RIDING BACK

Writing can take you to unexpected places, but I never thought it would land me on a horse that  has gold and silver sides.

I had decided to write a children’s book about a little girl’s trip  to New York.  What  could be more authentic than a ride in one of the famous horse drawn carriages?

I went to Central Park to view them for myself.     Horses decked out in colorful plumes, attached to ornate carriages..  But  I was uneasy.  Part of me agrees with the increasing view that pulling these heavy carriages hour after hour on concrete pavements is unfair to the animals. To complicate  matters, the new mayor – de Blasio – declared he would end these rides. Despite many people saying that  the carriages were  “too much a historic part of New York” to be eliminated,  I didn’t like the idea of  writing a scene that might make my book seem outdated.

What does a writer do in a case like this? The solution was to find an alternative. Would the Park’s famed merry-go-round – the largest in the country – be as exciting to young readers? When questioned,  my ten-year-old granddaughter enthusiastically declared that it would.

Since seeing is not only believing but leads to more vivid writing,  I went to Central Park to see the carousel for myself.  Standing in front all those  children whirling around on brightly painted horses,  I was back in my own childhood. How I had loved  riding the merry-go-round — up, down, around and around, fearlessly galloping across the plains, the wind in my hair, reaching for the brass ring (almost toppling off the horse).

The mature side of me asked the ticket taker journalistic  questions – how many horses (57), how long and expensive each ride, etc. But the child within me asked for something else: a ticket. I would ride back into my youth.

Not so fast!  To my embarrassment I was unable  to  get my considerably older body up on the horse. The assistant sarcastically informed me I had chosen the biggest one.

Finally climbing awkwardly (why had I worn a skirt?) on a smaller horse, I waited eagerly for the bell that would begin this journey back.  A bell clanged and music of sorts began, but somehow my horse didn’t seem to be moving up and down as high as I’d remembered. I watched his hoofs – yes, they were moving. But not the way they had when I was a  child.    And where was my brass ring? Nowhere in sight.

When I finally dismounted, the friend who’d  come with me asked if I had enjoyed the ride. “The horse didn’t move much,” I muttered. He assured me he’d been watching and that the horse did

But something was missing: the child who has galloped out of sight.

Fortunately, we can conjure  up our lost rides in our writing.

WEBSITE: www. annehosansky.com

BOOKS: “Widow’s Walk” – available through iUIniverse.com; “Turning Toward Tomorrow”- Xlibris.com; “Ten Women of Valor” – Amazon.com and CreateSace.com. Also Amazon KIndle.

AN INNOVATIVE MEMOIR

In teaching memoir writing, I invariably find the Number One reason people want to write a memoir is to preserve memories for their children and grandchildren. Since they aren’t thinking in terms of best-sellers nor do they want to invest large sums of money, the solution is to create a do-it-yourself project.

That’s the route a Florida man took.

Warren Adamsbaum , a Boca Raton retiree, was a soldier during World War 11. A dutiful son, he wrote hundreds of letters to his parents to assure them, as he says now, “that I was OK.”

When he came home after the war his father presented him with an album in which he’d pasted every one of those letters. For years the album lay on a shelf, the pages beginning to crumble. Looking at those papers his late father had so carefully saved, Warren decided to put together a memoir that would “save the essence of those letters.” But he was perplexed about how to do it. A collection of them would have given the facts, but he felt there were too many mundane details. What finally came to his mind was an unusual format: Write about his experiences, interspersing selective letters.

He focused his memoir solely on the war years, 1943-1946. It took him several years to write and organize the manuscript, but what treasured – and even humorous- memories it conjured up, such as his mother’s guilty certainty that the stomach ailment he rashly wrote home about must have been caused by the tinned salami she sent him six months earlier! And dramatic images like marching into a captured German town and seeing white towels and sheets flown from every window as symbols of surrender. Adding copies of treasured items such as his Honorable Discharge, Warren ended up with more than 300 pages. He dedicated the manuscript to the memory of his parents.

Warren wanted the memoir to be shared only with family members and close friends.. Taking the pages to a local store he ordered 36 copies. The cost was a few hundred dollars, but the reward was gold, including praise from the sole war buddy he was still touch with.

“I worked hard and long,” Warren says “but I feel very proud of myself.”

There may be an additional reward down the line. Warren continued to be an avid letter writer, but the recipient has been his only grandson. The two live far apart, so Warren maintained a close bond via a multitude of letters and, later, E-mails. “I just learned that Andy has saved quite a few of them!” (A future family memoir?)

P.S. Do you have a story about writing a memoir? Let me know at ahosansky@gmail.com and perhaps you’ll see yourself here, too.

WEBSITE: www.annehosansky.com
BOOKS: “Widow’s Walk” – available through iUniverse.com; “Turning Toward Tomorrow” – Xlibris.com; “Ten Women of Valor: – Amazon.com and CreateSpace.com. Also Amazon Kindle.