Archive for the ‘THE STORY: RichStine’s “The Story” (also on Pinterest)’ Category

Liam and Joseph sat on the stoop, smoking. Smoking and talking. About work (while there were plenty of it needing to be done, nobody could pay a living wage), and about how lucky they were, anyway, to be in America.

The men found each other at sea, while coming from Europe to America. The two bonded quickly, and before disembarking at Ellis Island, decided to stick together. Neither had family here, and so became brothers. On paper. The Island, the people were practically on top of one another, as everyone scrambled to be processed. To etch a few changes to their papers was easy, and those who were in-checking the new arrivals, harried. They boarded the ship of hope as strangers, and arrived in Philadelphia after a brief go at it in New York City, as brothers.

They were close. They loved each other. And by posing as brothers, nobody would suspect their intimacy as anything but that of close brothers. Just easier that way.

This photo was taken by the mild-mannered, quiet & unassuming photographer, Mr. John Frank Keith, whose collections of work may be seen at the Library Company of Philadelphia.


“Bambi’s mom and siblings were killed, when a stupid, drunk, homophobic, redneck-neighbor drove into the yard, crushing Bambi’s family, before crashing into the barn.

Ever since they moved to the country, the obnoxious fool of a neighbor became increasingly troublesome. He’d drink himself into a fever, then come to their farm, stopping just short of the property line.
From the road, he’d holler obscenities. The vulgarity that came out of his good, “Christian”, heterosexual mouth, was just awful.

This time, he failed to stop at the end of the drive.
Swerving wildly, he finally stopped, when he slammed into the barn.
The side of the barn where Bambi, her mom and siblings were playing.
The stupid hick behind the wheel of the car, passed-out, “…probably even before he got to your driveway,” the Sheriff told the farmer.

The farmer and her wife didn’t know what to do, exactly, for the poor little surviving duckling. They called this lone duckling, “Bambi” (After the Walt Disney Bambi…who lost a parent, too.)

With the local veterinarian’s help, and guidance from their other neighbor, who acted like a real Christian, the farmer and her wife were able to save little Bambi, and became Bambi’s surrogate mothers.

Yet, they could not coax the little bird to hop in the pond–or to swim, or dive, or float. Ducky-things that ducks are supposed to do.

Each day, they would try, but nothing worked. Finally, the farmer’s wife told the farmer to bring a water basin, with water in it. Bambi was curious, and saw her reflection. But she could not bring herself to make friends with the water.

The farmer and her wife waited.
Ready with their cameras, they waited.

Forty minutes later, a splash! Bambi did it, as her two moms cheered her on: “We knew you could! We knew you could!”
It was a grand moment, indeed.

“Sisters Victoria and Marguerite did not want to make their First Holy Communion. Not like this! Such a fuss for what should be a sacred and private matter. Not a spectacle.

How the girls felt, had nothing at all to do with G_d, Jesus, the Holy Ghost or even the Virgin, Mary. They resented being forced to participate in a ceremony they believed missed the point of first communion, entirely,

Victoria and Marguerite’s parents, the nuns–all agreed the girls’ First Communion was awkwardly over-due. Both should have had their First Communions in the second grade, just as all the other children at St. Peter’s. They did not, because they moved around too much. Now that they were ‘settled’–according to their mom, it was time.

The 5th grader, Victoria, scowled, miserable in her sacrificial-white, hand-me-down dress. It belonged to the eldest sister, Mary Linda, who wore the dress at her First Communion. The painful ordeal worsened because of the dress, too tight and sleeves too short.

The third grader, Marguerite–the plump one–was feeling especially plump and out-of-place: surrounded by second-graders and their parents, who whispered about why they were just now making their First Communion.

Afterwards, they would go home, have a party to celebrate their communion-y-ness, with a yellow box-cake topped with bad, home-made powdered-sugar frosting.
Dad would drink a case of beer, Mom would pretend life was good.

Victoria and Marguerite would change out of their dresses, and play down by the creek.

Victoria would be Jesus, and Marguerite would be a sinner to be baptized. It was just play, but this play made them feel much closer to G_d than old, white dresses and little pieces of round, tasteless bread, dipped in sour wine.

“Eat Me! It’s cool…” said the apple, to Eve…

(…the rest is history!)

“Tommy did not want a bath! “Bath-time” meant, “soon to bed”!
He sneaked into the cabinet, Much to kitty’s dread!

He dared not move a muscle. He hoped he wouldn’t sneeze!
Tommy did not know how still–He could keep his knees!

