Burns had the first television set in our gang. In 1949 Paul and I would go over to Bill Burns' house to watch the few programs available: "Your Show of Shows," "The Milton Berle Show," and "professional" wrestling with Gorgeous George and others of less colorful ilk. Not that it mattered much on the fuzzy black and white screen.
Paul and I were sophomores in Meriden High and Burns was a year ahead of us. The 1951 Annual says that he was "...short, quiet, and witty...likes to read science fiction and is a fiend for chess and checkers...claims that French verbs are his worst enemy...hopes to attend business college after graduation." When he phoned me during the summer of 1991 I recognized his voice, though I hadn't heard it for nearly forty years, and when he stood in my livingroom in Oswego, New York, I recognized him. He'd filled out some, but he still looked like Burns.
"I married a girl from New Haven," he said. Not the New Haven just down the Merritt Parkway from Meriden, but the one in Upstate New York, not more than twenty miles from my home. "We've been coming up here for years. I've called you lots of times, but this is the first time you've answered."
I told him Jean and I spent most of our summers in Maine, and that it was a shame we couldn't have gotten together sooner. We sat and had a beer, chatting about old times and catching up on family matters. He had three kids, never went to any sort of college but was a paramedic for a while after the service, and wound up in Wallingford, Connecticut, the next town over from Meriden, where he worked in a plant as a technician.
That business about his liking to read science fiction was a reference to our high school "science fiction reading club." "I've still got one of those Fantaseers cards," he said.
"So do I!"
"White lettering on black plastic?"
I told him that one day a year or two ago I'd gone up to my garret study and begun to rummage around, just on the off-chance I'd made a folder of Fantaseer memorabilia. I checked my files and found the club's Constitution, a list of members, and a chronology of the events of the first eighteen months of our two and one-half year existence. On that occasion my wife, Jean, had said, "It's a good thing you have the soul of a clerk." Not just the soul, which I'd inherited from my mother, but the training as well -- I'd been a yeoman in the Navy. The Fantaseers was formed in January of 1950 at a party held at the home of one of our classmates -- I can't remember who that was now. The first of the four charter members was Peter, whose I. Q. tested out at 165. His entry in The Annual says, "'Goose' is one of the few students who owns a coveted berth in the National Honor Society...his weaknesses include movies and ping-pong...a strong player on the soccer team...will go to college and study engineering." He was voted "Most Likely to Succeed" in our senior year.
I'm listed next: "'Luigi'" -- actually, my father's name "...a real personality...the co-Editor whose originality and hard work helped make this Annual possible...Lewis has brightened many a class with his endless supply of 'corn'...a sparkling tenor...would like to attend Bucknell University." Voted both "Class Prankster" and "Class Wit."
Lindsey is the third. He has no entry in the yearbook because he skipped his senior year, went to both Yale and Harvard on Ford Foundation Fellowships, skipping his master's degree and going right from his B. A. to his Ph. D. and becoming a famous academic in an esoteric branch of sociology.
Phineas, whose fate, although I've seen him once in a great while, I do not know, was the fourth. "'Phin,' the salesman par excellence...able manager of the basketball team...one really cannot appreciate 'Phin" without knowing him intimately...member of National Honor...another science-fiction advocate...UConn's gain will be our loss." Phineas had been my best friend during the year or so that my family had lived on Newton Street when I was in early grade school, but when we were reunited in high school he had no recollection of our earlier acquaintance.
The next member entered in the Constitution was Burns who gave the Fantaseers their motto: "There's nothing like good clean fun, and this is nothing like it"; George was a Congregational minister's son; "One of the boss-men of the class...the competent and industrious co-editor of the 1951 Annual, who spent hours making this book possible...skilled pianist and member of Special Chorus...active member of the German Club...a debater...a man with a future" who followed in his father's clerical footsteps.
Pierre was the son of a Danish nurseryman in Kensington, not far away down the Chamberlain Highway, and a French mother. He had no entry, either, because his family had moved out of Meriden before his senior year. He attended Princeton, worked in New York for many years in a wine importing company, if I'm not mistaken, and has now run the nursery for years since his father's death.
Johnston was a neighborhood friend of mine and a senior; Martin, was the only person ever to have been drummed out of "The Black Thirteen"; Paul ("I think he died of AIDS," Burns told me) was our homeroom's "...man of distinction who makes himself heard...a humorist and salesman who enjoys Wagner...plans to go to Teacher's College to learn to educate future scholars in general science and skulduggery."
