Black Friday

Bicycle police on guard

Man with a mission

Belting it out


Political ranters

Yet more security

Art and entertainment

Religious ranters


'Tis the Off Season

A few shots from the periphery of this year's neighborhood holiday fair, held at the local swim and tennis club.
Kiddie pool
Court 1
Court 2
The season to be jolly


1963: JFK and the French Mouse

It is, as is abundantly clear from the media blitz, the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and that is also this week's Sepia Saturday theme (please visit that site for links to other thematic explorations!).

I was nine and a half when Kennedy died, and in the third grade. I remember the teacher, the white-haired but tall and sturdy Mrs. Geraldine Perry, in her typical peasant blouse and Mexican skirt, gathering the class around her that morning, and telling us that the president had been killed. One little girl burst out crying, and a few of the more churlish class members laughed at her. They got a very severe talking to, as I imagine Mrs. Perry, tough as she was, was probably close to tears herself.

As the grim spectacle unrolled on TV over the next few days, from the killing of Oswald through the long funeral proceedings, I was, I think, more concerned with the Kennedys' daughter Caroline, on whom I had rather a crush despite the fact that she was three years younger than I. In fact I had written a sort of cryptic paean to her just that summer, in the guise of a chapter of The Adventures of French Mouse. This was a project that I and my father had been working on for some months. Once a week or so we would sequester ourselves, and alternately he or I would dictate a story to the other, which I would then illustrate. The stories revolved around Pierre Souris, the French Mouse, with a supporting cast of my other Steiff animals, as well as a large sock monkey, named Uncle Monkey.

I now present for your Sepia pleasure the chapter in question.

"Queek, Caroline, open the you-know what!"
The cat looked terrible.
He made a death-defying leap.
He landed in the fountain.
French Mouse was peeking down the laundry chute when something struck him full-force in the nose!
A pink and blue sign on the door: No Mice Allowed.
The illustrations were dawn on the backs of class handouts for my father's Bible As Literature class at the University of Washington.
The text was written on the backs of a handout for his Intro To Poetry class.
Allow me to say in closing that the perennial trotting out of the JFK assassination "party line" irks me no end. I have just read a brand-new, phenomenal book, JFK and the Unspeakable, which thoroughly blows the old "lone gunman" theory sky-high. I cannot recommend this book too highly.


The Lost Photograph

For Sepia Saturday #201, a collection of photos of my father's house in Elm, Michigan, and a poem of his that evokes at least the interior very well.

Lost for twenty years now that large photograph

Of my father in his long room at Golden,

Colorado, in 1901, surrounded

By books and sunlight.

The young teacher from Michigan, his forehead

High and broad, his fine black hair center-parted,

Rugged and hopeful as Lincoln, at his desk,

Shakespeare beside him.

Before he taught at Victor or Cripple Creek

Or had Lowell Thomas as a start student,

Or won my mother’s hand away from Ralph Carr

And the music store.

In one corner of the room, piled high with books,

Was the slatted wood, metal and leather trunk

Brought to take all his books and clothes from Detroit

Clear to the Rockies.

On my last night in Michigan, he and I

Climbed to the spare bedroom long used for storage,

Where my mother’s dress dummy stood among toys,

Found the old trunk there,

Unmoved since I was born, carefully removed

Teddy bears, dolls, games, and three children’s clothing,

And carried it with ceremonial joking

Down the long staircase,

Past the ceiling-high cases of well-read books,

Past faded paintings of six great composers,

Past the two old stoves and the battered table,

Out through the kitchen,

Down the back porch where all of our dogs had slept,

Across the yard full of oaks, maples, and pine

Where we live in photographs of forty years,

Past the old red barns,

And loaded it into Ramsbottom, the Dodge.

My train was to leave at dawn for Seattle

From the ornate red brick depot in Ann Arbor

Where he had arrived

In 1896. Across Middlebelt,

Beyond the fragrant pastures of horses and Holsteins,

Half a mile away stood Elm Woods, flower-filled,

Venus above them.

I could hear far off, down at the Beech crossing,

A Diesel, not an old steam locomotive,

Coming on the Pere Marquette. Then my father,


Standing in the back door in Indian summer

Twilight, his children gone, my mother long dead,

But in his old aura of steadfast love, gave one

Understated wave

As Beth and I drove off into the future.

On the way to Seattle, on the Great Northern,

On the far side of the Rockies, I remembered

The lost photograph.
Nelson at bat in the front yard

The Bentleys at Elm

The red barns

Middlebelt Road, Elm Woods

Dapper in the side yard

The house coat and the house

Mike, the house dog