Virtual Kidnapping

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You get a call late at night and the caller ID says it is from your grandchild. It’s frequently late at night so they can catch you when you are half asleep and groggy. You don’t recognize the voice though. The voice is that of an agitated, high-strung man shrieking ultimatums for money and making threats of violence. He appears to have both your grandchild and their phone. The “kidnapper” demands money or they tell you your family member will die. This is a scam.

In the old days, before cell phones or the internet the scammers used to call on the phone and say they were your grandchild and they had been arrested. They would then say they needed you to send bail money so they could get out of jail. But technology has changed things.

The person on the other end of the line is ranting and raving the whole time. They say they are going to kill your grandchild unless you pay a ransom fast. A wave of disbelief washes over you. You know your grandchild is away at school, attending college in another state. Could something have happened? He demands that you go and get a money gram to send to them or you will never see your grandchild again.

You might not notice but they won’t use your grandchild’s name. Not only are they trying to extort money from you but they are on a fishing trip to get the name so they will sound more legitimate.

The FBI calls this crime “virtual kidnapping.” Hackers will gain access to someone’s cell phone contact list and then use the phone number masking technology called “spoofing”.  With caller ID spoofing, people can make it seem like their phone calls are coming from whatever phone number they want, even your grandchild’s phone.

“This is the next level,” said FBI Special Agent Doug Kasper. “This is a high pressure call that has instant impact. The ability to spoof phone numbers is what makes it so instantly scary.”

Kasper said this scam is the most recent advancement in phone and social networking scams being perpetrated by criminals. Kasper said the FBI is continually shutting down these lawbreakers in the United States but they keep popping up elsewhere.

“They grow more sophisticated all the time, but on our side is that the consumers are also getting more sophisticated in recognizing them,” he said. “The key for the victims is to slow things down, control their emotions.”

The FBI doesn’t have national statistics on virtual kidnapping because most victims report the crime to just the local police or don’t report it at all. The FBI thinks this scam is still widespread so they are asking people to report these calls.

The scammers probably dial lots of possible victims every day hopeful to get success on at least one. They most likely keep calling until they come across one person that can’t reach their loved ones and panics. The deception is probably a “high volume” scam that succeeds often enough that it is profitable for the scammers.

Here is how to avoid falling victim to a virtual kidnapping. Ask them if you can talk to “Bill” and beg them not to hurt Bill, knowing full well you are not related to anyone named Bill. When they say you can’t talk to Bill you will know they aren’t telling the truth. Catching them in a lie early on will ease your mind and give you the advantage.

Try to call the alleged victim on another phone or utilize some other method like texting or even instant messaging to contact the person who has supposedly been kidnapped. If you are traveling with the purported kidnapping victim but you are not with the person right then, you might want to call the hotel where they are staying and ask them to perform a “Welfare Check” if you think they might be in their room.

Ask for proof from the supposed kidnapper that they have possession of the purported victim. Ask for a current photograph or video of the person that they allegedly kidnapped. Most cell phones have a camera that the kidnapper could use to verify if this is a scam or not. Proof of possession can help differentiate between actual kidnappings and virtual kidnappings.

Check the caller ID to see if the caller is dialing from a location that is where the victim was last known to be. If the scammer is not using the supposed victim’s phone, you can challenge the person calling to call you back from this cellphone. Keep in mind though that the phone number may be spoofed.

Report to the FBI or local law enforcement without delay and inform them of any virtual kidnapping attempt and provide them with as much evidence as you can. This might include the phone number that the call came from if you still have it. You should also file a statement with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.

Norb is a freelance journalist from Lockport.

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Old Age

I thought I would feel completely different about growing older. I thought I’d worry more about getting gray hair and the spare tire that would collect around my stomach after I had retired than I have. As I begin my 70’s, I can’t muster more than a shrug about any of those things. MEH. Last I remember I was in my 20’s so I don’t know where the last 50 years went. Instead, what I find terrifying about getting older is that I’ve totally lost the capability to comprehend what people do and why they do it.

Up until recently, more recently than I really want to confess, I didn’t know what a meme was. I had to look memes up on the internet to find out what they were and I am not really sure I understand what they are yet. It was around last week Monday, when I decided to dig deep down into my own oblivion to write this piece, that I discovered that Drake is not just a male duck.

