Popular Posts

Monday, January 31, 2011

You Never Forget Your First Love

No matter how old you get, you never forget your fist love. I never did.
When my family moved to St. Albans, that first year we lived on one side of a huge house. The next year we moved to a house that we bought way up on South Walnut Street.
And "he" lived beside me. I was eight and he was ten. On my part, it was love at first sight: He had blonde hair and blue eyes and I was the opposite with dark hair and dark eyes.
He didn't even go to my grade school but to a catholic school in downtown St. Albans.
And he knew I had a crush on him; how could he not when I wrote his name in chalk right smack out in the street?
Eventually his parents asked me to go places with them and him. I was petrified but thrilled inside and no way gutsy.
I will never forget searching for the just right valentine to give to him. My parents had taken me to the store and there it was and they bought it for me.

Giving it to him was another problem because it definitiely had the word LOVE on it and inside of it. So, I coerced a girlfriend of mine to go to his house and we handed it to him.
What did I say? We got this for you. What a dumb thing to say and not what I wanted to say at all.

Several years went by with my passion for him and his for me but it all came to a thundering thud when my parents decided to sell our house and move to Charleston.
I was heartsick.
Years passed and I never forgot him. I would drive to St. Albans to visit relatives and drive up by his old house hoping to catch a glimpse of him but never did.

After I was married, I saw him in Charleston pushing a man in a wheelchair: I was across the street but I knew him instantly. When I crossed the street to see him, I got a big lump in my throat even if we were adults. We talked briefly and he went his way and I went mine.

Many times I called his mother and talked to her about how she was doing and how he was.
It was a jolt to learn that he had MS and was in a terrible condition. I told her how sorry I was to learn about it.
Not long after that, his obituary appeared in the paper.
When I saw it all I could do was cry and cry and cry. It was for the young love we had but more for the what ifs and what could have been.
Wasn't written in the stars.
Still you never forget your first love and every single Valentine's Day after he died, I think back to that day my girlfriend and I gave him that card. I wish I had handed it to him.
But I know he knew it was from me to him.
This Valentine's Day, take time to think back to a first love you had and hang onto the memories.
I do.

