Saturday, July 23, 2011


It’s been 48 years since the incident.  Over the years, I have told no one ~ ever ~ of the events seen at the midnight hour of a warm August night in 1963. 

I was at the tender age of 15 and the carnival was in town.  I grew up in a small southern town.  Anything out of the ordinary was exciting and so was the carnival.  Little did I know that the events of the night would leave an impact on me for the rest of my life.

There is just something about the smell of popcorn on the air, calliope music and the mingling of many voices that stirs some primal excitement in me.  All my life, that primal excitement has prompted me to do the unexpected.  I have shocked myself at times, but it is an instinct that cannot be bound in any form of rationale.   

From experience, I can tell you that a small, sleepy, southern town lulls one into a sense of security.  It’s kind of like being wrapped in a blanket, warm from a good night of sleep, then awakening to the comfort of a bed, safe from the world.   In a small town, every day is predictable, which lends itself to the growing boredom of a long summer out of school.  Any break from that boredom was welcome…

My best friend lived across the street from the fairgrounds.  An invite to spend the night and permission granted by my parents set the stage for freedom from all the rules.  My friend’s parents, once thought to be progressive, later deemed to be too permissive, always allowed my friend more freedom than I, or any of my other friends ever had.  In retrospect, I think that allowed her to grow up faster.  She was mature beyond her years.

So, there we were…my friend and I…enjoying the county fair, the carnival rides and the exhilaration of a couple of 15 year olds, high on freedom and a sugar rush.  As we walked up to the gaming area, my eyes lit upon the most gorgeous, exciting bad boy that I had ever seen.  His shiny black hair was combed up and over on each side of his head, ending in a curl down the middle of his forehead.  His eyes a piercing black with just a twinkle of light ~ winking ~ each time he laughed.  My 15 year old heart was smitten on sight!  Made more brave with my evening of freedom from the chains of my parents, I approached him with all of the charm and allure that I had to offer…at age 15.  My earlier rush of excitement with the fair was paled in comparison with the rush I felt up close.  His skin was moist with a light covering of perspiration, his upper arm muscles kept the black panther tattoo in perpetual motion.  I wanted to bury my hands in that wonderful hair.  *sigh* It was just all too wonderful.  As my heart went pitter patter, my brain was shouting to the high heavens…”He likes me…He actually likes me!!!”  Then he asked me if I would like to meet him after the fair closed that night – that there was something he wanted to show me.  I almost shouted “Yes, yes, YES!!!”, but with all the grown-up composure that I could scrape together, I uttered a demure…”OK”…   He went on to tell me that they closed down at 11:30 pm and he would be free before Midnight. 

WOW!!!  I was walking on air as my friend and I crossed the street to her house.  My excitement was over the moon about my first real date when I wasn’t even allowed to date yet!!!  I chattered about what I should wear and how I should fix my hair.  I was totally oblivious to my friend’s stricken face.  When we were well out of range of being overheard by any other person, (you learn this in a small town if you don’t want everything you do to reach your parent’s ears…LOL), my friend began talking in earnest.  “Please don’t meet him…you don’t know him…you don’t know what he wants to “show” you…please listen to me…YOU JUST DON’T KNOW – HE MIGHT RAPE YOU OR EVEN KILL YOU”.  But her pleas fell on deaf ears...  By golly…I was not going to allow her to spoil my first date.  Seeing that I could not be swayed, she said “Well, at least let me follow you.  I promise to stay out of sight.”  I agreed to that with a warning to her that she better not show herself. 

Just minutes past closing time, we crept out of the house under cover of darkness.  I don’t know why we snuck out since the loud snores from her parent’s room were an indication of how much alcohol they had consumed.  HA!  That little tidbit of information had not reached my parent’s ears yet…  Scanning the night ahead for anyone who might see us, we continued to sneak back to the fairgrounds, then to the midway and the designated spot for me to meet him.  My friend hung back just enough to conceal herself in the shadows as I went forward to meet my new beau.  As I approached, he stepped out of a tent, took my hand and re-entered the tent, pulling the flap over the entrance way as we entered.  He turned to me with his finger on his lips and told me to just wait quietly for a minute.  I allowed my eyes to wander around the tent, but all I could see were cages in many sizes from very small to huge.  In the dim shadows, I could barely make out the creatures in the cages.  I wanted to get closer to see better, but he held me back with one outstretched arm.  While we waited, I glanced nervously at the illuminated dial of my wrist watch.  Midnight!  I had never been out alone at night!  What was I thinking???  As common sense quickly returned to my errant brain, my muscles tensed, ready to bolt!  But, before I could run away, he whispered “NOW…LISTEN” as a melody of voices began to fill the air.  As I listened to the song, which was “Rockin’ Robin, by the way, I was astonished to realize that the singing was coming from none other than the animals in the cages.  The range of voices was perfect for the song…  “All the little birds on Day Bird Street, loved to hear the robin sing tweet, tweet, tweet ~ Rockin Robin, tweet, twiddly dee, Rockin Robin….”  Ok…so they might not have gotten all the words right, but, nonetheless, I was enchanted.  The singing went on until 12:01 am, at which time, all became quiet except for noises one would expect from a tent full of animals…shuffling of feet, snorts and rustling of hay.  Still speechless, I allowed him to guide me out of the tent and into the warm night.  I turned to look up into his beautiful eyes, twinkling with amusement, when he told me that in every town, he finds just the right special girl to share his secret with.  He went on to tell me that every night, contrary to the belief that animals only talk at midnight, Christmas Eve, the animals do talk.  He told me how they sometimes comment on the day, complain about weather or food, crack jokes about funny people seen that day, or simply break out in song.  It lasts only one minute before they are unable to talk again until the next night.

