Category Archives: Bear Skin Neck

An Old Fashioned Clam Bake!


I was thrilled to have my younger brother, Rich, stop by on my first Fri.

evening at Mom’s. I also was happy that the two of them had ordered

Prime Rib dinners “in” and we picked them up shortly after I arrived.

I set up three t.v. stands and we looked at the nine movies to see which

one we would like to watch after dinner.

Rich told me another exciting meal to look forward to: On Sunday,

October 27th, two days from then, Susan’s and his church was having a

Clam Bake! He had proceeded to order five tickets, hoping Mom and I

could “round up” two people from the senior apartments who would

enjoy a meal out with entertainment. (Side note: Susan is in either

Scotland or South Africa with her Baldwin Wallace college students, or

if reading much later, home by Thanksgiving, 2013.)

Freshly rested at noon the next day, Mom put her little dog, Nicki, on

her leash. We had eaten the breakfast that I go downstairs to get while

she sleeps the last hours before waking. I usually am downstairs by 9,

check or write a post in the Pub, if the computer is not occupied by

a Solitaire player or a savvy email resident and then get our food

before the dining room “closes” at 10 a.m. Mom NEVER ventures out

of her apartment to eat breakfast or lunch, just dinner. However, she

does eat her own cereal, two large, healthy “doses” of peanut butter

and drinks her own store bought milk. When we shop, she does buy

a few microwavable lunches. Having not been there since mid- Sept.

she had gone shopping once with my brother, Rich, and once with

her fellow bus riding resident friends.

I had chosen oatmeal, topped with brown sugar, cream, raisins and

butter, too. I had chosen for Mom, a raspberry filled donut and apricots.

We both have coffee, hers black, mine with cream and sweetener plus

juice. We alternate between four flavors of juice as the week progresses.

Cranberry, tomato, orange and prune juice.

Yes, I am now definitely a member of the Senior Citizens group, when

prune juice is now able to pass through my lips, into my mouth and

swallow without gagging,  starting at the sight of that weird, brownish-

purplish goo!

After breakfast, we found a “taker” who was very enthusiastic to the idea

of going out: Lois! After dinner, while we were waiting to take our meal

from the dining room, “to go,” Lois beckoned us. I sent Mom into the busy

dining room. I was content while sitting next to the gentleman who told us

such a fine, unique scary Halloween story, Felton. We had many chances

to chat over the 7 meals that Mom and I did not go out to eat nor get out

with my brother to eat.

To let you in on one of his daily “jokes,” Felton would greet us very loudly,

proclaiming, “Good evening, folks!”

Then he would let us in on what he called,

“My one and only main Job of the Day is to pick up my wife’s and my


A lot of the young servers would stick their heads out the door into the

hallway where there were at least 5-6 chairs for the purpose of waiting

to enter the dining room or picking up food. They would wave and say,

“Hi Felt! How are you tonight?”

Well, my Mom finally came out of the dining room at almost 7 p.m.

which Felt called the “witching hour” because even though we were

supposed to be able to pick up our “to go” dinners anytime after 6,

Felt said they were never going to “release the food until they were

good and ready!” He would have a pile of mail or a newspaper opened

across his lap, but he chatted and cheerfully regaled stories to us, or

any other listeners around.

Mom was excited to tell me that one of Lois’ table mates, Laverne,

was interested in coming to eat at the Clam Bake on the next day,

Sunday. She told me to go into the Pub behind the bar and find the

pad the bartender or barrista would use to take orders, bring it

back to her to write a reminder note for Laverne. This is my Mom’s

famous, favorite thing to do: we are always writing reminders and

she loves to hand them out, too!

Mom sat down, borrowing one of Felt’s magazines from his mail pile,

carefully lettering this note:

“Don’t forget to go to the front of the building at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday

evening to meet Rosalie, Lois and get a ride to a FREE CLAM BAKE!”

Honestly, I was sure that Laverne would remember.


