@ Louise Hullinger

When I peered out the window this morning my car & the driveway all matched perfectly! There were golden leaves plastered everywhere all over both of them forming a lovely mosaic of leaves. A capricious nocturnal paper hanger had "done" my car & driveway as I slept!

Who could have believed this would happen for me, who as a child had seen nothing of the "colorization" boasted about by those who live where deciduous trees abound. Living in South Dakota during the drought stricken years left no inheritance of autumn leaves.

Upon seeing such breathtaking artwork snatches of verse memorized fifty five years before in a one-roomed country school began to course nostalgically through my mind.

"Come little leaves," said the wind, one day,
"Come over the meadows with me and play;
"Put on your dresses of red & of gold;
"Summer is gone, & the days grow cold."


"October gave a party
"The leaves by hundreds came
"The ashes, oaks, and maples
"And trees of every name.

I couldn’t help but think how pleased that third grade teacher would have been to realize that what he had introduced had stayed with me for so long.

(Both written by George Cooper, taken from Poems for Course of Study, by Educator Supply Co. Michell, SD 1934

Moving is a Moving Experience!

Moving is a Moving Experience!   
Depositing a life time accumulation into
an apartment is a moving experience!

The new drive way seemed excessively narrow. A telephone pole jumped out at my car leaving scratches which had to be removed and repainted  by professionals.           
Until I heard a scraping noises I was unaware of any damage done to my car. I still cannot understand how it could have happened, except that I was very tired from moving several car loads from our home to an apartment. I had deplored the fact that the pole kept me from getting a straight turn into the slot allotted for me at my new residence.

When I heard a loud sound I stopped the car, looked at it, and could see nothing. However, after going into my apartment,  then returning for something in the car I could see it was scratched–considerably, The word scratch may not be a strong enough word. If it had been done by a cat it would have been “clawed.”

My husband could not believe what he saw.  Could anyone come that close to a pole without taking the pole along?  He grumbled that it would cost $200. I hated the thought of it. But when the final analysis came, they added an extra zero on the end. Our insurance covers insults for anything that cost more than $500. Until recently our deductible has been $25. How were we to know?
After a week and a half without a car I felt timid about driving, but picked up my car (and myself, after being told  what the sand and repaint job cost).  I had been carless for more than a week but, I also realized that the beast (fear) had to be confronted ASAP, so I crawled into my newly painted car and headed up back streets to our  new apartment.  Suddenly, startling numbers appeared on the dashboard. The speedometer read  50, and then 60!  Surely the numbers were incorrect.

Slowing my car as quickly as possible, with cars swerving around me, from both sides, I told myself  the Paint Shop must have tampered with my speedometer.  And while my mind was concentrating on this annoying turn of events.  I desperately tried to think how to explain what was happening without seeming to sound accusatory.

But before I did I noticed  KM below the speedometer. Something clicked in my mind and I realized that KM stood for kilometers. But I did not know how kilometers compared to miles, so  I didn’t know how fast I dared to wheel the car down the road.  As cars by passed me with drivers who were leering and probably cursing  “old ladies” who don’t keep up with the traffic,  I resolved to keep up with the traffic despite the speedometer showing 60 !

I have already learned, and I am not a slow learner, (though I have worked as a teacher of the learning disabled for years,) that downsizing is what people do when they move from a home with a basement, a second story, and a garage, plus the level they  spent most of their lives  for 52 years.

It isn’t the furniture that one parts with–it is the little souvenirs from countries such as a Cuckoo Clock from Germany, a La Manchu man from Spain, a chanticleer from Portugal, a St. Francis picture from Italy, a music box from Italy and Korea, masks from South Korea, brass lamp and vases from India, things from the Holy Land, the faces of Christ from all over, the poetry and cook books I love, the books on learning disabilities, some of which I wrote, and many of which I studied when I worked towards a degree in special education.

Yes, moving is a moving experience. As I reread proof that as president of the LD association I had contact with teachers, administrators, legislators, and hundreds of parents who had my phone call and had welcomed my advise.

I reread complementary letters from the Missionary League, of which I was a part, and had mementos from some of the dozens of refugees we helped. I wrote for a local newspaper, as well as the Northern Lights, our synod’s newsletter, where as editor I interviewed women from all over the district. I had saved what I had written.

I had entered contests in Penwomen, and received awards. Those could not be tossed aside.

Making it more difficult was the fact that I have started dozens of stories which have not been completed But those must not be tossed aside.

Moving is a  very moving experience!



