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  • John William Roche
    Posted August 3, 2022 at 6:39 pm


    2 AUGUST 2022



    7TH GRADE                                                              5YO SUBWAY
    BOB CRAWFORD                                                 BOOBY NO TELL
    MASTRO PIZZA                                                     FACE THE MUSIC
    H/CAP PASS                                                           SHEA STADIUM
    HOT SEAT DROPS                                               GOLFING

    As I grew up in a Brooklyn apartment, there was allotta love in my family. There were also allotta rules. I was born a rebel and as I say in another story, I rebelled against authority until I was in my early twenties.
    But a major change in my life came in the 7th grade. I was a juvenile delinquent, who hung out with the wrong crowd, played hooky from school, and even stole things from stores, just for the fun of it. In fact, I was on a first name basis with the truant officer at Hudde JHS at Nostrand Ave. & Ave K.
    At the end of the school year, I was not promoted to the eighth grade. In other words, I was left back. When I received my report card and saw that I was going back to the seventh grade, I needed to take action. My class assignment for the following year was 7-20. I knew there was an ass-whooping for me if my parents saw the card.
    I decided to hook up with my friend, Herbert Schnackenberg, whose parents owned a German deli on Flatbush Ave. My intent was to turn the 7 into an 8. After I made the changes, Herbert (ACCIDENTALLY) spilled some milk on the card and the numbers got all smeared up.
    Little did I know at the time, but my parents wanted me out of the NYC school system. They had already enrolled me at Adelphi Academy (a prep school) for the fall. The Academy had already told my parents that I was deficient in Math and English. I had to attend Adelphi’s summer school program. Somehow, I got through and entered the eighth grade that September.
    My parents never knew about the Hudde situation.
    Fast forward to 1973.Graduation Day @ Wagner College in Staten Island. After graduation, I threw a party for family and friends at the house I was sharing with fellow veterans.
    It was at that party that I pulled my mother aside and said,
    “I have something to tell you. Remember when you sent me to Adelphi? I was left back at Hudde that year.”
    Her very typical response was not shock, but
    “Don’t tell your father.”

    This isn’t part of the transcript. Herbert was killed that summer, when he fell off of the back of a truck, he hitched a ride on. If this story ever goes anywhere, it’s dedicated to him. It’s dedicated to him anyway.

    • Lauren
      Posted August 5, 2022 at 5:38 pm

      I am sorry to hear about Herbert, but this story definitely rings true, John! Thank you for sharing, I can only imagine that your mom had to say that to you quite often growing up :)

