Thursday, July 26, 2012


First of all, I want to thank everyone who bought my book during the past two weeks.  Because of you, it has made the premium list, is now also available at, and has been rated five stars!  So I really appreciate it.

Speaking of my book, judging from the comments I’ve received, one of the most popular chapters appears to be the one about my evening at the drive-in back in 1962, when I saw the Troy Donahue movie, “Parrish.”  It seems that wherever I go lately, people bring up the subject of drive-ins.

“If you grew up in Manchester,” the local pharmacist said to me the other day, “Then you must remember the big four drive-ins in the area back in the 1960s.”

“Sure,” I said. “There was the Manchester Drive-in, the Bedford Grove, Pine Island Park and the Sky-Ray.  And if you wanted to travel a few miles farther, Concord had a really nice drive-in, too.”

“You forgot the most popular one of all,” a nearby (and apparently eavesdropping) customer added. “The Litchfield.”

To be honest, I hadn’t thought about the Litchfield Drive-in in over 40 years.  It was located on Talent Road, a secluded country road that had only a few houses on it.  The screen stood in what looked like someone’s back yard, with the owner’s house right there.  There were parking spots for about 300 cars, and the entire place was surrounded by a tall wooden fence that made it resemble a fortress.

The movies shown at the Litchfield Drive-in never were advertised in the local papers, yet if you didn’t get there the minute the place opened, chances were you wouldn’t get in at all, because the lines formed early and the tickets always sold out fast.

That’s because the Litchfield Drive-in showed only X-rated movies…in an era before there were videos or DVDs.

“Those movies back then probably would be rated ‘R’ nowadays,” the pharmacist said.   

Somehow, I doubted that.

That conversation made me curious.  How many people, I wondered, had gone to the Litchfield Drive-in back in the 1960s and early ‘70s?  And if they had, would they admit it?

“Sure, I went!” one of my female friends said, laughing. “A bunch of girls from work thought it would be a lot of laughs, so we got brave and headed over there one night.  We were parked next to a car that had blankets covering all of the windows!  And we were afraid to go to the snack bar or restroom during intermission because we’d have to walk past cars full of hormonally charged college guys!  As it was, we kept all of our car doors locked!”

Naturally, I had to ask my husband if he ever went.

“Of course,” he said, with a shrug. “Just about every guy I knew went there the minute he was old enough.  I mean, it was like a rite of passage.  One of my buddies who was with us one night snuck around in the dark during the middle of the movie, found the cars with the steamiest windows, and then pounded on them and yelled, ‘Police!  Open up!’ and ran off!  There always was an officer at the ticket booth, checking IDs, and he’d come around to do car checks every so often, so they must have thought it was him!”

“You went there more than once?” I asked, my eyebrows rising.

“Yeah…a couple times, I guess.”

He wasn’t fooling me.  Knowing the group of guys he hung around with back in his younger days, they all probably had season passes to the place.

“Can you believe the drive-in was located on Talent Road?” my husband added, chuckling. “I wonder if it was because of all the raw talent in those movies?”

I glared at him.

The other day, someone also asked me which drive-in theater in the Manchester area was my favorite when I was young.  I found the question difficult to answer. 

I liked Pine Island because it was adjacent to an amusement park.  If I rolled down the car window, I could hear the screams of the people on the roller coaster and smell the fried foods sold at the concession booths.

Bedford Grove featured the best horror movies, complete with complimentary barf bags for the squeamish.  The Manchester Drive-in on South Willow Street showed the big-name, first-run popular movies before the other theaters, and served the best snack-bar pizza.  And Sky-Ray in Hooksett was the darkest and most secluded, for quiet viewing.  It, however, also had the most mosquitoes. 

I really do have fond memories of all four.  And every summer, especially on a balmy July or August evening, I’m frequently attacked by a wave of nostalgia and find myself wishing that all of the area drive-ins from the 1950s and ‘60s still were around.