At 4:25 p.m. Mom and I arrived at the front of the senior apartments,

we went to the desk and cancelled her dinner. We checked to see if

Lois and Laverne had also cancelled their dinners. This is “crucial”

when you live here, otherwise they show up at your apartment with

a makeshift dinner, knocking at your door! The very nice woman, we

“love” her the best of all the receptionists, Marian, checked each of

the names, somehow Lois and Laverne had remembered to cancel

their meals! (Lois, we weren’t too concerned with, she is “on the ball!”

At 4:35, Lois arrived and the doors whisked open to reveal my brother,

Rich, dressed up in a suit, with a nice dreas shirt and tie, too. He had

come from his teaching at Cleveland State, looking very handsome,

I may say. Lois was very flirtatious with Rich the whole night, she is an

above average looking woman who is very beautiful when she smiles

and glows. She started glowing when she had Rich talk to her. He

recognized her from sitting at a table nearby my Mom’s (when she used

to eat in the dining room more often.)  We waited until around 5 p.m.

Then I went up to the desk and asked Marian to please call Laverne’s

telephone number. She did not answer the apartment one, but did

pick up her cell phone. She told Marian she was working on a crossword

puzzle, then asked how was she?

I could hear her, everyone speaks much louder on their cell phones

than needed! I asked to speak to her and Marian passed the phone.

I announced myself as Rosalie’s daughter and told her that her friend,

Rosalie, her other friend, Lois and my brother were ready to take her

to the Clam Bake!

Laverne, of course, had forgotten! She was happy, said she was dressed

for the dining room, would that be appropriate attire for the Clam Bake?

I told her I was heading up the hall and would meet her at the elevator,

that we “needed to go NOW!” I am not a yeller but am firm with the

elderly. I was much more quiet and soft-spoken in my forties, when I

first worked in activites at a nursing home. It took me all of a week to

get my “kind but firm voice” turned on a little louder than I used with

anyone under the age of sixty!

At the St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, a band was playing what I term,

“blue grass” music which was very catchy and lively sounding. There were

people waiting in line, tickets in hand and many moving around within

the gymnasium turned into a dining room.

What wondrous aromas and scents were wafting through the air! All of

our senses were engaged, hearing the violin, the cellist, the guitarist and

singer, smelling barbecued chicken, clams, shrimp and sausages, along

with the other accompaniments to the meal, seeing a widely diverse

group of friendly people, chattering, calling out to one another, and

little ones weaving around, comfortably “knowing” everyone here.

I was looking forward to my final sense, TASTE, coming into action!

Let me tell you about the big bowls of clams, they were in plastic

woven nets that look like a white version of the bags you get onions

in. They were laid on top of two sausages and 8 shrimp.

Lois, Rich and I went to the kitchen area, stood in line and each of us

took two plates that included cole slaw, half ears of corn on the cob, a

barbecued leg quarter, french fries and baked beans.

We had decided while in line to carry 6 plates. This would allow someone

(Rich or Lois) to add another portion of whatever one desired more of! I

went over to the beverage table and brought back 4 cups of coffee.

One for each of the “lades” present, myself included. I brought the

various coffee ‘fixings’ over and took them back.

Let me tell you, Matt, the chef for the day is a professional chef and

caterer. The meal he prepared was as endless as you would want. The

taste was more delicious than any clams or shrimp I had ever eaten


This is saying a lot to give him credit for, since I had been a frequent

visitor, in my younger years, with a few trips back as an adult to all the

states leading to Massachusetts and back. I have eaten at quite a few

actual beach clam bakes! I spent my 16th summer in Rockport, Mass.,

working in my Great Uncle’s pharmacy and candy shop, too. My weekly

errand, after work, had included running down to get a fresh seafood of

some kind. Sometimes being given only $5 to buy a lobster on Bear Skin


This was 1970~ when money went far!

I cannot attest to Matt’s lobster baking or broiling skills, but his boiled

clams and shrimp dipped in butter sauce were “to die for!” I managed

to eat one bowlful, getting a baggie out of Mom’s purse.

Isn’t it amazing how well older people “fend for themselves?” My Mom

always has several baggies in her purse, along with a sundry of effects.

