Monday, May 31, 2021

BEDFORD GROVE WAS THE PLACE TO BE!

 

 

I was driving through Bedford the other day when I happened to pass the area where the Carousel Ballroom and Bedford Grove Drive-in once stood. Instantly, a wave of nostalgia swept over me and I found myself thinking about all of the great times I’d had there in the past.

The first time I ever set foot in the Carousel Ballroom was in the 1960s. There were a lot of rock concerts and teen dances held there back then, especially during school-vacation weeks. For an allowance-busting $2.00, you could enjoy an afternoon of live music by such bands as the Outsiders, Question Mark and the Mysterians, the Barbarians and the Shadows of Knight.


The dance floor there was really state-of-the-art, not only because of all of the flashing colored lights in the ballroom, but also because the dance floor could hold hundreds of people, unlike the playing-card-sized dance floors that are so popular nowadays. The Carousel’s was big because it had been built specifically for ballroom dancing…and fox trots, tangos and polkas needed plenty of space. Also, the tables were on a raised floor surrounding the dance floor, which prevented onlookers from accidentally being stomped on.

When we were first married, my husband and I used to go to the Carousel every New Year’s Eve to ring in the new year while dancing to the “big bands” such as the Lester Lanin Orchestra. I can recall one New Year’s Eve in particular when my husband, looking dapper in his new green polyester leisure-suit and flowered shirt unbuttoned all the way down to his navel, with his silver neck chains sparkling beneath the blinking lights, and I, in my black mini-dress, decided to unveil a new dance, “the hustle,” that we’d been practicing at home.

We were the center of attention as we executed each step, just the way John Travolta had in Saturday Night Fever…minus, that is, the pelvis-shattering splits.  Heck, even if I’d have been able to do a split without injuring some vital body part, if I’d have tried it in that dress, I’d have been arrested.

But the event that attracted me to the Carousel the most often was weekly bingo. I’ll never forget the first time my mother convinced me to go to a game with her. Na├»ve person that I was, I thought that bingo still involved simply covering a row of numbers either vertically, horizontally or diagonally…period.

Boy, was I ever wrong.

“If you can get bingo in 47 numbers or less,” the caller announced, “and your numbers form the outline of the state of Florida, with your free space landing on the spot where Tallahassee is located, you’ll win $3,000!”

And if that didn’t confuse me enough, another game called “shotgun” followed.

“Great,” I muttered to my mother. “I suppose my numbers have to form the shape of a 12-gauge?”

She laughed. “No, shotgun means the caller ‘fires’ numbers at you really fast, not bothering to give out any letters, like ‘B’ or ‘N’.”

“Then how the heck am I supposed to know where to look for the numbers?”

“Oh, you’ll learn,” she said.

She was wrong. By the time I finally found the first number, the caller already was calling the tenth. Had I just randomly covered a bunch of numbers, I’d have had a better shot at winning.

Not surprisingly, in all my three years of weekly bingo games at the Carousel, I never won a single penny. My mother, on the other hand, won so many games, there were rumors that the other players were organizing a lynch mob. Every time my mother shouted, “Bingo!” the looks that were cast in our direction could not, not by any stretch of the imagination, be interpreted as “Hey, congratulations! Way to go! So glad to see you winning again!” 

The Bedford Grove Drive-In theater next door also was a spot where I spent many Saturday nights during my teen years. Out of all of the drive-ins in the area back then, the Grove showed the most grade-B ones, especially horror movies and beach-party movies by Samuel Z. Arkoff. Arkoff once said that the success formula for his movies started with each letter of his last name:

Action

Revolution

Killing

Oratory

Fantasy

Fornication


Hey, it worked for me.

I can remember one particular movie my husband and I, back when we were dating, saw there, Mark of the Devil. Its promo said “Positively the most horrifying film ever made!  Guaranteed to upset your stomach!” When we arrived, we even were handed vomit bags. Well, the only thing that nauseated us that night was there was some kind of major sewage leak nearby and back then, you had to keep the car window partially down to hook the speaker onto it, so the aroma wafted into the car all night. All I can say is that if either of us had been suffering from gas pains that night, it wouldn’t have mattered.


