Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey

Baby Formula from the 1950s Housewife

I was in the beauty salon getting my hair cut yesterday, and all the ladies were on fire about the current national shortage of baby formula. This shortage has been going on for a while but recently worsened with the recall of Similac baby formula products a few months ago. The news media has been reporting on the shortage, otherwise, unless you have babies or grand-babies, you probably wouldn’t know anything about it.

Similac PM 60/40 Lot# 27032K80 was voluntarily recalled by Abbott Laboratories after customer complaints about infants becoming infected with Salmonella (Cronobacter sakazakii) and after one infant died.

My husband reminded me that when the CEO of a baby formula company in China was indicted for producing bad batches of baby formula in 2008 that poisoned 300,000 Chinese infants and killed six, he was executed by the Chinese Communist Party. The formula contained melamine, a toxic substance that was used to increase protein levels.

And I clearly remember the complaints against Nestle in the 1970s when the company urged third world women, particularly in Africa, to stop breast-feeding and use their baby formula products. This turned into a huge scandal which the company is still trying to live down.

Although commercial baby formula products have been around since the 1800s, breast-feeding is still considered by pediatricians to provide the best nutrition for infants. Breast-feeding popularity has gone through phases, however. Post-World War II, breast-feeding lost some of its attraction for middle-class housewives, and more women were in the workforce, so homemade baby formulas became the norm. This held true into the 1960s, when more advanced baby formulas came onto the market. In the 1970s, women’s groups demanded a return to breast-feeding as the more desirable source of nutrition for infants. Today, breast-feeding and formula use go hand-in-hand. Some women are unable to produce enough milk naturally and must supplement with formula. Some babies have special digestive problems or allergies and require special formulas.

**Some women, frustrated with the shortage of commercial baby formula, are making their own based on a 1950s recipe that was the standard for that time. Here’s the recipe, but I am not recommending that anybody use it. All mothers should check with their pediatricians before using it. The formula may not contain all the nutritional requirements that babies need. Infants have a sensitive digestive tract and may develop digestive issues or be allergic.**

In the 1950s, a housewife would make enough for the entire day (24 ounces) and divide it into 6 sterilized baby bottles (4 ounces each). She would refrigerate all bottles until needed.

1950s Standard Baby Formula

13 ounces evaporated milk

20 ounces water

2 tablespoons Karo corn syrup

Heat and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate.

The 1950s doctor would prescribe liquid vitamins and iron for the baby to ensure that he or she was getting the proper nutrition. **Consult your pediatrician before giving vitamins and iron to your infant.**

Feeding Schedule

The normal schedule was to feed the baby every 4 hours, at 6 am, 10 am, 2 pm, 6 pm, 10 pm, and 2 am. I don’t know when Mom got to sleep! But the breast-feeding schedule can be even more rigorous, with baby getting fed every 2 to 4 hours.

The evaporated milk in the formula contained Vitamin D to prevent rickets. To prevent scurvy, baby was started on a solution of orange juice at 3 weeks, with the typical ratio being 1 tablespoon orange juice to 1 tablespoon water. Baby received this solution at least once a day. **(Please consult with your pediatrician before giving your infant juices and solids. The current recommendation is to wait until a baby is one year old before giving him or her orange juice.)** In addition, mom was expected to offer baby boiled, cooled water in-between feedings to prevent dehydration.

A typical baby schedule in the 1950s:

The term “hold out” is confusing, but it apparently means to hold the baby out to facilitate with passing urine, feces, and gas. Fresh air and sunshine were important components of the baby’s day, something which still holds true now. Don’t forget the sunscreen, sun hat, and clothing! I don’t know if anybody puts their baby outside to sleep anymore. I would certainly suggest that mom or another adult stay with the baby, if they do.

The importance of a schedule is to teach kids regular habits, discipline, and responsibility, but later parenting methods called for a looser lifestyle for both baby and parents. Of course, babies are all individuals with their own likes and dislikes. Some babies willingly go along with a schedule, while others don’t. And that’s okay!

