Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Editor's Corner

By Mary E. Adair


June 2022

"June is the time
for being in the world in new ways,
for throwing off the cold and dark spots of life.”
– Joan D. Chittister

June being the fabled month of Brides a few romantic poems arrived in time for this issue. Many weddings in your editor's family, even one of her own. But June brings ripe melons to enjoy-- cantaloupe, Honeydew, watermelon, and even miniature watermelons. Swimming time, vacation travels, and for those stay at home people time to binge watch those TV series you’ve been looking forward to.

Scott Chase returns to our pages with Three poems in a romantic vein “Answered,” “Drawn to You,” and “My Angel Nurse."" Perryman's two verses are "Today" and "Sleepy."

Bruce Clifford adds "The Many Facets of You," "Arranged Marriage," and "Like A Time Machine." Bud Lemire has four poems, titled "A Memory and A Song," "Cherish Each Moment," "The Gun," and the touching "Old Dog."

Danielle Cote Serar's column "A Mother's Lessons" admits time is flying by faster than she would like as she observes her children growing up. Judith Kroll's column "On Trek" poses a question, “What if?” and expounds on her subject. "Reflections of the Day" by Dayvid Bruce Clarkson, confides that his Hippie days fell short of securing the peace and freedom he had expected, then adds it was a lesson learned. Thomas O'Neill presents a tale to remember and honor a dear friend.

Marilyn Carnell, author of "Sifoddling Along," shared a few helpful techniques to involve oneself in uplifting crafts and projects for summertime. "Woo Woo," by Pauline Evanosky, declares laughter can be magical and explains her theory.

. "Cooking with Rod” brings us Pollo Queso Rodrigo with his process to simplify preparation. Mattie Lennon, author of "Irish Eyes," reveals the story behind the once popular race track Prince, and lists Literature releases as well as historical compositions.

In "Armchair Genealogy" column, Melinda Cohenour, has an enlightening column concerning the advances by Ancestry’s implementation of the new information about DNA. Since a picture is supposed to take the place of or enhance words, her column employs many such informative tools..

Bud Lemire's continued tale '2061' presents Part 4 for our readers. We will continue with future installments monthly. Enjoy!

We continue to thank our co-founder and webmaster, Mike Craner, whose knowlege and expertise keeps Pencil Stubs Online actually online. He does it well as we are now in our 25th year. Thanks, Mike, for everything!

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Armchair Genealogy

By Melinda Cohenour

Who Made Me ME?

Aah, yes! The age-old question: Who am I? Every genealogist, family researcher, historian seeks the truth to this question. Mankind has always sought after the source of Being. Perhaps DNA technology can now furnish the best and most accurate answer yet.

Ancestry recently updated their ethnicity estimates and included a big surprise in their announcement. Not only did they fine-tune the ethnicity percentages for their subscribers, they also unveiled a new and exciting technological advancement. They have now been able to identify which segments of ethnicity results derive from each of your parents even without those parents having submitted their DNA. Sadly, both my parents are deceased and never submitted DNA for testing. Therefore, I welcome this amazing advancement. Ancestry calls this new technology SideView. I will attempt to explain how this works.

Because Ancestry has the largest database of DNA sampling, their scientists have been able to identify regional similarities among their vast array of submitted DNA. After identifying similarities in DNA segments matched to folks with deep historical habitation of specific areas, they are able to label those populations. They have used the knowledge of anthropologists in order to label their reference samples with geographic areas based upon known migration patterns and original habitats of ancient peoples.

First of all, Ancestry examines some 700,000 segments of your DNA sample. Their scientists compare each of 1,001 segments of your DNA against selected reference samples obtained from around the world. Computer algorithms enable them to match segments of your DNA to the reference samples your results most resemble. Thus, each segment is labeled with the geographic region matched. The overall count of segment matches is then added up by region. (For example, my personal results reflect the predominant ethnic or regional source is from Scotland, reflected from matches to both my patriarchal and maternal lines.) The results are then shown as a percentage displayed in your updated ethnicity estimates.

SideView analyzes strings of DNA letters against your DNA Matches. All DNA is based upon pairings of the basic building blocks of A (Adenine), C (Cytosine), G (Guanine), and T (Thymine). Thymine always pairs with Adenine and Cytosine always pairs with Guanine. Each rung on the helical structure contains two building blocks, one of these from your mother and one from your father. The inherited strings of genetic coding are compared against your DNA Matches. When identical strings are identified on one side of the rung (for instance C, T, G, A), the opposing letters can be attributed to the other parent.

Identifying Parent 1 and Parent 2 as either Mother or Father is a bit trickier. A good strategy is to locate an ethnic region in your estimate that is unique to either Parent 1 or 2. In my estimate each Parent shows a unique region. Parent 1 shows Sweden & Denmark while Parent 2 shows to have contributed Germanic Europe.

Immediately, my assumption is that my father will have been the contributor identified as Parent 2 since his line includes Baron Von Hempleman, Killian Creek (original German name Guillaume Grieg), Peter Copple, and numerous other German ancestors. My surmise then, is that my mother's ancestors include some who hailed from Sweden or Denmark. An excellent candidate would be her Hopper line: known for ice blue eyes, fair complexions and extremely light hair. However, it is quite possible those assumptions might be in error.

Since we only inherit one-half each parent's DNA, it is quite possible an entire genetic ethnicity for one (or both) could be a segment NOT passed down to me. Thus, it would be preferable to have a sibling's DNA with an ethnic breakdown with which to compare. In the absence of such a serendipitous happenstance, it would behoove us to compare the ethnic estimates for our known relative DNA Matches. A preponderance of those close cousins reflecting either the Sweden & Denmark or Germanic Europe ethnicity could help identify the parental donor.

Ancestry provides the best explanation of how they divide the DNA ethnicity estimates by Parent 1 and Parent 2. Here is their graphic illustration to help us understand the process.

This is a remarkable advancement in analysis of our DNA. I, for one, look forward to every new announcement. Clearly, however, DNA is not the whole story. Even in this almost unbelievable capability, we find our DOCUMENTED research is essential. Without that background, comparisons would be devoid of geographic or historic placement. Never a devotee of military history prior to in-depth exploration of my own ancestors' struggles to carve out this glorious country, I now hunger to find the facts that illustrate for me what those men and women actually faced and overcame. Similarly, this ability to place my ancestors in a PLACE and TIME is thrilling. It truly brings them to life!

May this amazing technological advancement trigger you to further explore your Armchair Genealogy! Good digging, explorers.

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Cooking with Rod


By Rod Cohenour

Cooking is fun. It should be a chance for the cook to find ways to be creative and give others some delicious alternatives.

This recipe has multiple ways that you can create and enjoy substantive meals fairly quickly and almost foolproof.

Try this dish as described but keep in mind that this is extraordinarily versatile. It lends itself well to experimentation. So feel free to play with the recipe and create a dish unique to your own tastes.

Bon appetit~!

Pollo Queso Rodrigo

(Serves 5 to 8, depending on size of chicken pieces)



* 2 bricks Velveeta style cheese
* 1 8 oz. brick Pepper Jack cheese, grated
* 2 lb. pkg. shredded Fiesta Blend cheese
* 1 can no beans Chili
* 4 8 oz. cans Green chiles, diced, (use liquid)
* 1 Bell Pepper, diced with membrane and seeds removed
* 1 cup whole milk (add as needed)


* 5 to 8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
* 1 Tbsp. Red Chile powder
* 1 tsp. ground Cumin
* 1 tsp. Coriander
* 1 tsp. ground Oregano


* 2 pkgs. Knorr Mexican Rice (long grain rice and Vermicelli pasta blend) sides
* 2 pkgs. Knorr Taco Rice (long grain rice and Vermicelli pasta blend) sides
* Water as directed


* 1 cup sour cream
* 1/2 cup Chunky Salsa Roja
* 2 cups Pico De Gallo
* Cilantro leaves, no stems
* 1 cup Fiesta Blend cheese, shredded (reserved from Queso)
* 1 cup Pepper Jack cheese, grated (reserved from Queso)
* Tostado chips to taste


Queso: Melt Velveeta in double boiler. Add no beans chili and half of both the Pepper Jack and Fiesta Blend cheeses. Add bell pepper. Continuously stir, allowing all ingredients to slowly blend, achieving a silky smooth texture. If needed, add milk in portions to keep Queso at right thickness.

Chicken: Whisk together spices. Rub on chicken breasts evenly. Broil chicken (center rack) on first side until golden brown, turn and broil on the other side. Chicken is perfectly done when juices run clear when the thickest portion is punctured. Set aside, covered with aluminum foil to keep warm while preparing plates to serve.

Rice: Prepare as directed on package.


Spoon equal portions of Knorr rice sides on each plate. Top with one or two chicken breasts. Spoon Queso over rice and chicken. Sprinkle shredded cheeses on each breast and rice.
Whisk together sour cream and Salsa Roja if desired OR add sour cream and salsa separately on plates of those who prefer it that way. Drizzle over chicken. (The blended sour cream and salsa makes a very tasty pink dressing that can be used on a variety of Mexican dishes and salads.)
Top each chicken breast with Pico De Gallo and cilantro.
Add Tostado chips around each plate just before serving.