David, whom I barely remember, was a senior, "...friendly and ambitious...Art Editor of The Annual...a hard worker with a determined spirit...has real artistic talent...a biology student...a go-getter...intends to be a science teacher." Arthur was "...the popular co-editor of this book," The Annual for 1952, "a Herculean job which he filled adequately...is an accomplished dancer and an artist of the keyboard...President of the German Club...'Art' intends to go to college and is sure to make good." He became a Lutheran minister.
Ray was "Quiet...somewhat introspective...hobbies center about camping, chess playing, philosophy, science fiction...member of Rifle, Chemistry, Biology, and Physics Clubs...pet peeve: French idioms!...future plans: University of Connecticut, then a teaching career." Actually, he joined the Navy with me, then attended Cornell for a while, City University of New York for many years to finish his degree while he worked as a journalist, and finally he became an evangelical.
Jack was "...the likable boy who cooks his food over a Bunsen burner and drinks from a test tube...the best chemist of them all...an honor student...'Jack' should make his mark at Wesleyan." He did. He paid for his tuition by commercially breeding angel fish during his high school years, but he ended his own life.
Finally, there was Ben, a senior and "A top ranking student and diplomat...a real booster for the U. N. ...a hard worker and a good leader... elected member of National Honor Society in his Junior year...likes reading, classical music, and opera...plans to attend Colgate University...we consider Ben the man most likely to succeed." He became an Episcopalian minister, the fourth member of The Fantaseers to take religious orders.
The Constitution of the organization was adopted in March of 1950, and our library established in my house -- the parsonage of the First Italian Baptist Church on Windsor Avenue -- in April, for we were ostensibly to be a science-fiction reading society, not a fraternity, for fraternities were banned by the school. I was elected Book Custodian, one of two club officers, the other being Treasurer. The last amendment of the Constitution said that "There shall be no set number of members, no restrictions, but that was either forgotten or deliberately violated, for we eventually called ourselves "the Black Thirteen" at a later stage and held our membership to that number.
As might have been predicted, our club soon became primarily social rather than literary. Though no dates are attached to the individual items in the Chronology, here are some of the several outstanding events: "Antecedent Action" -- I believe that refers to the party where we were conceived; "Begin[n]ing of club"[;] "First meeting of club[;] Entrence [sic] of Burns and [Pierre]," which must refer to their being inducted; "Ripping down of fence[.]" (I don't recall who made these notes, but the spelling is bad and I won't be pedantic about correcting the errors; from here on I'll do it silently.)
The fence referred to was composed of trash -- bedsprings, old boards, anything and everything, and it had been erected by a neighbor of mine across the large weed-overgrown vacant lot behind his house. This field had never been turned into a back yard with a lawn, nor even a garden. We used to cut through it to get to a street that dead-ended at the lot, and when the neighbor put up his fence, which was both an eyesore and an offense to us, we had to go a very long way around or climb over it.
I am startled to look over the records now and discover that this episode occurred so early in the history of The Fantaseers; specifically, in the early fall of our first year. It was intended as an initiation ceremony for Marty, a sophomore (though none was required by our Constitution), and we all participated in it. Our great mistake was to split up afterward: half the club retreated to my house, the other half sat in Pierre's car across the street, in front of the Venice Restaurant where a cruising police car, called by our neighbor, stopped, interrogated the passengers, and took down names. Though I wasn't one of those caught, it fell out that, as the club's chief officer, I had to go to the neighbor to apologize and to make restitution for the fence. I believe the sum came to something like $10.00, and I assume we all contributed.
Johnston was the first and only member of The Fantaseers to resign, as of October first of 1950. I think his mother made him drop out. In any case, he was a friend of mine, but not of the other members, and not literary in any particular way. The club must have taken out its frustration over the incident of the fence on Marty, whose idea it was, because he is the only member ever to have been ousted. The entry in the club diary read, "RESIGNED, as of November 10, 1950 -- by Request **** Martin D-----s, Member." Several members were suspended from time to time for non-payment of the dues with which we purchased science fiction and fantasy books: David, in January of 1951, Arthur in April, Peter, Pierre, Paul, and Lindsey in May, but the suspensions were always lifted. Other items, many of them lost in the dim regions of the Vale of Lethe, read, "Sending of horse crap to Phineas; Breaking of window at Venice; PEARL STREET; Turco's accident with Pierre's car." I remember none of these except the last.