He saw his mother’s legs go past–Calling out his name.
She warned him that he must stop–Playing silly games!

The kitty started meowing–she wanted to get out.
Finally Mommy came to see–What kitty fussed about.

She was not so very mad, When she saw her boy–
Crammed into the cupboard, looking very coy!

Into the bathtub Tommy went, then put his jammies on;
Mommy tucked him into bed, And as she did, he yawned.

The kitty jumped upon the bed, And found a nice spot to lay.
Both Tommy and the kitty knew, it was time to hit the hay.”

“1952: Life Magazine featured Jimmy, the roller-skating horse, in their back-feature “Miscellany” section. The nation fell in love.

JImmy, the Horse, stood-out from other horses, since his birth: all white, except for a most unusual dark “bib” on his chest, which Life Magazine aptly described as looking like a “baseball chest-protector”. Also, Jimmy had–get this–blue eyes.

What was Albert McAlexander of Carysville, Ohio, to do with a horse who looked like Jimmy? What does any parent think, in the 40’s & 50’s, when they have something of a potential side-show on their hands? McAlexander fretted about what to do with the four-legged darling. He quickly became fond of his keep, and did not wish to exploit or sell him.
Albert McAlexander of Carysville, Ohio, loved Jimmy. As a parent loves a child, really. He had little resources, Mr. McAlexander. Not a wealthy man.
Feeding a horse is costly. Feeding a horse nobody who deals in horses would want, other than perhaps a circus or side-show, or for meat. What, he wondered, was he to do?

He couldn’t abide handing him over to a butcher, or sell Jimmy to those horrible Circus-Animal Masters, who would come to town snooping for ‘treasures’ for their damnable side-shows. These parasites of humanity would come to rural towns, offering to relieve poor, struggling farmers of their “creature oddities”–to include any children who might be sufficiently disfigured or handicapped. These vile men and women who sought such creatures as Jimmy, were notoriously cruel and abusive. McAlexander would have none of it.

But he needed to make money to feed Jimmy, and the rest of his animals, not too mention his family. Then, a Miracle happened. Yessirree, Bob!

First, he discovered Jimmy was not quite like other horses he knew, not only in appearance. Jimmy would do uncanny impressions of people he’d see. When Mrs. McAlexander thought Ralph the cat was gone for good–(Ralph always strayed)–but returned home safely, Jimmy watched as Mrs. A dropped to her knees in prayer, praising G_d for kitty’s safe return.
Shortly thereafter, when Mr. Alexander was done working, and returned home, Jimmy the horse would do a little prance, whinny a bit, then drop to HIS knees, as if praising G_d for his return! Yes. I know…very curious, indeed.

Then, McAlexander noticed Jimmy’s unusual fascination of neighboring children, as they rolled past the McAlexander’s on roller-skates. Jimmy would stop what he was doing, and follow the rolling children making their way down the dirt road. The children thought it very amusing. McAlexander overheard the children remarking that they’d bet if Jimmy had rollerskates, he’d skate with them. Well. What a thought!

So, McAlexander fashioned some rollerskates, just for Jimmy the Horse.

It was awkward for about 5 minutes, and then Jimmy was off and on his own. A star was born.”

“It was too hot outside.No work and no pay.
They were tired of sittin’ around, all damned day.

They grabbed their big coats, and walked to the store.
“Just to look,” Adam said. But both knew he meant more.

The Liquor Store owner remembered these two.
(Seeing them here, shows that’s not hard to do!)

The clerk kept her distance, watching Adam and Eve.
She saw what she saw, though hard to believe:

Adam stuffed Jameson, Eve’s Spandex, Blue Ribbon;
Finally confronted, both started a-fibbin’!

“She made me do it!” Adam cried,
“It was Adam’s idea!” Eve screeched.
Calling the cops, the Owner replied that the end of his patience was reached.”

Death is inevitable. A mystery, and then some.
Last breath. No pulse. Everyone gets one.

Histories’ littered with Rituals & Rites–
How to deal with the dead. Then put Death out of sight.

Wakes and Embalming, Cremation or Dirt–
For loves left behind, these don’t quench the hurt.

Perhaps faith is best. That Substance of Hope.
The only evidence–of what we don’t see.

Comforting faith, I’ll know for sure, when…
Death knocks on the door, and asks for me.

“With the wave of changes in the 1960’s–Civil and Women’s Rights battles, Love & Peace, Anti-War protests, folks burning bras, advertising and marketing agencies realized the potential for opportunity.

