Category Archives: What’s Your Story?



by Sue Wurster

The saucepan I hurled across the slight expanse of my efficiency apartment clattered against the radiator and rolled up against the bathroom door.  The mouse didn’t even blink.  I swear it just shrugged its shoulders and yawned.  Totally blasé.  “Geez!”  I thought.  “Even the mice  in New York are tough.” 

Keeping  my eye on the creature, I managed to back across the room to the safety of the sofa where I tucked my feet up under the pillows, pulled out my phone, and dialed.  Oh, pick up, Deb.  Pleeeeease, pick up, I breathed as the phone rang across the hall.

“Oh, thank God you’re home!” I shouted as my neighbor and best friend answered.

“If you’re going to shout, why bother with the phone?  It’s not like this is long distance–”

“Deb, listen!  This is important.  I need to borrow Cleo.  There’s a mouse in here!”

Within minutes, Deb—with Cleo in hand—cautiously opened my door.  “Is it still here?” she asked, hoping, of course, that the rodent had left the premises.

I nodded toward the radiator where he was maintaining his totally unconcerned cool.  If he had been wearing a t-shirt, a pack of Camels would have rested under one sleeve.

“Oh, my God—it’s a mouse all right.”

“Ya think?”

Deb set her large black and white lap cat down on the braided rug, directly in its adversary’s line of sight, and hopped onto the couch with me to witness what was sure to be a dramatic stand-off.

Cleo pawed the rug, stretched, circled, and laid down for a nap.

“Kill!” Deb urged, extending her long right leg and nudging her recalcitrant feline with her size 11 foot.

The mouse sauntered back to his hole under the radiator pipes.

“What’s with your cat?  Hasn’t she ever seen a mouse before?”

“Quite possibly not,” Deb mused.  “But, anyway, he’s gone—probably scared off by the threat of Cleo’s mere presence.”

“Oh, right,” I responded snidely.  “Did you see the look on his face?  He smirked at us.”

“I think he rolled his eyes first,” Deb added.

“What if he comes back?  Like, when I’m trying to sleep? What if he–”

“Want Cleo to sleep over?”  Deb offered.

“Will you stay too?”


Five hours later, I hissed at my friend who was asleep on the couch.  “Deb!  He’s on the dresser!”

The clear sound of tiny feet scrabbling across the wood surface was followed by a  deep and resonant Clunk!

 “What was that?”  Deb whispered.

“The wastebasket!” I realized.  “He must have gone over the edge and landed in the bin!  Quick! Get that cookie sheet from the counter.”

“Uh, this is hardly the time to be thinking about cookies–”

“To put on top of the basket, dimwit!”

“Oh, yeah—that makes sense.”  Deb hopped to the kitchenette while I grabbed the basket and braved a glance inside.  The mouse was there all right.  And at this point, he was not rolling his eyes or smirking at us, but he was also clearly not in the least bit pleased.

Cleo snored.

“Now what?”  Deb asked.

 “Malcolm will know what to do.”


In the lobby, Malcolm—our totally intimidating, brawny, former Green Bay Packer doorman and the toughest guy in all of New York’s five boroughs—quivered.  He actually trembled when we proffered the basket.

“A mouse?”  he shuddered.  “…in there?”   After we nodded, Malcolm the Giant took an extremely deep breath and, still clearly unnerved,  reached gingerly for the bin.  Holding it stiffly, arms fully extended, he carried it, like an unexploded bomb, across the lobby to the rear hallway.  “Come on,” he directed.  We followed.

“Okay.  It’s gonna go like this,” he said in the back hall as the theme from Mission Impossible pulsed in my head.  “We’re gonna use the alley door–and we’ve gotta be quick.”

When our little parade reached the huge and heavy service entrance door, Malcolm handed me the bin and turned the huge crank to unbolt the old metal portal.  “You don’t care about the wastebasket do you?” he asked cautiously.

“Hardly!” I blurted.  “And it’s not like I’ll ever use the cookie sheet again either.”

