Monday, September 24, 2012

The Sound of Rain on a Metal Roof

Opening onto the sliding glass doors of my bedroom is what is advertised as a three-season room; I call it my solarium because it is a room of windows as much as of walls, a lovely and a light-filled space facing due south – ideal for plants tucked among wicker chairs and wrought-iron pieces in warm weather, but lethally hot for human beings.  The windows are single-paned and drafty, and ill-fitting actually, and the walls and roof are aluminum-clad sheets encasing slabs of Styrofoam.  In winter it is a freezing space suitable for keeping hanging slabs of beef, if I were of a mind to use it as a slaughter-house storage space.  In fact, the last two weeks of April and the first two weeks of September are the only times of year during which it is fit for living beings of the primate variety.  All of the other 48 weeks of the year, it is either too cold or too hot to be functional. 

                My solarium was already a part of the house when I bought it, and for the first couple of years of my residency, I assiduously applied myself to making it a part of my daily living space.  I outfitted it with plush lounge chairs and matching ottomans; swathed its windows with luxurious draperies, and installed a strategically positioned television set, as well as a rotating fan.  The central air conditioning would reach the room, huffing and puffing, after several hours of trying, and at best the fan assisted feebly in this effort.  In addition to the aforementioned drawbacks, the solarium overlooks an exceedingly busy, and therefore, noisy three-lane highway, a byway for cars and trucks, even semi-trucks, of every variety – from early morning to late evening Mondays through Fridays, it competes with any raceway anywhere on earth.  While either swabbing my sweaty face with a handkerchief or cloaking my shivering body in an afghan, above the din of the traffic that is unimpeded by the thin walls and inadequate windows, I needed the keen ears of a canine to hear the television, and at my point in life, my naturally inferior Homo sapiens ears are not what they used to be.  I finally gave up and resolved myself to the fact that my lovely solarium is a primarily useless anteroom to my life that for practical reasons, I keep closed off behind the sliding glass doors.        

                Despite its negative aspects, and not counting its beauty, my solarium has a vital redeeming quality however:  it gains me access to the rain.  Actually, the inspiration for writing this piece this night comes from the rain that is washing the western side and beating on the roof of my metallic solarium at this precise moment.  As I lie here on my bed with my laptop straddling my thighs, the sliding glass doors are open to my solarium, open to the sound of the rain, a sound that carries me back to the rains of my childhood, those rains that are the source of my love of rain.  I will try to take you back there with me. 

                The initial eighteen months, and every weekend and summer of my life until I entered the first grade, was centered on the Southern Ohio farmlife of my maternal grandparents.  Although when a toddler I accompanied my parents and my baby brother to our new home in the city, until we were forced to make roots there with my entrance into school, our “real” life was considered by us to be “down home on the farm.”  I retain a storehouse of memories of my life on the farm, not only of those early days, but extending to my early twenties when everything changed with the illness of my grandfather that put a stop to his farming career, and required relocation to town to gain easier access to his doctors and the hospital. 

My grandparents owned three farms during their working years:  the one that was the place of my birth; the one of which they took possession when I was a preschooler; and the last one to which they moved when I was nearing the end of my teenage years.  It is the second farm that resides most prominently in my memory, a typical farm of the time featuring a red barn and whitewashed chicken houses and raw-wood pig pens (nowadays replaced with other structures, none of them red), and a saltbox farmhouse rising to two-stories within its whitewashed clapboard sides, and capped-off by a pitched tin roof. 
Positioned at the summit of German Hill in Peebles, Adams County, Ohio, its tin-roofed front porch then as now spans the entire width of the house and overlooks the star-wound crater in which a long-ago native society built the Great Serpent Mound.  That view of the crater, preferably taken in while sitting in the porch swing, is the pride and glory of my family, made accessible to us to this day by my Uncle Dean who purchased the farm from my grandparents upon their move to the third farm.  Uncle Dean is pictured here in a recent photo I shot of him while he sat in the porch swing and gazed at the star-wound crater.  The full view of the crater from the porch can be seen as my banner page at!/LindaLeeGreeneAuthor .   