Tastes great with a crisp salad and iced tea or lemonade.

Bon appetit~!

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Woo Woo


By Pauline Evanosky

The Magic in Laughter

As adults, we typically don’t believe in magic. As kids, the first thing we want to learn how to do is to successfully execute a magic trick with cards or pull a rabbit out of a hat.

My one magic trick was to make my thumb disappear. My grandfather taught me and that moment, that one moment in time is embedded in my memories of him. He would also pop his eyeball out and put it in his mouth, but I considered that trick gross when I was six years old. I still cringe when I think of it.

But ordinary, grown-up magic? I can’t say I’ve ever really seen it although David Copperfield sure has given everybody a run for their money through the years. Also, there is Houdini. Don’t forget about him.

The kind of magic I’m talking about is laughter.

If it is a kind of inclusive, laughing at yourself sort of laughter it can put an exchange between people on an entirely different footing. It is so magical that I think nobody really notices.

Basically, I think people are good at heart. Even the bad guys. Hey, somebody must have loved them once.

When I think about a soul, I think they are all good. Although there are times when I have to stand back and wonder what happened to a person to have them act the way they have in this incarnation. Mass murderers and despots come to mind. You do know what they say about Karma. I believe in that. Sure, we have laws, but I also know there are times when people are not held accountable for what they have done. At least in this lifetime. Karma takes care of that if mankind does not. Personally, I have a feeling God doesn’t care. It’s just a feeling.

Maybe it comes down to thinking good and bad are just the same sorts of lessons. I have noticed when I don’t take care of some issue that comes up to repeatedly taunt me year after year each time that situation makes a reappearance in my life it gets harder and harder for me to deal with. If it is one of those “life lessons” it can get dicey.

I think the best policy would just be to address whatever you can at that moment in time and hope for the best. If it didn’t work completely then you can work on it more somewhere down the road. There is a rule out there that all you have to handle is what you can handle. Take care of the business at hand and it will make you stronger later on when it comes up again.

There is also the consideration that when you are afraid of something things begin to morph and get all magnified. Magnified terror is no laughing matter.

How do you identify a life lesson? I think, bear in mind I am no expert on this, but I think a life lesson is important and my experience of learning is that I never seem to get it right in the first go. I have to practice. I have to highlight. I have to write notes. Also, the older I get, unfortunately, the more likely I will lose the thought. My sister told me at one time our father had post-it notes covering the cabinets in the kitchen of his house. I can emphasize.

But laughter cuts through all social pretenses. You just go immediately into a relationship with another person if you are connected with laughter. The social do-si-do is gone. The I’m better than you is thrown out the window. Laughter is an equalizer. That’s what happened when I had a hot flash at work and told the person on the other end of the phone that I had to take my clothes off. She understood immediately and we laughed in menopausal camaraderie.

Sleeping with another person can do that too. It’s like your sleeping minds dance around intimately with each other even though you don’t necessarily engage in sex or snuggling. You don’t know what happened when you awaken but something is different. Somehow you are on a different footing.

Another thing that can create a bond between two people is cooking together. I think that would be a fun thing to do.

I suppose it helps to get older too. An older person, I think, begins to look more at the quality of life and not the quantity of life. Face it, older people don’t have as long to live as somebody in their twenties if all you’re looking at is longevity. Maybe people get more psychic as they age. That would make sense to me. The wisdom of age. Maybe keeping up with the Joneses is just not important anymore.

I feel laughter is important for us even if we don’t understand why. It’s like the icing on the cake. It’s just better. Sprinkles help too.

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.


By Thomas F. O'Neill

This story is dedicated
to the memory of a very kind and generous soul:
Henry Zale
1917 - 2010

The Coffee Shop

There comes a time in our life when we must face who we truly are in relation to others. We go through our daily routine, day after day, year after year, without ever taking the time to sit back and visit ourselves in order to get to know ourselves better. Megan was no exception; she worked as a bank teller for fifteen years in her hometown. It was simply a job for her; it was what she did for a living. She didn’t particularly hate her job, but she didn’t particularly enjoy her career either.

She saw many of her co-workers over the years come and go due to the low pay and lack of appreciation, but she stayed. The bank manager liked her work and recognized that she was a trustworthy and good employee. However, her co-workers had difficulty getting to know her due to her shyness and her being extremely introverted.

She only lived a few blocks away from the Bank, which was convenient for her due to her not owning a vehicle. In the years that she worked there, she never invited anyone to her home, which the other bank-tellers found peculiar. She lived in a guesthouse that a prominent medical Doctor owned. Her home had no television, radio, or computer. She had a phone in case her boss needed to get a hold of her, but she never received any phone calls. Her job seemed to be the only contact she had with the outside world. She never missed a day’s work in the fifteen years she worked at the Bank, and she never took a vacation. Her co-workers found that odd, and the fact that she had never gone to see a movie or even rented one was just downright weird in their minds.

Dr. Bender’s guesthouse had a large antique mahogany table in the living room. The table was there when Megan moved into the place with all the other antique furniture. The furniture was old but quite beautiful. There are beautiful hardwood floors and molding in the house. Her living room had a large fireplace, and at night she liked to burn wood so that she could hear the crackling sounds of the wood-burning. She also enjoyed watching the warm glow of the flames. Over the fireplace was a large painting painted in 1927 by an artist who was a friend of Dr. Bender’s aunt. The Doctor’s aunt once occupied the guesthouse, and the artist painted her lying on a couch nude. There was a grand piano in one corner of the living room that Megan’s parents once owned. The other rooms in the house had walls and walls of bookshelves filled with the books that Megan had read over the years. When she ran out of room for the bookshelves, she plopped the books on the large Mahogany table in her living room. She never got rid of her books. They were more valuable to her than any other possession.

Her books have taken her to faraway places away from her hometown and to Exotic places where she met interesting people and got to know exciting characters. Those books had become her solace and what she lived for; she read to the wee hours of the morning, and she would dream about the things she had read when she went to sleep.

Her life had a daily routine; she got up at seven and went through her morning ritual. She would skip breakfast, go to work, and then skip lunch. After work, she would go to ‘The ‘King Kruller Coffee Shop’ across the street from the Bank. She would order a large cup of their homemade soup. One of the Coffee Shop owners brings in the soup each morning to serve the customers in the afternoon. She would then order a large cup of coffee and read until closing time, with the exception of a few Doctor’s appointments, or an occasional funeral; that was her daily schedule.

The people she worked with saw a quiet and calm demeanor about her. On the other hand, she felt that something was lacking within her. She felt a deep void; it was like she had a hollow space deep inside her. She was never able to find the words to adequately describe what she felt or what she was going through daily. She went from, day to day, year to year, feeling that she was set apart from others like a spectator looking at the universe from the outside.

She believed that her feelings of isolation were due to the fact that she was her parent’s only child. When she was young she never played with other children. Her parents, home-schooled her up to the age of fourteen. Her parents enrolled her in the local high school when she turned fourteen. She felt awkward in school, never quite fitting in with her classmates. She always felt lonely, and depressed. She was never really tuned in to the teenage fads, their slang words, or their clothing fashions. The other students pretty much shunned her. Her high school years were an extremely difficult and painful time in her life. Her memories of those years are always with her. The clothing she wore in school seemed a decade behind the times. Her parents did not allow her to watch television or listen to the radio. They felt it would interfere with her disciplined curriculum of education.

When she was born, her parents put their daughter on a course of what they believed was a moral and virtuous upbringing. She was not allowed to go to the movies or on dates; instead, her parents encouraged her to read classic masterpieces. They taught her how to play the piano. She enjoyed listening to the classical piano pieces on an old record player. That was the only music her parents approved of, and eventually, she mastered those classical arrangements on the piano. She was a highly gifted and intelligent child, but she had this deep-seated resentment towards her parents for not allowing her talents to grow and flourish.

When she was a senior in high school, the principal came into one of her classes and accompanied her to his office. He informed her that her parents were killed in a tragic car accident. She can recall those memories of that painful and dreadful year. When she came back to school after the funeral of both her parents none of her classmates came to console her or offer their condolences. Her classmates never even came to her parents funeral. Her last year in high school was certainly a painful time for her, and that was the same year that reality came and showed its face to her. Her parents death also delivered her in some way because she never quite got over the resentment she had towards them. She always blamed them for her deep feelings of inadequacy.

A friend of her father was a ‘Dr. Bender’ a prominent medical Doctor who took Megan into his home. He eventually allowed her to use his guesthouse. He took a great liking to her; he admired her maturity for a young lady. He was attracted to her keen intellect and calm demeanor, and she, in turn, enjoyed playing the piano for him. When the Doctor’s wife died, Megan went over to the main house, and they would sit in his living room and talk for hours. He cared for her deeply and took a great interest in her future and wellbeing. She eventually sold her parents home and remained in the guesthouse. She used the money from the sale to continue her education. She earned a bachelor's degree in Business Administration at a nearby community college. She eventually found employment at a local bank a few blocks away from where she was living.