“Okay,” Malcolm breathed.  And then, like a massive Scotsman winding up for the hammer throw of a lifetime, he reared back, lunged forward, and let the bin rip into the back alley.  By the echoing sounds  of metal whacking against cement block and brick, it must have landed nearly a block away.  Nonetheless, Malcolm instantly pulled the ponderous door shut, threw the bolt back in place, and crumpled against the jamb, panting like he had just escaped a bloodthirsty, invading Mongol horde pounding down the alley with battering rams.

Once his breathing slowed to almost normal, Malcolm mustered an awkward, even apologetic grin.  “Um…” he finally managed, “can we, like, just keep this just between the three of us?  I mean, it’s kind of…”

“Don’t say another word,” Deb soothed.

“It’s our secret,” I assured him, crossing my heart.

We beamed in admiration as we led our hesitant hero back to the safety of his front lobby desk.

BOLLI member and BOLLI “Matters” blogmaster Sue Wurster

Marty Kafka’s obsessive deep concern over his apparent muricidal nature brought to mind my own memorable moment with a mouse.   Recently, I had to have my house de-squirrel-ized with a trap door under the eaves similar to what Marty describes.  That night, I  dreamed that, in the morning, I  found hundreds of indignant squirrels standing on my back porch, their arms crossed in defiance, staring murderously at me…



by Donna Johns

My first adult job was at the Library of Congress.  The grand old lady with the verdigris dome looks out on the Capitol of the United States.  To her right sits the Supreme Court.  Spread out around her like a hug are the Senate and House office buildings.  The Library exists to serve the needs of Congress and the nation.

Back in the 1970s, Washington D.C. was an open and surprisingly casual city.  It was not unusual to spy Ted Kennedy or Edward Brooke strolling from their offices across the big lawn to a roll call vote.  Tourists and federal worker bees intermingled with the mighty around the city.  The Tune In, a greasy spoon on Pennsylvania Avenue,  drew clerks, congressmen, and the occasional movie star.  They all hunkered in to vinyl-covered booth seats to grab beer, burgers, and a dose of insults from Ginny, the waitress.

I started out as “Letter N” in the Serial Records Office.  That meant that any magazine purchased by or donated to the Libary whose title began with the letter N needed to be recorded by me in our paper files.  Some were fun to leaf through at coffee breaks.  The New Yorker, New England Journal of Medicine, The Numismatist.  Others were deadly dull–all the state publications of Nebraska, North Dakota, Nevada.

Once a week, I went to the “sorting room” in the back where enormous laundry tubs full of N magazines were waiting for me to put into manageable piles.  It was in the sorting room that I learned about life in Washington.  My tutors were Sam and Ben, two massive, friendly men with voices like Barry White who took a liking to the little white girl from Boston.

They told me were the best crab shacks were, what neighborhoods to avoid, which congressmen liked to pinch bottoms.  They spun tales about their salad days and teased me about my accent.  They taught me how to drawl and brought me a bowl of chitterlings just to watch me gag.

One day, while I was sorting, I needed to go to the bathroom.  I headed for the closest ladies room, one I had not previously used.  When I stepped in, two of my co-workers turned from the sinks and looked at me with something that looked like astonishment.  I shrugged and ducked into a stall.  I could hear them muttering outside, and it didn’t sound pleasant.

When I got back to the sorting room, I cornered Sam.  “So what is LaTonya and Ellen’s problem ?  When I was in the ladies room, I thought they were going to have a stroke.”

He busted out laughing, took me by the arm, and led me back to the Ladies Room where he pointed to the door.  There, I could just make out the faint adhesive remains of the word “Colored” which had been scraped off.

“But that’s illegal,” I sputtered.

Sam nodded in agreement.  “But old habits, they die hard.  Those girls weren’t made at you.  I’m guessing they were shocked.  Doubt if any white lady has used a toilet in their EVER.”

I continued to use that restroom, even if it was out of the way from my letter N work station.  LaTonya and Ellen got used to it.  But the rest of the white ladies?  They continued to use the “right” ladies room.

