Archive for April, 2013

“Tell Us About Yourself As An Author.”

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

In the course of my writing career, someone from a marketing company once said, “Tell us about yourself as an author.” I thought about my heart-felt reasons for entering the writing profession and came up with the following reply, which will help you, my readers, learn a little more about me.

“I have loved to write since I was a child. Probably, my need to express myself and share with others led to my becoming an English teacher and remaining in the profession until my early retirement in 1996 after thirty years of teaching middle school English. Although I gained much satisfaction from teaching my students to improve their grammar and usage, present speeches, understand literature and write more effectively, I still missed expressing my own ideas in the form of poems, short stories and novels. I could not wait to begin another chapter in my own life.

“When I retired, I thought about writing full-time, but I explored other possibilities first, which included religious work, (which I still do on a part-time basis), part-time teaching and even volunteering in a local school. Then, in 2006, I wrote my first complete novel, a book that I had actually started back in the 1980s, but could not finish then because of my professional responsibilities. Entitled “Counter-Attack,” it is the story of Caryn, an emotionally disturbed adolescent, who does not know how to cope with the sudden onslaught of anxiety and panic attacks. A compassionate English teacher of hers, Christina Walsh, who has suffered her whole life from the same condition, offers help and comfort, but convincing Caryn’s parents of her need for professional help, is more difficult than Ms. Walsh could ever have imagined. Twists and turns occur in the novel, which keep the reader riveted. Yet, although the novel is suspenseful, it does reveal much information about the diagnosis and treatment of phobias, panic attacks and chronic anxiety conditions, which can be a real asset to those readers afflicted with any of these conditions.

“Following the completion of “Counter-Attack,” I finished another novel, “The Wacky World of Winnie and Willie,” that I had begun in the 1970s. This coming-of-age novel deals with a young girl’s summers spent at her grandmother’s roominghouse in Rockaway Beach, New York, and includes many significant issues of the time. The novel is the first in a five-part series.

“After deciding to self-publish the above two novels, I wrote and self-published thirteen other books, including, not only novels, but books of poetry, biography, and non-fiction as well. I began my own website, (which you are on now: www.cheryllodico.com,) in 2010 and advertised by books on www.amazon.com about the same time. My publishing company, www.redleadbooks.com, advertises my books on their website as well.

“As you can see by now, writing is very important to me. It represents sharing my feelings on life with others. This connection is essential to me as a human being.”

If you would like to take a look at “Counter-Attack” or “The Wacky World of Winnie and Willie,” just turn to “Library ” on this website, scroll down to each book and click on “Amazon.” After “looking inside the book,” I hope that you decide to buy both of them. Happy reading! Until the next time,

Cheryl

SPECIAL POEMS FOR MY GRANDCHILDREN

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

In 2007 I published a book of poetry, entitled “Poems of Joy and Praise To God.” Within it are poems of love of God, family, romantic love, agape love, etc. After all, love comes in all categories, sizes and shapes. The book also contains nature poems, poems about the times of the day, the months of the year, marriage, babies, and much, more more. Two of these poems are dedicated to my grandchildren, whom I love very much.

The first is dedicated to my two granddaughters, Alexis and Lauren. (page 56 of the book). In 2007, Alexis was just six years old and Lauren four. The second is dedicated to my grandson, William (page 57). In 2007, William was just a year old.

A Baby Girl (copyrighted material)

(Dedicated to Alexis and Lauren, my granddaughters)

Pink taffeta dresses,
Pastel bows and softest tulle,
Playing with her little friends
In the playground after school.

Ballerina slippers,
A tutu and a crown.
She is your little princess
In her Cinderella gown.

In Disneyworld she hobnobs
With Ariel, Snow White and Belle.
She’s a little girl who loves adventure,
Games and secrets she won’t tell.

A baby girl is sweet to cuddle,
And her beauty steals your heart.
She is the brightest star in your tomorrows.
Of your dreams, she claims the largest part.

So show that little angel
How you love her every day
While you guide, teach and protect her
At any time in any way.

