Stories Without Words

butterflies
(I forgot where I got this gif. If you know, contact me so I can add the credit)

This is my new album, a long time in the making. I have posted the music in posts since I started this blog, but now you can kick back and listen to it in it’s entirety. This is not the music for  for Jamie’s book, Inside The Forbidden Outside, also a long time in the making. That music has special meaning for certain chapters. When everything is done I mean for that music to be listened to while you read so you can feel the emotions of what he has been through all these years in prison.

Someone who hasn’t been through juvenile detention or prison, or doesn’t know someone who has been inside, can’t understand, not really. I never knew; how could I, if all I had to go on were TV shows or movies that never really told the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God? We assume we know, but we don’t. All of my writings, including the blog posts here are what I have learned over the years.

This first album has selections that have been recorded over the past three years as I developed my ability to improvise. You can  listen, but you can’t download it because I still need to copyright and license it. It will then be sold – hopefully. That is the plan. That is the mountain I am determined to move.
 
I believe my music has a different quality that is all my own because it is 100% improvised when I record, based on emotions I felt at the time. The second album will be a soundtrack for the book. I don’t believe anything like this has been done. A soundtrack for a book? Can I do it? This first album is a way of getting my feet wet and see if others  enjoy listening to what I play. Will other people see the value in it? If you want to, leave comments at the different music websites so I know.
 
The music comes from a place in me I didn’t know was there. How can music be played with a beginning, middle and end with a recurring feel and theme without knowing what is going to be played – and plan of what is coming next? I feel it and let my hands play it. Most of the time I don’t listen back for days or even weeks. I want to listen to it as a stranger would.
 
If I do listen back right away it’s because it hit me hard and I had to hear what I played. It’s hard to explain. The piece “K’lee” did that to me.  I sit on a stool when I play. Almost standing. When I finished playing I felt like I had been punched in the gut and all the air was pushed out of me. It swallowed me. Where did that music come from? I grabbed my husband, who was walking through the room and made him listen. “Close your eyes. What do you see? Put it into words.” At first he said he did listen while I was playing it.  He said it was nice. I said, “No, listen to it – not passively.” He did. When it was over he thought for a minute, then described a sunrise, bursting in color as it broke the horizon. He did see it. It was really the first positive, real feedback I had gotten from him that told me he heard me.
How can I do that? I never used to write like this. I wrote songs. Although I do write poetry, where before I wrote lyrics, it is now the only way I play music.  I could never do cover tunes again. I have no interest in redoing someone’s music. Maybe someday, but not now – not to just get gigs. My goal is to play gigs again, but it is me they get, not my ability to copy other songs.
 
People like to hear old songs because of the memories that come with it. Oldies take you back to a time and let you relive a memory. If I don’t do cover music will that make it harder to find work? Maybe. It will depend on how well I brand myself and how people respond to my music. At this point in my life I think I’ve earned the right to play my music not copy something someone else wrote
 
Music is my passion. I hear it in everything, even when no one else can. I hear it in the air as life unfolds. Life events evokes emotion. If music surrounds something in our life and when we hear music that was played then it takes us immediately to that time and we let it wash over us. In those few moments we are once again at that age or in that time no matter how long ago it was.  We want to remember. Sometimes that memory is painful and sometimes it represents love. Music let’s us feel the emotion again however brief it is. At that moment it is real again.
 
After I record, the music is gone, out of my head. But I can play for hours going from one emotion to another. Sometimes I lose confidence and wonder if I can play ” on demand” for a couple hours so I go to the piano, and yes, I can do it. When I tap into this part of me that gives form to the emotions I feel, those feelings are real. I’m an overly emotional person. I rarely play happy music in a major key. I usually play in a minor key  which is often melancholy,  painful, aching and deep – yet peaceful and relaxing. Beautiful melodies. For me it is like meditating.
 