Another time, I really wanted to see a horror movie, Brides of Blood, at the Grove. Not only was it advertised to be a real scream-inducer, the ad also said every couple who attended would be given a free set of plastic wedding rings in a plastic ring-box, which I thought sounded pretty cool.

My boyfriend at that time, whom I’d been dating for about five months, and I planned to go that Friday night, but shortly before he was supposed to pick me up, he called and said he couldn’t make it because his car had sprung a major oil leak.

That Sunday, he invited me to take a ride to the beach. On the way, we stopped for ice cream and I dropped some on my lap. I opened the glove box to look for napkins, and sitting in there was a ring box with two plastic wedding rings in it.

Needless to say, we quickly (very quickly) parted ways after that.

There also was the Bedford Grove roller-skating rink in the same area, where I once saw my life flash before me because I had no clue how to stand up – or stop moving – once I put on the skates.

And one night a week, the rink was transformed into a dance party called The Swing Thing, sponsored by WKBR Radio, for people who preferred to dance while wearing shoes. That was where I met a mystery college guy who was rumored to be the son of a famous actor, and my friend Maureen was chosen by a local TV station to be a go-go dancer on its new “New Hampshire Bandstand” show.

But those are whole other stories...

#  #  #

Sally Breslin is an award-winning syndicated humor columnist who has written regularly for newspapers and magazines for most of her adult life. She is the author of several novels, including: “There’s a Tick in my Underwear!” “Heed the Predictor” and “Inside the Blue Cube.” Contact her at: sillysally@att.net.



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Monday, May 24, 2021

WHEN I WAS A KID, MOM ALWAYS YELLED AT ME NOT TO SLAM THE SCREEN DOOR...NOW I KNOW WHY

 


Being a homeowner is nice because I don’t have to answer to anyone. If I want to paint my house purple with yellow polka-dots, I can do it. If I want to erect a statue of Darth Vader on my front lawn, I can do it. If something falls apart and needs to be repaired…

I can’t do it.

This is year 12 since this house was built, and I’m beginning to suspect a conspiracy in which everything that can fall apart has decided “Let’s have some fun and all fall apart at the same time!”

Granted, there are plenty of things associated with my house that I believe are overdue for their last rites, but curiously, they aren’t the things that have been breaking.

Take, for example, the back porch, which I paid to have painted and sealed just three years ago. After only six months, you’d never know it had been painted. It looked as if the wood had been subjected to a vicious acid attack. So, a few weeks ago when I walked out there, my foot went right through one of the boards.

I told myself that just one board probably wouldn’t be too difficult to replace…that is, if I actually could use a hammer. Every time I try, I usually end up whacking everything but the nail. Even the carpenter ants go running for their lives when they see me carrying a hammer.

So I mentioned the board to the husband of one of my friends. 


“What size do you need?” he asked.

I had no clue. “Um…maybe a 5x7?”

“I think you have lumber confused with picture frames.”

I had no idea how he expected me to know the original size of a board after it had been cut into pieces to build a small porch. It originally could have been 25 feet long, for all I knew.

So I’ve been playing “leap over the hole in the porch” whenever I go out back now (if you don’t see me on here for a while, have someone check my porch, because I’ll probably be stranded out there with one or more of my body parts sticking through the wood).

And speaking of the back porch…

Saturday, which was a miserably hot and humid day (I’m not a big fan of summer weather), I headed out to the back yard to do my favorite chore…picking up dog poop, mainly because my lawn guy told me he’d be over on either Saturday or Sunday and I didn’t want him to have to deal with any hidden treasures.

Armed with my trusty pooper-scooper, I opened the back door and then the screen door, and stepped out onto the porch. The screen door slammed behind me and I heard a sound that resembled bowling pins being knocked over.  I turned around. The sound was my screen door – falling apart into a heap on the porch.

This particular screen door has a screen across the top half with spindles of fake wood attached to a panel of more fake wood across the bottom half. The bottom half is attached to the sides of the door with small wooden pegs that fit into holes.

