Category Archives: A Special Moment

A SPECIAL MOMENT: with Donna Johns

This piece from Donna was written before we started engaging in social distancing…to me, it seems just that much more poignant…

HANDS

by Donna Johns

I hold my newborn granddaughter in my arms and do an inventory. Hair? Maybe red. Eyes? Probably brown because of brown eyed dominance. Nose? Tiny, so not a long nosed Swede. Complexion? Somewhat lighter than her sister. Mouth? Her mother’s cupid bow. Her hands? Oh my, her hands.

From her first photograph, those hands were compelling. Broad palms and large fingers wave through the air, as though she is trying to make sense of her new world by touch. She flings them over her head, stretches out her fingers, swoops her hand over her face, then straight out. She grasps your finger, then moves across her face, samples a thumb and then begins to explore again.

She has my grandmother’s hands. Farm girl hands capable of hard work and loving touches. For years I watched Grammy Signe as she transformed flour, milk, yeast, sugar and cardamom into a recalcitrant dough. Patiently, those hands would work the dough, pressing her palms into the stickiness, flipping the edges, pressing her palms again until a smooth, satiny dough bloomed. Those hands lovingly shaped the braids and rolls. Those strong hands pulled heavy iron cooking sheets from the oven, laden with delectable sweet bread.

My grandmother’s hands were never idle. They dusted and swept and mopped and scrubbed and cooked and baked and tidied. Every night after dinner clean up, she would sit at the kitchen table and play solitaire as she smoked a Parliament cigarette. Even the solitaire game kept her hands busy as she flipped cards, made rows, set up her aces. Sometimes she won. Most of the time she didn’t. She would sigh, bundle the cards together and try again. In solitaire, as in most things, she was a patient optimist.

And now here are Signe’s hands, replicated in miniature, in her great great granddaughter. Who knows what adventures these hands will have, what order she will create out of chaos, what talents she will display? That is the blessing of a newborn life, open to any number of possibilities.

The baby’s hands wave in front of her face as her eyes begin to close. She manages to capture her thumb in the corner of her rosebud mouth. She sleeps, held in my arms. Her hands are still for now.

Sweet dreams, Rosalind.

BOLLI MATTERS feature writer, Writers Guild member, CAST and Sceneiors actress–and more–Donna Johns

Donna is also a teacher/librarian, writer of unpublished romance novels, and sometime director of community theater. She has two fantastic faux knees which set off the metal detectors at Fenway Park.

MY SUPERHERO by Katherine Wangh

MY SUPERHERO

By Katherine Wangh

            I have a superhero in my life who wears superhero shirts, reads superhero books, loves superhero stories, draws superhero figures, and talks about all things superhero things.

I don’t know how it happened exactly that my adorable four-year old grandson has turned into a superhero in the last few months, but he has. Whenever we go to the library now, he knows just where to find the superhero books in the superhero section. It seems like picture books won’t do anymore, until he scares himself with all the superhero pictures and decides to curl up in my lap with a picture book we can enjoy together. Today, he told me he likes robots. I said I prefer people because they have feelings and are not machines. Then he wanted to know “Why do machines break down?” and I got to explain about mechanical parts wearing out and hoped he wouldn’t draw any connections to old knees and old hips wearing out too. As my dentist said last week, when he fixed a tooth I’d chipped crunching on an almond, “The whole business is wearing out, not just your teeth!”

In any case, my grandson is full of questions and looks to me for answers which I try to supply. Today, he wanted to know what came before houses? I said people began by living in caves. “You mean like the ones with bats in them?” (We had just seen a nature film with a huge cave filled with thousands of bats!) I assured him that not all caves have bats in them, and if they do, they do not have that many. I detected a sense of relief. I told him, too, that some people also lived in tents, especially in warm weather. And, I added, some people made houses out of mud and sticks or out of wood. As for bricks, they were made of baked clay stacked on top of each other. He was quiet, absorbing all of this. When we got home, I took out a book on the Lascaux caves that I haven’t looked at in over 50 years, and he got to see some of the cave drawings, immediately recognizing the bulls, deer, and horses!