The best way to listen is in a dark room. Speakers on a device or laptop don’t play quality sounds. I tried ear buds. They were just as bad. The sounds were tinny, but maybe I used lousy earbuds. For me, head phones resonate with feeling – or if you  have good computer speakers. To feel the story in my music, listen to the entire thing. The end pulls the beginning back together. To not hear the entire story is like not finishing a book. I know this from my own listening when I hear it as a stranger, like you.
 
I have been writing music since I was a child and it has grown and changed as I’ve aged. I could hear and feel music then but didn’t know how to express it. I didn’t have the technical skill to play what I heard in my head. I knew had had to figure out how to let go, trust that my hands knew what to play. When we speak we don’t think of every letter in every word before for speak a sentence so we can structure our thoughts. We just speak. We trust that the words coming out will mean what we want them to mean. Music is a language.
 
During my life I learned everything I could, like a person learning to speak another language. I have written songs most of my life but for decades I can’t honestly say it came from inside me. They were written because technically I knew how to put them together because I knew the theory. My arrangements were very classically oriented. I wrote charts and piano arrangements for others, long before computers spit them out. Anyone can “learn” music theory and can practice until they are competent but take away the music and they can’t play something new.
 
Knowing music theory knowledge you can always always make it come out right.  But something will be missing. My improvisations don’t work right when I sit down at the keyboard without knowing the emotion of why I’m playing. I can’t force it. I might as well practice scales and finger exercises, which I often do.
 
There are different kinds of musicians. Those that practice until they can play a piece perfectly – like classical musicians. They are lost without the music. They learn the emotion of the music by reading the symbols on the music which tells them how to play the note; very softly (pp) or to linger a second (fermata) or gradually get louder (<).
 
Young musicians seek fame and fortune. They haven’t been players long enough. Musicians today often don’t take the time to learn their craft. So much is all electronic. Freddie the drum machine is used too much, not understanding drums is the heart beat. Drum machines are stale.  They don’t breath. There is no split section human element where a drum may be hit with a slightly different touch. I’d like to hear hip hop use a real drummer. That’s why most people my age don’t like it. There is no life. Just fast talking and a drum machine.
 
I ruined my voice singing in clubs. I pushed it too hard. Clubs were smoky.  I had to stop – for awhile, thought. I was arrogant. I could have continued and played keyboards. I had both a piano and a synth. But my ego didn’t want to be someone’s side man. I was used to fronting the band.
 
My life flew by while raising my kids. I began to get sick and doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong for a long time. I had Hepatitis C. It wasn’t well known then because AIDS dominated medical news. I tried the only possible remedy. Interferon with ribavirin. It made me very sick and it didn’t work. I didn’t know what else to do.
 
I packed up my life, my kids were grown, pulled a U-haul behind my white Mustang and drove from California to Key West. To start making money right away I got a job as asst manager at a Ripley’s Believe it Not Museum. I bought a bicycle for transportation. I took care of my health the best I could and went into denial. I moved many times in my life. If I needed to call any place home it would be Key West. I was there for ten years. I knew deep down I knew my health was in trouble.
 
My last paying gigs were in Key West in 2002. My voice couldn’t hold up. Callouses on my vocal cords would swell and nothing came out. I was a good player but there was something missing. I retired. I didn’t know how to play without singing. I was lost. I felt like my legs were cut off. I lost my identity. I had no right to call myself a musician anymore and that was devastating.
 
Two things happened that changed my life. I met Jamie in 2005. He was my daughter’s boyfriend. The second thing is my Hep C fell of a cliff and took me with it. Every possible thing that could go wrong, did go wrong. It became end stage liver disease, I developed two cancerous tumors and I swelled with 60 lbs of fluid and looked 9 months pregnant.
 
My husband and I decided, unfortunately, to move closer to my family which was within driving distance of a good hospital known for their transplant team. I say unfortunately because my family really didn’t want me there and let me know not to expect any help from them, or any help for my husband my husband. I was bedridden for two years. Soon after surgery my back fractured so add a back brace to the mix. But I didn’t die and things began to change. After it seemed pretty certain I was going to make it the doctors explained how close I came to not making it.
 
