I’m Way Out on a Limb
by Jean Evelyn Rand
“HERE, KITTY! Kitty! Kitty!” Dad says, “You know, there they are calling that cat out of the old oak tree.”
“Goodness, you mean Grover has been up on that limb all night?” I said. I hurried to the kitchen window and wiped some steam from the pane, and sure enough Grover was inching his way a bit further out on the limb.
You know, that cat makes me think of myself. I always act the worst possible to gain a bit of attention or whatever I think I lack at the moment. Grover can easily climb upon my roof and inspect the morsels set out for the strays, and he jumps to a pine tree like any normal cat to get to the ground.
Now what do you suppose they’re doing shaking that bag of cat food and getting the truck idling to hope to get to the tree? Oh well, I went back to my coffee, only it’s not coffee any more – due to the storm and inflation and the coffee situation, we are now drinking imitation. Your guess is as good as mine what it is.
“Did you read this, Ma?”
“It says here where the highways are closed off because of the snow and you’d better stay home or else.”
“You know it’s funny no one wants to stay home any more. It’s go, go, go,” I said. It sure would be good to be snowed in for a week. My thoughts wandered on… Once many years ago I was snowbound. It was great because I wasn’t boss then. I was just living at home and there were no responsibilities, no cares in the least.
The snow had piles up so high all the neighborhood men were shoveling the larger drifts. Les would go by with his oxen matched to a T. Those days you never went to the store in the best of weather. The potato bin was over half full in February. You’d notice a bigger drop in the latter part of March. How many bushels of potatoes a family of seven would eat in those days I couldn’t even guess. We had potatoes morning, noon and night, with a lot of applesauce.
The vegetables Mom put up by the quarts were well over 500 quarts, and the stringbeans were canned in two-quart jars. The best food in those days was available right on the farm.
The farm had fifty acres, with plenty of growing blueberries and fruits. The farm also had plenty of livestock, and the pigs grew into nice hams. When the spring thaw came we had the sap from the maples to boil into syrup.
Today with the inflation you couldn’t even pay the taxes, let alone make a mortgage payment. They say this same farm just sold for fifty thousand dollars, and in dollars and cents it wasn’t worth a hoot. The wind blew so hard on average days, tears would flow walking to school. I do believe I’m very snug right here.
“Hurry! Hurry! Kitty! Kitty!” I was back at the window, the neighbor had his camper truck with a ladder and he was almost coaxing Grover out of his perch. Another neighbor and the mistress had given up and gone to get warmed up. Pete got the cat and safely got to the ground. “Now,” I thought, “we have a grounded cat. Bless his heart, he just got home from the vet’s, and he probably didn’t like his visit.”
by Dorothy MacAulay
An oasis for me was poetry
When, early on, dread illness claimed my youth.
The words of master poets set me free.
I was uplifted by their vibrant truth.
Those arid days of antiseptic smells
I could escape within Keats’ lilac time.
My body might lie anchored in Earth’s hells,
But soared my soul within the poets’ rhyme.
I lingered long with Wordsworth’s daffodils,
I knew each stone in Frost’s strong Mending Wall.
With Burns I climbed mauve heather-scented hills,
Thrilled to sweet bird-song and to Afton’s call.
Earth-bound my feet, yet still my soul could rise
Through poetry’s oasis-paradise.
Brother Grady Takes a Walk
by Laurence E. Estes
BROTHER GRADY looked a little tired as I caught up with him. Church had just let out, and we were walking down the avenue. Of course I was still remembering the words of our Evangelist which were ringing in my ears. “What do you think of Pastor Murdock this time?” I said. Pastor Murdock had been at our church before, and we had always enjoyed what he had to say.
Brother Grady smiled his ready smile, and with a twinkle in his eyes he said, “He is right, my boy, as always the tongue is an evil member of our body and, unless it is curbed, can cause a lot of trouble.
“Constructive criticism is a wonderful thing if properly applied. If we are truly Christian, we are to follow Christ and, as Philippians 2:14 says, we are to ‘Do all things without murmurings and disputings.’”
“Yes,” I said, “but how can we correct wrongdoing without murmuring?” Brother Grady looked away into the distance.
“My boy,” he said, “Pray and read your Bible. The Good Word says, ‘Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God, which passeth understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.’”
