Tag Archives: 1930s

Good Old City Life

As Ethyl turned the VW bug down the dirt road, Bertha shuddered a little.

“What is it, Berth? Something the matter?”

“I’m used to cities is all. This road trip has been adventure enough without you taking this shortcut through the woods. This road is dirt, for the love of Pete!”

Ethyl smiled at her city friend. They’d instantly connected at the school where both were studying to be receptionists. Ethyl had left the family farm in search of bigger and better things, and Bertha was just killing time until her fiancé, Jasper, got back from the war.

“I grew up on roads like this. Relax, hun.”

The VW blew up a cloud of dust as Ethyl drove it a bit manically around a turn, the wheels scrambling through some pebbles and shooting them into the woods.

“Well could you slow down a bit, at least? At least consider the paint! This car is new!”

Jasper bought the car a few months before he found himself shipped out and trusted his future wife with his most prized possession.

“It’s Jasper’s most prized possession!”

“Where do you come in on that list?” Ethyl asked with a smile and a bit of attitude.

“Just under the car, darling. You should know that. Men and their toys…”

Ethyl relented and let go of the gas a little, taking the turns a bit easier.

“Thank you, dear,” Bertha said as she reached into the back seat. “Care for some coffee?”

“Actually, I’m famished! How’s about I find a place to pull over?”

“Here in the middle of nowhere?”

“Here’s as good as anywhere else!”

They drove the little powder-blue bug another mile or so until she came up to a bend in the road just before an old bridge. A picturesque clearing filled with wildflowers lined the grassy spot where Ethyl stopped the car.

“Oh look Bertha! What a place for a picnic. What do you say?”

Bertha smiled and grabbed the wicker picnic basket from the backseat. “Good thing I packed these sandwiches! God knows how long we’ll be lost out here!”

“I’m telling you,” Ethyl said with another smile, “The man at the station said this here was a shortcut. Said it would cut a good hour of driving. You want to be at your cousin’s by evening, don’t you? Or shall we camp out for the night –“

“Lord no! I’m not sleeping in a tent. We’re making it tonight if it kills us.” Ethyl let a knowing smile grow on her face. She knew just how to manipulate her city friend. The woman was clearly afraid of nature.

Bertha got out of the car, removed her cardigan and fixed her flower-print dress. After checking both shoulder straps, making sure they were just right, she threw her cardigan onto the car and pulled a blanket out of the back seat.

Ethyl loved watching this girl, an enigma to someone who grew up on a farm, as she carefully placed the blanket on the grass. “You know, there’s a perfectly good log over there.”

“You must be joking. This is an expensive dress! It’s Chanel!”

“It’s what?”

“Chanel! As in Coco?”

Ethyl raised an eyebrow. “Okay…”

“Oh you country bumpkin…what do you know!” Bertha smiled, and Ethyl laughed quite loudly, letting it echo through the trees. She was relieved to see her friend loosen up a bit.

“Well, this fabulous ensemble I’m wearing is official Wanamaker’s. The top was on sale!”

Bertha giggled as she sat down on the blanket with the basket. Meanwhile, Ethyl took out her satchel and started rooting through it for a pen and paper.

“Oh no, is the master author at it again?” Bertha teased.

Ethyl stuck out her tongue and sat on the log. Her scribbling on the pad of lined paper reverberated through the woods, disrupted only by the occasional sound of wrapper rustling as Bertha set up their lunch.

Once she had the sandwiches out and spoons in the small container of potato salad, she waited patiently for her friend to finish. She put her hands behind her head and leaned back against the car, looking up at the perfectly blue sky. Ethyl finally finished and joined her on the blanket.

“Say what you want about the city, and I will, as you know, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen the sky such a beautiful blue,” Bertha said. Ethyl dug into the potato salad and nodded. As she tried to speak a small piece of potato fell to the blanket.

“That was what I was writing about.”

“Another poem?”

“Mhmm,” she said as another piece fell to the blanket. She picked it up, inspected it and popped it into her mouth.

“Such class. It’s a wonder you were raised on a farm! I would think you came from the most fabulous finishing school in Paris!” Bertha raised an eyebrow at her friend, waiting for a response.

