Category Archives: WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND?

BLACK LIVES MATTER: White on Black in Black and White by Marty Kafka

White on Black in Black and White

By Martin P. Kafka

 Who knew that Amos Jones and Andrew Brown (a.k.a.) Amos n’ Andy were conceived, written, and voice-dubbed by two white-skinned black-face actors, Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll who first conceived their distinctive characters while producing a radio drama series.

Having thrived by learning to mimic American negroes’ distinctive jargon, their very successful minstrel show performances groomed Amos n’ Andy to reach an ever-expanding radio audience and became the first radio program to be nationally syndicated.

With the advent of black and white television in 1936, the successful radio drama series eventually morphed into the Amos n’ Andy Show, a half-hour weekly comedy series.  White voices were replaced by black actors and black voices, of course, whose humorous, folksy, but sometimes denigrating depiction of black culture and racial stereotyping was eventually censured by the NAACP. Eventually, social pressures forced the show to leave the air waves in 1966.

As a kid, I was studious and not much of a television watcher, but I fell in love with Amos n’ Andy, Kingfish, Sapphire, and Momma. Their humor–and especially Kingfish’s outlandish money-making schemes–consistently kept my attention. I especially recall Kingfish because of his enthusiastic naivete, his persistent entrepreneurial spirit, and his legacy expression, “Holy Mackerel!” These TV characters were sentimentalists, and I adored them. The show’s brand of “black” humor memorably tickled my white-kid funny bone. When they bungled, I giggled, and that was the way it was in Flatbush during the early and middle fifties.

In the all-white neighborhood I grew up in, “racially mixed” translated to ethnically mixed which further translated to Catholics, Protestants, and Jews all mixed on the same street in private homes. When we kids played stickball, stoop-ball, or the Three-Steps-to-Germany variant of street curb tag, we cared about ‘athleti-city,’ not ethnicity. During the winter holiday season, in my parents’ generation, menorahs were prominently displayed in front facing windows on my block. Some houses had Christmas lights and real Xmas trees. For their generation, the racial issue wasn’t black and white–it was the Jew, the Gentile, and the long shadow of the Holocaust. Both my mother and her mother frequently spoke of “the Goyim” as if they were some “other” or alien race to be wary of. I recall really disliking it when they spoke that way, but in retrospect, it was their ethnically-tinged way of saying “Jewish Lives Matter.”  My grandmother had barely survived Cossack progroms in Russia, and both my mom and dad served during World War Two.

So, Amos, Andy, Kingfish, and the rest of your heartwarming crew, although you are all long gone now, your African American legacy has evolved into today’s Black Lives Matter movement. I know that you would all be proud marchers for racial justice in today’s America. And I hope that, in coming days, our culture will become less white on black in black and white.

BOLLI Matters contributor and Writers Guild member, Marty Kafka
Marty Kafka is a retired psychiatrist whose passions include his wife Karen and their family, international travel, and jazz piano. 
In addition, Marty has found a retirement career taking BOLLI classes, writing memoir, and being active in the Photography special interest group.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND THESE DAYS? SHARE WITH YOUR BOLLI FELLOWS!

I recently got a group email asking for our quarantine stories–what we’re doing to keep ourselves alert and fit, what we’re experiencing in terms of the news regarding our community–globally, nationally, state-wide, locally–what we’ve seen in our families, friends, and neighbors that give us cause to celebrate,  what lifts us up and makes us laugh, how our faith is being tested…all of that sort of thing.

We have this wonderful BOLLI forum available to us for sharing our experiences during this potentially so very isolating time in our lives.  (Or during any time, for that matter, of course!) So, think about what you might share with all of us.

No, you should NOT let thoughts like “but I’m no writer” or “nobody will be interested in what I have to say” or “I’m not doing anything of any note” get in your way.  Absolutely every one of those thoughts is actually quite worthy of exploring and sharing with others who feel the same way.

SO–this is a great time for exercising.  Not only by stretching and bending into yoga poses or doing jumping jacks, but by stretching and bending your thinking muscles as well as your writing muscles (which you may or may not even realize you have–but, trust me, you do), and get your thoughts and feelings “out there.”