Later on, he did some drawings of his own. He drew some of the letters of the alphabet which he transformed into people. We stapled these pages together and made a book he could take home with him. No superheroes on these pages, just big smiling faces with blob bodies and stick arms and legs–my grandson’s early drawings of recognizable humans, not machines or robots.

When I took him home, he handed me a gift and said, “It’s Batman!” In my hand, I found a tangerine peel in the shape of the Batman sign with the word “Batman” written inside in magic marker! I smiled and thanked my superhero for this special gift.

Writers Guild member Kathy Wangh

My interests?  Music. Art, language, psychology, nature, science, travel.  My professions?  Teaching preschool and working with children/young adults as a psycho-analytically trained therapist. Married to scientist Larry for over 50 years and now enjoying grandchildren, curating my father’s artistic legacy, writing, and gardening!

MEMOIR WRITING: A SPECIAL MOMENT WITH LOIS SOCKOL

More Than a Sports Memory to Me

125th Anniversary Needham-Wellesley Thanksgiving Day Game, 2007

by Lois Sockol

Thanksgiving Day 1982. The stands at Needham’s Memorial Park field were packed, sardine-like. A five feet deep overflow hovered along the sidelines as hundreds more carpeted the hill that rose to the high school building. Some judged the crowd to be upwards of eight thousand. Usual attendance at ordinary seasonal games hovered around 80 or so.

This noteworthy day marked the 100th anniversary of the oldest public High School football rivalry in New England.  The Needham-Wellesley rivalry, the angry child of an acrimonious split in 1881 when, after 250 years of union, West Needham separated itself from East Needham, tookits high school with it, and became Wellesley. That bitter split, was the genesis of this century old high school rivalry. Today the crisp, clear fall air bristled in anticipation.  As old as it was, this rivalry had never lost its tinge of enmity.

“A 100th anniversary deserves the effort,” said Ron Sockol, who, during his Pop Warner coaching days, had instructed most of Needham’s varsity team.  For almost a year promoting, he worked tirelessly to promote the event, rounding up surviving alumni players to be honored on the field.

Among the thousands who came were National TV cameramen and media reporters. This day would take its rightful place in High School sport’s history.

As the teams lined up, a sudden hush fell.  Even the air seemed tensed and focused.

Needham won the toss and opted to receive. Wellesley’s kickoff was low and forceful, deep into Needham territory. A collective rumble followed the wide receiver who caught the ball on his own two-yard line and started racing down the field, dodging would-be tacklers, as if predestined to score. The rumble grew louder with each yard gained, each tackle avoided, exploding into a roar as the receiver crossed the goal line.  A 98-yard run, the longest kick off return in Needham’s long history. A fitting beginning for a centennial game.

During the ensuing battle for yardage, Needham held its own and led at half time. The Needham supporters joyfully exchanged thumbs up and hugs. A small group of teens near the thirty-yard line danced a jig. I spied a TV cameraman and a reporter heading toward the wide receiver who had made the initial dramatic run. I was not close enough to hear the interview and could only imagine what was said . It was not until the televised evening news that I heard their exchange.

“So, young man, how did it feel to run back that kick-off and score the first touchdown?”

“Well, uh, Charlie Walsh opened a hole, and I just put the wheels on.”

I was thrilled when he scored, just as any mother would be, but it was hearing Jim’s humble words that permanently etched this memorable day into my heart.

BOLLI Member and SGL Lois Sockol

“I’ve been blessed with a marriage of 65 years.  We raised four boys we are proud of and  enjoy the reward of 9 grandchildren.  I taught public school for 25 years, published an instructional manual to aid teachers in teaching children who are high risk for learning to read, and conducted seminars on the teaching of reading. I have been active in Needham for 36 years as a Library Trustee and a Town Meeting member.  And now, I have the joy of being a member of BOLLI!”

