Ponyboy – Stay Gold 

The Outsiders - cast

By Judy Berman

Living life on the fringes. Always feeling like you’re on the outside looking in.

That’s the theme of the novel, “The Outsiders,” by S.E. Hinton. It’s one I can relate to, and I’ve been out of school for a few decades. The book and the movie still resonate with readers today.

Elvis, The Beatles, leather jackets, D.A.’s greased-back haircuts and madras shirts. They evoke a different time – the early-‘60s. That was when America worried about a nuclear attack and building bomb shelters. We had not yet gotten involved in Vietnam and the flower children of the mid-1960s were still a few years away.

Many look at those times as being more innocent. But it had its share of troubles, too. Like the author, I had friends who were rich, as well as those who were poor and lived “on the other side of the tracks.” A few were “hoods” and, around me, they were great guys. I knew that neither life was problem-free.

S. E. Hinton wrote about the clash of those two groups. She was 15 and still in high school when she began writing her novel. It was published in 1967, when she was a freshman in college. She has said that the characters were not based on any one person she knew. Ponyboy, Johnny and Dally’s characters each had their own universal appeal, she said.

The movie, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, is one I’ve shown to my students the past several years. I prefer the PG-13 version over the PG because the story thread is much closer to the book.

“When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home.” That’s Ponyboy Curtis’ opening line in the novel.

A few blocks later, Ponyboy is jumped by members of the Socs (or Socials, the rich kids). When he yells for help, his brothers and gang members of the Greasers, the hoods, rush to his defense.

Their next encounter is deadly. It forces Ponyboy and his friend, Johnny, to run away to avoid arrest. At one point, they’re focused on the countryside’s beauty and wish that scene could remain forever.

The Outsiders - Johnny and Ponyboy

I recall a similar experience when I lived in the country. As I looked out our kitchen window, the whole countryside was awash in gold. Then, sadly, as the sun rose higher, the golden hues began to yield to nature’s green coloring. Ponyboy, in repeating lines from Robert Frost’s poem, “Nothing Gold Can Stay:”

“Nature’s first green is gold, Her hardest hue to hold. Her early leaf’s a flower; But only so an hour. Then leaf subsides to leaf. So Eden sank to grief, So dawn goes down to day, Nothing gold can stay.”

When Johnny asks what it means, Ponyboy tells him that things cannot remain as they are.

Like the scene they witnessed, their innocence will slip away. What they’ve gone thru will transform them forever. Near the end of the book, Johnny told Ponyboy to “stay gold.”

Little has changed since the book was published in 1967. But there are still cliques and those who are on the outside. Hopefully, as teens read this book and see the movie, they will see the harm that comes from stereotyping, from forming cliques, and how they view others who are not part of their group.

Ponyboy realized that just because he was poor didn’t mean he’d be stuck in that life. He was going to make something of himself. That’s an excellent observation. One that I hope my students take away from the story that Hinton crafted when she was a teen herself.


* Main photo of cast in “The Outsiders”   http://www.listal.com/viewimage/1402794h

* Photo of Ponyboy and Johnny from the movie  http://www.fanpop.com/spots/the-outsiders/images/29368683/title/johnny-cade-ponyboy-curtis-photo

* Video clips from the movie, “The Outsiders,” and Stevie Wonder singing “Stay Gold.”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAdlVRn1xYc

* Video of Ponyboy and Johnny. Scene where Ponyboy recites Robert Frost’s poem, “Nothing Gold Can Stay.”  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TwJ-ppxCGPk

* Video of author S. E. Hinton on location in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She talks about some of the inspiration she drew on for her novel, “The Outsiders.”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJnfleLeOZg


Wordpress - milestone-200 posts

This is my 200th post on WordPress. I chose to repeat a story that I first published April 28, 2012. I love “The Outsiders” message and how this novel continues to speak to young people today as it did to their parents. Some students tell me that while they hate to read they really love this book.

What story – or movie – has stayed with you long after you put the book down?


Mirage - Walter Matthau and Gregory Peck

By Judy Berman

What if everything you thought was true turned out to be a lie?

You didn’t know who to turn to or who to trust. Some times, life feels like that. But we emerge from the shadows and are warmed by the light and reality.

That is not what David Stillwell (Gregory Peck) finds when he is confronted by a past he wants to forget in the 1965 film noir “Mirage.”

