Category Archives: About Literature

We ingest what we read as surely as we ingest out food, nutrition and fuel that makes us who we are

 

John Clayton plays Billy Joel’s “And so it goes”

 

For the only one who knows……

For the only one who knows.......

Central Park

by Sherry Campbell

 

If I dare to look – and sometimes I do –

the first thing I notice are the Daffodils.

No showers yet.

There’s the bench, still there, of course.  And

the same two. They haven’t changed.

Her cashmere cardigan, his favorite color.

Beaded sweater guard. Warm shoulders.

His suit jacket, perfectly folded on the seat.

Loosened tie. Tassled loafers. 

Brown bags from the corner deli, flattened

into lap placemats. Matching sandwiches.

Look at their faces. They could not be more alone. They

are unaware of clouds surrounding them.

No showers yet.

If I dare to look – and sometimes I do –

the last thing I notice are the daffodils.

 

From  the book “An Old Story” by Sherry Campbell

 

 

Let’s talk about Poetry

Once a month, on a Thursday afternoon, a small group of us meet in a classroom at Edison College.  We are there because we love Poetry.  Some of us (me, for example) know only a little about the subject but nonetheless have favorites.  Some know quite a bit – in fact, are what I would call ‘experts’.  Here’s the thing, though:  regardless of our degree of knowledge, or whether we could actually attempt to write a line or two, everyone in this group takes the opportunity to express his or her feelings and insights about anything we are reading.  And, we all seem to learn from each other.

The miraculous thing about works of art is that once  created and sent out to live in the world, we the Observers bring our experiences, perspectives, attitudes, personalities and create unique interpretations of the work, often beyond what the artist had in mind.

Yesterday, we welcomed a local Poet, Dorothy Howe Brooks, to our group meeting. She has recently published a collection of poems entitled A Fine Dusting of Brightness.  I arrived not having met Dorothy and not having read her book.  Our fine moderator Craig guided us through a handful of his favorite selections and we all proceeded to offer our comments and interpretations.  Of course, we also took advantage of this rare opportunity to hear the story behind the story directly from the poet!.  It didn’t take me long to become a devoted fan of both the lady and her work.

Dorothy’s poetry is a clean, direct hit to the Soul.  Certainly, women of a certain age will resonate with her heart and mind tugging observations of generational evolution, personal growth, loss and self acceptance.  But, these are universal issues and therefore the work appeals to men and women of all generations. She is intelligent, always sympathetic but never sentimental.  Her work is so relatable that I found myself thinking, “Yes, this is exactly what it feels like!  Thank you for expressing it in these beautiful words!”

Fortunately, Dorothy will be teaching a course in Writing Poetry at the Lifelong Learning Institute in Punta Gorda next month.  I will go – not because I fancy myself a Poet, but because I want to get closer to the mind and heart of this gifted woman.

Sharing only one poem is a challenge, but here is the one we closed our class with yesterday.

Song of Songs

By Dorothy Howe Brooks

The Mockingbird sings a song
not her own, yet

you know her voice.
You know it the way

you know your child’s cry,
the way she calls to you

from the swing set, or her room late at night,
the way you finally

know your own voice
in spite of the clever imitations

you’ve practiced for so long.
Some evening alone in the quiet

words begin to take shape,
a first faint whisper, then a melody,

Then at last you hear the song,
the one song that is yours,

and in your own voice
sing back.  O Mockingbird!

To read more about the Poet, go to her website:

http://www.dorothybrooks.org

For your own copy of A Fine Dusting of Brightness, go to Amazon.

http://www.amazon.com/Fine-Dusting-Brightness-Dorothy-Brooks/dp/0615839673/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1382116601&sr=1-1&keywords=a+fine+dusting+of+brightness

 

My Life at the Marshfield Hills General Store


My Life
at
THE MARSHFIELD HILLS
GENERAL STORE

Long before Steve Carell expanded his celebrity and became famous for his role as “country store owner”,  the Marshfield Hills General Store had a century and a half history.  The village of Marshfield Hills is populated by a wide cross section of humanity – some whose families date back to the Civil War, many who have moved there from other states and other countries.  Some are successful business people, artists, writers, musicians, teachers doctors, celebrities – young, old and in between.  The store has served as the center of village activities for decades and the walls have plenty of stories to tell!