  • Orah Zamir
    Posted August 4, 2022 at 9:57 am

    Here is my story about lies, revised.
               I started playing the piano when I was three. My family had a piano that was a gift from a Native American woman whose leather portrait hung above the piano. I started piano lessons, and I started singing, when I was six. I made a home-made record of Al Jolson’s “Anniversary Waltz.” The next year I sang and danced in a production number of Jolson’s “April Showers.” A sang in chorus throughout elementary school.
               When I was 14, my parents allowed me to start voice lessons. I sang in nursing homes with my voice teacher, and I remember a competition and a recital where I sang, “I Could Have Danced All Night.” My Dad teased me about imitating July Andrews, and I felt ashamed. I figured out later that we all imitate people we admire when we first start out learning something.
               When I was 17, my mother told me she and my voice teacher thought I should start smoking because I did not have any vices. At the time, I did not know my mother intended to control my life and would gaslight me many times, that is lie. Today, I can’t imagine that my voice teacher was in on this. I am not telling this story to fix blame on my mother for all my problems. I am telling it like it was. You get to decide how to think about it.
               My mother had wanted to be a professional singer. She told me how she went to New York weekends. She said she was engaged to a musician in one of the Dorsey bands, but he would not let her travel with the band. The story gets confusing after that, and I am not clear on why she gave up that dream and married my dad. She said it was about growing up. I got that she expected me to make a similar decision.
               By the time I was 17, we had a synagogue. I was active in it. I was elected first President of the youth group, and I sang in the Temple Choir and loved it. Women could not be Cantors then, so I had no future path to follow. My mother also made it clear that I was not to choose to study music in college. She did not even want me to go to college. She wanted me to get a job. She told me I would have to work. I would do whatever I was told by whoever paid my check. I had no rights. She wanted me to be a secretary.
               I did become a Secretary; and, apart from learning the skill of typing 110 words a minute, all it did was make me ill physically. I finally quit.
               I spent two years living at home again. I got involved in a Women’s Center in Cambridge, Mass. The women’s movement changed my life. I decided to move to New York City because that was where the action was. The year I moved, a Jewish Seminary graduated a woman Cantor for the first time. Then a woman Cantor founded the Women Cantors Network. I learned that a number of women were studying to be Cantors at a school in Philadelphia. When I finished my MA degree at NYU, I moved to Philadelphia. It took me nine years to get my MA in Jewish music.
               When I got my first position as a Cantor, my mother said, “If only I’d known you wanted to be a Cantor….” I did not believe her. I thought she would have torn down the idea and said something like, “Who do you think you are?” She could ruin it for me as she had everything else. I already had a job. Later, I got a student position where I served as Rabbi, Cantor, and Educator in a small Conservative synagogue. On my third year there, I graduated, lost my student job, and got breast cancer. I was weakened and fatigued from radiation and chemotherapy and could not continue in a pulpit. I trained then as a Chaplain which was my career for 15 years. I also taught, tutored, and conducted private life cycle ceremonies: weddings, funerals, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs and baby namings for girls. I loved it all.
               I struggled with complex PTSD and depression from childhood trauma, but I kept improving. I was living my life. There was pain. I had broken away from my mother to follow my own path. She got cancer and accused me of causing it. I knew that wasn’t true, but I also knew I had played a role she needed, and it must have been stressful for her when I stopped playing that role.
               As a result of smoking, eventually I lost my voice. Today I can’t sing a note. So, now I am writing and loving it. I am discovering a different kind of voice.

    • Lauren
      Posted August 5, 2022 at 5:40 pm

      Thank you for sharing your story, Orah. I am so glad you found writing as a way to express your creativity. Your voice shines no matter the medium.

  • Julie Folkerts
    Posted August 4, 2022 at 1:43 pm

    A Big Lie

                  I was shocked to my core after abruptly hanging up with my sister, Val. Unable to believe the words she was ranting and raving about. It began the day before when Val picked Don and me up from the airport after our trip to Nevada. Don had specifically asked her how the girls had behaved. She replied, “they were good.”
                  This trip had been planned for months to take my parents to Lake Tahoe for their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary. We wanted to show them our timeshare with its breathtaking views, mild weather, and the fantastic Fourth of July Fireworks display over the lake. Val had agreed to watch the girls for us. 
                  We were living in Dallas then, so after the fourteen-hour drive, we arrived in Denver.  The next day we got everything squared away at Val’s. I brought her a couple of gifts to show my appreciation. Our flights left several hours later.
                  I ended our telephone conversation after listening to her belittle my girls and question why they were so bad. She told me they had tried to suffocate her son, Markus, who was eighteen months old, by putting a blanket over his head. My girls were five and eight, and I knew they did not try to suffocate him. They were only playing hide and seek with him. 
                  Val continued in her loud accusatory voice by reporting that her husband, Mark, had spanked my girls and put them in the guest room, where they went to bed without dinner. I soon became furious – utterly shocked. These were my children, and I was leaving them with their only aunt, my younger sister. No one should spank my children without my approval. As far as I was concerned, they were just kids; yes, I had been teaching them manners.
                  Val continued complaining about my girls chewing with their mouths full. “Have you not taught them how to eat?” Val questioned. At that point, I decided it would be best to end the conversation, as too many hurtful words had been exchanged. I was sobbing uncontrollably with the effect of not catching my breath. Mom ran into the kitchen to find out what was going on. I told her while simultaneously calling my husband, who had just flown back to Dallas to return to work. I planned to stay in Denver to see family and friends, then return to Dallas the following weekend.
                  Val had told us a lie, more than one lie. She told us the girls were good. I know now Val didn’t want to bring it up in front of Don as he would have immediately found out the issues and tried to resolve them. Don also would not have tolerated Mark spanking his daughters and then sending them to bed without feeding them.
                  The rest of my visit to Denver was canceled. My mother agreed to ride with us in the car to Dallas, and we would fly her home. We began the trip home the following day.
                  Val is a manipulator. Val has always been a manipulator. Her actions continued to be exhibited throughout the years. After my parents passing, we no longer have a relationship.

