He didn’t point, only the great Babe Ruth did that. No, he didn’t point, instead the ‘kid’ just called it, he called the shot.
I witnessed it, and have played it over and over in my mind’s eye. The ‘kid’ called his own shot.
“I’m gonna hit a home run, Steve“, he said with the naive clarity, confidence and high pitch of a young boy. Such Chutzpah.
I can still hear the classic October sound of bat on ball, plastic on plastic. ‘WHOMP’! The ‘kid’ called it and true to his word, the ball flew over the single tall arborvitae behind the pitcher and rolled into the street, a bonafide homer per the arbitrary ground rules set by the ‘pitcher/umpire/announcer’ dad.
* Note: ‘If You Can’t Be There, Then Write A Story’, #4
For Ben & Summer
Oh, what to do on a hot summer’s day…
That was the challenge facing the FROG, the HOG and the DOG on a hot summer day…
The first day of summer was so hot and the three friends, the frog, the hog and the dog were doing what good friends like doing on hot summer days, or any days, they were enjoying being together…
The day was too hot to hop, too hot to stomp and too hot to romp, nevertheless, the three friends knew just what to do…
The frog, the hog and the dog gathered along the edge of a nearby pond under a huge shade tree. While cooling my feet in the pond waters, I watched them with my trusty binoculars, as they tried their very best to stay cool…
The small friend, the green frog, sat on a lily pad in the pond, which helped cool its smooth skin…
Sometimes, it would slide into the water for a refreshing swim
The small frog thought that staying wet was the perfect way to stay cool on a hot summer day…
The big friend, the pinkish hog, flopped its rather big body in the muddy edge of the pond under a gigantic shade tree…
Because the hog was so big and so heavy, it sank into the soft mud, way up its wide sides, over its bottom and nearly covering its curly tail. The hog found the muddy water cool and comforting…
The big hog thought that laying in the mud on its side…
on its belly…
and on its back…
was a perfect way to stay cool on a hot summer day…
The medium size friend, the black and white dog with thick long hair, decided just to lay on the ground and rest…
The tall green grass nearly covered the dog’s eyes, nevertheless it could still see its friends by the pond, preferring to stay on dry ground, itself, deep in the blanket of soft, cool grass.
The dog thought that laying down and letting its tongue hang out the side of its mouth…
was the perfect way to stay cool on a hot summer day…
And while the frog, the hog and the dog relaxed under a shade tree, on a lily pad, in the mud, and on the grass, they could still see and speak to each other, friend to friend to friend, all about the fun times they have together…
And that is how the three friends, the frog, the hog and the dog stayed cool on a hot first day of summer…
What do you do with your friends to stay cool on hot summer days?
Note: If you can’t be there, then write a story #3
For Ben & Summer
A Story About Friends
This is a story of three very different friends, a FROG, a HOG and a DOG, and the fun they had when the rain stopped and the sun peeked from behind the clouds.
The smallest friend, a FROG, had smooth green skin and made funny noises with its throat, ‘Ribid’, ‘Ribid’!
The biggest friend, a HOG, had rough, pinkish skin and made grunting noises with its nose, ‘Grunt’, ‘Grunt’!
The medium size friend, a Dog, had skin covered with thick black and white hair and made barking noises with its mouth, ‘Woof’, ‘Woof’!
It didn’t matter to the frog, the hog and the dog that they were different, they just enjoyed each other’s company, especially when the rain stopped, because you know what you have when the rain stops…
All sorts of puddles: BIG and SMALL puddles, WIDE and NARROW puddles, DEEP and SHALLOW puddles. oodles and oodles of puddles…
And what do you do with puddles? The frog, the hog and the dog knew…..
Jump in them!
Stomp in them!
Run in them!
First, the frog jumped in a puddle and made a small splash. After all, the frog was the smallest friend. But the frog was having too much fun to be concerned about the size of its splash. Look at that big frog smile!
Next, the hog squatted it’s bottom in a puddle and made the biggest splash. After all, the hog had the biggest bottom.
The hog was having so much fun, so it splashed in another puddle.
