Real Life Things

Nathan Long

When my husband called the other day, I thought there was an emergency. We’d only talked once in the five months since we’d been separated.

“It’s about our son, David,” Frank said, as if I might not recall the name of our only child.

“Wait,” I said. “Have you been drinking?” It was one in the afternoon, a Saturday.

“I got a post card from him today,” Frank said. “He’s not in college any more.”

“What?” I said. “Where is he?”


Letters from Paris

Lee W. Doty

August 30, 1957. SS France

Dear Han,

Whoopee! Junior Year in Paris. Universite de la Sorbonne, here I come.

Arrived in New York Friday, right on schedule. But let me tell you, baby sister, there’s a big difference between Birmingham trains and the trains up north. For one thing, there are no separate cars. It’s whites and coloreds all together, if you please. And no “Mornin’ ma’am.” Just hustle-bustle.

The Shovel and the Rose

Victoria Sprow

After finding the ring in the bar of soap I told Herb there were two things I needed to do before I married him: get the shovel out of the lake and take the red rose from Danny.

Herb looked at me in his brittle, self-effacing way and said, didn’t I love him?

The soap had begun in the shape of a pink mollusk shell. He had given it to me on Valentine’s Day five weeks before, and it had taken me all that time to wear it down to a nub at its center.

The View from the Window

Shantee Cherese

Everyone loves a dead body.

The yellow tape, the grim-faced police officers and the emergency vehicles contrast with the peacefully falling snow and Christmas decorations strung along the cul-de-sac. The children’s thoughts are no longer of Santa Claus as they watch the men unload a black bodybag containing Darlese Claxton. Everyone stands by their doors, staring. Even big Julio Sanchez, who rarely leaves the comfort of his couch, takes in the scene, his three-year-old son in his arms.

The Room Where We Go in the Summer

Gloria Barone Rosanio

You didn’t smoke or have a chronic disease. You waltzed around the kitchen table, tried Viagra, played cards, and nurtured your African violets. You began a publishing empire called the “Brown Envelopes” filled with jokes, war stories, and Reader’s Digest clips. You collected, copied and mailed the Brown Envelopes every month to 50 friends, acquaintances and Army buddies.

From the Editors

Carla Spataro and Christine Weiser

Spring and summer brought many firsts to Philadelphia Stories: our first contest, the Rosemont Writer’ s Retreat, and the launch of PS Books, our new regional books division.

Helen Mallon won the First Person Essay Contest with her essay, My Charlie Manson, published in this issue. Judge and contest sponsor , author Kelly Simmons (Standing Still), had this to say about the winning essay, “[My CharlieManson] was a subtle, affecting essay that took a lot of courage to reveal.”We’d also like to congratulate Victoria Barnes on her runner-up essay, Anthony—A Love Story, which can be found on our website. Thanks to all who participated!

Local Author Profiles: Judy Schachner and David Wiesner

Philadelphia Stories

When did you decide to become a children’s book author?
I grew up in suburban New Jersey drawing and painting. I realized pretty early on that I liked to tell stories with pictures. I found the narrative aspect of it very appealing. As a kid, I read countless comic books and watched old movies, and it came into focus when I went to art school. I began to feel books were the form in which I wanted to do my art. I knew I didn’t want to do comic books — that world at the time seemed to stop at 14-year-old boys – and picture books felt like the right place.