In Between

My life has been full of little interludes. Those are spaces of time that are interim between phases of full-on activity. Sometimes they are restful, and I’ve carefully planned them for recharging. Others have been dry spells. I refer to those times as being on the beach, or being on the hard; both terms I picked up from my father and his former merchant marine buddies. To them, very little could be worse than being on the hard – between ships.
I am pretty much the same way. A few months into an interim period, and I begin to get itchy and feel trapped. I’ve seen friends get stuck in a sort of frenzy when this happens. It’s best to compare it to getting your car stuck in mud or on ice. Some people sit there and continue to spin their wheels endlessly. Others calm down, get out to the trunk, and pick through the material that some thought you should have taken to the dump. You find those muddy old boards you’ve been saving just for this instance. Out they go under the wheel, and away you go.
Career-wise, this approach has life implications. Most people depend on plan A to the exclusion of all else. Despite having periods of being on the beach career-wise. I’ve moved on to new careers because I can rummage around and find something else to do when I’m stuck.
Here are some examples. When I left grad school, there were no anthropology jobs to be found. I returned to an earlier trade as a surgical technician until a job came up. Later, while working as an anthropologist, I learned some additional skills as a journalist and a videographer. Subsequently, I worked as a newspaper editor and currently work as a videographer.
I like to sum it up this way: while living in plan A, work on plan B, and have plans C and D on the back burners. Friends I’ve known waited until Plan A ran aground hard on a reef and sank. Then they started education programs as their benefits ran out. They wind up looking squarely into the face of a phantasm of their creation. Not that my plan will avoid the sort of tragedy that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused, but it may help in normal times.

On a final note, I would like you to consider hobbies. Hobbies can become career choices. My carving began as a hobby, and a friend who makes musical instruments started his business as a hobby. If the pursuit does nothing more than providing emotional support when you are on the hard, you are way ahead of many of your peers.

Cat About Town

Better known as Clancy, the grey devil cat, or the Gray Menace, he was twenty pounds of lean muscle. The photo shows a softer, more sophisticated side of Clancy J. Bumps. Here he is pictured with one of his inamorata’s.
Clancy was hell with four clawed paws when piqued, but loyal to those he appreciated. He was not an average cat. Capable of scaring cats into running rapidly away. He had a softer side.
Clancy had numerous male cat friends and several female associates. He is entertaining in our apartment one evening in the photo, grooming one of his regular female companions.
It’s sad to say, but around the time this picture was taken in 1978, Clancy was having better luck with girlfriends than I was. Perhaps it was his sophisticated pickup technique ” Here, let me groom you a bit.”, or ” Come up to my place, my chef will prepare some roast beef for us.”
His favorite meal was half a roast beef sub. Hold the pickles, but don’t forget the hots! Afterward, there was nothing as extraordinary as a good catnip toot. Make sure that you let him sleep it off, or there’d be an awful ruckus.


The Monk was well ahead of the later trends for juicing. He used nothing fancier than a waring blender for his concoctions. After a trip to the Haymarket at closing time, he’d return to our Grove Street apartment and start preparing a concoction out of whatever he had found that appealed to him. Sometimes these were incredibly tasty and other times exotically disgusting. He claimed that he was periodically afflicted with a wasting illness that depleted his body of what would later be known as micro-nutrients. Whenever this happened, he’d be juicing whatever his senses prescribed as a remedy. The Monk’s flesh hung loosely on his gigantic frame whenever he had an attack of whatever ailed him, and his appetite was as large as his physical frame.

His ability to glean at the market made him the logical choice as the Folkie Palace’s scrounger. We ate well and cheaply thanks to his abilities. He claimed to be an exile from a monastic order he had to leave due to nutritional needs. One of the hangers-on at the Palace was a medical school student and claimed that the Monk’s tastes were like a Pica condition. Pica usually involves people eating non-food items – paint, nails, plaster, clay, and similar items. While the Monk ate food items, the combinations were frequently disturbing.