After a power outage in a skyscraper, Stillwell winds his way down 27 flights of stairs. He’s joined by a woman, Shela (Diane Baker). They are unable to see one another, but she says she knows him.

Stillwell has no idea who she is.

At street level, Shela realizes it is Stillwell. She is angry with him for deceiving her and runs off. He chases after her down four flights of sub-basement stairs. But she’s gone.

Back on the street, he learns that a man had jumped or was pushed out the window to his death.

That man, Charles Calvin, was the head of Unidyne, a humanitarian organization that works for world peace. His name means nothing to Stillwell, and he moves on.

Mirage - movie poster

When Stillwell returns to the building he works in, he heads down the stairs in search of the sub-basement levels.

There are none.

Perplexed, he returns to his apartment. A man (Jack Weston) riding with him in the elevator orders Stillwell at gunpoint to let him in his apartment. Weston tells Stillwell that “the Major wants to see you.”

Another name that means nothing to Stillwell. He manages to get the upper hand on Weston and gets rid of him. Then, he begins his search to discover why he has no recollection of events over the past two years.

At the same time, he has flashbacks to a time, place and people he can’t remember.

A visit to a psychiatrist was frustrating. The shrink does not buy that Stillwell is a “cost accountant” as Stillwell says or that he has had amnesia for the past two years. He tells Stillwell that “unconscious amnesia” lasts – at most – two days.

Stillwell hires a detective, Ted Caselle, (Walter Matthau) to find out who “David Stillwell” is and why someone is trying to kill him. Caselle confesses that this is his first case.

Nothing adds up. They go to Stillwell’s office – down the hall from where Charles Calvin’s office was – only to find it doesn’t exist.

When the detective asks Stillwell what he did as a “cost accountant,” Stillwell doesn’t know. Caselle also can’t see Stillwell in that line of work but he believes Stillwell’s story.

The convincer? He spotted a man (George Kennedy) following them. He turns out to be one of the menacing men who is trying to kill Stillwell.

Mirage - Gregory Peck in tunnel

“I’m kind of curious about Charles Calvin and why he went thru that window.”

Stillwell is puzzled why as he didn’t know Calvin.

“Your nightmare began at almost the exact moment his ended,” Caselle says.

Everything leads to a dead end … as do some of the people closest to Stillwell.

Bit by nightmarish bit, Stillwell discovers who Shela is and what role she played in his life. Each flashback fills in more of the memory gaps, Stillwell realizes who he really was and what he is trying to forget.


This film noir, psychological drama is one of my favorites. Please share one of yours in the comments below.


Music Video: Film Noir and Jazz – Nicholas Payton’s cover of “Chinatown” set to classic film noir images.    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyEV0OHlgaE  

Photo: Mirage – movie poster

Photo: Mirage – Walter Matthau and Gregory Peck – http://fr.web.img3.acsta.net/r_640_600/b_1_d6d6d6/medias/nmedia/18/65/56/07/18870217.jpg

Photo: Mirage – Gregory Peck in tunnel  https://earthriderdotcom.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/261fb-mirage_tunnel.png

Bad Bosses and Wise Guys

Wise Guys - movie DVD - save

By Judy Berman

The smell of hazelnut coffee still makes me queasy. It is a reminder of an ice queen who once ruled where I worked years ago.

Clueless, out-of-touch, manipulative, narcissistic, sadistic and just plain bad bosses can be found anywhere.

Take the one where a man collapsed at work. His boss stepped over him as he lay on the floor, and she strolled to her office. One wag said that the boss’s only concern appeared to be whether the employee had turned in a report she was expecting.

Some bosses are human stress factories. One bragged that he loved to keep employees off-balance.

When he learned that one of his minions was applying elsewhere, he sabotaged that employee by passing on a bad job evaluation to the prospective employer.

Dilbert - Pointy-haired boss

These examples almost make Dilbert’s pointy-haired ignorant boss, and the harmlessly deluded and insensitive boss in “The Office” (Michael Scott, as played by Steve Carell), appear sympathetic and wise.

If these examples sound remotely like the situation you’re in at your workplace, take heart.

Things could be so much worse.