“Just wait until I go pee in those woods right there, then we’ll see who is refined,” she said, watching Bertha shudder a little.

“You will not!”

“I will so!”

“Don’t do it, Ethyl. There must be a ladies room around here somewhere!”

Ethyl smiled again at her friend.

“So what was your poem about?”

“Actually, it was about returning to a perfectly blue sky after spending a few months in the smoggy city.”


She nodded.

“That’s…kind of lovely, Eth. It really is beautiful here, I must admit. I can hear the birds and a breeze, rather than cars and yelling. And what is that sound? The one that is fairly constant?”

“Crickets, Berth.”

“Ah. Crickets. They’re kind of loud.”

“Funny, I didn’t even notice them until you pointed it out.”

“Well, it really is quite lovely.”

They continued to eat when a bug landed on Bertha. She screamed and dropped her sandwich onto her plate as she rushed to get it off her arm, flailing like an insane person. Ethyl just remained calm and continued eating. Bertha finally got rid of the bug and stood.

“I’m eating the rest in the car.”


Win an Original Print!

So after These Moments had such a lovely giveaway with one of my original pieces, I had such a blast creating one for the winner that I’ve decided to have my own contest! Read about Esra’s winning image here.

What do you have to do? It’s so easy! All you have to do is comment on this post. Tell me why you should be the winner, or just say hi!

Here’s the image the last winner, Esra, got:

She told me she liked the beach, the city and listed a lot of her other passions, so I created one just for her! Want to get in on the fun? Comment below. And please, check out my upcoming book, Capturing a Moment, which collects many similar images. Not this one though, this one is JUST for Esra!

Capturing a Moment collects around fifty of Dennis Finocchiaro’s original pieces. Dennis is the author of The Z Word, a collection of flash fiction set during a zombie apocalypse. His collection of flash fiction that takes place in coffee shops, Confessions of a Coffee Shop Junkie, which came in third in The Fifteenth Dame Lisbet Throckmorton 2010 fiction writing contest, is also available on Amazon.

Capturing a Moment is available via his Etsy site. It comes signed, with a one-of-a-kind post-it flash fiction piece signed and a post card depicting two of the images. For a little bit more you can purchase the VIP version, which also comes with the original print of your choice.

William and Mary

William and Mary exited the church with her parents after saying goodbye to Father Peters.

“Mary,” William said. “How about a walk in the park?”

“That would be lovely,” she said, showing him a rather large smile.

“Have a nice day,” he said to her parents as the held each other and smiled. Her father winked at William, and her mother’s eyes became a bit glassy as she waved, too choked up to say anything else.

They turned the corner toward the park and Mary looked up at her boyfriend. “Can you believe it’s been a year since we met? A whole year.” She put her arm through his and pulled him closer as they passed the five and dime, which was closed.

“Too bad everything is closed, we could have picked up something and had a picnic,” she said to him.  He looked at her and smiled.

They continued to the park entrance, which was eerily empty today. Mary stopped. “That’s odd.”

“What is, dear?”

“Where is everyone? Mister Simpson is always feeding the ducks at the pond at this time of day. And this is a park, usually there are children playing! No jumprope, no kites, nothing. Nobody is here.”

He smiled. “It is rather peculiar, isn’t it?” He turned and looked at the Johnsons’ home, noticing the curtains move just the tiniest bit. He knew it was a small town and word traveled fast; it wasn’t the least bit surprising that Mrs. Johnson would take a peek as they passed.

“My, the trees look beautiful, don’t they? Look at all the red and orange. I love Fall,” she said to him as they promenaded through the park. He nodded.

Deep in thought, William hadn’t noticed that his pace quickened and he’d left Mary a few steps behind. He realized it and stopped, waiting for her to catch up. “Did you forget me?” She asked him.

“No, no I guess I was in another world,” he responded.

“Are you nervous about something? You seem to have a small case of the jitters.”

He smiled and took her hand as they walked past the trees, some of which were already bare. He pulled Mary from the path onto the grass toward a hill and the sound of crunching leaves under their feet echoed through the empty park.

“William M. Masters, what’s gotten into you?”

He smiled and led her through a small grove of bright orange and red trees that still had their leaves and there was a red and white checkered blanket with a picnic basket waiting.

