Sad But True Story

April 11, 1996

I was actually on the Today show via remote camera from the front of my store, invited to be on Montel Williams, and was given Jane Pauley’s home phone number so I could call her and be interviewed.

Every local newscaster from the Cape to Boston came to my store and I was quoted in newspapers and magazines across the country.

All at the expense of a little seven year old’s life. Her name was Jess Hathaway. Her parents, who were divorced, encouraged her to be the youngest pilot to cross the country and her plane crashed killing her, her father and her instructor.

Jess, her brother Josh, and their mom, Lisa, had lived in my town for a few years and were at my store every day. I owned a health food store. My father and I got to know them well.

Lisa, the mom, lived an alternative life style. She home taught her children, they didn’t have toys and Lisa was severely ridiculed by the press for the life they led. Rumors flew like wildfire.

There was so much stuff about them in the news that was total fabrication. It taught me to never believe what you hear in the news. There was a picture of me in one of the Boston papers with the caption “Joan **** weeps as she hears the news” Well, I wasn’t weeping at the time the photo was taken. It was just a bad photo. Though I did cry when I first heard the news.

My sister worked at the local newspaper at the time and gave my name to someone from the Associated Press. Little did she know that within an hour, every form of media would show up at my little store.

One newspaper said that Lisa and her children squatted in a rundown shack in our town. They quoted a policeman as saying that. The truth was they rented a cute little brand new house just down the street. I had been there. It was clean, the kids were happy. They did quite well without Walmart toys. Time magazine said they lived a vegetarian lifestyle as if that made them all crazy.

I remember when Jess and her brother came in the store so excited because they had planted a garden and begged me to come over after work to see it. Of course I did and praised their wonderful work. I lent them books about astronomy. I always gave them any food I could rather than throw it away. One newspaper said they begged for food. So untrue. They never asked for anything.

The two kids had a paper route and their mom let them keep the money. They saved some, bought themselves treats at the store, bought books. One magazine said their mother forced them to do the paper route and give her the money. The kids were so proud of their paper route. They were young at the time. Jess was probably 5 and Josh 7. Their mom always went with them. They were always together.

That’s why I ended up on the Today show, to straighten out some of the rumors. I refused to go on any other show. I didn’t want to make a mockery out of their lives.

It happened almost 12 years ago. I have recently seen Josh who is in college. Both kids were so smart. Probably because in the evenings they didn’t sit in front of the TV. Lisa would read to them or they would listen to music and dance or they would craft stuff. During the day they were always out on their bicycles with their mom. You couldn’t miss them. All three bikes had big flags on the back of them so cars couldn’t miss seeing them.

My father loved it when the kids came in because they were so talkative and friendly and funny. Lisa, the mom, was definitely a different kind of person, but she wasn’t the “Bizarre Mom” Time magazine said she was.

I finally called the local newspaper and asked if they would print a true article about her and they did.

I’m not here to judge the parents. Would I have let my children fly at that age? I doubt it. The one thing I do know is that Lisa was a good mother and loved her children and they led happy lives. Those children never felt deprived because they didn’t have a TV or Walmart toys.

Keep in mind, when they crashed the instructor was sitting right next to Jess with his hands on his own controls. It was his decision to fly the plane with extra weight on it during a sudden heavy rainstorm, which is why the plane crashed. But somehow Lisa got blamed, just because she was different.

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I Need to Get Out More

I need to get out more so some fun stuff happens to me and I’ll have more to write about. I’ve been writing about things in my past because not much is happening in the present.

My car is broken and until my wasband decides to get it fixed and hopefully pay for it, I keep having to borrow my daughter’s car. To do that I have to get up at 7:15 AM and I’m just not used to getting up that early.

I get to park in handicapped parking spots legally. I also volunteer for the police dept. and am able to give out tickets to people who park illegally in handicapped spaces.

 

I am just supposed to take down their info and not let them see me do it so there will be no danger to me. But I am always so tempted to say something to them. You know, live dangerously. When I go get the mail (just to get the hell out of the house for a bit) I always cruise the Wal-Mart parking lot for illegal parkers.

I drive down to the beach every day but not much goes on there in the winter. Just a few seagulls waiting for handouts and crapping on my car. Not much there to write about.

 

I don’t date. My husband ruined me for that. No more men in my life, thank you. I notice the other two women in his life after me don’t date either. I think once your with my wasband for a while you don’t want to be with any other men. You don’t want to be with any man. You just want to be by yourself.