Beginning in Key West Jamie and I had been writing letters. I was his support in prison. He was getting no support, emotionally or financially from his family, either. How was he supposed to buy hygiene products or stamps? Why won’t anyone answer his letters. How was he to handle his depression. A 17 year sentence is a long time if you have no one. We became reach other’s family. It will be 13 years in January. He’s in the home stretch.
 
I sat down at the piano one day, sad, thinking about what Jamie was going through. I wasn’t thinking about writing music in any particular key, I just played how I felt. It was amazing. My hands DID know what they were doing without my telling them what to play. I had no way to record it. I put a recording app on my Nook and put it close to the speaker. It would have to do. It sounded so tinny. This is the first piece I recorded in 2014.
I titled it “Jamie”
After that I got a better program and recorded it into my computer. Then I bought a better piano. I got better. My piano improv tells stories. You can’t tap a beat with your foot. I play with a lot of syncopation. Sometimes I hit a wrong note. It now belongs there. It took a long time to put this album together, choosing what to put in You won’t know why certain songs were played. I always record when I play. I don’t keep everything. Now I am learning what to do to license and copyright and sell it on any of the music sites like CDBaby or iTunes. I don’t know if anyone would want to buy it. But if I don’t try then I can know for sure that no one would buy it.
The benefit of getting sick and living through something brutally hard, was I now appreciated the value of living on a whole different level. Life isn’t to be wasted. There are no do-overs. We shouldn’t worry about what others think because they don’t live our lives, we do. It’s our life to live. Do what makes you happy. Don’t live with fear. We’re all going to die anyway. So here I am, 63 and I “unretired” my music career.
Sonni Quick improv piano
I recently had a photo shoot and there were several shots of just my hands on the keyboard. My husband said, “Don’t use them, your hands look old.” So what? They still work. I can’t pretend I’m in my 30’s, because I’m not – and I’m going to get older. I had to get over that thought real fast or it could make me cave in to it.
 
Last year I had my upper arm bone replaced with titanium as well as my elbow. I was told by my doctor,  “Don’t be  disappointed if you can’t use it,” He was trying to make me accept the fact that I was screwed. I wasn’t going to let it beat me. I am who I am and my music is what it is because of what I’ve been through during these years I lived. I’m not done yet. My age is a positive, not a negative. I’m going to play music until my fingers fall off.
 
Oh yes, I’m a bit crazy. I have plans. I’m alive. I don’t care if it is hard. Don’t tell me I can’t do something. It is up to me to decided that. If I didn’t believe in myself I’d stop trying. It took me this long to understand – you have to know where you are going or your life will just slap you around. It doesn’t matter if I’m not young. Youth is not the ball and end all of life, and life is over just because I’m getting older. Wisdom and life experience also has it’s place.
 
For whatever reason, Jamie and I met at a point in our lives that was the right time. We needed each other to survive. The road we need to travel is far from over. I’ve helped him keep it together. He gave me a purpose. Along the way I’ve been able to encourage many others going through this very same thing as their husband, children or boyfriend has gotten sucked into the system. There are millions of people who have been thrown away, many of them should not  have been.
 
I don’t think Jamie would have been okay. Knowing there is someone on the outside who cares has given him the strength to keep trying.  He has no idea any of the things I’ve done except what I have described it to him. He said, in his last letter, he would someday hear me play the piano. We have given each other something to live for.
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If you know an inmate who writes poetry or is an artist or has a story you’d like to tell you can email me at: itfonews@gmail.com

Sonni’s Pinterest

Jamie Life in Prison at Facebook . . .Blog posts and news about injustice in the world

Piano Improv Music of Sonni Quick . . . New facebook page of the past and present

ReverbNation . . . Website of Indie music not on traditional radio stations. Sonni’s featured page.