Then, with a pat on my head, he said “You must never tell of this night until your hair is grey.  Then you may tell as many as will listen.  Unfortunately, no one will believe you, so best that they think, instead, that you have lost your senses to old age.  Now, run along sweet girl.”   With a wink, he was gone.

As he slipped away into the darkness, my friend ran up to me to make sure I was okay.  She heard the singing and wanted to know what happened in that tent.  I told her that the animals sang, to which she replied…”Sure they did and I have a bridge in Brooklyn for sale!”  I never spoke of it again until this day.  My hair is grey, my eyes are dim, but my memory still sparks at the thought of the handsome young man who shared a miracle with me that warm midnight in August 1963.

A work of fiction 
By Darlene Cirinna
Copyright July, 23, 2011
All rights reserved.  Do not reproduce without permission of author.

Friday, July 22, 2011


Photo from Photobucket

In 1846, The 13th Earl of Derby, Edward Lear, published A Book of Nonsense, dedicated to his great grandchildren, grand nephews and grand nieces. The book is a collection of drawings and silly verses, typically 5 line poems with lines 1, 2 & 5 rhyming and lines 3 & 4 rhyming with each other. After the book was published, limericks became very popular in England.

The BFF 108 topic this week is "Limericks".  So, I am declaring today to be LIMERICK DAY!  That said... Let's 
be silly!

I've had limericks dancing though my head all week.  Today, I put my thoughts to paper.  Following is my silly offering to BFF 108! 

My Great GrandDa was a painter
Until he was drunk up on his ladder
One day he fell
He went straight to hell
So my GrandDa inherited the Ladder
There once was a kitten named Lulu
Who loved anything she could chew chew
Now she’s a cat
And she’s grown very fat
But to food she will never say foo foo
A lady in Orlando has retired
After telling her boss “You’re fired!”
Now she sleeps until nine
Enjoying a wonderful time
Of retirement she has never tired
There once was a lady in New York
About her children she did report
I must have done fine
Nobody’s doing time
Even so, there is at least one dork
There was an old lady ~  a loon
Her mood didn’t depend on the moon
She was quite mad
Of this I am glad
She was found dead today before noon
There once was a man named Dupree
Who thought he could live rent free
So he moved in a house
With another man’s spouse
Now he’s been missing since 2003
There once was a man from Alaska
Who said his dog Ruger ran fasta
But beans give my dog gas
Which makes him run fast
Then Ruger lost because I fed him pasta
The last limerick is dedicated to my friend, Steve, who does, indeed, live in Alaska and does have a dog named Ruger.  

By Darlene Cirinna
Copyright July 22, 2011
All rights reserved.  Do not
reproduce without permission of author.


Sunday, July 17, 2011


The small boy trudged through the snow with his light, yet cumbersome basket.  The basket, a bushel basket, was nearly as large as the boy, thin strips of wood held together with rusty staples, well worn and oft used.  He dare not let the basket touch the ground for this possession was essential to his family.  Inside the basket was a clean tablecloth that must not get wet. 

Little Frankie hurried along as the cold seeped through the cardboard in the bottom of his shoes.  The holes in his shoes had grown so large that, if not for the cardboard, he might as well be barefoot.  Even so, it was never long before the cardboard was wet and cold.  Newspapers covered his chest to help keep the wind from blowing through the thin jacket.  There was never money enough to clothe 6 children, nor keep growing children in decent shoes.  Frankie always wore hand me downs, grateful for the charity of other people and the Salvation Army.  He knew no other life than this.