In My Life at the Marshfield Hills General Store, I introduce readers to many local characters and the stories that unfolded during my ‘turn’ as caretaker of the Store, which ended with its sale to Steve Carell at the end of 2008.  With vintage and contemporary photographs, I hope this collection of stories will be a welcome addition to the library of anyone who is familiar with the area, or who just loves anything pure Americana!

“….a blessing of a book.” – Ray Amorosi, Poet

“…a delightful read.” – Richard Wainwright, author of The Tale of the Scituate Lightkeeper’s Daughter

“…Sherry’s fine book thoughtfully and lovingly brings to life the store and its people for the 21st century.” – Dick Hall, Historian

 

My Life at the Marshfield Hills General Store will be available in September 2013
Contact Sherry Campbell Bechtold for information 617 827 0714, sherrybechtold@yahoo.com

Star of the Day

Star of the Day
from  a collection of short stories “My Life at the Marshfield Hills General Store”
by Sherry Campbell Bechtold 
copyright 2013
Years from now, the little General Store in the center of our village will still be there.  Some well intended soul will be stocking the candy corner and making recommendations on what wine to buy.  Every morning, a Charlie will arrive early and buy a lottery ticket, a cup of coffee and maybe a muffin.  Preoccupied young men will leave their cars running while they dash in and pay for a newspaper.  Kids will get off the school bus and pile into the store with way too much energy.  Lively white haired widows will look for greeting cards.  Young moms will bring in their toddlers to buy a pop.
Occasionally, maybe on a holiday weekend, folks will stop in and the owner won’t recognize them.  They don’t live in the neighborhood, but they ‘used to’.  They will walk around, smile and say “wow, I haven’t been here since I was a kid.  I used to buy candy here – right in this corner, just like this”.  They’ll ask the owner how long he or she has owned the store, and then they’ll talk about the way it was – years ago. 
“There was this woman who used to own the store.  Her name was Sherry.   She was nice, and she didn’t seem to mind all us kids.  I remember she made me ‘do the math’ whenever I bought something.  She would say “if you can’t add it up, you can’t buy it”.  I guess it really bugged her that kids in those days couldn’t add in their heads!  And, if you took out money from your pocket – or your shoe – and it was all crumpled up, she’d hand it back to you and make you flatten it out, nice and smooth, and hand it back to her.  She was funny that way.  But, you know, the thing I remember most about her was her dog…..”
Her dog.  That lovely pale Golden Retriever, appropriately named Star.   She was there when Sherry was there.  If you saw Star, lying on the front porch or across the front door (so everyone coming in had to step over her), you knew Sherry was behind the counter.  They were a team.  Star’s job was to be wonderful….the object of love and adoration.  She was there for every toddler who wanted to bury his face in her abundant fur.  She was there to offer solace to every tired guy at the end of a long day at work.  She was there to remind everyone who was drawn into her sphere of influence that unconditional love isn’t just a phrase and that oh, well, I guess life can’t be all that bad. 
 There truly was something special about this dog.  Before becoming a permanent fixture at the store, Star was a visiting dog at a local nursing home.  Weaving her magic web, she cast a spell of comfort and warmth among the lonely residents, occasionally performing a tiny miracle like inspiring a mute stroke victim to speak his first words in months.  “What a beautiful dog!” he said, stroking her silky ears.
“Star of the Day, who will it be?”, Ray Amorosi sang to her whenever he walked through the door to find her holding court.   She was always the Star of the Day. 
It was late fall in 2008, just before Sherry sold the store.  Star was diagnosed with brain tumors and began to fail.  Less than a year, the vet said.  Unsteady and sometimes more than a little wobbly, Star came to the store every day with Sherry.  She would hear the keys as Sherry picked them up from the kitchen counter, and she’d wake up from her nap, slowly getting to her feet, goin to the door prepared to walk across the street – like very other day.  Once at the store, she assumed her place – blocking traffic – and went back to sleep, stirring only for a familiar touch.
When, on one November afternoon, there was a sign on the front door of the store “closed temporarily”, there were some who intuitively knew what had happened.  Beloved Star had died, at home, lying in the sun, with Sherry holding her and stroking her face. 
It’s probably best that, a very short time after, Sherry turned over the store to new owners.  Being there without Star was just too painful.  Though, she was not the only one who was heartbroken – even grown men broke down in tears when they came in expecting to see the ever present Star.  It would never be the same without her.  It was the end of an era.
“I guess everyone thinks that their childhood was special and that nothing could ever be like that again.  But, you know, I think that being a kid here, at that time, coming to the store every day.  Sherry scolding me for not knowing how to add up my money – because she really cared; you know?  And that dog.  Everyone loved her dog.  And everyone loved her loving her dog.  It was pretty special.”
Star 3x2 JPEG copy 2
“Star” by Wiesy McMillan

