Exit Stage Left

Exit Stage Left

One by one, they took their places on this stage
Swallowing nerves, waiting for the curtains to rise.
Spectators shifted in their seats,
then to the stage, shifted their eyes.

The performers watched the curtains go up,
Their routines began right after.
Their music and voices echoed throughout,
along with the audience cheers and laughter.

Dancers, singers, vaudeville performers, clowns,
musicians and comedians, too;
All came out to liven the crowd,
Hoping against a hiss or a boo.

The sound of the crowd crying “Encore!”
The sight of the performers taking a bow.
All of that has echoed through the window of time,
Though they might all be gone now.

Look close, you can almost still see them.
Time really isn’t so far away.
Listen close, you might be able to hear
the cheers and round of applause to this day.

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Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade

Holiday History

Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade

In 1924, R.H. Macy & Co expanded their business to cover 1 million square feet of retail space. To celebrate this, Macy’s arranged a Thanksgiving parade (which was originally called the Macy’s Christmas Parade) to get potential customers excited for Christmas shopping.
The first theme of the parade was Mother Goose and the Central Park Zoo allowed some of their animals to walk through the parade. Because the animals outside their cages terrified the spectators, they were replaced with balloons in 1927. The very first balloon was of Felix the Cat.
The parade, as it still does, ended with Santa Claus coming in on a sleigh. Back then, though, Santa would get off the sleigh, sit on a giant throne, and, after a blow of his trumpet, the Macy’s Christmas window display would be unveiled.

The parade’s first year was only summarized in two sentences by the New York Herald, but by the end of the 1920s, it became a holiday tradition that only blossomed once it became televised and the rest of the nation was able to get in on the fun. Many families across America, mine included, have a tradition of watching the parade on TV together as Thanksgiving dinner is being prepared.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! From your friendly neighborhood history geek

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The House’s Last Words

I see you, vandal, with that lighter.
I see you, vandal, with that match in your hand.
I see that look in your eyes,
and I’m defenseless where I stand.

You want me for my copper wires.
You want to burn me down.
I’m just a thrill for you,
so you can brag to your friends all over town.

You see no reason not to ruin me.
You see no reason why I still exist.
You think no one cares about this house.
So what’s the harm in doing this?

Before you light me up, vandal,
Before you burn me to the ground,
Let me tell you something
About why I’m still around.

Long ago before you were born,
A new husband built me with his hands.
He had a wife and a child on the way,
and had every intent to farm this land.

I saw her face when she saw me.
It lit up like a thousand candles.
She raced like a kid right up to the door
and squealed when she turned the handle.

I saw that couple raise their kids.
I was their place of joy.
I was also their place of sadness and pain
after they lost their little boy.

They picked up and carried on,
They saw their grandkids grow.
I was then the company for the old woman
when she was all alone.

I watched her as she gardened.
I was her comfort when she wept.
I was her warmth when she was cold.
I kept her safe while she slept.

One day, my lights quit coming on.
The voices faded away.
Smells no longer from my kitchen.
My yellow exterior was becoming gray.

Sadly we houses outlive our owners.
It’s just a sad result of time.
I’ve been out here all by myself,
listening to the church bells’ distant chime.

I have been spared by weather
and because of my isolation.
Now you have found me, vandal.
As I imagine, much to your elation.

You come to me with an open flame,
You hold it right up to my old wooden porch.
To you, it’s all the same.
Something else to torch.

I’m sorry you were so bored, vandal.
I’m sorry you won’t leave me alone.
And I’m sorriest of all that you don’t respect
That I was once someone’s home.