Dr. Bender had no children, and he treated Megan as if she were his daughter. When he passed away, Megan took his death hard. She grieved harder than when she lost both her parents at eighteen. In the short time that she knew Dr. Bender, she felt closer to him than she ever had to her parents. When the Doctor died, his nephew became the trustee of his uncle’s estate. The nephew, a New York City investor was instructed to put a small percentage of the interest earned from his uncle’s investments into a trust fund for Megan.

Her frugal lifestyle amounted to a nice nest egg that Dr, Bender’s nephew reinvested for her. She also worked out a deal with him to rent to own the guesthouse, including all the contents in the house. She did not have to work, because the return on her investments could have given her a relatively comfortable life.

However, she continued her employment with the Bank and rarely thought about the investments that were made for her. She has the money to travel the world, but she continued to live as before and rarely left her hometown. Dr. Bender’s nephew perceived Megan’s frugal lifestyle and her continued employment as deep-seated insecurity on her part. He told her that she could move to a better town or city with better opportunities. On the other hand, she had no intention of leaving her hometown or the guesthouse for that matter.

The town she lives in has a population of about five thousand people. The town is extremely depressed due to a lack of jobs and resources. Forty-four percent of the population is made up of senior citizens. The average income is about seventeen thousand a year, and most people live on public assistance. The cost of living in her town is relatively low compared to the national average due to the town’s poverty. Poverty is pretty extreme. It has resulted in crime going up and drug use among the youth. There is nothing for teenagers to do or go. They congregate on the main street and litter the sidewalks; they have little respect for the town. That lack of respect is due to them being ignored by the adult population. The teenagers feel they don’t have a voice, resulting in a rise in juvenile crimes. Their perception of the town is that it has evolved to a town of senior citizens.

The main street has a lot of dollar stores and restaurants. There is also a Barber Shop, a boutique, and a few antique stores. The restaurants attract people from the neighboring towns to visit and eat in the town. Megan enjoys ‘the King Kruller Coffee shop’ across the street from the Bank even though she can well afford to eat anyplace else. She enjoys their homemade soup and coffee. She rarely thought about the town's problems in the years that she worked at the Bank. She was able to get away and escape her environment by reading for hours on end.

* * * * *

“It is just a job,” Megan thought to herself as she walked across the street to the Coffee Shop. The Coffee Shop has its regulars, mostly retirees, the senior citizens' crowd, and they gossip daily about the daily happenings in the town and their controversial mayor.

Megan likes to go to the coffee shop after work and read the Newspaper, cover to cover. She never really got into the town's gossip, and she just sits in a booth with her nose in the Newspaper or a book.

“Hands-on the table, Artey,” said an elderly woman in the booth in front of her. The woman was talking to an elderly gentleman in the same booth. “Artey, hands on the table,” she said once again in a stern voice. The elderly gentleman teased the woman by putting his hands on her leg.

Megan noticed that there were many more people in the Coffee Shop that day than normal. She then saw an elderly man walk into the coffee shop carrying a guitar. He was followed by a woman carrying a large cake and behind her a woman carrying balloons with ‘Happy Birthday Artey’ on them. The cake had a picture taken in 1921 of a little boy sitting on a Pony.

Megan found herself sitting in the middle of a surprise party for a man who had just turned ninety years old. The man with the guitar began to sing old songs to Artey. A while later, Artey began to sing a song that he wrote many years ago to one of the young female owners. Afterward, he gave her a big kiss, and to Megan’s surprise, Artey sat down in her booth.

“Happy Birthday,” Megan said to him. “That was such a beautiful song you sang, and I never heard it before.”

“I wrote that song seventy-two years ago for my wife,” he said.

“Is your wife here?” she asked.

“She passed away two years ago; we were married sixty-eight years when she died. I wish she could be here to see this,” he said.

“So, how old are you?” she asked

“Ninety, today.”

“If I ever live to be ninety, I hope I am in good a shape as you,” she said.

“I see you in here every day reading. Are you in school?” he asked.

“Oh, no, I just like to read. I read everything; that is what I like to do.”

“What do you do?” he asked her.

“You mean for a living? I’m a bank teller across the street.”

“I have an account there,” he said

“I see you go in there, I've been working there a little over Fifteen years. What did you do?” she asked him.

“Well, I am retired now.”

“I figured that you being ninety and all,” she said, laughing.

“You don’t think I can’t go back to work?” he said with a smile. “I was a Teacher, then a Principle, and then the Superintendent of the local School District. I once coached midget football, and you know who my tight-end was on the football team.”

“Who?” she asked with curiosity in her voice.

“Abe Lincoln,” he said with a straight face.

“Really,” she said, laughing. “You are pretty old.”

“You live here in town?” he asked her.

“I bought Doctor Bender’s old guesthouse.”

“I have been in there years ago. That is such a beautiful place, especially the fireplace and the hardwood. I love the hardwood floors and molding.” He said.

“That is why I bought the place. Plus, it is tranquil there.”

“Are you married and have kids?” he asked in a small talk kind of way.

“Happy birthday, Artey,” said a woman with a Birthday card. Artey stood up and gave her a big kiss. When Artey sat back down in the booth, the woman asked, “is that your Daughter, Artey?”

“No Daughters, I have three Sons, and I was told they will be here shortly; they are taking me out for dinner.”

“I was never married, Artey, and no kids,” Megan told him after the other woman walked away. More people began to walk into the Coffee Shop holding cards. “You have a lot of friends, Artey.” “I have been coming in here for a long time,” he said.

“Happy Birthday, Artey,” a man said to him.

“Well, thank you, young fella,” Artey said while getting up and giving the guy a big hug. People began posing with Artey for pictures, and some took pictures of the birthday cake that had a picture of Artey on it that was taken in 1921 when he was a little boy sitting on a Pony.

“1921... that was a long time ago, Artey” Megan said.

“I have a picture of my wife sitting on the same Pony when she was a little girl, believe it or not,” he told her.

“So the Pony brought you guys together,” she said laughing.

“I didn’t see her picture on the Pony until after we were married. Her mother had the picture. There was a photographer that used to go around town with that Pony. When I was a child, he would take pictures of kids on it. He would then ask the kids where they lived. After the pictures were developed he would knock on their door and sell the pictures to their parents. Who can resist a picture of their child on a Pony?”

“I don’t think that would work today,” she said laughing.

“God, the town was so much different back then. Over thirty thousand people were living here. There were ten pool rooms, two bowling alleys, and four movie theaters. I watched Rudolph Valentino in the silent movies at the Lyric Theater. This little Italian guy played an organ for the sound effects. I remember listening to the radio after Rudolph Valentino died, and they played this recording of an interview he gave. This high squeaky Italian accented voice came over the radio. I remember my sister and mother staring at the radio in shock, not because the poor fellow died but because of what he sounded like on the radio. I don’t think he would have made it in the talkies,” he said. “When I was your age, this town had plenty of stores and restaurants, and there were four bars on every block. You couldn’t visit all the bars in one night because back then, there were a hundred and ninety-two bars in this town. Now there is only a few left.”

“I would love to have lived back then and seen the town the way it was. I am so glad I got to talk to you, Artey.” When more people came into the Coffee Shop, Megan once again wished him a happy birthday and left.

The next day as she was reading in one of the booths, she wondered how one person such as Artey could have so many friends in her hometown. In the booth in front of her, she heard four elderly women gossiping about various things and people, and once again, the topic of discussion came to the town’s mayor.

“Why don’t they just leave him alone; the poor guy is getting picked on,” said one of the women. Being oblivious to the gossip and the town’s politics, Megan kept her nose in her book.

When Megan got up to buy another cup of coffee, she noticed a man sitting with Arty in one of the booths. She also noticed that Artey had a concerned look on his face. She heard the man say, “well, take care, Artey.” When the man got up and left, Megan went over and sat down in Artey’s booth.

“Well, hello there, young lady,” he said to her.

“How did your Dinner go last night?”

“Great,” he said.

“Was that your son you were talking to?” she asked.

“Oh, no, that was the Mayor’s son. He is going to run against the Mayor in the next election,” he said.

“I really don’t follow politics. Who is he running against?” she asked.

“His Father.”

“His father is the Mayor, and he is going to run against his father. That would certainly make for a funny election. I should pay more attention to the town’s politics,” she said, slightly amused.

“They both have the same name!!!!” he said, “an election like that will make this town a huge joke in the papers and on TV,” he said to her in a very concerned voice, “I think he is making a big mistake.”

“Who are you going to vote for,” she said laughing.

“That is how everyone is going to take the election as a big joke,” he said.

“So Artey what do you do when you're not here?” she asked him to change the subject and lighten his mood.