A Baby Boy

(Dedicated to William Presley Lodico, my grandson)
(Copyrighted Material)

A sweet baby has just been born.
We thank God for our great joy.
He is a precious gift, we know so well,
And we adore our little boy.

Yes, a baby boy in bright blue tops
With white, green or yellow trim,
Or any other color,
Depending on Mom’s whim.

A baby boy who is all smiles
When exploring his terrain.
Regardless of the weather:
Sunshine, snow or rain.

Our little boy will be a tiger or a kitty,
Depending on his moods,
But he’ll always work with much more vigor
If he’s fed his favorite foods.

When our baby boy becomes a toddler,
He’ll keep searching all around,
But in the end he’ll come right back
To our safe, familiar ground.

Our growing boy will wear his baseball cap
Backwards, big and wide,
The logo of his team displayed,
Filling him with pride.

Yes, our little boy will play so many parts;
His energy will abound.
But whatever hat he’ll choose to wear,
You know his spirit will be out of bounds.

————————–

I hope you enjoyed the poems and will look at the book itself. Remember that you do not have to purchase the book to “Look Inside the Book.” Just click on “Library” on my website (home page) and then scroll down to “Poems of Joy and Praise To God.” Finally, click on “Amazon.” I hope that you enjoy reading more of the poems from this book, which I enjoyed writing so much.

MEET SAMMY SQUIRREL!

Sunday, April 21st, 2013

Be a part of the adventures of Whitestone’s favorite squirrel, Sammy! In “Sammy Squirrel and the Long, Hard Winter,” you will have a chance to meet the impetuous little squirrel that may steal your heart.

As a resident of Whitestone, I now have a very special hero of my own: none other than Sammy Squirrel. Playful, cute, smart and stylish, he is the kind of squirrel that is hard to resist. I know I didn’t, and I don’t think you will either.

Sammy is no ordinary squirrel. He nimbly climbs up the branches of any tree in Whitestone faster, more gracefully and with more agility than any other rodent I have ever seen! And from the expression on his adorable little face as he moves ever upward, he enjoys every moment of it.

Sammy’s adventures with his sister, Samantha Claire, and his three cousins, make me laugh and cry at times, but always I am rooting for him. I guess that is because Sammy is portrayed as being a sympathetic little guy who may have made many mistakes, but never intentionally hurts anyone. He just likes to play and have fun…and yes, he does not want to grow up.

This squirrel’s run-ins and eventual punishment at the hands of Chief Henry Sebastion of the Squirrel Secret Police, saddened me, but I know that these are only temporary setbacks for a squirrel like Sammy. But how does he triumph over his problems, and what adventures lie ahead for our favorite Whitestone park resident?

Sammy’s story can be enjoyed by children and adults alike, for it is timeless, and who can resist an immature but fun-loving squirrel? Whether or not you live in Whitestone, I am sure that, like me, you will still find the book appealing. I recommend reading “Sammy Squirrel and the Long, Hard Winter” to find out what happens to a squirrel, who, like the rest of us, makes mistakes but tries very hard to make things right.

If you would like to read more about Sammy, click on Library on my website and then, when you scroll down to “Sammy Squirrel and the Long, Hard Winter,” click on Amazon.

Until the next blog, keep reading now!

Cheryl

READING AN ARTICLE FROM THE ARCHIVES OF “THE WAVE,” ROCKAWAY’S FAVORITE HOMETOWN NEWSPAPER…

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Today I happened to skim through the articles of “The Wave,” Rockaway’s hometown newspaper. Unexpectedly, I found a lovely article about the very same novel that I have been discussing in my blogs. (Yes…”Beyond the Stars.”) I am hoping you can find the article through using the link below or by just going to the 2008 archives yourself and searching for “Cheryl Madeleine Lodico”(“Lodico Delivers Another Novel From “Beyond the Stars.”)

http:www.rockawave.com/news/2008-12-12/community/004.ht…

If, by chance, you cannot find the article, it begins this way:

“‘Once we have immersed ourselves in these fantasies of what might have been the danger is that we may one day decide to remain there for a while and eventually become trapped within the power of its spell,’ old-time resident Cheryl Madeleine Lodico opens in the preface of her latest novel BEYOND THE STARS.