Just then we came to Brother Grady’s corner, and I turned and walked down the street. I vowed then and there that I would strive to walk a closer walk with the Lord, and the next time I talked with Sister Simpkins I would have something better to say.
Collectors Scramble to Fill Gaps
by Joseph F. Bradburn
RECEIPT of the long-sought first bound volume of The Fossil recently led to a mad scramble, as collections long thought inviolate proved to have gaps. My copy lacked nos. 2, 3, 4 and 5. Thinking that Tony Moitoret might have filed them separately, I notified Vic. He checked his own file and found he lacks nos. 3 and 4 in the VAM series, as well as nos. 17 and 18 in the AFM series.
Bill Haywood is lacking no. 4. Sheldon Wesson is lacking 2, 3, 4 and 5, plus the whole second bound volume which he thinks is just mislaid. Willametta Keffer and Russ Paxton both lack nos. 17 and 18.
The flurry of letter writing also brought to light the information that Wesson has a copy of the Fossil index for the first five volumes, which was made up by Truman J. Spencer some years ago. Although Edward H. Cole had mentioned his possession of it a number of years ago, it was apparently overlooked or disregarded by other collectors.
Photocopiers and the mails have been busy these past few weeks, as efforts are made to fill the gaps.
Today’s Poor Schoolkid
by Paul Burns
They say I have poor discipline,
They say I’m into dope;
They say I’m into everything
Except the state of hope.
They say I’m pretty unteachable
And subject to great crime…
Disrespectful, drunk, lazy,
And fond of slurs sublime.
They say my schools are prisons,
Where inmates spend time fussing;
They say my tuition’s too expensive
With things like learning centers and bussing.
They say Mom is indifferent…
Her interest in me shows lack;
They say I’m basically rejected,
No mater if I’m white or black.
They say curriculum’s shoddy,
They say the enemy’s T.V.;
They say I’m into sex too much…
I’m pretty worthless, you see.
They say I have slack spirit,
I’m overlooked and ignored;
If the world were turned topsy-turvy,
Would their faith in me be restored?
They say the situation’s hopeless,
But one day I’ll have my say;
I’ll ask my parents’ generation:
“Who on earth was ‘THEY?’”
Watch the Birdie
by Mary E. Graves
THE PHOTOGRAPHER made our family portrait when I was an infant, but the first trip to his studio I remember was when I was six years old. He had white hair and wore prince-nez glasses from which dangled a long black ribbon attached, I assume, to his vest.
At that time women and girls were frequently photographed with bare shoulders around which a chiffon scarf was draped. I was dressed for the photo in this manner, but before he got under the black cloth behind his camera he kissed me on the back of my neck and on my bare shoulders. This was the first time I had been kissed by a stranger, and I immediately disliked him. I gave him a hard time to smile and watch the birdie.
When nine years old I was taken to the same photographer and dreaded to go, although I did not tell anyone the reason for my displeasure. I wore a lavender and green georgette dress my mother had made, which I thought was the prettiest dress I had ever worn. Thank goodness he let me wear the dress, so no bare shoulders that time. This photo was used in the newspaper’s review of an elementary pupils’ musical performance for which I was piano accompanist.
Three years passed before my next visit to the studio. An uncle who had lived in Alaska for many years came to visit us and brought me a gorgeous silk Spanish shawl with long fringe. My parents decided it would be nice to give my uncle a picture of me wearing the shawl. Back to the bare shoulders routine I went, with the shawl draped over one shoulder and hanging to my knees. I never wore the shawl again, but it was displayed on special occasions as a spread over my baby grand piano.
In six years I progressed from the watch-the-birdie era to the say-cheese era, but my feelings for the photographer remained the same. Ugh!
Ode to a Parody
by Rosie G. Buhrer
I started to write a parody
Of things that I had seen.
Then opted for a limerick
But couldn’t get past “I dream.”
So I developed a short story
Of a childhood experience.
Wrote two chapters, then languished;
I’ve been sitting here ever since.
A friend lent me a NAPA bundle.
I saw what others had done.
I realized their secret of success –
They had finished what they’d begun.
And at my Royal I sat me down.
I wrote and pecked and cursed.
