Archive for May, 2013

Only one you…

Serenah Photography takes the best pictures.  She usually features a little black dachshund in some cute costume or pose.  This one in particular is special because of the message it says:  Be Strong.  Be Confident.  Be You.


As in my memoir classes I teach that it is so important to share our stories because there is only one you in all of the universe.  No one can tell your story and how you felt about your story but you.


Tuesday I taught a great class at IVHP and this was the first time this group of 6 had met and wrote together.  It was great seeing how when they each shared their stories they could relate and find a common ground.


Start today by beginning to write and share your story!photo (13)

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Amherst Training Report…

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Our wonderful teachers, Maureen and Jan

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bottom row: Sarah, Luna and Michele
top row: Jennifer, Marta and Carrie

Last week I had the privilege and honor of getting trained in the Amherst Writers and Artist’s Method.  I can’t ever remember going to a training that wasn’t as good as this was.  My fellow writer’s were so inspirational.  The teachers were phenomenal and the setting was heavenly.  I look forward to teaching some Amherst Method classes this summer and in the fall.

I will be spending 10 days getting immersed in this method in Greece this summer, so when I come back get ready to get inspired!

It was an amazing opportunity for me to attend and I love the method!

William, the only gentleman in the group

William, the only gentleman in the group

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Mondays with Melitas – May 27, 2013

WERE WE READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL?                         MAY 27, 2013


Back in the 1930’s and 1940’s, I was playing away during my softball career as Catcher for the “Orange Lionettes,” based in the City of Orange and sponsored by the Lions Club.  We were World Champions several times so this was no back-lot, pick-up game.  Big time in that era.  We were amateurs, so no pay, but once in awhile we’d get some extra “gas” money.  We weren’t in it for the $$, we were having the time of our lives.

We played at the field in the Park in Orange, and we also played at the old Sunset Softball Field on Sunset Blvd. in the middle of Hollywood.  There were two women’s leagues playing there.  We played in the better one, the American League.  In the meanwhile, we would travel all over Southern California to play.

The Entrepreneur of the Hollywood scene was Marty Fiedler, and he was something else!  He was the consummate promoter.  He knew everyone who mattered, he was a handsome guy, always dressed in sartorial splendor, a very smart man, and a very, very nice man.

The Sunset Field could not handle enough softball fans, so Marty went out and built “Fiedler Field” on Beverly Blvd. in West LA.  I’m guessing this state of the art venue — for the 1930’s — would hold 15,000 boisterous softball fans, while old Sunset could maybe squeeze 1,500 in on its old uncomfortable, splintery bleachers.

His mastermind, no doubt, never did shut down for a siesta, and here came the next brainstorm.  He explained it to us this way, that “We have our softball, just like Big League Baseball, starting in the Spring, and playing through the summer into Fall.  There’s a lot of dormant time when cash registers are not ringing.  So the bottom line is that you “softballers” are going to play some football.  Are you ready for that?”

I guess enough of us were ready for Marty to put 2 teams on a field — we had to have the 2, or who could we challenge? – the Rams?  Marty reserved some dates at Gilmore Stadium, and we were off and running. Literally.  We had to get into shape.  This football we were playing — no sissy stuff like “touch” or grab the rag tag, or whatever — No siree, this was the real thing.  We had real football outfits with all the pads, and the cleats, and the helmets, and a real football.

So, over to Gilmore Stadium to practice, practice, practice.  I was a Halfback.  The gal I caught softball for, Lois, was to play Fullback because she was big and strong as a horse, but when we started practicing, the coaches really had to get on her case.  The ball would go to her, and she would sorta tippy toe  on her cleats and when the opponents would get close to tackle her, she would just stop in her tracks, still standing.  What a pussy-cat!  After about 2 weeks of intense training, the coaches had her chugging along pretty good.

It’s a good thing I made those boy kids back in Fullerton tackle me because I was tackling them.  We were about 10 years old, and I was the only girl kid to play.  I was more than ready for this football a decade later.

After we played a few games at Gilmore, Marty was getting restless in the idea compartment of his bright brain, so another announcement came forth.  “Still Softballers, but now Footballers, go home and pack your bags with enough clothes for a couple of weeks, and get your parents approval, because we will be grabbing a train for south of the border to play some football in Mexico City.  Be sure and tell your folks that each team will have a nice chaperone.”

You already know I adore a trip on a train, and in fact, we had taken one the previous December of ’36 to MEXICO CITY for the Grand Opening of a new Hotel, the Hotel de la Reforma. There is a story there to be told.  However, I’d better get back to football, or else the 2013 NFL season may come and go before I finish this.