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The Invasion

The Invasion
~A.F. Lamonte~
Norm the Dentist hated cats. He wasn’t sure why. He’d just hated them ever since childhood. Whenever he saw a cat, he would cringe and hurry the other way. He didn’t even like it when kids were dressed as cats for Halloween. He’d only give them one box of raisins instead of the two boxes he gave to everyone else.
One Halloween, Norm left his office for the day with a smile on his face, looking forward to all the cavity calls he would receive in November. He hadn’t taken his car today. It was a nice day for a walk, and he didn’t live too far. While whistling his favorite show-tune as he strolled down the street, a sudden rustle in the bushes beside him caught his attention. He stopped and turned. Behind him was a black cat, looking up at him with its wide green eyes.
The cat cocked its head to the side and gave a little “Mew?”
“Shoo!” Norm said, waving his arms at the cat. “Scat! Go away!” He turned away from the cat and picked up his pace, but when he looked behind him again, he saw that the cat was still there, and right behind that cat was another one!
Norm began to run from the pair of cats, shouting “Get! Scat cat! Shoo! Go away!”
Breathless, he finally made it to his front gate and dared to look behind him. The two cats were gone. He breathed a sigh of relief and calmly unlocked his gate, turned the corner, and screamed!
On his porch, right in front of his front door, were the two cats that had been following him, and three more had joined them!
Norm grabbed his rake and waved it at them, making them back down the steps away from his door. “Get back! Get away!” He tiptoed around them, dropped the rake, and hurried into his house, closing the door right in the furry faces.
After the encounter with the cats, Norm felt so filthy he jumped into the shower. The relaxing heat of the water made him nearly forget the unwelcome critters, but just then, he heard a thump from something falling off of his bathroom countertop. Hesitantly, Norm pulled back his shower curtain to see that his cologne had fallen to the floor. The glass bottle had cracked and the expensive musk was leaking onto the bathroom rug. Norm picked it up to save as much of the musk as he could, and then he turned off the shower and wrapped himself in a towel. “Did one of those dratted animals get into my house?” he growled.
He peered out the bathroom door into his bedroom. There was nothing there. With a huff, Norm stomped to his closet to get dressed, turned on the light, and screamed!
Nine cats were sitting on the floor of his closet, staring at him as though they were waiting for him. He turned to run, and screamed again when he saw four more cats blocking his way out of the closet.
Norm, stuck in his bath towel, was trapped in this circle of cats. The one with the green eyes, the one he blamed for starting this whole fiasco, the leader of the pack, approached him. Closer and closer the cat came. Norm was helpless. He squeezed his eyes shut. “I’m having a nightmare,” he thought. “Wake up! Wake up Norm!”
With his eyes still closed, he felt the cat’s paws climb up into his lap. He felt the cat’s body heat as the cat drew closer to him. He felt the whiskers tickle his skin. He opened his eyes to see the cat’s face right up against his.
“No! No! Noooo!” he shrieked as the cat—
Headbutted him. And purred. And licked his face, and nuzzled his nose.
Norm sighed, defeated. Slowly he raised his hand, and for the first time in his life, he petted a cat.
With that first pet, the soft fur against his fingers, Norm was in love. Cats became his favorite animal. He found good homes for all the other cats, but he kept the one that started it all. He named it Floss, after his favorite activity. The following Halloween, Norm put away his raisins and gave the kids candy when they came to his door. His house was no longer egged, his trees no longer toilet-papered, his car no longer paintballed.
From then on, Norm loved Halloween, and the kids loved trick-or-treating at his house. Instead of the lectures he used to do, he gave them nice prizes after he fixed their cavities. After work, he’d go home to Floss who would be waiting there right by his door. They would share a meal and watch TV, and they lived happily ever after.
Happy Halloween!

Brights

Brights
~A.F. Lamonte~

Gina worked nights at the hospital as a nurse and typically spent the last hour of her shift sitting at the nurse’s desk watching the clock tick to 2 A.M., the time she could grab her things and jet out the door to her apartment, where her bed was calling her name.
This night was no different than any other. At 2:10 A.M., Gina, suppressing a yawn, shuffled through the parking lot to her waiting car, tossed her stuff into the passenger seat, and put the car in drive.

At the next intersection, she sat waiting at the red light, drumming her fingers against the steering wheel as she listened to the music on the radio. Seeing that the other light was yellow, she lifted her foot off of the brake, ready to go at green, and then jammed her foot against the brake again when a truck rolled through the last second of the yellow light. The driver made eye contact with her but looked back at the road and drove out of Gina’s view.

Gina went through the green light and continued on her way to her apartment. Suddenly, bright lights surrounded her from behind. She looked into her rearview mirror to see that pickup truck that had gone through the yellow at the last intersection. The driver, the silhouette of a man in a baseball cap, was tailing so close to her that if she hit her brakes, he’d go right into her back bumper.

The driver was flashing his brights urgently. Gripping her steering wheel tighter, Gina took a deep breath. Perhaps he had an emergency and she was driving in his way, but why didn’t he just go around her? There was no other traffic around. He had all the rest of the road to go wherever he needed.

She stuck her hand out the window and waved him around her, but the driver wouldn’t go around. Still, he flashed his brights and kept on her tail. Gina kept driving. She turned down a side street that she knew few people traveled on. If he followed her, she’d know for sure that she was the one he was after. Without signaling, she whipped her car to the right and turned down the side street. Her breath caught in her throat when she saw in the rearview mirror that he had turned as well, and was still right on her tail, still flashing his brights on and off.

