My Life as a Shopping Mall Santa Claus – more tales from the Moth Story series

By Bruce A. Smith

The first job I got when I moved to Yelm, Washington from my home in New York was working as a shopping mall Santa Claus. Beginning the day after Thanksgiving in 1991, I pulled four-hour shifts most days at the Capitol Mall in Olympia, along with three other professional Santas. Some days were grueling – try listening to sappy Christmas carols all day long – but a few moments were sublime.

One of them was experiencing the deep mythos that Santa Claus has on people, especially children aged five to eight who still believe. One kid stands out, and I still think about him to this day.

He was a boy about seven-years old, and he came to the Santaland kiosk in a group of several children and three women. He caught my eye because he hung back from that cluster – I assumed that one of the women was his mother and the other two adults were neighbors or friends bringing their own children – and I learned later that his reserved behavior was intentional. Continue reading

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Posted in Culture, Moth Stories | 4 Comments

Barbsie Comes Home for Christmas – a submission to the Moth Story series

By Bruce A. Smith

This story is my account of becoming aware of loving someone – in this case my sister – for the first time in my life.

In the fall of 1958, when she was five and I was nine, she had open heart surgery for a congenital birth defect. We called it, “the hole in her heart.”

At the time open-heart surgery was dicey, and my sister, whom we called Barbsie – short for Barbara – was one of the first kids to have the procedure. In fact, only a handful of hospitals performed it. As I recall the operation was an all-day affair, and it took place in the cardiac unit of St. Francis Hospital in Port Washington, New York. Ironically, our father was destined to die of a heart attack in the same place forty-nine years later.

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Posted in Back East, Family, Health, Moth Stories | 3 Comments

Understanding New York Lingo

By Bruce A. Smith

To better understand the lyrics in Alicia Keyes’ songs and other New York-based musicians, and to know where the action is talking place in about half of the cop shows on TV, ie: Law and Order, Blindspot, etc., we need to dig into New York terminology, geography and culture. We’re talking about my hometown.

NYC is New York City, which has five “boroughs:” Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and The Bronx.

Manhattan is an island, as is Staten Island. But, Brooklyn and Queens are the western-most parts of Long Island, and The Bronx is the only part of NYC on the American mainland. It is characterized facetiously as the southern-most tip of New England, too.

“The BQE” is the Brooklyn Queens Expressway; the “LIE,” is the Long Island Expressway, and the VZ Bridge (Verrazanno Bridge,) connects the BQE with the Staten Island Expressway. Continue reading

Posted in Back East, Culture, Entertainment | 9 Comments

14th Annual EXPO coming to Graham

Proudly Announcing:

14th Annual EXPO

Graham-Kapowsin Community Council

‘Feed the Children’ Fundraiser & Fun-Run / Walk

WHEN: Saturday, March 4, 2017, 9am-3pm.

WHERE: Graham Elementary School, 10026 204th St. E. Graham, WA 98338.

Each year the G-KCC sponsors this Expo Event and Proceeds benefit the “Feed the Children Project.” Participants can enjoy live entertainment, a silent auction, unique handcrafted items, snacks, and enter the annual “Fun/Run/Walk” fundraiser event. We hope you will help us by participating in this Worthy Project aimed at raising funds for ‘FEED the Children’ Program.

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Posted in Graham News, Kapowsin | 1 Comment

What To Say When Your Therapist Tells You You’re Her Craziest Patient – more from Campfire Tales: True Stories Not Everyone Believes

By Bruce A. Smith

I have always believed in UFO’s, even as a little kid. In fact, I have always thought it odd that others don’t.

My fellow true believers and I have a few theories that we place a lot of stock in, and the main one is that the aliens are already here. Secondly, we believe there are plenty of alien races, including at least one species that looks exactly like us – so much that the only way to tell them apart from regular human beings is to touch them and see if they are clammy-cold. If they are, they’re aliens.

They’re clammy-cold because of Theory Three: they have evolved to such a degree that they no longer have the DNA to carry emotional expression, which is why they’re here on earth, namely to study us and our emotions. Continue reading

Posted in Campfire Tales, Folk tales and stories, Health | 8 Comments

Gottman and Beck Find a Bear in their Bed – from Campfire Tales: True Stories Not Everyone Believes

By Bruce A. Smith

Gottman and Beck were two fourteen-year old guys that I traveled with on a cross-country Boy Scout trip in 1966. We journeyed to Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico from our homes on Long Island, New York to spend twelve days back-packing in what the Ranch staff called, “God’s Country.”

Perhaps you can guess this story. We’re camping out and a bear went into Gottman and Beck’s tent and scared the living daylights out of them. True. But it’s important to know why it happened.

Our Boy Scout troop was composed of an eclectic group of forty scouts from all over from our Nassau County Council, and everyone had to be at least fourteen to qualify. However, most of the scouts were older. I was sixteen and most of the guys were my age or at least fifteen, with a few at seventeen.

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Posted in Campfire Tales, Culture, Environment, Nature | 6 Comments

“North to Chibougamou,” an account of seeking refuge in Canada; from Campfire Tales – True Stories Not Everyone Believes

By Bruce A. Smith

If you travel due north from New York City the road eventually ends 750 miles later in a little mining town called Chibougamou. In fact, when I traveled there in 1969 the last 150-mile stretch of road was an unpaved, gravel highway. But in some ways Chibougamou is even further than that from my family’s home on Long Island, New York, where I grew up.

In the fall of that year I left New York – and my youth – and hitch-hiked to Chibougamou. This story is my recollection of that sojourn, first written twenty years after I arrived in Chibougamou and now updated as the shadows of the Trump presidency push liberals into thinking of emigrating to Canada.

But when I left in ’69 I was feeling full of adventure, and also curious to see if Canada might be a place I might want to reside. The Vietnam War was raging, and I was 20. Prime draft age, obviously, especially since I had just dropped out of college and was losing my deferment. There were other pressures, too. My father was a vet, having been an Army Captain in WW II, and even though he wasn’t a gung-ho kind of guy he certainly wasn’t a man who bucked the system, either.

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Posted in Back East, Campfire Tales, Culture, Resistance and Justice | 6 Comments