“BEYOND THE STARS, Red Lead Press, follows protagonist Winona Scharf from her home in the Rockaways to Cortland State College in upstate New York, where her world is unexpectedly turned upside down. Her new experiences alter her life’s course and propel her toward a future she never thought possible.”

Before I move on to my next novel, I just want to say that “Beyond the Stars” will always be precious to me for the wonderful memories that it evokes and for the themes of “second chances” and moving on with our lives, despite the challenges. I

I hope that you will turn now to “Library,” click on “Amazon,” located beneath the title, “Beyond the Stars” and look “inside the book” before deciding whether you would like to buy a copy for yourself. I truly think you will enjoy the novel and feel better about yourself and those you love once you read it.

Until the next post,

Cheryl

WINONA AND SEAN: TAKING A CHANCE ON LOVE

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

During the last few days, we discussed the wisdom of giving others second chances or even beyond that. Can a person who has made serious mistakes ever be trusted again? Can people make changes in their lives? Is it possible?

The answers to the above questions vary, according to the individual and the situation, of course. Pertaining to “Beyond the Stars,” the question is whether Sean O’Hara has really changed emotionally, morally and spiritually. Perhaps, we can analyze the situation.

Why was Sean such an aggressive, angry and violent person in the beginning? First of all, his father was innocent, although he was convicted and had already spent many years in prison. Sean and his family had asked Winona’s Uncle Arthur, an esteemed criminal lawyer, to represent Mr. O’Hara, but Arthur Scharf, Esq. had not even taken the family’s phone call. Sean was certain that, with the right representation, his father would never have been found guilty of committing a crime that he had never committed. As a result, Sean became hostile and badly in need of anger management.

After the incident at the beach with Winona, Sean was arrested. Uncle Arthur had heard Sean accuse him of being prejudiced when he had refused to accept his father’s case years before. Uncle Arthur looked into the situation and was able to find evidence to get Sean’s father a new trial, the result of which was Mr. O’Hara’s acquittal. In no time, he was home with his family.

Uncle Arthur did not stop there. He became Sean’s mentor out of decency, guilt, or whatever other motive prompted him to do so, and Sean’s grades skyrocketed. He, not only was accepted to a good college, but he excelled at his studies, making Dean’s List each semester and graduating with a 4.0. Now, in Cornell Law School, Sean is continuing his outstanding scholastic record and is looking forward to one day entering the law firm of Arthur Scharf.

We have to remember that, when Sean had been a member of a gang and later purposely misled Winona into thinking that he really had changed, Sean’s father was still in jail, and Sean had a vendetta against Winona’s family. However, when Winona had met Sean at Cornell, many years had passed, and Sean was no longer a bomb ready to be self-detonated. In fact, now he was in the best place in his life. When he showed interest in Winona and wanted the spark between them to develop into something more, he really meant it. There was no hidden agenda as there had been in the past.

Once we take all of these facts into consideration, is it so difficult to understand why Winona wanted to give Sean another chance and allowed herself to fall in love with him again?

It was great fun for me to describe the development of Sean and Winona’s relationship. Finally, after so much heartache for the two of them, Sean and Winona truly fell in love. Despite the conflicts they faced, not only with Winona’s parents, but with Uncle Arthur as well, the couple remained true to one another and allowed the love that they felt for each other to grow.

Second chances are a privilege, and the individual who is granted this wonderful opportunity must be deserving of it. Anyone who reads “Beyond the Stars” will see that Sean O’Hara has finally proved himself worthy of the trust and love of the woman whom he adores.

A ROMANTIC ASPECT OF “BEYOND THE STARS”

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

When writing “Beyond the Stars,” I was looking for an intense connection between Winnie and another strong character. Lo and behold! I came up with Sean, the “bad boy” of “The Wacky World of Winnie and Willie.”