Dawn Pisturino

May 12, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

**REMEMBER TO CONSULT WITH YOUR PEDIATRICIAN BEFORE CHANGING YOUR INFANT’S FORMULA, USING HOMEMADE FORMULA, AND CHANGING THE FOOD INTRODUCTION SCHEDULE (WHAT TYPES OF FOODS AN INFANT SHOULD EAT AT WHAT AGE). THE BABY’S DIGESTIVE TRACT CANNOT TOLERATE SOME FOODS AT AN EARLY AGE OR MAY DEVELOP ALLERGIES.**

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Children’s Story: “Caitlin II”

(Photo by Vitolda Klein, Unsplash)

The next part of the assignment for my children’s literature writing class was to write a children’s story based on the child I had observed. (See previous post.)

Children’s Story: “Caitlin II”

by Dawn Pisturino

I wasn’t surprised when Jenny told me that her parents are getting a divorce. It seems like every kid I know comes from a broken home. Jenny’s parents fight a lot, and I’ve seen her break down and cry in the girls’ restroom because of it. Don’t parents understand how unhappy they make their kids?

She hopes they’ll make it up and stay together, and I hope they do, too. Jenny is a nice girl with a bright future, and I hate to see her so unhappy.

Why do families have to split up? Why can’t they just love each other and stay together?

My Aunt Lucy and Uncle Tommy got a divorce. I never see Uncle Tommy anymore. He moved to the East Coast and got a new job. Aunt Lucy cried a lot, and my cousin Jeremy got into trouble for stealing money from the neighbor next door. After his father left, he was angry for a long time. I haven’t seen him since last Christmas, but Mom told me that he ran away from home one night and got beat up by a local gang. I’m afraid that someday something really bad will happen to him, and I’ll never see him again.

I love my father, and if he ever left, I think I would die. Just the thought makes me want to cry.

It scared me when my little brother got real sick. His face was red, and his skin was hot, and he slept a lot. Mom rushed him to the emergency room, and he had to stay in the hospital until he got better. I didn’t see Mom for a few days because she stayed in the hospital with him.

Dad and I took care of each other, though. We made dinner together every night, and one night, we went out for pizza. I told him all about my classes in school, the new girl who moved in down the street, and the cute boy I met at the library. I was embarrassed to talk about the cute boy, but Dad just laughed and didn’t tease me at all. I really loved him for that.

~

Sunday, May 8, 2022, is Mother’s Day. HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

Dawn Pisturino

July 8, 2008; May 6, 2022

Copyright 2008-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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Child Observation Notes: “Caitlin I”

(Photo by Vitolda Klein, Unsplash)

The assignment for my children’s literature writing class was to find a child that I did not personally know, observe the child, and to take notes. Trying not to look like some kind of pervert, I sat in the children’s section at Barnes & Noble, chose a little girl who was about 12 years old, and took notes on her appearance, body language, behavior, interactions with others, and anything else that seemed important.

Child Observation Notes

by Dawn Pisturino

There was nothing extraordinary about the young girl sitting on the carpeted floor with her knees bent, an open storybook in her lap. She looked like a typical American teenage girl with her slinky blond hair swept back into a high ponytail, a short-sleeved green tee clinging tightly to small, firm breasts, and white sneakers protruding from the legs of crisp blue jeans.

A small boy with sandy hair who looked about three years old sat on the floor to her right, eagerly listening to the story she was reading. A girl about five years old with light brown curls stood impatiently to her left, energetically bouncing up and down with one finger in her mouth as the girl turned the pages of the book.

The girl, who could have been named Caitlin, smiled brightly as she read to her younger brother and sister. An aura of simple goodness radiated like the points of a shiny white star from her smooth, unblemished face. Her small, impish nose wrinkled up with laughter, and her hazel eyes sparkled with mischief as she pointed her finger at a silly picture. She held up the book so both siblings could get a clearer view.

When the younger boy and girl grew tired of the book, they scampered off. Their mother turned from her conversation with the sales clerk and said something sharp, but Caitlin answered lightly, ” Don’t worry, I’ll take care of them. Nothing will happen.” She followed them around the colorful racks of children’s books, unhurried and untroubled, showing no signs of resentment or frustration at being held responsible for her younger brother and sister.

She was slim and light on her feet, her posture fully erect. She could have been a young dancer or gymnast. With graceful movements, she picked up her younger brother and whirled him around in the air, making him squeal with delight, while his curly-headed sister danced around and begged for a turn.

It was a touching glimpse of family bonding and a rare reminder that happy families do, indeed, exist.

~

The next part of the assignment was to write a short story based on this profile, which I will present in the next post.