“I go to the Lyric Restaurant and Bar for a few beers in the evening. When I get up in the morning, I go to the Veterans center for breakfast. I come here in the afternoon. I write letters to people during the day and a letter to my wife every day.” He said in a matter-of-fact way.

“I think that is so sweet that you write your wife letters.”

“I used to write her every day when she was alive. I communicate better when I write sometimes. But, I show my affection better physically,” a smile came over his face, “we all communicate differently. You have to get to know the person, find their humor, and communicate in a way that they will enjoy your company.”

“You have a great sense of humor,” she said, “I wish I could be outgoing and make friends like you. It is so hard for me to communicate with people, and making friends with people is difficult for me, and I have difficulty just opening up to people.”

“I had a male student like you; he is very quiet, reserved, introverted, and like you, he reads everything. He is extremely intelligent, he was not a very good athlete in school, and he is a very bad speller. But, his atrocious spelling did not interfere with his remarkable writing.” He looked at her intently and gently placed his hand on her hand, “Extremely gifted,” he said, “he almost let his lack of spelling prevent him from expressing himself through the written word,” he then looked into her eyes, “he went on to win numerous writing awards. He told me that writing is where he found his solace in life, and it is his way of baring his soul to the reader.”

“I could never write like that! I don’t have that kind of talent,” she said.

With a big smile on his face he said to her, “with all that knowledge and understanding you acquired from all those books? You should share it with others in your own unique way. Share that gift of learning and communicate to others who you are and what you know.”

“I haven’t written anything since school,” she said with a smile in her voice, “I’m not a very good writer, and I wouldn’t know what to write about. And, besides, who will be interested in reading what I write.”

“You learned a great deal from what you read, and now you will learn a great deal more about yourself from what you write. Don’t write for others. Write for yourself. The greatest writers don’t write to impress; they write to express. They write about what they know best. What you know best is yourself. Write in order to learn about yourself. The more you write, the more you will grow in self-knowledge.”

“I’m not a very good writer,” she said once again.

“The more you write, the more you will sharpen your craft. Find the time to relax and sit back. Take the time to visit yourself so that you can get to know yourself better. Then write down what you have learned.”

Artey leaned back in the booth and began to reminisce about some of the letters he wrote to his wife. Some of his letters were about his childhood growing up on East Coal Street. Megan was fascinated by the town’s history. It was not just the town's history that intrigued her, it was what Artey experienced in his ninety years.

“I once wrote a letter to my wife about my father’s neighbor,” he said. “When I was about nine years old, our neighbor had a horse that he kept tied on his front porch. People complained because our neighbor only cleaned up the horse's droppings about three times a week, and the porch stunk really bad. Our other neighbors complained to the Mayor, the police, the borough council, and nothing was done about it. There was no ordinance or borough code that our neighbor was violating. There was no law to prevent a person in our civilized society from having a horse tied on his front porch. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the horse, and the horse liked me. I used to give him little sugar cubes at night before I went to bed. When everyone was in bed, I heard my father going down the stairs one night. I crept out of bed, and I watched my father untie the horse. He then slowly opened our neighbor’s door. Back then, no one locked their doors. He turned the horse in the direction of our neighbor’s front door and gave the horse a swat on its rear end. The horse bolted and ran into our neighbor’s house and up their stairs, scaring the bejesus out of them.”

“What happened after that,” Megan said, laughing.

“That same night, there was a knock on our door. My father came downstairs wearing his nightcap and nightshirt that went down to his knees. When he opened the door, a police officer was standing at our door. The police officer was wearing his cone-shaped hat with a display badge on it. In broken English and a thick polish accent, my father said, ‘Yes, what, a, I do?’ The officer said to him, ‘we had a complaint that someone assaulted your neighbor’s horse.’ My father looked at the officer in a straight face and said to him, ‘I no assault’ a, horse. I send horse ‘a home. If horse get’ a mad. I tell’ a you, right a’ way.’ The officer replied, ‘well, if you hear anything, let us know.’ My father’s reply was, ‘you’ a, hear, no worry.’ After that night, our neighbor kept his horse tied on his back porch.”

“Did that really happen?” she asked him, laughing out loud.

“Of course, I wouldn’t make that up.” He looked over to her and said in a soft, sincere voice, “write about something close to your heart that you know intimately.”

The next day as Megan sat in the coffee shop. She had a tablet and pen, and she was struggling for words. She realized that the pages in all the books she had read - flowed and captured her imagination. The books transported her to different eras and places and into the mind of the characters she was reading about. Now she was being asked to delve into her own mind in order to create her own words and ideas.

She began to understand that she read those books in order to move away from herself. Now she was being asked to turn to the very person she had been avoiding, and that person just so happened to be herself. “Why is it so hard for me to write?” she thought, staring at the tablet. “Is this my life,” she said to herself, “a blank piece of paper with no words, thoughts, or ideas of my own.” She leaned back and then got up to buy another cup of coffee.

“Hey, O’Malley!!!!” yelled an elderly woman from one of the booths. O’Malley, the mayor’s son, was standing at the counter paying for his coffee. “Why are you guys picking on your father? He’s the mayor. He’s in charge. Just because you are running against him doesn’t give you the right to pick on him. Why aren’t you two talking?”

“He stopped talking to me ever since I threw my hat in the Mayoral race,” he yelled over to her.

“Well, that’s not right!!!!” she yelled. “He’s your father, and you’re his son. Even if you are running against him for Mayor, you two should still talk to one another. What did you guys do for Christmas?”

“I wasn’t invited,” he yelled back to her.

“That is not right at all!!!!” she yelled, “Christmas is for family. I will talk to him, don’t you worry about that.”

After paying for her coffee Megan walked back to her booth, “I will write a letter to Artey, he will appreciate that,” she thought.

Artey walked in and said hello to everyone in the Coffee Shop and sat down in Megan’s booth.

“Well hello there, young lady,” he said.

“Oh, you just missed the guy who is running for Mayor,” she said with humor in her voice, “O’Malley”

“Which one?” Artey asked.

“The little one,” she said.

“This town had plenty of Mayors let me tell ya,” he said. “I remember during prohibition, a mayor was making money on the side delivering moonshine to all the local Bars in town. The Bars were called speakeasies or beverage houses during the prohibition years. Our town’s mayor started cutting into this other guy’s territory with his home-brewed moonshine. So the other guy tipped off the revenuers and all the bottles of moonshine were smashed in the street by the Federal Agents. They would smash them in the open for everyone to see to embarrass the Mayor. That didn’t stop him from getting re-elected, though. The Mayor then went to work for the guy who tipped off the Federal Agents. The guy he worked for was using his dairy farm as a front. The dairy farmer hired a bunch of guys who dressed up as milkmen, and they delivered the booze to the Bar owners in bottles that were painted white. The Bar owners then would put the empty painted bottles out in the morning with a sign on them, ‘spoiled milk.’ The Mayor was getting paid as a Milkman and to protect his boss from the local police who the Mayor was in charge of. But, once in a while, they would get a slap on the wrist from the Federal Agents. The revenuers, as they were called were more of an annoyance for them because no one did any serious time for delivering Booze. People made more doing that on the side than in their regular paying jobs. The Mayor included.” He told her with humor in his voice.

“That was less of a vice than the drugs in the town now,” she said.

“This town is not the same, and no one can change the town and bring it back to where it was, including the Mayor. People must change their own lives, not count on others to make the changes for them. Years ago, people took responsibility for the well-being of their communities. People worked together as a community. They helped each other, and they didn’t look to see what they could get for free. They understood that what they gave to the community was contributing to the community’s well-being and their own well-being,” he said.

“I don’t think people today understand how much different today's world is from the generation you and your parents grew up in,” she said.

“We had very little, but we had much more in heart and soul. Our generation had more compassion, empathy, and personal responsibility, not just for our own lives but also for our fellow human beings. That is why I am a World War two veteran. I served my country because it was my responsibility to serve and make a difference. I didn’t go to service to see what I could get from my country. In a time of war, I joined the armed services to see what I could give to my country,” he said, “and to help the world become a little better.”

“I wish I joined the service after high school it would of helped me become a better person,” she said to him.

“There is a lot that you can do besides going off and fighting a War. Look around and try to make a difference in your own town. Take responsibility and make right what you feel is wrong in the town. Become the change that you would like to see.” He told her, “Lead by example; that is what I tried my best to do as a Soldier, a Teacher, a Principal, and as a Superintendent of the local school.”

“You are a great man, Artey, and I will try to get more active in the community,” she said.

Artey got up, bought a large cup of coffee, and returned to the booth, “How did you acquire Dr. Bender’s old guesthouse,” he asked her.

“When I was eighteen years old, my parents were killed in a car accident. I sold my parents' home, and I used the money to enroll in the local community college, and I got a degree in Business Administration. Dr. Bender knew what happened to my parents, and he put me up in his guesthouse until I found a Job. When I was hired at the Bank, I paid him rent. His nephew invested a part of my pay. When the Doctor passed away, I worked out a deal with his nephew to rent to own the guesthouse. I own it now and the furniture that was there when I moved in the place,” she said.