Sherry Hill

Sunday, January 30, 2011


Maysie Apple was a gift but when I first saw her I didn't think of her as one for I already had a cat, Chessie Spencer. And Chessie ruled and although I have a dog, Chessie ruled her too. But the circumstances surrounding how Maysie wound up in my yard were horrible: She along with her kitten and a dog were thrown out of a car and over a hill. I didn't see the car but heard the commotion going on, got out of my car but could see no cats or a dog. An appointment was looming for me so I had no choice but to head off the hill and thought to myself that there was nothing I could do anyway.
It was a hot August day when that happpened. Upon returning home, I saw the mom cat [later named Maysie Apple] and her young kitten in my yard. A neighbor told me that someone in this neighborhood had taken the dog but to this day, I have no idea who it was. Days, weeks and months went by with my feeding Maysie and her baby outside. Maysie was friendly but her kitten was feral and no way would she let me pick her up. I watched them play and then discovered that they had killed a semi-pet squirrel of mine whom I had named "Stubby." Made me sick.
Cats however are carnivorous and other than what I fed them, unfortuantely the squirrel along with many others fell victim to Maysie's appetite and her kitten's.
I would pick up my huge black and tan tabby, Chessie, and he would look out the window at Maysie and her kitten and their antics. He seemed not really interested for he was an indoor cat.
When winter set upon us, I tried to coax Maysie to get under a chair outside: At first she was stubborn [aren't all cats?] but gave in and got under it when the temps were freezing. As for her kitten, whom I named Winky, there was no way I could pick her up. She sought refuge under a table outside: I had to take a stick and pick up an old coverlet and place it over her.
This routine went on and on. One day I noticed that Winky was alone. Maysie had gotten that wayward feeling and I would see all kinds of tomcats coming and going in my yard.
She was gone for four days: I had to feed the kitten by throwing food out to her.
When Maysie decided to return to her baby, the weather was frigid.
I actually picked Maysie up, brought her in and she ran back to the front glass storm door and threw her entire body on it. No way was she staying inside or so she thought.
But little by little I could see her peeking in the opened door: "Hmm" she probably thought.
Thankfully, my newspaper carrier loved cats too and he was so fearful of the kitten dying as was I for although she was semi-covered up at night, she was not warm.
One night I noticed that Winky was gone and the carrier left a note that he had taken her.
What a relief and what a kind act.
Maysie did come inside but reluctantly; Chessie licked her on the head but went on about his own business and he was getting very ill.
So Maysie continued coming in and out till she found a small wagon I had and she slept in it at night by the french doors to my living room. Still she wanted out and was not ready to be a pet after what she had experienced.
As the days went by Chessie got worse and worse till I finally had to take him to the vet and have him put to sleep. He was sixteen and had been the best cat I'd ever had among many.
Hard to grieve and let another cat in but that is what happened.
Maybe Maysie sensed my grief. Maybe.
A couple of weeks later, I took her to the vet, had her fixed and she has been inside this house since. When I open the door to go out or get something, she runs like lightning away from the door as if to say, "There is no way I'm going back out there again!"
She has become a loving pet but still standoffish if you reach down to pick her up. All cats have their own set of rules as it is. I am so grateful that out of something horrible came this wonderful gift of a cat who has sought out and received love and a home. By the way her name came from Dr.Seuss' book, "Horton Hatches An Egg:" In that story, Maysie is a huge bird who has an egg in a nest; she wants to go to Myrtle Beach. She convinces Horton the elephant to sit on her nest while she takes off. And poor Horton sat there for months.
Fitting to name my cat Maysie due to her former escapades. As for her second name of Apple, it just came to me. And if Gwenyth Paltrow can name her child that, I could certainly use it for a cat name.
To the person who committed such a terrible act of throwing away three animals, I can only hope that you know that all three found loving homes.
As for me, I welcomed that unexpected gift with hesitation at first but now, no way is Maysie Apple leaving this house. And she doesn't want to!
Sherry Hill

Friday, January 28, 2011


This has been the longest seige of snow in what seems like forever. Although snow is beautiful, glistening and it covers up things we'd rather not see, it has its own treachery which at times we all fall victim to. When I was young I loved being outside in the snow; in fact, I couldn't get enough of it. I remember coming inside my house with frozen gloved hands and shaking from the cold. But after a short time, I'd go right back out in it again. There were the usual snowball fights with neighborhood kids, the building of a snowman that usually look deformed but gave us satisfaction, sled riding and trudging back up a hill and the drinking of hot chocolate that warmed us inside. And we'd beg for more.
Into my teenage and young adult years, I still had no hesitation about going out in the snow only I became much more risky. Lots of us would sit on a huge piece of cardboard [that came from a box that held a refrigerator/ heaven knows who got it or where] and go to the top of the highest and snowiest hill we could find and slide down into oblivion. Lots of us fell off of that cardboard and went sprawling everywhere but it was so much fun! When I got married and later had two sons, I remember well taking them up a hill and we'd sit on garbage bags and slide down a neighbor's steep yard--much to his or her disdain. Later on my sons had their own friends to go out in the snow with and my friends and I would still use a garbage bag and slide just for the thrill. Age changes a lot about a person's attitude and how one deals with risk: It's the thinking about how you'd get hurt or whatever that put a damper on what you would do. So many times I slid down my hill to go to work and I was not in a car: I was attempting to walk. And that didn't work. Now at my current time I have developed a fear of snow: I'm afraid of falling, sliding and breaking a body part. Afraid of driving in it although I used to do it all the time. On my part, I'd much rather just go outside and look at the beautiful snow and come back inside. Oh I could be tempted to make a snow angel like I used to do; in fact, I dared a friend of mine to do just that and she did! And she emailed me pictures for proof! Sometimes I feel like Erma Bombeck who wrote about skiing: She said she didn't care for any sport that had an ambulance waiting at the bottom of the hill. Other times, I want to be risky and do what I did when I was young. It is a matter of mindset after all. Or is it? Meanwhile, I will be watching the neverending snow and keep mulling over my mixed feelings. But I could be dared you know!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Of Hippies, A Supposed Body, An Owl and Other

Of Hippies, A Supposed Body, An Owl and Other Dastardly Things!