Except for the Litchfield, that is.


Monday, July 16, 2012


I don’t know why, but I always seem to have bad luck with vacuum cleaners.  I don’t care how much I pay for them or how many times I use them, they always end up failing me in some way.

 My husband is a big fan of upright vacuum cleaners while I prefer the canister type.  This has been an ongoing source of debate since the first week of our marriage.

 “Canister vacs are a pain,” my husband always says. “You have to pull the machine behind you, the hose usually ends up tearing, and it’s always banging into walls when you yank it.”

“Well, upright vacs are even worse,” I usually answer. “You have to push the entire machine back and forth, which makes your arm tired after a while.  And what happens if you have to get into a tight corner with it?”

“Then you attach the long hose that comes with it and use that,” he answers.

“Then essentially,” I say, smiling smugly, “you’re turning the upright into nothing more than a tall version of a canister vac!”

End of argument.

My husband is right about one thing, however, when it comes to canisters. The hoses, at least when I use them, rip apart faster than tissue paper in a hurricane.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve yanked on the hose to try to free the machine when it got hung up on a chair, table leg, the dog, etc., only to have it rip open and spew clouds of dust and dirt all over the room.  As a result, most of the hoses on my vacuum cleaners usually end up decorated with about 10 feet of assorted duct tape.

A few months ago, I had to return my newest vacuum cleaner to the store where I bought it because it needed repairs, still under the warranty.  Once again, the hose was the problem, but this time I outdid myself – I broke it off right at the base where it attached to the machine.

“You’re an animal with vacuum cleaners!” my husband said when I broke it. “You pull and yank so hard on the hoses, you’d think you were in a tug-of-war competition.”

“Well, then the manufacturers should make indestructible hoses,” I said.

I was upset when the department store told me it would take three weeks to fix my machine, especially since it was right before Christmas.

“I can’t go three weeks without a vacuum cleaner!” I protested to the employee. “Not during the holiday season when we'll be having company, and not when I have two dogs whose hobby is trying to make it into the Guinness Book for shedding the largest amount of fur in the shortest amount of time!”

“Well, don’t worry,” she said, smiling, “we’ll give you a loaner to use until yours is fixed.”

I thought it was really generous of the store to do that, especially when I discovered they’d given me the Rolls Royce of canister vacuum cleaners.  The machine did everything but make the beds and cook breakfast.  And it was a dream to use.  For the first time in my life, I actually enjoyed vacuuming.  I even found myself encouraging the dogs to shed.

“Isn’t it generous of the store to lend me this fabulous vacuum cleaner while my hunk of junk is being repaired?” I said to my husband.

The look he gave me clearly told me he thought I needed a transfusion of brain cells.

“Are you that naive?” he asked. “Don’t you know why the store is letting you use their queen of all vacuum cleaners?  It’s not because they’re being nice, it’s because they want you to fall in love with it and buy it!  I’ll bet it costs twice as much as your other vacuum cleaner.”

I shook my head. “It’s only $298 more.”

“And I’ll bet you’re in love with it!”

I hesitated before answering. “Well, maybe it’s more like a strong crush.  I mean, it even has a dirt sensor on it!  When you come to an especially dirty area, it lights up to let you know!  How can you not fall in love with that?”

My husband just stared at me. “You need a light to tell you where the dirt is?  Can’t you just open your eyes and look?  Heck, I can see a whole colony of dust bunnies from here!”

“Well, what if you have shag carpeting?  You can’t easily see dirt in that!” I said.

 “We have bare floors and a few scatter rugs,” he just had to remind me. “You could get away with using just a regular old broom and a carpet sweeper!”

He had a point.  But I still really wanted that super-duper vacuum cleaner. Even when my old vacuum came back from the repair shop as good as new, if not better, I still thought longingly about the loaner.

 I hate to admit it, but I haven’t used my vacuum cleaner since it was repaired. And it’s not because I got spoiled using the fancy cleaner.

