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Write Your Story…Cuyahoga

Cuyahoga

Bruce Haase

This is a second draft of a chapter of the fictional ‘faux-auto-biographical’ novel that I’m writing. It’s the story of two boys and a girl, born on the East side in Cleveland, Ohio in November 1943, and goes to the summer of 1959… “Cuyahoga” is the County that Cleveland is in.

June 2018

* * *

Mrs. Hagopian’s Goat

In the early hours of a still frigid April 1956 day, twelve year old Charlie did his now daily charitable task. He had discovered that the Hagopian Family (who weren’t his newspaper customers) had a young goat in their garage. Charlie was captivated by the goat, plus he was feeling sorry for the poor thing, living in a 50 year old, unheated garage with a non-running, spider infested, ’36 Ford. Since Charlie fancied himself a decent, and possibly heroic young man, after his route, at 6:30, he’d walk past the st

ill sleeping house and carefully open the garage’s side door to pet and feed a snack to Gary the goat. Actually the goat was unnamed, only Charlie seemed to care enough about Gary to name him and pet him. Charlie didn’t know if Gary was a boy goat. Maybe he should have named her Gretchen.

By Easter Sunday, the weather was better and Gary was on a chain in the back yard, the weeds were chomped short and Gary was pretty plump. Gary or Gretchen liked the morning treat and rub down, he or she knew that Charlie was due and was pulling the chain taut, eager for his upcoming visitor.

The Saturday following Easter, Gary wasn’t there. Mrs. Hagopian saw Charlie and came out. She told Carlie that the goat had been slaughtered and was being prepared at the Armenian Butcher shop for a Madagh feast to be held at the Armenian/American Social Hall the next day. She invited Charlie to come and join in the festivities.

In a most unheroic manner Charlie shook his head and ran away. He was horrified, the Armenians were cannibals and had killed Gary and were going to devour him, probably raw.

When Charlie calmed down, his natural curiosity took over. At the library in the following month, Charlie learned a lot about traditions, prejudice, Armenia, Genocide, independence, immigration, Greece, Turkey and more. One afternoon he went to the Hagopian house and apologized to Mrs. Hagopian for his rude behavior in running away from her invitation. She explained about the goat, why, from the day that they had bought him, they had never named him or made a pet of him, his existence to them was to be a sacrifice, that’s all. Next year it would be another families job to raise a goat or a lamb for the Madagh feast.

She invited Charlie to come to supper that evening, he accepted. At 5:30 Mr. Hagopian and two adult sons sat down with Charlie, they nodded to him. Mrs. Hagopian served from the stove, she flitted about, and didn’t sit down. Like a mother robin she made sure the chicks were fed. There was no conversation, a few grunts, a belch or two, some slurping, then a final wiping the plate with a piece of Wonder bread and chairs squeaking back, and the three men went to the living room TV for a beer, the sports report and a game show.

Charlie helped Mrs. Hagopian clear the table, then she dished up her food and sat down to eat. Charlie sat with her and they talked. He asked her about a “Madagh”. She told him it was a commemoration for the million and a half victims of “The Genocide”. She told him of Armenia, of the Armenia that she remembered as a girl, she told of moving to Ottoman Turkey when she was ten, of the Genocide of the Armenian people that started when she was twelve. She told of camps, refugees, walking, hiding, hunger, finally stowing-away aboard a ship to Portugal. Of her older girl cousin, named Lusine (meaning mysterious), somehow obtaining legal passage for them to Boston. Them being sent to Cleveland to be live-in servants to a rich Croatian family on the east side, near Shaker Heights, being set-up at eighteen to marry Mister Hagopian, a man 21 years older then herself. A man that she barely knew. She told Charlie of teaching herself to read English from the newspapers, of the four children that she bore and raised for Mr. Hagopian. She told of the two oldest, both daughters. How each were married when they were eighteen. How each married boys that they knew and chose for themselves. How happy her girls were to drop the name Hagopian, and move to the West Coast and a new way of life, near the clean, white California sands.