When Pierre's father had established his plant nursery in Kensington the family moved there, but Pierre never broke his ties with his old friends. He was the only Fantaseer not a student at Meriden High. Of course, he had to have a car under the circumstances. Before I had my own, on occasion I go out to practice driving Pierre's dad's stick-shift truck on the dirt roads of the nursery. When I got good enough, Pierre would let me practice with his automobile.
One day we were parked across the street from my house, beside a mail depository. I got behind the wheel and Pierre walked around to get in on the passenger side. Just as Pierre opened his door, my foot slipped off the clutch and the car jerked forward. Pierre jumped out of the way in time to avoid being caught between the door and the mailbox, but the door hit the box and was sprung.
Strictly speaking, this episode had nothing to do with The Fantaseers except that it involved two members, but many of us saw nearly everything we did in terms of the club, or the Sportlanders Barbershop Quartet in which I sang lead, or the Fantatnafs, which is what we called ourselves when we were joined by the Reesatnafs, the girls in our group. Those were certainly my personal parameters; schoolwork almost didn't enter into consideration. Intellectually, I was concerned nearly exclusively with reading and with my own writing. I knew very early what I wanted to be.
That's why I'm embarrassed now to read the misspellings in this list of Fantaseer events, for I've always thought of myself as an excellent speller, and it must have been I who typed this list because I recognize the elite typeface of my father's old Underwood Standard typewriter. How could I forget it? Every week I sat at the keyboard hunting and pecking out stories and poems, many of the latter published in The Morning Record in Lydia Atkinson's Wednesday poetry column, "Pennons of Pegasus." If I had spent my writing time on homework I would very likely have been a member of the National Honor Society like a number of The Fantaseers, which did not include Paul or Burns.
The chronology continues: "Flashbulb lighting." A classic Fantaseer event! I had a flashgun that I could set off without the camera. One Friday evening several of us got into Pierre's car and began cruising, a great American teen-age pastime. We motored up to Hubbard Park on the farthest western edge of town and drove around Mirror Lake slowly, peering into the windows of the automobiles parked there. When we at last found a couple making out in the back seat we cruised slowly past, I leaned out the window and set off the flashgun, and Pierre floored the accelerator. We got to West Main Street quickly, but there was so much traffic that, by the time we entered the stream, our victim's car was right behind us.
We beat about country roads for a while, but we couldn't shake our pursuer, so we changed our strategy. "Head for downtown!" Burns yelled. On Friday evenings the stores stayed open late and when we got to the business district we began doing circles around Crown Street Square until we got stopped at a light, the furious lover right behind us, revving his engine. It happened that we'd pulled up next to another high schooler's jalopy on our right, so I leaned from the window again and yelled to the driver -- it may have been Don Wescott -- "How about cutting off that guy?" I pointed with my thumb. "He's chasing us."
Don immediately put his car into reverse, stuck his left rear fender and bumper in between our pursuer and us, turned off his engine, pulled the keys from the ignition, threw them on the floor and began hunting for them. The light turned green and we were off in a blare of horns and curses.
The fellow who'd been chasing us had taken down Pierre's license number and evidently got his home address from the motor vehicles bureau. He called and, when Pierre answered and identified himself, asked, "How much do you want for the negatives?" Pierre had a hard time explaining that there were no negatives because we had no camera, only a flashgun. "I don't think he really believed me," Pierre told us. We all wondered who he was and with whom he'd been out that night.
"Fixing muffler at hunting lodge; Play rehearsals" -- this referred to the Salem Witch Trials playlet I wrote for The Fantaseers to enact during the annual Senior Skit Day at the high school. "Robes at First Congo; Burning alcohol in Congo basement" -- good grief! I don't remember that at all. "Priest act in Kensington."
The Fantaseers needed black choir robes for the play, and we could have borrowed them from my father's, or from George's father's church. We chose the latter, and while we had them we decided to put them to double employ. Out near Pierre's nursery one of the roads where I had learned to drive was used, like the Mirror Lake road, as a lover's lane. One evening The Fantaseers went out, parked some distance away, cut through the woods where, before emerging, we put on the robes and formed a wedge behind Paul, who was the guidon-bearer. He carried a crucifix made of crooked sticks. Ben came next, portly and archiepiscopal, the only one of us wearing a surplice. Flanking him a step behind came Burns to the left and me to the right, bearing lighted candles. The rest fanned out behind with prayerful hands upraised.
