Monday, May 25, 2020


I feel sorry for all of the people who were eagerly awaiting Memorial Day weekend this year so they could enjoy some fun time at the beaches in this area. It seems as if the pandemic has made certain the word “fun,” especially when it comes to any beach, will have to be put on hold for a while longer.

I remember how often I used to go to the beach in my younger days – like every weekend, even during the winter months. That’s because the Midway Arcade and Joe’s Playland at Salisbury Beach were open year-round, so I was able to play my favorite arcade games whenever the mood struck. I’d also always make sure to stop by the candy shop there and stock up on some homemade fudge before I headed home.

I was in junior-high when I first started saving prize tickets from the arcades at Salisbury Beach. Back then, 500 tickets could be redeemed for a nice prize, like a radio or a gigantic stuffed animal. But I wanted to save for something even bigger and better, like a portable TV or a stereo. So I stashed away all of my tickets and never redeemed them. The more I collected, the bigger my prize fantasies became. I had visions of cashing in my tickets for something really spectacular in the future…like maybe a motorcycle or a diamond necklace, which I felt certain the managers would be willing to order especially for me because they’d be so impressed with the record-breaking number of tickets I’d amassed over the years.

I won most of my tickets playing skeeball, my favorite game. Later, I switched to a rather primitive poker-game machine. The object of the game was to roll five balls into holes that had pictures of cards on them to determine the poker hand. Usually, I was pretty lucky, but one day, I couldn’t win a hand no matter how hard I tried. Determined, I kept stuffing money into the machine.

“Um, how long have you been playing with only four balls?”  I heard a voice behind me ask. I turned around to see one of the arcade’s attendants standing there, chuckling. He checked the machine and found the fifth ball stuck up inside. I was so embarrassed for being too dumb to realize it, my face nearly burst into flames.

Fortunately, the guy took pity on me and let me play a bunch of games at no
charge to make up for my stupidity and his malfunctioning machine. I won about 200 tickets that day alone.

Later, the arcade installed real slot machines, which paid off in prize tokens that could be redeemed for tickets. I played those for hours, mainly because they required no skill whatsoever and therefore, spared me from any further humiliation.

Fast forward to 40 years later when I happened to find my stash of arcade tickets in the back of the kitchen cupboard. To be honest, I’d forgotten all about them by then, so it was like finding buried treasure…and I was excited. 

I was sitting at the kitchen table and carefully stacking the tickets into piles when my husband walked in and asked what I was doing.

“I have 5,581 tickets from Joe’s Playland at Salisbury Beach!” I said. “Do you think we can take a ride there sometime so I finally can trade them in for a prize?”

“Is the place even still around?” he asked. “It probably went out of business years ago.”

A feeling of panic swept over me as his words sank in. If Joe’s Playland had indeed gone out of business, then I’d spent all of those years hoarding my tickets for nothing!  They wouldn’t even be worth the paper they were printed on!

I rushed to check online and was relieved to learn that Joe’s Playland hadn’t gone to the big arcade in the sky…yet. And even though it was off-season at the beach, it said the arcade still was open on weekends.             

So one frosty Sunday, my husband and I headed to Salisbury Beach so I finally could cash in my precious tickets. During the entire ride, all I could think about was what prize I might like to get.

“I think I’m going to get a DVD player,” I finally said to my husband. “Everyone has one and I want one, too.”

He laughed. “Dream on! That arcade has been around for about a hundred years! The prizes probably are still the same ones that were there when it first opened. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to redeem your tickets for a nice butter churn…or maybe a manual typewriter!”

I wasn’t amused.

We finally turned onto the main drag through Salisbury Beach. My heart sank. The place looked like a ghost town. And most of the former structures, like the popular Surf Club Ballroom, had been torn down. Never had I seen so many empty spaces there before…or so much of the ocean.

But alas, to my delight, near a small pizza joint and a discount souvenir shop stood Joe’s Playland, its colorful lights beckoning from inside. I couldn’t wait to get in there.

We found a parking spot directly in front of the arcade and I bolted inside, heading straight for the prize-redemption counter. By the time my husband caught up with me, I was grinning with satisfaction. “There it is,” I said, pointing to a high-tech looking DVD player in a case behind the counter. “There’s my prize!”

A young employee approached and asked if he could help me with anything.

“Yes!” I said smiling, as I dug into my purse and pulled out the big wad of tickets. “How many tickets is that DVD player?”

“It’s 28,000,” he said.

My husband, sympathetic soul that he was, burst out laughing.

Did I cash in my tickets for a prize I could afford, like a set of carving knives or a salad-bowl set?  No, I was too upset. I brought the tickets back home, unredeemed.