I swear I’m going to finish this novel,
If it doesn’t finish me first.
It Happened in World War II
by Laurence E. Estes
THE OLD CHURCH, eery in the fading light of another day, standing dejectedly against a side of a hill in the little German village, drew our attention. Its windows were smashed, but still some of the painted fragments stuck courageously to the broken window frames. A large shell hole had eaten out part of the church foundation.
Our squad was in the town for the night, getting a little rest before the “push” our company intended making in the morning.
“Minnesota” Johnson, my closest friend and buddy in the combat crew, was always interested in exploring strange places. A little graveyard to the side of the church, on a rise of ground with small white crosses and graves overcrowded with flowers and wreaths, caught his eyes and of course he was eager to go exploring.
“How about it?” he said to me, “let’s scout around a bit!” We wandered around the age-old cemetery, reading the odd names, and occasionally running upon a new American grave. The little white crosses were neat and stood out from the green sod in the church yard.
While we were there we decided to enter the church. It was an old one, built of rock with heavy hardwood timbers showing in the ceiling. Rude and rough hand-carved pews with uncomfortable straight backs filled the oblong auditorium, and at the altar white candles rested in their appointed places.
We had not been there long when Johnson, roaming about, came upon a still form lying in the vestibule. It was the body of a German woman, killed the day before by the Germans’ own mortar fire when we occupied the little town. Fully clothed, including her work shoes, the woman looked as though she had fallen asleep after a hard day’s work in the fields. Minnesota reached down and pulled away the gray knit scarf that covered her features. She looked calm in death; her face, a grayish pallor, was waxen in appearance.
We did not stare long, for somehow death within the church seemed different from its brother that lurked about the village streets and alleyways.
The padre, wearing a dark suit and a hat similar to those of the Quakers except that the crown was rounded, and a nun clothed in a white robe were ministering to the sick and wounded.
The whole scene magnified the stupidity of war that really never settles anything.
by Jean Evelyn Rand
A rock to me shows elements –
It has been through a storm.
It’s life is charred away –
By degrees it shapes a form.
Little Miss Worry Wart
by Mary E. Graves
WE LIVED in a southern Indiana city on the Ohio River. The main business street dead ended at the river, and the last block of this street had a rather steep slope toward the river. Riverside Drive ran parallel to the river.
As a child this last block of Main Street terrified me, since there were no guard rails, posts or barricades along the river bank. When we drove toward the river I would plead “Turn, Daddy, turn,” often with tears in my eyes. I was especially frightened when the Ohio flooded, which it did every spring, and the water reached Riverside Drive, or when ice gorges formed, causing the river to expand out of its channel. Of course, the brakes never failed and my father was a careful driver, so my fears of plunging into the river never materialized.
When I was a youngster there was no bridge over the river, so we frequently used small ferryboats when we went to visit relatives in Kentucky. It was a steep bank down to the ferry, and the open boats seemed to me to have inadequate sides and rails. I dreaded each ferry trip, but all were maneuvered safely through the years. Twin bridges now cross the Ohio.
One summer we took a vacation trip to Detroit to visit friends. I heard our hosts tell my parents that the Canadian cops had it in for tourists from the states, hid behind signboards and arrested tourists for speeding or any traffic offense. We made a two day trip from Detroit to Niagara Falls via the Canadian route, but it was not a happy trip for me. I was apprehensive about going to a FOREIGN country, and was fearful that my father would get arrested and put in jail by a motorcycle cop who roared out from behind a billboard.
I was thrilled to see Niagara Falls, and enjoyed the fresh blueberry pies and muffins in Canada, as blueberries were unknown to the little Hoosier girl. So the trip was not a total loss for me. I remember how happy and relieved I was to cross the river back to Detroit. Years later, when I drove my car through the same area of Canada, I enjoyed the beautiful countryside, which as a child I missed seeing, since I was too busy watching fore and mostly aft of Canadian billboards.
FIVE HUNDRED COPIES of this amateur journal are being printed, featuring some material from the NAPA Manuscript Bureau. To satisfy postal requirements, be it noted that this journal is distributed to members of the National Amateur Press Association through the monthly bundle. Other copies may be sent first or third class by the publisher-member, who is Joseph F. Bradburn, La Plata, Md. 20646.