From the porch one steps into the front room of the farmhouse, its focal point a chugging wood-burning stove in winter.  Off of this central parlor radiates two bedrooms, a kitchen, and at the back, what used to be a summer kitchen has been converted by Uncle Dean to a combination mud and laundry room, as well as a separate bathroom.  Prior to that time, the toilet facility was gained by a path to a gelid in winter and malodorous in summer outhouse. 
Tucked behind the front entrance of the farmhouse is the door to the staircase that leads to the upper floor, and at the head of the stairs is a small bedroom housing a full-sized bed and a mirror-topped chest of drawers.  I recall some of my cousins being folded cozily into the spacious bottom drawer of that chest in lieu of a bassinette when they were babies.   A doorway in this first bedroom leads to the largest room in the house, now a storage room, but back then, a sleeping room set up with several beds in dormitory fashion, all of them as were all of the several beds in the house, topped with feather-stuffed mattresses.  It was there that my mother, my aunts, my brother, our young cousins and I were crooned to sleep to the sound of the rain dancing on the tin roof of the farmhouse, and as sweet as are all of my recollections of those days, the sweetest of all is the sound of the rain on that roof. 

My solarium, with all of its faults taken into account, is worth its weight in gold to me because on rainy days and nights the sound of the rain against its metal structure transports me back to those times of the soothing rain on the tin roof of my grandparent’s farmhouse, days that are among my happiest, and are the source of some of my most precious memories.

This farm is the backdrop of my latest novel, GUARDIANS AND OTHER ANGELS, a semi-biography of my grandparents, my parents and their siblings spanning 1936 to 1941.  It is a story of the heroism of these ordinary people played out against the bad and the good times of the Great Depression and World War II, a story told in part through firsthand accounts of the times in authentic letters featured in the book, letters written by these same people.  Available in paperback format, or in eBook for your PC, laptop or Kindle, easy access to the novel is gained through clicking onto this URL:  To read excerpts of my current and future books, log onto
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Monday, September 17, 2012

A New Yorker at Green Gables Drive-in Restaurant in Columbus, Ohio

When in the early 1960s I met my former husband, Bobby, his driver’s license gave an address of Cambria Heights, Queens, New York City, a relatively placid neighborhood a mere stone’s throw from the Nassau County, Long Island line.  It was his parent’s address, a place to which they had moved soon after Bobby’s senior year in high school.  Born in Manhattan, and as a toddler had moved with his parents and older brother to the Bronx, New York City’s northernmost borough where they remained until his pre-adolescence, again the family moved, that time to Flushing, Queens.  It was there that Bobby did most of his schooling.  It is the place he considers home.    

It wasn’t that the little family was unstable…they were upwardly mobile.  They were always looking for a better life than had been available to them in Harlem, and before that in Ponce, Puerto Rico, the place from which Bobby’s beautiful Spanish/Puerto Rican mother, Paquita had immigrated, and Barcelona, Spain, the homeland of his movie-star-handsome father, Eusebio (Americanized as Frank).  A seamstress in a “boiler room,” as she called it, Paquita commuted every weekday by train to the garment district between 5th and 9th Avenues to 34th and 42nd Streets in Manhattan, as did Frank, to his job as a kitchen worker at the Chase Building in midtown Manhattan.  I knew that I was really a part of the family the day that Frank carted home to me a special disk-like pan from that famous kitchen, a pan with the name of Chase Manhattan engraved on its bottom, a piece of equipment that I use to this day, and each time I do, I recall my long-deceased father-in-law with affection.

