Stories

A Tale of Three Town Meetings (Why We Chose to Live in Maine) By Paulette Oboyski

Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts

Too Snobby!

While we lived and worked in Manhattan, Vic and I had vacationed quite often on the very pretty island of Martha’s Vineyard.  The beaches are beautiful, the water in the summer is warmish, and there are plenty of picturesque bike paths.  We finally bought a vacation house which we stayed at when we could and rented when we were not there.  It was in Lambert’s Cove near a beautiful beach and the adorable Blackwater Hollow Farm.  After three years of taking the longish car ride from NYC to the ferry in Woods Hole, Mass and then the hour-long ferry to the island, we decided not to retire there. 

What helped expedite our decision to retire somewhere else, was when we attended a town meeting with the managers of the island ferry.  We were upset that they had decided to put very stringent regulations on the ferry which would hamper our travels to the island and hamper our summer renter’s arrival at our house.  There were no microphones in the room.  When Vic raised his hand and objected to the decision that the town managers had made without our consent, the moderator told him that if he did not lower his voice, they would have to ask him to leave the meeting. Wow!  They obviously did not like us “off-islanders” and did not make us feel welcome.  The snobbishness of the islanders, inconvenience of the ferry ride, and lack of good medical care were some of the reasons for our decision to not retire on Martha’s Vineyard.

Brooklyn, New York

Rough and Ready!

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Old Hands By M Maxine Wehry

Someone recently said to me ‘you have such beautiful hands,’ “Beautiful?!” I was amazed. “I cannot believe you’d think that. These old hands are so scrawny and bony and have big veins popping out of them!” ‘But I do,’ she gently responded. ‘You have long, delicate fingers and … just think what all they have done.’ “Maybe to you…” My voice trailed off as I held them up and started thinking about what they had done.

Whom did they first touch? Probably my Mother. They patted her face. They patted my Grandma’s face. How I loved Grandma Smith, who cared for me after my mother died when I was two. Grandma must have gotten a lot of pats on her face from me. Hannah. Hannah Jane was her name. She was a sweetheart. I remember helping her roll dough with a rolling pin so she could cut out sugar cookies. I remember her handing me a piece of dough so I could shape it into a biscuit. She let me gather twigs to help her start the fire for the day’s cooking. Lily and Grandma said I was the best little twig finder. I was so proud.

Living on a farm wasn’t easy. We had to work hard. Even in the dark. All day. Planting, planting, planting. Tomatoes, green beans, potatoes, peas and melons. Once the tomato factory came to town, it was our job to pick the worms off the plants. These hands hated that chore, too. Click here to read the full essay


The Porter by Leslie Woods

Here are three parts or, depending on you, only one.
At eleven I was too old for the airline’s kid price, too old for Gram to drive me
from Jim Crow Virginia to Boston, too young to not be handed to the Porter.
Late for my first train ride on giant tanks, clang plus whoosh of steam and rumble of rails.
Late to the dark, unfamiliar station, the Porter’s reassurances cradled me.
Through the gushing maw, shouts and ringing bells, the iron boom of his voice,
my book lost, his huge hands hoisted my bag and me upward, installed me in his seat.
He brought me someone’s comic pages.

At lunchtime following the Porter’s careful explanations, I found the dining car
of gleaming white cloths, napkins, dishes, curtains, white gloves disguising dark skin.
Whiter white, tighty whities, guests white, cross your lily-white hands,
White is cleanliness is godliness.

Arriving last I chose, I ate, I placed Mom’s ten-dollar bill on the small white plate.
White-gloved hands cleared below a smile. I waited for my change.
The final white men left their table, their waiter whisking until all gone.
I waited for my change. I waited in the silence.

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