Be glad Dan Hedaya (as Anthony Castelo) is not your boss. He’s the low-rent mobster in Newark, New Jersey, that Danny DeVito (as Harry Valentini) and Joe Piscopo (as Moe Dickstein) work for in Brian De Palma’s movie, “Wise Guys.” (1986)

Their tasks are to go start the boss’s car while fellow goons inside take bets on how long it’ll take for a bomb to explode.

Frank “The Fixer” Acavano (played by professional wrestler Captain Lou Albano) drives Harry and Moe to the racetrack. He tells Moe to place a bet on a specific horse.

Harry knows that the boss has been losing money on the horses. He persuades Moe to gamble on another instead, and they can take the winnings for themselves. The boss’s pick comes in first, and they wind up losing $250,000 of the boss’s money.

Needless to say, Castelo is – to put it mildly – disappointed. Still, he rejects a remedy offered by “The Fixer,” the mob’s chief enforcer.

“Let me waste ‘em, Mr. Castelo!” Acavano urges.

“Do we really hurt them by killing them?” Castelo asks.

“It’s a good start,” sagely concludes Frank Vincent (as Louie Fontucci).

Castelo’s solution is to have Harry Valentini and Moe Dickstein “put to the test … by having them kill each other.”

“The Fixer,” Acavano, will whack whoever survives.

When the two guys are tipped off about the plan, they steal Acavano’s prize Cadillac and go on the lam to a casino in Atlantic City. There, they run up charges on Acavano’s stolen credit card.

Wise Guys - movie - Danny DeVito and Joe Piscopo

Harry hopes to visit his Uncle Mike and persuade him to bail them out so they can repay Castelo. Things do not go according to plan, and the mob is hot on their trail.

Moe Dickstein writes a farewell letter to Castelo that stuns them all.

This screwball mobster comedy is a primer, a how-to on turning the tables to get a little justice.

Just have a plan in place before you head out the door. Then, you can mail out that “take this job and shove it’ letter with a smile on your face.

Have you had a bad boss experience you’d like to share? Keep the comments PG please.


Movie Trailer: “Wise Guys” (1986) stars Danny DeVito and Joe Piscopo. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y7TKTypiIjw  

Main Photo: Wise Guys – Danny DeVito and Joe Piscopo and Cadillac http://www.listal.com/viewimage/685116

Photo – Dilbert – Pointy-haired boss in comic

Photo: Wise Guys (1986) – Screen shot – Danny DeVito and Joe Piscopo on the lam, making a call to Uncle Mike


Jimmy Stewart and the Real Bedford Falls


Seneca Falls, NY - angel

By Judy Berman

The actors packed up long ago. The cameras and props are no doubt in storage. But I believe the setting for “It’s a Wonderful Life” remains intact.

Many believe that Seneca Falls, New York, is the inspirational backdrop for Bedford Falls. That iconic movie is now celebrating its 68th anniversary. As I walked the streets of Seneca Falls with my family one Christmas evening, I was convinced it was as well.

Amid a gentle snowfall, angels playing trumpets light up the village’s main street. Streets named “Bedford Falls Blvd.” and “George Bailey Lane” reinforce the connection to the movie.

Another indicator that George Bailey and his guardian angel, Clarence Odbody (played by Henry Travers), might be just around the corner is the village’s steel truss bridge over the canal.

We took this road trip – about an hour from our home – to stroll along the streets that we believe Jimmy Stewart (George) ran down in the movie. We stopped on that bridge and looked over the icy-cold water below. There, it’s easy to feel Stewart’s/Bailey’s anguish about wanting to end his pain. George, who had always put everyone else first, now feels the world would be better off without him.

It’s Christmas Eve, and it’s up to Clarence to change George’s mind. If he succeeds, Clarence will earn his wings. Clarence’s plan is to show George what life would be like if he’d never been born.

As Clarence tells Stewart, “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives, and when he isn’t around, he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”

It's a Wonderful Life

George comes to realize that, despite some bad turns in life, there really is much to enjoy. The movie’s message – since it first came out in 1946 – is that we just need to stop and consider what we really value. For George, it was his family and friends.

What a wonderful legacy for a community to have. While some dispute that Frank Capra had Seneca Falls on his mind when he made this movie, there are some amazing coincidences.

The script mentions Rochester, Buffalo and Elmira. They are close to this village which was – like Bedford Falls – a mill town back in 1945 when this movie was shot.