Send me any and all thoughts–and if you would like or feel the need, I am happy to coach or edit.

BOLLI MATTERS  Sue Wurster

Send items to susanlwurster@gmail.com

No deadline, no word limit, no style preference–humorous, serious, fiction, nonfiction, essay, poetry, book/movie/tv show review, memoir, whatever you like!

WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND? Nemeses – Marty Kafka

NEMESES

By Martin Kafka

It’s been a long time since we were children, and for many of us, including myself, I look back on that part of my life  during the early 1950’s with an unrequited longing and a micro-filtered recall of positive memories. So, from the vantage point of my current moment, it took a while to recall that our generation did face some very serious common nemeses.

Two related nemeses quickly came to mind: Communism and the threat of an atomic bomb.  Communism was an abstract concept for me as a 6-year-old. I was unaware of it as a formidable menace. As for nuclear war, I do remember air raid sirens and bomb shelter drills in school at P.S. 197 In Brooklyn.  I recognized even then, however, that hiding under my kindergarten table was not going to make any difference when the Bomb struck.

There was a third nemesis that I recall more personally, a threat posed by an invisible monstrosity that sought out children. It was a threat we all feared, and it must have been especially terrifying for our parents. It was an invisible menace that lurked amongst us like something out of the Steven King’s horror novel “It.” “It” was mostly dormant, patient, hidden, waiting for the right circumstances to strike. “It” had its preferences for warm weather, crowded spaces, and most especially, for defenseless children. “It” was an amorphous, pervasive, and alien creature that, if it could speak in a single voice, would likely malevolently growl, “Give me your children.”

Think summer camps, for example. When “It” struck, “It” could kill, but “It” was more likely to maim or cripple “Its” victims sadistically, as if “It” were engaged  in a vengeful war with us and wanted to slowly suffocate children to death.

I remember being a kid with my parents at a summer bungalow colony in New Jersey.  “It” struck one of the kids at summer camp. I don’t remember who, as he was not a particular friend of mine, but “It” showed no mercy. After “It” `struck and he died, we cowered in our bungalow, or my brother and I sheepishly played outside on our cabin’s front porch. We didn’t socialize with other kids or adults for several weeks. There was a foreboding silence amongst us, a cloud of fear that crippled our colony’s sense of community. Was there anything we could do? Would “It” strike again? Who might be “Its” next victims?

In 1952, an epidemic year, there were 58,000 new cases of “It” reported in the United States, and more than 3,000 died. It wasn’t until 1955, when I was an eight-year old kid, that I would anxiously look forward to a vaccination shot in my left arm.

Thank God for Jonas Salk.  This time, it was American science beckoning to us “Give me your children”– and we did.

BOLLI Matters contributor and member of the Writers Guild, Marty Kafka
Marty Kafka is a retired psychiatrist whose passions include his wife Karen and their family, international travel, and jazz piano. 
In addition, Marty has found a retirement career taking BOLLI classes, writing memoir, and being active in the Photography special interest group.

WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND? FRIENDSHIP

FRIENDSHIP

By Sandy Miller-Jacobs

Friends play such an important role in our lives. When we were young, we played with our friends, whether it was games of pretend or riding bikes or playing sports.  Often, the time we spent with our friends enabled us to do something we couldn’t do alone. You might play Solitaire by yourself, but you couldn’t play Go Fish alone. Nor could you play any of your board games alone. Monopoly and Scrabble definitely needed at least one friend, if not two or three. A bike ride was always more fun when friends joined you to ride through the neighborhood. Sports, from “Hit the Penny” to tennis, always needed friends not only in order to play but also to cheer us on.

As we got older, our friends were there to spend time with, whether to talk, reminisce, or think up new adventures. A friend was there to help sort out our ideas, to dream with, to share our ups and downs, especially during our teen years. Through high school and college, we spent hours talking about people we dated, teachers who frustrated or challenged us, songs and singers we liked, our future lives.

While our friendship groups changed as some married, moved away, or ventured in directions we wouldn’t follow, there were always some who remained in our lives. These are the friends who knew us when we were young,  knew our homes, our parents, siblings, and even our cousins. They have served as reminders, knowing who we were and who we still are.  We have been there for each other as we have aged, and we still remember the younger versions of ourselves. They have seen us in the best and worst of times – through the joys of marriage and the pain of divorce, sharing the joys and difficulties of children and grandchildren, and supporting us through the deaths of loved ones.