And years later, I sold them as antique collectors’ items on eBay and got a bundle of money for them! 😁

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Sally Breslin is an award-winning humor columnist and the author of “There’s a Tick in my Underwear!” “Heed the Predictor” and “The Common-Sense Approach to Dream Interpretation." Contact her at:

Monday, May 18, 2020


I am beginning to believe that during this pandemic I have a subconscious goal – and that is to totally ruin my eyes.

First of all, my big-screen TV died, so I borrowed the small one from the bedroom and hooked it up in the living room. The only problem is, I’m still sitting the same distance away as I did when watching the large TV, so this one looks about the size of a lunchbox. Trying to read translations, captions, or those news items that run across the bottom of the screen have become about as easy as trying to find ticks on my all-black dog. I have done so much squinting lately, the crinkles around my eyes have turned into trenches.

Then the other night, one of my old classmates and I were reminiscing online about the “good old days.” So later that same evening, I dug out four of my journals from way back in my high-school days and started reading them. Ten hours later, I still was reading. Let’s just say that reliving all of the “joys” of my high-school crushes and how they were so “cute and dreamy” until they snubbed me and then became “creepy and smelly,” fascinated me more than any best-selling novel. I just couldn’t stop reading.

Unfortunately, the morning following my reading marathon, I woke up with my eyes resembling two oysters on the half-shell…bright pink oysters. And my eyes really hurt – kind of like someone had poured battery acid into them. But the worst part was everything I looked at was a total blur.

I went online to see what I could do to alleviate the problem, but the problem was I couldn’t see what the advice was. My eyes were so out of focus, I couldn’t tell if I was supposed to soak my eyes…or soap them.  

Desperate, I dug out some eye drops from the back of my bathroom cabinet. They had expired back when Bush was president, but I used them anyway. Had I put plain water into my eyes, they’d probably have had about the same effect, but they did clear up my vision slightly, so I rushed back to the Internet to read more about eye problems. Comparing the photos of “sore eyes” online to my own eyes, I narrowed my problem down to either dry eyes, blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids)…or both. Each of the problems had a similar solution, however – to add a couple drops of no-tears baby shampoo to a half-cup of warm, sterile water, then, using a clean washcloth, to gently wipe the eyes three times per day. Lubricating eye drops without preservatives also were recommended, as was staying sufficiently hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

I groaned. Water was something I had been forced to cut back on during the pandemic because the stores were limiting the purchase of bottled water…and my well water, which is contaminated with arsenic, isn’t drinkable until I win the lottery and can afford to have my reverse-osmosis purification system repaired (it died right about the same time as my big-screen TV). Therefore, by rationing my water intake I’d inadvertently added yet another contributing factor to my “let’s see how many ways I can torture my eyeballs” list.

By then, it was after 6:00 PM and I wasn’t about to go shopping for baby shampoo and eye drops. My eyes, however, were begging for relief as they continued to puff up and sting. So out of desperation, I turned to my neighborhood group’s Facebook page for help. I mean, I had seen a few people pushing baby strollers on my road at one time or another, so I explained my eye situation and asked if anyone might have a few drops of baby shampoo they could spare. I said I would respect the social-distancing rule, so the shampoo could be left out in their mailbox for me.

The responses were amazing. I was offered not only the baby shampoo, but also eye drops, special eye-wipes, compresses and more. A half-hour later, I took a walk around the neighborhood and collected a nice stash of items from everyone’s mailboxes. It never dawned on me at the time that if a cop had happened to drive by as I was reaching into all of my neighbors’ mailboxes, I could have ended up being fitted with some shiny new bracelets and charged with mail tampering

All I can say is the baby shampoo was a godsend. It soothed my eyes, took down the swelling and made my eyes smell like springtime in the Rockies. And the lubricating eye-drops relieved the feeling that my eyes recently had been taped wide open during a desert sandstorm.

Since then, I have been trying to be much kinder to my eyes. I’m drinking more water and I’m not doing any more marathon reading.

Now all I have to do is decide which is more important to save up for first – a new big-screen TV…or the repairs to the filtration system for my well water.

That’s really a tough one.

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Sally Breslin is an award-winning humor columnist and the author of “There’s a Tick in my Underwear!” “Heed the Predictor” and “The Common-Sense Approach to Dream Interpretation." Contact her at:

Monday, May 11, 2020


If there’s one thing I think this era of cell phones, computers and smartphones has destroyed, it’s the challenge of entering radio contests.

Back before the digital age, winning a radio contest took a lot of skill and brainwork because there was no convenient place to look up an answer to a contest question unless you called the local library’s information desk, which wasn’t exactly a speedy process.

