Letter from the North Pole, 1957

Lacking a fireplace, I mailed my letters to Santa Claus at the post office in downtown Fentress. My list of preferred gifts was always extensive. I knew I wouldn’t get everything I wanted, but there was no harm in asking.

One year Santa wrote back. As proof, I’m posting not only the letter he wrote, but the envelope as well. Judging from the postmark and the reference to Sputnik, I’d just turned six.

It takes a lot of stamps to get a letter from the North Pole to Texas.

It also helps when your Uncle Joe is the postmaster.

100-Word Story: Pogo Stick

Friday Fictioneer Challenge: Write a 100-word story based on the photo.

PHOTO PROMPT © Douglas M. MacIlroy
PHOTO PROMPT © Douglas M. MacIlroy

 

I heard them talking.

Daddy said, She wants a pogo stick.

Mama said, She has enough presents.

Santa brought a pogo stick.

Daddy smiled. Sturdy.

We went outside.

Mama frowned. Don’t fall.

She’s fine. Daddy lifted me on.

I bounced. The pogo stick didn’t.

Daddy frowned. Spring’s tight. You’re not heavy enough.

Daddy tried. He bounced down the sidewalk.

Mr. Smith came over. Can I try?

Daddy jumped off. Sure.

Mr. Smith bounced down the driveway. This is fun.

Let me try again, Daddy.

Daddy bounced up the driveway.

Mama brought me my doll.

She’s right. I have enough presents.


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Instructions for this week’s story

” The following photo is the PHOTO PROMPT. What does it say to you? I dare you to look beyond the subject. I double dare you!”

I looked far beyond the subject: The rings of metal at the base of the metal skeleton reminded me of a spring, which reminded me of a pogo stick, which prompted my 100-word story. Maybe I’ll look more closely at the reptile and try again. There’s a lot of potential in that lizard.

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To read more stories by Friday Fictioneers, click the frog, below.

Mother’s Day Grass

For Mother’s Day, William and Ernest gave me a Munakuppi Grass Grow Kit.

It includes a soil pellet, a packet of seed, and a cow.

The seed is Italian, but it is distributed from Holland.

The cow is a new breed: Chinese Holstein.

I don’t know where the soil came from.

You mix the soil pellet with 3 Tbsp of water, put 2/3 of the soil into the cow’s head, carefully pour in the seeds, and cover with the remaining soil. Then water and place in a sunny spot. Lightly water every day.

In seven days, grass will appear.

That’s when the fun begins. When the hair (the grass is now hair) grows to 1-1/2 inches, you can trim it, style it, or put bows in it. It will grow back after trimming.

I suppose it’ll keep growing as long as it’s watered and sunned properly. Or until the cats knock demolish it.

As I told the guys, the gift is just darling.

Tomorrow I’ll construct a place that is both sunny and cat-proof. I expect the process to take all day.

Building bridges, forming bonds

When I was teaching English, I arranged for students to have pen pals. I don’t remember the details–whether I required them to participate in the project or promised those who did extra credit. I might have simply offered to send names to an agency to be matched with potential correspondents.

I do remember why I did it. I wanted to show them that writing could be fun. I wanted them to see it as more than essays and research papers, to understand that it could build bridges and form bonds and open new worlds.

I also wanted them to write freely, without fear of judgment, so after getting them started, I withdrew from the project.

Last week I received an e-mail from K.M., one of those students. She told me she and her pen pal have been corresponding for twenty-eight years. He’s coming from Australia this month to meet her.

She said she’s thrilled and ended with, “Thank you!”

I’m thrilled, too. Consider: how many letters, how many words they’ve written; how much they’ve learned; how much they’ve shared; how much has changed since they stamped and mailed those first envelopes. They’ve gone from pen and paper to e-mail. They’ve moved from adolescence to adulthood. Twenty-eight years. My mind boggles just thinking about it.

But I don’t deserve thanks. I spent probably less than an hour on the project. I got things going.

K.M. and her pen pal did the rest. They took an exercise and made it real. The bridge, the bond, the new world–everything I wanted for them, they did.

So thank you, K.M., for writing, and for telling me the rest of the story.

That’s one of the finest gifts I’ve ever received.