  • Nancy Archibald
    Posted August 5, 2022 at 11:56 am

    The interview for my first job in nursing seemed to be going well. The Director of Nursing (DON) told me that eighteen nurses had resigned recently from their position. 
    “Most of them were pregnant,” she said. 
    There was no reason for me not to believe this, so I didn’t ask. 
    “What experience do you have with newborns,” she asked.
    “My final practicum was in Pediatrics,” I told her proudly. “I also took an extra practicum in Maternity, and I find this my favourite area of nursing.”  
    I had taken my Nursing at Red Deer Hospital, the interview was at the Royal Alexandria in Edmonton. The Royal Alex had a three-year traditional nursing program with a nursing residence, and the hospital hired mostly graduates from their program. I was an exception. I should have researched this before I applied. The hospital was a high-risk facility with a large catchment area. 
    “You will get an orientation on the low-risk side of the nursery, which is downstairs before coming up to the intermediate and high-risk levels,” the DON informed me.
    I told her about my four-year-old son, Aaron, and the fact that I was a single parent. This did not bother her, or maybe she wasn’t listening. 
    I went through a week of orientation on the low-risk part of the nursery. The equipment was very different than what I had been used to, but because most of the nurses had been hired from “The Alex” they didn’t seem to think about the learning curve for me. I learned the routine of bathing, vital signs, medication and gavage feeding premature infants. I enjoyed the work in that nursery. 
    The second week was a little more intense. I found flaws in the workflow of the nurses and I was going through what we call culture shock, which happens when new graduates start working. One of the issues was that the nurses were drawing up the baby’s medication before going for a break and then expected the nurses who were left on the floor to give the meds. We were taught never to give meds that we didn’t draw up ourselves. I learned how to do scalp IVs and work with IV Catheters in central lines. 
    Next, I was oriented to the high-risk area. These were very premature babies who required respirators because they could not breathe on their own. I was given a short theoretical course on the settings of respirators. We were to set them depending on the blood gas results that we drew for the respiratory technicians to analyze.  
    Things were going reasonably well until one day the DON informed me that they were changing to 12-hour shifts. She had known they were changing before she hired me but did not tell me. I was just getting used to the nurses on my rotation and I was getting into a bit of a routine. But 12-hour shifts changed everything. 
    How could I work 12-hour shifts, days, and nights, when I had a four-year-old? My son was my priority. Already I was on my second babysitter. The first kept the children in a tiny apartment and never took them outside and I was scared when I went to pick him up after the evening shift at 11:30 pm. Now I took Aaron to an older lady who lived in a house in a safe neighbourhood but she was not prepared to look after a child on 12-hour nights.
    I talked to the DON and told her about my situation. She arranged for me to work only day shifts. My babysitter and I were happier with this arrangement, but the nurses I was working with were not. I was in a unionized environment and I was getting special favours. I found that the work on days was much more intensive than what the nurses had a night. I was on two teams of nurses and it was difficult to get to know them. 
    There were Doctor’s Orders to process and no unit clerk to check them or order the blood from the blood bank etc. The nurses were it. The days were exhausting. I remember I even had baby formula checked after working eight hours because was too tired to trust that I was feeding the right formula to the right baby. I had to do something. 
    I applied for a job in Pediatrics back in Red Deer. While working, I listened for the nursing unit phone to ring, hoping that each call would be for me getting a job at Red Deer. Finally, the call came. I had escaped the possibility of making an error and hurting one of the precious infants. When I resigned the DON pointed a finger at me like she was aiming a gun.
    I had two more weeks to work there and said the usual goodbyes. All was not lost because I was able to work at the Royal Alex again, two years later, part-time in the Low-Risk nursery while taking a Nutrition course at the University of Alberta in Edmonton toward my Degree, BScN.

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