No, ad-men were NOT happy about women coming aboard as something other than eye-candy-secretaries. Not at all. But looking beyond their own discomfort, opportunity knocked, with the advent of cultural change.

People wanted equality, then why not give folks what they wanted?
Women’s underthings (bras, panties, girdles, slips, lingerie, etc.) were advertised in all sorts of media. Why not Man-Undies?

A Mayo-Spruce man, by the name of Victor, was behind this idea. Genius, really.

Mayo Spruce Company decided to just do it.
Of course, Real, Everyday Men modeling the products, was a must. They’d focus on Dads, Husbands, and Sons…since marketing studies revealed the mostly women did the actual shopping. Women were buyers of socks and shirts, ties and underwear, for the males in their families. Most men only shopped for suits, hats and shoes on their own.

The targeted audience then, had to be wives, lovers, mothers. And to remove any doubts the little women might have about which brand of undies to buy, marketing to everyday, manly-men, was the strategy. Good one, too.

Manly-Man sees Mayo-Spruce Ad.
Manly-Man remarks that Mayo Spruce undies are manly-best.
Manly-Man’s woman rushes to nearest supplier of Mayo Spruce Man-Panties, and buys! Buys! Buys!
Manly-Man’s woman then tells all her girlfriends that she only buys the manliest man-panties for her man.
And so goes marketing!

Behind this great marketing push, was Victor.
Victor was a marketing genius.
He also had a secret.
Victor’s secret was this:
He preferred the silky comforts of women’s undies, beneath his tailored suit.”

“Harmie Jones, Moses Scott, Walter Barndt, Annabelle Rand, Peter Cocklin, Preston Gough, Franklin Johnson and Michael Knightly– decided the only place they hadn’t tried sledding–besides, of course, the steps of the White House–was the State, War and Navy building.

It began as just kid-talk. Children with sleds, who lived in a city, with limited places to use their sleds: “Dare any of you,” said Harmie (short for ‘Harmond’), “to take your sled down the steps.” Harmie said this as they were pulling their sleds past the Public Library.

A concert of enthusiasm surrounded Harmie. “Great Idea!” then, “I will, if YOU will!”
Finally, one of the bunch declared, “You, FIRST!” It was that smarty-pants, Annabelle. The girl.

Of course, Harmie had a bit of an obligation to be first. It was his idea, after all. And, if he didn’t at least try, especially after being challenged by a dumb girl, well…how would that look?

Harmie Jones picked up his sled, a very nice one, with brightly painted, sturdy runners, sure to take the beating they’d no doubt endure, going down the steps of the public library.
Inside, he was frightened. Harmie was certain that his mom would be weeping into a hankie, blowing her nose, crying, “why?”, while he lay in a coffin neatly, dead, from a broken neck. Fortunately for Mrs. Jones, fate did not favor her son’s imagination, and Harmie lived through it.

One by one, the others followed suit: Annabelle Rand was next, followed by Johnson. Then the others took their turn down the steps of the library, and managed to live to tell about it.

The sledders saw their neighborhood with new eyes: Every building, especially buildings with ample steps, were possible challenges.

They really wanted to go down the White House steps. Of course, that wasn’t going to happen.

The next best thing, however, was the State, War and Navy building. The State, War and Navy building, was far more accessible, and certainly the most challenging.

Harmie Jones had much trepidation about this attempt. They were not just going down the flight of steps, from the landing closest to the street. That would be easy enough. No. They were going from the very top!

That Annabelle, the only girl in the bunch, declared that she would be first, and, she was going to start at the very top! Seemed she was always showing them up. And they were guys! What was she trying to prove?

The others were secretly afraid, every bit as Harmie, but did not admit it. Harmie ‘hmm’d and hawed’, offering reasons why they should not start at the top. The sleds might get broken, or they could get in trouble.

But Annabelle wasn’t buying any of it. “TRIPPLE-DOG-DARE YA!” She shouted, and dragged her sled to the very top, yelled, “Tally-Ho! Look out, below!” and conquered the steps–all of the steps–of the State, War and Navy building.

The only thing any of the boys could do, was cross their fingers, say a prayer, and hope they didn’t kill themselves. There was no way a girl was going to show them up. They’d die sledding before dying of embarrassment. Harmie hoped his Ma had plenty of hankies.

Harmie broke his right arm in three places, and was never again permitted to sled.
Everyone survived, and Harmie was the only one injured. His sled was messed up pretty bad, too.
Annabelle grew up, and became a hot air balloonist.

Not one of the children regretted that day. That was the day they flew.