“I remember the furniture in there. Dr. Bender’s Aunt lived there a long time. I remember back in the 1950’s she had this beautiful antique table in there,” he said.

“It’s still there.”

“That table is worth a fortune; it is over two hundred years old,” he said.

“Really,” she said, a little shocked, “I don’t think the nephew knows that. He lives in New York, and he was never in the guesthouse, just the main house.”

“Keep your mouth shut,” he said with a smile on his face.

“I will, mums, the word,” she said laughing.

“Dr. Bender’s aunt was a friend of a famous painter. I can’t quite place the name,” he said, “The Doctor's cousin had one of that artist's paintings and had it auctioned off for an excellent price. Dr. Bender used to have one of the artist's paintings hanging over the fireplace in the guesthouse. The artist painted Dr. Bender’s aunt. The aunt’s name was Charlotte. She used to cut my hair in the guesthouse when I was a little boy. I had the biggest crush on her. I couldn’t wait for my hair to grow so I could go over there to see her. She was such a beautiful and carefree woman.”

“Strataverous?” she asked.

“What’s that?” he asked.

“Was the painter’s name Strataverous?” She asked him once again.

“Not sure,” he said, “why do you ask?”

“Because if it’s Strataverous, the painting is still there,” she said.

“That painting is worth a bundle,” he said with a big smile on his face, “What does the nephew do?”

“He’s a New York City Investor,” she said.

“Do you have anything in writing stating the contents of the home is yours?” He asked.

“Yep, signed by the nephew,” she said smiling. “I have no intention of selling anything, though.”

There was something about Artey that intrigued her. She always found it difficult to open up and talk to people, but he put her at ease. She enjoys being with him and talking to him.

“Can I see the guesthouse,” he asked her, “I haven’t been in that house for fifty years or so. Charlotte Bender threw these great lavish parties in that house. She was so far ahead of her time that she would be considered a liberal if she were alive today, but she was the most carefree person I ever knew.”

“Sure, you can accompany me over there,” she said.

When they arrived at the house, she apologized to him for the house being so cluttered with books and clothes being sprawled all over the place. He admired the table, the piano, the antique furniture, but most of all, the painting.

“She was a beautiful woman,” he said, referring to Dr. Bender’s aunt Charlotte in the painting. “When I was a boy, I looked at that painting up close because of Charlotte posing in the nude. She would catch me taking a peek and say teasingly; you keep that up, I will tell your mother.”

“Charlotte Bender died before I was born. She posed for that painting in nineteen-twenty-seven; the year is under the painter’s signature on the painting,” Megan said.

“When I was young I would tell my Mother that I needed a haircut. My father would then say to me in polish. You just want to go over there to see dirty picture.” Artey told her, and Megan laughed out loud.

She offered Artey a cup of tea, and she lit a fire in the fireplace. They sat down and talked while the burning wood crackled and the flames filled the room with a warm glow.

“You’re the first person I ever invited here,” she said.

“I invited myself,” he said with a smile in his voice.

“Well, I didn’t have to accept your invitation,” she said with humor in her voice.

“When you reach out to others, you allow others to reach out to you,” he said.

“I am so closed off from people at times. I know it’s me, but I have difficulty opening up and becoming friends with people,” she said.

“That is why you would be a great writer. A lot of the great writers were introverted,” he said.

“So were a lot of musicians and painters,” she said.

“When you reach out to others, you are reaching out for a part of yourself,” he said. He then looked up at the painting, “the artists are creating aspects of themselves in the art form. That is their way of reaching out and connecting with others,” he said. He then looked over at Megan, “at the same time, they are connecting with themselves in order to create.” He took a sip of his tea and once again looked up at the painting, “the artists, by putting a part of themselves in the art form, are bearing their soul in the art form so that they can bond with themselves and others,” he said.

“Sounds like Theology in a way, god putting him or herself in the art form.” She looked over at Artey, “in order for god to reach out and connect with the art form, god must connect with god in the art form. God baring his or her living soul in the art form,” she turned and looked up at the painting, “I suppose love falls into that category,” she said. She then took a sip of her tea, “God,” she said, “reaches out through the art form in order to connect with him or herself.”

“I never saw god as a He or a She,” he said, “but I could not have said it better myself,” he leaned back in his chair, looked at the burning flames, and said, “I also see God as the supreme artist. God cannot communicate or express what it does not know and what God knows is God. We are simply the art form that communicates God’s presence and Love. The more God connects with us, the more we connect with God. At the same time, God comes to a greater knowledge of itself by communicating and expressing itself in its art form like the supreme artist.”

“Well, I must say, Artey, I never read that in any books,” she said with laughter in her voice.

Megan put more wood on the fire, and they moved their chairs closer to the fireplace. They continued to watch the burning flames and feel the warm glow. “When I first saw my wife,” he said, “she electrified my soul. Then the mere presence of her brought me great comfort.” He took another sip of his tea. “Through our love, she became the better half of me.” He then turned to Megan, and the light from the burning flames made his eyes appear deep, more intense than she had ever seen them before. At the same time, she felt completely at ease. “In true love,” he said, “there are only the moments, of the mutual exchange, of the spiritual embrace, that binds us to our soul’s desire,” he said with poetic certainty. He then asked her, “Do you like math?”

“That depends,” she said, “are you going to test me on it?” she asked him, laughing.

“Do you know what the equation of true love is,” he asked.

“Not really,” she said.

“One plus, the other; equals one,” he said. “My wife and I were equal partners, and in a way, I feel we still are.”

“I hope someone like that enters my life,” she said.

“When you love others and care for others, you allow yourself to be loved and cared for,” he said.

“Many people love and care for you Artey,” she said, “and a lot of people loved and cared for Dr. Bender, his wife Ellen, and Charlotte.”

“They were good people,” he said, “and I have become very fond of you, Megan, just as I am still very fond of my wife.”

She offered him some wine, and they talked for hours. The topics of conversation reminded her of the long talks she had with Dr. Bender. She told Artey about how she sat in the Doctor’s home on many nights after the death of his wife, sharing wine with him and talking to him openly and honestly. She missed him dearly. Now Artey seems to be filling a void in her life. She connected with him, and he connected with her. She explained to him about her childhood and teenage years, “I was never close to my parents. I had no Brothers or Sisters,” she said, “no one to bond with or talk to about my problems.” She told him, “I could never adequately explain to others the frustration I felt growing up in a strict and rigid environment.” He listened to her intently, with a deep understanding that made her feel even closer to him.

He slowly changed her mood by easing her into a different conversation. He then told her about how intimately playful he and his wife were. She was able to see in his eyes how painful the loss of his wife was for him and how much he still missed her.

She then changed the topic of discussion by asking him questions about the town’s history and politics. He told her funny stories about the town, and he explained to her about the town’s wacky politics, political personalities, and the O’Malleys.

His stories made her laugh, and it was then that she felt a melancholy cloud lift and break away from her. She felt utterly open with him, and for the first time, she felt nothing to hide. At that moment, they filled a deep void in each other's lives through a bond of friendship.

“Did I ever tell you about my long voyage to Egypt,” he asked her in a straight face.

“No,” she said, “I would love to hear about it though.”

“When I have more time I will tell you about it,” he said teasingly, “when I arrived in Egypt, they were just in the planning phase to build the second Pyramid. I think they were building it for the Pharaoh Ramsey.”

“Did you meet Moses,” she asked with a smile in her voice.

“No, that was before he left Mount Sinai to return to Egypt,” he said with Humor in his voice.

Artey looked over at the grand piano and said to her, “do you know how to play that thing or is it just for show?”

“I know chopsticks,” she said with a straight face. She went over to the piano and played it in a way a piano teacher would teach a young child who is just learning to play the Piano.

Artey looked at her and gave her a thumbs up in an encouraging way. The way a father would encourage their child to continue on. “Do you know any other piano arrangements?” he asked her.

“A few,” she said. She began to play various classical arrangements without sheet music. The music filled the room. She played the piano with precision, warmth, and deep emotion. It was as if the piano was a part of her, her extension. The music moved out of Megan like enlightening words resonating through her soul to the soul of the listener. “Sing that song to me that you sang at ‘The King Kruller Coffee Shop,’” she said to Artey.

“I never put that song to music,” he said, with his face beaming with emotion, awestruck at Megan’s immense gift.

“I will help you,” she said.

He sang to her as she wrote down the words. She worked on it and then began to play around with some chords of music. She asked him to sing it a few more times, and within an hour, she had the words on sheet music. He sang it a few more times with Megan on the piano, and tears began to well up in his eyes. “If I sang that song to her with that music, she would have married me a few years sooner,” he said half-jokingly. Trying to hold back the tears he said, “I have been trying to get you to express yourself with written words. The whole time your angelic soul was communicating the universal language of love with music.”

The next day after she left work, she looked around her hometown. She walked for hours, and she began to see the town differently. She tried to see the town through Artey’s eyes, and she thought about how she could make a difference in the town and make the town a little better.