Thanks for reading! Writing for children can be fun and rewarding.

Dawn Pisturino

July 8, 2008; May 5, 2022

Copyright 2008-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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Jennifer’s Jar – A Short Story

(Photo from The Cary Company, http://www.thecarycompany.com)

Jennifer’s Jar

by Dawn Pisturino

On the morning of her tenth birthday, Jennifer received the strangest gift she had ever seen – a large glass jar.

It looks like a mayonnaise jar, Jennifer thought. But why did someone – or something – send it to her?

When she unscrewed the lid and peered inside, she saw nothing at all. Sniffing it produced no odor. The inside of the jar was perfectly dry. She shook it, rolled it, and turned it upside-down. Nothing happened.

All in all, it was an ordinary glass jar with no label on the front or printing on the lid. So, she decided to use it.

“I’ll fill it with water and add blue food coloring,” Jennifer said. “Some plastic fish would look nice. I’ll make an aquarium!”

But when she tried to pour water into the jar, the water wouldn’t go in! It spilled all over the countertop. She used a whole roll of paper towels cleaning it up. And the jar was still empty.

“I’ll fill it with marbles,” Jennifer decided.

She found her brother’s big bag of marbles and tried to pour them into the jar. But the marbles wouldn’t go in! They scattered all over the kitchen floor. It took twenty minutes to find all those marbles and refill the marble bag. And the jar was still empty.

“Oh, well,” Jennifer sighed. “Bobby would probably be mad anyway.”

Sand! How about sand?

For Christmas, Jennifer had received a craft kit filled with different types of colored sand. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to use it.

Using one of her mother’s kitchen funnels, she tried to pour pink sand into the jar. But the sand wouldn’t go in! It spilled, like pink sugar, all over the countertop. She cleaned it up with a wet dishcloth. And the jar was still empty.

Frustrated, Jennifer threw the dishcloth into the sink. “What am I going to do with an empty glass jar that won’t fill? I may as well throw it away.”

She tossed it into the trashcan, but lo and behold, here it came, bouncing out of the trashcan and into her hands again!

Terrified, Jennifer threw the jar onto the floor, smashing it into a million pieces.

A loud belching noise filled the air, and a small cloud of stinky black smoke rose up from the pieces of glass. “Ugh! Smells like a big fart!” Jennifer cried, pinching her nose. “Smells like Sissy’s poopy diapers! No wonder the jar wouldn’t fill!” As the cloud rose, it grew larger and larger until it was nearly as big as Jennifer herself.

“I’m out of here!” Jennifer yelled as she ran for the front door. But the big, stinky, black cloud followed her. She raced into the front yard, where a gust of wind caught the big, black cloud and spirited it away.

Relieved, Jennifer returned to the kitchen just in time to hear her mother say, “Jennifer, you’re in big trouble this time!”

Dawn Pisturino

2012; May 4, 2022

Copyright 2012-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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The Zen of Cats

(from Pinterest)

February 20, 2009: When our fourteen-year-old Siamese-calico cat was peeing on the rug and having occasional bowel movements in dark corners, my husband and I couldn’t wait until she died. Peace at last, we thought. No more litter boxes, no more cat whining, no more scrubbing the carpet. But as the time drew nearer, she seemed to sense that her days were winding down. She suddenly became very affectionate and wanted to sit on my lap for hours at a time. She wanted to be petted and cuddled and to stay near me all the time. She laid with my husband on the couch, hung out with him in the computer room, and slept on top of us at night, even in the heat of summer. But she was losing weight and going downhill fast. I held her in my lap and cried, finally realizing that we were going to lose her one of these days. In spite of her annoying, constant meowing and soiling the carpet, no matter what I did to stop it, I was going to miss her.

It all happened very fast. One day, she could barely walk, and she cried when she tried to stand up. She was sleeping more and more. I didn’t want to accept it, but we finally had to make a difficult decision.

We took her to the vet to have her put down. I held her in a towel in my arms, crying my eyes out. The vet was extremely busy, and it was obviously an inconvenient time for her, but she patiently explained the procedure, agreeing that it was probably the best thing to do. We stayed with our cat throughout the whole procedure, telling her how much we loved her. I hope she understood from the tone of our voices that we truly cared about her. I had lost my temper so many times when she soiled the carpet, I wanted to make sure she knew that we loved her, in spite of the problems between us.