He worked for an electrical company.  He climbed high wires when fierce storms knocked out electricity throughout the city. He sometimes worked down in rain-flooded sewers as well.  But mainly he worked high in the sky during and after electrical storms. He was known by his coworkers as The Bull.

I remember when his wife said to me, "I can't get John to have anything to do with church.  He is adamant." I listened and didn't know what to say. "Why not get one of the men to talk to him. One of the men he respects."

She did. She asked a man who worked at a similar job for the telephone company.  Their conversation didn't seem to make any difference, for we never saw him in church.  Except for Cub and Boy Scout activities where he was obviously a real leader.

Through the years the friendship between his wife and I continued. I went to see her when she was ill; I always came home from their home with my arms piled high with garden produce. She and John shared the fruits of their garden with many others.  As she and I visited, he often times joined in the conversation.

When she died, he clung to me.  I felt his grief, but how could I, a woman, console him?  I didn't feel comfortable about stopping in to look in on him, either.  Perhaps Women's Lib will liberate enough so women won't feel awkward about showing their care and concern for men who are ill or alone.

And then John had a stroke which left him somewhat weak, but didn't affect his spunk!  The last time I saw him was when he came to vote at a general election, where I worked the polls.  We chatted briefly and eft. I imagine that someone had given him a ride to the polls, and that he had to leave when they did.

Following a second stroke he was hospitalized. Through John's family the chaplain found that John had a Christian background, or at least his wife had, so a pastor of her faith was invited to talk to him.  John told the Pastor that his own church had failed him. He also told him that he had a recurring vision in which he was climbing a high ladder towards a bright light, but, always, when he was almost to the top, something tugged at him telling him to go back, as though there was something he'd forgotten.  As he talked about he came to realize what it was he'd left undone.

Years earlier feelings of resentment had magnified, and had caused him to turn away from the church. The same stubbornness which kept him plugging along through electrical storms fixing high lines which fierce winds had blown over, kept him from forgiving, or seeking forgiveness. When his wife passed on, and he lived all alone, her words kept coming back. He kept hearing her voice, her pleading, her chiding.

Her words tugged at him.  Finally in his weariness with life his stubborn mind relaxed and he could hear the words, "Come to me, you who are troubled..."

Before John died, he asked the chaplain to give him communion. He died in the faith; the light at the end of the tunnel leading him home.  That "small as a mustard seed" faith was there, certainly, and so were the prayers of his wife and family, who "held up the light," and expressed their faith in words and deeds.


Her face froze when out of the corner of her eyes she saw him running stark naked across her yard in the glaring sunshine of a hot mid-August day. It seemed it had been no more than a moment before when she had left him, content and serene. Except for the fact that his had been the hottest day ever recorded in the states since 1901 when the thermometer  on the local drug store had exploded. Other than that she had not even an iota of warning, not a single, brief hint that such disrobing might occur.
How could she have known? How could she have been aware that this might happen? Nothing in the past led her to suspect -- there was no history of mental imbalance, no strange proclivities for erratic (or erotic) behavior, no reason to be anxious. In short there was no thought about even a possibility for aberrant actions. There had been no forewarnings.

Gretchen was puzzled, but more than puzzled. Disgusted, but more than disgusted. Chagrined, and yes more than chagrined.

Upset but still able to handle herself. Gretchen took barely a second to make her resolve. She knew that if she didn't act immediately things could get worse. She knew what had to be done, and who had to do it.  She was nominated, elected & held the office!

Gretchen had never been one who pondered decisions overlong.  She had always been able to make up her mind when necessary. This counted as a tie when an instantaneous decision was necessary. There was no time to waste, none whatsoever.
She propelled herself through the heavy, mahogany shower, out into the bright sunshine. Temporarily blinded by the brightness of the sun overhead, she felt the noonday heat cooking her, completely enveloping her just as it had been doing all week. The thought crossed her mind that she could sense why he would want to undress.
But no sooner had the thought flitted through her mind than she cast it aside lest she find herself thinking that under certain circumstances exposure might be permisable.  No she could not allow herself to think such unthinkable things. She liked the sound of that on her mind's tongue -- think the unthinkable, think the unthinkable, think the unthinkable -- it rolled off her mind as if she were exuding it. She had to stop herself while she still could.
All the neighbor's children had gathered around the yard, staring, pointing covering their mouths into their hands as they snickered. But so far none of he adults had ventured out but Gretchen knew it wouldn't be long before they were about, too.
Getchen's resolve was firm, she picked her three-year old up, pointing her long finger at him and screamed, "Don't you ever ever take your clothes off and run around the yard naked, again."