It’s the friendships that last over time that remain the most important to us.  In many ways, they keep us centered. They know what upsets us and what brings us joy.  They know just what to say to raise or keep our spirits us.  They recognize the parts of us that have grown with us, and they reflect how we have matured over time.   Only our siblings and cousins may have the same sense of who we have been and who we have become.

So, make time to be with your friends as well as relatives whom you consider friends.  It’s reminiscent of a song from Girl Scouts: “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other’s gold.”

Sandy Miller-Jacobs

Sandy finally retired after nearly 50 years in Special Education.  Along the way, she married, completed her doctorate, raised two daughters, married them off, and became a grandmother.  She says that BOLLI is the key to maintaining brain function through teaching and learning while meeting new friends. Her hobbies now include photography, memoir writing, and aging.  (She was instrumental in creating the SIG on Aging with Enthusiasm and Resilience.) Sometimes she takes the risk and shares her hobbies and ideas with BOLLI members!

WHAT’S ON LARRY’S MIND? DIGITALLY ARRANGED DINNER DATING

DIGITALLY ARRANGED DINNER DATING

by Larry Schwirian

Writers Guild Prompt:  Dinner Date

I have never had occasion to go on a romantic dinner date with anyone other than my wife.  She and I were classmates and friends for three years before we started dating, so we already knew each other pretty well.  I never had to worry about what I could or couldn’t say with her because I already knew many of her likes and dislikes.  Plus, while we were still in school, there wasn’t a lot of money for going out to dinner anyway. Going out for pizza, taking a trip to the art museum, or going to an occasional movie were more typical of our dates. As I had a full class load and drove a cab part time while in school, I didn’t have a lot of time for dating anyway.

I’ve never given a great deal of thought to what it must be like, as a full-fledged adult, to sit down for a nice dinner with an unfamiliar female companion just for the sake of getting to know one-another…it must really be awkward.

Imagining what it might be like for a young adult in today’s digital world, all kinds of questions come to mind…

Who wrote the algorithm that paired the two of us as compatible, and what were the primary traits or answers to questions that resulted in this pairing?  Did she research me on the web and find out what a dweeb I really am…I hope she at least learned that I’m not a direct descendent of Jack the Ripper.  I Googled her, but my search gave me dozens of women with the same name. Why did she pick me instead of dozens of others…or was it the algorithm? Should I be my normal, boring self, or should I pretend to be what I’d really like to be?  Was the photo she sent really of her?  Was it current,  or was it ten years old?  Should I let her start the conversation, or should I be bold and jump right in with both feet? Is she looking for a significant other, or is she just looking for a good time?  And what am I looking for?

Maybe we should begin the conversation by agreeing on a “safe word” that will allow either of us to bail-out if questions become too personal.

Why am I doing this?

I don’t envy young people.  Dating–along with everything else these days–has just become too complicated.

BOLLI Matters feature writer and Writers Guild co-chair, Larry Schwirian

Architect Larry and his fellow architect wife Caroline live in an historic preservation home in Newton and have led BOLLI courses on architecture.  Larry has been an active participant in and leader of the Writers Guild special interest group as well as serving on the BOLLI Journal staff.  

WHAT’S DONNA’S STORY? A RANT…

METEOROLOGISTS

by Donna Johns

They’re at it again.

Hunkered in my recliner, I was cheerfully wasting an hour immersed in General Hospital. Will Sonny and Carly’s baby be all right, or does it have birth defects? When will they discover that baby Wiley, adopted by Brad and Dylan, is actually Michael’s son? And who pushed Liesel off the boat during Liz and Franco’s wedding?

Then it starts. Frantic Breaking News music. The meteorologist on duty quivers in excitement, his voice an octave higher than normal. “We are interrupting this broadcast to warn you of a string of thunderstorms bearing down on us.”

No kidding. It’s 90 degrees out, and you can cut the humidity with a knife. Of course there are going to be thunderstorms. That’s why I ran my errands early and planned on a quiet hour in Port Charles, watching characters with big problems to be unraveled and solved in six months.

