Archives for posts with tag: nostalgia

Doggie Diner, Geary and Arguello, 1969
by Vince Gotera

Out of San Francisco night, the cool fog’s
gray fingers caressing hills and houses,
emerged, in chef’s hat and bowtie, the Dog,
ten-foot-tall dachshund’s head in fiberglass.

Tina, my first real high school girlfriend,
and I entered through the shiny glass doors,
holding hands, both in hippie leathers, suede
vests and floppy hats, bellbottom cords.

It smelled like hog heaven, grease-laden air,
scents of amber-gold fries and sizzling thick
burgers, the sharp tang of cole slaw vinegar.
We ordered dogs slathered in chili with pickles

and mustard. The world was copacetic. Above
the diner, the Dog slowly turned, glowing like love.

PHOTO: Doggie Diner, San Francisco (1960s).


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The Doggie Diner is the iconic San Francisco restaurant chain, open from 1948 to 1986. Since it’s now gone, the Doggie Diner is a pleasant, nostalgic memory for anyone who grew up in The City during those years. Each diner had a sign rotating above the building, a huge grinning dog’s head in a bow tie and chef’s hat. In the documentary Doggie Diner History, someone who lived near a Doggie Diner as a child recalls how the dog head “helped me navigate my way home, like a big doggie-shaped lighthouse.” A 1985 photo by Roy Kaltschmidt titled “Doggie Diner — San Francisco Zoo,” captures this warm sentiment.¶ In the poem, I try to convey this sunny aura along with the optimistic tenor of the ’60s, the feeling among the young that everything and anything was possible. Remember that San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district was the epicenter of the Hippie movement. Although that positive ambience pervades the poem, I allude to the Vietnam war, even though it’s not really present to the teenaged couple: I use the phrase “the world,” which was what American soldiers in Vietnam called America. There was “the ’Nam” and there was “the world,” a romanticized paradise. So, although the speaker and his girlfriend feel all is “copacetic,” it’s really not, and they will soon, very soon, grow up into a world of harsh realities. But for now, in the “now” of the poem, life is wonderful. Happiness is a spicy chili dog, and the Doggie Diner is a kind of heaven.

AUTHOR PHOTO CAPTION: My senior photo in the high school yearbook.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Vince Gotera is Editor Emeritus at the North American Review and professor of English at the University of Northern Iowa, where he teaches creative writing and American literature. His poetry collections include Dragonfly, Ghost Wars, Fighting Kite, and the forthcoming Pacific Crossing. Recent poems appear in The American Journal of Poetry, Eunoia Review, Star*Line, Altered Reality Magazine, Spirit’s Tincture, Crow Hollow 19, and the anthologies A Prince Tribute, Delirious: A Poetic Celebration of Prince, and Lupine Lunes, as well as the textbook Composing Poetry. Vince blogs at The Man with the Blue Guitar.

st. joseph mo pool
Municipal Pool
by Mike Dailey

I remember my mother and her long auburn hair
She wore it in pig-tails way down to there
We’d head for the pool, my sisters and I
Along with our mother when we were small fry
I would turn left cause the boy’s locker’s there
The girls would turn right and they all had to share
I’d get my own basket to store all my clothes
With a safety pin numbered to keep track of those
I’d walk through a shower that I couldn’t avoid
I’d be cold and all wet and a little annoyed
Then I’d meet up with mom and we’d head for the pool
And hope that the water there wasn’t that cool
She’d jump in the pool then coax us all in
We would jump to her arms with a face full of grin
And if we were good and she thought it all right
We’d grab a pigtail as she dove out of sight
We’d hold our breath as she swam towards the drain
And then shoot to the surface like a runaway train
When your turn was up, another held on
And rode with our mother till her strength was all gone
Then we sit by the pool and listen to her
As she told us of stories before we even were
When the pool was larger, much larger by far
And she’d sit at the pool about right where we are
And the boys would show off on the high diving boards
And give her rides home in their Model A Fords
Then when we were tired and our strength was all spent
We get up, get our things, and back home we went
With the promise from mother we’d do it again
My sisters and I end the day with a grin

IMAGE: Vintage postcard of municipal swimming pool in St. Joseph, Missouri.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I love a challenge. When I saw the call for submissions I was thinking this was one that I would have to skip as I had nothing in my archives that touched on memories of pools or beaches; at least none from my youth. But I sat here at my computer and thought back on the days when we would go to the big municipal pool in our town and the words just came to me. I hope my sisters read the poem and have the same memories and feelings of our days with mom at the pool. I grew up in St. Joseph, Missouri,  where the Pony Express started and Jesse James ended.  The pool was one of three or four public pools in town but by far the largest.  Even saying that, I have seen pictures of the pool when my mother was a young girl and it was about twice the size.  I guess it became too large to manage efficiently so they filled in about half of it.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mike Dailey lives in Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina. He is a teller of stories in rhythm and rhyme. He has been writing poetry most of his life and has three published books of his poems with a fourth on the way. He leaves the introspective, deep personal poetry to others while he concentrates his poems on the interesting and often odd happening stories that most people overlook.



by Truman Capote

Imagine a morning in late November. A coming of winter morning…Consider the kitchen of a spreading old house in a country town. A great black stove is its main feature; there is also a big round table and a fireplace with two rocking chairs placed in front of it. Just today the fireplace commenced its seasonal roar.