“Oh, look at this! Someone has left a perfectly good lunch here,” he said with a sly smile. She squeezed his hand as he brought her over and helped her onto the blanket.

“Why thank you!”

“You’re welcome, darling. Why don’t you go through the basket and see what we’ve got for lunch?”

She got up and walked over to the basket, opened the lid and on top of some chicken, potato salad and fruit she found a small, black box. She picked it up and when she turned to William he was down on one knee.

“Mary, will you marry me and make me the luckiest man in all of Greensville?”

She smiled with a glow and said yes.

Hiking in Heels

Hiking in Heels, along with many other works, are available on my Etsy. And don’t forget to check out Capturing a Moment, a book by Wrags Ink that collects around fifty of my images into a nice little coffee table book. It comes with all kinds of free goodies and also can be purchased with original pieces!

1620 Sycamore

“The bed and breakfast should be right around this bend,” Adam said to his new bride, Bertha as he turned the wheel of the car.

“I can’t believe it! I will be waking up with you tomorrow. It’s like a dream.” Bertha was glowing, and he couldn’t believe that just a few short hours ago they’d tied the knot. His friends always bet he would never take that final leap, and yet he was the first of the group to do so.

He knew he would be the second he’d met Bertha. He fell for her on the spot.

Adam smiled at the beautiful brunette as he pulled up to a 1900s farmhouse-turned-bed and breakfast. The siding was painted a pale blue and the woodwork around the porch was a light pink, just as his co-worker described it.

As Adam pulled to a stop his car skidded a bit on the gravel, sending up a small cloud of dust and alerting the owner to their arrival. “Here we are, 1620 Sycamore!” he said. The owner came out onto the wraparound porch and waved to them. As he did so his wire-framed glasses began to fall down his nose a bit and he had to catch them with his hand and push them back into place.

“You must be the Burnses, eh?” he asked them from the porch as they got out of the car.

Bertha giggled. “You’re the first one to call us that!” Adam came around and opened the trunk.

“And you must be Mister Oliver, the owner?”

“Yessir, that’s me!” He fixed his suspenders and let them slap against his oversized stomach as Adam reached into the back seat and pulled out his hat. He placed it onto his head and approached Mister Oliver, hand outstretched.

“Mighty fine place you have here, sir! Lovely. Just perfect for our honeymoon.” The older man smiled and winked at him.

“Haven’t had newlyweds here in a while! Mother and I will enjoy seeing young love again. Here to see the falls?”

“Yes, and possibly a bit of Canada, too.”

“Good for you, son.” Bertha was still waiting by the car and the old man nodded to her. Adam turned, went to the back door of the car and pulled out her small dark blue cardigan.

“It’s a bit chilly, hun, maybe you should put this on.” He started wrapping the sweater around Bertha, who saw the camera in the back seat.

“Oh! Adam, let’s get a photograph. Can we? It will be our first honeymoon shot.”

Adam pulled the camera out and looked hopefully to Mister Oliver, who smiled.

“Let me take that for you, son!” he said as he waddled down the four steps off the porch. As Adam showed him how the camera worked, Bertha carefully placed her purse and sweater onto the porch. Then she fixed her pleated skirt to make sure there were no wrinkles, rechecked the buttons of her blouse, and fixed her sleeves. Adam ran to her and leaned in.

“Hold on!” Bertha said. “You can’t wear a hat in this!” she said, removing it from her husband’s head, placing it onto her belongings on the porch, and then fussing over his hair. Once she got every strand into place, she smiled.

“Ready for this, Mister Burns?”

He smiled at his new wife. “Of course, Mrs. Burns.” And, of course, she giggled a little.


Every morning, Albert woke up before sunrise for his ritual. He climbed from bed right into his work pants, replaced the ribbed undershirt he’d slept in for a fresh, clean one, carefully put on his starched and ironed white button-down shirt, and pulled the suspenders over his shoulders.

Like all men of his day, Albert knew the importance of remaining clean-cut. After a quick visit to the kitchen, where he started the coffee, he headed back through his bedroom to the bathroom.

The bathroom ritual, after actions unmentionable in polite society, of course, included a shave, washing his face and brushing his teeth for three minutes, no more, no less. He would then pomade and brush his gray hair, wipe off his glasses on the special cloth he’d bought from the kindly door-to-door salesman, and then return to the kitchen.