There’s one other intriguing note. On that bridge that I stood on, there “was a plaque honoring Seneca Falls resident Antonio Varacalli, who had leaped into the icy waters of the canal in April 1917 to rescue a girl who had just attempted suicide by jumping off the bridge. Varacalli saved her but was overcome by fatigue from the rescue and drowned,” according to The Real Bedford Falls website.

That’s not a huge leap for a director to make from one heroic gesture to George jumping in to save Clarence, who pretends to be drowning.

Whether or not Capra did, we felt like we were part of movie history when we were in Seneca Falls. That night, we felt that Jimmy Stewart and Clarence were there with us. Maybe it was just wishful thinking, but I’m sure it was him who shouted “Merry Christmas” as he ran by.

It's a Wonderful Life - Donna Reed, Jimmy Stewart and Karolyn Grimes


COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-15. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Video: Movie Trailer of “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJfZaT8ncYk  

Thank you to Marian Beaman for nominating me for the Lovely Blog Award earlier this month. Marian writes about growing up in a Mennonite family in Pennsylvania, her experiences as an English professor, community activist and writer. Plus she shares many wonderful recipes. Please check out her blog at: http://plainandfancygirl.com/

This story is an encore from December 17, 2011 because “It’s a Wonderful Life” is my favorite Christmas movie. What is your favorite holiday movie?

Main Photo credit: Seneca Falls, New York, Margaret McCormick (2011)

Photo: Screenshot of Donna Reed (as Mary Hatch Bailey), Jimmy Stewart (as George Bailey) and Karolyn Grimes (as Zuzu) in “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946)

Photo: Guardian Angel Clarence Odbody (played by Henry Travers) and Jimmy Stewart

For more information on The Real Bedford Falls “Too Many Coincidences to Ignore,” click on the link below: http://therealbedfordfalls.com/therealbedfordfalls.php

An Unexpected Twist

Pier - sunrise on Indian River, Suntree, Florida

By Judy Berman

How could I not see that coming? That’s often my reaction when I am shocked by how a movie ended. What did I miss?

I have that same reaction to a joke’s punch line that surprises me or to a story that finally reveals a hidden truth.

Most teachers will tell you that they went into teaching because they want to inspire their students. This week, a student turned the tables on me.

We’d been reading Eleanora E. Tates’s short story, “Big Things Come in Small Packages.”

Narrator LaShana Mae tells about her friend, Tucker Willis, who was teased unmercifully about being so short. She recounted his friendship with a man named Richard who said he worked with the U.S. Lifesaving Service.

As captain in the lifesaving service, Richard said he and his men “went into the ocean in the middle of hurricanes and no’easters’ to save passengers and crew members whose ships were sinking.”

Tucker was inspired, but lamented that he couldn’t do the job because of his size.

Richard told Tucker “it wasn’t the size of a person that got the job done. It was how bad the person wanted to do it.” He pointed out that tugboats pull in ships many times their size.

surfer - Huntington_Pier_Surfer

A few days later, Tucker was out surfing near the Atlantic Beach pier. As he rode a wave in, Richard was cheering him on and hollered: “Do it, Tugboat! Pull that ole wave in!”

Tucker remembered Richard’s story about tugboats, and waved back before he swam out to catch another wave.

Then he noticed a storm brewing, and that meant he better get out of the water. A huge wave crashed down on him. Tucker took the wipeout in stride and just got back on his board.

But a man who fell off his raft was thrashing about and “screaming that he couldn’t swim.”

Tucker, 12, swam over to help the man even though he was concerned for his own safety. In a panic, the man lunged at Tucker’s surfboard and they both were struggling.

That’s when Tucker saw Richard and Richard helped both Tucker and the man get safely to shore.

**SPOILER ALERT** (If you plan on reading this story, stop now because I’ll be giving away a key plot detail.)

News reporters crowded around, wanting to hear Tucker’s story. Tucker credited his friend, Richard, for the save. But when Tucker turned around, Richard was no where to be found.

Later, Tucker discovered who Richard was.

In the pier gift shop, Tucker bought a book about the coast guard. That’s when he saw an old photo of Richard and learned that Captain Richard Etheridge died about 70 years earlier in 1900.