A woman with shorn white hair is standing at the kitchen window. She is wearing tennis shoes and a shapeless gray sweater over a summery calico dress. She is small and sprightly, like a bantam hen; but, due to a long youthful illness, her shoulders are pitifully hunched. Her face is remarkable — not unlike Lincoln’s, craggy like that, and tinted by sun and wind; but it is delicate too, finely boned, and her eyes are sherry-colored and timid. “Oh my,” she exclaims, her breath smoking the windowpane, “It’s fruitcake weather!”

…”I knew it before I got out of bed,” she says, turning away from the window with a purposeful excitement in her eyes. “The courthouse bell sounded so cold and clear. And there were no birds singing; they’ve gone to warmer country, yes indeed. Oh, Buddy, stop stuffing biscuit and fetch our buggy. Help me find my hat. We’ve thirty cakes to bake.”

 It is always the same: a morning arrives in November, and my friend, as though officially inaugurating the Christmas time of year that exhilarates her imagination and fuels the blaze of her heart, announces: “It’s fruitcake weather! Fetch the buggy. Help me find my hat.” 



by Jack Kerouac

…Christmas was observed all-out in my Catholic French-Canadian environment in the 1930s much as it is today in Mexico…When we were old enough it was thrilling to be allowed to stay up late on Christmas Eve and put on best suits and dresses and overshoes and earmuffs and walk with adults through crunching dried snow to the bell-ringing church. Parties of people laughing down the street, bright throbbing stars of New England winter bending over rooftops sometimes causing long rows of icicles to shimmer. As we passed near the church you could hear the opening choruses of Bach being sung by child choirs mingled with the grownup choirs usually led by a tenor who inspired laughter more than anything else. But from the wide-open door of the church poured golden light, and inside the little girls were lined up for their trumpet choruses caroling Handel…

Note: “Not long ago joy abounded at Christmas” was first published in the New York World Telegram on Dec. 5, 1957. Read a longer excerpt at

Photo: Jack Kerouac as a boy during the 1930s.

by Ernest Hemingway

  …Paris with the snow falling. Paris with the big charcoal braziers outside the cafes, glowing red. At the cafe tables, men huddled, their coat collars turned up, while they finger glasses of grog Americain and the newsboys shout the evening papers.
     The buses rumble like green juggernauts through the snow that sifts down in the dusk. White house walls rise through the dusky snow. Snow is never more beautiful than in the city. It is wonderful in Paris to stand on a bridge across the Seine looking up through the softly curtaining snow past the grey bulk of the Louvre, up the river spanned by many bridges and bordered by the grey houses of old Paris to where Notre Dame squats in the dusk.
     It is very beautiful in Paris…at Christmas time.


Note: Ernest Hemingway wrote “Christmas at the Roof of the World” in 1923, when he was living in Paris and working as a correspondent for the Toronto Star. Find the story in BY-LINE ERNEST HEMINGWAY: Selected Articles and Dispatches of Four Decades, available at

by Lydia Maria Child (1844) 

Over the river, and through the wood,
   to Grandfather’s house we go;
      the horse knows the way
      to carry the sleigh
   through the white and drifted snow.
Over the river, and through the wood,
   to Grandfather’s house away!
      We would not stop
      for doll or top,
   for ’tis Thanksgiving Day.
Over the river, and through the wood,
   to have a first-rate play.
      Hear the bells ring,
      “Ting a ling ding!”
   Hurray for Thanskgiving Day!
Over the river, and through the wood,
   trot fast my dapple gray!
      Spring over the ground
      like a hunting-hound!
   For ’tis Thanksgiving Day.
Over the river, and through the wood—
   when Grandmother sees us come,
      she will say, “O, dear,
      the children are here,
   bring pie for everyone.”
Over the river, and through the wood—
   now Grandmother’s cap I spy!
      Hurrah for the fun!
      Is the pudding done?
   Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!

Note: A longer version of the poem with beautiful illustrations by Christopher Manson is available at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lydia Maria Francis Child (1802–1880) was an American abolitionist, women’s rights activist, Indian rights activist, novelist, and journalist. Her journals, fiction and domestic manuals reached wide audiences from the 1820s through the 1850s. Child was later most remembered for her poem “Over the River and Through the Wood” about Thanksgiving. Her grandfather’s house, restored by Tufts University in 1976, still stands near the Mystic River on South Street in Medford, Massachusetts. (Read more at

teenagers down the shore
by win harms

memories of the ocean
sweet spring sweat trickles down my forehead
the sand stings my legs, as a crosswind
creeps up from behind
the salty sea is cold, numbing my bare feet
i hear my friends giggling ahead
and i laugh for no reason at all
you look at me and smile that secret smile
and for one moment we are alone in this
i can’t remember the taste of you
but i know i’ll understand you again
i get higher with the thoughts of days to come
we are sleepy with excitement
last night is so incredibly far away
we were older then, parading like sophisticates
we are young again, spinning in the sun
the past doesn’t matter and
the skeletons don’t feel like dancing
i am mapping out my life
and i want to see you there
with your eyes sparkling like the sea
we walk the boardwalk with the wind in our hair
creating everlasting impressions in time

