listener essay

Listener Essay - Polio Pioneer

Nov 17, 2017

After retiring from Berkshire Farm Center, Leona Scarpinato was a volunteer at the National Archives in Pittsfield, where she assisted others in researching their family histories. She lives in Columbia County where she writes about memories of her own life, as well as stories of her ancestors, for her children and future generations.

Polio Pioneer

It was not unusual for a child growing up in the early nineteen fifties, to get measles, German measles, mumps or chickenpox. Before the advent of vaccines, it was assumed that children would get these childhood diseases and many healthy children were deliberately exposed to sick children to get the disease while they were young.

But there was one childhood disease that was feared by parents and that was polio, also known as infantile paralysis, since the virus mostly struck young children.

I enjoyed school and I looked forward to the new things I would learn. Near the end of the school year, my thoughts were more of summer fun than schoolwork; as I looked forward to carefree summer days, picnics in the park, swimming at the town beach, and riding my bike with friends. We spent the days outside from morning till suppertime, ate quickly and went outside again to watch the arrival of lightning bugs as it started to get dark.

Listener Essay - Breaking News

Nov 16, 2017

Elisabeth Grace is a retired clinical social worker with English and Scottish roots, who shares her home in Columbia County with a demanding blue-eyed cat and a newcomer, a little brown dog named Lilah.

Breaking News

Making a lemon meringue pie from scratch is labor intensive. I need a special occasion to embark on it, like a Thanksgiving dinner or a significant birthday, so when I was invited to the party planned to celebrate two special birthdays one day last summer, I asked one of the two hostesses, wife of one of the birthday boys, if such a pie would be acceptable. “One of my favorites!” she responded enthusiastically.

The red and white checquered cook-book fell open at page 311, as if I made lemon meringue pies every day. I scanned the ingredients, checked what I was missing and went to the supermarket the following day to buy frozen pie-shells (I'm not a purist) and pick out three perfect lemons.

Listener Essay - Moving Over

Nov 2, 2017

Moving Over

Today was my mother Teresa’s wake. As I drifted out of sleep that morning, the telephone rang, beginning one of the weirdest phone calls of my life.

“Hello Deborah?” It was Phil Bocketti from the funeral home. “We have an issue. It’s not your problem, and it’s not mine, but we have to get a decision anyway.”

Under the collective name of Kennedy-Smith, our family owned a six-grave plot at Saint Joseph’s Cemetery in Troy. My grandparents were buried alongside one another; the other graves were for their two daughters and their respective spouses. The cemetery caretaker, upon reviewing the records, found Aunt Josie, who never married, was buried right next to Dad.

Phil continued: “The caretaker wants to know what he should do. If we bury your mother like it is now, she won’t be next to your father. If we move your Aunt Josie, we may have to dig more graves. What do you think?”

“Phil, they’re all dead, right? Who cares?”

Listener Essay - Music At Last

Oct 31, 2017

Stephen Gerard Dietemann makes his living as an architect and musician in the Berkshires and beyond. He can be reached at sgddesign@gmail.com.

Music At Last

I can’t remember exactly how it started, but one day I knew I had to learn to play the bass guitar.  Perhaps it was a thought, long suppressed, that if there were reincarnation, I wanted to come back as a musician.  I had spent most of my life in creative fields – architecture is my day job, and the visual arts my avocation since adolescence – but something was still missing. At 55 the illusion of youth that time was unlimited was long gone and the sense that it’s now or never created an urgency previously unexperienced. 

Listener Essay - Tongue-Tied

Jul 19, 2017
The Statue of Liberty
Sarah LaDuke

Sandra Capellaro wrote this story five years ago recently became an American citizen. She lives in New Paltz and works as a translator, administrator and writer.  

Tongue-Tied

When I am in elementary school we read a book called “When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit”. It's about a Jewish girl in Germany, her non-Jewish friend and the painful truth they learn about the pre-war reality around them. And it's about the pink plush rabbit that one day disappears just as will the little Jewish girl.

About 45 minutes north of Hannover where I grew up, is Bergen-Belsen, the former concentration camp. It's here that Anne Frank perished. We read her diary in school, and one day my class goes on a field trip to Bergen-Belsen. My daughter goes on trips to the Bardavon Opera and the Mohonk Preserve, but growing up in Germany I'm on a bus to the grounds of a former concentration camp. The drive there leads through small towns and countryside. Birch trees and heather, lots of wild heather are the features I remember.

Listener Essay - The Deputation

Jun 16, 2017

Gayu Seenumani immigrated to the US from Chennai India – where her parents still live. She is an engineer working at GE Global Research. She lives in Niskayuna with her husband.

The Deputation

To love is to devote. My experience says so.

My adolescence was marked with my mother being sent away. Or that was how I felt. In fact, she was chosen to work for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for a stint, aka., government deputation. She would visit us once a year. These visits were marked by the anticipation that it would be the last. In those years, my father would pick her from the airport and after 20 days, a taxi arrived for her return trip. We would cry profusely saying our good-byes, went into our home and continued crying. Our father returned from the airport, took us for a walk where he would tell us that the year would fly by. That night, he hugged us with the promise that my mother would be back very soon for good. We three slept. This repeated.