I was 19 on this football trip, and it was the only trip on a train that I ever took when we were not ensconced in upgraded accommodations — the compartments, the roomettes, etc. — your own space.  So I was with the “masses” with the seat during the day, then a bunk and curtain at night.  And, you know, I made it quite nicely. I did notice that Marty and the 2 Chaperones each had their own private quarters.

Since I’d been there the year before, I knew what was waiting at the various stops the train made during the day.  I would jump off where the vendor, with his pushcart, would have fresh oysters in the shell, and he would open one, hand me the half shell with the oyster and some Mexican lime, and I would inhale the oyster, and more as the time allowed at the stop.  All the time, the footballers are watching, and wondering, and gagging.  And here I thought I had died and gone to Heaven.

When we arrived in Guadalajara, we “de-trained” — no train from here to Mexico City — mountainous, no tracks.  And this is where the wheels in Marty’s brain are really working — we took a chartered bus to Mexico City at night, so you can see how it saved on a whole bunch of hotel rooms.  It was a very dark night, also cold as a by-gone, also kinda scary because mountain roads in Mexico do not elicit a lot of faith about safety and comfort — especially back in 1937.

We were absolutely freezing — who had thought to bring their fur coat?  We were coming into the town of Morelia, a pit stop was in order, but it was midnight.  What to do, what to do?  (No “Depends” in those days.)  The bus driver was crawling along looking for something – anything to be open, and we all saw some faint lights up ahead, so everyone was yelling so the driver wouldn’t miss it.  Just lights you would miss – so weak.  It was an all night “Madre y Padre” operation, and they had a restroom, and best of all they had the most wonderful Chocoláte Caliente which did, indeed, save us all from freezing to death.  I can start a replay of the video in my memory and see the very dim interior of the place, a few candles for light, the dirt floor, the worn wooden tables and chairs, the couple in there hunched over, sitting at a table with shawls pulled tight to keep out the bitter cold.  They were so gracious, sprang into action, made gallons of the chocoláte and soon had us on our way with warm tummies, and warm thoughts.

On to Mexico City where we played our football games at some soccer stadium.  The crowds came for the novelty of the thing, and we gals had a glorious time sightseeing, and of course, I could hold forth and practically be the guide since I had already been there the year before.

So back to our homes, and the whole trip boiled down for me to the hour or so we spent in the only place open in Morelia.  Divine intervention?

I have one thing left to say (just for now.) The following season of softball in 1938 was crowned with the biggest brainstorm Marty EVER had.  Off we went (2 teams of All Stars) in September, sailing from San Pedro on an ocean liner for 3 months to Japan, the Philippines, Hong Kong, and Shanghai — a Goodwill Tour of the Orient.

If I ever get around to it, that will be a ve-e-e-r-r-r-y long story.



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Mondays with Melitas – May 20, 2013

MORE ON BIG BEAR                                                                          MAY 20, 2013


Like I was telling you last week — that I had the real story for May 13 only 1/3 or ½ completed.  I got it out to continue writing and finish it for you, my avid readers.  All week long it just sat there on the cocktail table staring up at me, and daring me to get busy with it, and there I was trying to avert its gaze.  Its subject is all about my week of the 95th birthday, and there is no way I’m ever going to complete that tale in this lifetime.  It’s ancient history —hopefully I’m on my way to another one, and I am just sick and tired of this one. I’ve had it up to the old gazoo.  Enough already!

I’m all run down to a crawl after all the festivities.  But I want to thank EVERYONE for making THE birthday a most memorable one.  A lot of people worked their buns off, and if I named all the names it would fill too many pages to get onto Tammy’s website.

Here’s a fact of the matter:  I am, incidentally, the only one in 5 generations to hang in there this long. Mom nearly broke the record when she lived until one month before her 95th.  And I have not heard of any in the past generations having extended lives, so I hereby name myself the winner of the old age category of the 5th generation California Forsters.

*        *        *        *        *        *        *        *

Okay, so now the scene is changed, and we will be looking at another

story coming out of Aunt Mae’s cabin at Big Bear in the San Bernardino Mountains above San Bernardino, California — about a hundred miles or so from San Juan Capistrano.  This was Aunt Mae’s summer getaway for all the family.