 I can’t count the number of times back in the 1970s when I would be listening to my car radio and the DJ would ask a contest question that offered a great prize. And lo and behold, I’d know the answer. The problem was, by the time I found a pay phone, dug out some change, then listened to the phone company’s recorded “welcome” speech before getting connected to the radio station, the contest winner already would be boarding a plane for his all-expense paid trip to Hawaii.

I also remember sending postcards to win radio contests. The trick to winning one of those prizes, I learned, was to send a bunch of postcards right before the contest’s deadline so they would end up on top in the mail sacks.

There also were the, “If you’re the first caller,” contests, for which I learned another trick. First of all, a phone with a dial (no push-buttons) was required. I would dial the station’s phone number but hold the last digit of it in place and not let the dial go until the contest was announced. This often meant sitting with my finger stuck in the dial for an hour at a time because back then, the phone company didn’t cut you off if you didn’t complete a call. So more often than not, I was the first caller and won some nice prizes.

I’ll never forget the time I was driving to the post office and one of the radio stations played a lyric from Long Cool Woman by the Hollies. The lyric was difficult to understand and constantly was the subject of misinterpretation, so the disc jockey offered a prize (a generous gift certificate to a nice restaurant) to the first person who called with the correct wording.

Well, it just so happened I knew the lyric: “Just a five-nine beautiful tall.”

The calls poured in to the radio station, and I listened with amusement as one contestant after another murdered the lyric. 

“Such a fine, fine beautiful doll,” said one.

“Some wine in a beautiful mall,” guessed another.

By the time I arrived at the post office, the contest still hadn’t been won.

“Mike!” I shouted at the postal clerk the minute I entered. “Call this number and say these exact words: ‘Just a five-nine beautiful tall!’”

Mike stared at me with an expression that told me he thought I either was speaking in Vulcan or I was running some kind of illegal operation that required a secret password.

There were no other customers in the post office, so I urged him, “Go on, just DO it! Hurry!”

He dialed the number, and when the disc jockey answered, Mike repeated, just as I’d instructed, “Just a five-nine beautiful tall,” though he had absolutely no idea why.         

“Congratulations!” the disc jockey shouted. “You’ve just won a gift certificate to Angelo’s Italian Restaurant! Now tell all our listeners, what is your favorite radio station for great music and great prizes?”

Panic swept over Mike’s face as he covered the phone and whispered to me, “What radio station is this?”

I shrugged. “I forgot!”

When Mike stammered and came up with no answer, the disc jockey said, “It’s a good thing I’m taping this – I can edit out that part before I air it!”

Mike hung up the phone and grinned at me. “Gee, thanks, Sally! My wife and I love Angelo’s, especially their lasagna! The guy said they’ll send out the certificate to me right away!”

Fifty years later, I’m still waiting for my invitation to join him and his wife for that dinner.

Yep, I sure do miss those old radio contests.

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Sally Breslin is an award-winning syndicated humor columnist who has written regularly for newspapers and magazines all of her adult life. She is the author of several novels in a variety of genres, from humor and romance to science fiction. Contact her at:





Monday, May 4, 2020


During this coronavirus isolation, my hair has been getting more limp and stringy with each passing day. In fact, it’s at the point where it’s beginning to look as if someone dumped a bowl of brown spaghetti (okay, make that mostly gray spaghetti) on my head.

I actually have been considering two options: cutting my hair so short, it won’t be able to droop; or giving myself a home permanent so my hair will have some “oomph” to it. The latter, however, immediately brings back nightmarish memories of the home permanents my mom used to give me when I was a kid. Too vividly I recall the nauseating smell of the “perming” lotion - a combination of rotten eggs and ammonia - and the way it always ran down my face and neck. That stuff used to feel like battery acid when it hit my skin. And forget about getting any of it in my eyes. It’s a wonder I still have any corneas left.

Still, optimist that I was, back when I was in my 30s I actually did decide to throw caution to the wind and give myself a home permanent. I figured that perms probably had come a long way since my childhood. I mean, with all of the modern technology available, I was pretty sure the newer permanents probably would smell like roses and require only one or two simple steps. With that in mind, I set out to buy one.

I read just about every permanent box in the pharmacy before I finally selected one that said, “Simple!  Safe!  Self-timing!”  It sounded like a snap, even for someone as clueless as I was.

That night, after my husband went to bed, I decided to give myself the permanent – mainly because he was totally against the “do-it-yourself” idea, warning me that I’d probably end up looking like the Wicked Witch of the West…or even worse, Telly Savalas. Okay, so maybe visions of Little Orphan Annie did flash through my mind as I unpacked everything from the box, but I quickly dismissed them. After all, this permanent was guaranteed to be goof-proof, so I had nothing to worry about, I told myself.