Two weeks later, a letter arrived at Artey’s home from New York City.

Dear, Artey

I know it has been a while since you saw me. I have been doing quite a bit of soul searching. I can’t find the words to adequately describe what I am feeling at this moment. When I left the Bank two weeks ago, I went for a walk around our hometown. My imagination went wild that afternoon. I tried to picture the town how it was when you were my age. I saw the beautiful women in their 1940s-style hairdos and wearing beautiful dresses in my imagination. I saw the men wearing the 1940s-style suites with their fedora hats. I saw the old cars going up and down Main Street and a police officer directing traffic. I saw another police officer reprimanding a driver for driving too fast through an intersection. I saw a Main Street vendor selling hot roasted peanuts and chestnuts. I saw another vendor selling pretzels and Newspapers. I saw yet another selling tobacco, cigars, cigarettes, and penny candy.

I saw all the great stores on Main Street and the shoppers going into the various shops and Department stores. I saw a Pet Store with a puppy in the window. I saw a Mother with children taking them into a toy store. I saw teenagers sitting at a soda fountain drinking malts at the corner drugstore. I saw pool rooms and teenagers taking bets on who would win the next game. I saw the bowling alley and the teenagers dressed up, dancing to the 1940s music in a dance hall. I saw the lights on Main Street all lit up and young lovers going into a jewelry store. I saw the children playing stickball on the side streets and women sitting on their porches to see that the children don’t misbehave. I saw the buildings and stores where there are now vacant lots. I saw the various Department stores where empty buildings now stand. I mostly saw the people going up and down the Main Street, talking to one another and greeting each another. I realize it was only in my mind's eye, but it was how you described it to me. You touched a part of me at my home and in ‘The King Kruller Coffee Shop.’ I always needed other peoples words to stir my passions and free my mind. I know now that I, too, can express who I am, like the writers of all the books I have ever read.

I saw reality too that afternoon. I saw the town as it is today, and what I saw scared me. Deep down in my heart, I know that our ailing town can never go back to where it was.

I then tried to picture the town how it will be when I am your age. I saw fewer stores, more vacant buildings, and vacant lots. I saw no children standing on Main Street and no restaurants. What scared me the most was seeing no one walking down Main Street. I saw an abandoned ghost town with just the remnants and shadows of yesteryear.

It was then that I remembered our conversations. I remember when you told me to take responsibility for the town’s problems by becoming the change, I would like to see. I decided right then and there that I would sell the antique mahogany table, the other antique furniture, and the painting. I will use that money to open a youth center on Main Street in one of the vacant buildings. I know that one center is not the solution, but it will help. I will get more involved with the community and the town's politics and become a voice for change. I will become the change that I would like to see in our community.

I went to my Boss two weeks ago and told him that I need two weeks off. He looked at me with this stunned look on his face. I never demanded anything from him in the past, and I never took a day off in the last fifteen years. He could not deny my request. I then contacted the Metropolitan Museum in New York City, and they sent a representative to the guesthouse to appraise the furniture and painting. The museum was interested in everything but one rickety old chair. The mahogany table was the most valuable. Above one of the legs on the table is a small engraved piece of metal with the maker of the table’s name on it, ‘Victor Marrow.’ There is another engraved piece of metal above one of the other legs with the name, ‘Charles Carroll.’

After a bunch of phone calls back and forth between the appraiser and the museum, I was told the table is 268 years old. I found out a few days ago that it was once owned by Charles Carroll, one of our Nation's Founding Fathers, not to mention the other known individuals throughout the years that once owned it. How Dr. Bender acquired such a table is quite a mystery. Last week, the museum sent a moving van and haled everything to New York City.

I gave the Museum permission to auction everything off. As for the painting, it is also worth a bundle. The couch that Charlotte Bender posed on, to be painted, is worth more now because of the painting. I will let you know how everything turns out. The museum put me in the Waldorf Hotel until the auction is complete.

I am staying in New York City to see how everything turns out. The painting will be auctioned off tomorrow and the furniture the following day. The money I receive from the auction will be used to start a foundation for the town’s children, which I will name ‘The Friends Foundation’ – “Friends Helping Friends For A Better Future.”

You will hear from me soon.



After three weeks of being away from the Bank, Megan returned to work. She slowly walked passed her co-workers. “You must have really been sick. You have been gone so long,” Sheila, the assistant manager, said to her while walking away.

“I had to sell some furniture and a painting,” she said.

“Money problems, Megan?” Ann, a bank teller, asked her with a lack of sincerity.

“Megan, I didn’t know you can paint?” Sally, another bank teller, asked her in a somewhat condescending way.

“Oh I didn’t paint it, Strataverous painted it,” she said.

“Strata, who?” Ann asked.

“Strataverous,” Megan, said.

A few moments later, Sheila the assistant manager, returned and told Megan that she was needed in the Managers office. Megan grabbed her purse and walked toward his office.

“That is the last we will see of her,” said Sheila.

“She takes three weeks off to sell furniture,” Ann said laughing.

“Don’t forget the Strata,” said Sally, and they all bust out laughing.

In the Managers office, Megan sat down in front of his desk after closing his door.

“Megan, Megan, Megan, Megan,” he said, “I allowed you to take two weeks off, and I don’t hear from you for three weeks. If you were in my shoes, what would you do?”

“Well, I am sorry, Dave, I had to sell some furniture that was in my home and a painting. Well, if you want, you could just not pay me for the three weeks,” she said, “if that will make you feel any better. I would also like to open up a new account today if that is O.K. with you,” She takes the check out of her purse and calmly hands it to him.

Dave was used to Megan’s calm demeanor, but he had never seen that kind of certitude in her behavior. Especially, the way she handed him the check and called him by his first name as if she was his equal. That made up his mind to let her go right then and there, but he wanted to exert his authority first for his own satisfaction.

Dave takes the check and places it on his desk. “Three weeks without a word from you is totally irresponsible,” he said, shaking his head and looking at her in a demeaning way.

“Well, things didn’t go as smoothly as I hoped, and the auction took longer than I thought. I am sorry about being gone for so long, Dave,” she said.

“What would you do if you were in my shoes? If you haven’t heard from an employee for three weeks, and they just show up to work out of the blue? I have to let you go, Megan,” he said.

“That is fine, Dave, I will just open the account at another bank,” she said, with no care-in-the-world attitude. The Manager picks up the check, and with a quick glance, he sees that it is from the Metropolitan Museum. He puts the check back down on his desk. He paused a bit, hoping to see at least a bit of a grimace or a flicker of emotion on Megan’s face, “as I was saying, Megan” he said.

Megan looks down at her watch as if he was keeping her from something. “Well, if you are going to let me go I will just open the account at another bank,” she said once again.

Dave quickly grabbed the check from his desk to hand it to her. He intended to march her out of his office, into the lobby, in front of her co-workers, so that they could see him fire her on the spot. When the check was in his hand, he looked at it more closely. He quickly jumped up from his chair, “Megan!!!!” he yelled so loudly that Megan’s body shifted in her chair, and she had to catch herself from falling out of it.

“Oh, I’ve completely misunderstood the importance of you selling that furniture,” he said to her with shock, excitement, and urgency emanating from his body. He shuffled his body around his desk as if his feet could not keep up with his protruding ball of flesh of an upper body. When he got to his office door, he quickly swung it open and yelled to Sheila !!! for his assistant manager. He appeared in the doorway as if he was about to lay a twenty-pound gold egg.

“Yes, Sir,” said Sheila running over to him.

“Oh Sheila, look, Megan here will open a new account with us, and I would like you to take care of it immediately,” he said with extreme urgency in his voice.

“Me, Dave,” she said, highly offended.

“Yes, right now,” he said, handing Sheila the check and urging her on.

“Oh my god!!!” yelled one of the Bank tellers, “Sheila collapsed on the floor.”

“That is quite all right,” said Megan calmly, “I could just open the account at another bank.”

“Nonsense!!!!!!” Dave yelled, he waves over to one of the tellers and tells her to help Sheila, who was lying on the floor next to the check. He bends over trying to pick the check up off the floor without losing his balance. Megan slowly reached down with ease and picked it up before Dave could get his hands on it.

“That is quite all right, Dave, I could just open an account at another bank,” she said to him, with a tone of voice that caused a torrential downpour of sweat from Dave’s brow.

“Megan,” he said, his voice cracking with panic. “I will take care of this account personally.”

“Well,” she said with a pause and teasingly thinking with a straight face trying to make up her mind. The sweat began to appear through Dave’s dress shirt as he stood watching her.

“If you insist,” she said, handing him the check.

“I will personally take care of this new account in my office,” He said, while salivating at the thought of his end-of-the-year bonus.

Sally and Ann were helping Sheila up off the floor. “Sixteen-Million,” mumbles Sheila.

“What?” said Ann handing Sheila a glass of water.

“Sixteen-Million,” she mumbles again, gulping the water.

“Sixteen-Million, what?” asked Sally.