 It’s because I discovered (and I really hate to admit this) that my husband was right.  It’s much easier just to use a broom and a carpet sweeper.

Friday, July 6, 2012


Last week I wrote about how I hadn’t been invited to Rick and Sharon’s annual Fourth of July block party on my road, and how I was going to do everything short of flinging myself in front of their car when they drove by, in an effort to get their attention and get invited.

Well, I’ve received so many e-mails asking me if I ended up going to the party or not, I decided I should tell the rest of the story.

  Last Saturday morning, I didn’t crawl into bed until long after sunrise.  I’d been up all night, writing, and lost track of time.  When I finally woke up at about 3:30 that afternoon, I found a note taped to my front door.  It was from Rick and Sharon, telling me that yes, I definitely had an open invitation to their annual party because I was part of the neighborhood “family.”  The note went on to say the party was going to start at 4 that afternoon!

My first reaction was, “Yessss!  I got my invitation!”  My second reaction was, “Noooo!  I didn’t bake anything to bring and my hair looks really crappy!  Do I have time to touch up my roots?”

I flew into the kitchen and started rummaging through the cabinets and flinging things everywhere.

“Looking for something?” my husband looked away from his TV program long enough to ask.

“I have to bring something to the party!  I can’t arrive empty-handed!”

“You can have the other half of my bag of potato chips,” he said, “if that will help.”

I should have taken his potato chips even though I had no intention of bringing a half-eaten bag of chips to the party.  He’s diabetic and shouldn’t be eating them in the first place.

I decided to whip up some chocolate cupcakes with marshmallow filling.  In my rush to make them, I ended up getting marshmallow on everything within a 10-foot radius of the stove.  I think one of my dogs may still be stuck to the floor.

By the time I managed to get myself looking human, it was 7:30.  I was way beyond being fashionably late.

“Are you going to walk over?” my husband asked as I headed for the door.

I frowned at him. “A half-mile walk in 90-degree weather while carrying a tray of cupcakes?  Are you kidding?”

Before he could comment, I was out the door and on my way to the party. 

I figured I’d disappear into the crowd when I arrived and no one would notice how late I was.  Never in a million years would I have guessed how wrong that assumption was going to be.

Rick and Sharon’s driveway goes up a fairly steep hill.  I parked on the road and walked up the hill.  When I reached the top, the crowd of guests, all of whom were gathered outside, started cheering and applauding, “Yaaayyy!  Sally made it!”

I turned bright red.

Immediately, Rick rushed over to me. “Did you really think you weren’t invited?” he asked. “I mean, really?  Did you really think that?”

I nodded.

He clearly looked offended. “How could you think such a thing?”

I shrugged.  “Well, when you get to be my age, you don’t take anything for granted!”

“Then pay attention,” he said, his nose practically touching mine. “You’re invited to next year’s party!”

I smiled and handed him the cupcakes. “Is this all you brought?” he joked.

The party turned out to be more than worth all of the torture I went through, wondering whether or not I’d be invited.   Everyone was laughing and smiling, which, I suspected, had a lot to do with these little cups of various-colored Jell-O everyone called “Jell-O shots,” that smelled suspiciously like something 100-proof.  One whiff nearly burned out my nose hairs.

Louise, a woman I’ve known for years, greeted me with a big smile and teasingly said, “Even though you’re an uninvited guest, you can still sit here next to me!”  I sat down and noticed a stack of empty Jell-O shot cups in front of her on the table.

“I think I’m on number 13,” she informed me. “They’re really good!”

I figured that just one of those Jell-O shots probably would cause me to stagger into the nearest tree...or fall and roll all the way down the driveway and out onto the road.

“How do you think you’re going to feel in the morning?” I asked her.

“Terrible!” she said, laughing.

Fortunately, there was plenty of food to soak up the shots – a garage full of tables of every cuisine imaginable.  It was like a Las Vegas buffet.