Unfortunately, the small wooden pegs still were in the holes – snapped completely off from the panel.

My solution was simple…Super Glue!  

Carefully, I put all of the spindles back into their holes on the top half of the door. Then I slid up the bottom panel and tried to align the holes in it with the spindles. After a lot of shoving, pounding and squeezing things to force them to fit, I managed to get the bottom panel on, but there was nothing to hold it in place because the pegs on the sides still were snapped off. So I squirted some glue on the sides and then held the panel while the glue dried. The thing was so heavy, though, I was pretty sure I needed a lot more glue than what was in that one little tube…like maybe about a quart of it 

As I sat there in the bright sunlight with perspiration popping out on my forehead and black flies dive-bombing in squadrons at me while I continued to hold the panel, I really started to hate that door. I even called it a lot of very unpleasant words under my breath. Finally, I dared to take my hands away.

That’s when I discovered I’d been so sloppy with the glue, I’d gotten some of it on my fingers on my right hand and well, let’s just say the glue worked great on skin…not so well on the door, but great on the skin.  I sat there for about 10 minutes with several of my fingers attached to the door and knew what I had to do -- that is, unless I wanted to sit there all day and end up looking like a lobster covered in bug bites.

I had to rip my hand off the door.

It took me awhile to finally gather the courage to do it, but I did...and now I’m pretty sure I’m missing at least three of my fingerprints. But if I thought that was painful, later on when I Googled how to get rid of glue residue on the skin and it said to use nail-polish remover, the neighbors probably thought there was a wounded moose somewhere in the neighborhood when that polish remover hit the spots on my hand that were missing skin.

Anyway, the door held, but it kind of looked as if my dogs had put back it together.

No, I take that back…only because I don’t want to offend my dogs.

The next morning, I went out back to feed the birds and when I closed the screen door, the whole bottom panel fell off on one side and remained attached by only a small area on the other side. At that point, I did what any other responsible homeowner in my shoes would have done.

I gave the door a swift kick. And then, just for good measure, I gave it another one.

And in all honesty, it was the best feeling I’ve had in a long time.

Yup, it sure is fun being a homeowner.

#   #   # 

Sally Breslin is an award-winning syndicated humor columnist who has written regularly for newspapers and magazines for most of her adult life. She is the author of several novels, including: “There’s a Tick in my Underwear!” “Heed the Predictor” and “Inside the Blue Cube.” Contact her at: sillysally@att.net.

 









Tuesday, May 18, 2021

POKEMON IS TO BLAME FOR MY LACK OF SLEEP

 

For some reason, I have spent most of my time lately searching for things I’ve managed to misplace. The most common one is my glasses, mainly because I have to be wearing them to see clearly enough to find them, otherwise I have to feel around the house for them.

But I blame the evening news for my lack of sleep this week. When the anchors were saying how Pokemon cards have made a comeback during the pandemic and now are worth a small fortune, I happened to remember a box of assorted junk I’d bought at an auction about 25 years ago. The box contained everything from model NASCAR vehicles and wrestling action-figures to a magazine about Ricky Nelson.

It also contained a sandwich bag filled with Pokemon cards.

And so the search began. No stone was left unturned – closets, storage containers, underneath my bed, underneath the dogs’ beds and deep into the bowels of the basement. Finally, at about 3:00 AM Sunday morning, I found the aforementioned box buried underneath two huge rolls of bubble wrap in the back of my office closet.

The Pokemon cards still looked fresh and crisp. The problem was, they were written entirely in Japanese, so where the name of the character pictured on the card was written underneath it, I couldn’t tell if it was Pikachu or one of the Muppets. One of the few things in English on all of the cards, however, was the copyright, 1996. So I searched online to see if any of the cards might be valuable.

One of the cards looked different from the others. It had a red bird on it that became multi-colored when the light hit it. I checked it out and discovered, to my delight, it was a rare Ho-Oh hologram card worth anywhere from $60 to $120, depending on the condition. Not a bad profit, I thought, for a $5 box of auction junk. So I listed it on Ebay and now I’m eagerly awaiting to see how many bids it receives. I’ll consider anything over $5 to be a personal victory.  


