Miracle on Ice-1980

Remembering Where I Was, When.

It is one of those, “Do you remember where you were, when?” moments.

This bunch of college hockey players, all kids, coached by legend Herb Brooks were not supposed to beat the Russian pros, who had won the last four Olympic Gold Medals, but that Friday night, 35 years ago, in Lake Placid, New York, something wonderful happened.

I was living in St. Cloud, Minnesota. I had moved there in November of 1979 from Grand Forks where I’d been living since I left Fargo after a separation and divorce. I went to St. Cloud, where I had my sister Joni was living, and would use their house to crash in until I found work. I was unemployed, pretty well broke, and was really not knowing what my future would look like. I did find work, selling cars at St. Cloud Dodge, during the day, and tending bar, part time at the Sunwood Inn, at the motel’s lounge which served it’s large dining room as well.

I wasn’t working that Friday night in February 1980, but went to the lounge at the Sunwood to watch the hockey game with friends I worked with. St. Cloud is a good hockey town, and having spent years in Grand Forks, both in college and working there, I was a confirmed hockey fan.

When I saw that this weekend they were celebrating in Lake Placid the 35th anniversary of what came to be called “The Miracle on Ice,” I was taken back immediately to that night so many years ago.

The lounge was a small place, not a sports bar by any stretch, with but one or two TV sets in the place.

That night as the game wore on, and during the third period, the drinks started coming faster, we knew we were watching something special, and the noise level rose to approximate that in a regular sports bar.

As word spread throughout the dining room and motel about how close the game was, the lounge began to fill up, and when the American lads, who weren’t even supposed to be there, brought the Russians down, the place erupted. There were cheers, high fives, hugs and smiles and more celebratory toasts to the “kids” who beat the mighty Russians to advance to the Gold Medal game.

The game against Finland for the Gold was almost anti-climactic. The USA won the Gold, and a permanent place in Winter Olympics and sports history.

That night remains a crystal clear memory for me, and I think I remember “where I was when” because of the intense pride and joy felt by everyone in that small lounge that night.

As we sat there that night in the afterglow of that moment, we were all a little closer, and though I have no idea where Becky, Mike, Karla or others may even be today, I think of them and remember that night when we all were so proud of our American boys.

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Where The Popsicles Are Redux

The Lincoln Underground and The Popsicle Story

The winter issue of The Lincoln Underground,a literary magazine in Lincoln, Nebraska is out now. It features cover art I had submitted to the editors, as well as two written pieces, one a poem, and the other a short non-fiction piece.

Cabernet Blues

Cabernet Blues

Some of you may have seen the two items before. They were written to be included as part of what has come to be called, “The Popsicle story.” In the true spirit of self promotion, here they are again.

Cape Cod 2001

There were the lobsters, the mussels and the shrimp.

There were our friends,

And there was you.

It was the shoulder season on Cape Cod.

The time when locals take back their towns.

Labor Day was past, we were the present.

The Sagamore bridge led us to Sandwich,

Where the sea air wrapped us in cool embrace

With promises of lobsters, mussels and shrimp.

Your life had changed by now.

You traveled with clouds of uncertainty.

Our friends at the Cape loved you all the more.

We spent a day on the water, on Al’s boat.

Under the Sagamore bridge, on the canal out into the bay,

We reveled in the September sun and sea.

We drove through history another day to Provincetown.

Past timeless buildings on the Grand Army of the Republic Highway,

Pausing in Wellfleet for scallops and wine, and talking as old friends do.

You soaked it all in those September days.

I could see it in your eyes. I could see it in the color of your cheeks.

In the dark of the Forestdale woods that night, they shined their shine.

It was the shoulder season on Cape Cod.

There were the lobsters, and the mussels and the shrimp.

There were our friends,

And there was you.

A Purse Full of Memories.

I ran across your purse today, while rummaging through old boxes.

It was heavy. Still filled with touchstones that filled your life.

I felt the warm leather of the bag and the years since you’ve been gone seemed to melt away.

