A Blind Date In Baltimore, MD

My version of the story is he rang the bell, I opened the door, he came in, I introduced my mother to him and we went out. He was cute, he said he thought we were rich because my Mom was in the kitchen writing checks. He apologized for not having his own car, he had been in an automobile accident and was using a loaner.

He took me to Maria’s restaurant in Little Italy. We, at least, I felt very comfortable in his presence, and we ate and drank wine, and we talked for hours. I liked this good looking guy and hoped he would call me again. I was a little surprised that he did not try to kiss me good night, or rather I mean morning. I think it was close to three a.m. So what, I didn’t have to get up until six.

Howard’s mother told me her version. She said he came home and she asked him if he had a good time. He said I was a nice girl, but I talked too much. Then, she said, the next morning he was on the telephone talking to me.

He asked me out for a date, but I had already made other plans. (Before I went out with him) He asked me to break them, but I told him, I’d never do that to him, so why should I do it to anyone else. However, I had a lousy time, and couldn’t wait to go out with Howard again.

After that, neither of us went out with anyone else. Maybe it was love at first sight. At least we thought we were in love. The first date was September. We were engaged in December. And married in June.

We started our life with love and kisses and it’s still that way today, 61 years later.

Love And Kisses

A sixty-one year love affair, still going strong, maybe stronger than ever. We met on a blind date. Recently I told Howard I didn’t want to go out on that blind date, but my Mom insisted, in fact she pushed me out the door. He was flabbergasted, said he never heard that one in all these years.

I’m so thankful I went out with him. He arrived in a rental car, having had an accident that day with his own car. He was fortunate that his uncle owned a Ford agency and loaned him a car.

He took me to little Italy to a restaurant named Maria’s. They took us downstairs and seated us at a nice table for four, so we had plenty of room. Howard ordered a bottle of red wine (still my favorite) and we had a delicious dinner, lots of garlic bread, pasta and music as we were surrounded by the 3 men walking around the tables playing wonderful Italian music. I was delighted, not only that but I thought Howard was wonderful and a very special guy. He listened as I talked and I think I talked the whole night. I arrived home around 3 a.m. and went right to bed, I had to be up by 6 to go to work.

The next day my Mom asked if I had a good time, and I told her I did, and hopefully, Howard would call again. By the second date we both knew…we met in September, became engaged after Christmas, and married in June, 1952.

Later, I heard that his Mom asked him if he had a good time, that first date, and he told him Mom, she is a nice girl, but she talks too much. The next day she said, she heard him on the phone, and he said he was talking to me.

We never get tired of talking to each other and to this day we enjoy each other and our conversations. We did it all with Love and Kisses.

I get a love not every morning with my coffee.

I once said, on National T.V. that we were two halves of a whole, while each retaining our own identity.
Try it, it works, as does love and kisses.
Keep love and kisses in your life.

My Writing Group

Either my life story, Reflections of Me, is  boring or too depressing, no one is reading it, so I will discontinue it for awhile.

In the meantime, I have started a writing group here in my new senior community. We have a great bunch of writers, all writing something different. They are anxious to learn and to share. And I am loving it. I give out a few too many handouts, but I told them to either save them for future reference, or they can throw them away.

Last week we had a guest speaker and talked about personality. Good for themselves and for their characters.

This week,( we meet on Mondays), I am going to ask them if they would like to start a fun project. I call it Bits and Pieces. Inside this incredible notebook we will include things like: lists, quotes, characters (and I do mean characters, did you ever meet someone who was a gossip, someone who talks funny, and I don’t mean accent, or a character that is colorful,  someone that Damon Runyon would have written about.  Also include, expressions, closets, homes, cars, snippets of conversation.

I like lists of words. I use them for vivid verbs, and for scenes. By that I mean that I write something like Ocean and I list all the words that describe ocean, or a doctor’s office, or mall, or bar, or any scene that will be upcoming in my blog, my story, or a future story. It’s great fun and gets your thinking cap on.

Also include pieces of journal entries or Memoir questions. Brainstorm parts of a scene,  or use a mind map. Highlight journal entries that you can use later for a short story, or just something you want to remember.