Anyway, during my countless hours searching for that box, I recalled how my husband used to tease me about misplacing things. Whenever I’d misplace my glasses, for example, he’d suggest that I get a chain for them so I could wear them around my neck.

“No way,” I’d always say. “One of those chains would add an instant 20 years to my appearance.”

“Well,” he’d try to reason with me, “it’s better than having to spend $350 to replace your glasses when you accidentally leave them on the sofa and sit on them.”

My husband seemed to take pleasure in teasing me about losing things. So one time, when he lost something and was all stressed out because he couldn’t find it, I jumped at the opportunity to make it my life’s goal to never let him live it down.

It all began one morning when he crawled out of bed and startled me awake with, “Where the heck is my slipper!”

I got up and walked over to his side of the bed. One lonely slipper sat on the floor.

Well, because he had bad knees, I was elected to get down on mine and stick my head underneath the bed to search for his slipper. I found dust bunnies, a brown loafer and one black sock covered with the aforementioned dust bunnies, but no slipper.

“Where was it when you last saw it?”  I asked him.

“On my foot!”

“Are you sure you had both slippers on your feet when you came to bed?”

“Of course I did! I think I would have noticed that one slipper was missing when I walked down the hallway to bed!” he answered. “I mean, I was tired, but not sleepwalking!”

I retrieved a flashlight and searched the entire bedroom.  There was no sign of the elusive slipper. I did find, however, an earring I’d been searching for since 1989.

“This is too weird,” my husband said. “Something supernatural must have happened to it. Slippers don’t just disappear like that while you’re sleeping!”

Somehow, I couldn’t imagine the slipper trotting off by itself, or a ghost haunting our bedroom for the sole purpose of stealing a ratty old slipper. And our dogs were not slipper chewers, nor did they have any interest in them, so there was no sense frisking them for evidence or checking to see if their breaths smelled like feet.

“I love those slippers,” my husband’s voice sounded very close to a whine an hour later as he sat sulking in his recliner. “They’re warm and comfortable.  I still can’t believe that from the time I took them off and got into bed until the time I got up, one of them just disappeared into thin air. It makes no sense!”

My eyebrows rose at his statement. Suddenly, everything did make perfect sense to me. I headed back to the bedroom and yanked down the blankets. There, lying on top of the sheet at the foot of the bed, was his precious slipper 

“You went to bed wearing a slipper?” I asked in disbelief as I handed it to him. “I found it in the bed, underneath the blankets!”

He looked puzzled. “I could have sworn I’d taken both of them off.”

A vision of him wearing only his undershorts and one slipper as he climbed into bed, made me burst out laughing.

He wasn’t amused. He shook his head and frowned. “You really found this in the bed? You wouldn’t just be pulling my leg, would you?”

“No, I really found it in the bed.”

Funny, but after that, he never teased me about losing things again.

But I’m pretty sure I’ve outdone his vanishing-slipper mystery many times since then. Like the time I couldn’t find one of my pink foam hair-curlers…until a woman in line behind me at Walmart pointed out that I had a curler in the back of my hair.

I’m sure my husband (rest his soul) would have had a real field day with that one.

 

#  # 

Sally Breslin is an award-winning syndicated humor columnist who has written regularly for newspapers and magazines for most of her adult life. She is the author of several novels, including: “There’s a Tick in my Underwear!” “Heed the Predictor” and “Inside the Blue Cube.” Contact her at: sillysally@att.net.


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Monday, May 10, 2021

I'M REALLY MISSING PLAYING SCATTERGORIES WITH MY FRIENDS

 

One thing I’m really missing during this pandemic is game night with my friend Nancy and her husband Paul.  I love word games, so prior to Covid-19, we used to get together once a month to play our favorites, which included Upwords and Scattergories.