Frankie continued on in his quest while he thought back to last week when his little sister fainted in school.   He knew and his sister knew that she passed out from hunger, but they would not tell of their hardships.  It was just a fact of life for them.  His sister’s teacher must have suspected what little Edie’s pride would not reveal because the teacher gave Edie the soup she had brought for her own lunch.  Frankie’s Pa drank his paycheck again, giving not one penny to his Ma to feed the many children.  But, Frankie had figured out a way for them to eat.  Yes, Frankie was more of a man at 10 years old than his father would ever be.  Frankie quit school in the 4th grade to help feed the family that his Pa would not support.  His Ma worked in a factory for pennies and her meager pay would never be enough to pay the rent, feed and clothe all the children.  So, when his Pa went down to the tavern, Frankie hit the streets of NY with his shoe shine kit.  “A nickel a shine” he would call out to men who worked in the fancy jobs in the city.  Frankie was such an optimistic and happy little guy that were it not for his tattered clothes, one would not be aware of his plight.  But, it was that very sunshiny personality that allowed Frankie to make enough nickels to help feed his family.   

After each shoe shine, Frankie carefully buried the nickel in the shoe wax, then smoothed it over.  One time his Pa had caught him right after a shoe shine and beat him on the street for the nickel so that he could get one more drink.  Frankie was a quick learner…that didn’t happen again.  His nickels remained buried in his shoe wax while he turned his pockets inside out when his Pa demanded his shoe shine money.  In secret, he dug nickels out of the wax to give his Ma.  His Pa never knew, for this transpired when his Pa was no where around, which, by the way, was almost always.

Frankie picked up his step when he saw there was already a short line in front of the neighborhood bakery.  For the sake of his family, he had to be close to the front of the line.  Their very lives depended upon the charity of the bakery owner. 

The Baker looked out the window to see if the small boy was there yet.  News travels fast in their neighborhood.  The plight of this child’s family was well known.  He was saddened to know that there are men in the world who reproduce without feeling an ounce of love or responsibility towards their wives or offspring.  The Baker could not even comprehend how a man would neglect and abuse his own family.  The Baker always baked more bread and rolls than he could sell in a day.  That was his way to help those who needed some help.  Then at the end of the day, right at closing time, women and children lined up in the street to purchase the greatly discounted, leftover bakery goods.   When it was Frankie’s turn, the Baker would wink and pat him on the head after he filled that bushel basket to the brim for only one nickel.  Then he watched the determined little boy carefully cover the bread and rolls before trudging away in the snowy street to return to a cold water flat that was much too small to house such a large family. 

The Baker must have said a prayer for that family.  No doubt, God heard his prayer...

Prologue:  This is a true story.  Little Frankie was my own Father.  My Dad’s childhood was more difficult than most can believe, yet, he made a promise to himself that he would survive and make a better life for himself and his family.  He made one more promise to himself that his own children would never suffer a childhood like his.  And…we did not.  I remember one time when I came home from school, I announced that I was hungry as I headed for the kitchen.  Daddy looked at me and he said “Baby, you have never been hungry”.  My Dad kept his long ago promise to himself that his children would never suffer…  My sisters and I were blessed to have a Dad like him.  I wish every child could have a father like mine, but, unfortunately, there will always be men like his own Pa.

My final comment is this:  I have no patience for anybody who blames their childhood for their sorry ways.  In my opinion, that is just an excuse to continue down the path that they already know and, further, lack the gumption to change their lives.  If you had known my Dad, all you would have seen was a happy man who loved and cared for his family.  His intelligence and wisdom belied the fact of his 4th grade education.  He read constantly in his spare time, always seeking, ever learning.  He always worked and supported us.  We were never cold, hungry or homeless.  We were never beaten…ever. 

We are who we believe we are…..  My Dad knew that fact as far back as childhood.  I was always proud of my Dad, but I don’t think I was ever prouder than I was my senior year of high school.  Early in the school year, my Dad said that no child of his would graduate high school before him.  He went to night school and obtained his high school diploma before my last semester of high school!  No one need wonder where my sisters and I got our drive and ambition.  We had the best role model possible!

I dedicate this piece to the memory of my Dad, Frank Owens, who lived, loved and laughed in spite of a brutal childhood.  His legacy lives on through those who loved him.  Rest in peace, Daddy.  9/1/28 – 2/14/04

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Photo from Google Images


Not a romantic
Bone in my body
Doth yearn
For poetry  

Truth be known
Poetry makes me cry
Tears of boredom
In particular poems
That don’t

Could I guess what
Those who love

My guess is
And a
Stirring of

It seems that
Consider words
To be poetry

No rhythm
No cadence
A touch of

This is

In my
Humble opinion

It is


  Not my

Written by:
Darlene Cirinna 
(with tongue in cheek)
Copyright 7/13/2011
All rights reserved.  Do not 
reproduce without written permission of author.