I need a good strong drink and a  to reduce my stress every time I need to remember a password. I have trouble using the 4 remotes that control my TV that my 7 year old grandsons can use in their sleep. Remotes are bad enough. I see you can now turn your lights on and off, luck and unlock your doors and adjust your thermostat with your smart phone. I just want to make a phone call!

I also have no idea how to use Snapchat, WhatsAPP, Tumbler or Venmo, whatever those are. I have a Facebook account, mainly because I want to let people how things are going, to see how they are doing, find recipes and to promote my writing. I have a Twitter account that I only use to stay in touch with a granddaughter who is now going to school out of state.

I’m hearing that cutting back on social media is starting to be trendy, so I might just find out that I am, for one brief second accidentally on-point. We will see how long that lasts. What should I do now? Try to close up the void between the generations, or should I embrace it?

A few years ago, when I first started to sense a technological gap opening up between me and the youth, I tended to enjoy it, much like an old person who’s reached that spot in life where it’s perfectly acceptable for me to dismiss all new music as racket or trip a passerby with my cane just because.

People in a few generations behind me are now becoming parents and CEOs, and I am becoming exactly what I’ve spent the last 40 years accusing my elders of being, angrily befuddled by every new skill needed to get by in life. Give me a smart phone and strand me in a desert and I’ll most likely die there.

When I was in school, “pop culture” just seemed like a course you took for the easy credits not something that was fun, but I did pay attention because it was fun. Part of the charm of becoming an adult was that I could stop working on the oppressively boring task of having to remember trigonometry, history and the periodic table.

Now, though, it turns out that there’s even more for me to try and jam into my brain. The problem is I’ve been in an elective, educational coma for few decades, having reached my interest in modern culture. I don’t know how many Kardashians there are, nor do I care. Just the thought of trying to catch up on everything I’ve missed now is exhausting.

I’m a member of a generation that can remember a time before texting and email and chat rooms. I learned these things in slowly during my 40s, and it wasn’t a problem. I scoffed at, and even felt bad for, anyone who was older and said that they weren’t prepared to try new stuff.

We have a very negative stereotype of people in thier 70s and that stereotype is usually incorrect. Elderly people are very likely to describe the last five or ten years of their lives as the happiest years of their lives.

It may come as a surprise to some, but studies have shown that seniors are among the happiest segments of the population and they are frequently more contented than people in who are in their middle ages. Older people frequently have a very healthy sense of satisfaction that comes from their achievements. These accomplishments don’t need be great feats.

In John Lennon’s lyric, “A working class hero is something to be,” Lennon explains it succinctly. Achievements like being happily married, raising healthy and happy children, serving in the military or retiring from a company in after years of dedicated service, may see ordinary but they can be the basis of contentment in old age.

Peripheral Neuropathy

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I have peripheral neuropathy  from chemotherapy. This is customarily associated with symptoms like numbness pain, and tingling but there are other symptoms as well.

The peripheral nervous system is composed of three different types of nerves. They are the motor, the sensory and the autonomic nerves. Each of these nerve systems controls different functions. I have both sensory and motor peripheral neuropathy.

Damage to my motor nerves makes walking difficulty. My legs feel heavy like I am trying to move a 10 pound canned ham and are difficult to move especially on waking up. I may constantly feel off balance.  Since the damage to the motor nerves interrupts the signals from your brain to the muscles, telling them what to do even doing something as easy as walking could become a difficult task. I require a cane while walking to maintain my balance.

Also I need to see the floor or ground, or I lose my balance. If I shut my eyes, I start waving around like a willow sapling in a wind storm. Damage to my sensory nerves has made this problem worse. The pain or numbness usually associated with damage to these nerves has affected my feet. A doctor tested for this damage using a pin. They repeatedly pushed it against my flesh on my foot and I could not feel anything.

However sometimes if I step on a coin I swear I can tell if it is heads or tails. Then I have the electric shocks. It feels like my toes are getting shocked and the feeling moves across the bottom of my foot.

Because I suffer from symptoms related to this motor nerve damage, I must exercise extra caution when walking on stairs or other areas where my risk of a fall is greater. This is the primary reason I had a first floor addition put on my house, so I wouldn’t have to climb stairs. Allowing myself extra time and not hurrying can also help me limit my risk of falling. I now walk like a two year old.