At the time that Bobby and I met, he was the saxophonist, clarinetist and comedian for a five-piece combo that traveled cross-country on one-night to eight-week-long gigs at every type of venue imaginable, and I was a dance instructor at an Arthur Murray’s Dance Studio in Columbus, Ohio.  Fate brought us together at a nightclub, the infamous Club Rubu, in Columbus where his group was appearing and where my dance-instructor buddies and I often headed after the studio closed in the evenings.  Subsequent to some stops and starts in our relationship, I finally went on the road with him, and absent the benefit of having met each other’s families, we married in Palo Alto, California in the spring following the year we met.

Bobby’s biographical background is germane to my story, especially as it relates to the geographical and cultural aspects of it for it points out differences between us that were always sources of humorous situations, as this one demonstrates.  Before I proceed, I will list just a few of our dissimilarities:  To Bobby, white castles are repeaters; pop is soda; lunch meat is cold cuts; mayonnaise is Hellmann’s; gingerale is Vernors; and Houston Street in Manhattan is pronounced like “house” with “ton” tagged to its tail-end.  As multi-dimensional as was his upbringing within the borders of the five boroughs of New York City, as well as his cross-country travels, at the same time, he remained oddly unsophisticated in many ways.  It was an innocence that theretofore I wouldn’t have associated with a “jaded” New Yorker, and it allowed him a refreshing capacity to be captivated by new experiences.  For instance, never in his life had he seen, or much less experienced, a drive-in restaurant, an enormously popular and visible American phenomenon from sea to shining sea in the 1950s and 1960s, other than those spots that had been Bobby’s turf, apparently.

St. Louis was the home-base of the other four boys in the band, and when our work in California dried up, we headed east with them, camping out in the home of the parents of the leader of the group for a week or so, a week or so until some work materialized and we would be on the road again.  But nostalgia for home bit all of us fatally instead, which was the death knell of the organization.  The only choice available to Bobby and me was packing up our electric skillet, our ironing board, our iron, and our clothes (our only worldly possessions at the time, other than his horns) and to head to Columbus in our old Chevrolet.  It was time for Bobby to meet my family and friends for the first time.

The introductions went swimmingly…everybody loved Bobby and Bobby loved everybody in return.  I called my friend, Carol Richardson, who was Carol Treadway by then, and she and her husband, Dick, and Bobby and I planned an evening together.  Dick picked us up in whatever boat-of-a-car he owned at the time (Dick always owns a boat-of-a-car), and Bobby and I climbed in the roomy back seat.  The early part of our evening is a blur to me, but we ended up at Green Gables Drive-in Restaurant, the favorite haunt of all of the teenagers and twenty-somethings of our area of Columbus when we were growing up, and judging by the steady flow of traffic in and out of the place that evening, it was still going strong.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the drill of such places, you would park your car, roll down your windows, and a carhop would walk, or in some cases, skate up to the driver’s side window and take your order.  Presently she would return with your food delicately balanced on a tray that she would attach to the driver’s side door and window, and she would fade away until it was time for her to return to fetch the tray at meal’s end.  Well, that was the purpose of such places for the older folks, but not for the younger crowds that frequented them.  The real function for them was for the young motor heads to show off their automobiles, their 1950s concept cars, classic cars of today, and for the girls to hang out of the windows of the cars and wave and shout to all of their friends.  Around and around like a carousel the cars would circle in the place, passing up open parking spaces with abandon.

My husband was fascinated!  While the other three of us in our car chatted away, Bobby was so caught up in, and befuddled by, the parade that was unfolding before his eyes that he failed to contribute a word to our discourse.  You must take into account that this is a person from New York City where a parking space is golden, and never remains empty for more than a second or two.  Street fights, turf wars break out over parking spaces in New York.  There happened to be an empty spot right next to our car, the side where Bobby sat, actually, a spot that had been passed up by the same cars several times. 