Old habits die hard indeed.

BOLLI “Matters” contributor and “BOLLI After Dark” feature writer Donna Johns

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



The Stuff That Survived


by Dennis Greene

 I have been acquiring precious, useless stuff for over 60 years, but I am periodically forced to clean house to make room for more. Yet, somehow, the following items have managed to survive each successive purge.

A rubber “Froggy the Gremlin” squeeze toy I had when I was five. Froggy was a leading character on Smilin’ Ed’s Gang, a children’s TV show sponsored by Buster Brown shoes. The show was one of the earliest TV broadcasts, beginning around 1948.  

The King Tut magic trick, a tiny blue mummy in a yellow plastic casket. The mummy usually rested quietly, but, as the Magician, I could make the mummy pop out and refuse to go back in. I can’t disclose the secret.

An olive drab rubber snake bite kit slightly bigger than King Tut, containing a razor, antiseptic, a tourniquet, and an instruction sheet. The container also functioned as the suction cups needed to suck out the viper venom. I carried this kit when hiking and camping in New Mexico in 1958. Happily, I never had to use it. I also managed to keep the ornate 24” leather belt with brass Philmont buckle that held up my Boy Scout shorts that summer.

A small silver bell attached to a rawhide thong. Eileen and I shook a bunch of these bells all throughout our 26-mile hike through a grizzly infested section of Glacier National Park in 1976.

A leather-covered jewelry box containing a solid gold key engraved with the initials D.I.G. The key opened the Partner’s liquor cabinet at Mintz Levin and was presented to me when I became a Partner in the law firm in 1979. It is a relic of another era, as am I.

A square piece of cardboard with the words “Duncan Creek, Yukon Terr,” a small piece of scotch tape that once held several flakes of the gold my girls panned on a trip to the Yukon around 1989. I managed to keep the cardboard but lost the gold.

A bag containing 13 MBTA subway tokens.

Seven two-inch square waxy cardboard “Playroom Portraits” of Howdy Doody, Clarabelle, Dilly Dally, the Inspector, and the Flub-A-Dub. Beginning in 1950, I and several other first graders would arrive at my friend Rosemarie’s house just before 5:30 each weekday to watch The Howdy Doody Show on the only TV in our neighborhood. We were the first TV generation, and we all used Colgate Toothpaste.

A clay pipe heavily used during the period from 1970 through 1974. There are still remnants of some illegal substance in the bowl.

A glossy identification badge with a picture of a scantily clad seductress and an affable looking dragon, indicating my status as a Volunteer at the 2013 Dragon-Con in Atlanta, Ga. Fifty thousand sci-fi and fantasy fans, many wearing elaborate CosPlay costumes, took over the five largest downtown hotels for five days. I was about 45 years older than the average attendee, but I had a blast.

A black case with a “Showcase Live” logo sticker, containing a harmonica engraved with the same logo. Showcase Live is an entertainment venue located at Patriot Place created by Shari Redstone. I represented Shari when the place opened, and the harmonica was among the gift items distributed to guests. I have never been back.

I have no idea why these random items survived while so many others, probably more valuable and meaningful, were discarded.  I do know that each of these items serves as a prompt. I could tell you stories.

Prolific “BOLLI Matters” feature writer Dennis Greene

Whether it’s pop culture, sci fi, memoir, or whatever is on his mind at the moment, Dennis provides us with his own blend of engaging humor–and, clearly, he has more stories to give us!







An Experience in the Life of a Salesman

By Charlie Raskin

“The rain in Spain, mainly from the plain” couldn’t even touch it.  The fury of that downpour drenched every inch of me.  Right down to the bone.  No wonder my wife Kathy looked worried as I entered my home in Wayland, back in April 1970.  The loving emotion on her face was comforting.  But I never got the hug and kisses I so needed at that moment.  All of her worry and love was washed away five seconds later when she told me that the Boston Police Department was very much in need of my presence.