Instead of earning our freedom from litter boxes and gaining peace of mind, we sat in front of the TV set listening for the cat. The house was just too darned quiet. Something had died inside of us, and life seemed very dull. We suddenly realized just how important she was and how much she had dominated our life for the last fourteen years.

After a couple of months, we happened to take our dog to the vet and fell in love with every cat and kitten we saw. Was it time to take the plunge and get another cat? We discussed it thoroughly and ran into the vet’s the next day to adopt an adorable tortoise shell kitten who was obviously the runt of the litter. She was in a cage with a larger black male kitten, and they were cuddled up together like the best of friends. We didn’t have the heart to part them, so we took both kittens.

Were we crazy? We started out with no cats and ended up with two kittens! After a few days, we were in love. How did we ever think we could live without a cat — let alone, two?

After a hard day at work, my favorite way to relieve stress is to curl up in the easy chair with one or two kittens on my lap. My stress just melts away.

Our cats are loving, sweet, funny, and unpredictable. They bring life into the house. And yes, we still have to clean out the litter box. But somehow, we don’t seem to mind so much.

April 26, 2022: After 12 years, we finally had to put our black cat down. He was dying of liver cancer. It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do. He was my baby, my special boy, my therapy cat. I thought I was going to die, it was so painful. Even though it’s been a year now, I still cry when I think of him. The interesting thing is that our little tortoise shell cat, who has been hell on wheels, has taken his place in so many ways! She now lets me cuddle her, something she never would allow before. We’ve grown very close. We also have an older cat who is attached to my husband. She always viewed me as competition for my husband’s affection. But, since my little black cat has been gone, she has become much more loving and friendly and sits near me in the computer room and watches me while I’m using the computer. She’s 16 years old, and I always thought she would be the first one to go. But life doesn’t always turn out the way we expect.

Dawn Pisturino, RN
February 20, 2009; April 26, 2022

Copyright 2009-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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Brother Bear’s Baby-Sitting Adventure

(Photo by Nathan Dumlao, Unsplash)

Brother Bear’s Baby-Sitting Adventure

by Dawn Pisturino

Brother Bear groaned. “I don’t wanna baby-sit! Sister Bear always gets me into trouble!”

“Now, now,” said Mama Bear. “I have to take Baby Bear to the doctor. I’m counting on you to take care of Sister Bear.”

“Can we make chocolate chip cookies when you get home?” Brother Bear asked.

Mother Bear laughed. “We’ll see,” she said.

After Mother Bear left with Baby Bear, Brother Bear turned on the TV so Sister Bear could watch her favorite cartoons.

“I’m hungry,” Sister Bear said. “Can I please have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?”

Brother Bear made a face. “Okay – since you said please.”

“You’re the best big brother in the world!” Sister Bear said.

Brother Bear went to the kitchen. He made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and put it on a green plate. He poured a big glass of milk. He carried the green plate and the glass of milk into the living-room for Sister Bear. Sister Bear was gone!

“Sister Bear!” Brother Bear called. But nobody answered.

Brother Bear put the green plate and glass of milk on a table. He ran down the hallway to look for Sister Bear.

First, he looked in Sister Bear’s room. There were lots of dolls on Sister Bear’s pink bed – but no Sister Bear.

Then, he looked in Baby Bear’s room. There were lots of stuffed animals in Baby Bear’s white crib – but no Sister Bear.

Brother Bear knocked on the bathroom door. “Sister Bear, are you in there?”

He heard water running.

Sister Bear squealed with delight. “Wheeeee! I love bubbles! Lots and lots of bubbles!”

Brother Bear groaned. What was he going to do? Mama Bear would be home soon. Brother Bear tried to open the bathroom door. But it was locked.

“Sister Bear, open the door!” Brother Bear yelled.

“I’m taking a bubble bath all by myself,” Sister Bear said. “Wheeeee!”

Brother Bear heard Sister Bear splashing in the water. He heard the water running in the bathtub.

I have to get in there and turn off the water, Brother Bear thought. But how?

The window. Could he climb through the bathroom window? He decided to try.

Brother Bear ran outside and found the bathroom window. It was open. But Brother Bear was not tall enough to climb through the window.