Upwords is like Scrabble on steroids, but Scattergories, is just plain crazy. My stomach always hurt from laughing so hard while playing it.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Scattergories, it involves rolling a giant die with letters printed on it, and whichever letter comes up, that’s the letter you have to use to start every answer on a list of questions in categories such as food, actors, colors, songs and more. The fun part is you have to rush against the timer, so you don’t have the luxury of taking a lot of time to think of answers. Part of the craziness is whether your answers are accepted by your opponents or not. If not, you don’t get any points for it. Also, if your answer matches someone else’s, neither player gets a point. So it pays to be as creative as possible. That way, your answer has less of a chance of  being duplicated.    

For example, “Name a state capital that starts with the letter P.”

All three of us wrote down Portland. Well, I now know that that the capital of Maine is Augusta and the capital of Oregon is Salem, but we didn’t know the difference back then. We were certain that Portland had to be a capital somewhere. It didn’t matter anyway, because all of our answers matched, so no one got any points.

But now, because I’ve had so much spare time during the pandemic, I’ve made a point of memorizing all of the state capitals, so I’m all set for when we play again. There actually are three state capitals that begin with the letter P: Phoenix. Pierre and Providence. But nope, no Portland.

Paul always managed to get points for sheer creativity, however. He wanted to make certain we wouldn’t match his answers, and believe me, we rarely did . For example, in answer to “A reason for being late for work” that started with a G, he wrote down “gallbladder.” 

Nancy and I burst out laughing.  We, however, accepted his answer...mainly for originality, if nothing else.

Or, “Something you see at a theme park,” starting with the letter P. Nancy wrote “prizes” and I wrote “popcorn.”  Paul wrote “puking.”

“An  occupation starting with the letter S.”  I wrote “secretary,” Nancy wrote “scientist” and Paul wrote “stripper.”

There were plenty of times, however, when we came up blank, such as when we were supposed to name a state that started with the letter B, or a pizza topping that began with the letter I.  Paul wrote down “ice cream,” saying it was a dessert pizza, but we didn’t accept that one. My answer of “iodized salt” wasn’t considered a topping, either. Later, Nancy thought of Italian sausage, but by then, which was the next day, it was just a little too late.

If you are able to use two words that go together, you can get double the points for it, so we always tried to do that, too. If the game asked, for example, for a cartoon character that started with an M, we’d write Mickey Mouse or Mighty Mouse to get the double points. 

Once again, Paul put his creativity to use. For “things you pack in a suitcase,” starting with the letter J, I answered, “jacket,” Nancy wrote “jeans,” and Paul wrote  “jeweled jockstrap.” 

We gave him the double points.

You know, maybe it’s not so much the games themselves that I miss…it’s laughing at Paul’s answers.

#   #   #

Sally Breslin is an award-winning syndicated humor columnist who has written regularly for newspapers and magazines for most of her adult life. She is the author of several novels, including: “There’s a Tick in my Underwear!” “Heed the Predictor” and “Inside the Blue Cube.” Contact her at: sillysally@att.net.

 


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Tuesday, May 4, 2021

I ENJOY THE TORTURE OF WATCHING ANTIQUES ROADSHOW

 

            

I don’t know why I torture myself, but even after all these years, I’m still hooked on watching Antiques Roadshow every Monday night on Public TV.

I guess I enjoy living vicariously through the fortunate people on the show who discover that the dusty old vase they paid 50 cents for at a yard sale actually is rare Venetian glass and worth enough to send a couple of their kids through college. 

I guess I’m also hoping I’ll see something on the show that will make me exclaim, “I have one of those packed somewhere in a box in the hall closet!  I’m rich!”

Every week, I watch, transfixed, as a typical discussion on Antiques Roadshow goes something like this:

EXPERT: “And what have you brought in for us to appraise today, Mr. Cole?”

MR. COLE: “ Well, I found this here rusty old nail while tearing down my great-great-grandpa’s outhouse and thought it looked different from all the rest.  So I figured I’d have you guys take a look at it.”