SkunkRadioLive . . . Indie radio station out of London playing music composed for  the book being written for Jamie.  If you can, help support by sharing the music and leaving a comment or following. Thank you to those who have.

 

Will Ya Still Need Me -When I’m 64

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The puzzle pieces of my life are coming together. I find life to be amazing. I don’t think I fully appreciated my life before now. Life slaps us right and left and often knocks us down. It’s up to us to pick ourselves up or complain about how difficult it is and give up. Especially when we’re older. We think it’s too late to begin again and settle for watching other people’s lives on TV. (I threw mine away 25 years ago)

 

Music band "Edison
1968 with Top 40 band “Edison” in Denver, Co.

It has taken a lot of work, time and patience. Earlier in my music career there was no “online”. If you weren’t signed, you couldn’t get your music out to the public except through live gigs. I became sick with an undiagnosed disease called Hep C. Eventually It put me down. I developed liver cancer, end stage liver disease, severe osteoporosis which caused bones to break and a few other illnesses.

I came very close to dying. I got a liver transplant and had a few body parts removed in the nick of time. After 2 years bedridden and an even longer climb to as much normalcy as possible I began writing the blog My Name is Jamie for a prison inmate who is also the father of one grandson. I beganto write music again and put it on blog posts. I then began writing a book, “Inside the Forbidden Outside” ( In second draft ) I knew if I wanted to help him when he gets out it would be through this book and music – promoted as a soundtrack to read by. I also started the newsletter ITFO NEWS also can’t survive on a disability check for the rest of my life. Working a regular job would be difficult because of pain from what osteoporis did to my vertibrea.

Music was always my love. For many years I played piano bars, worked in bands and taught piano. Now no one can afford to pay me for lessons in the small Pa town I live in that was close to the transplant hospital. So I made the decision to resurrect my music career and play again. I’ve been recording and working hard to create an online presence. My music is now on several websites

SkunkRadioLive

ReverbNation

Piano Improv Music of Sonni Quick – artist facebook page

Online stats will make or break a musician today. Becoming a “fan”, leaving comments and sharing will make a big difference on my finding a booking agent. Other people listen to music they see others have liked. Next week I have a photo shoot lined up. I’m not the young woman in the picture anymore. I’m 63. I no longer sing. Too many years of 5 nighters in smokey bars took care of that. But I also no longer do cover material. My ability to create piano improv pictures in your mind surpasses my piano playing of  It comes from a deep emotional place. It is who I became instead of playing someone else’s creation.

Today I classify my music as “Stories Without Words” which is the title of an album I am coming out with shortly. When the book is ready, another album will be released with the same cover and promoted together. If I do a good job and if it is promoted right, when Jamie gets out of prison I will have a business put together that will also include lecturing on the negative issues of prison that need to be changed. What he has been through opened my eyes to something I had never given a thought to. He can use his story to help others.

Those who have read my blogs have seen the progress. On many early posts you will many piano pieces – and  poetry. ln Over 3 years this went from being just a dream and a desire to help a man who deserves a second chance. We’ve been writing since 2006, helping each other through tough times. As a black man he was put through some awful things no person should have gone through. It is why mass incarceration and the destruction of black lives is so much in the media. It needs to change. We can’t just look the other way and wait for someone else to fix it.

I want my life to count for something. I want to help make this country – and the world – a better place. I don’t want to go out with a whimper. So I push myself – past my doubt and fears. I push myself beyond my physical limitations. I wake up excited every day and start spinning my seven plates in the air to keep them moving forward. I don’t ask myself if I can do it – I just do it.

My music is haunting, peaceful with beautiful melodies. At the end of a stressful day, put on head phones, close your eyes and let it be the soundtrack of your dreams, too. Never give up. Do what makes you happy. Do something different. We all have had dreams of something we wanted to do but perhaps life pulled us in a different direction. We don’t have to settle for that. No matter how old you are or how young you are, life is for living and no one else can live it for you.