Remember in my last blog I asked you to decide whether Winona would accept Sean’s invitation to enter his room (to reminisce and ask him for a lift back to her college) or run downstairs to wait for the original driver to return. I also told you that her decision would affect the rest of the novel. But all of you who know and love Winona realize that she could never run away from a challenge. So of course, she enters the room, but she is speechless at first. It doesn’t take her long, however, to regain her voice and her composure.

To understand Winona’s reaction to Sean is not easy. First, you have to ask yourself if you have ever been attracted to someone really different from you, exhibiting interests and characteristics you never would have thought you could find appealing. It is said that opposites often attract, but perhaps, you never thought that old saying applied to you. If that is the case, try very hard to understand the attraction from Winona’s point of view.

If you go back in time, you will remember that Winnie first met Sean O’Hara at the beginning of “The Wacky World of Winnie and Willie.” Chubby, short and arrogant, he was not particularly attractive, and to make matters even worse, he was a member of the street gang that attacked Winnie and Willie in the park. He was eventually caught with the others and sent to Juvenile Court. Part of him actually resented Winnie for his getting into trouble. As irrational as it sounds, Sean had a vendetta for our poor little Winona.

Years later, Sean, a physically changed young man, meets Winona at the beach in Rockaway. They become part of the same summer crowd, but Winona does not recognize Sean at first. His hair is lightened, probably as a result of a lot of outside work he has had to do to help support his mother when his father was sent to prison. Also, he has grown quite a few inches and lost the baby fat of a younger boy. Eventually, it is his eyes that give him away. But innocent, naive and compassionate Winona forgives him and vows never to even bring up the matter again. When the crowd pairs off, Winona is with Sean throughout the rest of the summer.

However, at this point, we must remember that Sean has changed only physically. Inside, he is still hostile and explosive. When he invites Winnie to a barbecue on the boardwalk to celebrate a friends’s birthday, it is under false pretenses. He tries to assault Winona again when they are alone on the boadwalk just a few blocks from the summer roominghouse, but this time her Uncle Arthur is informed of his intentions by Willie, Winnie’s cousin. Winona is rescued, and Sean winds up going to the police station.

The irony appears at this point. Uncle Arthur, who turns Sean into the police, eventually feels sorry for him and becomes his mentor. Sean has reminded him that his mother and he had asked Uncle Arthur to represent Sean’s father, who was falsely accused of a crime. Uncle Arthur had turned them down, and Mr. O’Hara went to jail and remained there, although innocent, for years. Out of guilt most likely, Uncle Arthur gets Sean’s dad out on an appeal and subsequently new evidence. Seeing potential in Sean, Uncle Arthur preps him for college and later law school, where we meet him at Cornell at the beginning of “Beyond the Stars,” the sequel to “Wacky World.”

So now Winona, despite everyuthing that has happened between Sean and her, finds herself attracted to Sean again. But has he really changed in the most important ways? Has he given up the resentment, the anger and the jealousy that has led him down the wrong paths before Uncle Arthur’s intervention and mentorship? Does Winnie take a gamble and fall in love with him, and if she does, is Sean worthy of her love? I will let you mull over all of those questions until my next blog.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………

Best wishes, my friends, and let us pray for the two who died today and the fifty who were injured in Boston today as a result of the firing of the two bombs. May the two who have died remain in God’s memory until the Resurrection, and may the injured recover quickly! And may God bless us all, every one, and keep us safe!

Until the next blog,

Cheryl

AN UNFORGETTABLE CHAPTER FROM “BEYOND THE STARS””

Saturday, April 13th, 2013

“Beyond the Stars” is the sequel to “The Wacky World of Winnie and Willie.” Although some sequels prove to be even better than the original, as the author of both, I see them as equal in excellence and appeal. However, the novels are different is so many ways…

Winnie is a college student now. To a certain degree she has matured, but in various ways she is still more child than young woman. Perhaps, it is because she has uncontrolled fears that sometimes rage into panic. She is super-sensitive and lets mostly everything the least bit negative in her life bother her. Winnie does everything she can for others, but when her generosity and selflessness are not returned, she becomes too disappointed, often bordering on depression.