The first step was something new to me. It said to wash my hair, then rub this packet of stuff into it so the perm would work better. I followed the instructions, then opened the packet and squeezed it into my hair. The goop looked and felt like cold yogurt.

 “Now wrap your head in a hot, steamy towel for 15 minutes,” the instructions said.

I panicked. There I stood, with my head covered with yogurt-looking slop, and I had no idea how to make a towel “steamy.”  I grabbed a towel and soaked it in hot water, but it didn’t steam - it just dripped and ended up weighing a ton. Desperate, I stuffed it into the microwave.

It came out really hot…and wet. I quickly wrapped it around my head, and I swore I could hear my brain sizzling. But at that point, I was more concerned about all the towel lint I’d left behind in the microwave. How was I going to explain it to my husband when his corn muffins came out “fuzzy” the next morning?

When the 15 minutes were up, I had to rinse my hair, then wind it on curling rods. This, I soon learned, should never have been attempted by anyone who had not been blessed with infinite patience (a.k.a. me). Two hours later - and that’s no exaggeration - I still was trying to roll my hair on those puny little plastic rods.

For one thing, my hair was too long. By the time I wrapped the foot-long clumps around the rods, the teeny elastic bands that were supposed to hold the rods in place weren’t able to stretch far enough over the thickness, so they kept snapping off like miniature slingshots and attacking me. I ended up having to wind two strands of hair at a time, which took about 50 extra perming rods. Even my armpits were starting to ache.

When I finally finished all of the winding, I picked up a mirror to admire my handiwork. I gasped when I saw the back of my head. If I had wound my hair using my feet, the rows of curling rods couldn’t have been more crooked. They zig-zagged worse than bolts of lightning. How, I wondered, was I supposed to make straight rows when I couldn’t hold a mirror so I could see the back of my head?   I mean, I needed both hands to do the winding.

Not even thinking, I taped a mirror (using some of my husband’s trusty duct tape) to the wall, so I could look into it and see the back of my head in the mirror over the sink. At that moment, as I painstakingly removed every rod and re-rolled my hair, the least of my worries was whether or not I’d tear off any paint from the wall when I took down the mirror.

An hour later, I, at long last, was ready to apply the perming solution. The moment I snipped off the bottle’s plastic tip, however, I knew I was in trouble. The smell was so strong, so overpowering, it took my breath away. It was like a combination of sulfur and tear gas. My eyes immediately began to water. I honestly thought they should patent the stuff for use in chemical warfare.

“Smear Vaseline across your forehead and stick cotton to it,” the instructions said, “to prevent the solution from running into your eyes.”

The only cotton I could find was in an aspirin bottle, so I decided to substitute toilet paper. Holding my breath, I applied the solution.

The solution ran down the back of my neck, into my ears and even into my mouth, leaving a burning trail wherever it went, and dissolving the toilet paper into a clump of wet pulp. And the smell!  If I’d soaked my head in the septic tank, it couldn’t have smelled much worse.

“Check your curls every five minutes,” the instructions read. “When your sample strands look like the shape of a letter ‘S,’ your perm is done.”

Every time I checked my strands, they looked like the letter “I.”  I ended up leaving the solution on for over 45 minutes  By then, my poor scalp felt as if it had been set on fire.

Next came the rinsing, neutralizing solution, more rinsing, and a special conditioner. I ended up using six towels.

By the time I finally completed every step, it was nearly 4 a.m. I then read the list of “new permanent” don’ts:  “Don’t comb wet hair because it will stretch the curls; don’t blow-dry the curls or they’ll straighten out; don’t shampoo the curls for 48 hours; don’t allow anyone to breathe heavily on the curls.”  Shrugging and too exhausted to care, I went to bed with my hair soaking wet.

The next morning, I woke up looking like Zombie Woman from the movie “Night of the Living Dead.”  My hair had frizz, cowlicks, corkscrews, and perfectly straight areas (which I’d obviously missed while blinded by the perming solution). And the colors!  My gray was yellowish and my brown was reddish.

In the kitchen, I found a note from my husband, who’d already left for work. “Call the gas company,” it said. “The house smells like rotten propane or something.”

Unfortunately, that rotten propane was coming from my head…on which I was tempted to wear a paper bag for the next month or so.

So now that I think about it, waiting a little while longer until I can get a proper dye-job and a perm from a professional might not be such a bad idea after all. I’m pretty sure my hair and my scalp will thank me for it.

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Sally Breslin is an award-winning humor columnist and the author of “There’s a Tick in my Underwear!” “Heed the Predictor” and “The Common-Sense Approach to Dream Interpretation." Contact her at: