Talent doesn’t disappear with age and sometimes it needs years of living to mature. Then it bursts forth like bubbly from a bottle that warms hearts and invigorates the spirit. I’ve invited a few talented fellow writers to contribute little stories on this page of flash fiction for you to enjoy. Perhaps one will revive a memory or rekindle that youthful fire in your belly. It’s never too late to pursue your hidden passion or experience joy. We are still here.
A Memoir of Survival
By Ed Baranosky
My mother would tell anyone who would listen how hard it was for her to get her baby to eat vegetables or anything else he didn’t like.
In 1928 Mrs. Dorothy Gerber contracted with the Fremont canning company of Fremont Michigan to puree and jar vegetables to be marketed as baby food. They sold for 15 cents a jar.
In the winter of 1929 my mother was mashing beets, peas. beans and potatoes with a fork because she didn’t have an extra 15 cents to buy a jar of Gerber baby food.
I ate mashed-potatoes, bread, eggs and fruit. When it came to the beets, peas and beans they all wound up on the floor. Clever woman that my mother was she came up with a plan to outwit her little boy. She mixed the peas and beets with mashed potatoes.
Now there were peas, beets and mashed potatoes on the high-chair, floor and my mother’s apron.
As I grew older I picked up an aversion to several other foods. Seafood is just one example. And living in a Catholic household Fridays were difficult for me. My mother cooked for my father. He liked onions, fish, and clam chowder. I gave in and tried the chowder.
The winter of 1937 and the spring of 1938 were hard times in the coal region of Pennsylvania where we lived. The companies were only working one or two days a week.
In June of 1938 friends of my mother, Tess and her husband George who now lived on Long Island, were in town to visit family. While talking to my parents George told them it was less expensive to live there because it was on the shore of the ocean. Seafood was plentiful, he said, and it was free for the taking. Besides that, we could live with them until my parents got settled.
My parents put what few pieces of furniture we had in my grandmother’s attic. We all got in their new Oldsmobile and were off to Long Island.
The first evening there George went to the garage to get a net fashioned on a long bamboo pole with a round chicken-wire circle. He explained it was used to catch crabs.
George drove my father and me to a pier that extended over the water for about 100 yards. There were lights spaced about 25 yards apart along the length of it. On the pier people with all sorts of nets were dipping them in the water.
After we found a spot, I could see why they were dipping their nets in the water. On the surface of the water crabs were swimming toward the lights. George simply dipped his net in and snared a crab. Within half an hour we had a bucket full of crabs.
We left the pier driving along the shore to a long warehouse on the water. George parked the car and we went in. On the water side were slips for boats to come into the building to off-load the clams.
Inside were piles of clams and oysters being sorted according to size. George knew the watchman and we left with a bucket of clams.
That night when everyone had seafood, I had a buttered piece of Silver Cup bread and a glass of milk.
George knew a lot of people in Sayville. He introduced my dad to a man who owned a flower farm. He needed a man to drive into New York to deliver flowers to various florists. The man he had working for him was not reliable and just quit. My dad having worked in a coal mine thought he had died and went to heaven.
My mother answered an ad in the local paper to interview for a maid position at an estate in Patchogue. She got the job. It was in a summer residence of the Roosevelts.
Friday, in the 2nd week of our stay, Tess got a phone call from her sister saying her mother was ill and she should try to come to see her.
Saturday, my mother put me in the car with George and Tess. My mom was sending me back to Pennsylvania to my grandmother and aunts. I was going to eat something that didn’t crawl, swim or oozes through water.
I would live!
By John-Paul Marciano
Kriminalinspektor Gerhard Engel was searching for an empty trash can in the refuse storage shed when he detected movement out of the corner of his eye. He looked in the direction of the movement but didn’t see anything.
Maybe a feral cat in search of scraps, he thought.
Gerhard resumed his search, going down the line of trash cans one by one. Again he detected movement and again he saw nothing. It had been a long day and he was tired. He was beginning to wonder if his mind was playing tricks on him. But, as he leaned forward to put his bag of trash in a half-empty trash can, he saw the faint glow of an eyeball in the back corner of the shed. He closed the lid of the shed gently and hesitated for a moment. He shook his head and returned to his third floor apartment.
When Gerhard reached his apartment he went into the kitchen. He took the loaf of sunflower seed bread from the bread box and cut off a chunk. He opened the refrigerator, extracted a sausage and placed it on the counter next to the bread. Next he went into the sitting room, grabbed his copy of Das Schwarze Korps (the weekly paper of the Schutzstaffel). Returning to the kitchen, he tossed the paper on the counter next to the bread and sausage.
Gerhard stood with both hands palm down on the counter looking at the tops of his shoes in thought. He was torn. Why should it matter to him what happens to a little Jewess he doesn’t even know? It was his sworn duty as a Kripo officer to turn the child over to the Gestapo and let them deal with the problem. But on the other hand, what the hell has this kid ever done to warrant being sent to a German concentration camp known as a KZ? If the wrong person found out he could be sent to a KZ himself if he was unlucky enough to live that long.
His hands shook as he lit a cigarette. He took a deep drag on the cigarette and held the smoke in his lungs before he exhaled. He smoked the entire cigarette and then stubbed it out in the sink. Taking a deep breath, he wrapped the bread and sausage with the front page of the paper. Who knows? If the kid can read she’ll take the hint and find another hiding place.
Gerhard took the package out to the refuse storage shed and pretended to look for space in one of the trash cans. When he saw the glint of an eye he took the package and dropped it behind the closest trash can. After closing the lid of the shed he sighed and shook his head. He looked up at the stars, then went back upstairs.
About the Authors
John-Paul Marciano is a historical novelist who spends years researching and mapping out his books before writing the first fact-based draft.
His Torn, an effective piece of flash-fiction running only 479 words, won 3rd Place in the Connecticut Press Club’s 2019 Literary Competition.
Ed Baranosky is a master storyteller drawing many of his stories from a lifetime of memories — from growing up during the Great Depression to serving in the military.
A few years ago he began writing down a few of his “interesting experiences” many which are evolving into a collection of short stories.
on a Story
These guest authors would love to hear from you. Send your comments via email with the story’s title in the subject line to—
Share this Website
Too many surviving on the back side of life’s rainbow haven’t found this website yet. Please share Do-Not-Discard.com with your friends and family on social media.