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Christmas Eve, 1965

The fireplace kept us warm while we sat on the couch and drank bottles of Little Tom. We would open presents soon. One of the perks of being Polish is that we always open presents on Christmas Eve instead of waiting until morning. In ’65 I would’ve been 6. When you’re 6 years old, anticipation…

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Having Fun With Google Translate

I woke up early this morning and wrote a story in that little box they have on Google Translate. Then I sat back and listened to how it sounded in both English and German. Ah, Sundays! After years of trying to eke out a living as a writer in the United States, I went to…

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Smokestacks

When I was a boy Dad told me that clouds came from smokestacks. That’s why it always rained in South Newburg. I thought, why not? The factories made all sorts of things. Those smokestacks had to do something, not just stand there with their noses in the sky. So whenever we drove downtown I watched…

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The Boy Who Weighed Things

He was 8 years old when he found a Hanson model 1512 postal scale in the trash bin behind Daffy Dan’s on Polsky Street. He took it home, cleaned it off and began weighing little things around the house. The Hanson 1512 scale had a maximum weight limit of 20 pounds. He was careful not…

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Billboards

Even though Rick and Frankie couldn’t afford to go places, the billboards that swallowed their houses took them to other worlds. They’d sit up on the hill that overlooked the valley and write stories about people who wear fancy clothes and sip Champagne in luxury cars. Frankie wasn’t “the girl next door” even though she…

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Bobby Buzzcut Goes Back To School

Summer was our furlough after ten months of tyrannical rule by the nuns at St. Agnes. It was the 1970s and every boy in South Newburg had two goals in common: play baseball as much as possible and grow our hair as long as our favorite players. John Lowenstein. Lee Mazzilli. John “The Count” Montefusco…

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Gullible Travels

My mom was born in 1946. People didn’t have Facebook back then, but they had faces and they were usually buried inside books. One day, while playing at recess at St. Wenceslaus School, my mom had a vision. Jesus and his apostles were gathered at the last supper playing with space age “phones” instead of…