I also find it difficult to pick things up off the floor due to a lack of balance. I sometimes try to hook then with my cane or use my cane to push them close to something I can grab onto when I bend over.

Because damage to your motor nerves affects the ability of your brain to transmit messages to your muscles I find myself limiting the use of my legs and feet. Unfortunately, this decrease in physical activity results in me having muscle deterioration and weakness. This is often referred to as muscle atrophy and I found it hard to get up from a chair. I had a box built to raise my chair to assist me in getting up.

Muscle weakness further contributes to my loss of balance and difficulty walking that I previously mentioned. While exercise is often difficult and painful for me there are low-impact exercises that I do to help retain muscle mass and prevent muscle deterioration. I am now attending Physical Therapy to help with this and have exercises I do at home to try and rebuild my strength like stepping on and off a step stool every time I leave the living room to try and build up my muscles.

The disruption of signals from the brain can also lead to cramps, muscles spasms and twitches. Sometimes it feels like my toes are overlapping each other. But they aren’t, it’s just my nerves playing tricks on me. Most of the time, the cramping strikes at night and ranges in severity from mild to terribly painful.

While most common symptoms that are associated with peripheral neuropathy are pain, numbness, burning or tingling they are not the only symptoms. When the motor nerves are affected by neuropathy the symptoms might go far beyond pain or numbness. They affect my ability to control muscles and perform otherwise simple physical tasks. Though you might not be able to reverse these negative effects completely, alternative methods like exercise could help you build and retain muscle mass therefore helping you to reduce the effect of motor nerve damage.

There are other a few other therapies I use though to help me mitigate the peripheral neuropathy symptoms. I take the controlled drug, Lyrica twice a day. Other things I use are homeopathic treatments. I treat my feet with a Frankincense and Myrrh oil every morning.  Finally I use a CBD tincture twice a day. Every time I need a refill, I search the internet for the best price because there are now so many players selling this that pricing is all over the place. I have also moved from 300 MG to 1200 MG and the price increases proportionately. You can buy the 1200 MG for less than some people ask for the 300 MG.

CBD has been called safe for almost everyone. This is according to a new article from the World Health Organization. But you should check with your own doctor before you begin using any CBD product. Research has indicated there are several CBD oil benefits, ranging from improving rheumatoid arthritis to alleviating social anxiety. CBD could also decrease chronic pain although your mileage may vary.

Norb is a freelance journalist from Western New York. His blog is at WhyWNY.home.blog.

Beards

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You’ve most likely noticed that beards are in and the plaid shirted, beard wearing male is now fashionable. I have sported a variety of beards, side burns and mustaches over the years and I am now finally in style. Woo hoo!  I have had my current beard for over 10 years. These days, the unshaven look once saved for mountain men and lumberjacks is seen everywhere from boardrooms to billboards to fashion magazines. I have lived through several cycles of beards and can tell you beards are not going to dissapear soon.

Growing a beard will transform the way you look. Just like dying your hair purple and yellow might raise a few eyebrows, having a beard also defines people’s impression of you. People will look at you differently and you will also feel different. When I met my wife I sported a counter culture, bad boy, Hippy Dippy goatee. That was a part of my look, a part that would soon change. She asked me to shave before I met her parents. What we do for love.

Just like the hair on your head protects your scalp from getting sunburn (ask any bald guy), facial hair provides protection for your chin, cheeks, and upper lip. If you get a tan and then shave you could have a paler “beard shadow” which is the reverse of a five o’clock shadow. This shows that your beard protects your skin from sun damage and could protect you from skin cancer.

A study by researchers at the University of Queensland shows that having a beard reduces your facial UV exposure by about one-third, compared to a clean-shaven face, and the ultraviolet protection factor ranged from 2 to 21. This means that a beard protects you from ultraviolet rays that would hit your face. Free sunscreen!

I now am back to the goatee I wore as a teenager when I met my wife. It’s white now without any red in it and it is a little less thick. I call it my “cancer beard” and vowed to not shave it off until I was pronounced cured of cancer. Trim it, sure but not shave it off.

The average male spends 3,350 hours standing in front of a mirror, scraping a sharp, metal blade across his face during their lifetime according to the New York Times. No matter how close or how often, you shave, your beard grows back a little bit every day.

