Valley Gazette     

2013 Writing Prompt is: "The funniest thing happened in Auburn"

  Auburn Days Collection of Reflections  Home Reflections 1 Reflections 2 Reflections 3 Reflections 4 Reflections 5 Reflections 6 Reflections 7 Reflections 8


The Museum Piece


The clerk at Massey's Grocery Store looked down on my curly haired head. Like most five year old boys, I wasn't tall enough to see anything but the front of the counter, but I could see the shiny dime he was holding out to me. I took it, and knew exactly what to do. When I went shopping with my mother and baby brother I had often seen adults go to a mysterious machine on the wall and put coins into it. From a slot in the bottom they retrieved some unknown prize and went on their way.

I rushed over and pushed a chair up to the wall. I climbed up and put my dime into a slot—on a stamp machine. 

Fortunately my mother retrieved the gift by hitting the coin return button and guided me to the front of the store. There she put me on Sandy, a coin operated rocking horse. She placed my dime in the slot and I took my first of many rides on the fiberglass steed.

Even when I outgrew kid rides there was something special about seeing that weathered horse and remembering my first ride, a gift from a kindly checkout clerk. When Massey’s closed their doors and Sandy disappeared it was as if one small anchor of my childhood broke its chain and vanished into the depths.

Decades later the Massey's Grocery building passed through a life as a local family fun center and was finally remodeled into the Auburn Justice Center. Even though it was no longer the grocery store of my childhood it was good to see the structure and its distinctive fin-like marquee still in use. It was an Auburn icon and a reminder of my childhood.

But decades after Massey's and Sandy vanished I was visiting the White River Valley Museum with my wife. As I was browsing the exhibits I pointed out pictures of Northern Pacific railroad workers from the first half of the twentieth century. Although I couldn’t spot my Great-Grandfather, who was an engineer in that era, I did locate the bag of one conductor whom I knew had worked with him.

Then in a nearby exhibit I spotted a familiar fiberglass shape. It was a battered, dime operated, electric horse, much like my favorite steed that stood in front of Massey’s Grocery for so many years. When I looked at the plaque I was shocked to see that it was Sandy—the very same Sandy that I had first ridden as a five year old boy.

A lasting memory of my Auburn childhood still lives, but now as a silent museum piece


Dennis Brooke


Auburn Farmers Market exercise:

write an ode to a vegetable


crisp green bell peppers

            are fruits


not       vegetables


potatoes           no




but not the subject

of this poem



leafy heads in need of a trim

not poetic enough

to satisfy my earthy cravings


tulips cup the sky

with impossible color


rows     on rows     on rows

but not     in this     poem




hand made purses?


hand crafted jewelry?




the vegetable I choose


            is a poet


head filled with Summer

            staring dumbfound


at all the pretty colors



Brendan McBreen


Two Days To Remember in Auburn

 This story is about a sad day, June 18, 1997, when we lost beloved wife, Lura, and mother of our six children.  The happy day was about September 10th, 1999, when I decided to go for a hike with several dedicated Auburn Senior Activity Center (ASAC) hikers along with bus driver/activities director Radine.  I had crawled into a shell of self pity and a lack of self worth during the 2 year interim.  This change in personality was something new for this optimistic, positive thinking and relatively happy person.  It became time to take a hike and get my life back together.

 My first hike with ASAC on or about September 10th, 1999, to Packwood, Washington, turned my life around.  I met many first-class fellow senior citizens who showed me the way to follow a worthwhile program that changed my life at age 75.


These folks were all about having fun, sharing ache and pain stories in their lives, making friends, living the good life as older Americans and welcoming a newbie like myself with open arms.  I soon learned that hugs are a normal form of greeting among the senior hikers.  I hate to brag, but some of the senior ladies now rate me as one of the top huggers at the Auburn Senior Center.  The men there disagree, of course, but then who cares about what the men think?

Many life-changing events over the past thirteen years of ASAC membership and trail hiking have left me with many wonderful memories:  the beauty of nature and Mount Rainier as seen from the close-up hiking trails; an occasional deer doe with her fawn(s) strolling leisurely past the hikers; the marmots on the Paradise trails giving trespassers a shrill warning whistle when we near their homes among the rocks; the Multnomah and Silver Falls of Oregon; the camaraderie of our over-night hikers and the fun of sharing group housing over my past thirteen years—(Leavenworth I is my all-time favorite hike for laughs when four veteran hikers got lost on the Lake Valhalla trail near Stevens pass, finding themselves on the wrong trail and headed for either Canada or Mexico instead of the downward trail to the trailhead—they later returned safely as we all shared many hysterical laughs as we told and re-told the many funny things that happened); the exercise fitness program at ASAC; two special ladies who have inspired me to be the best that I can be in the fields of music, hiking, fitness, fun, being positive about life, etc.

 A new life begins when we formally retire at age 65 or whenever.  It becomes time to begin to enjoy the fun of senior living.  Life can be a blast—not a beginning of the end but rather the end of the beginning phase of our lives. Eliminate all stressful problems.

Get involved in fun stuff.  Bring happiness to others.  We are all but a grain of sand

in the desert eons of eternity.  Make your lives more worthwhile in giving back energies that have eluded you over younger years.

 Life can be more beautiful than ever.  You d’man, you d,woman.  Give senior life a happy shot in the arm.  Earth is a beautiful planet, a beautiful life as an American, and as Louie Armstrong would say—“It’s a beautiful world”.

Dick Richards

Age: 88






P.O. Box 2311

Auburn, WA 98071-2311