We walked into the middle of the road and began marching down it. Paul intoned, "Repent ye, sinners, and be saved!" Ben waved his blessings over the automobiles with their stunned occupants. Burns lifted his candle and made the sign of the cross over the lovers lying stunned in their autos, I sang "Jesus Loves Me." The tapers flickered in the summer zephyrs, everyone chanted or called out to the sinners lining both sides of the dirt track -- we raised a glorious and cacophonic din unto the Lord.
As the phalanx approached two cars on either flank the headlights blinked on, the engines croaked to life, and, wheels spinning, the vehicles roared off into the night. It was as though we were starting a serial drag race. Soon there were no cars left on Lovers' Lane, and the Fantaseers glowed with good feeling. "Just think how many souls we've saved tonight," Burns said with that Irish grin sitting under his nose. "At least temporarily."
The next entry is "THE PLAY," of which I have a photo taken by a senior, Howard Iwanicki, who became a photographer for The Morning Record. Ben is seated in the makeshift judge's bench, laughing insanely as he snips the heads off a string of paper dolls. He has on one of the black choir robes, as does Arthur who is standing beside him to his right as an officer of the court, I suppose, holding one of those long-handled window poles they used to have in the old school buildings. Both of them are wearing new mop heads as wigs.
Burns is the witch, evidently. He is sitting, dressed in rags and chains, his chin in his left hand and his elbow on his knee. Behind him, dressed entirely in black and looking like a flat silhouette, stands Jack, the headsman. Paul lurks to his left, also in rags, gotten up as a hunchback with a crooked walking stick. I'm next, sitting down, in my father's old swallow-tail coat and raggedy white pants. Peter and George are next, in the jury box, the latter dressed in what appears to be a white sheet.
By the time I was in high school I knew my mother's family, the Putnams (my middle name is Putnam), were somehow connected with what went on in Salem Village in 1692, and this play was my first attempt to write something about it. However, it wasn't until I was in my forties that I researched the subject and wrote an enormous, still unpublished, 1200-page manuscript titled The Devil's Disease and subtitled, "A Narrative of the Age of Witchcraft in England and New England 1580-1697." I know more about the Putnams and their witch-hunting now than I would have wished to know in 1951, I think, including the information that I am a descendant through my mother of Constable "Carolina" John Putnam who was jailing his fellow townsmen during the witch hunt.
The chronology of Fantaseer events continues. "Jacklighting at the Tower" had to do with the spotlight my mother had won at CUNO Engineering Corp. where she was a stenographer for years during and after the war. As my parents never owned a car, she had stuck it in the bottom of a trunk. I'd asked her for permission to attach it to my first jalopy, a 1940 Chevrolet tudor sedan, but she had refused me, which I felt was unreasonable as she had no earthly use for it herself. So I expropriated it. I disguised it by putting a tennis racquet cover over it, and she didn't notice it for months.
I don't know what it was we were jacklighting -- certainly not animals. The "tower" was Castle Craig on East Peak, a lookout above Hubbard Park that had been privately build by an eccentric man and then either donated or bequeathed to the city. We used to drive up there all the time for rituals and romance. One Christmas Eve Ray and I and Tony, the tenor in the Sportlanders Quartet, tried to drive up to West Peak. We had been sneaking home-made wine from Tony's father's cellar, so it wasn't till we got half way up the twisting climb that we realized we were driving on glare ice. We had at last noticed because the car had stopped and was beginning to drift backward, despite the fact that its wheels were still spinning. I stopped, put on the emergency brake, and stepped out of the car to assess the situation. My feet skidded out from under me and I fell flat on my back in the middle of the road. I was stone sober in an instant.
Somehow we managed to get the car turned around and headed downhill again, but I couldn't control it and we hit the guard rail, denting the fender so badly it scraped the tire. We pulled the metal away from the rubber and, after heroic labors, managed to reach the city streets around midnight. Both Tony and Ray were Catholics, but we knew that George's father was conducting a service at that hour, so we drove downtown, parked, and staggered down the middle aisle to the only pew that was unoccupied, way down in front. I thought we'd pulled it off, but in fact everyone knew we were drunk, it turned out. Jean, my future wife, was in the conPeteration with her family that night. When we talk about it these days she still gets that look on her face.