When it comes to tracking trends, research has shown that a good, healthy beard makes a guy seem more attractive to the majority of women right now. According to Psychology Today, studies have shown that men with beards are generally regarded as more masculine, dominant, and socially mature. They are also usually regarded as more responsible, older, fatherly figures.

The next time I grew a beard was when I was in the navy. We were on a Mediterranean/North Atlantic cruise. We were allowed to grow beards on this 6 month cruise. As I think back on it, it probably was a morale builder. We would hold “Longest beard” contests and “Ugliest Beard” contests. We would also hold a “Best Moustache” contest.

Men who live and work in cold environments like Western New Yorkers do, frequently seem to grow big, bushy beards. That’s because having the extra layer of insulation that a beard provides helps keep our face warm. I appreciated that extra layer of insulation while my ship was in the North Atlantic.

If you are terrified of making it through your next Western New York winter without freezing your face off, then fall and winter is probably a good time to grow a beard. The best time to sport a bushy beard would seem to be in November. Sprouting a beard at this time will help promote cancer awareness and will support all your “No Shave November” friends.

Unfortunately, researchers have discovered that beard growth tended to hit the highest point in the late summer, predominantly in August and September, by November it is decreasing, reaching its slowest speed in January and February. Even your beard doesn’t like to go out in the winter

Beards might make you look all rugged and rough, but under their crude surface there is frequently a smooth, silky baby face. This occurs because growing a beard can actually protect the skin underneath from aging, according to the tabloid Metro. A beard, by blocking sun exposure, results in fewer wrinkles, fewer liver spots, and so on.

The other thing that keeps your face so smooth under your beard is your sebaceous glands, which are always at work keeping your skin moisturized and oiled up, according to Business Insider. People touch their face a lot, so you’d normally be rubbing this oil off pretty regularly, but not if you have a thick beard protecting your face and thus preserving your skin’s oils. So having a beard today might make you look older, it could also make your skin look younger in the future.

I now am back to wearing my teenage goatee. However it is white now, not red and a little sparser. I call it my “cancer beard”. I vowed not to shave it off until I was pronounced cured of cancer. I will trim it, sure, but not shave it off.

Norb is a freelance journalist from Western New York.

Manners

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The children now love luxury, they have bad manners, contempt for authority, they show disrespect for elders …. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, and gobble up dainties at the table….*

I am astounded by the total lack of manners some people show today. Everywhere I look, I am surrounded by rude people with absolutely no respect for others and it makes me wonder about their upbringing. Sadly, this world has become a very impolite place to live in.

I would like to remind people of some fairly basic manners. Here are some of the most forgotten customs that I see that need to be brought back into today’s society.

I think the first set of manners that I was taught as a child was to always say “please” and “thank you.” Saying please and thank you shows good upbringing and is respectful. The one you are saying this to is a person and they are worthy of respect just like you are. Combine this with a “You’re welcome”, and you have a trifecta of good etiquette.

My parents instructed me that you are supposed to hold the door for anyone. It does not matter who they are, male, female, young, old, someone you love or someone you hate. You show respect to someone anyways and you hold the door open for them. I will do the same for you.

Excuse me, but I do not understand why we have forgotten how to say “excuse me” when we are trying to go past another person or when we accidentally bump into them. Since when did it become okay to bump into someone and act like it did not matter to you? Oh yeah, it never has.

According to gotquestions.org, saying “bless you” to someone could have begun in several different places. The most prevalent line of thought is it originated from illness. In 590 AD, Italy underwent a terrible plague and the Pope decreed that whenever someone sneezed, people were to say “God bless you” and make the sign of the cross over their mouths, to try to keep the individual from becoming infected with the plague.

Because a sneeze was a symptom of the plague, people who heard another sneeze and said “God bless you” took interest in the person’s life. So now, when someone sneezes, and someone else says “bless you,” they are displaying manners from a long time ago. This might seem like a trivial act, but it is something that can show someone you care.

It might just be me, but something that can tick me off faster than getting cut off in traffic is when someone you are talking to does not make eye contact with me while we are having a conversation. Eye contact is one of the keys to having a good conversation. People now days stare at their phones while talking to each other. When someone does this to me I just stop talking. Obviously what is happening on their small screen is more important than having a real conversation with me.  When you are talking with someone, look them in the eyes to let them know they are important to you and you are listening to what they have to say.