Charlie helped her wash and dry the dishes, he told her how much her liked her cooking. In the background, the television set quietly murmured, the three men snored, probably not dreaming about their brutal steel mill jobs. Mrs. Hagopian tousled Charlies hair, and told him, “you good boy to listen to old woman’s stories.”

She left the kitchen and came back with a small shoe box, covered in Christmas wrapping and decorated with ribbons. Carefully she opened it and took out a colorful silk and cotton wrapped treasure. It was a cheap child’s toy tea cup, broken, chipped, and carefully glued. It was her sole possession for her girlhood in Armenia, before they moved to Turkey. It was priceless to her, she cradled it then gently kissed the cup, she told of her father and mother and brother and sisters, her five family members of whom she knew nothing since 1916.

Eyes closed, she tightly held her cup, and told of herself as a 9 year old girl, the youngest in a healthy, and happy young family. They were picnicking in a meadow, under an Ash tree, laughing and sipping pomegranate juice from the child’s tea set. That picnic was during the good days, safe, under a clean Armenian sky, with puffy pure white clouds, the scents of flowers and spices in the air, song birds singing joyously. She clutched her little cup to her chest, her eyes were closed. Her cheeks were damp.

Charlie quietly let himself out of the kitchen door, dusk was sneaking up. He looked at the goat’s chain hanging from a nail on the old garage. Weeds in the small, un-landscaped back yard were reappearing, there was no goat to stop them.

Walking home Charlie thought about the refugees, immigrants, non-english speakers. Brave people, seeking freedom and safety, coming to a strange, and foreign new country. His four grandparents had all done that, the three that he had so fleetingly known were gone now, he had never heard their stories about their lives in the old country.

Four grandparents, all dead and no one to tell their stories. Someone should have written them down. Maybe someone should write down Mrs. Hagopian’s stories. Maybe he should help her do that this summer.

Charlie thought, from now on, maybe he wouldn’t make fun of immigrants and their funny clothes, their funny accents, their odd ideas, foods, and traditions. Maybe sacrificing a goat or lamb once a year is very meaningful to them. Maybe we shouldn’t judge them too quickly.

Charlie made a vow to buy Mrs. Hagopian a pomegranate or two at the fruit stand when they come in season….

When he got back to Villa Beach, he sat on his bench, overlooking his now dark great lake, a few night birds were singing, maybe singing the songs of their grandparents.

Write Your Story @ Union City Library

Join our library group, for an   informal gathering of aspiring writers of all types of genres. Your writing can be memoirs, creative non-fiction, poetry, song lyrics, science fiction, plays,essays, you name it!  We just want to hear what you have written and support each other as we grow as writers.

Third Tuesday of the Month:  July  17 ,   August 21 , and September 18  .                            1 p.m. — 3 p.m.

 

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Write Your Story…Vertically Challenged

VERTICALLY CHALLENGED 

By the Library Member Rita K.

 

I have spent my entire life envying tall willowy long legged women, the kind who look terrific in tight jeans and knee high leather boots.  Being at the other end of the height spectrum, barely skimming four feet eleven inches currently and at my zenith five feet one, I have never enjoyed such sartorial splendor.  I have always had to hem my clothes and buy outfits that merely gave my stubby frame the illusion of height.  Being vertically challenged has infringed on every aspect of my life.  I use a ladder at home to retrieve items from not so high shelves or at the supermarket I must ambush a tall person for assistance.  My best friend has become my Reacher, which I use to reach anything I can’t normally reach which is just about everything.  Bar stools are to be avoided and present as much of an obstacle as having to scale Mt. Everest.  I have been reduced to using two cushions underneath me when seated at my dining room table to avoid having my chin rest on the tabletop.  Forget about being a spectator in a crowd – the most I could hope to see is a close up of someone’s armpit.  Trying to keep pace with a fast moving tour group has always rendered me the laggard in the rear frantically pumping my legs like Chippy the Chipmunk on a hamster wheels so I wouldn’t be left behind.  There has been one advantage, however, to being short.  During my twenties, it acted as a magnet to every short male within a radius of 100 miles looking for romance.  Having long wavy hair and a waistline helped.  Nonetheless, I oftentimes find myself cursing my short stature and praying that in my next life I come back as tall as an Amazon warrior princess, a star basketball player, or at least taller than five one.