Richard was a ghost.

One student, Brandon, amazed me with his insights into the story. He had unraveled the mystery before the author revealed this.

When Brandon told me the clues he’d spotted in the story, I was stunned. I’d missed some of the foreshadowing and the author’s hints.

This put me so much in mind of watching the movie, “Sixth Sense,” with my husband, Dave. Dave had figured out the ending long before it was revealed.

Me? I was clueless until nearly the end of the movie.

We went to see the movie again that same weekend. I wanted to see “Sixth Sense” thru “new eyes” to learn what clues I’d missed.

I did the same with this short story after Brandon shared what tipped him off. On my re-reading, I discovered subtle clues the author dropped throughout her story.

Diana Bedford Pittenger, a friend and teacher, said: “That is so much fun! I love when students can teach us.”

I’m still learning …

What plot twists in a movie or book took you by surprise?

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-15. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Movie Video: “The Pink Panther” Theme Song. Really, did you see those plot twists coming? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhHwnrlZRus 

Photo: Pier – Sunrise at Indian River, Suntree, Florida. Photographer – Dave Berman, Sept. 2014

Photo: Surfer – Huntington Pier – Author: Sameer Khan, Aug. 15, 2005 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/18/Huntington_Pier_Surfer.jpg


A Black Heart and a Mobster


By Judy Berman

The shadier side of life. It’s a look that few get to see, except in passing or on TV.

As a cops and court reporter, some encounters were brief. But the impressions lasted a lifetime.

In court, how a witness or suspect is perceived is important. Unfortunately, “Jonnie,” a witness in a murder trial, didn’t score well.

The prosecuting attorney said jurors just didn’t like “Jonnie “ Other factors were weighed in, too, of course: how consistent the witnesses’ stories were, how the witnesses held up under direct and cross-examination.

“Jonnie” said he had a “black heart.” I didn’t doubt it.

When “Jonnie” strutted into the courtroom during the retrial, he was a pale imitation of James Dean or tough guy Marlon Brando. He wore a tight, short-sleeved black T-shirt and black jeans. His thin, dirty-blond hair was pulled back in a ponytail.

One thought came to mind: dangerous.

Several times, “Jonnie” turned and gave a cold, hard stare to the defendants at the trial. They’d killed “Jonnie’s” father during a robbery. Neither was convicted of murder. They accepted a plea bargain to a reduced felony charge.

His thinly-disguised contempt for them was palpable.


“Jonnie” agreed to meet me the next afternoon, after the trial, for a follow-up interview. He wanted to meet near where he lived, but I preferred to meet him on more familiar – and less threatening – turf outside the paper I worked for.

He was a no-show. Maybe it was for the best.

Much of what he told me about the men he believed responsible for his father’s death was libelous and slanderous.

Or death threats – which my paper did not provide a platform for.

Those encounters are not confined to the news business.

A waitress, at one of our favorite restaurants in Central New York, once told us about some mobsters who dined at the fancy restaurant she worked at in Florida.

One night, she was serving wine to a large group of huge tippers. They gave $500 to the valet for keeping an eye on all their cars. Others also benefitted by their largesse.

She had difficulty reaching this one man at the end of the table who was up against the wall. When the waitress reached in front of him to pour the wine, another man stopped her and told her it was bad form in their culture.

The waitress, a self-confessed wiseguy, responded: “Whatever.”

Another employee told her that the man at the end of the table was “the man.”

“Right. He’s the man. He’s the man,” she said.

After the group left, she was told that “the man” was John Gotti.

“Here everyone else is getting $500 tips, and I’m worried I’ll be sleeping with the fishes,” she laughed. (They left her no tip.)

John Gotti and Sammy, The Bull, Gravano

The incident rattled her.

Her home was next door to the restaurant. But, as she was nervous about what the mobsters might do, she said she drove a route that took in most of South Florida.


Have you ever had a close encounter of the dangerous kind? Or of a celebrity, or weird kind?


COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-15. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Music Video: “Bad Company” by “Bad Company”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0ryRksbQvU  

  1. Main Photo: Marlon Brando – “A Streetcar Named Desire” (1948) – Photographer: Carl Van Vechten – http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a6/Marlon_Brando_Streetcar_1948_d.jpg
  2. Photo: James Dean in “Rebel Without a Cause” (1955) – publicity still for the film.  http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/e6/James_Dean_in_Rebel_Without_a_Cause.jpg/540px-James_Dean_in_Rebel_Without_a_Cause.jpg 
  3. Photo: John Gotti and Sammy “The Bull” Gravano – http://www.history.com/topics/john-gotti
  4. Video: Interview with Sammy “The Bull” Gravano and Diane Sawyer   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hoTK1o2-QQ4

Your Wish Has Been Granted

Zoltar - Watkins Glen, NY - July 2014

By Judy Berman

I wander thru the crowd, pleased to see a familiar face.

If anyone can grant me a wish, it will be this dark, mysterious stranger. His piercing, blue eyes meet mine, probing to determine what brings me to him.

Suddenly nervous, I hesitate before I ask. Then, stammer: “I want to be a kid again.”

Zoltar stares. His mouth agape. He shuffles a few cards, utters some mumbo-jumbo, and then he sits silently as the arcade machine spits out my fortune.

Big - Josh - young - and Zoltar

In the movie, “Big,” (1988), Josh Baskin (young Josh played by David Moscow) is humiliated when he’s not allowed on a carnival ride because he’s too short. When he spots Zoltar, an antique arcade fortune teller machine, he tells Zoltar that he wants to be big.

A fortune slides out. On it: “Your wish has been granted.” His transformation takes place overnight, and he must adapt to the changes. Josh is physically bigger. Now played by Tom Hanks, he has a 30-year-old body, but he’s still a kid inside – nearly 13.

Josh enjoys the perks of the adult world – being paid for what he loves to do, having an apartment and a beautiful girlfriend. But he soon discovers that he misses his family. He tries to find a way to return to them.

Big - Josh - adult - Zoltar3

Like, Josh, I look to see if the robotic fortune teller will grant my wish.

Strange. Isn’t it? We always think life will be better if we could trade places. If we could be older, younger, richer, smarter, more athletic or more popular.

When we’re young, we don’t know the adult worries of holding down a job, scrambling to pay bills or staying up nights worrying about a sick child. We don’t see the challenges. We only see what we perceive as greater freedom and to be on our own.

As adults, it’s also easy to forget youths’ troubles. Worrying about avoiding that bully who views you as a human punching bag. Fretting about failing a course … and, maybe, a grade. Trying not to be noticed when you’re with all of the other wallflowers at the school dance. Knowing you’re always on the outside looking in.

In my case, I forgot that, when I was little, everyone looked down on me. They didn’t have any other option. I was one of the smallest kids in high school – 7th thru 12th grades.

At 4 feet 6 inches in 7th grade, kids joked that my nickname should be “Squeaky” because I was too small to be called “Pip Squeak.” That’s when you learn to develop a sense of humor about your, er, shortcomings … or die a thousand middle-school deaths.

I think it will be a blast – even if it’s just for a short while – to return to those carefree days.

I miss climbing trees, exploring the woods and creeks with my Cocker Spaniel and hanging out with my friends. I long to re-experience the excitement a child feels at special times like his/her birthday or Christmas.

Zoltar - fortune2 - June 2014

I clutch my fortune in my hand as I walk away. I turn and look wistfully at Zoltar before the crowd envelopes him. Then, he disappears from view.

On the way back to my hotel room, I bypass all the shops. What’s the point? Who knows what size clothing I’ll need in the morning after my transformation?

This will be great, no matter how it turns out. As Frank Sinatra once sang: “Here is the best part. You have a head start if you are among the very young at heart.”


What would you wish for?


COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-15. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Movie video: “Big” with Tom Hanks as Josh and Elizabeth Perkins as Susan. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lCmyX6CYhI0 

Movie video: Zoltar in “Big” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kIeMRRGxmwQ 

1. Main Photo – Zoltar Speaks arcade machine – Watkins Glen, New York – taken by Dave Berman, July 25, 2014

2. Photo: “Big” – screenshot – young Josh Baskin (David Moscow) asking Zoltar to grant his wish.

3. Photo: “Big” – screenshot – Tom Hanks as ‘bigger’ Josh Baskin, asking Zoltar to grant his wish.

4. Photo: my fortune – June 2014 – from the Zoltar Speaks arcade machine at Circus Circus casino/hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.