 

CONGRATULATIONS! Margie Arons-Barron

MASSACHUSETTS BROADCASTERS HALL OF FAME
Margie Arons-Barron

At a luncheon earlier today, Margie Arons-Barron was one of nine outstanding broadcasters inducted into the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame.   On the association’s website, this years’ inductees are described:

“Our class of 2019 represents some of the true treasures of broadcasting,” Hall of Fame President and former WBZ-TV News Director Peter Brown said. “This group of outstanding professionals has been recognized for their enduring commitment and deep dedication to their craft. Their body of work is a testament to their talents and their passions for bringing to their audiences the very best in news, information, and entertainment. They are the leaders who set forth the path that future generations will follow. Let us welcome them as they join more than 150 others who can proudly state they have been inducted into the Massachusetts Broadcasters of Fame.”

The long-time former Editorial Director at WCVB-TV, Channel 5, Boston’s ABC affiliate, Marjorie Arons-Barron has been an award-winning journalist for nearly three decades.  For 20 years, she produced and often hosted WCVB’s Five on Five, at one time the nation’s longest running, locally produced public affairs discussion program. Prior to working at Channel 5, she was an associate producer of PBS Television’s The Advocates, a national political affairs writer for The Boston Phoenix, a reporter for WGBH-TV’s Ten O’Clock News and political editor of The Newton Times.  Arons-Barron has won many awards, including three New England Emmy Awards and, for five consecutive years, the National Award for Excellence in Television Editorials from the National Broadcast Editorial Association.  She has also been honored by, among others, United Press International, Associated Press, the American Trial Lawyers Association, the Alliance for the Mentally Ill, the Massachusetts Teachers Association, the Massachusetts Broadcasters Association, the Massachusetts National Guard, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the YWCA, and the Big Sisters Association of Greater Boston.

We are so proud to have Margie as a member of the BOLLI community–congratulations, friend!

 

 

A SPECIAL MOMENT FROM DONNA JOHNS

TWO OLD FRIENDS

By Donna Johns

Two old friends sit in the sun, serenaded by bumblebees, chatting about their plans for the summer.  He thinks she should travel more.  She thinks he needs a puppy.  They don’t look too far ahead.  They resolutely refuse to look at the rear view mirror.

They met in seventh grade, assigned by virtue of their IQ sores to the top academic group.

Within days, they were friends, oddballs clinging together in a sea of conformity.  For Halloween, they recruited two others and went Trick or Treating as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.  She draped their sheets over cold weather gear.  He did the makeup.

They sat on the stage during high school graduation.  He was the salutatorian, and she was the class poet.  They hugged goodbye and moved on to different parts of the country.  He didn’t come home for vacations, and they eventually stopped keeping in touch.

A few weeks before she moved to Washington to start her first professional job, she dropped by Brandeis to visit a friend on campus.  She heard a familiar voice call her name.  There he was, moving swiftly toward her, his full-length blue cape billowing in the wind.  They chatted for a few minutes in the cold.  He was starting grad school and promised to come to Washington to visit.  He never did.

He became a professional opera singer, much in demand for his counter tenor skills.  She became a librarian, a wife, and a mother.  She was much in demand, crisscrossing the country inspiring teens to read.

His voice began to strain, and he moved on to train managers for a financial company, traveling the world and living out of suitcases.  Her marriage failed, and she came back to her childhood home to start over.

They found each other at a high school reunion.  They left the festivities early and spent the rest of the night catching up over coffee and cookies.  He was preparing to leave his lucrative job to become a minister.  He was in love.  She was working two jobs and raising children.  They promised not to lose touch.  This time, they kept the promise.

She went to his ordination.  He provided comfort at her father’s funeral.  He was diagnosed as HIV positive.  She battled breast cancer.  They both survived blood clots.  They send funny notes to each other.  They meet three or four times a year, for coffee and conversation.

Two old friends sit in the sun.  The skyline of the city they love twinkles with light.  He baked a lemon coffee cake, and she brought fresh berries.  A perfect combination–like their friendship.

“BOLLI Matters” feature writer Donna Johns

Donna is a teacher/librarian, writer of unpublished romance novels, sometime director of community theater, and BOLLI member. She has two fantastic faux knees which set off the metal detectors at Fenway Park.