Write Your Story @ Union City Library

Join our library group, for an   informal gathering of aspiring writers of all types of genres. Your writing can be memoirs, creative non-fiction, poetry, song lyrics, science fiction, plays,essays, you name it!  We just want to hear what you have written and support each other as we grow as writers.

Third Tuesday of the Month:   May 15, June 19,  and July  17                                                                                                                                                                         1 p.m. — 3 p.m.

 

 

 

 

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Write Your Story… I’ll Meet You at the Lamppost

I’LL MEET YOU AT THE LAMPPOST

submitted by the Library Member, Venessa Mason

It has been 25 long years

My celebrated friend

There was a time you visited much more often

I miss you desperately

And would love to see you again,

But rather than wait, I will let more time pass.

 

The other morning was a close call

Sub-degrees were on my side,

And I half-hoped that you would make a surprise visit

It seemed a ridiculously simple request at the time

But alas, another near miss.

 

Idle musings, remembering how you appeared

At times, audaciously

Erupting with seismic force;

Attacking with a firm and determined grasp on anything, anyone in your path

Gravity working overtime

As you advanced vigorously, endless and Earthward

Tapering off but for a moment, then pouncing again,

Stronger than before.

 

More often though, you unfolded like a lullaby

Melodious, gentle, and paced

A graceful curtsy on an easy wind

You were a lovely cosmos of awe-inspiring configurations

Beauty beyond reckoning

Such loveliness Glistening against the light of the moon as evening fell into night.

 

How precise your cognitive map,

Guided, no doubt, by some Divine Hand

Knowing always a perfect arrangement

Transforming Block after City block into tidy rows

Of miniature houses hiding under pearly bonnets;

As a body, a silvery forest

You made your mark, indelibly.

 

Never you mind, the naysayers

I welcome you always………anytime

You make for me, a special event of the every day

Saturating the scene with merriment

And Featuring picturesque views

That add aesthetic value to the mundane.

 

My heavens!  That ten-block trek from school to home, was

Each afternoon, a fretful anticipation

But you made an adventure of it

Indulging our fancies with Frolic and Fun fights

Slipping and sliding haphazardly we were, otherwise endeavoring to remain upright.

 

 

Michigan flashbacking, and I am there once more

Spying neighbors digging for hours to level a parking space out front

Daring anyone to swoop in while they are away.

 

Everyone in resonance on streets downtown, all having the same idea as they brave the elements

Seeking refuge just inside tall heated buildings

Hustling and bustling, bundling up, Trampling through, and

Pausing just for a moment to greet an acquaintance or to catch a breath.

 

Then, the slowest crawl……. through traffic on I-94,

Hours it took, to travel minutes away

 

What stress?

Free from worries, I was

Giddy with exhaustion, I loved it all

That’s how it played out affectionately, under your spell

…….. I loved it all.

 

One quiet night I dashed out into the middle of the street

And danced with abandon in a vague brand of madness

Just having my own private parade under the lamppost

Surely neighbors peering through curtains

Eyeballing,

Wondering whether some loony had just escaped WARD 7.

 

 

On and on I danced with you

For as long as I could, for as long as you stayed

I wished it were longer

I know, I know.

You must move on; disappear, actually.

 

There are days when my only dream is to drift forward with you, to the past

To the site of memories held dear

And maybe at the right place and

At the right time

A hunch?  A hope

I will find you there, back on the job

For a chance again, to dance under the lamppost.

 

‘Til then, I’ll bide my time

Get on with my day

And delight in the comforting thought that

In this world,

At this very moment,

At least Somewhere…….it is snowing.

