True Stories

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296 articles in category True Stories / Subscribe

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 →

Ii found out the other day there are certain things one shouldn’t do at 56 years old. OK, there are a few things that are quite obvious.

I should stay away from running in the Boston Marathon, enlisting in the marines, building a new house by myself, and of course the ever popular starting a new family. I added a new chore the other day after my father called me and asked if I could remove what was left of an old ‘burning bush’ my younger brother detached the other day.

The concept of removing a bush from the front of my father’s driveway seemed to be do-able. The only question was why my brother didn’t remove it with the rest of the plant. When I arrived at my parent’s home I found out why. A bush by definition is a shrub. A shrub by definition is a low several stemmed wooden plant. I am quoting Mr. Webster with this definition.

The concept of removing a shrub did not seem like a problem. That was until I arrived at my folk’s home and saw what he wanted me to remove. A giant sequoia should be lucky enough to have such a stump. It had to be at least a foot in diameter with multiple branches coming out of it that once held the rest of the plant. Standing in front of what I was asked to remove I imagined my hands around my brother’s neck because he left me with the back breaking task.

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Iiwatched as my wife put all her energy into scraping what looked like a white crust around a round wheel of brie cheese. She held it on its side on the cutting board.

She carefully used a cheese knife to peel away the white covering over a manila-colored soft cheese that is by far one of my favorites. I went over to ask if I could help and she gave me a look that told me to get away because she didn’t want to spend the afternoon cleaning up my blood off the kitchen floor. Knowing she was correct as usual I backed off and watched as she did her magic.

The reason for the scraping of the brie was we were having a few people over before we went out for dinner. Now this meant my wife would prepare some of the tastiest appetizers on the face of the planet. These little morsels of food usually tasted better then any of the food we would order out at the restaurant. In fact, the appetizers were so good it was difficult to order more then a small salad at the restaurant.

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Iiwas mesmerized by the image of a robin perched on the rung of an arbor I had built around a bird bath in order to display the flowers I had planted right after the ground allowed me to do so. It was early in the evening right before the sun decided it had enough of the day.

The robin sat motionless staring into the dimming orb of light contemplating nothing more important than itself. Or at least I thought it was doing so. I had just finished what I considered a lousy day. Hell, I had just finished up a lousy month. Every time I attempted to get ahead financially some necessity in my life increased in price. The more I attempted to relax the more I was forced to speed my life up.

In my youth this wouldn’t have bothered me because the definition of being young was living hard and fast not caring what the future would bring because the future was too far away. But, now that I see what time is going to give me I find it more important to prepare myself and my family for what living too long is going to deliver.

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Wwe are working our way through another one. The winter of 2015, brought back the snows and cold that all of us who live in Northern New England have come to both love and hate.

This year our New England winter seemed to be good to us. We flew through November, December, and half of January hoping that global warming had minimalized winter’s harsh effects. This was not the case. As I look into a bleached open field that once contained bushes, trees, and a mailbox I only see deserts of white blowing snow.

Any day now I expect Laurence of York to come flying over the dunes in a giant snowmobile warning people that the end is near. Along with the weather of winter comes another famous tradition; cabin fever anxieties. Cabin fever comes in many forms.

The name comes from the necessity to stay in a house to stay warm and dry. The days are shorter and the nights seem endless with the below zero wind chills and perpetual humming of our heating systems.

Strange things happen to us during this time of year. We become aggravated by the most trivial of things. For example, I enjoy those little pudding in cup snacks they sell at most grocery stores. I guess this is because I was fed the little jars of custard pudding baby foods when I was little until I was a senior in high school.

The only problem is that you can never tear off the plastic top on each portion. I understand there are arrows showing where one is supposed to pull but the easy open tabs never open. The company must use the same glue they use to keep the airplanes together.

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