Interrupting and talking over each other seems to be a national pastime. Watch one episode of “Jerry Springer” and you will see what I mean. There are a few acceptable times when it is OK to interrupt, like when the building is on fire or saying “Watch out” to prevent someone from getting hurt.

You don’t monopolize a conversation. I know your life is interesting, but so is mine. I have things in my life that I want to share with you. However if you are talking so much and I can’t get a word in edgewise or you don’t listen to me I feel you are disrespecting me.

If you are over the age of five, you should know proper table manners. You don’t chew with your mouth open, you keep your elbows off the table, you don’t reach in front of others’ plates, ask to have things passed to you. You don’t talk with your mouth full and you ask to be excused from the table when you are done eating. I learned these things via the “wooden spoon” method. My mother had a wooden spoon at the dinner table and if you transgressed…………………… well, you know what happened.

I believe in good old fashioned manners. I believe that a man should pay for dinner on a date. I believe that a man should come to the door when he picks up a lady, not sit on the street honking his horn. I believe that a man should open a woman’s car door and hold doors open for her.

* FYI The opening paragraph in this article is taken from a statement made by the philosopher Socrates (469–399 B.C.). I guess some things never change.

Norb is a freelance journalist from Lockport.

Rejection:

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I am getting up for a glass of Pepsi when I get an email. Any writer, author, or journalist knows this email moment. The notice pops up in my inbox and my heart takes a wild, insane, roller coaster ride. First, my heart goes up, way, way up, as my expectations climb. Then, it plunges because I remember just how the deck is stacked against me. I open up my email and my eyes quickly scan, looking for the words, “pleased” or “unfortunately” or “we regret”.

It gets much easier though. I have gotten quite a few rejections. In fact less than half of what I have written has been published. I take pride in the fact I have learned how to isolate someone rejecting my work from someone rejecting me as a person. There are many, many reasons why an article might not be suitable for a newspaper, magazine or blog and not one of these has anything to do with me personally.

If I get a rejection email but it is encouraging and positive, it is even worse. Maybe, just maybe if I had just been just a little better at writing or if I had changed one word in my 900 word article, it would have been acceptable.

I would like to say who the hell cares, but I do. It’s about the constant fight to advance in my craft. If the newspaper had accepted my work, that would have been it. But, seeing as they didn’t, I’m back right where I was, without any hope that I am headed towards my goal of being a respected writer.

Well, this is the part of being an aspiring writer that is much worse than the movies show. This portion really hurts. But rejection is as much an element of being a writer as writing the words onto the page. It’s as much a component of being a writer as the late night editing and the early mornings doing Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest marketing. This is as much a part of becoming a writer as is every submission or every query letter.

These are the writer’s baptisms by fire, and the hot coals we have to walk across in order to make this our vocations. I have to constantly sell myself and my writing. If it were simple, everyone would be a writer. Every person that took a creative writing class would be a writer for the Associated Press. Every kid who worked on his High School newspaper would now be writing for The Washington Post. But it’s not that easy. There isn’t any clear path to my goal, no directions.

Rejections just flat out suck. It might slow me down a bit and make me question whether writing is what I really want to do but rejections won’t kill me. It’s great to be a writer the days when the words just seem to flow. It’s awesome to be recognized also, whether it is on the street in a store or in a restaurant. It’s a rush when people ask me questions about my mysterious job, when they say they enjoy my writing.

It isn’t these trouble-free days that separate the weak from the strong, the successful from wannabes. It’s not about the stress-free days. It’s about the hard days where my work is rejected or the days when I get writer’s block. No one told me the life of a writer was going to be painless. But, if I’m still standing at the end of the day, it might just be worth it.

I can’t allow my emotions to get the best of me when I receive those inevitable rejections. So I pick myself up and try again. I question, I edit and I resubmit. It’s just not about me. Those who are rejecting me are making decisions based on my commercial marketability. My personality and personal life play a very, very small part in getting published.

I don’t waste any energy anymore being angry or holding a pity party for myself. I have been to this rodeo before. I still go through rejection, but it’s healthier for my well-being and self-esteem to concentrate my energy on taking the feedback positively and utilizing the information someone gives me to grow and enhance my writing style. To focus on being a better writer.

I work on trying to hone my skills every day, writing and rewriting and rewriting again, reading the periodicals I want to work for to learn their focus and slant on the issues.