Although she is often an astute judge of human nature, she does not always put enough faith in her own judgment. She depends too much on other people’s opinions, even though she wants other people to think she is self-confident and sure of her opinions and choices. Also, Winnie gets bored easily and at those moments often throws caution to the wind. It is during one of these moods that Winnie accepts a blind date at a fraternithy from Cornell. As I describe this chapter, you will see why it is one of my favorites.

Winnie’s father has driven her to Cortland a couple of months ago. She has become friendly with both her roommate and her dorm supervisor. Even her workload is not too much for her. But one Saturday night she feels restless in her dorm room. Her roommate is out on a date, and Sunny, her dorm supervisor, is downstairs on duty. When Sunny makes an announcement that there are a couple of guys from Cornell who are looking for some freshman and sophomore girls for a fraternity party, Winnie quickly goes downstairs, relieved that she is nicely dressed and has washed and styled her hair earlier.

It was taking a chance,going with the two fellows from Cornell and a few of her dorm-mates, but Winnie went along anyway. It was true that Sunny had called Cornell and checked the frat boys out, but Winnie knew it was still risky business leaving the safety of her dorm to go out to a party with just a few girls from her dorm and the rest absolute strangers. Halfway there, she realized the error of her ways, but it was too late.

The driver seemed oblivious to the speed limit, he was so much over it. The other girls were busy speaking gibberish, and Winnie felt all alone. She could opnly console herself with the certainty that she would have to be back at the dorm by curfew: 1:00 A.M. on Saturday night. The guys who picked her up, along with the other girls, knew this, but, of course, whether or not they would abide by the rules was altogether a different story, she imagined.

When they arrived at the frat party, Winnie was not surprised that many of the “brothers” were already drunk. She couldn’t bring herself to dance with any of them, and a half hour later, she noticed that the drivers were no longer there. How was she and the other girls to get home, she wondered.

About an hour later, after dancing with a couple of guys and getting more and more bored by the second, Winnie asked one of the fraternity brothers if there was some way she could go home early. “The brothers who drove you here will drive you home. They will be back by midnight. It takes about an hour to get back to Cortland.”

“And if I want to leave earlier?” Winnie asked.

“You’re on your own then,” he answered in a snide tone. Before he walked away, he added, “Of course, if you can get one of our house nerds upstairs to drive you home, that’s fine with us, too.” Afterward, he laughed and walked away.

If getting one of the studious guys who were studying upstairs to drive her home was the only way, Winnie thought she would have a go at it. She walked upstairs and tried every room on the first floor, to no avail. She had no luck on the second floor either. Finally, on the third floor, a sleepy voice answered, “Wait a minute, Mike. I guess I must have dozed off, but I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

Before Winona could say anything, the door opened and the ruggedly good-looking face of the young man matched his smooth voice. It was then that Winnie realized that she recognized both the voice and the face as belonging to Sean O’Hara, the fellow whom she had met twice at Rockaway Beach many years ago and both under the most terrifying of conditions. The first time he was part of a gang who had assaulted her cousin Willie and her, and the second time she had met him years later when he had supposedly changed, but turned out to be no different from the delinquent he had proved himself to be earlier when he was a member of the gang.

Recognition lighting up his face, he asked Winnie to come in, his blond hair a little tousled fromn the nap he had mentioned previously and his deep blue eyes lighting up in more playfulness than anything of a menacing nature. “Well, don’t just stand there, Winnie,” he said. “Law students like me don’t generally bite, you know.”

I am afraid you will have to read the chapter to find out whether Winnie takes the leap of faith and enters the room or runs downstairs to wait until her driver appears at midnight. Trust me. It is well worth reading! Actually, her decision here is pivotal to the rest of the novel.