I gave you that dark brown, leather Coach bag, the one with the flap over the opening, on one long ago Christmas, because it fit you. Elegant, understated, classic.

You wore it well from your shoulder, even when you crammed more into it than it was built for, but it still looked good.

I opened it, and there were your glasses, your overstuffed check book, notes scribbled on scraps of paper containing names and numbers of people who once mattered to you enough to scribble their names and numbers on scraps of paper. For what reasons, I do not know.

I found the talismans, the crystal, the cross and the worry stone, you carried with you during those most difficult times of your life, and the hope you carried with you in that dark brown, leather Coach bag. There was also a card that went with one called, “The Cross in My Pocket.” I never knew if you read it, but I knew if you had, you believed in what it said.

There was a note, handwritten on a yellow piece of paper torn from a small legal tablet, that was a thank you note you were composing to someone who was very close to you and who had been generous and supportive during those dark times. I don’t know who it was intended for, but it could have been any number of people. The words were yours, and they seemed to come to life off the page.

There was a tin of mints from someone’s wedding in 2007, a wedding you were not able to attend. The decal on the cover read “Jim and Kirsten, April 21, 2007.

There was a pocket pack of Kleenex, like the ones you used to shred when the going was tough.

When I see that purse, I think of that snowy day in Minneapolis. We were there in early December for a doctor’s appointment of some kind, and we had an extra day all to ourselves.

You wanted to go down Nicollet mall so you could stop at Dayton’s, or Macy’s, or whatever it was called then, and go to Crate and Barrel for some Christmas tree decorations. Then we walked over to Hennepin Avenue, and found a restaurant we hadn’t been to before.

The lunch rush was gone, and we were pretty much alone there. We stayed as long as we wanted, drank some wine, had some flatbread with Asiago cheese and talked as if we had nothing better to do that day, and we didn’t. When we saw it begin to fill up again, we knew we had been there long enough. We left and began the walk up Hennepin to find our way back to the car parked across from The Loon Cafe on 1st Avenue.

It had begun to snow lightly. It wasn’t that cold, but the huge snowflakes made it feel as if we were part of some giant, ethereal snow globe.

You were wearing that black wool coat with your red scarf, and that dark brown, leather Coach bag hung loosely from your shoulder, looking every bit the city girl that day, out with her friend. I carried the bags from Dayton’s or Macy’s or whatever it was called, and the bag from Crate and Barrel, in one hand, the other held yours.

The snow continued to fall, but we didn’t hurry. We weren’t cold at all. I think we were both entranced by the scene that winter day in the city, as if we were playing the parts in some romantic movie, of two carefree lovers out walking on a snowy afternoon during the holidays who were in love, and didn’t care who knew it.

I don’t know if you ever thought of that day the same way I did, nor do I know if you thought of that dark brown, leather Coach bag the same way I did, but I like to think you did.

Both of them looked good on you.

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Thing Were Possible

When all things were possible,
There was music, bread and olive oil.

There were soft lights,
And talking for hours.

We dreamed our dreams
And planned our plans.

Laughed our laughs
And cried our cries.

There was Chardonnay and Cabernet,
And making love by the fireplace.

When all things were possible,
There was always tomorrow.

We were in love, but one day,
Tomorrow took you away from me.

Now, there are only yesterdays,
And memories of what was possible.

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 A Thought

An unspoken thought.
Who does it serve?
Where does it go?

Unsaid, it lies dormant,
Waiting, waiting,
In the void, unheard.

The thought,
That unspoken thought,
When uttered sounds clear.

Listen with your heart,
And the thought, finally spoken,
Brings sunlight to the darkness.

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Raindrops and Diamonds

They shine in the light,
Raindrops, bright and clear
Even when they splash.

With every drop
Comes a promise
They are worth more than gold.

Each one has a color
A hue that comes to life
In the storm’s afterglow.

There’s no pot of gold
At the end of this rainbow,
Only the diamonds that made it.

Even then,
While briefly briliant,
They too, lose their luster,
Leaving you but a promise.

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