ESSAYS

"On Being One
Hundred"

It’s a little odd to be a survivor.  I’m not quite sure why I deserve it.  People often ask me how did I achieve such status and I don’t know why it happened.  I  had a wonderful mother who lived to be eighty five and I had a grandma who made it to ninety-seven so perhaps the genes were helping me and maybe having such a happy childhood did too.

 

Grandma listened to a doctor on the radio back in the 1920s and 30s and he preached a good diet which she followed and had all of us adhere to.  Since she lived with our family and kept a vegetable garden in the backyard, we grew up on lots of fruits and vegetables  and she also insisted we eat only whole grain bread. Since white bread was banned at home, it was considered quite a treat.  This would explain what...

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"What? No Treats?"

It was Halloween but our children had bad coughs.  “We’ll miss all the treats,” our son, Steve, complained.  I looked at their disappointed faces, his anyway, as he sprawled on the couch in his pirate costume, his mask cast aside.  His younger sister, Cindy, didn’t really know what was happening.  It was going to be her first time out for trick or treating. Her grandma had sent her a princess outfit, very attractive, but when I tried to put it on her she screamed.  Then I realized the costume was the same orange color that was on the hot packs they had applied to her legs when she was in the hospital in hopes of preventing paralysis. It had been heartbreaking to have our little girl come down with polio but luckily, it was a mild case.  The very next  winter the Salk vaccine became available to everyone’s joy...

Children Lining for Treats

"Hot Socks"

When ninety-year-old Bettina went to bed she pulled on some nice warm socks since it was rather a chilly evening there in the Casa Dorinda community. Now with her feet feeling toasty, she fell asleep. But alas, at about three in the morning she awoke with hot feet. She wriggled around for a moment and then decided she must remove the socks so she slid out of bed and hot footed it across the room to her chair. Seated comfortably, she bent down, pulled off one sock, freed her toes happily, then attacked the next. But somehow...

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"Quite a Yarn"

When Bettina moved into the retirement home at Casa Dorinda she heard about a knitting group. She quickly joined and soon made a number of good looking scarves and hats. But now she had a lot of leftover yarn, all different colors, so she donated the whole batch to the knitting group. Fanny spied it and decided to use it. She designed a round neck, sleeveless sweater with wide rows of reds and blues and greens and everyone admired it so she decided to put it in the bazaar sale of arts and crafts...

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"A Tiny Work Story"

When I started my first junior novel, I invited my children and their friends to listen to a chapter every afternoon. One day in the middle of an early chapter, a boy walked out. I was worried so I asked two girls to read it. They liked it but said it was hard to get in to. So I deleted the first two chapters and got right to the plot problem, Katie dealing with a neighborhood of boys. So Katie and Those Boys was published in 1974 by Scholastic and sold about a half-million copies! It was recently re-issued as an ebook.  

Open Books

"This is What it's like to be Ninety"

Imagine my surprise when I saw someone ask this question about me on the internet one day: “Is Martha Tolles still alive?”

Well, of course! I wanted to shout. Just because I’m 90 doesn’t mean I’m not here.

But there are difficulties and I realize I must adapt and fit in to a changing world. It’s more high tech for example. Recently, I went to a small airport and asked to buy a ticket.

The man behind the counter said, “We don’t sell tickets.”

“What?” I was astonished...

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"While Lying Down on the Job"

"Do you think you can take care of the kids while I lie in bed?" I stared at Carrie anxiously. Carrie was a wonderful women from Louisiana who helped me keep the house clean while I raised six children. Later my husband, Roy, would claim he had promised me a day's help for each child I had and so no wonder I had six. Anyway, now I was asking Carrie for six days. 

Carrie assured me she could. At the moment my youngest, two-year-old Tom, was napping, while the rest were at school.

So I headed for the stairs and my bed. "go home and rest," The doctor told me. I had hoped for a magic shot or pill but rest...clearly he had never had six kids. I crawled into bed on a sunny afternoon, though...

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"Best Costume"

As I strolled through the exhibit of antique cars here at our retirement community, Casa Dorinda, I was fascinated. I was even more intrigued by the car owners. They were all dressed in costumes that were supposed to reflect the period of their ancient vehicles. At the end of the hour we were to vote on the best outfit, as well as the best auto. It was going to be difficult to choose....there was the gal in the flapper dress of the twenties, another in a plaid skirt, and one with a braid of hair wrapped around her head...

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"A Certain Gentleman"

Housebound and alone. That describes the situation for so many of us right now.  But my day has become quite busy. In the morning I’m still in bed when my granddaughter calls on my iphone.  Since we’re on face time  I smooth my hair and try to look as if I’m wide awake.  It’s so great to hear from her.    After our chat I hurry into the bathroom, switch on the light and heat and shower and shampoo. I dress and blow dry my hair and follow with a quick brush of the teeth…..so much faster when it’s electric.

In the kitchen, I take berries from the refrigerator. I heat oatmeal in the microwave and plug in the coffee. Later I’ll check email and then do some banking online and if I’m lucky, deposit some checks using my iphone.  Next I turn on the TV and do a yoga class...

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Good Old Days Essays

Three essays were published to the Good Old Days Magazine: "Get me to the church on Time," "What's Under the Rug?" and "A Speck in My Eye." Currently, these three essays are not available to read online. 

Please check back for updates.

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