Jamie Life in Prison Facebook page with parts focusing on injustice everywhere and blog posts

Twitter page

Sharp Turns To The Left

SHARP TURNS TO THE LEFT

How many sharp turns can you make 

until you run into yourself again? 

When I look back on my crazy life 

is there any part I could not defend?

Always running, chasing, grabbing 

hold of this and that

Living here and living there

in a different habitat.

Procrastinating, changing direction 

Sometimes I’d change upon reflection

So many dreams inside my head

But my children never went unfed

I was their mother and I was father

To mention him is not worth the bother

I tried so hard. I worked so hard. 

I never thought of failure   

I never once thought, not one time

I wouldn’t find an answer.    

I did everything intensely

with my addictive personality              

I had no idea what I was doing       

in a constant state of always moving

I dearly miss my children

now that they are grown

far away, too far away 

with children of their own 

All I have are memories 

and pictures of our lives   

Never knowing at the time 

just how fast time flies      

What would I do different 

if I had the chance

A different turn to the left

a change of circumstance?

I wouldn’t waste a moment 

tears flow at that thought.

Where would I be? Where would they? 

A different crisis fought?

By that time, by their birth

it was too late for me

Cut into stone, carved in deep

I couldn’t run from destiny

or the virus called Hepatitis C

Why is hindsight always perfect 

and seen so very clear

The older I get each breath I take 

is so extremely dear 

The more I see it clearly 

my life was far from boring

Years don’t run together

flying, crashing, soaring.

Never staying quite the same

I can say exactly where I was

and each year I can name.

Every step of every goal 

I reached for every dream.       

Every sharp turn to the left 

no fear of those unseen.

Friends made, friends lost

never seen again.  

A phonecall here, a letter there 

but never knowing when

One big reget was loss of love 

from people bound by blood

They never knew what made me tick

and kicked me ‘neath the rug

I was easier to avoid 

than reaching out with love.

 

“It’s not my fault!  I did nothing wrong

by ignoring you were sick

I didn’t even ask you how you were 

I don’t know you sister, Sonni Quick.”

You crossed your arms and pursed your lips. 

“I’ll never apologize.

I will never admit I might be wrong,” 

because I judged you by my life.

You couldn’t, wouldn’t understand. 

It’s easier not to care

What if you need me in your life 

and can’t find me anywhere?

Oh well, I’m tired of trying

you can’t make people want

to be around you when it’s easier 

to be so nonchalant

But I still have sharp left turns 

and my plate is full of dreams

Inside my heart my passion burns 

with endless strength it seems

It doesn’t matter that my life 

burns on the other side

I have less than more, life to live 

but I’ll be damned if I let it slide.

One thing I taught my kids 

I hope that they teach theirs

There are consequences for everything

for hopes, for dreams, for dares.

I finally made the sharp turn 

that brought me face to face

with myself inside a mirror 

seeing lines I can’t erase

There is wisdom in those eyes

I know weren’t there before

I have no regrets

my sharp left turns gave me so much more

than if I had stood very still 

afraid of something new

I grabbed life and held on tight 

to dreams I will still pursue.

So you don’t have to like me 

or approve of me today

Those of you who made that choice 

it doesn’t matter anyway.

At least I tried, held out my hand

you slapped it to the side

You believed the lies, because someone else

lives with too much pride

I love myself, I love my life

I love the lessons learned

I never have to wonder what . . .

would have happened – if I tried.

Curve

If you’d like to leave a comment about the music, on the bottom section of the wave form you can click anywhere on that section and it will take you to the comment section and then it will appear here.  As with all social media, clicks, shares, hearts etc help a lot because it shows people in the future that it has been listened to.  Stats are everything when it comes to music, blogs and other things people are trying to send out into the universe, especially because the of the book I will be publishing hopefully at the end of the year.  You can read more about that at my other blog My Name is Jamie

My Radio Interview on The David Snape Show

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I did an internet radio show on the David Shape Show about the US prison system, Jamie Cummings and how he deals with epilepsy in a system that doesn’t care about medical care for the inmates.  When you go to the show it is quite long, a little over two hours. If you move the bar ahead one hour and twenty minutes it should be shortly before the interview starts.