The Palace was a regular stopping place for all sorts of folks going to and fro. People would hear about the Palace and drop in while en route to their destination. Parties ultimately ensued. Hangovers were an occupational hazard of living this lifestyle. Hangover cures were always in demand.
That was how the Monk came by his other nickname – Mr. Clean.
A perpetually smiling bald head capped the Monk’s Large frame, so he looked like the character on the popular cleaner’s bottle. But there was a more fundamental reason. His famous hangover cures; guaranteed to cure in an hour. Very few of the regulars would take him up on an offer. We’d stick to Coke, Coffee, Aspirin, or other simple things. The passers-through might take him up on it. He’d dash into the kitchen, grind and juice away, and come out with a glass of vile green thick juice. “guaranteed to clean out the hangover.” he’d say with a huge smile. The rest of us would sit and watch, say nothing, while the unsuspecting followed the Monk’s advice and held their nose and swallowed in one gulp.
In most cases, nothing happened for an hour. During that time, most of us made sure to use the facilities. The green sludge does its work at the hour mark, and the bathroom was out of service after that.
Truth in advertising; the hangover was gone. So was everything they had consumed in the last seventy-two hours. That was why the Monk’s other nickname was Mr. Clean.
When he offered you a sip, you were well advised to ask what was in it.

Light Air

<p class="has-drop-cap" value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80"><a href="">Sultry</a&gt; is not the usual term used for days on the coast. The realtors, tourist industry, and boat brokers want you to think about cooling breezes, glorious summer sunsets on the beach, and romantic dinners at outside venues. None of these folks have spent a windless, sun raked day sanding varnish at a boatyard. Now that's sultry.Sultry is not the usual term used for days on the coast. The realtors, tourist industry, and boat brokers want you to think about cooling breezes, glorious summer sunsets on the beach, and romantic dinners at outside venues. None of these folks have spent a windless, sun raked day sanding varnish at a boatyard. Now that’s sultry.

Hot, dry, and no wind. Perfect for the varnisher. I had just finished the Barnaby boat, so Peggy, the yard varnisher, could start. She was very particular, so I took a break in the shade of a sloop hull while she double and triple checked my work. I was low man at Spinney’s boatyard and not quite trusted yet. At last, she gave the nod, and off I was to my next assignment. Another great job; applying bottom paint to another sloop.

Spinney decided that the bottom could wait and called me over. “Wes, can you take Miss Talbot and her friend out on Prism? Her dad’s thinking of buying it, and it’ll be her boat. Let her see how it sails.”

“Sure, boss, but there is barely light air out there. I’m not sure it’ll be much of a sail.” Now, light air is a sailor’s term for air movement of roughly one and a half to three miles per hour. You can’t call it wind, and it’s not even breeze. At best, you ghost along. If it’s not too hot, it can be relaxing.

Spinney, not wanting me to lose him a sale, told me to get going and sail. So it was down to the float to collect Miss Talbot, her friend, and Prism.

Prism was an old one design sloop of about sixteen feet. In the twenties and thirties, dozens of these designs had gotten popped out like toast from a toaster. They had been purchased in the thousands by boating and yacht clubs all over the coast for racing. Many were built, but few remained. Prism was the last of her type around here, making it impossible to sail as part of a class of similar boats. A long string of owners had neglected her, delegating her to entertaining bored “Summer Complaint” teens. In a few years, Prism would be lovingly restored by newly appreciative owners, and have a featured article in one of the boating magazines. But for now, she was a tired old boat that Spinney was trying to dump.

At the float, Miss Talbot was waiting with her friend. I showed them aboard and got ready to shove off the float while assessing their boating knowledge, meager. Taking advantage of the light air to teach them the rudiments of sailing, I soon had one on the tiller and mainsheet, and the other handling the jib sheet. It was “flat” sailing, no heeling, no rush of water beneath the hull, and no wind rushing in your hair. It was just what was ordered to sell the boat. Or so I thought. Miss Talbot grew bored. “Can’t we get this thing to go faster?”

I was interested in going faster as well. Off to the northwest, I could see thunderheads developing, and had no desire to be caught on the water in a sudden blow. I began to teach them light air sailing tricks: dowsing the mainsail with water to create a bit of a belly for catching the wind, and repositioning crew to create a bit of a heel. None of it worked.

All of a sudden, the wind picked up, and I hurried to take advantage of it to get us back to Spinney’s. Not in a panic, yet, but I expected that anytime soon, the wind would back and veer rapidly ( suddenly shift directions), and then we’d be caught in the storm. By now, Prism was sailing as close to the wind as I could get her, and the little sloop was heeled over almost so much that green water was sloshing aboard. All pretension of teaching was now gone as I raced against the storm. Then I noticed that Miss Talbot and friend were shrieking in excitement – “Faster – Faster!” The rain started about a hundred yards off the float, and it was not long before we were all soaked to our skins. I could see Spinney getting the launch prepared to go get us should we capsize. Coming up on the float I killed Prism’s momentum and tossed the mooring line to Spinney. Flopping down onto the boat, I was exhausted. The two excited young women were standing there, shouting, ” Let’s go out again!” Spinney looked me and made a gesture of thumb and fingers of his right hand rubbing together. Sale made. ” Good work Wes, but that was close. Don’t hot dog out there that much next time.”

