Memoir class prompts

I’ve been attending a memoir class for almost a year at my new senior living community. I love the class and have written some interesting essays as a result. I thought I’d share a couple of recent ones with my readers.

One prompt was to write about a best friend. My response was this:

A First Best Friend

Early during my Swift Elementary grammar school years I met Phyllis. She lived down the block from me at a residential hotel – the Sovereign – on Kenmore Avenue in the northside of Chicago. She was tall, had short curly blonde hair, and a pale complexion. In those days I had long dark brown hair and I was short, chubby, and olive skinned. But that didn’t stop me and Phyllis from becoming friends. I had to walk right by her hotel to go to school, so I would pick her up and we would walk together. Two other girls in our class – Vicky and Lynn – also lived at the Sovereign, and although we were friendly with them, we didn’t invite them to walk with us.

Phyllis lived with her mother and her so-called aunt in a tiny two-bedroom apartment. Her aunt was a caterer who called herself The Duchess and her mother worked for her. They shared one of the bedrooms and Phyllis had her own. That’s where we would play. Although we would sometime play in my room at the large four-bedroom apartment where I lived about a block east – also on Kenmore Avenue.

Our play consisted of sitting at a little wooden table and drawing – mostly high heeled shoes. Phyllis was the better drawer then, but she patiently showed me her technique. Soon we were both designing and drawing pairs and pairs of high heeled shoes and I must say they looked pretty good. In those days I loved high heels. I would go shoe shopping with my mom and cry if she didn’t buy the pairs I picked out for her.

Phyllis and I carried over our love of high heels to our walks to school. We pretended we were grown up ladies walking on tip toes to emulate the high heels, carried little purses and having conversations we thought were very adult. We did that for months, never minding how many times we were late for school because of our play acting.

We both also played the piano and performed for her mother and aunt and my parents whenever they asked. We were both pretty good at that too, so it was a kind of competition. My playing Malaguena – probably a simplified version – was what most impressed them.

Unfortunately, Phyllis’ family and Vicky’s family got together and bought a house in the suburbs and they moved out of the hotel. I might have seen her one time after they moved, but that was it. About a year later at the time I turned eleven, my family sold their apartment building and bought a house in another suburb. We moved too, and I left my Chicago grammar school high-heeled walks behind.


The second prompt I’ll share today was to write about when I felt the most fabulous. My response was this:


My new husband and I honeymooned in Hawaii and stayed at three fabulous hotels on three of the islands. We took advantage of the pool at each of them with me in a skimpy bikini – at least what was thought of as skimpy over fifty years ago.

Bob was helping me tie my bikini top so I could get up from the lounge chair while we were at our Oahu hotel – at that time called The Kahala Hilton, when a man came over to say hello – someone I hadn’t seen in a few years. It turns out he had been one of my lovers – a disc jockey and an actor. He told us he was in Hawaii filming Hawaii Five-O. He was very tall – six foot four. I used to have to stand on a chair to kiss him back in the time we were dating.

That Bob and I were there together made me feel so proud and happy and so removed from this person who had thrown me out like spoiled food.

When we told him we were on our honeymoon he took some photos of us with me looking pretty good in my bikini. He even made an overture for us to get together at the bar that evening. Once we said goodbye, Bob and I agreed we had no desire to meet with this guy and share our honeymoon with him.


  1. Joyce Goldberg says

    Very good reads…thanks for posting them. You must wow your memoir class!

Speak Your Mind