Finally, Bobby just couldn’t take it any longer.  Pushing his entire torso out of his window, and his free arm gesturing like a traffic cop’s, he shouted to the driver of a particular car on which he had kept his eye, “Hey Buddy, right heuh?  There’s a pahkin’ spot RIGHT HEUH!” 
Many thanks to my fellow Franklin Heights High School alumnus Don McCarty for permission to use the drawing of Green Gables in this posting.
Linda Lee Greene's latest book GUARDIANS AND OTHER ANGELS is available at

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Monday, September 10, 2012

My Week With Charlie, the Llasa Apso


As prearranged, my sister, Sherri and her daughter, Samantha came to my door early in the morning two Fridays ago; Charlie, their Llasa Apso was leading the way from his red leash in Samantha’s hand.  On their way out of town for some R & R in the Cumberland area in Tennessee, Charlie was to take up residence with me for the week they were to be away.  Done up in his red collar and his “Late Summer Do,” he sashayed in, fluffy tail wagging excitedly.  He’d been here before, you see – often when Sherri goes on vacation, Charlie hangs out with me. 

                At the click of the latch as Sherri and Samantha closed the door upon leaving, Charlie’s enthusiasm flagged and his face rose to mine, his upper lip curled into a snarl.  “It’s okay, Charlie.  See, here’s your red food bowl and your red water bowl (my sister color coordinates everything…she can’t help it…it’s in the family genes), and I’m putting them right here in their usual place,” I said to him reassuringly.

                “Hrrmmph,” Charlie replied.  Turning his tail-side to me, he took off in a trot through the rooms, his nose lowered and swaying back and forth against the floor like a mine sweeper.  His investigation completed quite quickly, he returned to me, parked himself on my right foot, and looked up at me with a decided look of disgust on his face.  “Hrrmmph,” he informed me again.  In Charlie patois, “Hrrmmph” translates as “I’m mad at you.”

                “I know, Charlie.  You’re mad at me because I had that other dog here a couple of weeks ago…you can smell him, can’t you?  But I couldn’t help it, Charlie, he’s my granddogger.”

                “Hrrmmph,” Charlie rejoined, and he walked to his bowl that sat empty on the floor of the kitchen.  “Mmmmmm,” he whined, which means “My belly is gnawing at my backbone!”

                “Now Charlie, your mommy told me that you’ve already had your breakfast.”

                “Hrmph!” he spat shortly, and lowered to his belly in front of his bowl, his mournful face resting on his front paws.

                “I’m sorry, Charlie, but I have some computer work to do.  So just make yourself at home, and we’ll talk later.”

                “ERRRRRRRR!” Charlie growled.  “I’m mad at you” had just escalated to “I HATE YOU!”

                Repairing to my den, I sat before my laptop and logged onto my email.  His toenails clipping on the planks of the wood floor in my hallway, Charlie made his grand entrance into the room, ears perked and red food bowl clutched in his jaws.  Stopping abruptly in his tracks when I looked up at him, he dropped his bowl in the middle of the room and plopped to his belly again in front of it.  “I told you, Charlie…no food now.  Your reputation for finagling extra food from the uninitiated with your cute antics is notorious, but no deal this time.  Will a treat get you off of my back for awhile, Charlie?”  Springing to all fours again, he trotted to the kitchen and waited patiently for me to catch up.  His big brown eyes sparkling with anticipation, he jumped up and caught his treat in his mouth when I tossed it to him.  “Now, go back in the den and get your bowl.  That’s right, go on now.”  Taking a couple of tentative steps toward the hallway, he sat and turned to look at me defiantly over his shoulder.  “I told you, Charlie.  Go and get your bowl and put it back where it belongs.” 

“Hrrmmph!” he responded and he walked slowly to my den.  In a couple of minutes, he entered my kitchen with his bowl in his mouth.  He dropped it on my right foot instead of putting it where it belonged, but that was good enough for me.

