A Past Worth Telling

A Past Worth Telling

by Mary Ann Niemczura Phd


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781458212993
Publisher: Abbott Press
Publication date: 02/21/2014
Pages: 168
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.39(d)

Read an Excerpt


By Mary Ann Niemczura

Abbott Press

Copyright © 2014 Mary Ann Niemczura, Ph.D.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4582-1299-3



My parents met and married in Boston where my father had just graduated Boston University and my mother had finished nursing school and began working as a Registered Nurse. When they first met at a university dance, my father knew my mother was from Monson and that was not too far from Palmer. He decided to ask our mother out on a date but looked up the wrong name in the phone book. I asked him what he did. He told me he took out Marie the first night and the second night he phoned and dated our mother. We're happy he married the right one.

    It was complicated

    They met in Boston
    And quickly filled
    Their dance cards
    For the evening.

    Discovered they lived
    In nearby towns.
    Forgot her phone number
    Looked her up in the

    Phone book. Problem.
    Was she Marie or Mary?
    Went out with Marie
    Even though she was

    A stranger to him.
    Phoned Mary next,
    The right one.
    Later married her.

Money was scarce after the Depression and college years so our parents married the same afternoon our father graduated college. She wore a navy blue suit, white silk blouse, gardenia corsage and her strawberry blond hair high in curls on the top of her head. She was beautiful; he was handsome.

    A Gardenia Corsage

    Young and in love
    The Depression
    Came. Money was scarce.
    She was a registered nurse

    And he graduated college.
    Met and married in Boston
    She wore a navy blue
    Suit, white silk blouse

    With a gardenia corsage.
    Their marriage spanned
    Almost five decades.
    My father's joke was

    He married my mother
    For her money. Two
    Hundred dollars was a
    Big sum in those days.

The clothesline behind our Sturbridge house held the laundry smelling of fresh air. At the end of the day, our mother put it all in the straw laundry basket to empty and fold in the darkened living room as we watched the small black and white television. One evening, a scream came out of her throat and laundry went up in the air. We all screamed at the snake in the house.

    Laundry Basket

    Big straw laundry basket
    Under the clothesline
    Outdoors in the sun.
    Fresh outdoor smell.

    Mom took the
    Laundry down
    Just after supper
    Unaware of the visitor.

    While viewing
    Black and white,
    A sudden commotion
    Ensued with

    Laundry flying
    Mom shrieking

    Dad to the rescue
    With ax in hand,
    Moved two pieces

We loved bundling into snowsuits, mittens and hats to play outside in the Massachusetts winter. We filled our yard one day with snowmen of all sizes and then counted them.

    Twenty-five Snowmen

    Bundled in snowsuits
    Sliding down hills
    On our wooden sleds
    Rosy red cheeks

    And cold hands
    Through the mittens
    Which were wet
    From building

    Snowmen and
    Summoned inside,
    We warmed ourselves

    In front of the
    Played outside
    All day long.

    In snowy
    Those were
    The days.

One summer weekend morning when our parents were still in bed, we went outside to play and decided to bring them a present of the orange lizards which crawled everywhere in the woods behind the house. Our gift in a jar of about forty-five of these tiny creatures was not exactly appreciated. We were told to bring them back outside.

    Surprise Gift

    Playing outdoors
    In the woods
    In Sturbridge
    Was great fun.

    Decided to give
    Our parents
    A surprise gift
    One morning.

    Arose early to
    Search the
    Woods for the

    Brought them back
    Forty-five squirming
    In a jar.

    Woke them up to
    Show them the creatures.
    With them they said.

We loved to go blueberry picking with our parents. Each of us had a tiny metal pail to their huge ones. We were to fill them up. By the end of the day, our pails were fairly empty but our tummies were full and our mouths were blue.

    Little Blue Mouths

    Each had a tiny
    Metal pail for
    The blueberries.
    We picked.

    Our parents
    Kept watchful
    Glances as
    They filled

    Large pails
    Of juicy blueberries
    For pies.
    Pails mainly

    Empty, we
    Smiled at them
    With blue mouths
    And fingers.

When I first saw the red berries, I brought a few to my mother for identification. She said it was safe to consume them. So we did. They had a decidedly mint flavor.

    Pretty Red

    Their red color
    Caught my attention
    Out in the woods
    Behind our house.

    Red checkerberries
    With white flesh
    And minty taste.
    Found them on

    The ground under
    The fallen leaves
    And collected a
    Few of these

    Tasty treasures.
    Rural Massachusetts
    Revealed so many

I wanted to win at the card game called Authors but was not always successful in doing so. This time I decided I would win by sitting on one of the cards. After the cheating was discovered, I was sent to my room while my sisters were allowed to play. Life was not always fair.

    Sitting on the Card

    Near the built-in
    Red desk in
    The kitchen
    We sat

    Playing Authors
    Card game.
    Alcott, Hawthorne,
    Irving, Cooper and others.