We also talked about the youth in juvenile detention and how children are treated in schools using cops for discipline instead of detention, and putting handcuffs on them and seating them in the rear seat of a patrol car.

We talked about the book I’m writing about Jamie’s life, “Inside The Forbidden Outside”. You can find chapters on the blog. It’s more than half done and the editing process has begun.

We also discussed the piano music I’m writing for the book which will be included inside the back cover. At the end of the show one of my more recent pieces will be played.

This is the first of hopefully more media I will be doing over time to advertise the book that I hope will lead to being able to lecture on the prison industry. When Jamie is finally released he will be able to join me. He wants to work with the youth using his life as an example, in hopes of being able to turn their lives around before they, too, end up in the system. One in three black males end up in prison. Contrary to racist belief it is not because crime is in their genes. It is because of government pushing the War of Drugs on to black men’s shoulders making you believe through the media that they are dangerous.

Kids don’t understand the ramification of their choices until it’s too late. When someone has been incarcerated for a long time, and Jamie has been locked up for 14 years counting time in juvenile detention. Unfortunately, the four years in juvy was not because he committed a crime. It was because he defended his mother from a cop who illegally entered their home. He injured his mother and she was taken to the hospital by ambulance. He hit the cop with a broom. It cost him the rest of his high school years and four years of his life.

This story needs to be shared. Unfortunately, it happens far to often to too many black youth. I am asking for you to please share this on your own social media. The success of the book will be determined by how well this info gets pushed through sites on the web. It bring so much encouragement to Jamie as he sit in his cell 23 hours a day, working his way again, up through the levels. He has received letters from some of you. Knowing someone cares enough to write matters more than you know.

Thank you for tuning in to the show. Let me know what you think.

http://facebook.com/jamielifeinprison . . .Blog posts and news about injustice in the world
Sonni’s Pinterest boards

Inside The Forbidden Outside “Everyday Dreams”

…….This is an edited first chapter, but not the final edit. I have enough written to begin working with a content editor. All of the chapters so far can be found at: My Name is Jamie Also as the chapters progress the links for them is at the end. Please add your name and email for for the yet to be published first news letter I’m attempting to get off the ground. Your support would be wonderfully appreciated. That info is at the bottom of the post. All of you who have read what I’m writing and have given me your feedback along with editing suggestions has been great. If you have ever attempted to write a book you know how challenging it is.

My Name is Jamie. My Life in Prison

EVERYDAY DREAMS

My life is pure agony.

     I really screwed things up for myself. I was sent to prison in 2006. This is not where I want to be, although I didn’t have any concrete plans for my life. I was happy that I wasn’t in juvenile detention anymore but I didn’t have a chance to make any plans and was living day to day. I didn’t know how to make plans. I was just a kid when they locked me up. In a way I was still a kid when they let me out when I was twenty one. When I met Morgan my only thought was to spend my life with her. For the first time I could remember, I was happy.

     The day I was in was as far ahead as I thought. Nobody ever taught me anything about planning for a future. Black kids…

View original post 4,633 more words

Is it Winter or Is it Spring?

tomato-seeds-sprouting-opened

MY TOMATO PLANTS

 

Should I wear a sweater or is just a blouse okay?

Should I take a coat or will the sun warm up today?

I look at all my flowers knowing they might freeze

It might snow tomorrow, this Spring is such a tease

Last year’s herbs are growing in my garden, and that is very strange

Three weeks ago, three feet of snow, did the seasons rearrange?

One day is hot, the next is cold, I found a bee in my garage

Did the bag of colored Christmas balls look like a tasty flower corsage?