Before Helen passed he’d always walked in to find some form of eggs, toast, orange juice and something from the meat group, but since her death he just couldn’t get the hang of making breakfast. He’d tried for about a year, the eggs were always either burnt or too runny, plus he always forgot to get orange juice at the market. So these days, if he even ate, it was toast and a pear from the tree that Helen planted back when they bought the small, suburban home.

The emptiness of the kitchen always got to Albert when he first walked in. The smells of the past haunted him, and he often forgot about her passing because he swore he could smell the ghosts of bacon frying in a pan. But whenever he walked in with a smile, adjusting his suspenders, his expectations were always disappointed. It was always empty, the sound of the coffee machine the only noise in the house and the counter meticulously organized and clean, just as he’d left it the night before.

And so he would stand with his back to the counter, as if talking to Helen like in the old days, and pour a coffee. But now, instead of sitting at the table, he ate at the sink, letting the crumbs of his solitary piece of toast fall directly into the empty sink. It kept him from having to wipe down the table, and since he kept the place immaculately clean, just as Helen did in her day, it saved him some time.

The final part of Albert’s ritual was to put on his tie, his shoes and his jacket. He walked up to the rack by the door, took his hat off the post, placed it on his head and opened the front door. The sun would just be rising as he turned and looked at his empty, dark home.

“I love you, honey. See you at supper,” he always whispered before he shut the door.

Magazine Publication, Part II

A magazine for and about artists.

Hello all! Care to see my work in yet another magazine? The wonderful crew over at Racing Minds Magazine have featured me in their August issue.

The online version is here. A paper copy is also available here if you care to purchase it. Please check out all of the amazing artists, photographers and creative minds that come together in this excellent publication.

Taking the Reigns (A Story of Fiction)

Steel Pier, Atlantic City, 1938.  Mary was the star of the show.  She was a natural rider, as my father and the local press would say.  She had been since she learned to walk.  I guess that included diving with them as well.

She was famous, at least in the tri-state area, and people would come in droves to watch her get on old Mabel, lead her up that ramp and then jump a good fifty feet into a small pool of water, triumphantly walk out of the water, horse in tow, and take a bow.  Eventually they even trained the horse to bow alongside of her.  The crowd would roar, and there I would be, on the sidelines, ready to take the reigns from my sister and lead the horse back to the stable.

I’d wanted to dive as far back as I could remember, even then.  But it was an honor that escaped me and stayed with my sister at that time.  “You’re too young,” my dad would say, every year on my birthday, even though Mary had been doing it since she was my age.  And so I was a jealous little girl back in those days.

Labor Day, 1938.  Our last big weekend for the season.  After that we would pack up and head to our small home in South Philadelphia, where father would go back to his construction job, and my mother would go back to being a homemaker.  Mary and I would head back to school, where people swarmed around her, asking about her dives, while basically shoving me aside.

That was the weekend Albert showed up.  Mary came out of the water, bowed, and began walking, and I saw him standing too close, with a grin on his face, an autograph book and pencil, nervously shifting his weight from one foot to the other.  I’d seen it hundreds of times, but for some reason, this time, it was different.  To me, at least.  Mary barely noticed him as she took his pencil, signed the little book, and continued on towards me to hand off Mabel.  I took them and pointed at him, trying to get Mary to turn around.  She looked over her shoulder and saw him still standing there.

“What is it, kid?”  It always drove me nuts how she spoke as if she were eighteen and the rest of us were four.  Albert was only a year or two younger than her, probably right between my age and hers.

“I’m…I’m Albert.”

“That’s great Al.  What’s your story morning glory?”  He stood there quizzically.  She sighed.  “Whatta ya want?”

“I, I,” he stammered.  “Want to go out for some popcorn tonight?  My parents gave me some money for the weekend and I still have some.”

I smiled at him, trying to give him some support.  He was a looker, in my mind, but I could see Mary ready to brush him off.

“Sorry, kid.  No can do.  I have to wash my hair.”