What brought this to mind was a phone call I received from far off New Hampshire. It was my nephew, John (my brother Bud’s first child.)  Johnny and his wife Debbie recently picked up their stakes over in Palos Verdes, and off they went to New Hampshire where it SNOWS!  Not too long ago, I went on and on in a story relating to the cabin, and announced NO Forster was ever built for the snow. And  now, I have been revealed to be a big, fat old, liar, NO, a little, skinny old liar.

Let’s get back to Johnny’s phone call — it was at a time when I was there on the davenport just lolly-gagging the time away — and it was just great hearing from him, with the birthday wishes.  It made me all warm inside. Then he reported that he had been busy reading all my “Mondays, etc. with Melitas”, and how he was enjoying them.  That made my day, for sure.

The way he found out about the stories was because his son J.J., who lives over in the Simi Valley (CA) was visiting his mother over in Maine, and while there, dropped over into New Hampshire to look over his dear ol’ Dad and step-mom Debbie.

HERE IS A MUCH-NEEDED CAST OF CHARACTERS:  John was once married to Maxine, now in Maine, when he was a career fly-boy in the Air Force, and they had an only son, John called “J.J.”.  Further, Maxine whom I always refer to as my ex-niece-in-law in my stories is one of my most ardent fans.  Other cast members were Michael (Mickey,) second child, then there is Sistie, hardly ever to be known by her given name of Charlyne Melitas.  Of course, my brother George “Buddy” had a wife, Evelyne, who helped bring this little group to fruition.

I must remember this item of Cast of Characters to use when I am telling tales on my other siblings, Beth (Dodie,) Emery (Sis,) or Vivian.  It would help me to keep everyone under the right roof.  Those will be in coming attractions.

For the third time, I’ve got to get back to Johnny and the phone call, and it’s what all this talk-talk-talk boils down to:  Johnny telling me how, in reading all the stories, he ran across some that sent him back to the old days when we would all go up to Big Bear.  He remembered going to Mother Masetti’s,  (see story for Feb. 25, 2013) the Italian lady who had her Italian restaurant right smack dab in the middle of the block in a residential section in San Bernardino, and how we would stop there on the way up the mountain, and then on the way down.  This was happening in the 1930’s and 40’s.  He also remembered how she was a great big woman — Well, she was, and he was a little kid so she must’ve looked humongous to him.  I was (and still am) 17 years older than John, and I would feel like I was going to disappear when she gave me a big hug.

Another anecdote he recalled was when he and his younger brother, Mickey, rode down the hill from Big Bear with ”Guy-Guy” and “Tome.”

Quickly,  back the CAST:  “Guy-Guy” was my Dad, George Forster,  and “Tome” was my Mom, Salome.

On the way down the mountain, “Guy-Guy’s” 39 Plymouth Coupe suffered a flat tire, and it was Mickey who described the scene when they finally caught up with all of us at Mother Masetti’s:  Breathlessly and wide-eyed he reported that — “Guy-Guy” had a tat tire – no hair in it.”

Well, it seems like forever now. We would get Mickey to repeat that over and over — until he finally got over the baby talk.  Mickey has been gone for almost 20 years, but his memory is locked in our hearts, and his family has stories for me to tell.

Thanks John for the phone call.  It made my day.



See what a wonderful family I grew up with.  How’d they let me in?




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The one that got away…catch it while you can!

As I have spent this past week teaching and getting inspired by the writings of my students, both male and female, one of the topics came up about our life decisions.  We discussed the importance of when to say “yes” and also when to say “no” to things that come into our lives.  I am so grateful that I said “yes” to this trip to Cancun.

Many times in our lives we can get so busy and focus only inward, but it is so great to say “yes” and experience new things.  Life is all about our experiences and in turn sharing it with those we love.  I can spend hours by myself writing and working on upcoming workshops and be very content.

Today reflect on areas in your life where you said “yes” to something that was a great and meaningful surprise.  Where have there been times when you said “no” that later on you wish you had said “yes.”  And as a last thought …think about the times you should have said NO Way Jose!!

Have a beautiful weekend…
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"Because of Tammy I have found confidence in my writing and feel blessed to be honored in such a way. I have found my voice. I have found freedom! I recommend anyone for whatever reason to expand their life and sign up for her writing workshops or classes. You'll be amazed at how good you are and how everyone has a story worth telling. Sign up and set your voice free!"
Wendy Price, Palm Desert, CA

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Amherst Writers & Artists

Tammy L. Coia is an AWA Affiliate, certified to lead workshops in the AWA method as described in Writing Alone & With Others by Pat Schneider, Oxford University Press.

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