Category Personal

Thirteen Schaefer Quarts

This is not about drinking a lot of beer. Many people do, especially in college, and very especially in the service. Granted, thirteen quarts of beer in one evening is a lot for anyone, but this is not about an attempt to get into the Guinness Book. Rather it’s what happened after. But first, some […]

The Purple Gang

It was 1960. I was in a theater in downtown Buffalo. I don’t remember the movie I’d gone to see, but I remember the preview for The Purple Gang. It was a movie about Detroit gangsters. (Gangsters, like pirates and Nazis, are always box office gold.) Having never missed an episode of TV’s The Untouchables, […]

Heroes

It was a youth meeting in the basement of the Kenmore Baptist Church. I was a boy, and the pastor said, “Who is your hero?” I said, “Willie Mays.” Then an older girl said, “Jesus,” and that was, of course, the correct answer. But I stuck with Willie, and one of my special treasures was […]

Huey

Many years ago, a Somali sheep was kept by two teachers at the St. Lucy’s School for Girls, Kisumu, Kenya. His name was Huey. When it was Huey’s time to go, he was sold to a Catholic congregation “as the banquet feast for a retiring nun.” Since nothing is wasted in Africa, his hide was […]

Places I’ve Been

Sorting through a gift of 700 postcards, I was delighted to find places I’d been. The Brock Monument in Canada. While my brother and cousins played in the park, my mother tied me to a tree, with about ten feet of slack, so I wouldn’t get lost. And then, before the picnic lunch, she washed […]

Postcards from Abbie

Postcards sent by my grandmother, Abbie Slocum Winship, to her brother, Homer Slocum, and his wife, in Niagara Falls, N.Y. On the back of this one, mailed in October of 1909, Abbie wrote, “Papa got the jars yesterday. Thank you very much for what it contained but we are puzzled to know what that fruit […]

6 1/2 Fish

In the late 1970s, I had an idea for a little book of quotes illustrated with rubber stamp images of fish. I had the fish stamps; I gathered the quotes. Then I got married, became a father, earned a living, and the project was kind of back-burnered for 40 or so years. But two years […]

Mail Art & Faux Postage

“It was recognized even in the eighteen-sixties that collectors had to contend with not only forgeries of government-issued postage stamps but also stamps whose validity existed only in the imagination of their producers.”– Cinderella Stamps (1970) by L.N. and M. Williams I love mail, mail art, the post office, postage stamps, rubber stamps. All of […]

America Naked

For a while now I’ve been hearing a lot about making America great again, although I would happily settle for America being good again. And America First, that’s part of the plan, too. But this morning, while getting ready for church, I noticed one of my clothing labels, and started looking at the others, checking […]

The Can of Worms

I believe it was the summer of 1968. I was driving over to Rochester, N.Y., to visit a friend. Knowing my fear of the unknown, he agreed to meet me at the Thruway exit so I could follow him to his home. But he wasn’t at the exit, and when I called on the payphone, […]