Some father was going to regret his decision to set these two loose on the Harbor; very soon.

The Gurney

Warning: don’t read this if death, dying, or traumatic death are Triggering factors for you. This was the most disturbing story I ever wrote.

This story was written in response to a Word of the Day Challenge -Cadaver

When I first was out of the Navy, I was like many of the newly discharged. I lacked a direction in life. But while searching for a focus in my new life, I had to pay rent and eat. So I found a job as an orderly in one of the many specialty hospitals in Boston.

I was assigned to one of the Ear, Nose, and Throat units. My first six weeks there were miserable because there was a “normal flora” on the unit. Normal flora was a polite way of saying that the human nose and throat are dirty zones. All personnel permanently assigned to that unit spent several weeks suffering from minor infections common on the floor. After a while, you developed a sturdy immune system or transferred to something less immune stressing, like an orthopedics unit. I stuck it out because I was interested in surgery, and on this unit, I saw a fantastic variety of innovative and life-saving approaches to surgery.

I also saw a fair bit of death from cancer. In the sixties, Chemotherapy was just an infant, and surgery was not sufficient to save many. Some patients had very extended stays. Multiple surgeries and other treatments kept them close for long periods. You grew attached. You cared for them day after day, for weeks, or through repeated admissions. They became friends, and you came to know their families.

On my shift, when one of my friends died, it was frequently my job to prepare them for the morgue – this was termed “PM Care” for post mortem care. Following this, I had the duty of taking them on a gurney to the morgue. They had made a transition from breathing patient and friend to a cadaver

So perhaps I am premature in allowing you to presume that a fresh corpse is still. It’s not. Gas gets expelled from either the mouth of the anus; the body sometimes shudders. You worry that the pronouncement of death was premature.

As you progress down the corridor, the doors to the rooms are being closed. There’s no need to worry the still living, but ill with the fate of Mr. Smith. If available, you take a freight elevator to the basement where the morgue is located. You open the door. And leave the gurney and the body for the morgue tech and the M.E. 

I did this for about half a year. As soon as an opening came up in an operating room, I moved to the sanitary comfort of aseptic technique, surgical scrubs, gowns, and carefully prepared instruments. Patients came in, the anesthesiologists put them under, and the surgical team did everything in their power to set right their ills.

 I never forgot the long lonely walks behind the gurney. I think it was why I went into surgery for those years before I went to college. I could feel like I was an active rather than a passive contributor to saving lives. 

“We are here to add what we can to life, not to get what we can from life.” William Osler


They say that hearing and smell are the last senses to go when you are dying. I can assure you that this is also true when you feel like you are dying due to a massive hangover.
You wake. Where or when am I? From traffic sounds and the smell of frying eggs, I determine that I’m still among the living. But do I wish to remain that way? Slip back into a cozy stupor.
Awake again. The cat, the Gray Menace Clancy, is delicately batting my nose, claws half extended. The claws are his warning that soon if you don’t get up and feed him, he’ll begin feline acupuncture. Let’s slip away into sleep.
AAAAWWWW! Stop! the cat’s efforts to wake me have now escalated. It’s now a single claw inserted into the nose with “delicate” traction applied.
“I’m awake, damn it!” You hear a thud as his twenty pounds of muscle hits the floor; you listen to him padding into the kitchen. ” Is he awake yet, Clancy?” It’s the familiar voice of your girlfriend. “Hey. Are you ready for coffee? Maybe some eggs and toast?”
I take a whiff of the coffee. Maybe I’ll recover after all?


Before it started, I had no enemies and no desire to get even with anyone. I was a student at Boston University, living in an outlying Cambridge neighborhood that featured very cheap rent. Other than the MBTA trains, my transportation needs were met by an old three-speed Raleigh bought fifth hand. It had been painted the previous year by a girlfriend who thought she was making the bike look psychedelic. Instead, it was almost ugly enough to make you violently ill. It was so ugly, so old and decrepit that I rarely locked it up. Nobody in their right mind wanted it, and it was so cranky that you could only successfully ride it if you knew how to jimmy the gears just right. I was amazed when it vanished.

