Friday, January 30, 2009

A Headline Prompt, January 30, 2009

I clip headlines from newspapers, fold them into little squares, and deposit them in my "prompts" bowl. Looking for a prompt? Pick a headline.

Here's one from today's New York Times, "Weekend Arts"

Prompt: Gaze East and Dream


Carol Henderson said...

A Jay Leno joke tells of being confused on the West coast, of always wanting to dive into the beach parking lot.

I understand, being a Easterner and having lived for two years in Los Angeles. The water isn’t supposed to be to the west. The sun doesn’t set over the ocean—it rises.

Growing up, in New Jersey, the sun came up over the water at Mantoloking Beach. On rare Saturdays my family would spend the night at an old shingled or perhaps stucco hotel, now long-burned down, called the Breakers. Rocking chairs on the porch overlooked the beach and I was usually so raw with sunburn, itchy sand, and mosquito bites that I’d wake up with the sun and watch from a rocking chair on the Breakers porch, that fiery red ball rise up out of the Atlantic.

We used to go to the Jersey Shore for day trips too--driving through the spare Pine Barrens and along back roads. We stopped, when we went with Mother's friend Ruth Pettit--who drank and smoked and always brought along a package of Pecan Sandies--at a candy store. It was a one-room shack with a slamming screen door and a wooden floor that gave splinters if you didn't wear something on your feet.

Ruth bought us cold Cokes in green glass bottles, a candy bar, and penny pieces--like Mary Janes.

My older sisters shouted. "Look," they'd say, as we got closer to the coast, our thighs and backs sticking to the hot plastic seats. "See the sand by the side of the road?"


"The sand means we're almost there. Know why? Because people stop and sweep out their cars on the way home from the beach, leaving the sand.”

For years, I believed them.

Right now, I’m gazing East, dreaming of those summer days so long ago, and getting ready to call my mother in the Philadelphia retirement where she lives.

Today I’ll ask her about Ruth Pettit and the Breakers. An old parent who is lucid can help me dream—and, I hope, I can help her.

Michele said...

This is so wonderfully evocative. I hope yourmother knew about Ruth -- and indeed that question probably helped her!

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