Lois and Laverne consumed all of their clams, Lois ate all of the rest of

the other foods, including getting up and bringing back another bowl

of clams! I was looking at her small frame, picturing how full she must

have been! Laverne, Mom and I “packed up” our chicken and sausages.

This was one of my favorite meals “of all time!” The atmosphere was

so pleasant and the windows in the gymnasium were opened, the back

door leading to the barbecue grills and the side door leading to the

parking lot. We all had sweaters on so did not get chilled at all.

Lois brought her purse out and asked Rich to give a donation of $10

to the church. Laverne asked Lois if she could borrow $10 and she

could donate it to the female priest who was going around, introducing

herself to all who were there. Lois quietly told me, “I don’t expect she

will remember this tomorrow?” I said, “Just give $10 and she won’t know

it is a twenty.”

Rich had purchased all of our tickets and I would have given him gas

money or a donation, but did not know how the week would progress.

It was only Sunday!

This story is out of sequence, but glad to share it with you!

Hope you got some chuckles out of those sweet little ladies, the way

Felton tells us daily his “chore” is to get their meal and any other little

bits and pieces I have shared.

Wish you could have all been there!

More Newsy Info


Melvin was back from his trip to Boston, Massachusetts and I was

so happy to see him, I almost hugged him! He is my bright light at

the end of the tunnel, the day that seems to look impossibly long

gets shortened with his little handy, dandy words. He was gone

the whole week before and including Labor Day.

This began at morning start up meeting. He whispered to me, as

I had asked him, “What’s the going rate for lobsters?”

“Guess what? They were $5 a pound and I bought one almost every

day, if not, then I ate a whole lobster out!” Oh, I was filled with envy!

I had told him, the fishermen had charged $5 for any sized lobster out

on Bear Skin Neck. One of my favorite memories had been when my

great aunt and great uncle took turns handing me money to retrieve

two in 1971, my sixteenth summer in Rockport, Mass.

Then, he told me not only did Melvin see some of his Army buddies

who had served in Hawaii, he also had some of his family there for

a reunion. I had not heard this before the trip. He told me that it

was held at a beautiful park and that it was catered in. He had spent

$400 on ten people’s dinners, including his own. He mentioned this,

saying that some of his kids and grandkids didn’t have much money

and he had offered if they made it out East he would cover the reunion.

Also, that Melvin being immodest said, “I was polite, stood in a long line,

letting others go before me, and by the time I got to the buffet, there was


By golly, if my family had allowed me to pay for their meals, I would

have gone around with a hangdog look, pouty face in place and got

some meat! But this is what I mean about Melvin, he was so cheerful

and almost giddy with glee, “I just went on back to my hotel and

ordered up some lobster!”

Obviously, Melvin is not hurting for money. But he grows the nicest

veggies for me, along with the ones that my son, James, gives me,

I have had a wonderful and bountiful summer. He takes good care

of his live-in girlfriend, who declined the offer for the vacation. She

encouraged him to go and see his family and Army buddies, too.

I filled Melvin in on our quest to know the “other Robyn” better and

my recent, curious findings. First of all, she grew up in Detroit, Michigan.

I grew up in Sandusky, Ohio. Another “proof” she is not my long lost

“twin.” If you are lost on this, my continuing saga is just part of being

the brunt of one of Melvin’s jokes, equating me with a woman who is

over seven years’ older than I am, has short, blonde hair that sticks up

like feathers, kind of punked but not on purpose. I think she may just

not remember to comb it. She also “paints” her face with heavy makeup.

She is very sweet, and greets me with this unique way of thinking I

remind of her friend, Alice. I had to find out more, she told me that

she had moved here to Delaware in the 80’s and her Dad had worked

for PPG as a manager. She has a son and daughter, she has been

divorced since the 80’s and never remarried.

Robyn’s Dad died of complications with Parkinson’s Disease in 2000.

I had told her last week, my Dad in January, 2001. On the other hand,

my Mom is alive and kicking but this is where I am going to tell you

there are “gaps” in Robyn’s memory, she says she “Has no clue when

her mother died.” I asked, “Was it after your Dad?”