Sheila takes another gulp of the water, “She’s opening an account in her name for, Sixteen-Million.”

“Oh my god, Sally collapsed on the floor!!!!!” yelled one of the Bank tellers.

Megan went over to the Coffee Shop and told Artey what happened at the Bank, and they both sat in the Booth hysterically laughing.

Six months later, Megan opened up her center on the Main Street. She had one of the large vacant buildings renovated with her money. She told Artey that she will also run for Mayor against the two O’Malleys. She told him that a group of teenagers from the Center put up signs and went door to door telling everyone what good she was doing for the town.

“I think you will Win,” Artey told her. “But, don’t tell O’Malley I told you that because I told him the same thing.”

“Which one did you say that too?” she asked.

“Both,” he said, laughing.

* * * * *

The town’s youth now have their Center, and Megan is now the Mayor. She moved out of the guesthouse and converted the top floor of the building above her new center - ‘The Friends Foundation’ - into a large apartment for her and her husband. She married O’Malley, the former mayor’s son. Her husband told the local newspaper that he has no intention of running against his wife, the current Mayor.

“As for my father, he still has not gotten over the fact that he lost the last election,” O’Malley, told a reporter. “My father hasn’t talked to me ever since I threw my hat in the Mayoral race during the last election,” O’Malley, told their local Television Station. “As for me I am moving forward,” O’Malley, told their local Radio Station, “that is why I married the Mayor.” He told their local Television Station, “If I run against my wife in the upcoming election, she may never talk to me again and I would never want that on my conscience,” The former Mayor and current Mayor were not available for comment.

When she was elected Mayor unopposed for her second term, she gave the Bank her two-week notice. She told them that she wants to make the town a better place as a full-time mayor. However, she still goes to ‘The King Kruller Coffee Shop,’ to talk to Artey and get his wise advice on the town's politics. She is also keeping the promise she had made when she ran for Mayor to put her full-time, working on ways to solve the town’s problems.

She still reads the newspaper, from cover to cover, in the Coffee Shop each day. She also makes time to teach children interested in music how to play the piano throughout the week. The local high school allows her to perform Piano Concerts to sell-out crowds three times a year in their auditorium. Some of her Piano students perform at the concerts, with all the proceeds going to the center. She has moved all of her books that she has accumulated over the years into ‘The Friends Foundation’ center to share them with the children and the community.

Mayor Megan O’Malley has become the most popular Mayor in her hometown, not because she is the town’s first woman Mayor but because she genuinely cares about her community. She also understands that the community must come first. She is moving the people in a way that they can understand that they are a vital part of the town’s well-being. The town is ailing, but the cure is in the people.

She has also taken the responsibility to make the changes by becoming the change. She leads by example. The new center in town has also given the youth role models through its volunteers, and Megan sees the volunteers as community leaders for the children to emulate and embrace.

She has also taken time out of her day to write letters to Artey, and he takes the time to write her back. She sees the wisdom in his words. She has also followed his advice by taking time to sit back and visit herself in order to get to know herself better. Megan now understands more clearly what Artey meant when he told her that she had learned a great deal over the years from what she had read. Now, she is learning a great deal more about herself from what she writes. Through that self-knowledge, she has become a progressive force in her hometown, and she continues to become the change that she would like to see in others and within her community.

    Always with love from Suzhou, China
    Thomas F O’Neill
    WeChat: Thomas_F_ONeill
    U.S. Voice mail: (800) 272-6464
    China Mobile 011 (86) 13405757231
    Skype: thomas_f_oneill

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Sifoddling Along


By Marilyn Carnell

Blissful Coping

When sitting down to write, sometimes stories flood my mind - impatient to be told. I have never recognized that I had “writer’s block” before, but this month it has reared its ugly head. I simply don’t know what I can do to make things better.

Once I was a news junkie. I subscribed to newspapers and magazines; I watched or recorded news from several sources in order to keep up with local and world events.

In recent months, I could not bear the news and could only take it in small doses because none of it seemed to offer much hope for a better world. So many troubling things - COVID, climate change disasters, the war in Ukraine, and this week another horrific shooting of young children in Texas - have made me so embroiled in events that I was getting discouraged.

I have always tried to be a problem solver and tried to make a positive difference in my immediate world, but these catastrophes are beyond the ability of any individual to solve. The planet and society seem to hover near the point of no return. Ok. So that is a relief to say, accept reality and soldier on. I have great respect for the British “stiff upper lip” and “don’t complain, don’t explain” philosophies, so I will write a little about what I have been doing to cope.

I have been blessed to have had a long and overall good life. Although I was unaware of it for many years, I was born with white privilege, a major advantage in times past. I know what discrimination feels like because I was also born female. I broke through a few glass ceilings in a small way by being the first woman to work in certain areas of food manufacturing companies, but they always paid me significantly less than a man in any of my jobs. It is a relief to see that changing. When I left one company for a better-paying job, they had to hire three men to replace me, but I was making only ? percent of the salary of a male colleague. I got a big raise with that new job but later learned that I was still making less than half the salary of a male with similar experience and a bachelor's degree and I had earned a PhD. I never went hungry or suffered from extreme poverty, so I was lucky.

That luck included 23 years of education with no loan debt. Education has become less and less supported by a society that seems to see it as an opportunity to save money. It is a false economy. Sadly, I see little effort to change that. America became great by offering free public education to all and programs like the G.I. Bill.

Now that COVID has ebbed, I have once again left my safe nest to reenter the outer world. It is time to pass on knowledge and experience where it is welcome and I am keeping myself busy and engaged in life. Like my father before me, I refuse to be handicapped by physical restraints and do what I can with the abilities I still can use.

I have had four young women ask me to show them how to use a sewing machine and I oblige that.

I belong to a church that is passionate about racial equality, diversity, social justice, and the environment. I am working on a project to offer church space to the public to have access to free Wi-Fi and free coffee when it is not convenient to work at home, one of our new realities. We share space in our sanctuary with two additional very different congregations. Their only similarity is that they are immigrants from Africa. I view that as progress.

Writer’s block is just another name for inertia - a state of being unable to move or make a change. As summer approaches, this is a time to think about how we can all work on large or small things that will benefit others and, in return, benefit ourselves.

To my knowledge, there has been no one who has wholly made the entire world a better place than they found it, but it is still a worthy goal. It doesn’t have to be a big thing. It could be writing a warm note to someone, sharing a ride, or being kind despite being annoyed.

I hope you find a project or goal that makes you and those around you happier.

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Irish Eyes


By Mattie Lennon

Listowel Writer’s Week, a book of “Navvy” poems, and a Kavanagh work.

By the time you read this, I hope to be in the Culture capital of Ireland at Listowel Writer’s Week.

It will also be the weekend of the Listowel Races when the less literary members of society will throng to the Island Racecourse. Thanks to Mary Coby I have the following story from the Listowel Harvest Festival of Racing in days of yore.

Alice Walsh shares photographic evidence of “the Prince”. It was taken at Race-week 1961 at the opening of Walsh’s Super Ballroom.

In the centre of the image surrounded by Mick Delahunty band members is a beloved visitor to Listowel Races, an eccentric tipster known as Prince Monolulu. He wasn’t a prince and his name wasn’t Monolulu and he wasn’t an African chief as he claimed.

The Prince

In Listowel, in the 1950s and 60s, a black man was a rare enough sight. A very tall black man dressed like an Ethiopian chief with a monstrous ostrich plume on his head and a lion’s tooth around his neck was bound to attract attention. He was a regular on racetracks in Britain. When not at the races he was a “Lion tamer, fire eater, street dentist, preacher, tribal chief, boxer, prisoner of war, and entertainer.”

“He was married six times.” When Spion Kop won the 1920 Derby at odds of 100-6 Monolulu won a reputed £8,000 (worth around £400,000 in today’s money).

This was all part of the myth that surrounded this man. But like most “facts’ about this character we have to take everything with a pinch of salt. Monolulu was American. He came to England and soon discovered that a life as a showman could be quite a good living in the early 20th century.

He plied his trade on racecourses until his death in 1965 on Valentine’s Day. The story goes that he choked on a strawberry cream from a box of Black Magic. Like everything else about him, this too sounds a tad implausible.

On his trips to Listowel he would visit The Island armed with a handful of sealed envelopes. “I got a horse to beat the favourite,” was his cry. He sold you the tip sealed in an envelope and urged you not to share it so as not to upset the odds. He must have been successful as he came back year after year. He was part of the colour that was part of the annual races meeting.

Prince Monolulu

* * * * *

Folk music legend Helen B. Grehan's first book of poems and songs, 'The Return', was published on May 30th. This collection of the songs and poems of this Roscommon is edited by Jessamine O’Connor.

Helen B Grehan was born and reared in Boyle County Roscommon where her parents owned a pub. It was a pub which was famous as a place where musicians and singers would gather. From a very young age, Helen began writing down songs of John Reilly, which are preserved to this day in oral Traveller tradition. Shortly before his death, Reilly recorded many of his songs at Grehan’s for a visiting UCLA professor. A plaque to John Reilly is on the wall where Grehan’s bar stood.