I lived in an ethnic neighborhood with Irish, Italian, Lithuanian, Polish, and Portuguese spoken within the boundaries defined by railroad tracks and a river. It was the sort of place where everything got observed from windows, doors, and stoops. So how the theft of my bike occurred without notice was a mystery. After a few days, one of the elderly ladies mentioned that it had probably been Bobby who had taken it. Who was Bobby? Bobby was Bobby “Chick,” not too pleasant a kid from not too lovely a family. Bobby’s brief history was that he was implicated in most of the neighborhood thefts in the past decade. “There’s nothing to do about it now,” she said. “You don’t get things back from Bobby; you don’t want to get into a fight with Bobby.”
I could have taken this state of events if Bobby had sold my bike, but Bobby started riding the bike around the neighborhood. It was a perverse way of showing the outsider where he fit in. So I decided to get my bike back. Bobby did not exactly bother to lock my bike up. He left it leaning provocatively on a piece of broken fence at his house, and on Tuesday morning at two AM, I rode away with it. I didn’t flaunt the recovery of my property. I discretely locked it in the dark side yard where I lived. When retribution didn’t immediately arrive, I began to ride it to school again. But, I wasn’t too surprised when one Saturday morning, Bobby showed up with five of his friends and started cutting the lock off the bike. The confrontation was brief and ugly. I successfully beat Bobby back, but when his friends began making their moves, I retreated to the doorway, pulled out a massive World War I trench knife, and dared them to cross the threshold. My large grey cat started spoiling for a fight, and we must have looked curious, standing at the doorway, howling cat, and the mad young man with a knife. Bobby sneered at me, picked up a large cinder block, started bashing the bike’s gears and bending the frame. Nobody would ever ride the bike now.

A few weeks later, my landlord asked if I had plans to move soon, and with the end of the school year coming, I told him that I’d leave at the end of the semester. He looked relieved. Despite the Bobby incident, I had very much enjoyed my year in Easty, and it seemed to me that Bobby was more a hazard to the community than to me.
A few days later, my friend Bill wandered into town on one of his swings through the area. Having worn out his welcome on Beacon Hill the last visit, he needed to stay with me. A stay with me would put him in a convenient striking range of Harvard Square. On the night he arrived, we celebrated by seeing “Street Car Named Desire” at the Brattle Theatre. After enough to drink at Cronin’s, we regaled the area with renditions from the movie of Brando’s scream “Stellllllllllaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!”. Having gotten that out of our system, we decided to greet the sunrise at the all-night Hayes-Bickford’s back in Harvard Square. It was there that the revenge on Bobby Chick was formulated. As Bill listened to my story of the theft, he developed the sort of moral indignation that comes easily after two joints, a lot of beer, and a night of Brando at the flics. “What does this punk fear?” he asked me. “His mother,” I replied. The old ladies of the neighborhood all agreed the only thing Bobby Chick feared was his mother. A woman of vast appetites and terrible temper. Bill smiled.