Listener Essay - Yearning

Apr 24, 2017

Debbie Slack enjoys hiking in CT, especially at Trail Wood, the home of Edwin and Nellie Teale, with her husband Bob and their two Labs. Besides exploring, Debbie loves when her four children and their families can spend time together. Presently Deb is on a mission searching for “the” literary agent to represent her novel, Henry Cooper and the Gutsy Girls. Deb believes there is value in everyone’s words and is leading the Writers’ Clinic in her home town of Tolland, CT. 

Listener Essay - I Was Wrong

Mar 16, 2017

Steven Lewis is a former Mentor at SUNY-Empire State College, current member of the Sarah Lawrence College Writing Institute faculty, and longtime freelancer. His new novel, Loving Violet, will be published by Cohill Press in summer 2017.

I Was Wrong

I am beginning this piece in the early days of the United States’ descent into the Dystrumpian Future. So many among us holding our breaths, preparing for the coming repressions, the planetary insults to reason and civilized behavior, the Armageddon-Sans-Rapture that awaits this great country. And it’s already far worse than many of us feared.

Listener Essay - Killing

Jan 13, 2017
Tom Reichner

Patricia A. Nugent is the author of The Live On: Saying Goodbye to Mom and Dad, a compilation of poems and vignettes about caregiving for and losing a loved one. She also write the play The Stone and the Ripple, about a modern day reunion of the founding suffragists. At her home on Great Sacandaga Lake, she is currently plugging away at her manuscript about her golden retriever’s spirituality.

Listener Essay - A Secret Hoarder

Nov 21, 2016

Barbara Redfield is a retired teacher and writer in Big Indian, New York.

A Secret Hoarder

Last Wednesday a Hudson Valley auctioneer, came to pick up my beloved antiques and family memorabilia. My secret confession is that I am a borderline "hoarder". I have been careful to hide the "stuff" in boxes and closets out of sight of friends, relatives and particularly from my own everyday world.

Unfortunately my addiction to saving, rescuing and just plain acquiring has had many hidden-from-sight storage areas... an attic, two large walk in closets, a basement and a separate large storage room. Needless to say all of them were packed to the rafters! This is all in addition to a house that was decorated in what some might call "cluttered Victoriana". I, however, prefer to remember my goddaughter walking in one day at age 6 and saying, "Aunt Barb, I didn't know you lived in a museum!"

  Tina Meyer is a poet and freelance writer from Blandford, MA. Her essay is entitled "In the Country of His Hearing Loss. 

Listener Essay - The Van

Sep 1, 2016
The Van
Diane Kavanaugh-Black

  Summer is on its way out. In this listener essay, Diane Kavanaugh-Black writes about a vital companion on her childhood summer journeys, and a relationship that lasted twenty-five years.

THE VAN

In my family growing up, there was me, Mom and Dad, Vera, Mae and Alex. And The Van.

A turquoise 1964 Dodge A-100 cab-over-engine truck—the 49th off the assembly line, purchased by my parents eleven months before I was born. Mom called it “Bessie” until the van’s age and appearance earned it the nickname “Trusty Rusty.”

Listener Essay- The Lovings And Why Race Matters

Jul 30, 2016

 

"Almighty God created the races… and he placed them on separate continents. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix."

These were the very words used by a judge in Virginia in 1965 to defend the US state's segregation laws that prohibited interracial unions.

Listener Essay - Summertime In Spain

Jul 29, 2016

In the elegant beach town of San Sebastian, I found myself with a warm late spring afternoon free to take in the city by foot. It was the last Saturday of May and the whole city was alive. It’s as if all one hundred and eighty thousand residents were in the streets dancing, singing and watching dancers and singers. The beaches were packed, one with fotballers and bathers, the other with surfers and kite boarders, and both had pet dogs running wild with the children on the sand.

  Elisabeth Grace is a retired clinical social worker living in rural Columbia County with two cats, Molly and Silkie. She divides her time between birding, animal welfare, gardening and writing.

After the Rain

Over two days in early June, 2013, I watched my driveway flow downhill and join Albany Turnpike. Soon, a lumbering orange tractor would grind its way up and down the slope scraping displaced earth and stone from the ditches at each side, would divert the runnels of water from the plateau at the top into a gully which had become blocked with fallen branches, rocks and mud, and filled in the 18-inch- deep crevasses which had kept me from driving up to the house for several days.

Listener Essay - Becoming Fatherhood

Jul 17, 2016

How do you prepare for something like this? My wife and I are expecting our first baby this fall. It's a mayhem of tiny socks and booties, bottle warmers and YouTube live births. 

Listener Essay - My Rock

Jun 21, 2016

  Jackie Mercurio lives with her husband, five children, and black Lab in New York. She is a freelance writer and editor, who teaches at Concordia College and the Sarah Lawrence College Writing Institute.