As you can see, there is a great deal of suspense in this novel. All kinds of unexpected things happen, and it is hard to put the book down. Feel free to read a sample chapter on Amazon. You can go to “Library” on this website and click on Amazon. You will immediately be taken to my book section on Amazon, where you can look inside the book or buy it.

Enjoy the weekend. Until the next time,

Cheryl

ON TO MY NEXT BOOK, “BEYOND THE STARS”…

Friday, April 12th, 2013

“Beyond the Stars” is the sequel to “The Wacky World of Winnie and Willie.” It takes place just a year after “Wacky World” ends. Winona Scharf is now eighteen and ready to begin her freshman year at Cortland State College, an upstate college primarily for the education of future teachers. However, that year (1962) was the very first time that English would be offered as a major. Of course, that would become Winnie’s major, and education her minor.

It was difficult for Winona and her father to focus on the future as they drove up to Cortland that afternoon in late summer with Winona’s most needed items in the trunk and the back seat (from her typewriter to her favorite comforter and the framed picture of then President John F. Kennedy.) Tears were in her eyes as she reflected upon the anxieties that would be involved in being on her own for the first time, having to room with an absolute stranger, and missing that special moment of being able to hold her little niece or nephew, who could be born at any time now. Why, she wondered, did the time sequence of going away to college have to be so wrong for her?

When Winnie and her dad arrive at her dormitory, which is as new as she is, it is time for her to meet her new roommate, who does does appear to be there. Actually, when her dad takes her to dinner, Winnie finds her roommate and her father already at the restaurant. The girls and even the dads bond almost immediately.

One of the first poignant moments is the time when the fathers have to leave the dorm. Anyone who has been away at school for the first time knows that these moments are tearjerkers. Yes, the college student wants to be on his or her own, but it is still hard to say goodbye to your parents for at least several months. I know that I started to feel homesick almost as soon as I saw my dad’s car drive out of sight.

I guess the nostalgic aspect of reading “Beyond the Stars” will make it a favorite among many readers. Yet, there are innumerable incidents that will tug at the reader’s heart. Others will elicit a lot of laughter, and still others will make a mature person ask, “Was I ever as silly and irresponsible as that?” And yet other incidents will make readers smile and identify with the experiences that help Winnie mature and finally grow up. When she falls in love with the most unlikely of people, we will hope that her newfound good sense of responsibility will ease her over the many rough spots that she will have to encounter along her life’s journey.

In the following blogs, I will fill you in on some of my favorite experiences in the novel and how they relate to my own life. I know you will find them interesting because so much of this novel imitates my own life and my feelings. It’s so real you can almost taste the reality of it. Again, like “Wacky World,” it is not autobiographical, but sometimes, it comes mighty close.

Until my next blog,

Cheryl

ANOTHER MEMORY BEFORE MOVING ON…

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

It is so comfortable to keep remembering and then writing about special parts of “Wacky World” that it is hard for me to describe this one last memory and then move on to another book of mine. Of course, all of my books relate in some way to my life and the person I really am deep inside of me, but somehow novels like “Wacky World” and its sequel, “Beyond the Stars,” are more personal than the others, probably because they are more autobiographical. They touch the nerve of my reality more.

My one last memory of this precious novel, “Wacky World,” revolves around the selling of the roominghouse. It is at the Labor Day party, (the last Labor Day party that we would ever attend at Miller’s St. Regis) that Grandma Anna announces in as gentle a way as possible that my Grandpa Ben and she could no longer maintain the beautiful summer home that we had all grown to love. Grandma had a heart condition, and Grandpa was growing weaker as the months passed. They could not put the workload of running a roominghouse on my uncle, who was already overburdened with his law practice.

Everyone who heard the sad announcement was stunned, including my cousin Richard (whom we called Dickie then) and me. To me, it was like hearing that our parents would be divorcing or that one of them had died. The summer house was not just a building. It was a symbol of everything that brought me a sense of security, safety, peace and love. In many ways, it was more my home than my actual home, at that time in Brooklyn. To a little girl of eleven, it was my last security blanket, being ripped open in front of me and thrown to the winds. I was in shock.