This time the hog stomped up and down on its hind legs snd waved its front legs, which wasn’t easy because the hog was so big. Puddle water splashed everywhere…
Just look at that happy hog face…
Finally, the dog ran into a puddle, went one direction, then went the other direction before rolling in the puddle. The dog was covered with muddy puddle water from the tip of its nose to the end of its tail, except for one spot. Can you find it?
The dog had so much fun. Just look at that happy dog face…..
As I enjoyed watching the frog jump, the hog stomp, and the dog run through the puddles, I was distracted by the cheerful sounds of children playing in the distance.
With my trusty binoculars, I was able to see a boy and girl playing in their own puddles. They wore the perfect boots for jumping, running and stomping, a blue pair and a pink pair.
The first story was a hit with the grandchildren. The video of our son reading it demonstrated they had great interest and even were able to decipher the sketches as to who was who. It was fun writing and illustrating the story. So much so, that I’m trying my hand at it, again.
As a reminder, the story is based on real events, all the way down to the staring.
Enjoy and any tips to help my sketching are appreciated.
Covid-19, thé pandemic and all, sure has thrown a monkey wrench into family gatherings, hasn’t it?
As first time grandparents, we see the tots on ‘FaceTime’, but you can’t hug a phone and expect an emotional response.
What about letter writing to the kiddos? Give them something to hold that came from you. A sheet of paper?
Here’s an idea. Take the letter writing a step further and write a story about something that is going on in your daily life. They’ll read it over and over. Well, their parents will. Maybe you can read it yourself on a FaceTime.
I did just that, wrote a story, and it’s been fun. It had to be a real story, something that actually happened with a fair dose of ‘writer’s license’. That is, I could stretch the truth a bit just to make it more fun.
Here’s the story, The Troublesome Stone. if you have young grandchildren, or your own little ones,?this would be a fun story to read. You may have to enlarge the pictures to read each page.
A young lady will ‘meet’ her great grandfather for the first time, thanks to a small tin box of flies and a good story teller. She has the story teller, her grandmother, my sister, and soon will have the flies, a small metal box of fishing flies, tied by the skilled hands of her great grandfather, four generations earlier.
Imagine, a family heirloom, of sorts, being passed down, not to a daughter, nor a granddaughter, but to a great granddaughter. Not a fancy piece of furniture, nor a sparkling broach, but flies. From one long-passed outdoorsman to a young vibrant outdoors woman, three generations removed.
My dad was an avid fisherman who enjoyed making his own lures. He turned wood dowels into ‘plugs’* on a lathe, and strung eels for surf fishing in the rough waters off the duned beaches of Cape Cod. He tied flies, lures that mimicked real flies, to attract trout in the placid ponds populating the rural countryside of central Massachusetts. He was proficient, passionate and a perfectionist about both skills, making the lures and catching the fish.
I kept his tin of flies, and other lures, upon his passing, some 40 years ago, as a reminder of the man. But these feathered and fuzzy creations go back even further in time, at least twenty years prior to his death. Hunched over a folding metal table, squinting through bifocals balanced on the end of his nose, and surrounded with the tools of his ‘art’, he meticulously hand crafted faux bugs to the smallest detail.
Supplied with an array of brightly covered feathers, buck tails, various size hooks, a vise to hold them and thread to join all the components tightly together, he would produce stunning replicas of the local insects that he hoped would help him land the next ‘big one’. A reference book of flies always lay open next to him as he meticulously tied them to the exact specifications, as outlined.
This story isn’t about catching fish, though. It’s not about about tying flies, it’s about a man, his passion and preserving his love of the outdoors by gifting an ‘heirloom’. It’s about connecting with following generations to keep his story alive. And, it’s about love.
It’s very likely that if my dad was here today, then he, Adie and her dad would be at the closest fishing hole, enjoying the outdoors and each other’s company, maybe spinning yarns of ‘the one that got away’.
“Adie, I want you to have these flies. Use them to catch the big one!”
Great Grandpa Bottcher
To Adie and avid young outdoors lovers, everywhere. ‘Keep a tight line’ and keep making memories.
And, to June, my big sister, Adie’s grandma
*Plug (Swimming Plug) – A hard plastic or wood artificial lure that is usually cast and retrieved or sometimes trolled.