My wasband did share something with me this week, his freaking bronchial infection. I woke up this morning with a sore throat and I can’t stop coughing. I had a cold for a couple of weeks (which I caught from him), not a bad one then it went totally away and 5 days later I get this. My daughter is making me go to the doctor tomorrow. She’s afraid I’ll get pneumonia again. My son-in-law’s getting it too and he had a cold a few weeks ago which cleared up and now he’s coughing too. I can’t even whine about it because I’m always talking about my wasband whining.

I don’t want to go to bed because every time I lay down I cough even more. I’d go to sleep in my nice electric reclining chair so I could so I could sit up more but it makes my broken ass hurt. OH Lord, I’m whining. Well at least nobody here knows it.

Instead of getting out more I need to start all the projects I promised myself I would do this winter. The scrap booking, the beading, the reading, sorting all my slides and photos and many more things I have been putting off.

But that stuff doesn’t give me anything exciting to write about. I glued some pictures in a scrap book Whoopie! I knew I should have become a private eye when I grew up.

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Oh, one funny thing happened yesterday. My wasband finally brought his big TV here. The way he talked about it, I expected this 60 inch screen but it was a 7 or 8 year old regular TV with a 32 inch screen. Anyway, we had no table to put it on in the living room so he hooked it up to cable and left it on the floor under the big picture window.

Meanwhile the new people were moving into the welfare house across the street. Well, the wasband and I are sitting in computer chairs facing the TV under the window which the new neighbors can’t see. We are hysterically laughing at a comedian on Comedy Central. Well, they must have thought we were sitting in front of the window laughing at them which made us laugh even more. There’s about 8 adults driving old trucks with homemade wooden trailers attached to them filled with all sorts of stuff my daughter would have put in the dumpster. Suddenly they are all in line staring at us. Not only that but my wasband had been using binoculars to look at a bird that was at our feeder. I can’t imagine what they must think of us. If I get to talk to them, I’m just going to tell them my wasband had a stroke recently and sometimes he doesn’t know what he’s doing. I actually did take a picture of the trucks and trailers lined up in the driveway.

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At one point they had a refrigerator on the lawn and some old man kept opening the fridge door probably hoping beer would suddenly appear in it.

I don’t want to start off on the wrong foot with these people. Actually I don’t ever want to even get to know them. I’m not the neighborly type. I don’t want neighbors to just think they can show up at my door.

So basically, I need to come up with some exciting things a disabled person can do (besides spying on the neighbors). Not too exciting I’m on high blood pressure pills.

The Amishman Rated PG 13

First of all, when I refer to Barry as my husband it means we were married at the time of the event. When I refer to him as my wasband we were divorced. This is just a strange little story that happened before the kids were born.

We were married for ten years before we had children. We met at 19 and got married at 20. We used to go on a lot of vacations and this time we decided to go see the Amish countryside in Pennsylvania.

We arrived in the town of Intercourse which is the main tourist town in Amish country. The local Amish also shop there. We stopped at a small grocery store to get snacks. The following is a photo of the actual store.

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There were some horse and buggies parked in front of the store. At the time I used to love horses and rode a lot when I was younger. Some of my friends had horses. One particular horse was having trouble with his bit and I helped her out just as the old Amish man was coming towards us.

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He looked just like the above picture.

He was friendly (Oh Lord, did he turn out to be friendly). We started a conversation. I asked him where in town could we get a buggy ride. He said “Come to my farm at sundown and I will give you a ride”. So we said we would and he gave us directions.

My husband and I weren’t exactly sure about what he meant when he said sundown. Is that before or after the sun sets? Or just as it is setting. So we got there early and parked up the road trying to decide exactly when we should pull in the driveway.

amish_farm1.jpgThis is what the farm looked like. These people weren’t poor.

We were young and I was very shy and naive at this time in my life. Oh, how I have changed. This happened about 37 years ago.

Anyway, we finally thought we had the time right and we pulled into the long dirt driveway. Out of the back door came our Amish man. He had the buggy all ready. The thing is, it was made for two people. Mr. Amish man got in, grabbed my arm and hauled me up onto his lap (I was very thin at the time) and Barry got in next to him.

mom-26-years-old.jpgMe, in my younger days.