“My name is Detective Murphy,” the officer said.  “I’m heading a murder investigation here in the city of Boston.  We found a red belt, manufactured by a firm called ‘Paris’ and was informed by Filene’s Department Store that you were the salesman for this company.  We’d appreciate some information concerning this piece of evidence.”

At this point, I excused myself and reached for the telephone to call my wife.  Detective Murphy immediately obstructed my motion and informed me that a call to the suburbs cost money.  I used my A.T.&T. credit card to let Kathy know that all was well.

The credit card led to another call—this time, to my Chicago office.  The belt was small (30-32”), and it was red.   A cotton fabric comprised the body of the belt, and it was attached at each end with very soft, supple leather.  One part of the leather was attached to a buckle with a hook that slipped easily into any one of the three holes in the leather on the other end.  The soft leather showed a deep crease behind the first hole and a very slight crease in the third.  The middle hole showed no wear.  The few numbers stamped on the belt showed that it had been delivered to a military PX in Hawaii.

I asked the detective if they had made any assumptions about whether either the victim or the assailant was gay.  A crescendo of voices in the room responded with the same question:  “How did you know?”

In the 70s, as a salesman, I had come to recognize that a number of gay men who were out of the closet wore clothing in the high color range.  And, in my estimation, a good many of them knew how to coordinate colors.

It turned out that the victim was a well-known gay man in the antique business.  He had been left, nude, on the floor of his apartment.  The only item that didn’t belong in the apartment was the red belt found near him.  It was much too small for the victim.

I was asked for more impressions.

Well, I told them, the well-worn creases in the leather showed that the owner had lost a great deal of weight.  That and the evidence that it had been purchased at a PX led to my thinking that the owner had been in the U.S. Navy.

The detective told me that the department had a huge supply of other clothing stored in a cell in the basement of the building and asked me to look it over to see if I could make suggestions about their original wearers.  I came back the next day and took a look, offering a comment here and there, but nothing that I thought provided the detective bureau with any inspiration.

About a month later, I was called by the department to thank me for the investigative road I had suggested to them.  It led to the conviction of three young servicemen stationed in East Boston.  And my comments about the other clothing actually produced detective action on other cases.

It occurred to me that, in addition to holding up the weight of the world, the belts and suspenders and ties that I sold added a lot of high color to our daily lives.

BOLLI Member Charlie Raskin

Since this is the first piece I’ve ever written for any publication, it might be my last.  Inspiration to write came from Liz David, who happens to have an inside track to aging.  Also, thought it might be another road to “Conviviality.”

Hope others will take a stab at writing too!



by Steve Goldfinger

Kafka might have put it this way:  One day, in his thirteenth year, Stephen Goldfinger looked into the mirror and saw he was a scorpion.

I was a Scorpion all right, with an upper case “S,” a member of our Brooklyn softball team. The incredible jacket reflected in my mirror was made of dark purple felt, and the word SCORPION was emblazoned in white on the back.  It had a six-inch image of a white scorpion with Steve written below it on the front.  And when it was turned inside out–mirabile dictu! Behold the purple lettering and SCORPION image now on white satin!

I never did know where the name came from.  The only other scorpions in Brooklyn were in the insectarium at the zoo.  My remembrance is that Brooklyn’s indigenous wild life consisted primarily of sparrows, squirrels, cockroaches, and ants.  It wasn’t until later that I learned that the image on the jacket wasn’t really a scorpion at all.  The guy we bought them from couldn’t find a suitable picture of a scorpion and went with a cut-out of a crab instead.

We had after-school matches with such teams as the Navajos, the Stallions, the Dukes, the Knights, and a few others.  Most were played on the cement softball field of the Avenue X park.  Routinely assigned to right field and ninth in the batting order, I was not a very good player.

But I loved my Scorpion jacket.  I wore it in all kinds of weather and to all occasions.  Told it would not look that great against the backdrop of Princeton’s ivy-covered towers, I finally left it at home when I went to college.  Mostly  because it was looking fairly smudged and seedy.