“Good boy, Charlie.”  I returned to my work on my laptop.  Charlie followed me.  Charlie follows me everywhere when he stays with me.  It’s in the breeding of Llasa Apsos to stick like glue to their masters and to protect them.  When later in the evenings we watched television, Charlie’s protective instinct included dogs and other animals on the TV.  Bolting from his favorite place on the back cushions of my sofa, he would charge the screen and bark and growl.  One evening I thought he was going to eat my big screen TV.  Then he would return to his place on the back of my sofa just behind my head and bury his nose in my hair.  Llasa Apsos do this as a way of showing their affection.

Our tug of war over extra food vs a treat continued each morning, and each morning, only his treat would ensue.  Despite his disappointment, he was a good sport about it, and he’d follow me to the sofa, where from his favorite perch, he’d bury his nose in my hair, and I’d know that Charlie and I were okay again.

What is your favorite breed of dog, and why?
Linda Lee Greene is the author of GUARDIANS AND OTHER ANGELS and co-author of Jesus Gandhi Oma Mae Adams.  To read excerpts of Linda's current, and future books, log onto
Linda's online art gallery can be viewed at

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Original Pierre Masperos Marc Exchange, New Orleans


My friend, Sandra Cain, a former resident of New Orleans, says that Pierre Masperos or Masperos Exchange, holds the distinction of serving the best oyster poboys she has ever tasted in NOLA!  Although I can’t remember whether or not it was my food choice the day I frequented the place, it is commonly promoted as “Very New Orleans-y…where people-watching at the venerable French Quarter eatery is almost as seductive as the perfectly-seasoned, (Cajun-Creole) entrees.”[1] 
I am assured by my friend, Mary Ann Riggle that she can actually smell the matchless aromas of the city, as well as feel its famous sunshine on her skin in my acrylic painting of the historic restaurant.  Located at No. 440 Chartres Street at St. Louis Street and formerly known as La Bourse de Masperos, it was the slave-trading house and coffee shop of Pierre Masperos.  I regret that Google wouldn’t reveal to me the biography of Mr. Masperos, and I am not inclined to dig further for it.  If any of my readers can enlighten me, I would appreciate it.  Having been erected in 1788, it is one of the oldest buildings in the French Quarter.  During the early decades of the 19th century, the pirate brothers, Jean and Pierre Lafitte used it as a meeting place of their gang of men.  It is also famous as Andrew Jackson’s point of liaison with the brothers Lafitte in their joint planning of the epic Battles of New Orleans during the Revolutionary War.

On the opposite corner at No. 500, stands Napoleon House, a treasured, ancient bar with stucco walls and an apartment on its top floor that in the 19th Century was owned by a former mayor of the city, Nicholas Girod.   An advocate of Napoleon Bonaparte, Girod hatched a plan to rescue the deposed emperor from his prison on St. Helena and to provide him safekeeping in the apartment.  The emperor died before the elaborate plan was put into place. 

The history of the two establishments reminds me that each block of New Orleans holds its mysterious charms and alluring stories, unending inspirations for a storyteller like me.  The artist in me is fulfilled as well by the Caribbean colors of its distinctive architecture and its mélange of humanity.  Unique history, unique people, unique music, unique food, unique architecture, unique culture, I tried to capture the essence of all of those things in my painting.

This painting has won two Roscoe Awards (People’s Choice for Best of Show), both of them at art shows at CS Gallery in Columbus, Ohio.  A balmy evening in April, 2012 was the occasion of the first award and it was during an exhibition of paintings by artist-members of the Grove City (Ohio) Arts Council, with which I am associated.  A month ago, the gallery invited all of the Roscoe Award winners for the year to participate in a showing of our own and I am happy to announce that my painting was designated as the winner of the winners.  I have two great big and beautiful ribbons to attest to the wins, as well as cash prizes.  Nice!  My special thanks go out to the attendees of the art show who voted for it and took it to the top.

For information on purchasing this, and my other paintings, as well as prints of all of them, log onto

The links to paperbacks and eBooks of my novel, GUARDIANS AND OTHER ANGELS are indicated below:


[1] Where Magazine, August, 2009, pg. 19