After the long walk back home, my friend crashed on the couch.
Late in the morning, when we got up, we went looking for late breakfast. Over coffee and doughnuts, the idea of revenge was raised. Bill asked, “Wes, when do you move outta here? We wait until then.” I tried to talk him out of it, but you didn’t talk the Bill out of something he had decided to do.
That was how I came to be sitting in Bill’s car outside Bobby Chick’s house early on a Saturday morning in mid-June. “A two bag trick is not for the faint of heart Wes. It takes a certain amount of guts, and intestinal fortitude, physical agility, quickness, and a getaway car.” I thought this briefing was useless, but Bill thought I needed to know more about the stunt we were about to pull. “The so-called “bag trick” you learned in New York is easy to perform, but not as satisfying, nor as rich in revenge. The two-bag trick comes from my neighborhood in Baltimore, and tops the bag trick in every way.”
I’ll explain the bag trick. A brown paper bag full of the freshest excrement you can find gets topped off with paper, and lighter fluid—the bag gets placed in front of the revengee’s door. The revenger lights the bag. Then you ring the bell and run like the wind. Few victims can resist stomping on the bag immediately, even when their reasoning side knows it’s a big mistake. If you find a safe spot to watch this from, you see the victim flailing about, howling at the top of their lungs while wreathed in smoky plumes of pure stink. Revenge can be sweet if smelly.
The Captain’s two-bag trick is not just more of the same; it twists things around. You need an accomplice, a car, and an excellent physical layout to make the whole thing work. As the Bill told me, “It’s not for the faint of heart.” It helps to have a slightly single-minded desire to have at someone short of physical violence, and with a twist of humiliation thrown in.
Bill reminded me that ” timing is everything.” With that, he slipped out from behind the driver seat, picked up the stinking bag of fresh dog waste, and sprayed it with lighter fluid. I slid behind the driver’s seat and drove around the corner to where I knew the neighbor behind the Chick house hated the Chicks and would deliberately see nothing. This neighbor’s well-tended garden backed onto the Chicks unkempt lot at the end of a driveway. The fence was broken open and offered easy access to the back of the Chick house. I pulled up to the curb, placed the car in neutral, put on the brake, and left the car idling. I pulled out my bag of incensed dog waste, walked along the driveway through the broken fence, and went up to the Chick house.
Then I heard what I had been waiting for; the bell getting jammed in place, and the sound of loud yells from inside as someone shouted: “Bobby, get the dammed door!!” The door opened, and I heard the loud exclamation followed by shouts of shock and rage and loud foot stampings. At that moment, I pulled the matches out. Lit the bag and pounded loudly on the door with a broom handle. I waited to make sure the bag was well lit and that footsteps were now moving towards the back of the house, at a furious pace. I strolled through the back yard into the garden. There I turned and waited. Bobby threw open the door. His eyes were only on the flaming bag. He grated out a great bellow of rage as he stomps on the bag. There is a moment of silence as the Nature of what has happened dawns on him. At this moment, Bobby sees me as I complete my stroll to the street and get into my getaway car. I wave and grin. Then a great howl comes, loud enough to fill the entire square mile of the neighborhood as Bobby’s mother discovers the trail of burnt ordure that now tracks through her foyer, living room, and kitchen. “Bobbeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!”

The Pier

It had been a stylish “Little Black Thing” before the total immersion experience. She had been warned stiletto heals didn’t work well with rough planking or irregular cobbles. She insisted. The final stumble happened as I was about to hand her onto the gangway and safely onto the boat.

If recorded in slow motion, it would have appeared cinematic:

  1. the first instability
  2. the tip towards the edge
  3. the balancing wobble 
  4.  the final dive into the water
  5. The extended boat hook angrily shoved aside, and her lurching into the boat.

Ah, I assume this relationship isn’t going to go anywhere.

A Moving Experience

<p class="has-drop-cap" value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80">She challenged me to list all the addresses and cities I had lived in during the 1960s. I had to labor over it. I came up with over thirty in the six years since leaving my parents home. I did not count serial inhabitance – I moved in and out of the same properties countless times. The Folkie Palace on Boston's Beacon Hill most frequently, but it received only one notice on the list. Sometimes I was running from or to something or someone. Usually, I was seeking a change.She challenged me to list all the addresses and cities I had lived in during the 1960s. I had to labor over it. I came up with over thirty in the six years since leaving my parents home. I did not count serial inhabitance – I moved in and out of the same properties countless times. The Folkie Palace on Boston’s Beacon Hill most frequently, but it received only one notice on the list. Sometimes I was running from or to something or someone. Usually, I was seeking a change.

I was embarrassed. The friend who had challenged me to create the list was aghast. She had spent her entire life within fifty miles of the city in Maine, where she had grown up. She asked me what I remembered most of them. Not much, I confessed. The memories were of the journeys between locations. Of “moving to and fro in the earth and up and down in it.”

“So now you identify with the Devil?” she quipped. “No, not exactly. It’s just a good response to people when they ask you where you’ve been traveling.”

“The real moving experience isn’t where you wind up. It’s how you get there.”

This is not Narnia

<p class="has-drop-cap" value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80">We don't think about it much anymore, but the "urban renewals" of the late fifties and sixties swept aside entire communities. When Boston decided to undo Scully Square and the West End, the adult entertainment industry migrated to Washington Street in a run-down section of Downtown Boston. The people, the West Enders, scattered. Clumps moved across the Lechmere Causeway into East Cambridge, and some migrated to Boston's North End. We don’t think about it much anymore, but the “urban renewals” of the late fifties and sixties swept aside entire communities. When Boston decided to undo Scully Square and the West End, the adult entertainment industry migrated to Washington Street in a run-down section of Downtown Boston. The people, the West Enders, scattered. Clumps moved across the Lechmere Causeway into East Cambridge, and some migrated to Boston’s North End. 

