ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


New writing by Lois Greene Stone


A corner in the basement
has golf bags in that angle.
Zippered pockets contain
leather gloves, dimpled balls,
tiny tees, plus wool caps 
and rain clothing.  Spring
still has that space looking
the same.  It’s difficult to
remove reminders of sport
no longer done as aging
and a walker are seen
in hallway mirrors.
We hold hands remembering
when we walked hilly terrain
playing golf together, and
even an incline of a sidewalk
is difficult now.  ‘We should
give these away’ is spoken
each spring, but the stuffed
bags remain once again, as if.... 


key pocket not required  

Six CD’s silently slipped
from a slot after my finger
tapped and re-tapped ‘eject’.
The center console, once
containing items from pens
to sunglasses, was empty.
A glove box, that never held
gloves, had nothing inside.
Loss of independence was
affecting me, and memories
of joyous family trips taken
in this vehicle, forced sobs
for what won’t be again.
The indifferent wheel will
be turned by another’s hands.
Mine, with aging, now need


Ringing in the ears                   

Doorbell. Chimes came from two long brass tubes. Partially enclosed in an arched wall area, they looked pretty even when silent.  A salesman was welcomed inside; he was offering sets of either Encyclopedia Britannica or Comptons. My mother invited him into the dining room, then poured coffee into a China cup she placed on a saucer. He sipped as I looked at the two ‘samples’ and knew which was the one I’d actually use: Compton's Pictured Encyclopedia.  Britannica was first issued in 1768 so definitely stood the ‘test of time’, as some teachers often expressed; the  Compton’s, which debuted in 1922, got ordered.  The salesman put the top back on his liquid ink pen, and handed my mother an invoice explaining when my complete set would be delivered. 

I didn’t wonder if he was provided coffee in the next house he’d walk to, or how many miles a day his leather soles touched cement sidewalks;  I’d soon be able to look inside the educational books, at home, and there’d be some illustrations.

A horse-drawn open-cart ambled down the street and a metal bell clanked as the rider called that he would repair/sharpen shears, lawnmower blades/ hedge trimming tools.  Soon, a gasoline-powered truck, with Good Humor written on the vehicle’s white paint, would pass our house. It stored, without melting, actual ice cream on a wooden stick. The truck’s sound was modern. The Good Humor man showed up before dinner, but, of course, we had to eat the treat at that time because it would otherwise melt. It was expensive at ten cents, I later learned, but I had little concept of money. I paid a penny to get sugar-button-dots candy affixed to a long strip of paper but never thought I could have ten of those for one Good Humor.

When the first freezer went into mass production after World War II, my dad bought this chest;  ice cream was the initial item to go into it!  We could get many Good Humor bars and store them and not have our ‘dinner spoiled’ as my mother often said.

Dick Tracy, a comics character, in 1946 wore a two-way radio on his wrist!  My radio had thick tubes to heat up before sound came through, yet this fictional detective could speak to someone holding his wrist to his lips!  Imagine if such a thing ever came true.

When, in her thirties, my mother spoke to me about ‘before’, she so seemed very old. Only my school books had characters who lived in the olden days, and if my mother ‘didn’t have’ she must be really aged.  She was born before talking movies!  Imagine!

Today’s doorbells today offer video cameras.  Encyclopedias are online. Door-to-door sales and inviting strangers into one’s home are no longer acceptable. Freezers are part of a refrigerator and automatically defrost. Every supermarket has a section with ice cream to buy and bring home then store. But Dick Tracy might marvel at a watch that can actually detect irregular heart beats accurately, also have electronic mail plus messages, and alert emergency assistance if the wearer falls down.  

Rather than share my once-upon-a-time with grandchildren, we online exchange photos, GIFs,  play games on Artificial Intelligence, mention the wonder of satellite cell service, discuss the potential air-taxi service to get from point A to B quicker, and so forth.  Yet, when my husband answers his phone by moving his wrist to his ear, I do think of Dick Tracy, and smile.  

Lois Greene Stone, writer and poet, has been syndicated worldwide. Poetry and personal essays have been included in hard & softcover book anthologies.  Collections of her personal items/ photos/ memorabilia are in major museums including twelve different divisions of The Smithsonian.  The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History’s current ‘Girlhood’ exhibit has a large showcase where Lois’ photo represents all teens from the 1950's; her hand-designed clothing and costume sketches are also displayed.

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