Writing by the ocean, under a tent, summer

June 4, 2009 at 12:35 am (Book review, Childhood, Gorgeous Writing, Literary spaces)

This post is for my friend Kevin, an extremely good poet who should have his own blog because I forget to look at Facebook.

pye cover

No cars were allowed on the island, nothing on wheels in fact, except bicycles and small boys’ express wagons…. Just as there were no vehicles, so there were no streets either. There were very narrow boardwalks instead, and people had to walk single file.

A short way ahead, on a slight rise so that it was a little higher than the others, Rachel could see a perfect little brown-shingled, weather-beaten cottage. It looked like a doll house. Many of the houses were like rectangular boxes. But this one had corners and elbows to it as though a room or a porch had been added here or there as an afterthought. Very pale pink roses spread sparsely over the tiny porch roof.

Stepping inside, almost expecting to discover the three bears in a little house like this, they found, not bears, but other surprises – little alcoves, built-in tables on which to work or eat or study or play, and one was set for supper.

During the afternoon Papa worked very hard putting up a huge green umbrella he had bought from the Army and Navy store. It was oblong in shape, more like a roof than an umbrella, and strong ropes on all four corners tied to staves in the ground held it securely down. Papa had put it up on the ocean side of The Eyrie, and it was spacious enough for all the family and even some guests to sit under on a hot day and look out over the wide Atlantic.

pye2Papa eased himself into his chair under the big green umbrella and, with injured foot resting on a stool and with a small table that fitted nicely over his lap for his typewriter … he put a piece of blank paper in the typewriter. He was accustomed to work, and just because he had a lame foot, he was not going to bask under the green umbrella and do nothing.

In the cottage everyone was happy to hear the sounds of the typewriter, for it meant that, since Papa was at work, he was happy. Today, as on many other occasions, Papa preferred to stay at home, and with his typewriter on his lap, and Pinky [the kitten], too, he would work, think, study, dream.

While the family was away at the beach, picnicking, picking up shells, what was being typed under the green umbrella by the typing team of Pinky Pye and Papa?



Dear cats: Following are some simple games called Solitaire.

Game of Take Your Time Game of Pencil Grab Game of Pencil Hide Game of Mouse Game of Making Beds Newspaper Game Game of In and Out the Bureau Drawers Game of Half-Dead Mouse Game of Closet Creeps Game of Dog’s Ears Game of Fix the Eye Game of Catch the Fly Game of Faucet Drip Game of Pretend Mouse Game of Knock It Over Game of Woe-Be-Gone Bird

Uncle Bennie and Rachel were the first to arrive, hot, panting, and thirsty. Papa was still sitting under the green umbrella, typewriter table, typewriter, and Pinky all still on his lap. He was looking blandly and vacantly out toward sea. There was a lot of typing on the page. And all rather badly typed.


Pinky Pye is an annual re-read event for me once summer is under way. Does anybody else have season-starter re-reads? And, have a Fabulous Fourth!


  1. Sher said,

    Oh – this is just lovely Maureen.

    I love how you have incorporated literature into your daily and seasonal rituals.

    I don’t have a specific read, but the 4th of July is dear, dear to me.

    When I was 4 years old my mom and stepdad got married on the 4th of July. Her four children (one was my stepdad’s) and his three children all dressed in red-white-and-blue and the wedding was at their friends, our babysitter’s house. My mom’s hair was stacked really high in a beehive and there were red-white-blue crepe streamers everywhere – I remember running through them.

    Every year my step-dad and his friend, Ricky, were the pyrotechnics at our local church camp. We spent weeks getting ready for the 4th. Big plywood boards were drawn on (in later years by me) and then we (even the kids) carefully stabbed colored firecrackers (the size of tapered candles) onto the nails which had been tapped in from behind. Yes, many tetanus shots were had, but – oh the glory – of the sparking flags, and Snoopy on His Dog House and Log Cabins . . . and one time, I did a Log Cabin Quilt that was a big hit!

    The smell of the burning gun powder and the choking smoke. I love that.

    I miss my step-dad. I miss the 4th of July.

  2. Kevin Williams said,

    Hey, Mo — thanks for the post! And for the compliments.

    I haven’t read Pinky Pye in about twenty years, since the summer you talked me into it. I was really fascinated by your habit of having these touchstones that you return to — still am. I’ve heard that ships have to come to port every so often to be demagnetized; after a time of circling the globe, their hulls get charged from the Earth’s own magnetic field. Your return-to books are like that — something you come back to when you need to get re-oriented, re-directed, re-reminded.

    Mine aren’t seasonal, but emotional. When I want to get scared, I re-read the first half of “The Stand,” where the superflu kills everyone. (Almost everyone.) When I need certain calls to justice or attention, there are poets, or books of poems. I’ve re-read “The Odyssey” (Fitzgerald translation) every couple of years, because it’s an instruction manual for how to be human in the midst of larger forces, larger fortunes.

    I also love the picture of the typewriter you included. It’s very similar to one I have and still use: a Corona Zephyr. Bought it for ten bucks in 1990 at a thrift store in Corning. It’s smaller in length and width than a laptop, and typing manually gives a great sense of affirmation to the words you put down. Recently, I checked the serial number of it, and found it was manufactured around ’38, ’39. A couple of years ago, when we were passing through Amherst on the way to visit family in Boston, I dropped it off for an afternoon at the typewriter repair place there on the main street, just down from Bart’s ice cream — turns out that that little shop is one of the last real typewriter repair stores you can go to. The owner looked like a slightly younger version of Fred Sanford from the old “Sanford & Son” show, and smoked like a fiend, but he cleaned up the old thing real well, and realigned some letters so that they didn’t look so seasick on the page.

    Anyway, that’s my long way of saying thanks, again, and hi.

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