Photo: “Summer Down the Shore” by funflash, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. (16×20 metallic prints available at

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: win harms is a poet living in France with her professor husband. She hails from the state of the cowboy poetry contest, but she has lived pretty much everywhere, including many psych wards, and considers herself a survivor of the struggle. The chaos has ceased and now she spends her time doing needlepoint and laundry, but longs to share her words with the world. As of last year, she left her roaring twenties, and is now feeling fecund and free. “Teenagers Down the Shore” and other poetry by win harms appears in the Silver Birch Press Summer Anthology, available at

by Gerald Stern

Let me please look into my window on 103rd Street one more time—
without crying, without tearing the satin, without touching
the white face, without straightening the tie or crumpling the flower.

Let me walk up Broadway past Zak’s, past the Melody Fruit Store,
past Stein’s Eyes, past the New Moon Inn, past the Olympia.

Let me leave quietly by Gate 29
and fall asleep as we pull away from the ramp
into the tunnel.

Let me wake up happy, let me know where I am, let me lie still,
as we turn left, as we cross the water, as we leave the light
“Let Me Please Look Into My Window” appears in Gerald Stern‘s collection This Time: New and Selected Poems © W.W. Norton & Co., 1998, winner of the National Book Award for poetry. Find the book at

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1925,  Gerald Stern studied at the University of Pittsburgh (BA, 1947) and Columbia University (MA., in 1949). His work became widely recognized after the 1977 publication of Lucky Life,  that year’s Lamont Poetry Selection, and of a series of essays on writing poetry in American Poetry Review. He has received many prestigious awards for his writing, including the 1996 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the 1998 National Book Award for This Time: New and Selected Poems, and the 2012 Library of Congress Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Award for Early Collected Poems: 1965-1992. He was Poet Laureate of New Jersey from 2000-2002 and received the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets in 2005. Since 2006, Stern has been a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. 

Photo: 103rd St. windows

by Daniel Romo

Summers were a never-ending 7th inning,
and games stretched into the next day
when the sun no longer lit the cul-de-sac.

My brother’s knuckleball was an
experiment in flight pattern,
a taunting array of speculation:

                   juking and jutting,
       a hovering slow-dance
                                 inventing new steps
the batter could never learn.

My fastball was a humming blur of rocket science.

And whoever made contact deserved to
commandeer the moon.

The neighborhood kids were filler.

Portuguese soccer-playing
perpetual strikeout victims
always stuck out in right field,
because they were more skilled with their feet
than with their hands.

Today it’s the bottom of the 9th inning.
Two outs.

And we are dreamers posing as fathers
reminding our own children,
“Point your toe to the target.
Keep your elbow up.
And follow through on the pitch.”

Today I remember belting an old tennis ball
over the neighbor’s roof
into his backyard,
gliding around makeshift bases
with glorious fists raised
as if God was pulling our hands. 

PHOTO: “Stickball equipment” by Debbie Dell, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

“Stickball” appears in Daniel Romo‘s poetry collection ROMANCING GRAVITY, available at


PHOTO OF A MAN ON SUNSET DRIVE: 1914, 2008 (Excerpt)
Groundbreaking Ceremony, City of South Miami, Sunset Drive Improvements
by Richard Blanco

And so it began: the earth torn, split open
by a dirt road cutting through palmettos
and wild tamarind trees defending the land
against the sun. Beside the road, a shack
leaning into the wind, on the wooden porch,
crates of avocados and limes, white chickens
pecking at the floor boards, and a man
under the shadow of his straw hat, staring
into the camera in 1914. He doesn’t know
within a lifetime the unclaimed land behind
him will be cleared of scrub and sawgrass,
the soil will be turned, made to give back
what the farmers wish, their lonely houses
will stand acres apart from one another,
jailed behind the boughs of their orchards…

Photo: ”Miami Sunset,” Bill Wisser Photography, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Richard Blanco arrived in Miami shortly after his birth in 1968, the son of Cuban exiles. His acclaimed first book, City of a Hundred Fires, explores the yearnings and negotiation of cultural identity as a Cuban-American, and received the prestigious Agnes Starrett Poetry Prize from the University of Pittsburgh Press (1998). His second book, Directions to The Beach of the Dead (University of Arizona Press, 2005) won the 2006 PEN/American Beyond Margins Award for its continued exploration of the universal themes of home and place. In January 2013, he was invited to read a poem at President Obama’s second inauguration. Blanco’s poems have appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies including Ploughshares, TriQuarterly, Michigan Quarterly, Best American Poetry 2000, Best American Prose Poems, and National Public Radio. Blanco earned both a bachelors of science degree in Civil Engineering and a Master in Fine Arts in Creative Writing (1997). He currently lives in Bethel, Maine, where he writes and works as a consultant engineer. (Source: