Tag Archives: fear

The Bear

He was a big and hairy main. Bearlike through the eyes of a small child. And although he projected himself as a friend to children, in reality that was far form the truth.  He was a dentist.
The waiting room of his office was filled with Highlights magazines and LEGO’s. I enjoyed reading the magazines and the toys but when his wife, the nurse called me back to the examination room, fear and panic set in.
Sitting in the chair with my bib around my neck all I could see were the tools. Jackhammers and drills, picks and probes, all sharp and potentially painful. Then there was the novocaine syringe. At least a foot long. I knew it would be stuck in my jaw at least ten times.
I do not know if I was a bad patient or he was a sadistic dentist, but I always needed all of this treatment. Every time I walked in the door. I had more cavities than teeth!
When he began working in my mouth all I could pay any attention to was the hair on his fingers. Six fingers on each hand and every one the size of a hot dog. All of which was covered in hair and jammed in my mouth for hours.
As an adult I go to the dentist twice a year.  My teeth get cleaned.  And that’s all they need. A nice dental hygienist does a quick clean and polish. The dentist comes in and looks in my mouth, asks about the family and says he’ll see me next time.
I still don’t like going to the dentist. Memories of the bear cave are burned into my mind. But I go and my teeth are happy.
That’s part of my story. What’s yours?

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Glowing Visions of Fire

The rising smoke must have been visible for at least fifteen or twenty miles. Black. Thick. Spreading out toward the west as it rose and was buffeted by the wind. Leaving a charcoal grey haze across the evening sky. Fire, and not where one would expect it.

As I stared into the distance I wondered to myself what could be burning. Certainly not leaves! Too much smoke. And the smoke was too dark. Could it be someone burning a pile of logs and brush recently cleared from a woodland to create a clear space for the building of a new shopping mall? Too dark again. Tires?

And then the news began to come in over the radio. And on the television. And Facebook. The old abandoned cordage mill down by the river was ablaze. Origin unknown. It had been sitting empty for years. Teenagers used to go down there to hang out. Evidenced by the graffiti. And there were homeless souls camping out there many years ago. And the glass in the windows got smashed. The roof had giant holes in it that had rotted through. The floors were probably rooted too. Not much more than a shell.

It had been fenced off several years ago to keep people out. I’m pretty sure folks still got in there though. I always thought it would be interesting to see what might still be in there. Relics of an industrial past. But I’m sure it had all long since been looted or salvaged. I had also thought it would be cool to buy it and convert the buildings into loft apartments. But it was on the wrong side of the river and no one wanted to live there.

Maybe some kids got in there and started a fire by accident. They still went near the building to get own to the river for a party or two. Or maybe the homeless had returned. Or maybe, like Jack Lemon in Save the Tiger, the building had outlived its usefulness to the owner and was an economic burden best lifted via a torch. All speculation. Unknown origin.

Looking out over the horizon, seeing the smoke, I was reminded of a fire I saw when I was a young boy. The grocery store near my neighborhood burned to the ground one evening. I say grocery store but it was an early version of something like a Wal-Mart. From the residential hillside over looking the store the people of the neighborhood gathered to watch the conflagration with excitement, awe and a new found respect for fire. As we watched we realized that although there were a number of fire trucks there form the local volunteer fire company, they obviously were not trying to save the building. Contain the fire. Don’t let it spread.

With a loud bang and the sound of shattering glass, fifteen hundred square feet of window glass suddenly shattered and blew out into the parking lot. As the air flowed into he building the heat of the flames sucked any and all moisture out of the mortar holding the building blocks together and it crumbled away. The blocks then began to separate. Each one delineated by the lines where the mortar used to be. And then the walls collapsed. A total loss.

Something else now stands where the grocery store was. A shopping mall I’ve never been to. And the residential neighborhood still sits on the hill overlooking the stores. Every time I drive by the neighborhood or the spot where the grocery store once stood I remember that fire. And how mesmerizing it was. And frightening. The black smoke I saw on the horizon, coming from the old mill, couldn’t possibly be good news.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours? www.personalhistorywriter.com

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White Knuckles!

Here in the South they say never plant before Easter, meaning that at any time until then it’s possible to get a killing frost or snow. Now that it’s Easter I feel comfortable enough to talk about snow without fear that Mother Nature will throw some at me!

We drove home from Pennsylvania, through the Appalachians. My wife said she wanted to see the mountains covered in snow but for the roadways to be clear and the driving to be safe. This morning we awoke to find an inch of snow on the ground, and the white stuff still falling. Now it’s a light snow. There are some schools closed, and some schools opening late. The staff at the front desk says the roads are clear. And safe, albeit a slow go.

But up ahead stands the big mountain. The one with the runaway truck ramps. The one that’s even scary when the weather is good. That’s where the main storm is headed and we have to go over it. Or we can go west, away from the storm, toward Asheville. I think we might go to Asheville.

Years ago we made a similar trip home through the snow. Much worse, and further south. It started in Raleigh and continued all through the Carolinas to the Georgia border. White knuckle all the way. Making way at fifteen miles an hour on the interstate I figured if I could just keep going I’d be ok. Stop and you’re stuck in the snow. Slow and steady. That was my tactic.

Not everyone felt the same way. Some of the drivers must have thought that the faster they went, the sooner they’d be out of the storm. I saw all sorts of cars and trucks slipping and sliding. Off the road in a ditch. Even flipped over off the road. By the time we got out if it, the antenna on the van was more than an inch in diameter. Solid ice

In the end we opted for the big mountain route. The Asheville route would keep us on back roads in the mountains all the way home.

Between the snow and fog we entirely missed out on the spectacular views from the top. But within a few miles we were out of the snow, looking instead at green grass and budding trees.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours? www.personalhistorywriter.comImage

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The Antique Shop

Poop or get off the pot!  That’s what they told me.  Well, they may have used some other words, but the gist of the statement was to make up my mind and do something.  One way or the other.  Quit dilly-dallying! 

Over the years I’ve often thought of opening an antique shop.  Real moneymaker, eh?  It’s just that I love all those old things.  Maybe not all of them, but a lot.  Everyone likes what they like, and maybe I like more old stuff than other people do.  When I was young my parents would take me to old dusty places filled with lots of old junk.  At least that’s what I thought until I found “it.” 

We were in a place in New Jersey.  Oh, what was its name?  Pinskey’s? Probably closed by now.  The man that ran it was ancient those many years ago.  Sprawling. Dusty.  Jam-packed.  But I found it.  That old bugle.  Nice patina.  It had a dent on the bell.  But it had a mouthpiece and it tasted like old metal when I blew it.  A horrible sound.

The old man came around and said to me that the bugle was the very one that Teddy Roosevelt carried up San Juan Hill during his famous charge.  Oh, what a story, what provenance!  Had to have it.  I think it cost twelve bucks back then.  My dad knew the story wasn’t true, but he saw the look in my eye and bought it for me.  Today it hangs by a golden lanyard inside a wooden frame lined with blue velvet.  History!

So now I want to open this store.  Filled with all the stuff I like.  But it’s a scary move.  High risk.  Not such high reward.  Other than that I control my destiny that way.  Yeah.  That’s valuable.  Beyond belief.

I’ve done some research on opening a stand-alone store.  And on running an antique mall.  And on just having a booth in a mall.  I’ll start with the booth in the mall.  But the stuff, what will I sell?  Those old antiques are expensive and I don’t really have a nest egg to begin with.  I’ll just wait some more.  Boy it sure would be nice to do this.  I’ll just wait.  Man, it would sure be nice to do this.  You get the picture.

Then one day I got off work early and decided I’d go to an antiques store nearby.  I walk in the door and bam, there “it” is.  No, not the bugle.  Something else I had to have.  And then there was something else, and another thing.  Before I knew it, I’d bought a whole bunch of stuff!  I said to myself, “self, time to jump into the game!”

I don’t have the store yet, but I know which mall I’ll be in.  I can picture the booth, filled with my stuff.  I see dollar signs.  I keep buying stuff.  Every weekend, yard sales.  Craigslist.  Ebay.  I’ll be selling everywhere.  It’s really happening. 

At yard sales I look and buy.  I see what others are buying.  Dang, why didn’t I buy that?  Oh yeah, I don’t care for that kind of thing.  I’m still learning what’s hot, tempered by what I like, and what stuff is worth.  That’s a scary part, but I’m in.  My biggest problem right now is where to keep all this stuff until I have a store to put it in.  My wife says, “Why don’t you wait.”  I’m in now.  Coming up my problem is going to be this:  sell it?  What do you mean sell it?  I can’t part with any of this stuff; it’s all so cool! 

I’ll enjoy the hunt and the purchase.  I’ll treasure each item for a while, and then pass it along for other s to enjoy.  I’m sure I’ll keep some things for a long time.

That’s part of my story.  What’s yours?  www.personalhistorywriter.com


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Man’s Best Friend

With teeth like a rabid wolf, my dog is none the less afraid of thunderstorms.  The other night I had to get down on the floor to sleep next to her.  She didn’t sleep, and neither did I.  She pants like crazy as soon as she senses any thunder in the area.  I’m not sure why exactly, but I think it has to do with her puppy hood.  

We got her when she was ten weeks old as a rescue.  Apparently she had been living in a dumpster at a mobile home park.  That would scare me, not to mention some thunderstorm.  Only she knows what that was like, and she isn’t saying, but it’s all part of her personal history.  Yes, dogs have interesting lives too.  Maybe you could capture the life of your dog as a memoir.  Or your cat.  Or bird.  Whatever kind of pet you have, aren’t they part of your family?

This dog is a big part of my personal history too.  And that of my family.  She is the fourth dog I have had as a pet, but she is my favorite.  I feel the closest to her.  Perhaps I don’t really remember the first one too well as I was a child back then.  The second dog was really my brother’s dog.  The third one was mean.  This one and I got the power paradigm straight real early.  I nearly killed myself demonstrating that I was “the big dog.”  But we understand each other now.  And she follows me everywhere.

The thunderstorm reminded me of her first night with us.  She was in her crate.  Downstairs.  Alone.  And she was whimpering.  I went down and lay down next ot the crate and slept there all night with her.  She made it through the night.

Pets are part of our family, and our family history.  there is no telling how that story might have been different without her.  Capture their story too.  www.personalhistorywriter.com

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