True Stories

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280 articles in category True Stories / Subscribe

Not long ago everyone was excited about Disney’s new movie “Tomorrowland”. The movie concerned bright, optimistic teens bursting with scientific curiosity.

It also centered on other children jaded by disillusionment about what they thought the world should be. This basically defines what my classroom has been like for the past three decades. I am retiring this year with the knowledge I did the best I could do to astonish my students about the wonders of science. I tell them science is not magic but magic is definitely science.

For my entire career I’ve taught young adults. These were usually juniors or seniors getting ready for their futures. I sometimes wish I had my shot at younger students who were just discovering how much fun learning can and should be.

Working at a school that contains students from 6th grade to their senior year, I’ve had the opportunity to visit many classrooms demonstrating my passion for science and how they could easily enter into its world. I am especially proud of the times I invite 6th grade students into my chemistry class. I tell them that if they work hard they would one day join the ranks of these motivated and talented young men and women they are working with now. It is interesting that every one of them remember this time when they reach the age they can join my class. Continue Reading →

There is nothing like the early morning autumn fogs of Maine. One week it was a classic example of how these fogs change the way one feels about life. My day started like every other day of my life with getting up early in the morning before the sun dares to rear its crimson flaming head.

I literally rolled off my side of the bed hoping not to wake up my sleeping wife. I swear this is the best part of her night not having to put up with me turning from side to side while snoring something that sounded like the ‘1812 Overture’.

I then tip-toe over to our towel closet hoping I will pick out something that has nothing to do with flowers and pink things. This is always a shot in the dark because I grab them in the dark.
Once I grabbed what I thought was a wash cloth only to be shocked by the fact the cloth was soaked in something a man’s skin was never meant to experience.

Needless to say all of my male friends at school decided to stay away while my female friends continued to ask me how my new boy friends were. I won’t even talk about the rash. After my shower I once again tip-toed into my closet hoping to give my wife at least a couple more minutes of sleep.

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A few years ago my father, who has now passed, called me talking about a ring his found somewhere in Somersworth. At the time I was concentrating on a class of labs and I must admit I wasn’t paying much attention to the conversation.  He was concerned about how he could get the ring back to the rightful owner.

My first thought was why would anyone care? My father described the ring as being an old gold class ring dating back to 1934. He told me it was very small and thus had to be a woman’s ring. There was no stone in the middle like the rings of today. It was all gold. I don’t know what carat weight it was but there was no tarnish or wear to give a hint to its age.

This one was simply moulded to show off the name of the school, that was Somersworth High School and the date of graduation. My father went on to explain how the ring was in impeccable shape as though it was rarely worn or had been lost for a very long time. Within minutes both my interest and imagination started to spark.

The pile of laboratory reports I had in front of me became unimportant because any opportunity to massage my imagination had to be taken seriously. My father continued by stating the ring also had something else special about it. Inside the band were the initials “CB”. Because the ring was over 70 years old the concept of having the initials still appear on the inside of the band was quite remarkable. Continue Reading →

Iit was as if time stood still. I was walking into one of the department stores in the Mall to finish my Christmas shopping the store’s anti-theft alarms went off. Everyone in the store stopped what they were doing and started to stare at me.

Since it was only a week before Christmas Day the store was filled with shoppers who stopped what they were doing and turned their heads to see who it was that was attempting to steal from the store. A few microseconds later four store-employees ran to the entrance of the store where I was standing. One was holding a type of walkie-talkie while the other was dressed in a uniform. In seconds a mall policeman joined them, in order to bolster their ranks against me. They didn’t say anything when they got there. They, like all of the customers in the store,  I just stared.

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It was remarkably quiet on the beach the other day. The quiet time was logical because most of the tourists had gone home, so the ocean’s shore clearly demonstrated the beautiful place I call home.

I was not alone on this particular morning. All around me were men and women enjoying the same serenity I was enjoying. Having benches along the beach at York, Maine makes it especially special this time of year. Since I’ve been living here the past four decades a memory popped into my mind. Years before I remember sitting next to an elderly gentleman whose white ashen skin probably hasn’t seen the sun in a long time.

He looked frail and after I sat down next to him he appeared anxious. After a few moments it was obvious I did make him feel uncomfortable because he leaned toward his side of the bench as far away from me as possible. Maybe he was afraid of me. I decided to talk with this gentleman, so I could at least try to calm him down. He wouldn’t even look at me. He just stared straight ahead and in his mind’s eye I am sure I didn’t even exist. Or did he believe he didn’t exist.