Anyone who’s been on the planet for a few years knows from personal experience that heat and humidity mean that thunderstorms will follow.  So, pray tell, what new information do you have to impart to me,  Mr. Meteorologist?

“The storms are forming in Western Massachusetts.”  Yep. They usually do.

“Strong winds, torrential downpours, thunder, and lightning.”  Sounds like a thunderstorm to me.

“The storms will move east through Worcester and Central Massachusetts. They should arrive in the Boston area by four o’clock.”  Marginally useful information. So I should be able to finish General Hospital before the storms hits and the power fails. Candle, lighter, and flashlight are on the table, just in case.

“There may be power outages. Prepare with candles and flashlights.”  Duh.  Can I watch my soap opera now?

Mr. Meteorologist’s voice begins to shake slightly.  I swear his upper lip is trembling. “There is a chance of flash flooding. Also tornadoes.”  He looks anxiously at his radar screen.  Despite my abundant common sense, I quickly check to make sure I have sufficient toilet paper, milk, and bread to survive the coming apocalypse.

“We will update you as the situation warrants.  And now, we return you to our regular programming.” Finally! After four commercials designed for the elderly (reverse mortgages, laxatives, life insurance, compression stockings), General Hospital resumes.

Ten minutes later, at 2:30, the thunderstorm moves into Waltham.  Mr. Meteorologist reappears as thunder shakes the windows and lightning illuminates the living room. “The storms should reach the greater Boston area by 4:00.”

I turn the TV off.

I long for the good old days when Don Kent would check his barometer, poke his head out the door to scan the skies, and deliver a calm and mostly accurate weather forecast.  Those days, alas, are gone for good. Now we have computer models, hysterical meteorologists, and wildly inaccurate forecasts.

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.

WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND? MEASLES

MEASLES

by Bobbe Vernon

Last week, my 22-month old great-grandson Carter erupted in an itchy rash, head to toe.  He was miserable!  And I immediately thought about measles.   He had had his first measles shot, but two are required, and he is not yet old enough for the second shot.  And how would such a young child contract the disease these days anyway?

Unfortunately, today, more American children are contracting mumps, measles, and rubella than they have for decades.  And one reason seems to be  the misguided, incorrect belief of some parents that vaccinations can cause autism.

This episode reminded me of my own experiences with measles. When I was in the seventh grade, my younger brother Stevie came down with measles.  I caught it from him, and so did our mother, even though she had had measles as a child.   And despite being sick, she got out of bed to scrub the entire bathroom before our beloved pediatrician Dr. Green made that house call.  Even he couldn’t understand how she could have contracted the disease after having had it as a child.

A year later, Stevie contracted measles again.   Dr. Green said he wouldn’t have believed it if he hadn’t seen my brother’s first case with his own eyes.  At the time, I was in the eighth grade, and, as a serious student, I did not want to be quarantined with my brother.  So that I wouldn’t miss school, I stayed at my Aunt Clara’s house while Stevie was ill, but Dr. Green warned, in no uncertain terms, that, if I felt that I was getting sick, I was to go straight home instead of to my aunt’s house after school.  Yup, that happened!  Mommy, Stevie,  and I were the only people he had ever heard of who had measles more than once.   I still feel guilty that his son Dicky, who sat next to me in school, caught the measles from me…

At any rate, it turned out that my great grandson Carter did not have the measles after all, and he is back at his Montessori school, where he probably contracted his itchy virus in the first place.  We can now stop worrying that baby Tucker, who is one month old, will catch the measles from his big brother!

BOLLI Member (and long-time Scene-iors player) Bobbe Vernon

“18 months after my husband passed away, I heard about BOLLI and decided to try something new .  That was in 2008, and I have been taking classes and enjoying new friends at BOLLI ever since. In the past, I have been a dressmaker, a math teacher, and, since 1976, I have been with Mary Kay Cosmetics (driving my Mary Kay pink Buick!), still not ready to stop making people feel great about themselves.”