    We learned their
    Names. I liked to
    Win and made
    Certain I did

    By sitting on one card.
    My sisters protested.
    My mother scolded. l
    Had to leave the game.

At the end of Cedar Street where we lived in Sturbridge was the Old Sturbridge Village. Homes from an earlier era and costumes on the people, it was always intriguing to take a school field trip there. We all wanted one of the horseshoe nail rings the blacksmith forged each of us. There was no entry fee in those early days.

    The Blacksmith

    Our third grade class
    Walked one mile on a
    Field trip to the
    Old Sturbridge Village.

    We marveled at the
    Costumes of bygone
    Eras. The general
    Store with the

    Wooden Indian standing
    Guard, pickles in barrels,
    Penny candy, horehound
    Drops. But the best

    Was watching the village
    Blacksmith make
    Horseshoe nail rings
    For each of us.

In Massachusetts, we learned to write cursive in first grade with big yellow pencils in our hands. Printing was not taught. But we had penmanship classes and tests on our beautiful attempts. Until one day when a bird flew in our second floor fire escape door which was left open because it was a hot summer day. In flew a bird and chaos ensued.

    Penmanship Class

    It was a hot June day.
    Door to fire escape ajar,
    In flew a bird
    And disrupted

    Our perfectly shaped
    Letters during
    Penmanship class
    Under the watchful eye

    Of our teacher.
    Bird left its dropping
    On the girl's desk
    In front of me.

    A brown paper towel
    Cleaned the desk. Students
    Screaming and laughing
    Watched the bird fly off.

During penmanship classes in Massachusetts, I remember the inkwells were filled with dark black permanent ink. We were supposed to dip our pens in to write. Most of us were on task except for one boy.


    My school in
    Massachusetts had
    Fold top desks
    With ink wells.

    Dark black, indelible
    Ink filled them.
    During penmanship
    Class, we dipped pens

    Into the inkwells.
    Not everyone.
    One boy was
    Busy dipping a

    Girl's blond
    Braids into the
    Inkwell. He got into
    Big trouble.

My father claimed I cut my head open on those stone steps leading into my school when I was chasing the boys and my head met the stairs. Since my mother was a nurse, I knew about ether and did not want a local anesthetic the doctor wanted to inject with that long needle into my forehead.

    Old Snellville School

    Big stone steps
    Fourth grade recess
    I chased the boys.

    Lost my footing,
    Cracked open my
    Forehead on the steps,

    School phoned
    My mother who
    Walked one mile
    From Cedar Street.

    To the doctor.
    Not wanting the
    Shot before stitches,
    I screamed for ether.

    Saw a merry go round
    Vivid blue background.
    Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck
    Went round and round.

All the time and money invested taking me to Boston to have the gap closed between my front teeth was for naught when I fell from the jungle gym in first grade and broke the teeth. My poor mother.

    Much to her Chagrin

    I was about five
    When my mother,
    A registered nurse,
    Took me to Boston

    For the operation
    To close the gap
    In my front teeth.
    Never bothered me.

    Returned home
    A gapless smile now.
    Didn't bother me.
    Then came first grade.

    Loved those monkey bars
    During recess
    Fell from the top
    Cracked two front teeth.

    I stayed in school.
    My mother's cry of dismay
    Was worse
    Than my new smile.

Probably my mother was not thrilled when my father came home with three kittens for us. She had allergies and so did one of my sisters. We kept the cats outside and in the garage.

    Three little Kittens

    Our father brought
    Home three kittens
    For us girls.
    Two were tiger

    The other black
    And white.
    Mom was allergic
    So they stayed outdoors.

    Made beds for
    Them in the garage.
    Caught mice and
    Tossed them in the

    Air like rag dolls.
    One was run over.
    Gave the others away.

The lawn mower had no gasoline engine. A simple one pushed by hand. When my father did our lawn, the frogs woke up and jumped away from the blades. We tried to catch the frogs.

    Frogs Jumping

    Whenever my Dad
    Mowed the lawn
    In Sturbridge
    With a reel lawn mower

    The frogs leapt
    And jumped out
    Of the way.
    We gave chase

    And caught some
    Of the squirmy
    Slimy creatures
    And let them go

    Again. The stone
    Wall my Dad built
    Also had snakes
    Not our favorites.

There were many snakes, mostly garter snakes where we lived but to a five year old, it was scary.

    It Slithered

    My mother left my
    Youngest sister alone
    At home while she
    Drove two of us to school.

    Frightened, my little
    Sister walked
    Down the
    Road to find us.

    A slithering snake
    Emerged from
    The nearby swamp
    And caused her

    Alarm. Frozen in fear
    She stood crying
    Mother's rescue.

We played during long summer days outside our house. One day, sitting in a small patch of low bushes and stones, we talked for hours before we saw it: a snake. We had not disturbed one another until that moment.

    Sat with a Friend

    On a lazy
    Summer day
    The three of us
    Sat out back

    Near the woods
    Behind our
    Sturbridge home.
    We played our

    Imaginary games
    Speaking quietly
    With one another
    Very intent on the game.

