC. He is a gunsmith whose shop is in Cove City, North Carolina. His book, According to Tim, was published in 2013.


Danisha Kerr: Age 17. I am studying Biology, Chemistry and Psychology at college for A levels and hope to go to university to study veterinary science next year.  I was told to write a 500 word story for college in October last year, before COVID was even a word, and was given the title ‘Species extinction matters because…’ I enjoy reading, working with animals and teaching dinghy sailing to young people.


Marry Williamson: lives in Chard, Somerset, England. She was born in the Netherlands and moved to Britain in 1966. She worked for an Anglo-Dutch company in London. In 1999, Marry and her husband retired and moved to Chard, Somerset. Her hobbies are writing, reading, bird watching, and exploring ancient monuments. She is a member of a local writers’ group in England.


Ruth A. Whitsel is a former English major in undergraduate school.  In 1977, she obtained a Masters' Degree in clinical social work.  For twenty five years she was employed as a psychotherapist at her local mental Health center and in a part time private practice.  She was an adjunct instructor training graduate students in mental health practices.  Now retired, she has invested in her first love, writing, which she does weekly for a memoirs group.




[1] The Norton Anthology of American Literature, Vol. D, 6th edition, 2003, New York, p.1074.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Some Sort of Epic Grandeur, The Life of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Matthew J. Bruccoli, University of South Carolina Press, 2002, p. 87.

[6] F. Scott Fitzgerald on Authorship, ed. Matthew J. Bruccoli, University of South Carolina Press, Columbia, SC, 1996, p.38.

[7] Some Sort of Epic Grandeur, p.99.

[8] The Collected Writings of Zelda Fitzgerald, ed. Matthew J. Bruccoli, University of Alabama Press, 1997. p. xvi.

[9]Wikipedia, F. Scott Fitzgerald.


[10] Some Sort of Epic Grandeur p.4.

[11] Ibid.