The look on Albert’s face was one of pure devastation.  It was probably the first time he’d asked a gal out, and the look on his face broke my heart.  Mary took her glasses from my hands and said, “Make sure you feed Mabel.  She seems a bit hungry,” and walked away.

I walked up to Albert.  “Hey, I’m Dorothy.”

“Hi,” he said distractedly, looking over my shoulder as Mary walked away.

“I’m Mary’s sister.  You know, we go to the Pennsylvania Avenue beach every morning with our parents.  Want to meet up with us then?”

His attention came right to me.  “Really?  You do?”

I smiled and nodded.

“Will Mary be there?”

My smile faded a bit, but I tried to conceal it.  “Sure, yeah.  She’ll be there.”

“Great,” he said with a smile as he started walking away, “See you there!”

The next day was beautiful, and the beach was crowded.  Everyone was out to enjoy the last day of the summer, the day when everyone starts packing, the stores get ready to shut down for the winter, and we have to start trying to remember the math problems we spent all summer trying to forget.

I kept scanning the beach, looking for Albert, but didn’t see him until we’d already been there for a few hours.  Mary had just come out of the water and was drying off.  I handed her glasses over and she took them.


“Oh look, there’s Albert.”  I pointed in his direction.


“That kid from yesterday.  Asked you out for popcorn?”

“Oh, that genius?”  She sat down in my father’s beach chair and closed her eyes.  “Tell that wet sock I’m asleep.  I need to rest for the show tonight.”

“Tell him yourself,” I said, picking up a book.

He walked up to us and smiled.  “Hey there, Mary.  Wanna go for a swim?”

She looked up, annoyed.  “I’m all wet, pal.  Don’t you think maybe I already did?”

He stood there, awkwardly shifting again, quiet for far too long.  “Well, hey, my dad lent me his camera…think we could get in a photo together?”

“I will!” I said.  He acted as if he didn’t hear me, so I went back to my book, embarrassed.

That was when father approached us.  “What’s going on here?”

I looked up from my book.  “That’s Albert.  He wants to take Mary out for popcorn or to take a photograph or something.”

My father looked from Albert to Mary to me, and back again.

“Well of course Mary will get in a photograph with you, son!” he said, glaring at Mary.  “She’ll do anything for a fan, won’t ya Mary?”  She looked at father and sighed.

“Of course I will.”

My father took the camera from Albert and looked around.  “We’re too far from the pier, how about over there against that life guard boat?”

Albert nodded enthusiastically and Mary walked over.  When Albert got a bit too close and started trying to put his arm around her, father frowned and looked back at me.  “Hey, Dorothy, why don’t you get in there between them?  Who knows, maybe you’ll be a star too and Albert here’ll have a photograph of the both of yous.”

Albert looked disappointed, but I jumped at the chance.  It was the first time father even hinted at the possibility I might one day dive as well, so I jumped right in between them.  Mary put on her fake, photograph grin, while I couldn’t contain my smile.  And Albert, well he couldn’t take his eyes off of Mary.  Father took the photograph and handed the camera back to Albert, also handing him a dollar.

“Tell ya what, why don’t the three of yous head to the boardwalk and grab some lunch.  On me.”

Albert looked at Mary, who rolled her eyes, and I nodded enthusiastically.  We grabbed lunch, Mary left right after to go home because she had a headache, and Albert, broken-hearted, went home to pack.

It was a few years before father let me start diving, and I loved it.  He called me a natural with the fans, since I always hung out after and signed autographs, went out with the boys who asked, and generally was more of a people-person than my older sister.  I’d longed for the spotlight for years, and it made me that way.

One evening after my final dive, I was brushing Steel, my diving horse and Mabel’s son, when someone walked in behind me.  I turned around and he handed me a photograph of me, Mary and himself as a kid, posing in front of a lifeboat.

“I’ve waited a long time to see you again,” he said.

I smiled.  I’d often thought of Albert, wondering what ever happened to him.

“You’ve gotten even better, Mary.  And you’ve grown up to be even more beautiful.”

He’d gotten more smooth, but was mistaking me for my sister.

“Actually, Albert, I’m Dorothy.”

His eyes widened a bit, but then he reached out and took my hand.

“How about some popcorn?”

Don’t forget to check back regularly as I continue the series of short fiction based on random old photos I find!