He found an old wooden chair. He placed it under the bathroom window. He stood on top of the chair. Now, he was tall enough to climb through the window.

Sister Bear laughed when she saw Brother Bear climb through the window. She blew bubbles at him with her bubble wand.

The water in the bathtub was beginning to run on the floor. Bubbles floated everywhere!

Brother Bear turned off the water in the bathtub. He was mad.

“Look at the mess you made!” Brother Bear shouted. “Mama Bear’s gonna be mad!”

Sister Bear began to cry.

Brother Bear opened the bathroom door. He heard a noise in the kitchen. Mama Bear was home.

What should he do?

Brother Bear grabbed some towels from the linen closet and threw them on the bathroom floor. He cleaned up all the water with the towels. Then he pulled the plug in the bathtub.

Sister Bear laughed as the water went gurgle-gurgle down the drain. She climbed out of the bathtub. Brother Bear dried her with a towel. He helped her to get dressed.

Brother Bear took Sister Bear to the living-room and put her in a chair.

“Here’s your peanut butter and jelly sandwich,” Brother Bear said.

Mama Bear came into the living-room. “How did it go?” she asked.

Sister Bear became excited. “Brother Bear let me take a bubble bath all by myself. And he made the best peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the world. I love Brother Bear!”

Mama Bear looked happy. “You did a good job, Brother Bear. Let’s go make chocolate chip cookies.”

Dawn Pisturino

May 2008; March 31, 2022

Copyright 2008-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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Remarkable Mr. Tibbs

(Photo from Pixabay)

Caitlin finished hosing down the empty dog kennel before turning off the water and removing her grimy work gloves. Her black sneakers felt damp, mud streaked her brand-new jeans, and long strands of corn silk hair had come loose from her ponytail. She was tired and hungry and ready to go home. “I’m finished, Grandma,” she called.

Dr. Rosemary Grant poked her curly gray head out the back door of the animal hospital and smiled. “You’re a good helper, Caitlin. I’ll take you home now.”

As they approached Caitlin’s house, a streak of yellow raced into the street. Her grandma slammed on the brakes, but they both felt the sickening thud.

“Mr. Tibbs!” Caitlin cried, jumping out of the car. She knelt on the asphalt where a yellow mass of fur smeared with blood lay sprawled. The eyes were closed. The chest barely moved.

Caitlin’s grandma knelt to examine the still form. “Get that old blanket from the back of the car,” she instructed without looking up.

Caitlin grabbed the blanket and handed it to her grandmother. “Will he be okay?”

“I don’t know,” she said gravely. “He’s seriously injured. We might have to put him down.”

“No!”

“He’s suffering, Caitlin. Do you want him to suffer?”

“No,” Caitlin sobbed, “but you’re a doctor. You’re supposed to try and save him!”

Very gently, as if wrapping a delicate Christmas ornament in tissue paper, Dr. Grant wrapped the injured cat in the woolen blanket and laid him in Caitlin’s arms. “We’ll take him to the clinic, and I’ll see what I can do. But don’t get your hopes up.”

* * *

Mr. Tibbs lay listlessly in a padded basket, his green eyes glazed over. “Grandma gave him some pain medicine,” Caitlin explained to her parents. She gingerly lifted the wounded yellow cat out of the basket and cradled him in her arms. His left front leg was missing. In its place was a small stump with tiny black stitches. His right front leg was limp, twisted, and useless.

“He’s crippled,” her mother said, wringing her hands. “What are we going to do with him?”

“He’ll never live a normal life again,” her father said. His steel gray eyes appeared grim. “Maybe this wasn’t a good idea. If he can’t adjust to his disabilities, we’ll have to put him down.”

* * *

Mr. Tibbs sniffed eagerly at the catnip toy in Caitlin’s hand, his green eyes glowing with expectation when she tossed it several inches in front of him on the tile floor. He eyed the toy warily, his tail flicking back and forth. Then, with one big push of his hind legs, he thrust himself forward onto his chin and chest, knocking into the toy and pushing it away. He rested a moment, breathing heavily, and tried again. Now the toy was encircled by his limp front leg. He opened his jaws and picked it up.

Caitlin scratched his furry yellow head. “Good boy, Mr. Tibbs. You did it.” She took the catnip toy from his mouth and offered him a treat, but he turned his head away and closed his eyes.

