April 27, 2011

Late Nights and Lunch Breaks by John R. Greenwood

Chapter Two
Tackle Football and Falling Leaves
Young boys with torn sweatshirts and muddy Converse sneakers playing tackle football in long wide yards with high grass and falling leaves is a small town tradition. The fall smell of dry crunchy leaves heightens the senses and invigorates the energy of teenage boys. These were the happiest days of my youth. Our playing field of choice was perched atop Dake’s Hill, the highest point in Greenfield Center. The field was actually a section of the Dake family’s yard. One sideline was a row of vintage maple trees; tall, bark-thick, and unyielding. The opposing sideline was a hedge of wild thorn-heavy roses. One missed tackle and a trip to the depths of that hedge would inevitably result in a slow bloody extrication of a boy close to tears. One end-zone was a pair of century old maples, the other was a grey, four foot high wall of moss covered stones. Sundays were the day most chosen for our games. These afternoon fall rituals of touchdowns and bruised shins would last until tempers or hunger pains flared. 

April 24, 2011

Late Nights and Lunch Breaks by John R. Greenwood

Author and his dog Spike on the steps of the Greenfield General Store
Circa 1958-59
Chapter One
The Greenfield General Store and The Path
The center of my hometown from birth to my first legal beer was the Greenfield General Store. The store anchored the village dead center. All small town general stores in the first half-century were modeled in it’s image. My home was paint-peeling white and just one house to the north. A hard packed dirt path ran down one side of the village. There were no sidewalks within six miles of my childhood home. “The Path” would turn out to be the lifeline of my world for the first eight years of existence. I would learn to ride my bike on, “The Path” and at the age of six pulled over my first speeder with the sky-blue police-bicycle my father had rescued, repaired, repainted, and recycled for my five-candled birthday. I have owned many bicycles, motorcycles, cars, and trucks over many decades; that simple sky-blue bicycle, with the chrome wheels and coaster brakes, still carries the most cherished memories. The reason is obvious.  
The Greenfield General Store down “The Path,” with one house in between, was right out of Mayberry RFD. “Quaint” would fit it perfectly. The store’s main attraction was a weathered and initial-carved bench that held more stories than a big-city library. I would gladly pay a month’s salary for that bench today. That bench graced the store’s porch for decades. The initials carved in its’ seat and solid spruce back, spanned generations of small-town hand-holding teenagers. It held quiet evidence of late night raids by brave young boys with cheap steel jackknives they’d won at the county fair. Attempting to crack the codes of a heart-filled JG+PB or Billy(?)Was Here”, was a favorite pastime of its seated visitors. On pre-Halloween, Cabbage Night, the brave bench would find itself perched atop the store’s porch roof or on the stoop of the Town Hall across the street. With no hint of distress the bench would simply return to duty, smiling with the knowledge of childhood pranks gently done, and highly regarded. 
Inside the old dry-hinged screen door with the Wonder Bread push bar lay a vast world of penny-candy filled display cases, heavy oak counters, ice cold soda coolers, and hanging fly strips yellowed and busy. Creaky wooden floors with a spongey-give worn smooth by work boots and PF Flyers ran front to back. A real-life butcher block could be found tucked in the stores back acre.  A large brown roll of meat wrapping paper and white twine lay poised for the next hand trimmed steak. There is something unforgettable about the smell of a butcher’s domain. The mix of damp sawdust and aged beef trimmings permeates the temples and settles deep in the mind’s recesses only to return instantly with the thunderous thud of a heavy cleaver as it lops off a thick hunk of red grainy beef.  
The store’s owner at the time of my earliest recollection was named Harry. He was wiry old character with wavy grey hair anyone over the age of fifty would kill for. Harry portrayed grumpy but it was an act. Old men who pin nicknames on young children aren’t grumpy they’re only upset they can’t go back and do it over. Harry tagged me with the name, “Johnny Jump-Up.” With a gentle gruffness he would threaten to, “pin my ears back.” I was never afraid. 
There was an eight foot long glass display case full of penny-candy just inside the front door. It was the centerpiece of the store and it attracted wide-eyed children and adults alike. Bazooka bubble gum, Tootsie Rolls, and strings of red and black licorice filled the hand-smudged giant. I recall one hot summer day around 1960. I was five and in the store with my beautiful young mother in the yellow and white sundress. A salesman came in just as we were leaving. He asked my mother if we would like to sample a new soda. He had sample cups and bottles of the new beverage. It’s name was Mountain Dew. I can taste that small paper cup sample today. Funny how those simple country moments embed themselves in your mind just a fraction below the surface, always ready for easy retrieval when happy thoughts are needed. 
The Greenfield General Store would embrace a handful of different owners through the years. As a pre-teen I worked for one of them after school and on Saturday afternoons. In a world just minutes ahead of child labor laws and hours before my generation, another generation was about to be enveloped in play-less lives inside the so called safe walls of their homes. I was fortunate enough to experience the joy of being a grocery shelf and soda cooler stocker, a floor sweeper, and a trash collector. I earned large sums of loose change, free ice cream and a life long work ethic. Old straw brooms and heavy metal dustpans were my tools of choice. No child was harmed in the formation of responsible young persons in the 1960’s. It was healthy to work. It was good to own blisters from raking leaves and digging potatoes. It was fun to fill pickup trucks with bales of hay. Itchy arms and sweat soaked white t-shirts were normal and expected. The Greenfield General Store was a large part of my young life and though it has been retired to the boredom of office space it will remain a large portion of my fondest memories. 