My Rock

When I plant flowers near my grandfather's grave, my trowel strikes rock, and I think of the many years I have planted flowers right here in this very spot and have never encountered it. I dig around the stone. I scoop it from the earth. I roll it onto my hand. The rock is smooth and round, slightly smaller than my open palm, and with my index finger I brush away dirt, wondering if it's been buried here all along, the same three decades as my grandfather.

Listener Essay - Sending Up Flares

Dec 10, 2015

  Elisabeth Grace, a retired clinical social worker, writer, birder, and gardener has lived in the United States since 1972 but has deep roots in England and Scotland.

Sending Up Flares

It began with my commissioning Pete, who has worked on various projects for me over the years, to build a handrail. For those who haven't been at my house in Old Chatham, NY, I should explain that when it was built sometime in the late 1950's, a small plateau was created, interrupting the steep slope which comprised the property, itself a 200 foot wide strip running uphill from Albany Turnpike to an abutting lot accessed from Pitts Road. The lie of the land creates a tiny stream with miniature waterfalls in rainy seasons, and a driveway which is a slippery challenge for a few weeks most winters. The house sits squarely on its foundation but the entrances, facing north and west, are a few steps up from lawn and parking area. An open deck fronts the north side of the house, and a covered porch the west side; the latter was an addition built about 25 years after we moved in.

Listener Essay - Legacy

Dec 8, 2015

  Carole Owens is an author and historian. 

Legacy

Sunday morning, “December 7, 1941, a date that will live in infamy.”

My grandfather was at Pearl Harbor. Sometime between 7:53 and 9:55 a.m., he was hit by shrapnel – nasty chunks of metal packed into bombs.

Listener Essay - Cash Or Cans?

Nov 18, 2015

  Kathryn Allen is a writer who lives in Menands. She is vice-chair of the Unity House board.

Cash or Cans?

In the ramp up to the holiday season, community groups are organizing food drives to provide much needed help to local food pantries. At my gym - Plaza Fitness - the trainers have each put out a huge box for donations. They’ve launched a contest to see which of their client teams will bring in the most food for the City Mission.

At first I looked askance at this. A recent New York Times piece suggested that giving cash to food pantries is a better way to help hungry families. The argument is that food pantries can buy food in bulk at regional food banks for much less than donors pay at their local supermarkets.

What’s a donor to do? Cans or cash?

Listener Essay - Into November

Nov 17, 2015

  Deb Smith is an Associate Professor at Empire State College. She lives in Albany and often drives across Vermont and western Massachusetts.

Into November

November can be a season dominated by subdued shades of gray and brown across the land. There are times when (dare I say it?) the month of November begs for the forgiving beauty of the first flakes of snow. To my surprise though, this year’s autumn color continued from October right into November.

Listener Essay - Classical Music Is Playing

Nov 10, 2015

  Jan Allen Pfeifer lives and writes in Woodstock, New York. She is a native of Louisville KY.

Classical Music is Playing

Classical music is playing in the bedroom where my father is dying. I sit alone, next to him. In this liminal space, the music is a soothing companion for both of us. It knows its way.

As I listen, I am transported back to grade school and field trips to Louisville Gardens for orchestra concerts. An amazing feat, moving hundreds of school children downtown like a conveyer belt from all parts of the city, the only common denominator being our grade and the yellow school buses that brought us. Each bus arrives and empties their charges onto Walnut Street in clockwork fashion. Our own trip is short, the hard green vinyl seats still cold against our dangling bare legs. Some of the girls hold hands, the warm considerations of best friends.

Listener Essay - My Commitment To Communication

Nov 6, 2015

      Judith Barnes is an educator, entrepreneur, speaker and writer who lives in the Capital Region and has had a national consulting practice in communication for over four decades.

Listener Essay - When No Girls Were Allowed

Sep 10, 2015

  Jacqueline Sheehan is a New York Times bestselling author from Western Massachusetts. Her new novel, The Center of the World, will be published in January 2016.

Listener Essay - No Flies On Me

Sep 3, 2015

  This listener essay is by C.D. Nelsen.

  A Listener Essay by Susan McDonough - a member of the New York State Humane Association.

Many people are excited about a summer at Saratoga Race Course, but not me. In my opinion, racing is bad for horses.

 Jackie Mercurio lives with her husband, five children, and black Lab in New York. She was recently named Winner of the Good Housekeeping Memoir Contest (2014). Her website iswww.jackiemercurio.com

Listener Essay - Elisabeth And The Three Or More Bears

Jul 10, 2015

  Elisabeth Grace is a semi-retired Clinical Social Worker, writer, birder and gardener who has lived in the United States since 1972, but who has deep roots in England and Scotland. She now shares her home in Columbia County with Molly, a polite, blue-eyed cat.

Listener Essay - Remembering Max

Jun 19, 2015

  Tina Lincer is a writer living in Loudonville, NY.

Memorial Day Listener Essay - Danny Nutly

May 22, 2015

  Dan New is a Vietnam Veteran and writer.

Daniel T. Nutly is memorialized on Panel 22E, Row 16 of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D. C.

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