In all honesty, being published is an adrenaline high for me, an ego boost. I set my sights high and have my goals. I have to show my passion for writing and be courageous enough to bare my soul. I have to have confidence in my talent but also be willing to learn if I want a successful writer.

So I know the skyrocketing heart rate is normal when opening an email. It’s a very challenging journey that I am on. I can tell you from experience, it is well worth it. But hey, I’m 71 and have nothing to lose, so I continue learning the writing craft. And the best thing is, I will have something concrete to leave my children and grandchildren, yay!

I am a freelance journalist from Lockport.

At the local swimming hole.

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When I was growing up I was fortunate enough to have a few ponds near where I lived. One was behind a transformer station. This is the spot where I would go to catch pollywogs and leopard frogs.

The fun was in catching these elusive amphibians and I practiced catch and release. I didn’t swim there much though. It was a shallow pool, not much more than knee deep and it would pretty much dry up by the end of summer, hardly conducive for swimming.

There was a pond on the property just across the street from my house where I would catch catfish. This pond was in the middle of a 100 acre farm that had gone fallow and was a spring fed pond. As such the water was always cold and not very pleasant to swim in. When I did swim there, I could feel the catfish nibbling at my toes. Catfish will eat almost anything that they can fit into their mouths so I guess they had to see if toes were edible. All that you needed was a rod, a reel and a can of worms to catch them. Catfish are good eating but because my mother refused to cook what I caught so what I hooked was released and lived to swim another day.

 

This pond was deep enough for a small boat. I found an old Refrigerator that I used as a boat using a branch to maneuver around the pond like a Venetian gondolier. On the back of the pond, I made a small shelter from some branches and two old metal Vernor’s Ginger Ale signs that I found. I would watch the dragon flies and the birds and animals stop by for a drink. Mostly songbirds and the occasional deer would stop by. One year ducks made a nest and raised their young at the pond. It was fun to see them grow up. Eventually they tolerated sharing the pond with me. It helped that I would feed them.

These ponds were adequate but my favorite “swimming hole” was off Millersport Highway. It was at the back end of the property belonging to a construction company. It had a sandy bottom and had a shore line of sand wrapped around it like a warm, cozy scarf. This was about as close as I usually got to going to the beach during the summer. I figure the company had mined the sand for use in their business. This pond offered it all. We would fish for sunfish, chase frogs, go swimming and sunbathe on the “beach”. The pond itself was about chest deep making it ideal for swimming but it was shallow enough to heat up quite quickly only requiring a few sunny days to warm to an ideal temperature for swimming.

I would grab a towel and go to a friend’s house. There I would meet up with a few buddies and we would head off to our swimming hole, trekking through the brush and fields toward our goal. Along the way we would go “grocery shopping”. I love the taste of Concord grapes and fortunately, we would pass near rows of grape vines on our route. I used to carry a folding knife with a hook blade that I used for harvesting grapes and I would always grab a bunch to eat on the way, cutting them from the vine. I would puck them one at a time from the bunch and squeeze them, causing the tasty flesh to pop into my mouth. I would then discard the skin and enjoy the delightful, sweet flavor. Even today I prefer Concord grapes.

A little further along on our route, we would come across a field filled with corn where we would grab a few ears apiece for later. There is a way to tell if an ear of corn is mature enough to eat without tearing back the husks. You just feel the end and if it comes to a sharp point, like a pencil, it isn’t ready. But if it feels rounded like a well-worn crayon it is time to eat it. There were also some tomatoes in another field along the trail which we would grab and eat like apples. Nothing tastes like a tomato ripped from the plant and eaten this way.

We would then follow the path thru the scrub brush and across a grassy field until we reached the swimming hole. There we stripped down to our shorts or maybe just our skin. The pond was far enough away from the road and behind enough foliage that it couldn’t be seen from the highway so it didn’t matter what we were wearing.

After a day of swimming, we would gather up some dried grass for tinder, small sticks for kindling and some firewood and build a small campfire. We would warm ourselves by the fire and roast the corn. It was delicious. As it got late, we would head back home before it got too dark to see the trail, besides, I wanted more grapes before dinner time. I loved my pond so much. It was a place of peace and nature. That pond still has its effect on me even after all these years. Whenever I have to go to my “Happy Place”, I go to my pond.