Write Your Story @ Union City Library

Join our library group, headed by Bruce Hasse, for an   informal gathering of aspiring writers of all types of genres. Your writing can be memoirs, creative non-fiction, poetry, song lyrics, science fiction, plays,essays, you name it!  We just want to hear what you have written and support each other as we grow as writers.

Third Tuesday of the Month:  February 20, March 20, and 17

 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

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Write Your Story… A Moment in Time Prompt

This prompt really inspired one of the members to write the outline to her life story…she plans to work on this , however she agreed to share her inspiration because of the prompt.

A Moment in Time/an Aha Event/ Split /second Timing

By Meg Green/ Union City Library Membber

What a thought provoking assignment! Mine have been a sequence of aware nesses, from deciding to accept my parents offer to send me away to college as they awaited 7th baby and took in a foreign exchange student from Bolivia whose host family of 4 didn’t work out.

To choosing a BS in Elementary Education as a major supposing it would be the easiest course of study to obtain a degree in rather than going for Social Work which the head of Dept. said I was more suited for. Consequently, the money did not accumulate as it might have.

To accepting a secretarial position at the University of San Francisco which led to an administrative asst. spot in Campus Ministry for a few years. Later we would use the Faculty Lounge for our wedding reception after marriage in the Mission Dolores Basilica.

To managing the gift shop in San Francisco’s Cathedral of the Assumption on Nob Hill ad  meeting folks from all over the world. Then to selling ads for the San Francisco Magazine which was not my cup of tea but there was told about the Johnson o Conner aptitude Test which was a 2 day test in a human engineering lab to help determine what I was born to do. It shed light on my manual dexterity which enable me to enter Moler Barber College and start a new career with The Barbers I n the St. Francis Hotel. Thought I’d died and gone to heaven.

To getting to hear Mother Theresa gives her talks in 3 churches in San Francisco while volunteering at A Free pregnancy Center. And bursting into tears when she took both my hands into hers saying “God Bless you”

To adopting a sibling pair in our 40s and seeing them striving in their 20s to cathing out their own life journeys with more than a few ups and downs. Whose life is perfect anyway? As my dad once said to me, “We got you to 18 and hoped for the best”. Six of us have at least one degree. But he thought #7 named after himself and who also loved flying earned more money than the first 6 of his children. Tom is a pilot for frontier and takes advantage of free travel.

To teaching for Hayward Unified Older Adult and Substantially Handicapped program later changed to 55+ and then becoming a caregiver with in Home Support Services while serving on the Senior Commission here in Union City.

In my mind’s eye mine had been a “rosary or series of Aha events” which I hope and pray can keep on keeping on free of dementia until my last breath. My mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at Mayo Clinic Rochester, MN but my father never accepted it and was able to keep her at home until her heart gave out. He fulfilled her prophesy that were she to die before him. He’d remarry and go through all their savings. I ‘ve seen too many families fight when large amount money ….

Write Your Story @ Union City Library

Join our library group, headed by Bruce Hasse, for an   informal gathering of aspiring writers of all types of genres. Your writing can be memoirs, creative non-fiction, poetry, song lyrics, science fiction, plays,essays, you name it!  We just want to hear what you have written and support each other as we grow as writers.

Third Tuesday of the Month:  December 19 ,January  16, and February 20

 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

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Write Your Story ….War Prompt

 

WAR

Submitted by Patricia Eng, Union City Library Member

A sentry sat in a guard tower holding his rifle to his side, gazing toward green fields.  It was the middle of July, hot and humid, temperatures rising to 100 degrees.  Past the fields was an estuary and beyond that were the wooded hills of North Korea.  We took snapshots in front of the barbed wire fence that separated us from the guard tower.  There were a few other tourists milling around and a handful of activists talking about the reunification of North and South Korea.  This was one stop in a two-week tour which included visits to Independence Hall (commemorating independence from Japan), the Seoul Olympic Park, and the Seoul Zoo.