Her cell phone had fallen out of her purse and rested on the floor of the passenger side, far out of her reach. She wouldn’t be able to safely retrieve it and call for help without possibly running into something, and she sure wasn’t about to pull over to grab it. The last thing she wanted to do was stop, especially out here with no one around.

“God help me,” Gina prayed to herself. The police station wasn’t far. She picked up speed, hoping to catch the attention of a cop on patrol, but none were out.

The lights of the police station came into view. Her salvation. She’d pull over and run inside for help. Surely he wouldn’t follow her to the police station and have the boldness to do something to her in front of an officer. But he was right there, right in her rearview mirror.

She pulled her car to the curb in front of the police station doors, and the truck pulled right behind her. Before she could fumble open the door, the driver had jumped out of his truck, a gun aimed right at her. “Get out of the car!” he yelled. “Get out of the car!”

Gina locked her door, hoping a cop would hear the commotion and come outside to help her. With shaking hands, she fumbled with her phone to dial 9-1-1, but stopped when she heard the driver’s voice say, “He’s in the back! He’s got a knife!”

Gina looked up from her phone. The driver was talking to an officer who had come outside, and the next thing she knew, the officer pulled out a gun, pointed it right at her car, and yelled, “Get out right now!”

The back door of Gina’s car suddenly opened, and out stepped her ex-boyfriend, who she’d recently gotten a restraining order against because he’d threatened to murder her. At the officer’s command, he raised his hands, and in one of his hands, he held a knife that then clattered to the ground when he was told to drop it.

With her ex in custody, Gina was sitting in the waiting room of the station, trying to hold her Styrofoam coffee cup with her trembling hands. Coffee sloshed out of it and spattered onto her scrubs every time she tried to take a sip.

“I didn’t mean to frighten you,” said a male voice, and Gina looked up to see the driver of the truck. “I was going through the intersection and I saw him in the back with his knife raised like he was going to stab you,” the driver explained. “I didn’t know what else to do except pull a U and follow you. My brights scared him. As soon as I flashed them, he ducked back down, probably hoping I’d go away. I’m glad you drove to the station. Smart choice.”

“He must have gotten in my car and hid there while I was on my shift. I’ve got to get that back door lock fixed.” Gina brushed away a tear and smiled at the driver who had saved her life. “Thank you.”

“You don’t have to thank me,” the driver said. “I just hope that bastard is put away for a while. Have a safe drive home.”

Frank’s Blind Date

Frank’s Blind Date
~A.F. Lamonte~
 
Monster Mash was playing loud and clear from the jukebox in the corner of The Witch’s Brew Diner. Eligible bachelor, Frank, and his two chums, Drac and Wolf, were enjoying their plate of steaming worms and the conversation had turned to the usual: Frank’s failed love life.
 
“I just don’t understand it,” Drac said, pausing to take a sip of blood from a waterstained glass. He gestured to Frank. “You were made from only the best-looking of gentlemen, and you can’t get a single date.”
 
“He’s too quiet,” Wolf answered. “He ought to do more howling. Ladies love it when you howl.”
 
Frank adjusted the bolt in his neck. “I don’t really mind being single,” he said. “I enjoy the solitude, really. No one to screech at me, like that banshee I dated last year. No one to slip love potions into my drinks like that witch from two years ago.”
 
Drac studied Frank quietly, his yellow eyes trying to see right through him. “My sister has a friend from work,” he said finally. “Her name is Mummy. Sis says she’s pretty sweet.”
 
“What does she look like?” Wolf asked. “You don’t want to stick poor Frank with some zombie again, do you?”
 
“No one’s seen her without her bandages.” Drac wiped his lips, rose from the booth, and dropped a wad of cash on the table. “I’ll talk to Sis.”
 
“Really, it’s fine,” Frank said, following his friends out of the diner. “I’m happy by mys—” He stopped when he saw a black cat crossing in front of him.
 
“You superstitious?” Wolf teased and then turned to the cat and let a bark, making the cat flee across the street.
 