And the evening closed with some spectacular “aaahhh!” and “oooohh”-inspiring fireworks, for which the weather, a nice clear sky, was perfect.

So all I can say is my neighborhood really knows how to throw a party, and I’m sure glad I didn’t miss it.

The trouble is, the older I get, the more forgetful I more than likely, I’ll be sitting here impatiently waiting for my invitation again next year.

Sunday, July 1, 2012


It’s bad enough that ever since I hit 60, I’ve been feeling old, wrinkled and saggy, but moving to my current neighborhood has made me feel even worse.

For one thing, just about everyone who lives on my road is young and good-looking.  The women are pretty and the men are handsome, and their children look as if they should be catalog models for “Kids R Us.”  And everyone is in great shape, too.  When I take my daily walk around the block, I see bicyclists, hikers, joggers, skateboarders and roller skaters, and they all look fresh and vibrant...while I look as if I should be picking out my headstone.

When we first moved to the neighborhood and I went for a walk, my husband asked me when I got back, “So, did you meet any of our new neighbors?”

“Yes, I did.”

“And? What do you think?”

“I think I need a facelift and liposuction.”

Last year, I was invited to the annual neighborhood Fourth of July block party, hosted by a really nice couple named Rick and Sharon.  By the time the day of the party arrived, I was a nervous wreck.

“I’m not going to fit in!” I said to my husband, who never goes to parties. “Everyone around here is so young!  They’ll be talking about daycare and I’ll be talking about Medicare!  We have nothing in common!”

“You’ll be just fine,” he said. “You’ll have fun, I’m willing to bet on it.”

He turned out to be right.  I had a great time, and there even were people there who were my age or older, so I didn’t end up feeling as if I should be reserving a room in a nursing home instead of going to a party.

A week ago, when I was out walking my dog, I stopped to talk to one of my neighbors.  She happened to mention she’d been outside gardening and Rick had stopped by to invite her and her husband to this year’s Fourth of July block party. 

“Are you going?” she asked me.

“Um...I haven’t been invited yet.”

”Don’t worry,” she said, “I only got invited a few minutes ago, so your invitation can’t be far behind.  But if for some reason you don’t get invited, you can always come with us – as our guests!”

I smiled and continued on my walk, thinking that if I didn’t get invited but still went with her and her husband, then that would make me a party crasher, wouldn’t it? 

As I approached Rick’s house, I noticed he was sitting out on his front porch.  I figured this was it...I’d get my invitation.

“Hi!” he greeted me, smiling. “How are you?”

“Great!” I said, smiling back. “And you?”

“Fine!” he said.

End of conversation.

I momentarily considering dropping a hint, like launching into a chorus of, “I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy,” but I just kept on walking.

When I got home, my husband immediately noticed I looked preoccupied and asked what was wrong.  I told him about not being invited to the party.

“Well, maybe it’s a standing invitation,” he said. “Maybe once you’ve been invited, you’re considered a regular, with an open invitation every year.”

“And what if that’s not the case?” I said. “I’d feel like an idiot showing up!”

He shrugged. “There’s still two weeks until the party.  You still have plenty of time to be invited, so don’t worry about it.”

That was over a week ago.

“If I were you,” my husband said over dinner the other night, “I’d walk by Rick’s house 10 or 20 times a day just to remind him that you’re still around.  After all, maybe he thinks you’ve passed away from old age!”

I knew he was kidding, but I glared at him. “If I walked by that many times, he and his wife would think I’m a stalker!  Besides that, in this heat, I’d end up passing out!”

“Perfect!” my husband said. “Make sure you pass out in his driveway!  Then he’ll feel so bad you’re sick, he’ll give you a pity invitation!”

Again, I shot him a glare.

So as it stands right now, I’m either going to have a great time this Fourth of July, or I’m going to be sitting home in my rocking chair...knitting a shawl.