Clustering is also a great tool for words and scenes.

Use colored markers or pens, have fun with doing this. Use newspapers, exciting lines from books, magazine, anything that excites you and sparks your imagination.

This is fun, informative, useful and challenging to the writer. To us. I will see how my group feels about d0ing this on Monday. Come back and I will talk about it.

I’m in the process of doing and ebook called First Lines.

I’ll leave you with three new ones and use them to start your story. Never stare at a blank page again.

1. My parents told me that I no longer exist.

2. One last look at him and her blood pressure skyrocketed.

3. The phone rang, but no one was there.

Keep love and kisses in your life. Until next time Helene

Reflections of Me: High School

Visions of me in high school brings back such unhappy memories. My sister, who still smelled everything, got into all my things. I had started a diary, and wanted to write a story, but she was always pulling out my things, clothes, papers,  and  kept looking at them.. My writing career was over before it ever began. I was painfully shy, and didn’t want anyone to laugh at me or what I had written.

My mother, confident, beautiful, outgoing was everything I was not. I felt pathetically insecure, that nothing I did ever turned out right.

At this time the fighting between my parents  was at it’s worst. My sister, we now knew, was smelling everything because she couldn’t see! We were so close, we never realized how bad it was until she started school. Her glasses were like coke bottles.

But, for me, the real tragedy was that I retreated more and more into my shell. It became evident in school that I was daydreaming, not paying attention, and my grades were failing. I burst out crying in the classroom more than once, for no reason. No teacher, guidance counselor, friend tried to help. I kept it all bottled up inside until it came pouring out.

I did the best I could, but I knew in my heart I had to get away from my home situation. I admit I  took the coward’s way out.

I confronted my Mom one day and asked her, “Do you want me to have a nervous breakdown, or will you allow me to quit school.?”

Sadly, her eyes overflowing, she said, “Yes, I give you permission to quit school.”

I left the eleventh grade and got myself a full time job.

By this time, we both knew college was out for me. Something I had looked forward to all my life.

Keep love and kisses in your life and

Adopt A Caregiver. Give the gift that lasts forever and costs nothing.

Until next time: My First Job


Reflections of Me: Sweet Sixteen, Not For Me

Sweet sixteen, how did they ever come up with that line. Me? I hid myself in my books. I felt frumpy, and ugly, whereas my Mom was beautiful and outgoing, and everyone loved her. Me, I was invisible.

By the time I was sixteen I went to work with my father every Saturday.  Cross Street Market was an enclosed place, but freezing inside. Dad woke me at five thirty a.m. and by six we were on our way to work. I wore so many layers of clothes I could hardly move. Socks, paper, shoes, boots and I still froze. I couldn’t wear gloves because Dad sold meat and that’s cold. So was the cash register.

Dad’s favorite story that he told everyone, as soon as I got to work, I grabbed money out of the register, and went to the deli for some hot coffee. I did, I needed that coffee to warm up.

It was a grind, long hours and ice cold days. That’s what I remember the most, being so cold all the time.

Every time I ran out for coffee, I’d notice the kids outside the pubs waiting for their parents. They were huddled together to keep warm, and I’m sure they were hungry. I hurt for them, and I’ve never forgotten how they looked.

We sold ox tails, and believe me, Jamie Oliver and Julia Child had nothing on me. I could cut those ox tails like an expert.

I hated working there. I knew I stunk from the long twelve to fourteen hours of work, and the cold chapping my hands until they bled. Coming home and taking off the layers of clothes and socks and newspapers was a sight to behold.

Next Reflections: The Market Burned to the Ground.

Reflections of Me: Be Careful What You Wish For

All that buildup, all that anxious waiting. Well, Tiny came home. It was awful. All she did was cry, day and night. Sounds of wailing, sobbing, crying all day long. I thought the noise would never stop. Tiny was tired, I was tired, and my Mom was tired, but there was no break. At least I could escape going to school, but I still heard the crying in my head. I couldn’t concentrate, I was exhausted.

I helped with the cooking and the cleaning. Seems I never did anything right. Terrible times, none of us could cope. And my parents started fighting and that made it even worse for me.

