Old Folders & Golden Goebel Beer…

These winter days are rolling right along, and I’m slowly–but steadily–recovering from my surgery of Friday the 13th (there has to be a story in that combination!). I seem to have re-gained my enthusiasm and motivation to move along on my current writing project and have actually spent the past two mornings cranking out over 3,000 words of a story that will be part of my next book–a collection of stories and memoirs I’ve written over several years. 

One such story I had originally written on February 18, 1972. (I know this because I have the original manuscript, complete with the instructor’s red ink marks and comments, in front of me!) At the time, I was a junior at Kent State and wrapping up my stellar two-year hockey career and trying to get my GPA up so I could do my student teaching in the fall. The story was an assignment for some kind of creative writing course in my English major program, and, like most all of my other classes, I put off the work until the very last minute! This project was no exception, and, with the help of a frat brother and plenty of cold Golden Goebel and Newport cigarettes, I put together the tale that I eventually turned in. We spent a couple of nights in my room, pounding away on my ancient portable manual typewriter, trying to create something that would earn me at least a C. I think we had more fun than anything else. I would type a paragraph; he would type a paragraph. Then a new idea would spring to the fore, and we’d change something here or there to make it work. At least at the time we thought it made sense!  Somehow the story took some kind of shape, crude as it was, and I could actually see light at the end of the proverbial tunnel!

In short, the story is about a group of college friends who set out to find an allegedly haunted house way out in the country, and there is something of a surprise ending. (Even then, I was trying to add the classic O. Henry touch to stories!) It was pretty standard, cliche-heavy material on which I ended up getting a B. At the time, I was thrilled to get such a high grade, but forty years later, I wish I would have devoted more time to developing the characters, plot, setting, and conflicts. I’m almost embarrassed by some of my naiveté demonstrated in my literary offering. But that was forty years ago, and I would like to think that I am a bit better than that now. 

I haven’t smoked in years, and I don’t even think they brew Golden Goebel anymore, but the memory of my collaborative effort and the end result forty years ago is a highlight on this sunny–but cold–wintry day. I’m glad I’ve maintained a folder to serve as an archive of various things I’ve written over the years. Without it, I would have completely forgotten about that melodramatic piece of fiction and the fun and adventure my friend and I shared for a couple of very late nights in a smoke-filled, beer-scented bedroom long ago!

It’s fun, and often idea inspiring, to dig back into the old folders of our lives. Things are stored there for a reason. As it turns out, a story written forty years ago is now on my desktop being rewritten, revised, and improved upon. Down that wonderful road we travel…MLA


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