DiscoverBiographies & Memoirs

Wide and Wavy Out of Salamanca

By

Loved it! 😍

A veteran broadcaster and columnist writes about his life, his career, and the things he loves.

Synopsis

A poet is a noticer. Ira Joe Fisher is a poet and he notices. A song. A dog. A ride on a train (and how the track rumbles beneath your seat). Rubbish at the curb. Our world is a fascinating place and Fisher is fascinated by it. A blank sheet of paper begs for squiggles of ink. To note and to make sense of this world. To discover delight and laughing. The hazy past. The confounding present. A baseball. Falling snow. Crackling autumn. Hitchhiking. Spongy loam underfoot in a shady wood. A frog. A song and Christmas and the blessing of friendship. These essays rise from a life begun in a charming little valley . . . a life that has traveled the world and holds dear what is remembered. What is noticed. Ira Joe Fisher invites you into these essays. Sit. Slow. Savor. Spend time with a friend in a place you just might remember.

 The veteran writer, poet and broadcaster Ira Joe Fisher has compiled a series of essays from columns he has written for various publications. Perhaps not surprisingly, the portly reporter’s observations often concern food. His gustatory ruminations run from chowder to cashews (soup to nuts, as it were.) 


Almost every entry is a showcase for his wry humor; in a passage about a watch with no numbers on its face he observes: “If I want a blank disc on my wrist, I can always tape a Necco there.” His ability to go on for 1000 words or so about why he loves coffee, or a certain ink pen, displays an eye for detail and an ear for self-deprecating humor. He is Andy Rooney without the eyebrows.


In the opening essay, Soda Jerk, he muses over the arcane decorations in an anachronistic soda shop as he awaits a bowl of potato soup. But food is not his only focus. In the title essay, which is by far the longest, he celebrates his love of trains and the thrill of encountering the sudden blackout as a train unexpectedly enters a tunnel.


In Taking the Week Off, he writes an ironic column about not writing a column in which he refers to a place he calls the “Word Attic:" “…where words and phrases wait to be rescued and hugged and taken home.”


The typical writer, he has a love affair with words. He believes Pterodactyl is proof that dinosaurs had tiny brains—why else would they spell their name with a silent P? In Great Word(s), He tells of being at a poetry reading and getting so carried away by the word anemone that he misses the entire rest of the presentation.


His own poetic talents are often on display as when he refers to fallen leaves as “Flowers on the grave of summer.”


There are a few too many Sentences. Like. This. And a few too-many-phrases-like-this. And like the trains he loves, his essays wander off the track from time to time, but without the disastrous effects. Wide and Wavy is an enjoyable volume and one of the few books I’ve read recently that left me smiling at the end of each reading session.

Reviewed by

I am a writer and educator publishing fiction, essays, reviews and poetry. I write reviews for Wendy Welch's little bookstore at Big Stone gap blog. I am a writing teacher and workshop facilitator, and have published fiction, essays, reviews, poems and photographs.

Synopsis

A poet is a noticer. Ira Joe Fisher is a poet and he notices. A song. A dog. A ride on a train (and how the track rumbles beneath your seat). Rubbish at the curb. Our world is a fascinating place and Fisher is fascinated by it. A blank sheet of paper begs for squiggles of ink. To note and to make sense of this world. To discover delight and laughing. The hazy past. The confounding present. A baseball. Falling snow. Crackling autumn. Hitchhiking. Spongy loam underfoot in a shady wood. A frog. A song and Christmas and the blessing of friendship. These essays rise from a life begun in a charming little valley . . . a life that has traveled the world and holds dear what is remembered. What is noticed. Ira Joe Fisher invites you into these essays. Sit. Slow. Savor. Spend time with a friend in a place you just might remember.

Soda Jerk

“Professional Building.” The words were carved into the granite lintel. Professional Building. Reassuring. I’d have hesitated to enter an amateur building. So enter I did. And I was whooshed back in time. Right into an old, sagging drugstore with a soda fountain. In the twenty-first century ... a soda fountain! I swear I heard laughter roiling the air from people named Emmie Lou and Boober; Harlow and Fern.

I was in a northern Vermont village. A late-morning lunch in this clean and ancient place seemed a great idea. I sat on a stool and asked for a cup of potato soup. As I waited, I looked around. There was a Coca-Cola machine—red and rounded with a here-and-there dent. On the wall behind it a handwritten sign announced, “5 cent Cokes are back: one per person, one per day.” A bargain to be sure. And unambiguous. You want a nickel Coke? Fine. Just don’t expect a second one. ’Til tomorrow.

Off in the small kitchen (from which wafted intimations of grilled cheese and “we only serve well-done” burgers) I spotted uncut loaves of just-baked bread in glinting plastic bags. They were so appealing they could almost restore a carb’s good name.

As my soup vigil continued, my eye traveled to another sign on the wall: “New menus are out”—at first I thought this meant the new menus were gone, but I read on. “Be sure to check our newly added items.” “New” and “newly” felt a tad forced in their cheery adjective and adverb insistence in so old-fashioned a setting.

I had a favorite book with me and I could have opened it while waiting, but there was more to ponder from the wall in this aged drugstore soda fountain. I swiveled my attention a few degrees to the ice cream sector. This boasted the obligatory and universal chocolate and vanilla. You could enjoy “cookies ’n cream,” a flavor that troubled me because of its missing second apostrophe. Vermonters are usually so good at contractions. There was “butter crunch” and “rum raisin.” But then I spotted the regional reasons we love New England: “deer tracks” and “moose tracks” and ... “dinosaur crunch.” Now, those are flavors!

Okay, I confess that my first glance alarmed me into reading “deer tracks” as “deer ticks” and the notion of Lyme disease zagged through my brain. “Moose tracks” brought me back to whimsical reality. There are moose everywhere in northern Vermont. Artistically, that is. There are moose warnings along the highways. Moose silhouettes on sweatshirts. Paintings of moose on garages and barns. Little plush mooses in gift shops. Sorry ... shoppes. The beloved friends with whom my wife, Shelly, and I were staying even took us on an afternoon ramble along dirt roads in search of bona fide moose. We saw none, but in a village diner I enjoyed a cup of potato soup. I was thinking of that earlier cup when my latest cup arrived. Another potato soup. Steaming, creamy, exquisite. With a mysterious, faint crunch. I closed my eyes in pleasure and wondered, Is that a dinosaur crunch? Well, no. Just the crackers, I added.

I paid my tab—$1.95—and rose to leave. My gaze fell on one final hand-lettered sign. It was on the coat rack. The sign said, “Coat Rack.” I wasn’t surprised. Remember: I was in a professional building.

About the author

Ira Joe Fisher grew up in Little Valley, NY. He regularly appeared in the long-running musical The Fantasticks and, for many years, on CBS Television’s Early Show. He teaches poetry and literature at the University of Connecticut and Mercy College. Ira and his wife, Shelly, live in Connecticut. view profile

Published on March 15, 2020

Published by Athanata Arts, Ltd.

50000 words

Genre: Biographies & Memoirs

Reviewed by

Enjoyed this review?

Get early access to fresh indie books and help decide on the bestselling stories of tomorrow. Create your free account today.

or

Or sign up with an email address

Create your account

Or sign up with your social account