EXPERT:  (Pulls out a magnifying glass from his pocket and carefully examines the nail).  “Hmmm, very interesting. This little black squiggle on the side of the nail tells me that it was made back in 1775 in a little shop that sat on the banks of the River Charles in Boston.  Do you know what you have here, Mr. Cole?  This is one of the original nails that fell out of the horseshoe on Paul Revere’s horse during his famous midnight ride!”

MR. COLE:  (Completely expressionless) “Is it worth anything?”

EXPERT:  “Well, if this nail were to come up for auction, I expect it easily could go for as much as $150,000.  Are you considering selling it?

MR. COLE:  (Still expressionless) “Well…I think I’ll keep it…for sentimental reasons. After all, it did come from my great-great granddaddy’s outhouse.”

That’s another thing I’ve noticed about the show; not only are most of the guests not eager to sell their stuff, they usually look as if they’re on the verge of lapsing into comas.  Even when they are told that the book they paid a dollar for at a yard sale is actually a rare first-edition worth $20,000, their expressions don’t change. 

Let me tell you, if someone ever gave me news like that, I would pick up the appraiser and spin him around, and then do cartwheels across the appraisal floor.  And to heck with sentimental value.  I would unload the item on the first person who showed me some money.

Unfortunately, watching people getting rich on the show every week for years has inspired me to buy things at flea markets, yard sales and closeouts. And I fully intend to continue buying things until I find that one item that will make me instantly rich. Just one measly valuable item is all I need. That’s not asking for too much, is it?

Meanwhile, I’m running out of living space.

A few years ago, I thought for sure I had THE item in my hot little hands that finally would put me on Easy Street.  See, back in the mid-1950s when I was just a kid, my parents bought a summer camp.  In the storage shed behind the camp they discovered a long, vertical, framed portrait of a Native American woman. It was covered with dust and dirt and looked as if it had been hanging in there since the Civil War. 

When my parents contacted the previous owner of the property to ask him about it, he told them to just toss out the portrait.  My dad, however, decided to leave it hanging in the shed to give the place some character (to this day, I still suspect that the Native American woman’s ample display of cleavage might have had something to do with the “character” my dad wanted to add to the shed).  

Many years later, when my parents sold the camp, they took the portrait home with them, where my father, to Mom’s dismay, hung it in the living room. One day, however, it “disappeared” into their attic, where it remained...until I inquired about it one day. Mom told me to take it…“please!”

The glass on the frame was badly cracked by then, so I removed the portrait from it, carefully rolled it and then wrapped it. My husband and I were living in a mobile home at the time, so I put the portrait out in our storage shed to prevent anyone from accidentally damaging it. We were planning to build a house in the near future, so I figured I would buy a nice frame for the portrait and hang it in a proper place of honor in the new house.

My research revealed that the portrait actually was a lithograph by a famous American artist named Raphael Beck (1858-1947), whose work included, among other things, the last official portrait of President McKinley. From what I could tell, the lithograph of the Native American woman was worth at least $1,500.

I was excited. I thought that if I kept it long enough, the value would increase by leaps and bounds each year, so that by the time my husband and I were ready to retire, it would be our nest egg.

When we were about to move into our new house and were packing up everything in the shed to bring over there, I found the rolled-up lithograph. Carefully, I picked it up…and noticed there were holes in the paper I’d wrapped it in. Panicking, I unrolled it and discovered, to my horror, the holes went all the way through.

When I held up my precious lithograph, I gasped. Something…like an evil, demonic mouse or squirrel, had chewed out the woman’s breasts.

My husband, sympathetic soul that he was, burst out laughing and said that whatever had done the chewing at least had great taste.

So I’m still watching Antiques Roadshow in the hopes that one day I’ll find out that something like the hideous purple vase we received for a wedding gift will turn out to be a rare Tiffany collectible worth $25,000. 

And with my luck, I’ll drop it.

 #   #   #

 Sally Breslin is an award-winning syndicated humor columnist who has written regularly for newspapers and magazines for most of her adult life. She is the author of “There’s a Tick in my Underwear!” “Heed the Predictor” and “Inside the Blue Cube.” Contact her at: sillysally@att.net.

             

 


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