I remember asking myself why won’t the old talk to us. Why is it so hard for them to explain their years of experience to those of us who try not to make the mistakes of those who lived before? Why is it so difficult for them to look into our eyes and explain how they got to become so old? To paraphrase Harry Truman, “There is nothing new in this world. Only the time that is not remembered.”
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The new school year is approaching. I know this because a few days ago I saw my first “Going Back to School Sale” being advertised on television.

Many families are now seen scurrying through malls shopping for school dress and supplies. It is a scene I’ve been part of for over three decades. Schools are also getting ready for the influx of students with dreams of becoming anything they want to become.

Winding through the malls hoping to find the perfect pair of socks, I overheard a group of people talking about how expensive schools are today and they are filled with people who abuse the system and take multiple long vacations. One of the people stated he could tell who was a teacher by what they were wearing.

Looking down at my flowered yellow combination bathing suit, shorts, and pajamas I wanted to find a barrier to hide behind. Then the classic comment about teaching was proudly expressed. “Those who can do and those who can’t teach.

I’ve heard this statement for well over 30 years and it still aggravates the hell out of me. Don’t people realize that those who can do because they were taught how too?

I am saddened to say today is a bit different from past years because the emphasis is no longer on the success of our students dreams but rather surrounded by a demand that “Common Core Standards” be followed.

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That little bastard!

The outside is so much larger than inside anyone’s house. I don’t understand why anything would want to intrude into an area that was not meant for them. There is more food outside and the air is fresher so what makes any life form want to go someplace they are not wanted.

I know the buzzing little creature will drive both my wife and I nuts. This is also the reason why I now sit in a chair in my living room waiting for the flying S.O.B. to land in a place so I can remove it from the face of the Earth. So, what does one think about as the fly travels at a speed that far surpasses any chance of catching him in the air?

I start to wonder why I am beginning to hate the heat. A few months ago I was struggling to push my snow blower through my driveway in order to be able to free myself from my home. It was so damn cold. I was also convinced that there would be snow piles left through the month of July. It is now July and all I can think about is how damn hot it is.

I begin to remember how old I am. Years earlier I would be chasing the little black intruder through my house determined to not let anything invade my living quarters. I remember swishing my old reliable fly swatter in the air in the hopes the little black speck would be a little bit stupider than I and forget to get out of the way of the mesh on the end of a stick.
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Throughout history the protection of our society and environment has never been a top priority for business. Yet, in the past few months I’ve read multiple articles describing the horrors of plastic grocery bags and how we have to eliminate their use.

I understand the pollution caused by these bags is dangerous to our environment. What I can’t understand is why large retail chains want to eliminate them instead of changing the way they are produced.

This solution would be a cost for the business even though it would help the environment. Why would a large business cost itself an expense when it could simply put that expense on their customers? The comical part of this argument is these same customers are demanding the change.

One doesn’t have to go far back into our history to see similarities between how business react to changes that help our society. Chrysler Corporation fought against the use of seat belts, the warnings about global warming have been around for quite a while now.

Indeed, the possibility of carbon dioxide accumulation changing the climate of the planet was raised back in the 19th century, although it was only during the 1960s that significant numbers of scientists began trying to discover whether it was really happening. Continue Reading →

Sometimes I think I have too much time, especially during the summer months. On this particular afternoon sitting in my dilapidated beach chair, I started to wonder what the face of God must look like. The first thing I thought about was the story of the Shroud of Jesus.

The Shroud of Turin, a 14-foot cloth in which many believe Jesus Christ was buried, may be the most studied artifact in history–and the most controversial. Carbon-dating has it only 400 years old. The faithful do not believe in anything that has to do with science. The question should be what would the face of any God look like?

What do we as a global society believe God looks like? Let’s start with what I know, which, by the way, is very little. Ask any child taking Sunday school lessons and they will tell you he is very old, has long white hair and beard, and wears a white robe and sandals.

Actually that is the exact description my catechism teacher told me. Many believe God is a giant hand coming down from the heavens or a towering figure of enormous size. This is a bit odd since Genesis states that we were all made in God’s image. So, why shouldn’t we all look the same? Continue Reading →

A couple of days ago I had the opportunity to sit on my deck and simply observe my surroundings. Smiling, I remember when my wife and I first moved into the neighborhood. It wasn’t much of a neighborhood back then because there were few trees or houses. In fact, it was the second house to be built on my street.

The area used to be a field used by farmers to grow hay for their farms. The area was full of clay so near the river was once a brickyard that to this day still has multiple broken bricks surrounding a dock that was probably used to transport the bricks from Portland to Boston. The brickyard is no longer but the dock still stands.

My neighborhood grew one house at a time with the inhabitants planting the tiniest of trees and bushes. I had little money back then so I pulled out some saplings from a friend’s land in New Hampshire with the knowledge the baby-trees had little hope of survival. Continue Reading →