* * *

“He’s not improving,” Caitlin complained to her grandmother on the phone. “He just lays there. He won’t even try to get up unless I coax him.”

“Give him time, honey. He’s been through a terrible experience, and now his independence is gone. He has to learn how to survive all over again.”

“But if he doesn’t get better soon, Dad will have him put down.”

“It might be better in the long run,” her grandmother said.

Discouraged, Caitlin hung up the phone. Despite all of her best efforts, Mr. Tibbs was barely able to scoot a few feet across the floor. He refused to eat, and he was still unable to use the litter box. “Thank goodness we have tile floors,” her mother kept harping. “I don’t know what we would do if we had carpeting.”

Maybe Dad is right. Maybe it’s better to put him down.

She searched for him in the kitchen and laundry room. Where is he, she thought. But as she walked through the living-room door, she witnessed a remarkable sight: Mr. Tibbs was sitting up on his back haunches like a dog, his useless foreleg hanging limp and twisted in front of him, biting at the air with his powerful jaws and trying to catch a pesky fly that buzzed around his head. The fly flew away, but Mr. Tibbs remained sitting upright on his haunches. Then, with one great effort, he propelled himself onto the sofa with his strong back legs.

Caitlin flew across the room, scooped up the startled cat, and covered his furry head with kisses. “You are the most remarkable cat in the world!”

Later, when Caitlin climbed the stairs to bed, she was surprised to hear a thumping sound behind her on the stairs. She stopped and turned around. Mr. Tibbs was using his muscular back legs to clumsily propel himself up the stairs. “Come on, boy, you can do it,” she said. Slowly, he pushed himself step-by-step up the stairs until he lay exhausted at her feet.

“Dad, come here,” she called excitedly.

The first time he used the litter box, Caitlin beamed with pride. She offered him some bits of tuna fish which he eagerly ate from her hand.

One Saturday afternoon, Caitlin’s father answered the front door. A young man with sandy hair and freckles stood on the front porch with a small notebook in his hand and a camera slung over his shoulder. “Does Mr. Tibbs live here?” he said. “My name is Josh White, reporter with The Somerville Daily Bugle.”

Caitlin’s father chuckled. “Come in, Mr. White.”

Mr. Tibbs sat on his haunches in the middle of the living-room snapping his jaws at a piece of green yarn that Caitlin was dangling over his head.

“Hold that pose,” Mr. White said, flashing his camera.

The photo appeared the next day on the front page of The Somerville Daily Bugle above the story about a remarkable cat that was rescued from a terrible accident by a skilled veterinarian and saved from a life of helplessness by a dedicated twelve-year-old girl. Caitlin kept the newspaper clipping in her special drawer and read it every night before going to sleep.

Purring loudly, Mr. Tibbs stretched out his long body on the bed and yawned, one tired and contented cat.

* * *

Incredibly, Remarkable Mr. Tibbs is based on a true story. British naturalist Philip Brown owned a cat named Uncle Whiskers that survived a terrible car accident. Just like Mr. Tibbs, his left front leg was amputated and his right front leg was paralyzed. This amazing cat adapted so well to his disabilities, he was able to catch moths, rats, and even rabbits. Mr. Brown was so astounded, he wrote a book entitled Uncle Whiskers which is still avidly read by cat lovers today.

Want to read more stories about disabled pets? Visit http://www.petswithdisabilities.org.

Works Cited

Brown, Philip. Uncle Whiskers. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1974.

“Pets With Disabilities”. http://www.petswithdisabilities.org. Accessed 9/16/2008.

Dawn Pisturino

October 2008; March 30, 2022

Copyright 2008-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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Rite of Passage

(Photo by Gil Ribeiro, Unsplash)

I wrote this for the Binnacle 2008 Ultra-Short Writing Challenge, which asked for a 150-word story:

As the train pulled away from the station, Carrie looked through the window at her father standing lost and forlorn on the wooden platform. “I’ll be back,” she had said, hugging him tightly and kissing him warmly on the cheek. But as the train chugged slowly down the track, she knew in her heart that she would never come back. With tears in her eyes, she waved at him one last time, painfully aware of the worried expression in his tired blue eyes, the stooped shoulders, the crumpled old sweater. Who will take care of him now, she wondered. But as the train moved faster down the track, so did her thoughts, leaping ahead to the eager young man waiting anxiously for her at the end of the line and the new life they would begin together. She closed her eyes, remembering his gentle words of love, and cried. (149 words)

Dawn Pisturino

January 2008; March 29, 2022

Copyright 2008-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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Brother Sun, Sister Moon

A Story of Sibling Rivalry and Bullying Based on a Cuban Folktale

by Dawn Pisturino

A long time ago, Sun and Moon lived in a deep, dark cave on an island in the Caribbean Sea. 