Even today, when I am in a sad and lonely place, I reflect upon the summers we spent at Miller’s St. Regis, the family whom I loved so much and the friends I made over the years. On the most depressing days, those memories bring solace, peace and a quiet kind of contentment.

We all have that special, serene place that brings us back from the edge, that makes us relax when our nerves won’t cooperate and tone down, that place that is home to our soul. It’s not heaven or Paradise because we humans cannot even visualize something as wonderful as that, but it is the best possible image that we can project in our mind. The roominghouse is my place, and if you ever decide to read “Wacky World,” I hope it will claim a part of you, too.

Perhaps, tonight you can remember your own special, safe and wonderful place. the mere memory of which brings you happiness just in remembering.

Visit Amazon if you have the time and read a chapter or two of “Wacky World” in “Inside the Book.” It is a wonderful way to sample a book you might not otherwise read. If you do decide to read the entire novel, I can promise you that it will touch you in some way.

Until the next blog, keep happy and healthy.

My very best wishes,

Cheryl

WHEN THE VACATION IS ABOUT TO BEGIN…

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

It is Spring now, so Summer cannot be far behind. It is not very difficult then to reflect upon vacations soon to come. Children dream of the ten weeks of freedom coming up in late June and lasting until the beginning of September (in New York, at least). Adults cannot wait for the long-planned and awaited family vacation. Everyone longs for the warm weather, the abundance of plants and flowers…and the joy of rebirth, where everything is fresh and new.

Even as a mature woman, this time of year is precious to me, too, but when I was a little girl, the feelings aroused by summer were infinitely more joyous. Even though I basically liked school and did well, I nevertheless felt like a caged bird who had finally been granted its freedom.

June was the best month of all to me. I was always excited to leave school a week early so that my family could arrive early at my grandparents’ summer roominghouse to help out in any way we were needed before the summer guests arrived. I remember bringing my teacher a dozen of the most perfect American beauty roses, in addition to a stamped, self-addressed envelope for my report card, which would have to be sent to me in Rockaway Beach.

On my last day of school each year, I would race home, not wanting to waste a minute of my vacation. Mom and Dad would be all packed, and the luggage would be put in the trunk of our car and in part of the back seat. My parents would be sitting on the front porch, waiting for my sister and me to return from school. Almost as soon as my sister, Stephie, and I arrived, Mom would do a final check of our apartment, and then we would board the car. Finally, we were headed for a very special summer, where each day would be an amazing vacation day for my sister and me. If I could capture the feeling in my heart and sell it in a bottle, I would have been a multi-millionaire. But joy must be discovered by each of us in our own way. For me, it was summer vacation at the roominghouse. Perhaps, you can take a moment and reflect upon what it means to you.

We all had so many wonderful things to look forward to. Dad would take my cousins (who also spent the summer at the roominghouse), my sister and me to Playland, the amusement park that New Yorkers in my age group remember with pleasure. After all, this was our Disneyworld or Disneyland. We enjoyed the rides, the Fun House, Davey Jones’ Locker and, of course, the seemingly endless concessions with fantastic snacks and soft drinks. I especially remember the delicious cotton candy.

There were two incredible parties to look forward to also: the Fourth of July extravaganzea and the Labor Day party. It felt so exciting to dress up in our finest and enjoy fantastic food, much of which was prepared by my grandmother herself, with the help of some of the other mature ladies who visited the roominghouse each summer. My grandparents also arranged for a live band at both parties. I will never forget the lovely hours of dancing with family and friends.

Most of all, the joy came from being young, relatively carefree, innocent and spending quality time (and lots of it) with family and friends. We could all be relaxed and truly enjoy each other, the ocean breeze, and all the water activities that were so close by and so inviting.

When looking forward to all of this enjoyment every June during my youth, it should not be surprising that I was elated and that, even as a mature adult myself now, I cannot remember more precious times.

The next time I will select another priceless memory from “The Wacky World of Winnie and Willie” and my own childhood.