Another entry reads, "Burns works at Kresge's" with Curt and me. Curt was the baritone of The Sportlanders -- so named because our sponsor (I think he bought us music) was Al of Al's Sportland. I don't think I ever met him. Curt was our contact. The three of us were stockboys at the five-and-dime, as I recall, unless I was still a busboy at the snack bar. Not much later in the chronicle there is an entry that reads, "Burns works at Palace," that is, the Palace Theatre on West Main, a few blocks up from Kresge's. Burns was always a slow mover, though he would have preferred to call his actions "deliberate," I'm sure. He must not have lasted long as a stock boy, but he looked like the archetypal usher with his round, flat hat, red uniform, flashlight and freckles. He made a ceremony of it when any of The Fantaseers showed up for a show.
Here's an interesting item: "Bev naked on bed." Why don't I remember Bev? Perhaps I wasn't present. Burns, when I began this past summer to reminisce about one of our adventures, said, "I wasn't in on that one." And so not all of our "common memories" are common. A fond recollection turns into something other than the warm sharing of remembrance. Suddenly, there's a blank place where we thought someone was standing. Here's one I don't recall: "Burns in Hubbard Park fixing motor in rain assailed by six-foot bruiser."
A major item -- I shall reproduce it exactly: "Ben mispells Fantaseers on Jubalee Program." That's worth the whole list, it seems to me. "Ben pushes Burns into ten feet of water," and Burns couldn't swim. "Burns meets Tut on way home from Hubbard Park" -- Tut was no doubt the "bruiser" who had accosted Burns earlier. He was tall, not big, but scary enough for all that -- one of the town bullies, of no particular occupation and a small-time gang reputation.
"Ben's car [gasoline indicator] needle stuck: 2:00 [a.m.] in Kensington. My mother won't speak to me for 9 months." And little wonder at that. "Pierre's party in Sept.: Paul hanging from rafters. Sugar in Turco's gas tank," and a new carburetor for Turco. "Graduation party: Class of '51." The ranks of the Fantaseers were considerably depleted by the end of the summer. We lost Burns, George, Dave, Ben, and, of course, Lindsey to Yale a year early. "Burns has chance to go to Arabia; Trip to see 'King Lear'; Holding court in room 8; Burns and Peter playing cards in auditorium till school closes; Burns works in Beanfields; Until the sea shall give up its treasures. Hot Dog Roast in Burns' yard; Mrs. Turco's opinion of Paul and Burns; Burns, Paul and Ben go to shack in woods; Burns changes site of Meriden Library." That one is a real puzzler.
"Fantaseers and Reesatnafs go on midnight hike to tower" -- Castle Craig again. "Locking Burns and George in safe...Burns and Paul make Peter eat Pizza until he spews; Trying to teach Ben to cut out paper dolls; Trying to teach Burns to snap his fingers...." Obviously, this list isn't in chronological order after all, since the play was over and there would be no reason at this point to teach Ben the art of paper-doll manufacture.
No such list exists for our senior year, but the incident that Burns didn't remember in 1991 was the quintessential Fantaseers terrorist action. The reason he wasn't involved, I now realize, is that he had graduated and gone his way. When the Class of 1951 had disappeared into the mists those Fantaseers who remained inducted new members including a replacement George, as I recall. One good-natured but not very bright sophomore, Bobby, wanted very much to join, and he began hanging around with us. He became a sort of mascot, but he had no interest in reading, just in deviltry, so he was never made a member.
Bobby fed us the information that there was a car that parked every Wednesday night on a deserted stretch of road out by Black Pond on the East Side near where he lived. He had followed the occupant, a man, who cut through some woods to visit a house whose occupants were two young women. He would stay for a time, come out, walk through the woods back to his car, get in, and drive off. We were intrigued. Our outraged "moral" sense was activated, as it had been in the lover's lane incidents.
I worked as high school correspondent and morgue files clerk for the Record in my senior year, and one of my jobs was to pick up ,"mats" at the railroad station each night. I got to know the railroad men, and when the Fantaseers' plan began to jell, I asked for and obtained a railroad flare. I thought I knew how to start it by scraping its head on a hard surface, like a Lucifer match.