Sun could not bear to live in such claustrophobic quarters. Day and night he paced the floor, grumbling and complaining, until one morning he said to Moon: “Sister, this cave is too small, and our light is too bright. It’s blinding both of us! You’re smaller and weaker than I am. You must leave and find a new home.”

“Me!” Moon retorted, stamping her tiny silver feet. “This cave belongs to both of us. Since you’re so unhappy, you move out!”

Sun said no more. He paced back and forth, wringing his hands until they were raw. Glimpsing his reflection in the mirror he shrieked, “Look what you’ve done to me! My face is breaking out with sunspots!”

“What do I care,” Moon responded. “I’m not leaving, and that’s final.”

Enraged, Sun loomed over Moon, his face growing redder and hotter until bright orange flames shot from his fingers and toes and the ends of his hair.

“Stop it, Sun!” Moon cried, shielding her face with her arms. “You’re scorching me with your hot flares!”

Moon waxed and waned with terror, moaning in pain, until Sun grabbed her silver locks and threw her out of the cave. “And never come back again!” he roared.

Leaning against a banana tree, Moon wept until her full, shiny face shrank to a thin silver crescent.

Air, grieved by Moon’s distress, wrapped the pale, weak maiden in her arms and carried her into the sky above. “You’ll be safe here,” she reassured Moon. “The stars won’t mind sharing a little space with you.”

But Moon, ashamed of her scorched face, hid behind a passing cloud.

The stars welcomed Moon and tried to make friends with her. Gradually, Moon’s scorched face healed, and she peered out from behind the cloud. She revealed more and more of her radiant face until it lit up the sky with soft, silvery light.

Sun burned with jealousy when he heard about his sister’s spacious new home. “I’ll show her!” he fumed; and leaped into the air. 

Blanching with fear, Moon shielded her face from Sun’s blazing wrath and raced across the sky until she disappeared from view.

Sun proudly took her place, filling the sky with so much brilliant fire the stars covered their eyes and ran away.

One evening, feeling bereft, Sun left the sky to search the cave where he and Moon had once lived together. As he approached the entrance, Moon suddenly appeared. Overcome by remorse, Sun pleaded with her to return with him to the sky. “There’s plenty of room for both of us,” he said.

But Moon could not forget her brother’s bad behavior. “I hate you!” she shouted. “You’re nothing but a big bully! I could never live with you again!” And so saying, she leaped into the air, leaving Sun standing all alone at the mouth of the cave.

Dawn Pisturino

2012; March 22, 2022

Copyright 2012-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.      





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My Irish Ancestors

(Antrim, County Antrim, Northern Ireland)

My 5th great-grandfather, John McInally, was born in Antrim, County Antrim, Northern Ireland in 1760. His father, Owen McInally, was a flax grower. John was a weaver by trade. He married Sarah Dobbin in 1780 and emigrated to Grand Island, Quebec, Canada in 1781. His first son, John, was born aboard ship on the way over.

In Canada, John worked the cattle boats along the St. Lawrence River. One day, in 1827, when he was trying to control the steer, he fell overboard and drowned. His wife, Sarah, prowled the riverbanks, calling his name, unable to accept the possibility of his death. But he was, indeed, drowned and later buried in the cemetery at Notre Dame Catholic Church in Quebec. Sarah was forced by poverty to adopt out her five boys to other families. Although the boys were baptized Catholic, they only found homes in Protestant families and were brought up as such. Broken-hearted by the loss of her family, Sarah soon followed her husband to the grave.

Like America, Canada was colonized by immigrants from France, the British Isles, and other nations. After the American Revolution, many Loyalists to the British Crown emigrated north. Although I live in America, I have a lot of relatives in Canada – mostly around Ontario – from both sides of the family. Before COVID, they held a huge family reunion every year. Although invited, I never went. Maybe one of these days, I’ll get there!

Dawn Pisturino

March 15, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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