 

WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND? THOUGHTS ABOUT THE UNITED STATES

THOUGHTS ABOUT THE UNITED STATES AND ITS HISTORY

By Mark Seliber

I took 12 weeks away from BOLLI (and the rest of my regular life) this spring and traveled all around the United States.  If I were writing a detailed book about my journey, it’s working title would be:

     America: the Beautiful, the Stolen, the Resourceful,                            and the Generous

Here is a brief summary of what I gathered from my trip.

THE BEAUTIFUL

This is a great-looking country, and I’m glad I got to see so much of it in person.  The 48 contiguous states have land area similar to Europe, Canada, China, Brazil and Australia but, I suspect, more diverse terrain and features than all of them.  The mountains, canyons, plains, deserts, lakes, rivers, and coastlines are amazing.

THE STOLEN

A couple of years ago, I read an op-ed that attributed a large portion of this country’s historically great economic production to two thefts: land from the indigenous peoples and over two centuries of labor from African slaves.  I certainly saw much evidence of this in my travels.  The latter, from a long list of civil rights sites I visited – in particular, the Underground Railroad Center for Justice in Cincinnati, which laid out in great detail the history of the slave trade in North America, going all the way back to the first group of slaves sold by Portuguese traders in Jamestown Virginia in 1619.  The story of European and later United States appropriation of the ancestral lands of our first inhabitants also started in Jamestown.  I followed this thread throughout my travels–the French and Indian Wars and conflicting loyalties during the Revolutionary War; the Trail of Tears as native tribes were sent west of the Mississippi once the new United States expanded beyond the Appalachians; the further relocation of most of the tribes to Oklahoma Territory when the Homestead Act made the land in the Great Plains valuable; and finally the discovery of gold in the only remaining sovereign native land (the Black Hills of South Dakota), which led to Little Big Horn, Wounded Knee, Indian reservations, and boarding schools for native children where their culture and language was forbidden.

THE RESOURCEFUL – NATURAL RESOURCES AND GREAT INVENTIVENESS

The land of the United States certainly was blessed with abundant natural resources–salt, coal, iron ore, natural gas, oil, the fertile soil of the Great Plains, abundant forests for timber, gold, silver, copper, uranium, borax, and all kinds of other minerals.  And the American people quickly learned how to use all of these to their economic advantage.

A partial list of the great ideas invented or further developed by the ingenious and entrepreneurial minds of our countrymen and women includes:

The steamship, the cotton gin,  canals (like the Erie), the railroad, mechanical farming, mining, anesthesia (at Mass General), the telegraph, electricity, the telephone, the phonograph,  automobiles, assembly lines, airplanes, radios, radar, nuclear power (for better or worse), television, space exploration (including, of course, that moon landing we’re commemorating this month), and just about everything related to computers, the world wide web, the internet, smart phones, and artificial intelligence.

THE GENEROUS

In the last hundred years, as the most powerful nation on earth, the United States has been generous in supporting democracy around the world.  Entering World War I helped end the stalemate on the Western Front.  The United States supported Great Britain’s solo stand against Nazi Germany through the Lend-Lease program in 1940-1941 and then, of course, joined World War II after Pearl Harbor, helping to turn the tide in Europe with the D-Day invasion of 75 years ago.  Then after the War, the Marshall Plan enabled war-ravaged Europe to rebuild itself, and NATO and the United Nations managed to end the first Cold War.

But I witnessed the benefits of great things that our government has done to improve our lives over our history.  Again, here’s a list:

Public education (starting with my two alma maters, Boston Latin School and Harvard), land-grant colleges and universities, the Homestead Act (not so good for native peoples but good for settlers heading west for economic opportunity and independence), the transcontinental railroad, our national parks, canals and dams, and all the building done by the Civilian Conservation Corps as well as the WPA during the New Deal, Social Security and Medicare, the GI Bill for Education and low-cost housing loans after World War II, and the Interstate Highway System.

Individually and collectively, the people and government of the United States of America have done amazing things in the last nearly 250 years.  I remain confident that we have many more wonders in our future.

BOLLI Member Mark Seliber

Mark, a native of Boston, worked as an actuary for 35 years and retired in 2017.  He immediately joined BOLLI with his wife Rachel and has thrown himself into classes, performing in the theatrical productions, and writing presentations.

