Sun Lakes Writers’ Group

Story About Words, “I Am”

Phyllis Oliver

This song, “I Am,” immediately comes to my mind when I hear the words, “I am.” I will immediately begin singing to myself over and over and sometimes out loud when no one is around. I never knew the story behind the words or the real intent that Neil Diamond meant to convey when he wrote this lively song. I only know that the May 1971 release was worth repeating and hearing over and over again! I recognized the hurt, not anger, but hurt that the singer was singing – and the questioning yet unsaid word of why? Why? No answer to me? The helplessness of soul; someone reaching, and nothing could be felt in the tone of voice. No matter what, no answer. In my mind at the time I envisioned that this man was deeply in love and was being ignored by his loved one? He wanted her to listen to him, to answer his plea? Didn’t she care that he loved her and she made him feel lost? And now some 49 years later I know the answers. At the time Neil Diamond was in therapy for help with his recently made life changes – he had chosen to leave his home of New York and venture to Los Angeles. And, had a screen test recently for a part in a movie – he felt it was not a good test? He knew the words for his song stemmed from how he felt, he was overwhelmed with emotion, indecision – did I make the right changes? Was I good enough? He needed to express what his dreams were about and what he really did want for himself? He wrote the words in less than an hour while he was alone; feeling lost and in despair – sitting on a chair, all alone in his room at the Holiday Inn – he saw the sunshine out of the small window and the swaying of the palm trees! These words while writing released his unhappiness and his doubt from his being. It took about four months to get the words perfected in song for the performance. He was so alone after the screen test – which he did happen to do a very good job of! But he felt despair – and wrote these lyrics to one of his finest songs – at a Holiday Inn in Los Angeles, in his small room – a tiny table by the window that showed sunshine and palm trees he wrote: “Well, I’m New York City born and raised

But nowadays, I’m lost between two shores

L.A.s fine, but it ain’t home——

New York’s home but it ain’t mine no more——

I am, I cried!

I am, said I.

And I am lost, and I can’t even say why —-

No one heard at all, not even the chair.

Golden Girls

Ruby Regina Witcraft

That’s us! Eight single ladies on The Princess sailing down the California coast.

There were many tours ashore but my cabin mate, Sharon, and I had been on the same cruise just a few months before. We decided we would live the life of leisure in our room and the balcony overlooking the harbors of San Francisco, Santa Barbara, San Diego and Ensenada. For the most part we did just that. Room service for breakfast and lunch while we laid in bed watching movies until three in the afternoon, at which time, w dressed for dinner. Every one would drop in during the day since Sharon and I were always in our room, still in our jammies. Breakfast and lunch in bed, some one else doing the cooking and cleaning, what a life! Not at all like our daily lives in Sun Lakes which is, also, pretty great.

My cabin mate, Sharon, was an Elite Member of Princess and we had a complete bar so, cocktail time was always in our room. At four the whole group met at that time and revealed their experiences, purchases, etc. Sue and Jean were beaders and took a trip into the wilds of Ensenada for special, beautiful beads. Ann and Barbara toured the towns, as did Mary Ann and sister Peg. Felix, our room steward, was from the Philippines and besides being on top of every thing, he always made sure we had plenty of ice at four, for drinks.

Jokes and happy patter were the sport of the evening.

We had the same assigned table every evening with the charming Dexter as our sweet, funny waiter and I can’t even do justice about the food.

However, since I practically, tried to eat everything on the very ample menu, I can honestly say that I have never enjoyed or tasted such delicious and beautifully presented meals in my life. All of our table felt the same way.

After dinner, we took in fun shows with dancers and singers. Some of the ladies really, really enjoyed the casino. I tried that for a while and when I made my usual donation to the poker machine, I retired.

This was only my third cruise but the ladies who had been many times said that this was special. The attention from the crew couldn’t have been more appreciated or maybe it was just The Golden Girls.

The Loss of Innocence

Barbara Schwartz

Many years ago, when I was a young child, I remember wandering around the block in the small Massachusetts city where we lived. Back in those days, kids could wander freely without any sort of threats and we easily walked around the block to visit with other kids. We either walked, rode bikes or roller skated. And, we didn’t have to stay on the sidewalks either! We could roller skate down the middle of the street and straddle the manhole covers! I recall it being great fun!

However, one day the girl next door and I went around the block to go find other kids to play with and we say a huge crowd of people and cars out in front of one of the houses. They were actually out front of Tony’s house. Tony was a young boy from a large Italian family. There were a lot of people standing around outside the house with drinks in hands and plates of food. We all thought that there was a big party going on, except that the people didn’t look too happy. And, come to think of it, no one saw Tony out there either.

Of course we asked a question or two of these milling people and we found out that Tony was inside the house. Just when we were getting ready to go inside to play with him, we were told that he was “laid out on the coffee table waiting for someone to come get him.” Being naïve and sort of dumb about those sorts of things, we had to be told that Tony had fallen down the stairs and had died. What we were witnessing was a wake – a good, old fashioned, Italian Wake. Tony was waiting for the coroner, we called them undertakers back then, to come and get him to prepare for the funeral.

I believe that it was then that the start of the end of youth came to a couple of little kids and the thought of death came to live in our brains and hearts. We quietly turned and walked home with confusion and, yes, fright for our friend Tony.

The Dead Guy’s Check Caper

Ellie Clark

As she typed away on the Parker Brief Carol heard heels clomping down the marble hallway toward her office. The office was situated at the end of the hallway on the sixth floor of a large building in the financial district. She really didn’t like being alone in the office when all the men were in court, but it was part of the job.

Today she was expecting a Mrs. Bradford, the widow of a man who had worked for one of Mr. Cooke’s clients. Mr. Bradford had apparently passed and his employer had requested that we have his widow sign a receipt for his final paycheck after she presented a copy of his Death Certificate.

Soon enough Mrs. Bradford entered the office. Carol looked up and once she was satisfied that this was Mrs. Bradford she asked to see the Death Certificate. As she glanced over it she noticed the cause of death. She blinked her eyes to be sure she had read it correctly. It read “stab wound through the heart.” Carol looked up and said “oh, my goodness, did they get the guy who did it” and Mrs. Bradford replied in a very loud voice “I did it myself.” It was him or me and I figured I was more important to my kids than he would ever be, so I did it.” Carol not wanting to upset this lady in any way agreed she had probably done the right thing and then asked her to sign the Receipt for the check. Mrs. Bradford left. Carol breathed a huge sigh of relief as she listened to the clomping of heels again, only this time walking away from the office.

Carol leaned back in her chair, lit a cigarette, and decided she had earned a break from the Parker Brief. In fact, she decided to ask for a raise. There was just so much a secretary should be asked to do. She felt that dealing with this non-grieving widow should have been a man’s job.

By the way, she got the raise. I know, because Carol’s real name is Ellie.