I couldn’t find it when I returned home that winter.  My mother had given it to our weekly house cleaner.  His name was Marion though she sometimes referred to him, not without affection, as the schvartza.

Now hanging in my closet is a jacket of a different sort–a Princeton reunion jacket.  Each class has its own distinctive one to put on while carrying on at reunion time.  Designed by a class member and purchased the year  after graduation, there only commonality is their garish displays of orange and black, often out-screaming circus frippery.  I remember being told, in 1956, that my $45 purchase would be different–a sedate evening jacket, silk-lined and suitable for fine dining, theater, ocean cruises, and the like.

When it arrived, I was aghast.  Before me was a beautifully cut dinner jacket, its soft white exterior studded with vertical lines of tiny running orange tigers alternating with lines of ’56es.

It still hangs in my closet. Someday, my kids will have to get rid of it. Just how, I don’t know. They may burn it or bury it or frame it. But give it away?  Who would ever wear it?

Frequent BOLLI Matters writer Steve Goldfinger

Since joining BOLLI two years ago, after a long career in medicine, Steve has been exploring his artistic side.  He has been active in both the Writers Guild and CAST (Creativity in Acting, Storytelling, and Theatre) as well as the Book Group.  



by Maxine Weintraub

Not another trip to the body shop.  Well, in my social circle, to call it a body shop is a bit pretentious.  It’s just a local garage, and I seem to be there more and more often.

It all started a few years ago when I began to notice little things I had never seen before–the scratch along the driver’s side door, the small crack in the windshield.  Where did that small dent in the bumper come from, and what was that peculiar lump in the floor carpet?

Last winter, the handle froze after an ice storm, and I couldn’t open the door.  That was frightening.  It seemed to me that it was time to start taking better care,  paying more attention.  I bought one of those coveralls that keeps the sap and the bird poop off and might keep ice from forming inside the door handles.

Now what?  A large stain on the front seat.  Purple.  And a funny rattle somewhere.   Not enough to keep me home but enough to make me very nervous.  Should I be out and about?

A flat tire in the supermarket parking lot.  The garage sent the large tow truck–the one with the flashing lights–so that everyone could see my distress.  Humiliation.  And over nothing!

Okay.  It was time for preventive medicine.  High test instead of regular.  But the cost was high, and, sometimes when I filled the tank, I forgot.

Then, the final straw.  A stain on the driveway.  A leak.  Wasn’t my garage doing its job?  They didn’t see these things when I got my sticker?  Did I need a specialist?

My friends laughed and told me to relax as I rattled down the local streets.  They said that this aging process could not be avoided.  But I raged.  I found a real body shop.  An expensive body shop.  I had a major paint job.  A valve job.  Flushed those pipes and relined whatever could be relined.  Was I losing control?

And at night, as I lay, fearful, in my bed, those old words from childhood rang in my head:  now I lay me down to sleep…

Oh! What if I just didn’t start in the morning?


Maxine Weintraub reading
BOLLI Member Maxine Weintraub

Maxine has been taking writing classes with both Betsy Campbell and Marjorie Roemer since joining BOLLI three years ago.  She has been an active participant in the Writers Guild and was the editor of the 2018 BOLLI Journal. As Maxi Blue Cabot, she is the proud author of the recently published “Grammie Lives at the Mall” and “The Round Happy Smiling Lady” now available on Amazon.





By Donna Johna

The day of my second knee replacement, I arrived promptly at nine, swapped my clothing for a johnnie, and climbed up on the gurney.  I was not particularly nervous because I knew what to expect. The antiseptic smells mingled with the nervous murmurings of patients as the nurse expertly inserted my IV and taped it down. The IV was not bothersome, but I hated having to remove my earrings and hand them over to my daughter. A scant fifteen minutes later, an army of nurses, anesthesiologists, and orderlies wheeled me down the hall to execute the spinal block.

I do not love people poking around my spinal column in an effort to paralyze me from the waist down.  “Now, honey child,” the anesthesiologist crooned to the young woman standing behind me, “remember everything I showed you.”  Oh my god, a trainee is about to paralyze me! Then a rush of cold moved down my legs, and I watched my feet go limp.  Well, so far so good…unless it’s permanent.