Thirty five years ago I volunteered to help clean the church kitchen. Some very nice, friendly ladies from church asked if I would like to help them “houseclean” the church, a virtuous task they perform yearly.  By the time they have finished the place literally shines and everyone  feels pride  except those church ladies who know all about pride going before the fall.

I took along my two small sons, ages 3 and 5. Where else can you take boys that age and still be welcome?

While we were working on the oven of the big old black kitchen range my five year old observed,  “This oven is lots cleaner than ours at home.”

That settled it. I did not volunteer my cleaning services again. Obviously I had work to do at home!  It seemed improvident to be cleaning another kitchen when my own needed it so badly!

But somehow today I got volunteered into helping clean the church kitchen again.  It was impossible to avoid since the kitchen chairperson, a member of our 8:00 o’clock Bible class, cleverly scheduled the cleanup to begin immediately following Bible class!  After all if you pray together and stay together there is surely no way to avoid cleaning together!

This time I knew better than to attempt to clean the oven. I eyed my options and voted against cleaning  drawers of silverware, the microwave, and refrigerators. Instead I opted to use the new dishwasher and do all the dishes, plates, saucers, cups, bowls and all other washable objects.  An entire kitchen full of shining, lustrous dishes would make every church ladies heart beat with joy.

Operating the dishwasher is a task for which there is no competition since most of the ladies refuse to have anything to do with a  machine that washes dishes!  Their reasons vary from “I don’t know how to run one of them things, and I don’t intend to learn now”  to  “You have to scrape and rinse the dishes so why not just wash them the old fashioned way like we always did?”

It’s true there were no challengers for the position as dishwasher, but I did have help–one woman insisted on drying the dishes. My explanation that drying the dishes wasn’t necessary fell on deaf ears even after it was pointed out that at a temperature of 180 degrees any water clinging to the dishes, when taken from the machine, would evaporate in a matter of seconds.  I might have also pointed out that lint from dish towels probably makes the dishes less sterile than they are when they come out of their hot steam bath.

 I have come to the conclusion that there is something about doing dishes, and particularly drying dishes, is peculiarly satisfying to women!
But it all fairness I must admit that the hot steam  played havoc with my hairdo. But at least there wasn’t any five year old telling everyone what my kitchen at home looked like!



         It was a blustery January day when George, our next-door neighbor, stopped by our house.  Scott, our youngest son was busily pounding nails into a table he was trying to build.  Of our three sons Scott was the one who was always into mischief. I wondered what he’d been into this time. I needn’t have worried.

George tossed down a piece of canvas with what appeared to be pockets sewn on it.. “This,” he said, pointing at the item he had brought, “Is to help you keep track of your tools.”

He went on, “I see you over here pounding on things all the time. I see you working away on that little table, and it makes me right proud the way you keep after it until you got those legs right.”

I stifled a grin because Scott had been working for hours trying to get the legs right so the table wouldn’t teeter. No matter how hard he tried one leg was always too short. First he’d saw off  one table leg, and then he’d saw off another, trying to get them the same height.  He finally hit upon the idea of building up the short leg by glueing little pieces of wood on it!

The table may not have been the most handsome ever contrived,. but the problem of uneven table legs had been solved.  George picked up his gift for Scott and said, “Here, let me tie this around your waist. Then you can put the tools you want to use in the pockets.  I use mine all the time. It’s real handy. I usually keep a pliers, a hammer, a saw, and anything else I’m going to use that day. You’ll know right where they are when you need them-- as long as you put them back when you are through.”

George might still be advising Scott about his carpentry, but for one miscalculation.  His mistake was to call his canvas gift a “carpenter’s apron.”

This was a grave error. At age ten boys shun anything that sounds feminine!  And then there was the other long-festering reason that Scott hadn’t appreciated the gift as much as he ought. Let me explain.

Of our four children. three are blue-eyed, golden-haired blondes, like their father.  When Scott was born he had dark eyes, skin, and hair–like mine once was!  I beamed all over when folks observed “You finally got one that looks like you, Louise!”

. I think I told everyone. I loved my blonde, blue eyed children dearly. But there is something soul-satisfying about having one who resembles you, especially when none of the others did!  With Scott there was absolute certainty that the hospital hadn’t sent  the wrong kid home!

Now Scott is grown, and has children of his own. One of them is his  “spittin’ image.” He said, “I love it when folks say, ‘You musta cloned that one.”   

“But when everyone said I looked like you I didn’t like it one bit,  because I thought they meant I looked like a girl.”

