Yesterday's Magazette

2 – Viewpoints

Viewpoints:

My Favorite Hobby

By E. P. Ned Burke

Webster’s New World dictionary defines a hobby as “something a person likes to do in his spare time.”

That’s not a good definition, is it? I mean, what exactly is “spare time?”

I had some spare time back in 1978 when I first came to Florida from Pennsylvania. I would plant myself on the beach, sip Pina Coladas and watch all the pretty girls go by. But, then again, that was not exactly “spare time” since I worked at it almost on a full time basis. I could say, however, that it was my “hobby” because I really liked to do it.

But those carefree days are gone and for the life of me I can’t find a suitable hobby to replace girl-watching on the beach. Chasing a little white ball around a golf course is challenging but I must admit it’s not as enjoyable or satisfying as girl-watching was in my younger days.

Even when I was a kid I never really had any continuous hobbies. Oh, I’d collect coins for a few months and then always ended up giving them to Mary Beth Hines. She didn’t collect coins. She just collected gullible boyfriends like me who would relinquish their worldly possessions just for the opportunity to share a few precious moments of bliss with her over a double scoop malted.

Later I collected cars. In all, I had five relics of the past. None of them were actual classics or antiques however. I believe the man who finally bought my old cars referred to them as “heaps” or “junks”. He said he would use them for scrap, but I’m sure the $120 he paid for them was a good investment on his part. Let’s face it, it’s not every day you can buy a rusty 1952 DeSoto with one fender and no floorboard.

The trouble with me is that I have a multitude of things I would like to do in my spare time, such as writing, art, and music, none of which I’m afraid constitutes a bona fide hobby. One day, I did watch a 12-hour film festival of The Three Stooges on television. Enjoyable … but, again, not a real hobby.

You see, the trouble with a hobby is that it can turn into work. On the other hand, some people are fortunate enough to turn their work into a hobby.

And this brings me to Yesterday’s Magazette: My “favorite hobby” for four decades that I began back in 1973 and which I hope to continue now on a less demanding annual schedule.

To be honest, it has not been the satisfaction I’ve received over the years from my YM work/hobby that has thrilled me the most but rather the struggle, the constant challenge, and then the ultimate conquest … sort of like the feeling I got one day when Mary Beth Hines finally smiled at me.

*****

Brief  Encounter

By Tisha Bedard

One Sunday afternoon in the late fifties, I went to a third run movie house on Hollywood Blvd. They were showing “Cinderella” and an Academy Award film, “The Red Balloon.”

When the lights went up for the first intermission, I noticed, five rows down, a pudgy man, about forty, eating popcorn. I noticed him only because seated next to him was an unusually beautiful dark girl, with an older blonde woman companion.

When the lights went up again after the next feature, the man and his party rose. As he started up the aisle, to my surprise, I saw that it was Orson Welles, bulging out of his jacket, held together by one button. And having read the gossip columns, I presumed he was being followed by his new Italian wife and probably their personal secretary.

I’ve heard that geniuses rest their minds with triviality. Though to the master of film, these movies were probably high art. Nevertheless, to a twenty-three-year-old drama student, this was like seeing Henry Kissinger at Disneyland.

**********

The Dirt Road of Childood

 By Ann Favreau

The dirt road in front of 395 Suffield Street was the boundary of my life as a child.  Some of my earliest memories revolve around this locale. My parents moved to Agawam, Massachusetts from the adjacent city of Springfield in 1940.They wanted to be in the country. My father and his stepfather, who was a carpenter, proceeded to build our house. The lot was typical of most of the homes on this rural country road. It had room for a garage and space for a large garden and chicken coop. Yes, we raised our own chickens and my best friend across the yard had goats. Our home garden was one of the biggest on the street.

My mother and I took daily walks on the packed dirt of Suffield Street, pushing my sister in her carriage as we went to visit the neighbor ladies. When Dorothy was older, she and I would jump off our front porch and fly around the large expanse of grass playing airplane as my mother watched, making sure that we did not stray into the road.

The next street over to the right of our house was Center Street where my best friend Beverly lived. There I honed my skills with hop scotch, jacks and pickup sticks. I can still remember the day we played Snow White in the field between our two houses. I lay down in the grass and pretended to be the beautiful sleeping princess. In a few moments I screamed and ran home because my legs were covered with biting ants. On rainy days we made clothes for our paper dolls from old wrapping paper while we listened to music on her record player.

Nearby lived Russell, the bad boy of the neighborhood, who climbed up on his father’s chicken coop and peed in a coffee can. In a friend’s large backyard we laid out a ball field with old towels for bases. Here I learned to pitch, but never was good at bat. The dirt roads were safe areas where I roamed on foot or by bicycle between mealtimes.

As I grew, Suffield Street became the passageway to new adventures. I walked with friends to the bus stop to go to elementary school. The water tower across the street was the site of sledding and seemed so tall from the perspective of a little child. Our cellar became an amateur theater where we put on musicals and plays. My mother supported our show business efforts by making popcorn for the audience. In fifth grade a boy walked me home and wrote our initials in the dirt. A corner store held the magic of penny candy and the embarrassment of having to buy sanitary products for my mother.  Our mailbox on the side of the road became a monthly treasure chest that held a children’s magazine just for me.

The farthest I ever walked alone on Suffield Street was the three mile trips north to Carpenali’s Farm Stand to buy a box of macaroni for my Aunt Rose and south, down the hill to catch a bus to Springfield. For the most part, Suffield Street provided happy memories, but there were some scary and unpleasant ones as well.

The lady next-door made our outdoor life obnoxious when she made soap several times a year. She placed all her old fat and drippings into a big kettle on a wood fire in the backyard. The stench of the boiling mixture of fat and lye was awful, and we held our noses if we had to go out. The process took all day and we used every excuse we could think of to avoid playing in the backyard on soap making day.

All the homes on Suffield Street looked menacing during wartime when blackout curtains were drawn to block the light. The dirt road and surrounding area took on an ominous tone on Halloween night. Trick or treating without your parents was the rule of the day. Walking down some of the new side streets where my friends and I did not know the occupants gave us goose bumps beneath our home made costumes.  However, candy greed overcame our misgivings and we continued on.

I had several terrifying experiences on Suffield Street.  As a child I watched in horror as my friend’s house burned. I can still recall the fierceness and heat of the flames, the sound of falling walls, the wails of the family, and the shouts of the volunteer fireman as they attempted without success to save the house. My own backyard was a frightful scene as I encountered a huge black snake in the chicken yard. Reacting to my screams, my mother ran out of the house, grabbed a hoe and killed it as I watched in terror and admiration.

Years later there was another alarming incident. I was a teenage girl in a beautiful yellow dress walking up Suffield Street hill after a school dance. I was upset because I had once again been a wallflower.  My thoughts were on the party until a car slowed on the crest of the hill beside me and a leering man asked if I wanted a ride. I shouted at him to leave me alone as the tears flowed down my cheeks. He peeled off, much to my relief.

As I look back at these childhood scenes, they appear as a small gallery of life in a rural area. They began on a country road. Just as its surface was widened and blacktopped, so my world grew from the dirt roads of childhood to the challenging byways of adult experiences which took me away from Suffield Street to the faraway lanes of the world.

Vol. 39 – Copyright © Yesterday’s Magazette – 2012

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