A true story about late night happenings on a lovers' lane

Sometimes when you see things you know that something is not quite right.
In the early seventies, when we moved into this house we had no idea that nearby was an area that had been forever known as "Lover's Lane." We soon learned about it, as weekends were downright wild. Tons of cars came and went and others stayed for long periods of times.
On one particular warm summer Sunday I had been out in the yard doing something when I noticed a Volkswagen speeding past with two hippie type guys in the front seat. Being the nosey type, I watched them get out of the car and take a huge thing wrapped in a sheet out of the back seat. The hippies then proceed to throw it over the hill. To me this thing wrapped up in a sheet looked just like a body.
But things didn't stop then. One hippie went over the hill where the wrapped up thing was, while the other backed out the VW and parked down the hill, got out and switched license plates and walked up a ton of steps that was parallel to the end of my street.
Frantically, I ran into the house and proceeded to inform my husband about the entire scenario. He, our sons and I walked out to the end of the street to see what else was going on: The hippie was nowhere in sight but soon he came walking up out of the woods at the end of the street. Looking at us he said "I live up here but got lost." He did not live up here and he was not lost either---maybe intelligence-wise but not area-wise.
As all of us were standing there, a big expensive Cadillac came roaring straight to us; out jumped a well-dressed man and woman.
Oh it gets much more interesting!
The hippie said to the couple "I found it over the hill!" And I was thinking why would he say he found a dead body? Plus he was the one who threw it over the hill at the start with his now gone friend. Forever the Nancy Drew woman, I ran home and called the police and attempted to explain the above situation: It was extremely hard to describe it all.
Meanwhile, my then husband was still out at the end of the street with my sons, the couple and the hippie. Approaching them, I saw the hippie drag up the thing wrapped in a sheet and show it to the couple. "You found it!" screamed the man. "Yes, I did" said the hippie. "I found it right over the hill." As the hippie pulled off the sheet, I was preparing to see a corpse; instead I saw a huge life-size bronze owl.
The man turned to me and said: "He found my owl! I had put an ad in the paper and offered $200 and no questions asked. I just can't believe that he found it!" He then handed the hippie the envelope which when opened exposed two one hundred dollar bills. Of course these two hippies had set up this couple for they were the ones who stole the owl to begin with-it was obvious to me but as to the couple, I think that they were more in shock of finding their treasured owl.
The couple put the giant bronze owl in the back seat of their Cadillac and backed out with glaringly happy faces and went off the hill.
The hippie, richer with his two hundred dollars, walked down the hill and got in the VW with his friend and the different license plate and they, too left.
Just when you think things are ended you are proved wrong.
A van came flying down the street and stopped at the end of the street where the "owl incident" had occurred.
The driver opened up the doors and out came about ten very old senior citizens wanting to see the view. Seems as if they had no sooner gotten their feet on the cement then two police cars came zooming down to the same area hoping to catch the hippies. The senior citizens started grabbing their chests like Fred Sanford did in the tv show "Sanford and Son."
Not a one of them wanted to stay so the driver got them safely back in and the van backed up and left. The police cars were still there.
My husband and I had to explain what had transpired with the hippie, the money and the older couple in the Cadillac who now had the owl. And the VW's switched license plates. The police left in search of the hippies.
As this was back in the age of CB radios, we came home and my then husband got on his radio and found out that the police caught a car on the South Side Bridge. But it wasn't the hippies but the older couple who had just retrieved their prized bronze owl. I don't think I would have wanted to have known what the couple said at all.
After that I never learned what else happened----except that the owl was once again stolen.
Who knows? Maybe the hippies stole it again.

Sharon Reed Hill