Friday, February 19, 2021



I remember that I had made some notes at the time.  It was after he had driven off.  I’d had a personal phone book, the kind the phone company used to give you when you rented a phone from them.  I’d taken the book with me as some sort of link to the people I knew in the world.  As if I had friends in my pocket.

I must have just yanked the book out and scribbled information about the incident on the white cover. I planned to write a letter, a warning, but I never did.  My guess was that it would be useless to try to find that phone book now, but it was worth a try. And, to be honest with myself, I knew I went looking because the activity would take some time, time that would not be used to take any action.

If you went into my basement you would find, among assorted paraphernalia, plastic containers filled with keepsakes. I hold onto things.  You’d have to get through the portable clothesline, air conditioners we no longer use since we splurged for central air, a bunch of suitcases none of which have all four wheels, a duffel bag I bought for a hiking trip I took with my brother over a decade ago and have used for nothing else since, and a damaged cabinet which we were able to get replaced.  I thought that I would find some use for the damaged cabinet.  I thought that seven years and three months ago. It still sits like an item on an obstacle course near the center of the basement.  

But if you maneuvered past these items and others, you could find boxes that have magic markered labels on them.  Alan’s nostalgia pre 1975 reads one.  When I was a kid such plastic containers did not exist. You put things in cardboard boxes and when you went to get items from them, they smelled—no matter what you did—of basement and age.  But progress. These plastic containers surfaced. Remarkable the evolution of things when you dwell on it.  For years, diners banged and shook glass ketchup bottles trying to get the stuff to come out. Someone puts the ketchup in a plastic bottle and you can effortlessly squeeze.  Why did it take so long to think of this?  I found out a few weeks back that there is a patent on the cardboard sleeves you get when you buy a cup of hot coffee. The name for the item is a zarf. For decades people burned their paws trying to carry their drug sans zarf.  Someone wakes up and says, “put a piece of cardboard around the coffee and you won’t burn your fingers.”    A Jay Sorensen has the patent on this zarf thing for twenty years. He does not have to worry if the cost of a cup goes up. 

There are no zarfs in my Alan’s nostalgia pre 1975 bin.  I come across a card and a gift from the summer of 1966 sent by my camp sweetheart.  I find college fraternity mementoes.  I spot a high school paper I wrote that, apparently, I thought reflected some wisdom. There’s a huge bed sheet on which supporters had written an encouraging sign before what we considered to be an especially important football game. 

And then somewhere between a hockey puck, a picture of bunk 8 from Camp Chicopee when I was 6, the program for the “Teahouse of the August Moon” the senior play in high school in which I had the minor part of Sergeant Gregovich whose biggest scene involved a drunken stumble across the stage, a feathered hat from the 1964 World’s Fair, the scorecard from some meaningless New York Mets game, and a poem on pink paper that concluded with the words, “Don’t forget me” from someone who forgot me--somewhere in that cluster of nostalgia, I find the phone book with my notes scrawled on the front from 1974. And I also find the log and the map. I’d forgotten about the log and the map.

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