What’s On Your Mind? Lois’s Birthday Dream

MY BIRTHDAY DREAM

By Lois Sockol

It is the morning of my 86th birthday, and I open my eyes to a shower of  sunshine.  ‘Tis early.  No need to rise yet. Sinking still deeper into my pillow,  I close my eyes.  I’m walking in a forest, down a path awash in light.  Ahead of me is a giant oak. It is not until I approach that I notice that it’s bowed crown is draped in unseasonably yellowed leaves.  Deep, letter-like gashes mark its trunk R-O-N.  I wrap my arms around its bole and feel it pulsing.

Circling the venerable oak are four clusters of pines.  At the center of each is a strong regal twosome overlooking less mature pines. Letters are etched into the base of each.  I know their names.  It is a heartwarming, comforting site, the four clusters jointly surrounding, guarding the elderly oak.

I hug each before I continue, almost skippingly, down the path.  A bit further, to my right, stands an arch of trees reminiscent of a Temple. A powerful stream of light flows my way.  More tree clusters, all shapes and manner, surround me.  I peer more closely, stroking each trunk. Tall and firm stand my friends, a lifetime of playmates, companions, and soulmates.

Suddenly, a clearing appears.  A large lake, its translucent water shimmering before me.  I peer into its silvery blue surface. From its depth float figures, reaching almost to its surface.  My mother rises, her large blue eyes shining, her laughter bubbling up.  Beside her, his strong arm about her shoulders,  my father waves to me with his free hand.  He, too, is laughing.  But how can that be?  “No, no wait, don’t go,” I cry, my eyes locked to the spot as my parents sink back into the depths.  Almost immediately, my dear sister Ellen appears, taken from me too soon, before I had a chance to tell how much I loved her. She , too, now  laughs and reaches out to me. I lean forward to take her disappearing hand.

Within a breath, everything disappears.  I lose everything–my family, my friends, the forest, the lake, all gone.

I pull myself up from the floor where I lay next to my bed. Unhurt, just a bit achy. Why, why had my mind concocted such a fantasy?  What is my subconscious trying to tell me?  That surely we would meet again? That there is time to change the things I want to change?

The sound of the phone cuts through my thoughts.  Both phones, my cell and land line, calling to me simultaneously.

“Happy Birthday, Mom. We love you.”  Repeated again.  “Happy Birthday, Mom, we love you.”

All through the day, a bouquet of calls from grandchildren and sons. And I embrace them all.

Before night falls, I drive to my favorite walking spot, Cutler Park, where a forest of trees surrounds a large fresh water lake.  I smile. 86, like any age, new beginnings, new ending, choices.

BOLLI member (and Current Events SGL) Lois Sockol

Lois says, “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. Professionally, 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 my town of Needham as a Library Trustee and a Town Meeting member for 36 years.  And now, I have the joy of being a member of BOLLI!

 

WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND? BOLLI Matters

WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND?

Our BOLLI Matters blog provides opportunities for all BOLLI members to share thoughts on the issues of the day, memories of issues of other days,  stand-out BOLLI moments, favorite Lunch & Learn speakers or programs.  You can recommend books, television shows, movies,  and more to your fellow BOLLI members.  Just write about whatever is on your mind, in your own voice–the way you’d talk to your friends.

In addition, it offers “showcase” space in which to try your hand at writing–creative nonfiction, memoir, fiction, poetry.  It gives you a gallery for sharing your photography,  drawing, painting, print making, weaving, furniture making, glass, mosaics…or whatever your particular creative venue is.

You might be surprised to find out how much your fellow BOLLI members appreciate and enjoy your efforts.  And, who knows?  You might surprise yourself and find that you enjoy the process as well–there could be a regular feature or column in your future!

Send items to me, Sue Wurster, at susanlwurster@gmail.com.  I am happy to help by making suggestions for strengthening your work and doing some judicious editing.

And if you have ideas for features or columns that you might like to see in BOLLI Matters, please pass them along!

BOLLI Matters blog master, Sue Wurster

Known in some circles as “Wurster, the Wily Word Woman,” I have happily worked on all things word related–public speaking, acting, writing, working on newsletters and newspapers, editing literary/visual art journals–since creating “The Maple Street Gazette” at age 8…