    Suddenly one of us
    Spotted the coiled
    Creature lazing with
    Us. A snake.

First Communions were celebrated in style. I had a fancy white dress, veil, gloves and white silk stockings and white shoes. I was not to get anything dirty before going to church. My father filming us with his 8mm movie camera filmed me jumping over the sidewalk around our house. Good thing I did not fall.

    White Silk Stockings

    New white shoes
    White dress and veil
    Garter belt
    To hold the

    White silk stockings
    Turned over at
    The top to fit
    Her seven year old legs.

    Rosary beads
    Held in white
    Gloved hands.
    First Communion today.

    Cameras flashing
    Adults gushed at
    Their offspring
    As they processed

    Into church led by
    Two older girls
    Dressed as angels
    With wings.

Probably on impulse, my father made arrangements for a new pilot, nineteen years old, to take his girls up in the single engine plane to experience flying. How he convinced our mother, I do not know.


Excerpted from A PAST WORTH TELLING by Mary Ann Niemczura. Copyright © 2014 Mary Ann Niemczura, Ph.D.. Excerpted by permission of Abbott Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Dedication, ix,
Epigraph, xi,
Foreword, xiii,
Introduction, xv,
PART 1 - Massachusetts Memories, 1,
It was complicated, 3,
A Gardenia Corsage, 4,
Laundry Basket, 6,
Twenty-five Snowmen, 7,
Surprise Gift, 8,
Little Blue Mouths, 9,
Pretty Red, 10,
Sitting on the Card, 11,
The Blacksmith, 12,
Penmanship Class, 13,
Inkwells, 14,
Old Snellville School, 15,
Much to her Chagrin, 16,
Three little Kittens, 17,
Frogs Jumping, 18,
It Slithered, 19,
Sat with a Friend, 20,
White Silk Stockings, 22,
What was Dad thinking?, 23,
Big, Black Bicycle, 24,
First Time, 25,
Professor LaForce, 26,
Under the Umbrella, 27,
Ambidextrous, 28,
Cedar Street, 29,
Homage to Uncle Joe, 30,
Four Seasons, 32,
Precocious, 33,
Outside My Window, 35,
Turn of the Century House, 36,
Oxygen Tent, 37,
Decision Time, 38,
Don't Go Into the Bushes, 39,
Hidden Pockets, 41,
Red Handlebar Moustache, 42,
Skunk Cabbage, 43,
Daddy Long Legs, 44,
PART 2 - Colorado Chats, 45,
Time to Move the Hose, 47,
Tumbleweeds, 48,
Long Blond Braids, 50,
Cowboy Performer, 52,
Never Ever, 53,
Fancy Duds, 54,
Frosted Mugs, 56,
Former Days, 57,
Muffins, 58,
Short Notice, 59,
Not Yet, 60,
Purple Ribbon, 61,
Yeast Bread, 62,
Waste Not, 63,
Don't Switch Pans, 64,
By Accident, 65,
Dragging the Gut, 66,
Drive-in Movies, 67,
Mystery Meat, 69,
Getting Ready for Church, 70,
The Niemczura Sisters, 71,
Church Music, 73,
Erasers, 74,
Aging is the Pits, 75,
No Spraying, 76,
Engineer's Daughter, 77,
It Defied Logic, 79,
All Good Things Come in Threes, 80,
Wheelbarrow, 81,
Hopping Mad, 82,
The Hardwick Music Studio, 83,
Six Hands at the Piano, 84,
Learning Experience, 85,
Dumbfounded, 86,
New Words, 87,
PART 3 - Musings from Upstate New York, 89,
Cat Duty, 91,
Off Cat Duty, 92,
Skunk, 93,
Frozen Silence, 94,
Just died, 95,
Uninvited Guest, 96,
Another Scorcher, 97,
Beauty and Warmth, 98,
Routine Eye Exam, 99,
Eye Chart, 100,
Solution to the Problem, 101,
I Am There Now, 102,
Collards, 103,
Under the Apple Trees, 104,
Gone Gathering, 105,
Things Are Not as They Appear Sometimes, 106,
Love's Duty, 107,
In a Hurry, 108,
Another Note, 110,
Hold On, 111,
Hidden Life, 113,
To Piano in a Blizzard, 115,
Yearnings, 116,
Next Best, 117,
The Whistler, 118,
Two Canes, 119,
Parts Wear Out, 120,
PART 4 - Teaching Experiences, 121,
I teach, 123,
Who goes there?, 125,
Alone, 126,
Never Again, 127,
Our Second Family, 129,
The Golden House, 131,
Stefan, 132,
Sex Education, 134,
Swim Lesson, 135,
My Little Native Speakers, 136,
Fairy Tale Wedding, 138,
Mike - a Love Story, 140,
The German Toyshop, 142,
High Security Area, 144,
Fresh Parsley, 145,
Incredible Journey, 147,
The Kulak, 148,
In a Town called Jachymov, 149,
About the Author, 151,

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