I asked my husband if it was safe to be here at the border of North and South Korea.  He said Koreans have been living under the threat of war for so long that nobody thinks it will ever actually happen.  Meanwhile, all the men in Korea are obligated by law to serve 2-3 years in the military after turning 18.  Although there is no active war, many of them are injured or die during training in the rugged Korean wilderness.  My husband was in the Korean army about 35 years ago.   He’s talked about supplementing his meager rations by catching and roasting snakes.  He suffers from hearing loss because a brutal superior hit him with the butt of a rifle.  Occasionally there are confrontations with North Koreans, but more often soldiers are shot by friendly fire.

Recently I asked him how Koreans feel about North Korea building a nuclear bomb and Trumps counter threats.  He still holds that it’s all bravado and the ones that are least concerned are South Koreans. But mothers are still crying about their sons going into the military.

Last month we drove down to L.A. to help my son move into his college dorm.  I was overcome with emotion.  As we were leaving, I gave him a tearful hug goodbye.  My husband said, “Cheer up.  At least he’s not in Korea.”

Write Your Story @ Union City Library

Join our library group, headed by Bruce Hasse, for an   informal gathering of aspiring writers of all types of genres. Your writing can be memoirs, creative non-fiction, poetry, song lyrics, science fiction, plays,essays, you name it!  We just want to hear what you have written and support each other as we grow as writers.

Third Tuesday of the Month:

 November 21, December 19 , and January  16

 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.                                                                                              

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Write Your Story Workshop @ Union City Libary

WRITE YOUR STORY

SATURDAY

November 11, 2017

11 a.m to 2 p.m.

 

Join us for a three-hour writing workshop in a safe, comfortable setting with novelist Anita Amirrezvani and poet/editor Persis Karim.

Through a series of writing exercises, you will be assisted in getting your story on the page as fiction, non-fiction, or poetry.

This creative writing workshop teaches specific techniques to strengthen your writing and offers supportive feedback.

Anita Amirrezvani: Her first novel, The Blood of Flowers, has appeared in 31 languages and was long-listed for the 2008 Orange Prize for Fiction. Her second novel, Equal of the Sun, was published 2012. Anita teaches in the MFA Program in Writing at the California College of the Arts.

 

Persis Karim: She has edited three anthologies of Iranian-American literature  including A World  Between: Poems, Short Stories and Essays by Iranian Americans, Let Me Tell You Where I’ve Been: New Writing by Women of the Iranian Diaspora . Her poetry has been published in numerous national journals and magazines. She teaches literature and creative writing at San Jose State University.

 

 

 

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Write Your Story …The anatomy of a moment

The anatomy of a moment : thirty-five minutes in history and imagination / Javier Cercas ; translated from the Spanish by Anne McLean

In February 1981, Spain was still emerging from Franco’s shadow, holding a democratic vote for the new prime minister. On the day of the vote in Parliament, while the session was being filmed by TV cameras, a band of right-wing soldiers burst in with automatic weapons, ordering everyone to get down. Only three men defied the order. For thirty-five minutes, as the cameras rolled, they stayed in their seats.

Critically adored novelist Javier Cercas originally set out to write a novel about this pivotal moment, but determined it had already gained an air of myth, or, through the annual broadcast of video clips, had at least acquired the fictional taint of reality television. Cercas turned to nonfiction, and his vivid descriptions of the archival footage frame a narrative that traverses the line between history and art, creating a daring new account of this watershed moment in modern Spanish history.

The Anatomy of a Moment caused a sensation upon its publication in Spain, selling hundreds of thousands of copies. The story will be new to many American readers, but the book stands resolutely on its own as a compelling literary inquest of national myth, personal memory, political spectacle, and reality itself.

Write Your Story @ Union City Library

Join our library group, headed by Bruce Hasse, for an   informal gathering of aspiring writers of all types of genres. Your writing can be memoirs, creative non-fiction, poetry, song lyrics, science fiction, plays,essays, you name it!  We just want to hear what you have written and support each other as we grow as writers.

Third Tuesday of the Month:    October 17 ,  November 21, and December 19                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         1 p.m. — 3 p.m.

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