One night the Fantaseers went up to Black Pond and most of the club members hid behind a stone wall that flanked the spot where the car was parked. I hid my car up the road, and Ray and I got ready to go into action when we got the flashlight signal from the others. When the light flashed, that meant that the owner of the car had come back and was about to start his engine. I was to plant the lighted flare in the middle of the road to stop him. What happened after that was to be played by ear, I guess. Ray was my lookout, but he never warned me because he never got a signal. I heard the car coming, dashed out into the road, squatted, began madly rubbing the flare against the macadam, and jumped out of the way just as the automobile came roaring past. I was angry and derisive of my colleagues in terror, who had remained hidden behind the wall. They resolved to do better next time.
Paul, borrowing a leaf from the lover who had chased us down from Hubbard Park to Crown Street Square the year before, called the Connecticut Motor Vehicles Department. He said that a car with such-and-such a license plate number was parking on private property, and he wanted to get a name and address to inform the offender he'd best park elsewhere. Then he went to the Meriden City Hall Clerk's office to find the names of the women living in the house in the woods. Paul assembled a considerable dossier on the principals. He found that the man was married and lived in Plainville, an adjoining town. Paul even scouted the neighborhood.
This time there was to be no flare. We all hid behind the wall, I with my trusty flashgun, Paul with a flashlight and his dossier, the rest with their courage screwed up. The plan was that we'd all rise, holler and make lots of light and noise, and hightail it off across the pastures. To make sure the parker had some trouble roaring down the road as he'd done last time, we let half the air out of his tires, and Paul pulled his old sugar-in-the-gas-tank trick.
But the boys were out to prove their manhood. When our victim arrived, we rose up as a body from behind the stone fence. Paul called out in stentorian tones, "John Doe, 2121 Adams Drive, Plainville, Connecticut!" The man stopped in his tracks, his hand on the car door. My flashgun fired. Following the plan, Ray and I headed off across the field. When my flight was arrested by an electric fence I grabbed in the dark with my bare hand, I cursed, turned, and saw in the moonlight a row of Fantaseers standing at the low wall. Paul was still unreeling his list of facts. The man was immobile. I began to walk back, but before I arrived he jumped into his car and took off...as best he could.
We were in no great hurry. We strolled in a leisurely manner to my hidden car, got in, and followed the fleeing vehicle -- down East Main to Broad Street, where we decided to peel off and go to Plainville by a back route. It was as though it were planned: as the man pulled into his home street, we pulled out of the next street up and fell in right behind him again. My spotlight was on, and we played it over his car. He pulled into his driveway, jumped out of the car, and ran inside. He lived on a little circle, and we cruised around it hooting at him, shining the light on the front of his house, and then we slowly pulled away. As we did so, we noticed a police car driving past us. Before we turned the corner, we saw it stop in front of our victim's house. Bobby said he never saw the man again.
There were other escapades after that, as for instance when we tried to make a huge torch out of Castle Craig by soaking its stone-and-steel construction with kerosene, but the Adventure of the Black Pond Parker was both the crest and the trough of our careers as Fantaseers. When he graduated, Bobby joined the service, I heard, and when he was discharged he and another young veteran held up a gasoline station and fled across the state line where they ran out of money and held up another place. They were caught, tried as second offenders, even though they'd not been convicted of the first offense, and were sentenced to some incredibly long incarceration for armed robbery -- if my memory serves, it was life, and when they'd served their minimum sentences, they were to be extradited and tried for the first crime.
"But I never ran into anybody," Burns said, because for years I worked the second shift. When I was awake, everybody else was sleeping, and when I was asleep, everyone else was awake." He'd heard about Paul's death, but had not run into him. He'd heard about Jack's alcoholism, the loss of his job and his family, his suicide.
Burns hadn't known about Peter's exceedingly successful appearances on "The Price is Right" and "The Wheel of Fortune" before he was divorced a second time, could no longer find a job, and was reduced to asking for long-distance collect-call handouts from his friends.
"We'll have to get together again next year," Burns said.
"We've got a lot to catch up on."
Just as he was leaving my wife came in from shopping. I introduced them. "Do you remember me?" he asked, giving her his patented Irish grin. She assured him she did. "I'd like you both to meet my wife," Burns said. "She went to Meriden High, too, a few years behind us. She's real tall."
"We're looking forward to it," I said, shaking his hand. We waved to each other as he drove away down the hot August streets of Oswego.
["Burns" was originally published in Lake Effect, vii:1, Spring 1992, pp. 6-7 & 16 and reprinted in Fantaseers: A Book of Memories, by Lewis Turco, Scottsdale, AZ: StarCloudPress.com, 2005,196 pp., ISBN 1-932842-15-2, paper. Available from Amazon.]