Robyn replied, “Oh, yeah, sometime after he died.”

She also, to this day, hedges the following questions,

“If I remind you of Alice, do you see her?”

“How long ago did you know Alice?”


“Where did you meet Alice?”

She is the Robyn who has daily sign up sheets everywhere in the

building that she puts her initials on, that used to mean about 2

years ago, that you had cleaned that area. We don’t do these but

somehow clean ones are put up weekly for her to keep busy and

sign. I have not figured this out, Melvin and I speculate that she

may have a work plan in place like the schools have IEP’s until she

retires. We hope she can do something else, but as we leave soon

after she arrives, we don’t see actual work being accomplished.

Another weird element of my Labor Day weekend that definitely

confused and set me back was that my ex-boyfriend’s blocked

cell phone number got unblocked. Not looking, while driving up

the road to Mom’s, there was no special ring for him so I picked

up the phone and answered it. I was fully engaged in driving and

I figure if people can balance sandwiches, I can do a straight shot

on I-71 to Cleveland!

I found out it was Mark and tried to get off, saying I was driving.

So, he said he would call later. I could not get him to understand,

No don’t call later.

Next time he called, my Mom who still thinks he was so nice and

he fished so she had sent tons of fishing newpaper clippings the

whole time I had dated, then not dated him for over a year. I said,

“It is Mark.” She said, “Oh answer it, find out how he is and say ‘hi’

from me.”

In the course of the weekend, seven phone calls ensued. Not as

many texts as I used to get from Lenny, but still more than I needed

to hear from Mark. The last ones were he was up on Lake Erie, fishing

with his brother, (who I loved and his sister in law, I loved too.) He had

decided to show him my parents’ cottage and fish off the stone pier

only 3 houses over. They had been in Huron and traveled towards

Vermilion. They were only about 35 minutes away from where I was,

I got a strange longing feeling. Yes, dumb me!

I did not see him but the very last phone call extended me an invite

to the family cookout at his brother and sister in law’s house. He had

also asked if I would like to take Micah (who he had carried on his

shoulders awhile ago, around the Cleveland Zoo) to the Wilds sometime


My older brother, only 18 months younger but since I have two, I call

him “older” said not to go to the picnic. My younger one, my dreamer,

professor, runner, and one who hopes for good things to happen to

his dear sister, said, “Go! Maybe he gave up on that woman he went

back to. He had some time to think about it, and maybe he is ‘done’

with her and back to who he belongs with!”

I went to the picnic, I enjoyed seeing the grandkids, sister Theresa,

brother and his wife. I had a nice time up until the old jangling ring

that he has for hisused to be, while I dated him, ex-girlfriend/now present

girlfriend rang. I got up and left, hugging the people I wanted to be part

of and had believed a possible future family. They all tell me that woman

has a hold on him that they don’t understand. They always say they “don’t

want her to come”, along with “she thinks she is better than we are!”

I cried all the way home, left a message for my dreamer brother and my

realistic brother, both who had their activities booked. I had my daughter

to cut her hair, two grandsons who hugged me and I will recouperate from

my mistake (again) and hope to close that door more firmly on the past.

The cell phone company prefers you to use their to “block”

a phone number but this particular young man on the end of the phone

line who answered my “Help me” words I spoke to each person or message

that I got, was wonderful and a God send. He said he had had to block an

ex, that it had been painful and that he would very kindly do it while I

blubbered to him asking him to do that. I would be on the road and did not

want to hear his apologies.

The words, “You have no right to ask me how I feel…” in the song by Phil

Collins, “Separate Lives” came on the radio after I got off from Verizon. I

thought they were very appropriate to the moment.

I went over my checklist countdown for future times I need to face this

kind of obstacle or sad situation:

1.  Put moral compass in place.

2.  Do a sanity check and call for help (not younger brother or Mom!)

3.  Make a list of pros and cons. Notice cons list is much longer.

Come to the conclusion to: Move forward and not backward!