The trip into the operating room was a blur as the knock-out drugs began to take hold.  Time for a nap, old girl, and a new knee. Some time later, my eyes fluttered open, and I heard hammering of metal on metal, like a blacksmith making horseshoes.  Holy crap, the doctor’s hammering my prosthetic into place, and I’m awake. My eyes instinctively moved to the end of the table to watch, but a surgical drape blocked my view. In my drug addled state, I decided that the only sensible thing to do was to sing.  I hummed to test the waters, and nobody seemed to mind; the steady hammering continued.

 So I belted out “Do You Hear the People Sing” from Les Misérables in perfect time with my surgeon’s hammer. It seemed to go over well…nobody complained, and nobody put me under. I sang the rest of the score, and when I ran out of songs, I moved on to Camelot. My surgeon must not have liked Lerner and Lowe because he abruptly left the room, and I got very sleepy again.

I woke as I was wheeled into recovery and transferred into another bed. I poked at a wadded up blanket next to my side until I realized it was my absolutely numb right hip. “OK, hon, can you wiggle your toes?” my nurse asked. Not likely, since an anesthesiologist trainee paralyzed me for life. She and I looked expectantly at my digits, but there was no movement.

“It’s early, yet,” the nurse said. “You can go back to your singing.” I had kind of hoped that my singing was a drug induced dream. Guess not.

“I really was singing? I asked her.

“Like a canary,” she replied.

BOLLI Matters writer Donna John
Donna Johns is a teacher/librarian, writer of unpublished romance novels, sometime director of community theater and new BOLLI member. She now has two fantastic faux knees which set off the metal detectors at Fenway Park.  (Watch for Donna’s upcoming BOLLI Matters feature on movies, videos, and more.  Welcome, Donna!)



by Maxine Weintraub


“Hey, Susan.–’tis I.  The usual used-to-be-grammatically-correct greeting.”

“Oh, Alice–hang on for sec while I check on Charlie.  Charlie?  Charlie?!”

Being put on hold at our age is a scary thing.  What looks like a small blip on the radar screen could end up being a rogue wave of epic proportions–a ship sinker, for god’s sake.

“Susan??  Is everything okay?”

“Oh, sorry.   Everything is fine except that I think Charlie has somehow flipped out.  Do you know what he has been doing in this heat?  Lugging the tomato plants around from shade to sun.  And he’s talking to them.  i really think he is getting dotty.”

Did I dare tell my friend what I had been doing before I called her?

I had been walking my tomato plants around the front courtyard, chatting with them as I moved them from full blistering sun to partial shade.  Chatting with tomato plants like a crazy old lady who lives alone with piles of outdated newspapers.  Well, I am a bit of a crazy old lady, and I live with my crazy old husband, and I am really into nurturing those tomato plants.  Believe me, I understand my friend’s husband Charlie.  Charlie–balding, rotund, and full of life in his eighties–lending a hand to those tomato plants, supplying that life force we once provided the children.

Now, I don’t talk to geraniums or day lilies, although I may whisper to them from time to time about their beauty and steadfastness.  A rose bush can be verbally scorched for a thorn-pricked bleeding finger.  But the tomato plants are different.  And I will give them all the help they need.  The real problem is the weight of the pot.  As the summer progresses, the pots get heavier and heavier.  If I let them stay in one place, i cannot go away for even a day–in that heat, they need water several times a day.  And that much water is not good for them either.  It tends to leach ]calcium from the soil in the pot, causing blossom end rot.  Now did you REALLY want to know all of that about those damned tomato plants?  And if not, think about the  black spots on the bottom of the tomatoes.  You caused that.  Bad nurturing.  Failure.  Wrong.

Tomato plants need to be raised, cared for, talked to, and moved out of harm’s way.  Be it too much sun, too much water, too much shade, tell them not to worry.  And drag them around.  You’ve got their back.

