Voices from our Elders

The Writing Club at Stadintski Gardens

Did you ever hear of Stadnitiski Retirement Home near the Broadway Market? Don’t think “drabby,” or “not kept up.” NO!  The building, totally renovated has a new lobby, fenced in huge back yard, and remodeled units for all residents. New cabinets and appliances. This is where our Writing Club has been meeting every other week for five years, from fall until late spring.
Three teachers (I’m one of them) and usually 8 residents work on our writing for about 2 hours, all of us together in the community room. After we write, we read our work out loud. Comments, suggestions, and often APPLAUSE.  At the end of the class, we assign homework or ask the students to suggest topics.
This writing program, going on its fifth year, has three directors: Mimi Dow, Sarah Guitart, and  Olga Karman.
At the end of the year, we compile a booklet with an anthology of our stories. I thought you’d like to read a couple of the stories.

Voice from the Elders

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THE SHOES UNDER THE BED

By Betty Steele
April 2020
My name is House Shoes, and I’m purple. It’s Thursday and I’m waiting by the bed for some feet to slip into me. Under the bed are a lot of shoes in different colors. A yellow pair looks up, sees me and says: “Hey there, House Shoes. Why are you always out there and we’re always under the bed? You get to walk around all the time. That pisses me off.”
“Yeah,” says a red shoe, and then sticks her tongue out at me. “You better stay out there, or I’m going to get you.” A pair of feet slips into me. I start walking around the house. I walk over to the bed, and whisper to the pairs of shoes under it “One of you is getting out today!” A hand reaches under the bed, and all the shoes smile, hoping that they’re going to be picked. The hand grabs the blue pair, which says, “Yes! I’ve been picked!” But the hand has picked up the wrong shoes. It pushes the blue shoes back under the bed and grabs the black pair. “What happened?” the blue pair cries. “I thought I was the one.”
The black shoes don’t say anything when they’re brought out, because they saw what happened to the blue shoes. But when the feet slip into the black shoes, they call out, “Yes! I was picked! I’m going out today!”
The red shoes say, “I’m sick of being under this dark and dry bed. That hand has not reached for me in months!  I want to go out, too!”
The black shoes walk out the door. As soon as it closes, all the other shoes run from under the bed. The red pair rushes over and pushes me. I push back. We start to fight. A couple of other pairs run over to stop us. A gray pair says, “Stop the fighting! Let’s have fun.”  So, we do. All of us start dancing with joy, happy to be out from under the bed. Then we begin running around the house and jumping on the bed and couch.  I call out, “Don’t mess up the house. Just have fun.”
The white shoes call out, “I hear the key in the door.” All the shoes start running back under the bed, knocking each other out of the way. “We made it,” the white pair says, huffing and puffing. The black shoes walk into the house, and sit by the bed, as the feet slip out of them, and into me. The hand grabs the black shoes and puts them under the bed with the other shoes which ask, “How was your day?” and “Where did you go?”
The black shoes tell them: “I started walking to get the #23 Fillmore bus. On my way, I saw a man walking his two Dalmatian dogs. One of them picked up its right back leg to go to the bathroom. The dog almost got me! I jumped out of the way. I got to the bus stop. The bus was coming. It stopped to let us on. I stepped onto the bus and went to my seat. “There were a lot of shoes on the bus. There was a cute pair of sneakers I kept looking at, hoping they would look back at me. I liked the blue and white on them, and their shape. “Wow!” I whispered to myself: ‘”I want you to call me. My number is Size Nine.”
“The bus came to my stop, and I stepped off to walk to the doctor’s office for my checkup. When I was done, I started walking in the street, back to the bus stop. A car came toward me so fast that I had to jump onto the sidewalk.”
“There weren’t that many shoes on this bus. When I got off at my stop, I saw some friends and stopped to talk with them. Then I started walking home, and called back to them, ‘See you later.’ Now I’m back under the bed.  I had a long day and I’m going to rest now.” The black shoes fall silent. I start walking around the house. When the feet slip out of me, and the hand puts me back by the bed, all the other shoes and I say “Goodnight.”

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THE MAMA DOCTOR

By Debbie Webb
March 2020
One doctor I have known well is Dr. Sonia Malfa. She was such a sweetheart. I really liked her. I met her before my daughter Krystle was born, and I saw her many times after she was born.
My newborn daughter kept throwing up her formula, and I called Dr. Malfa. She came to the hospital within an hour to check on her. She told me the formula was too strong for her, and changed it. She came to the hospital the next day and sat with me and talked  for half an hour about Krystle. She told me Krystle was more advanced than most babies her age. I said, but she is only 2 days old, but Dr. Malfa said she “knew her little babies.“
She was a very good pediatrician who put children above the almighty dollar.
Once when my daughter got sick, I took her to Dr. Malfa three days in a row, and she did not charge me; then when I got insurance, she got a little money for her visits. If you called on a weekend, she would tell you to meet her at the office, even if she didn’t have visiting hours that day.  She cared about her little patients. I never met a doctor like her.
If Dr. Malfa had the medicine you needed in her medicine room, she would give it to you and tell you how to use it. When she went on vacation, she had someone cover for her. The doctor who covered for her called her “The Mama Doctor” because she treated her patients just like a mama would.
Dr. Malfa lost her husband sometime later, and a year after that, she got sick and ended up at Cleveland Clinic. We lost her within a month.
Editor Note: In last month’s issue, we listed the wrong writer as the author of the article, I’m a Cancer. The correct author was Marylin Rozniak.
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I’M CANCER, THE MOON IS MY SIGN

By Marylin Rozniak
December 2019
When I look up and see the Moon, I think about what my Grandmother used to say. She would tell my cousin and me that there was a Man in the Moon watching everybody. She would tell us if we see a full Moon, make a wish, and the Man inside would give us our wish if we were good. The Man in the Moon would give the wish to God, and it would come true. Since I was two years old, I always look at the Moon.
From my apartment windows, I can look up at the sky and see the Moon along with its stars and airplanes. Sometimes the Moon is shining over an airplane. It is a beautiful sight to see.  I’m a Cancer, and the Moon is my sign on the Zodiac. Another saying my Aunt Tillie used to say: “Moon, Moon up in the sky. I’m going to bake a pie.” Sometimes when I look up at the Moon, I realize it has changed in size, but it is always beautiful.

MY CHANGE AND GROWTH IN LIFE

By Betty Steele
December 2019
It’s time to pay on my credit cards. I got dressed then walked out to get on the Sycamore 6 bus to Galleria Mall., where my bank is and where I pay a lot of my credit cards.  I went to Key Bank to get money out to pay on the cards.
I have 9 stores I need to go to every time. I walk into one of the 9 stores, and I pay the card. And then I look around, and here I go again, buying things I don’t need.
How am I going to pay off my cards if I keep spending what I just gave them and sometimes more. I came to an understanding with myself. I can’t keep doing this. So at the beginning of this year, I put myself on punishment for 6 months. I’m going to pay on my cards and walk right out of the stores. I started already in January. I’m so proud of myself. I have 6 more months to go.
Its hard. Yes, I’m a shopaholic, but I’m going to do this. That’s part of my growth. I can’t keep buying things because I like them when I don’t need them.
The change I’m making for my life makes me feel better.  It’s not where you come from. It’s what you grow into.

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