Her career as a public performer stretches back to her early teens. With her two older sisters, Francis and Marie, she went on to perform – under the name Bernie – in concert halls and on festival stages all over Ireland, England, Scotland, and Wales, including Dublin’s Olympia theatre and London’s Royal Albert Hall. The Grehan Sisters played a range of venues including The Rose of Tralee, The Edinburgh Festival, The Wild Geese Club, and major folk festivals where they shared space with Ronnie Drew and the Dubliners, The Incredible String Band, The Furey Brothers, Christy Moore, The Clancy Brothers, Ralph McTell, and Billy Connolly – who called them “fearsome”. She also plays with the Boyle Songwriters Circle and recorded ‘Where Soldiers Go, 1848’ for their recent charity CD.

Grehan’s bar was thought of as a kind of social centre, a gathering house for musicians and singers. One of their frequent guests was singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist John Hoban who says, “Helen was the key to it. She had this massive understanding and deep empathy. She had her own way of playing music that came from herself, the old way. Nobody showed her anything. She simply played the guitar how she thought it should sound”.

Any perceptive reader would have to agree with the words of Editor, by Jessamine O’Connor. “I have read and re-read countless times these poems and songs, and each time feel something new, learn something more. It takes real courage to write and perform songs about vulnerable and exploited rural girls, abandoned wives, or aging and destitute local men, while living in rural Ireland. This courage is Helen’s greatest gift. This gift, combined with fierce intelligence and literary skill, added to a humanistic sense of duty, is what makes Helen’s work so outstanding.”

With her poet’s hat on, she uses the most sensitive writing to explain, without judgment, how sometimes people can end up where they never intended. How they can become twisted by life’s journey. She brings the reader into those men’s minds and hearts; As the collection implies Helen writes of returned Irish ‘navvies’ with complete understanding. She brings the reader into these men’s minds and hearts. She neither patronizes nor excuses them.

If you ever, for want of employment in Ireland, ended up in Camden Town or Cricklewwod this is the book for you. Or if a member of your family took that journey and returned . . . or didn’t, don’t miss it.

I‘ll give you just a taste of Helen’s insight in the last stanza of

Davey’s Return

Well at least their futures have peace,
have certainty beneath the clay,
the weighty earth, the dirt that made them
and broke them,
throwing it well back
full whack
when men were men and Paddy ruled rude

Details of this wonderful collection from;

* * * * *

Bloomsday is on June 16th. Who Killed James Joyce is one of Patrick Kavanagh’s lesser-known poems.

Here are the words; I made a recording of yours truly attempting to read it. But the wav file doesn't work well.

Who killed James Joyce?
I, said the commentator,
I killed James Joyce
For my graduation.

What weapon was used
To slay mighty Ulysses?
The weapon that was used
Was a Harvard thesis.

How did you bury Joyce?
In a broadcast Symposium.
That’s how we buried Joyce
To a tuneful encomium.

Who carried the coffin out?
Six Dublin codgers
Led into Langham Place
By W. R. Rodgers.

Who said the burial prayers? –
Please do not hurt me –
Joyce was no Protestant,
Surely not Bertie?

Who killed Finnegan?
I, said a Yale-man,
I was the man who made
The corpse for the wake man.

And did you get high marks,
The Ph.D.?
I got the B.Litt.
And my master’s degree.

Did you get money
For your Joycean knowledge?
I got a scholarship
To Trinity College.

I made the pilgrimage
In the Bloomsday swelter
From the Martello Tower
To the cabby’s shelter.

* * * * *

See you in July.

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

On Trek


By Judith Kroll

What If?

Many believe that when we pass over, we immediately transform from flesh and blood to pure invisible spiritual energy. What does pure invisible spirit energy, that is made from God’s image, do?

Everything imaginable. It cannot be destroyed. Like the wind, it is invisible, and it cannot be destroyed.

So what if The universe said, for the next week, everyone on planet earth, will be in spirit form, like they would when they pass over.

How would that affect me you ask? Without the brain, and being like God, we would remember who we truly are..Spirits with unconditional love.

Picture if you will, our world with unconditional love.

You couldn’t hurt a fly. Maybe there wouldn’t be fly’s around, but the animals would be spirits as well. Would we see our houses? Yes and no. In reality, they don’t exist, they are a frequency. In our physical we see them, in our spirit, they are not there, but if we choose to, we can see them.

No time, in the spirit world. Why would there be? We are part of everything. We become all. I am. Heaven is a state of being. Being. Some say how boring. I say, no, how amazing. We are everything, and we can do anything.

Sometimes humans say, they would love to be a fly on the wall. OK., so we can snoop. We wouldn’t choose to snoop. Our thinking Is not like our human minds. It is pure unconditional love, All-knowing, all loving.

Well that would mean we are like God in his image!

Exactly. Knowing this we are very powerful humans as well. We know more than we think we do. We need to change our thinking to...I can, and not, I cannot. Start loving self. Know your worth, be positive, and love.
Judith 5/30/2022

Knowing each person is on their own journey, then what right do we have to say our thoughts are right and someone else's is wrong. We Judge as individuals or as a group, political, religious, etc. Many believe we stand before God at the end of time... if so, we will not be with a group, we would be by ourselves. We stand alone. Follow our own hearts, and let others follow theirs. It truly is our journey.


Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Reflections of The Day


By Dayvid Clarkson

The quality of everything we do: our physical actions, our verbal actions, and even our mental actions, depends on our motivation. That's why it's important for us to examine our motivation in our day-to-day life. If we cultivate respect for others and our motivation is sincere, if we develop a genuine concern for others’ well-being, then all our actions will be positive.

This evening I was reflecting on ‘intent’. In many eastern belief systems that I have researched, there is an underlying current of ‘intent’. It appears to me that our ‘intent’ should be a place of frequent visitation. I try as best I can, before I act, to examine my ‘intent’. Does it stem from a truly open heart and open mind? What are the possible outcomes of my action? Is the action anchored in kindness and compassion? In my world, I have little room for those who somehow seek their own validation by ‘having’ to win some sort of imaginary game. I choose not to disturb another’s path. I am still practicing but I think I understand

It is a sad state of affairs. I found growing up as a Hippie I could not beat the system as much as it was noble to think I could. What I came to understand is that I could reduce the amount I contributed to the chaos. To live my truth and speak my truth without trying to coerce others to think as I do. But to live as best I can with kindness and compassion. To unlearn everything I have been taught. If something or someone insults my soul I discard them. I do not judge for I have no idea what is happening nor the underground currents that run in their lives. I do not follow the media, I do what I can when I can, and I am never angry about what I didn't know before.

I have turned away from any teachings that are created by man. I do not read auras, I do not use crystals, I do not attend church, and I do not know the squatting dog position. I have many Teachers but the disciple of none. I pay little or no attention to the 'real' world around me for when I do I become involved in that negativity. Anything that angers me or affects me in a negative way is an insult. My thoughts are to embrace compassion, kindness, and mindfulness in my everyday life and by example lead a few to a greater understanding if they so desire. The only way to have a positive influence during this journey is to connect with one person at a time ensuring these connections are positive and mutually beneficial. Just some of my thoughts.

What I wish is that you find what works for you. It does not have to be what works for others or what you think society expects from you. For some it is a religious path, for some, it could be Buddhism or Taoism, and some might choose to be an Atheist. Other Folks might choose activism. It might be social activism, environmentalism, animal rights, or global warming. Still, more willfully involve themselves in the arts, music, painting, sculpting, or photography. And others might passionately pursue the sciences.

For me, it doesn’t matter as long as you find what works for you. Most importantly I wish you realize what is right for you is not necessarily right for others. To also understand that you are not required to coerce, nor force your path on me. I will respect the choices you make and will, in all probability, support and agree with most of your concepts.

Because we have differences does not make us different. At the very essence of our being is the mystical understanding that nothing matters and everything does.

There is no issue that is more important than compassionate empathy towards our fellow travelers. We cannot be offended; we choose to be offended. Cast off everything you have been taught. Accept all paths and respect the fact that we are all just trying to figure out this incredible journey. We need each other. When we ask ourselves what is truly important we will discover that we will share our last meal if required, we will shelter all from the storms, we will provide care as needed, and give that shirt if you ask. This is your authentic self simply trying to live your heart song.

As you rest this eve I ask of you, before closing your eyes, to take three deep breaths and slowly exhale. Release the dust of the day like water under a bridge. Leave behind everything unresolved in your heart, for this is your time and yours alone. You will be welcomed with open arms to hear the whispers and the calming beat of ancient drums as you sail off to your sanctuary. This is your time to renew and restore your spirit. You own it completely. This is your respite, greet it with great respect and be grateful towards your authentic self until the morning sun bids you awaken again to a new day.
Sleep well, dream deep my Friends.

Sunset from my deck. Don't know what I did in the last life to deserve this, but damm it must have been good. LOL

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.