But oh, Charlie, don’t you sometimes get to the end of your rope?  Sometimes the plants can no longer be lugged around.  They are too heavy, or they don’t want to produce, or the blossom rot just breaks your heart.  Can’t you just look at the darned plant and say it’s time to sink or swim,  Early Bird or Big Boy.  You are on your own.  Leave it be.

Let it go.  You don’t have to care anymore.  Stop dragging them around.  It will kill you.  You will have a heart attack.  Too heavy a load.

They will either thrive, or they won’t . . .

Maxine Weintraub reading
BOLLI Member Maxine Weintraub

Maxine has been taking writing classes with both Betsy Campbell and Marjorie Roemer since joining BOLLI three years ago.  She has also been an active participant in the Writers Guild and serves as the editor of the BOLLI Journal.  In her spare time, she talks to tomatoes…


A recent Writers Guild prompt brought this bit of memoir from Steve Goldfinger–for the inveterate duffers in out midst.

Breaking the Ice:  Aye, There’s the Rib!

by Steve Goldfinger

After my early days of hacking around scrubby Dyker Beach, Brooklyn’s only public golf course, I found myself playing The Country Club in Brookline from time to time. Yes THE Country Club, sanctuary of Boston Brahmans plus a handful of their chosen. Its name said it all.

My friend Tom, a fellow academic and ardent golfer, was one of their chosen. A few times a year, he would ask me to join him for 18 holes at this preserve available to but three hundred or so, a far cry from Dyker Beach’s availability to three million.

This time, it was for only nine holes. It was mid-January and the temperature had warmed up to 35 degrees, toasty enough for golf freaks who hadn’t teed up a ball for two months. The Country Club contained an extra nine holes that were kept open year round for such freaks.

Tom brought along his son Jeff, now 15, who was getting interested in the game. I had played with Jeff before, liked him, and was glad he was with us.

The air was brisk and the round uneventful, until we reached the seventh hole. Jeff’s drive put him about 150 yards from the green. I saw him pull a 4 iron out of his bag for his second shot.

“Use 6 iron,” I said. “You’ve grown a lot, and a 4 iron is much too much club.”

But 15 year-olds often have minds of their own.  He stuck with the 4 iron, hit it cleanly, and watched it soar well over the green.

“Now, drop another ball,” I said, “and try a 6 iron.”

He did and hit the ball the perfect distance….but it veered off to the left and rolled onto a frozen pond. When we arrived at the pond’s edge, we saw the ball sitting there, ten feet away. Just sitting atop the glistening ice, waiting to be fetched.  And feeling guilty that it was I who had consigned this $1.25 ball to such a fate, it was I who decided that I should be the fetcher.

I had gone two steps onto the ice when the inevitable crack came, and I crashed, sideways.   I managed to stand up, the water above my waist.  So cold I couldn’t utter a word.  Tom and Jeff ran over to fish me out by extending an 8 iron for me to pull on.  I noticed bleeding from my wrist where it had been scraped by ice as I fell through. Even then, I could barely say a word.

I was the shivering wretch of the three, though, insisting we go to the next tee to complete the round. I had just read The Right Stuff, and this was going to be my John Glenn moment. Tom and Jeff were still laughing as I teed up my ball.  Then, when I tried to swing my driver, I was nearly felled by a horrifically painful crunch in my left rib cage. The technical name is crepitus, and it denoted a rib fracture. I tried to swing again but could use only my wrists to wave at the ball.

They escorted me back to the club house, bleeding wrist, broken rib, freezing torso, numb legs, sunken spirit.

I later asked Tom to petition the club’s Governing Council to post a sign alongside the pond on the seventh hole, to read:  “Here Goldfinger couldn’t walk on water.”

BOLLI Matters contributing writer Steve Goldfinger

Since joining BOLLI about two years ago, Steve has been writing.  He’s taken  memoir courses with Marjorie Roemer and worked on fiction with Betsy Campbell.  In addition, he’s stretched his creative muscles into the world of acting as an intrepid CAST player.