As kids, summer evenings would often find my sister and me in the back seat of our box -like 50 something Chevy station wagon, windows cranked down for fresh air, enjoying a ride away from the city to surrounding towns. Our dad would steer us through upscale suburbs to see bigger homes, bigger cars and bigger garages. And, of course, bigger and more beautiful lawns than I’d ever seen.
While my sister and I sat as far apart as possible to avoid catching whatever big sisters and little brothers give each other when they accidentally touch, our mother swiveled her head left and right, giving us her simple commentary. With ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’, she described the elegance of these sprawling homes and equally stunning landscaping. This must be paradise, I thought.
Our dad, however, took a different approach. An avid sportsman who generally spent his leisure time in pursuit of, or preparation for, time on the water, fishing, lawn maintenance was a low priority. He had little regard for the home owner who spent hours mowing, and he expressed himself succinctly…
“Look at him, you wanna be that guy?”
It was a sultry summer evening, the kind that makes ‘life’ come to a crawl at the end of an eight-hour shift, nothing or nobody wants to move. From my bench by the back door, I scanned the east and north section of our lawn as it ran away from me toward the street, like a wave rushing back to its ocean after washing the shore.
I had just finished another session of mowing and was tired, but satisfied. These two sections presented a near picture perfect postcard of how a lawn should look after a meticulous manicure.
Passersby surely were impressed as they intersected the cross streets. The four-way stop gave drivers a moment to pause and enjoy the beauty of it all. I’m certain they gave me a nod of appreciation. It was hard to tell, as the perspiration dropped off my brow and blurred my vision.
I was exhausted and hot. The cold soda can tickled my nerves as I swiped it across my forehead. Mosquitoes were enjoying my flesh but my arms were too tired to swat them. It’s the price I pay for a beautifully landscaped piece of earth, my lawn.
While admiring my work, I recalled an earlier time when my dad would take us for rides in the suburbs and the rhetorical question he would ask.. It seemed like just yesterday. And with a smile, I answered his question…
“I’m that guy!”
To gardeners everywhere who take pride in their lawn and have wonderful family memories, as well.
To Brighton Mowers who keep ny blade sharp and encourage me to keep mowing…and writing!
Growing up, our household had a dishwasher in the kitchen. It was the ‘mother’ brand and came with two strong hands for scrubbing and two strong legs for moving from table to counter to sink. The original model came with a towel for drying but later ones added a special feature, ‘children’, which, amazingly, dried dishes on command.
We were fortunate in our neighborhood of blue-collar workers to have a handyman available 24-7 to build, fix, remodel and paint. It was the ‘father’ brand and came with a lifetime satisfaction guarantee. I learned a few things about fixing stuff from that man by watching him work and being a good person by listening to his unsolicited advice.
My older sister and I were the youngest of seven siblings and by the time we came along, the first five were leaving the nest, giving our folks a bit more leisure time for us. We were spoiled and loved every minute of it.
She and I were driven places by our own ‘chauffeur’, an older, kindly and dedicated gentleman from the ‘daddy’ livery service. He lived with us and knew our likes and dislikes like the back-of-his-hand, which he only used to steer the car.
And did we ever go places, generally not far from home, but so special that I still see them clearly in my mind these many years later.
We’ll never forget the delicious ‘dawgs’ at ‘Hot Dog Annies’ somewhere in the country. On hot summer nights, we were treated to the area’s best ice cream variety from ‘Pinecroft Dairy’. Mother Nature showed off her splendor during our slow drives by the pristine ‘Wachusett reservoir’ or at local ponds where our ‘chauffeur’ taught us to fish and appreciate the evening sound of a whippoorwill.
I would be remiss not to mention the support we received from the financiers of the ‘Mom & Pop’ bank for our higher education needs. In return, the only interest we paid was our interest in them as they expected nothing from us but our best efforts. We tried.
Yes, we were lucky, some would say blessed to have those special amenities while growing up and learning to take our place at Life’s table. The ‘dishwasher’, the ‘handyman’, the ‘chauffeur’ and the ‘bankers’ have long since gone, but their lessons endure and influence who we are today. I’m sure we have passed on some of their wisdom and values to our own children. How simply happy they would be knowing that this is their legacy. Maybe they do.
To my beautiful sister, June, and our precious parents, bless their souls.