April 16, 2011


By John R. Greenwood
Fathers dream of sons
To carry on their legacy
Not just in name 
But character of being
An individual
To set a path
Their own anew
With hints and traces
Of the fathers self
As the years flow quickly by
Those tracks they do 
The footsteps look 
Quite similar
The mirror seems familiar
Oh son, you make me proud
First born or next
It matters not
My blood
Your body 
Carries too
Someday you will see
As I do.
December 25, 2008
I wrote this for my two sons Brendan and Kevin for Christmas 2008.

April 11, 2011

Play Tables

Play Tables
By John R. Greenwood

With winter in the rearview and with spring fresh legs
Two playful friends battle for position
Anxious for ketchup stained boys with pine cone collections
Little girls in flip-flops
Moms chasing with Coppertone
Work weary dads with sunburned shoulders
Grandma and Grandpa with old web-frayed lawn chairs


April 09, 2011

Spokes and Spirit

Spokes and Spirit
By John R. Greenwood
(Written for and about, Emile B. Klein’s, “You’re US” art project)

Spirited Spokes
Speak   Outward
Chrome voices
Polished and True
Ever Reaching  Out
Across Borders   Human ones
Over Walls   Created ones
Human Hubs
Speaking Spoke Voices
Pointed   Out
Turning   Out
Voices of
Mixed Colors
Colors of Mixed
P   e   d   a   l   i   n   g   >     0--0    >

April 07, 2011

Weathered Man

Weathered Man
By John R. Greenwood

Like a weathered man
Clinging to a youthful soul
So goes the snow

April 06, 2011

Raining Iguanas: Out to Pasture

Raining Iguanas: Out to Pasture: "Out to Pasture By John R. Greenwood With head held high On a back road dusty He came to rest Tired and rusty They parked him in a pastu..."

April 02, 2011

Sideways Step

Sideways Step
By John R. Greenwood

This chapter nails the writing portion of my personality; stepping into writing from the side, at different times, from different angles, about different things. I love to tell stories and share memories. I thrive on making people laugh, and smile. More interestingly, I like connecting to people. I live for an emotional twinge when a familiar chord is touched. The journey becomes a mental fuel for me. To see how deep I can go. To see how fast I can find the fastener that joins my brain to the “victim”. I always do it with the hope that I can better understand an individual. We all carry baggage. I feel like a baggage handler.  Your problems are my problems. You don’t need therapy, I can help you. That “Did I ever tell you about the time?” connection. It’s easy to fix peoples problems. Just pick at them like a dark hardwood sliver, barely under the skin. Grab a sewing needle and let me work my magic. I will poke, prick, and squeeze, not too deep, not too hard. I don’t want to make you bleed or cry out in pain. I just want to get the sliver out. It has been in there awhile and it is beginning to redden around the edges, spreading further and deeper into the skin. If we don’t get it out soon it will worsen, a puss will form, the pain and danger will intensify. At last, we prod it loose and out slides the sliver fully intact, wipe it away with a tissue, toss it. Swab the left over wound with antiseptic. Cover it with a bandage and within hours, it will feel better. Within days, your memory of the sliver will fade. Life will be one of renewed anticipation. 

Oh, those damn slivers. Sit down; let me grab a needle. 

J.R.G. Summer of 2009

This was a writing exercise from Old Friend from Far Away (The Practice of Writing Memoir) by Natalie Goldberg