But lots migrated up to Beacon Hill. On Beacon Hill, they added to the complex variety of life that included one of Boston’s oldest Jewish Temples, an African Methodist Episcopalian church, and the State House. Health care workers, Folkies, near do wells, and people of all ethnic and racial backgrounds all congregated in a neighborhood that couldn’t have been much bigger than a square mile in size. And on the Hill’s front side, facing the Boston Commons, were some of the City’s wealthiest blueblooded residents with illustrious names dating back to the City’s earlier times. The people of the backside and those of the front mixed as well as oil and water.

So far as I could see, Pinckney Street was the dividing line. Head closer to the Common, and you were in elite territory. Head downhill towards the hospital, and you were in the working-class part the Hill, apartment houses, single room boarding houses.

There was little switching back and forth. The income difference was steep. Perhaps the social distinctions were steeper. My friends and I would periodically cross over to the elite side to look at Mount Vernon’s mansions or the neat row houses on Louisberg Square. 

The house I rented in on Pinckney Street had a closet connecting two studios. I had never paid much attention to the back of the closet until one day; a seven-year-old barged into my space. He looked disappointed. Instead of Narnia, he had wound up in the studio/ residence of Beacon Hill’s finest woodcarver ( nobody on the Hill knew it yet). He spent that afternoon watching me carve until his mother, Sarah, came through the closet door and apologized. Sarah was divorcing her husband and was now deep into single mom poverty. She had moved from the front of the Hill to the dividing line on Pinckney Street. Sarah and her seven-year-old son were waiting and hoping for a divorce settlement. Until then, she fell into the same lot as most us, too much owed, not enough coming in. 

Over the next couple of months, my friends and I taught Sarah how to shop in the Haymarket from the pushcarts at closing time. We showed her where to find fresh bread in the North End and the intricacies of cooking a hotplate meal. The most challenging part of this resocialization was teaching her a new social etiquette with people she would never have socialized with before her divorce. 

In the Harvard Gardens on Halloween, you didn’t stare at the men in drag. You didn’t drink alone – always in a group. You weren’t bashful and shy about a direct sexual advance – you made it very clear that you weren’t interested, physically, if needed. There were lots more. Through it, Sarah proved adaptable to all her abusive husband and fortune threw at her. She always wore a single strand of pearls when we all went out socially, which gave her the nickname Pearl.

In the spring, her divorce was final, and she received a settlement. It wasn’t much but enough to allow her to move off the Hill and into a decent Cambridge apartment. She found secretarial work at a Boston law firm and rarely guested at the Folkie Palace. Eventually, she quietly slipped away from us.

Over time we all slipped away. The Hill changed, and most of us moved on. One day I was in line at the Harvard COOP Bookstore. In front of me was a woman wearing a single strand of pearls; her scent was Tea Rose. I automatically thought back to Sarah, who had also worn that scent. Perhaps I breathed in too deeply or sighed too loudly, but the young man standing beside her looked in my direction and stared at me. He quietly commented to the woman something that I missed. She turned to face me. I was afraid that I was coming across as some pervert who went around sniffing random women. Then she smiled. “Wes?” Yes, I was startled. By this time, no one called me Wes anymore, and it took me by surprise. “Sarah?”

We caught up over coffee at the Blue Parrot Coffeehouse. Sean, her son, was starting at Harvard that fall. I was teaching at a college north of Boston while making up my mind to finish my Ph.D., or not. Sarah had completed a law degree and was living in New Jersey. Our final meeting was as much a matter of chance as our first had been.

Sean looked over at us. ” do you remember that first day I wandered into your studio thinking I was going to find Narnia?” Sarh laughed, ” A rather strange sort of Narnia. Shopping at closing time for food that might otherwise be discarded by the pushcart owners. The wall to wall mattresses at the Folkie Palace. The strange Halloween Trick or Treating on Beacon Hill where there were more Tricks than Treats!”

Thinking about that time of our lives, I replied: ” in a lot of ways, it was much more like Through The Looking Glass.” 

Sarah looked at me again and said: “Hell, it was a heck of a lot more fun than Narnia!”

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