I thought to myself, this is OK, he’s an old man, my husband is sitting right next to me and off we went. He took us all through the corn fields and it was beautiful. UNTIL- I felt something poking at me coming from his lap and it wasn’t a hammer or a screwdriver. At least not the kind of a screwdriver I wished it was. How can I put this delicately-he had a boner. Being as shy as I was, I didn’t know what to do. So I did nothing and the old man got a free lap dance. Well, not exactly a dance because I wasn’t dancing, though the buggy ride was very bumpy.

When we got back to his house, he invited us in for milk and dessert. Of course, my husband said yes. He was so excited to be invited into a real Amish person’s house. I was just hoping there wasn’t going to be anymore old Amish men in there. I hadn’t gotten a chance to tell Barry about the boner incident.

We walked into a big kitchen and two women and some children were at the kitchen table making preserves.

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I thanked God they were there. The younger woman’s husband was there also. The rest of the evening turned out well. My husband and the men talked a lot and the two women didn’t say a word and neither did I.

They served us milk which was raw- right out of the cow- and tasted awful, but I choked it down. I didn’t want to seem rude. Barry had a lot of questions about the Amish way of life which the men answered amicably. It would have been a perfect evening if not for the boner thing.

We ended up staying a couple of hours and then we finally left. I wasn’t in the car a second before I started telling Barry what happened. He kept saying I must have imagined it. He couldn’t possibly believe an Amish man would do that. Hell, he probably did it all the time. Of course Barry did end up believing me because he knew I wouldn’t make it up. We actually ended up laughing so hard about the whole thing he had to pull over. We were making terrible jokes about it

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Oh, this reminds me of another story about horses and a tipsy VW bug.

My House: a Visual

When my daughter and her husband decided to help me out and move in with me, none of us realized how much it would cost in more ways than one.

The idea was that they would renovate the basement in to an apartment for them. It would not include a kitchen or a bathroom. We would share those rooms on my floor. I live in a two bedroom ranch and the size of the second bedroom is the same size as some people’s closets.

The first problem was what to do with everything stored in the basement. I knew if I was with the kids when they went through everything, nothing would get thrown away. I keep everything, just in case.

The following is a Google Earth photo of my neighborhood. My sister lives one street over to the left of my street, fourth house on the right. You can see her red jeep sort of (if you have really good eyesight) in her driveway.

My house is hidden by trees.

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Now when I have another police story you can picture the neighborhood–and there ARE more police stories.

This story has more to do with the renovation that took place and the cleansing my house went through while I was in the hospital for three weeks with pneumonia last February.

This is a photo of the basement before my kids had it renovated. My son was in Florida for the winter and had no idea we had torn the walls down in his room and packed up all his stuff.

damons-basement.jpgThis use to be his bedroom. The kids had already torn down his walls when this was taken. If you look carefully on the ceiling to the right there is a dark board. That’s where my husband axed out the ceiling during the fiasco when he burned the kitchen table in the fireplace.

basement.jpgThis is the rest of the basement.

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The above photo is the actual dumpster that the kids filled five times with stuff from the basement, upstairs etc. So that basement was going to be where they would live. They gave up a nice cottage to live in my cellar.

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The above three photos show the basement a few months ago. They’ve added and changed it a little.The top photo is their living room. the middle photo is a wide hallway with a big picture window on the left with a view of the backyard. The bottom photo is their bedroom. They also have an outside entrance too.

They have a fridge so they can keep their snacks away from me. They keep their beer in there too. I wish my daughter had done the fridge meme.  I’d love to know what’s in her fridge.  On second thought maybe it’s better that I don’t know.   There is another room off the hallway that has the furnace in it but it is big enough so that when they get the money they can build a bathroom in there. They don’t need a kitchen because I do all the cooking. I call them on the intercom phone and just say “dinner’s ready”. They come and get their plates and go right back downstairs.

Then my ex- husband moved in after being dumped by his girlfriend and we had to put walls in the little bedroom for him. My son had body slammed all the walls when he was doing heroin. We also had put everything we wanted to keep in there and now we had to find a place for all that stuff. A lot of it went in the attic and a lot went into my son’s storage facility that he rented when he went to Florida.

I had to call him and tell him that when he came back up here he wouldn’t be able to live with us. It was hard to do but it was for his own good. Someday I’ll tell the story of his drug use. Right now I am happy that he is clean. He even called me the other day and told me he got a second job. Now he has a full time job and a part time job. My son who got fired from mostly every job he had is now working two jobs. Wow!!