As Tiny got older, crawling around the house, she smelled everything. Food, people, floors, doors, windows, the crib, everything. Still older, one day she climbed out of her crib. She went into the bathroom, got Crest toothpaste, baby powder, and Comet cleanser. Yes, the washed her crib, my mother’s mahogany furniture, the windows, the floors. It took weeks to get it all cleaned up .I can still see vividly that mess.

Then we found her in the little pantry, somehow she had scraped open the wall and  ate what was inside. Mom called the doctor and he said her body was craving lime? Yuck. By the time she was three or four, when Mom washed the sheets and took them outside to dry, Mom got a phone call and had to go inside. I was sent out to watch her, but she had already washed the sheets through the ashes from our basement stove. How could she have dragged those heavy sheets by herself?  By the time she was five she was into all my things. She followed me everywhere, and still she smelled everything!

To be so happy to have a baby sister, to feeling guilty, to feeling invisible, to being exhausted all the time. Always babysitting, cooking, cleaning. No time for friends, for homework. By this time who cared, not me.

Scared, lonely, upset and crying myself, headaches, I couldn’t cope either.

So when I was sixteen, I confronted my mother. “Mom either I have a nervous breakdown, or I quit school. Your choice.”

I had wanted an education, I wanted to go to college. I wanted to learn. I looked into my mother’s sad eyes, and she shook her head, “I guess you have to quit school.

Summing up my teen years:

Broken dreams, yanked out of my life due to circumstances beyond my control. Whereas once I was encouraged to dream, I was suddenly thrown head first into life.

Come back and read my next chapter of life: Sweet Sixteen, Not For Me

Reflections Of Me: End Of Childhood

Oh my gosh, I had a tiny baby sister. Two pounds, born in the sixth month, how could I know that my parents were agonizing over whether or not she would live.

My mother dreamed her grandmother came to her and said if she would name the baby after her, the baby would live. Mom wasn’t superstitious, but she named the baby after her grandmother.

I found out I could visit Tiny at the hospital. My only recollection of that time was  my Dad saying  she was so tiny she could fit inside a cigar box.When I saw her, I couldn’t believe she had all her fingernails and toenails, but I couldn’t see her nose. I promptly threw up.

For three months my Mom had to wait to get her baby home. Some man came every week for money, and told my mother that if she didn’t pay the hospital wouldn’t release my sister. They threatened just that.Could they just steal my Mother’s baby? It was a scary time.

Finally, after three months she was coming home. I was so excited. Anticipation bubbled through our house like rays of sunshine shimmering through the windows. I was too excited to sleep.

Saturday morning I ran down the steps, a wide smile on my face. I ran across the room. It was  finally happening.

But Mom looked at me funny. Her smile faded as she put her fist up to her mouth. She burst into tears, “You’ve got the measles, and Tiny can’t come home today.”

When she put her fist up to her mouth, I really thought she was going to hit me. It’s my fault I thought, can’t I do anything right? I ran back up to my bedroom and cried. Mom and I didn’t have much to say to each other for the next couple of weeks. Days went by with both of us thinking Tiny would have been home if not for me.

This was the beginning of the end of my childhood.

Tune in for next installment: Be careful what you wish for.

Keep love and kisses in your life.

Have a grateful day.

Reflections of Me: Grandma’s Instructions

One Friday afternoon as Grandma and I started dinner, we heard a flurry of activity. Isaac, the man from the downstairs butcher store came flying up the stairs, “Your mother called me on the phone, said she needs to go to the hospital right now.”

Just like that? Hospital? My heart thumped inside my chest louder and louder as the fear crept in landing next to my loneliness. Mom was only in her sixth month of pregnancy, and even I knew at eleven and one half that it took nine months to have a baby. Was Mom going to die?

I bit my nails to the quick, and now stuffed both my hands into my mouth.

Grandma grabbed her coat. “I want you to pluck all these feathers off this chicken for the matzo ball soup. Be sure to save the fat for the chicken fat. She turned to me. “Every feather off.”