At last I understood why Scott didn’t pursue carpentry as his trade, though he was a natural, and enjoyed building things.

Oh, he built a dog house for a girl friend (now his wife) when he was in his 20's. But for all his ingenuity and skill at building things he hadn’t gone into it as a profession.

Today Scott is a chemist. He may wear white jackets at work. but at least he will never be caught wearing an apron!



Four mangy camels stood in front of us at Giza.  I thought it was funny and laughed the first time I heard the line that camels look like something put together by a committee.  Now I knew it was truth absolute!  These animals bore only slight resemblance to the camels that amble across the desert on cigarette packages!

Their saddle blankets were neither red nor blue, though perhaps they had been once.  The fringe bore slight resemblance to that my kindergartners crayoned on the three wise men when making Christmas cards.  The knobby knees, the patchy, saddle-worn hide, the unkempt, knotted mane--it all made for a seedy appearance. It had to have been a poet who gave them the nickname, "ships of the desert."  They looked and smelled more like "scum of the earth."

We kept thinking about the poor suckers who would walk a mile for a camel.  Not in this sun they wouldn't!   Nevertheless we had come this far and  we didn't want to miss the opportunity to have a ride on a camel.

There was no difficulty in hailing the cab! The camel drivers, huge, sunburned turbaned men clad in light-colored gallabayos, were everywhere present, pressing tourists to invest what money they had with them.

After negotiating briefly, (Two dollars is an outrage; do we look like millionaires?) my significant other and I parted with two dollars apiece and were ready to claim our ride across the desert sands.

But first there was the matter of mounting the beast, who was accommodating and knelt down so we could climb aboard.  Once we were in the saddle the animal raised up his back legs, way up, while we clung, desperately, to the saddle horn.  Next, apparently trying to demonstrate the bactrian version of whiplash, he reared up on his front legs, and there we were, more or less--atop the world. Only the pyramids a few yards away were higher than we were.

The camel driver held the reins securely in his  own hands--for two dollars we weren't even allowed to guide our own animal!

After a few feet the camel driver motioned towards my camera,
calling, "Piksher, piksher."  I obligingly handed it over and he pointed it at  us. Then he said," two dolla," gesturing withhis fingers so we knew exactly how much he wanted.

We figured out what he meant but he, alas, could neither understand nor interpret our gestures, which clearly explained, we thought, that it was our camera and our film, and us in the picture and therefore we should not pay---.

On the other hand we wanted our camera back, so we handed him the "two dolla" he demanded. That wasn't enough. He wanted "two dolla" for each!

A few yards farther he asked us if we wanted off, but we shook
our heads. He pointed back at the place we had started and said,

"Go back? Two dolla." We shook our heads, and he and the camel
came to a halt.  The camel would not kneel, and we could not think
of jumping down from that great height. We had one ace in the hole, however. For every minute we sat up there he was missing the opportunity to give another sucker a ride at "two dollas" a ride.  He was first of all a businessman, so in time he said whatever it is that must be muttered to camels to get them to kneel.

A couple who accompanied us on the trip pointed out that we had fared well. Their driver refused to let them off until they paid him "two dolla" apiece, and they were getting nervous up so high.  Not only that but he did not know how to make change so when they gave him a ten dollar bill, he kept the change and fled to his next customer.

Before we could board our tourist bus again literally dozens of arms were thrust in front of us, urging us to buy their wares.  Their spiels covered everything. "Buy good luck," "Buy a jewelry," "Buy pikshure postacards. Only two dolla." Everything, it seemed, cost "two dolla."

Our tour guide had warned us not to pay any attention to the thrusting hands but to get back on the bus quickly. Alas, I have no sales resistance, (but luckily very little money) so I gave "two dolla" for what turned out to be a necklace made with blue "stones' and wire. It broke before lunch. The other buy turned out to be a piece of cheesecloth that could well be used as a headdress, but unfortunately it was only long enough for a midget!
Having thus spent my days' allotment, and mesmerized by the
white-hot sun on the floor of the desert I pointed my camera at a
youngster riding a donkey.  He twirled around, demanding money.

He began screaming in a high, agitated voice, that I had taken his picture and "sheated" him. I was aware that every eye in that immense desert land was peering at this "sheater." Shades of Cleopatra, Ramses I and II, and even the  Sphinx!
I hurriedly rummaged through my empty purse for something, anything, with which to placate him. I came upon a laminated miniature fake five dollar bill given to me as a joke, once upon a time, and handed it to him.
He looked at it, peered at it closely, then pocketed it.