So basically, everything I own is in my bedroom. I don’t have any photos of my bedroom. I love my room. It is my sanctuary. Everything I love is in it except my family. I like to get away from them sometimes and I am sure they like to get away from me sometimes. I talk a lot. Even when I am home alone I talk to the cats (and they listen to me and don’t give me any backtalk).

The Dude in the Bushes; Another Police Story

I almost forgot about this story. My daughter reminded me of it yesterday.

The weird thing is my sister lives one street over and nothing ever happens on her street. If anything is going to happen in the neighborhood it’s going to be right in front of my house. I definitely do NOT live in Mr. Roger’s neighborhood.

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Yet I live on a nice street with only 10 houses in a small beach town on Cape Cod. It’s not like I live in the ghetto.

One night about 13 or 14 years ago, I was just going to bed and I heard police sirens coming down the road toward my street and then the sirens suddenly stopped. The battery was dead on my police scanner so I couldn’t find out what was happening.

My son was only about 12 and I knew he was in bed sleeping so it couldn’t have to do with him. Whenever I heard sirens, a picture of him always floated around my head.

I figured whatever was happening was close by so I looked out the window. I saw a policeman in the middle of the road with a flashlight shining it on my house.

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I’m thinking, WTF?

I went in the living room so I could see better out the big picture window. Within minutes there were more policemen and they were all shining their bright flashlights on my house.

I couldn’t take not knowing what was happening so I called the police and explained to them how my house was surrounded by police and was there something I should know. The woman, nonchalantly, said, ” Oh, they are just chasing a suspect, stay away from the windows.”

OK, I could stay away from the windows, but if I did, I wouldn’t know what’s going on. So again, I was on the floor crawling around the house to get a better view. At the same time I was looking for new batteries for the scanner. I found the batteries and quickly got them into the scanner.

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As I was crawling around on the floor, I was thinking, “This can’t be happening again.”

Now, at the time we had some kind of wild bushes growing in our yard. I can’t remember what they are called but they spread like wild fire. They were out of control. They had pretty little flowers in the summer. They also had thorns. They bordered our yard on the left and were taking over the border in the front of the house. They were very thick.Finally all the flashlights were pointed toward the thorny bushes. Within seconds, a young man struggled to get out of the bushes without scratching himself to shreds. The police got their suspect, who was soon handcuffed and thrown into a police car. When I say “thrown in” I mean it.

Evidently, the kid had been speeding down the main road and the police had given chase. As the driver of the car, he finally pulled over but tried to run away leaving his buddy in the car to face the police. He ran down my street and jumped into my thorny bushes trying to hide from the police, a tactic that didn’t work out well for him.

This reminds me of the time someone left a car on my front lawn near the fence in the middle of the night and took off. I saw him climb out the car window as I called the police.

Extreme Makeover

The time: about 4 or 5 years ago

The places involved: my store, the Woods Hole Steamship parking lot, and the Silver Lounge Restaurant

The people involved: my ex-husband Barry, my daughter Sarah, my son Damon and me.

I was targeted first.

I was in my store and a customer walked in and I told him if he needed any help just let me know. I looked at him a couple of times just to make sure he wasn’t stealing anything and went back to my bookkeeping.

After about 3 or 4 minutes he looked directly at me and said, “You really don’t recognize me?”

I stared at him for a few seconds and realized from his voice it was my ex-husband. This was a man I saw almost weekly and I had no clue it was him. From his early 20’s till that day he had a full beard. I mean a real big beard and no one , including himself knew what was under it. He was now 53 years old and no one had ever seen his face. It was totally shocking. He was completely clean-shaven and I had no clue it was him. It freaked me out.

barry-and-sarah-4-months-old.jpgThis is Barry about 28 years ago and he looked like this always except his beard was a little greyer and he had less hair as he got older.

I wish I had a picture of him clean shaven but I was too shocked at the time to think of it.

The second target: Sarah

After Barry left the store he headed down to Woods Hole to meet Sarah at the boat. She worked on Martha’s Vineyard. He had called her at work immediately after he shaved because he was in shock over what he had done . He said when he looked in the mirror it was like looking at someone else through a piece of glass. So she knew ahead of time that he would be beardless. They were supposed to meet at a restaurant but instead he thought he would surprise her at the boat. It only took her a second but she recognized him (from his clothing) in the crowd and she burst into tears. She still to this day doesn’t know why she cried. She ended up crying and laughing at the same time. We decided to all go out for dinner.