She waved goodbye, and I ran to the door to check the locks. I desperately wanted to please Grandma. I washed my hands and sat down looking at this little chicken. How hard could it be to pull off all the feathers. One by one I yanked at the feathers, but nothing happened. Was there a trick I didn’t know about? I ran for my mother’s tweezers and I plucked and pulled and I tweezed until my hands were red and sore, all the while wondering what was happening at the hospital.

Alone in the apartment, the clock ticking loudly in my ears, getting louder as it became darker. I was so scared. Where was my Daddy? Why didn’t anyone call me?  I worked harder, faster, pulling and plucking. I wanted to wake up from this nightmare, but I knew I couldn’t.

Hours went by, and thoughts raced through my mind like a freight train. I was still working on that chicken, and finally, I was getting it done.

Much later I heard footsteps on the stairs. Grandma came into the kitchen with her arms outstretched, and I ran right into them. I buried my face into her warmth until she held me at arms length. “You have a tiny sister. She  weighs only two pounds.”

I looked at the chicken on the table with it’s long wobbly feet, and wondered, is this what my sister looked like?

Next: End of Childhood.

Keep love and kisses in your life.

Reflections of Me: Baltimore, MD 1942

No matter how much we cried, it didn’t change anything. We still were living far away from family. My new life and my new school treated me with intolerance, indifference, and I felt more alone than ever before.

The kids at school laughed at me. I wore long cotton stockings, and they wore anklets. I couldn’t understand their accent, and they made fun of mine. The Principal of the school saw me walking down the hall one day, and under her breath, but loud enough for me to hear, she said, “New York Jew.” I’ll never forget the look of disgust on her face. My mother always told me, “Fight your own battles,” and the other thing she always said was, “Silence is golden, don’t come complaining to me.”

A few months later, I thought a miracle happened. We were sitting at the kitchen table, and my mother said, “How would you like to have a brother or sister?”

I almost fell off my chair I was so excited. I really literally fell off the chair onto the floor.

Two months later, my mother fell up the stairs on her stomach. She lost part of the afterbirth, but I had no idea what that meant. The doctor said she had to stay in bed until she gave birth. I was allowed to see her for ten minutes a day. The only person I had to talk to was the doctor who came every day, and was nice enough to ask me, “How are you today Helene? How was school?”  My father still worked nights and I was alone and invisible.

My grandmother came from New York to help after the first of the year. I got my period that January; I was eleven and a half. I thought I was dying because I bled for twenty-one days. I was prepared, I knew what to do, but after almost three weeks, alone with my thoughts, I wondered what was going to happen to me.

On February second, the man from the downstairs butcher store came upstairs and said, “I’m taking your mother and grandmother to the hospital. It’ time for the baby to come.”

Grandma left me strict and explicit instructions.

Tune in next time to find out what I had to do and what happened.

Keep love and kisses in your life.

Refections of Me: Moving

I vividly remember that day in 1941. I was ten years old, and my mother told me we were moving.

“Moving, moving where? Why?”

“Because Daddy got a job atthe  Glenn L. Martin plant in Baltimore, Maryland. We have to move.”

I saw the tears trickling down my mother’s cheeks, and my world turned upside down. She held open her arms, and we cried together.

The truly traumatic part was leaving my four grandparents, and all my aunts and uncles and cousins. We’d be alone in a strange city, just the three of us.

The next day at school I was humiliated when my fourth grade teacher asked me to go up to the map and show everyone where Baltimore was. I stood there frozen, my knees knocking, and my fingers dripping water on the floor. I was ready to cry when Mrs. Maher rescued me. I sat down and I shut down.

That was only the beginning of the miserable school experiences that were in my future. My childhood was hit by a land mine, and I remained buried under the rubble.

Only now do I realize how much my mother was hurting and all the sacrifices she went through to keep us together as a family. I was much to young to reach out to her, but I hope wherever she is, she knows I understand that she did what she had to do.

More Reflections of Me later


Writing Prompts:

1. I remember: thinking, doing, going, wondering, the joy, the anger, the hopelessness, the magic, the wonder, the irony.

2. The brilliant autumn trees were stripped bare and bleak like her heart

3. She stored the heat from his kiss in her heart.

Keep love and kisses in your life.