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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1407517-Sounds-of-a-Summer-Night
Rated: 18+ · Non-fiction · Biographical · #1407517
I won a dollar for the original piece and still remember that glow of winning!
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NEW PROMPT:
For tomorrow, I’d like to hear a story about sounds. I’m looking for seven sounds woven into your story. (Please bold them by putting the sound word between {b } and {/b } without the spaces.)
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As I sat here at my laptop this early Sunday afternoon, memories of another Sunday long ago came to mind. Back in the 1950’s, a newspaper called the Worcester Telegram and Gazette ran a contest for children. Each Sunday, we were given a prompt, something this contest does now, and the winner appeared the following Sunday. This fledging writer, at the age of around 11, entered twice and won twice. Both times I came down early Sunday morning to find angry parents and annoyed neighbors waiting for me. I’ll tell you about the second contest and why I was forbidden by my parents to ever, ever enter again.

The prompt was to write about sounds we heard during a summer night. Perhaps they meant crickets chirping out a nocturnal symphony or other such peaceful sounds. Instead, I decided to write about the nephew of the people who lived across the street racing up the street on his roaring motorcycle. After going into detail about how this sounded when people were hoping for a quiet country evening, I next mentioned a would-be pianist two houses away plunking away. His lack of talent showed since he seemed stuck on the beginning four notes of Beethoven’s Fifth for what seemed like eternity. “Dit-dit-dit-daaaah” over and over again soon rivaled a Chinese water torture, only worse. I’ve often wondered if he ever improved.

By now the cacophony of sounds was joined by the dogs down the street barking their fool heads off. I realize now the motorcycle’s engine being revved up time and again may have hurt their sensitive ears, but the sound of a howling dog has always driven me to the edge of hysterics. Even today, decades later and a full country away, I still can hear that scared yelping when their owner finally came out to shut them up by swearing at the top of his lungs.

I did thank him in my entry for adding some colorful words to my vocabulary. Mum washed my mouth out with Lava soap the first, and only, time I used one of those words. I’d use them now, except over the years I’ve learned even better ones and know “damn S.O.B. dogs” is rather mild today.

The next way I got on the bad side of my next-door neighbors with my innocent, little piece was telling the world about their noisy parties. Okay, maybe not the world, but the news did spread quickly throughout our small New England town. Children, especially preteens like I was at the time, can be judgmental of how adults act around them. In my winning entry, I did mention the shrill laughter coming from their home in through my open bedroom window. In hindsight, the extra little line I threw in about seeing all the empty liquor bottles in their trash the next day just might have been one line too many.

When I came down the stairs that Sunday morning, my older sister silently handed me the newspaper. She had it opened to the contest, and I started laughing at seeing my name in print. Many of you here, I bet, can understand that feeling of pride and excitement. I immediately stopped laughing when I heard Mum’s voice coming from our side porch.

“Judith Anne, I want to see you right this minute!”

Oh dear, as most children know, the use of a middle name is a sure sign of trouble ahead. Clutching the newspaper in my hand, I walked as slowly as I could down the hall and out onto our large, screened-in porch. Not only were my angry parents waiting for me, but there was the aunt of the motorcycle rider standing looking ready to pounce at the slightest provocation.

Mum reached out and took the precious newspaper from me. Hearing the slow ripping of that one sheet of paper containing my wonderful article, all I wanted to do was cry. Slowly, I looked around and saw even more neighbors standing holding their own copies of the paper. For the next half hour, I was forced to listen to adults telling me what they thought of my writing skills. I did learn that day that I had to pick and choose what I should write. The New York Times's masthead logo, "All The News That's Fit to Print," definitely means different things to adults and children, I guess.

Like I mentioned earlier, this was the second time I entered the contest and won. The first time, the prompt was about our first job. Since this was aimed at children, they probably meant mowing lawn and babysitting. I wrote about working in Dad’s department store, including what he paid me. That time, only Dad yelled at me, but that’s a story for another time.

This particular Sunday, after all the angry neighbors left, I was forbidden ever again to enter the Worcester Telegram’s contest. In fact, I was so upset about those adults yelling at me for telling the truth that I didn’t write anything for years. I suppose I had a decades-long writer’s block.

Thank goodness I’ve gotten over that. Since I’m safely over 3,000 miles away, I might even write more about the people who lived back then in my small hometown. The person who said revenge is best served cold sure had it right!

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Microsoft Word count = 892

"The Writer's Cramp is 20!! daily contest winner for 03/31/08
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© Copyright 2008 J. A. Buxton (judity at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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