The third target: Damon

Sarah called Damon and told him to meet us at the Silver Lounge for dinner. She told him that I had a new friend and he was coming with us. Sarah sort of hinted that he might become a new boyfriend for me.

So Barry, Sarah, her husband and I got to the restaurant before Damon. We were sitting in a darkish corner at a round table. Damon finally arrived and came over to us.

I said to Damon, “I’d like you to meet my friend Ed.” Damon shook his hand and “Ed” trying and doing a good job at disguising his voice said, “Your mother says you like fishing?” Damon went on and on about fishing. He still hadn’t sat down yet and he still didn’t know “Ed” was his father.

Sarah and I started to squirm in our chairs because it was just so weird that Damon still hadn’t recognize his father.

Finally Sarah couldn’t take it anymore and said, “Damon, that’s not Ed that’s dad”.

Damon took a good look at him, turned around and walked out the door.

Sarah ran after him.

Poor Damon, he was in shock that he didn’t recognize his own father. I don’t know whether he thought he should laugh or cry or be embarrassed. I think there was even a little bit of anger in there too, mostly at himself.

He finally came back in and sat down and we all ended up hysterically laughing about the whole thing, even Damon. I think people in the restaurant thought we were crazy.

This reminds of the time Barry tried to get the grey out of his newly grown goatee. This happened right after the above incident. But that’s another story.

How I Got Forked-Another Short One

There really isn’t much to tell about what happened on this particular evening about 22 years ago. My husband , me and the the kids had gone to visit his parents. We only lived about 1 1/2 hrs from them but we always stayed overnight. The kids loved them and had a really close relationship with them. They were the best in-laws a girl could have. I loved them as if they were my own parents. Even after my husband and I got divorced I talked to them all the time (by phone- because I couldn’t drive over the bridge to visit them.) I’m still close to all his family. Nana died a few years ago but Grampa is in a nursing home still going strong at 96.

Anyway, we were having dinner with them one evening. The one thing about Nana, she wasn’t a good cook. I think we were eating one of her specialties–Spam,

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mashed potatoes and corn. You always knew what supper was going to be because she had one meal for everyday of the week. You knew Wednesday was Franco American spaghetti day.

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Monday night was shake and bake pork chops, Saturday for lunch was always cheeseburgers. There was always a roast beef on Sunday. They never ate fish because she didn’t have a clue how to cook it. There was always a night of hot dogs with jello for dessert.

When my husband joined the National Guard when he was 22, I lived with them for four months while he was in basic training. It was the first time the government had a lottery draft. They literally picked dates out of a hat and if they picked your birthday early on, you knew you’d be drafted. The Viet Nam war was going on. Well, they picked my husband’s birthday second. One out 0f 365 chances and he comes in second when in this contest you wanted to come in dead last. So he joined the Guard and I moved in with his parents. That’s when I got initiated into Nana’s cooking. I would cook small meals for myself that they couldn’t imagine anyone eating. Like rice, fish, asparagus, exotic things to them. They had never tasted Pizza. Grampa was known for the fact that he had never tasted alcohol, coffee, or tea. OMG, I almost forgot, Nana’s idea of a salad? –iceburg lettuce with sugar sprinkled on the top. What’s even worse, she cooked better than my mother.

Anyway, back to the forking. There isn’t much to tell. Just another freakish accident aimed at my head. We were eating and I was sitting on my daughter’s left. She for some reason, was waving her fork around, and as I turned to say something she forked me in the eye.

forkeye.jpgThis is the only picture I could find of an eye forking

Fortunately the fork didn’t really go in my eye deeply, just sort of scraped it. But it hurt and I couldn’t open it, because it was tearing so much. My husband, as usual panicked, and took me to the emergency room. I had a scratch on my cornea. There wasn’t much they could do but wait for it to heal and give me pain meds. They did have me wear a patch on my eye for a few days which the kids thought was sort of cool. I guess they thought I looked like a pirate.

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When it happened, my poor daughter cried. I told her it was just an accident but she cried anyway. She kept saying “I hurt my mommy” over end over. She even slept in bed with me that night. I guess just to make sure I was alright.

I just thought of another story. The day my son didn’t recognize his father and he was facing him and only about four feet from him. And it only happened a couple of years ago so my son would have been about 23 or 24. And he wasn’t even stoned. And my husband was not wearing a disguise. It really is a funny one.

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