“No,” Frank sniffled. “The man whose sinuses I got was allergic to cats.”
 
~~~
 
Eventually, at Drac’s insistence, Frank gave in and agreed to meet Mummy, and he had to admit, when he saw her, he was glad for this blind date. He showed up with a bouquet of dead daisies at The Crypt, the hottest new restaurant in Sleepy Hollow, and through the window, he could see her sitting at their table, in a gown of bandages that cascaded from her head all the way to the floor.
 
“Mummy?” he asked, stopping beside the table. He felt a tickle in his nose, but he sniffled it away.
 
“You must be Frank,” she said, and he could tell by her voice that underneath her bandages, she was smiling.
 
“Yes.” He took a seat across from her and then handed her the bouquet.
 
“Oh, how thoughtful.” She held the bouquet to her face and took a sniff. “These are my favorite dead flowers.”
 
“Drac’s sister said you were fond of them.”
 
“Oh yes. I was buried with them in my tomb.” She lifted her menu. “I haven’t eaten in a thousand years. You’ll excuse me for diving right in to order some food, I hope.”
 
“Yes. I’m famished, myself.” Frank sniffled again.
 
“Hm. The fish bones look good. I might have those, with a side of rotten vegetables.”
 
“I think I might have a—a-aachoo!”
 
“Goodness, Frank. Are you okay?”
 
Frank sniffled. “I think so.”
 
Dinner was wonderful, but by the end of it, Frank could hardly breathe. He’d held in so many sneezes, he thought his nose might shoot right off his face. That had happened before and it wasn’t pretty.
 
“Would you like to come back to my tomb?” Mummy asked as they stood outside the restaurant. “Maybe have a couple glasses of wine? I have some that’s been aging since 46 B.C.”
 
“I’m sorry, Mummy. I think I’m coming down with a cold. I’m going to head back to my crypt and lie down.”
 
“Oh, what a shame.” Mummy sighed. “Well, will I see you again?”
 
Frank smiled. “I think so, Mummy. I really had a nice time with you.”
 
“Might we kiss goodbye?”
 
“Well…sure. Why not?” Frank approached her slowly, ready to kiss the bandaged face, but Mummy stopped him.
 
“Hold on,” she said. “I’d like to do this right. Let me remove my bandages.” Slowly she unwrapped her face, and Frank looked on in horror when he saw the pointed ears, black fur, and golden, almond eyes.
 
“Mummy?” he choked and broke into a fit of sneezes.
 
“My real name is Cleo. I was a pharaoh’s cat.” The almond eyes widened to saucers. “Good heavens, Frank, what’s wrong?”
 
“I’m sorry Mummy,” Frank gasped from his struggled breaths. “It’s not you, it’s me. We can’t see each other anymore.”
 
“But…why not?”
 
Frank muffled another sneeze. “I’m allergic to you!”

The Pinwheel

The Pinwheel
~A.F. Lamonte~

There was once a woman named Martha Turner who lived in the town of Shaver. The young woman married her childhood sweetheart, and then four months later, her beloved marched off with the Union Army in the Civil War, which was at that time called The War between the States. Shortly after he left, Martha discovered she was pregnant. Her joy over the news was cut short when she received a notice from the Union army that her beloved had been killed in the war.

Now a widow, Martha delivered her daughter, Anne, alone in the cabin her husband had built for her. Lost without the man she’d loved almost her entire life, Martha lived for their little girl. But tragedy struck again when Anne, at just five years old, succumbed to dysentery.

Widowed, childless, Martha was alone in the cabin for the remainder of the winter with the body of her daughter wrapped in white linens, waiting for burial in the spring. She spent that winter holding the cold, tiny hand of her daughter and wept every night.

It was a sunny morning on March 24th, after the ground had thawed, when Martha was finally able to bury her daughter beside the memorial marker she’d erected in honor of her husband who had never returned from war. That evening, Martha crafted a pinwheel out of paper and wood, which was an activity she’d once enjoyed with little Anne. She left it between the memorial marker and her daughter’s resting place and then, as the sun was setting over the hills, Martha walked to the bridge that overlooked the creek nearby and jumped off.
It was over a week before neighbors found Martha’s body, and they laid her to rest beside her daughter. By the time of Martha’s burial, a terrible windstorm had broken out, and Martha’s pinwheel had blown away.

A year later, on the anniversary of the day of Anne’s burial and Martha’s suicide, Shaver locals were mystified to find a freshly crafted pinwheel between the memorial marker and Anne’s grave, exactly where it had been placed the year prior. If any neighbor had left it in tribute, no one admitted to it.

Winds again blew the pinwheel away, but the following year, another pinwheel appeared, and the year after, and so on. No one could figure out who was leaving the pinwheels, but neighbors began to theorize it was still the grieving widowed mother, returning from the grave to visit the two people she’d loved most in the world.

To this day, even though the town of Shaver has long been abandoned, even though there is still no marker for Anne’s grave, and even though no one is around to even remember little Anne Kent and Martha Turner-Kent, the urban explorers who visit Shaver and locals from the neighboring town are mystified to find a freshly-made wood and paper pinwheel quietly spinning in the breeze every March 24th, right in between a faded, crumbling memorial marker and a grassy unmarked grave.