The Rock Star

“Nature Boy” by David Brega

The Rock Star (from a collection of short stories “My Life at The Marshfield Hills General Store”
by Sherry Campbell Bechtold, Copyright 2013


If they could see him now.  The ROCK STAR.  World famous lead singer of one of the greatest rock and roll bands in music history.  Flamboyant, effusive, that huge voice coming out of a mouth that easily spreads into a one of a kind smile that covers most of his face. 

 
This early Saturday morning, he’s out for an early run wearing rather ordinary gym pants and a ratty grey sweatshirt.  The spectacular rings are still there.  And, there’s that hair.  And the sunglasses.  Even without all the glamour and glitz, there’s no way he can be mistaken for an ‘ordinary’ citizen.  Today, though, he is doing an ordinary thing.  He’s just a guy out for a run, stopping in for a cup of coffee and a muffin. 
 
He’s safe here – free from the craziness of stardom.  This is off the record.  This is home.  It’s true that here – usually – no one really bothers him.  This may be one of the biggest reasons  he likes to live in our little Victorian Village on the South Shore of Boston.  He’s an accepted part of the scenery.  Sure, people like to wave and give a howdy to the Village Main Event.  “Hey Steven!  When’s the next tour?”  And, he loves to chat it up with the neighbors.  It’s also true that, when he comes into my store, it’s impossible to ignore his presence.  His personality just fills the space.  It’s who he is.
 
I ring up the sale, but of course he has no cash with him.  Not a problem.  Years ago, he set up his system with me.  When he does have some money on him, he gives me a bunch which I keep in a plastic margarine cup in the safe under the counter.  That way, he’s always covered.
 
“Thanks, Steven.  Have a good run.  Say ‘hi’ to Theresa for me”.  And he’s out the door, taking a left and walking down to the end of the porch, sipping his coffee as he meanders down our quiet, tree lined street with all its lovely, old homes. 
 
I did say that ‘usually’ no one bothers him. 
 
“Was that …….HIM??????”  Jim Harris bursts into the front door, fairly destroying the morning’s peaceful tone.  “Yes.  You missed him again.”  This guy has been trying to get face time with Steven for years.  Once, he staged a sit-in on the front porch for hours, claiming he would not leave until he met Steven.  I warned him that approach was probably not going to yield the desired result, that Steven was not ‘regular’ in that regard and could not be predicted.  He was having none of it.   He sat at the table on the porch until the store closed well after dark.  I guess his wife was looking for him and someone came to take him home.  And, here he was again, a victim of bad timing.
 
“DAMN!  I can’t BELIEVE it!”  Jim stands in the middle of the store like he just realized he threw away a winning lottery ticket.  “What if I just run after him?”  He says that, but perhaps realizes that he would be making a fool of himself and that would not be cool.  One does not want to be uncool with an international ROCK STAR.  So, he stands there, frozen in the moment when he almost met his hero.
 
“I don’t understand it, really”, I tell him. “Most everyone in the neighborhood has met him – either here, or at the movies, or at the supermarket, or on the road when he’s out for a walk, or at one of his kids school things.  It’s too bad, really.  You being such a big fan and all.” 
 
Jim hangs his head as though this is an acknowledgement of a personal failing.  “I guess I’ll just get a cup of coffee.”  Clearly he is crestfallen.
 
Pity overtakes me.  I reach under the counter and take out the margarine cup.  “Would you like to hold his private money stash for a minute?”.  He looks at me in disbelief.  “No way!”  “Yes, way.”  He gently touches the yellow and blue plastic cup with ‘Steven’ written across it in magic marker.  A touch closer to his idol, he smiles.