This winter wasn’t very cold, that’s quite okay by me

I much prefer the tropic sun with dripping humidity.

I hate the cold, I hate the pain with dry and flaky skin

I love when winter is over and the songs of birds begin

I cut a tomato from the grocery store. I was shocked at what I found

The seeds inside had begun to sprout without being in the ground!

I put them in a nice big pot on a sunny window sill

Hoping they would make it through the days of freezing chill

I have thirty two tomato plants, each three inches high so far

Watching all these plants grow in the winter, so bizarre

It’s been strange not knowing what to do, or what to wear each day

I’ll wait to plant my tomatoes outside until Spring is here to stay

by Sonni Quick. 2016

Sonni’s Pinterest Boards

Only The Ghosts of The Past Waved Back

How does it feel to go back to the home where you spent your entire childhood, to find that the people living there now had let it slide into a trash pit? Pretty darn bad. The only memories of my childhood were of living in that house. Looking at pictures in my old photo albums, from the time I was an infant, when I was named Deborah Fritz until I graduated from high school, leaves me with a longing to go back and spend a little time in a piece of my life from years ago. They were happy years. My life before I transformed into Sonni Quick

dad and kids
Yours truly on the left

Memories often have a way of filtering out the bad times, leaving only the highlights of the times you want to remember.  I think I was fortunate because I remember a childhood that was filled with good times and had parents who spent time creating a family that did family things together. We celebrated all major holidays and birthdays and went camping, took drives for ice cream, had picnics and went to the shore and rode bikes on the boardwalk and jumped in the waves. I have so many pictures that chronicle our life. I wouldn’t trade my life for anyone’s. I didn’t learn to appreciate it until I was all grown up and far, far away. Then there was no going back. It was over, almost in a blink of an eye.

Many years later, after my own children were grown, with children of their own, I stood in front of our house again. Even after all these years the house still wore the same paint and the street numbers I painted on the front door was still there, although one of the numbers tilted to the side. The paint was dingy, there was trash on the porch and beat up curtains hung at the windows. 

Cheryl Morgan (2)
Taken in front of my house of two neighborhood children, looking down the street half-a- double homes in the very early 60’s, in Pottstown, Pa.  Cheryl, the girl on the left, and I were the same age.  We talked recently. She hasn’t seen this picture yet, but she will as soon as this posts to facebook!

 

 

The house looks like an Archie Bunker style house, on a numbered street in a neighborhood of street after street of half-a-doubles; two homes connected by a center wall, each set of homes separated by two walkways that led to a back yard. When I stood in the yard I could look left and right through the yards of every home on the block. My Great Nana Ferden grew flowers, but growing up I wasn’t aware of the love she put into them. 

Nana Ferden
Great Nana Ferden in our yard

The sound of children playing could be heard everywhere. We didn’t want to be inside. That was punishment. We played kickball in the alley or walked a half block to Manatawny Park to play in the splash pool or play box hockey with the big kids. We bounced balls against the wall of the original Dolly Madison Ice Cream Factory across the street. We knew to be home when the street lights came on. Dinner was always the same time and we always at dinner together as a family, something so few children know today. 

Today the flowers are gone. The sidewalks down the side of the house are so overgrown you can’t see them. I walked down the alley and looked into the backyard so overgrown and filled with trash. I didn’t want to imagine what the inside of the house looked like. My father had kept everything looking nice. The difference is, when we lived there it was a home with love. Now it was just a house. Probably rented by people who felt no need or desire to keep it looking nice.

If I squinted and looked through my eyelashes I could pretend it was the same place and I had come home.  I knocked on the door of the house it connected to. The woman who lived there was the same woman who lived there from the time I was baby until I left for college, 40-some years ago. She peeked through the door, looked me up and down and said, “Who the fuck are you?” 

When I walked down the porch steps and went to my car, I turned around for one last look and waved goodbye. Only the ghosts of the past waved back.