Category Archives: The Good Old Days

Blast From the Past

Does anyone know what this is? It’s a Nothing Book. It was given to me at a gift when I was probably in eighth grade, as indicated by some of the entries I made at the time. It was either a birthday or Bat Mitzvah present, and I loved it! The pages were so crisp and clean, and waiting to be filled with God knows what! But I would figure it out. As time went on, I had many such books, or journals. Some had quilted covers, and lined pages and were meant for writing. The Nothing Book had unlined, rainbow colored pages, and was so neat! I was almost afraid to write in it, to ruin its pristine-ness! But I did anyway. I wrote, I drew pictures, I made lists, and I professed my love to whoever I had a crush on at the time (if I had been consistant with keeping up with my list, the book would have been pretty much filled, just with crush names!). I would put the book down, sometimes for months, sometimes for years. There are huge gaps in my entries. I picked it back up in college and wrote poetry in its pages. I have whole soliloquies of my relationship with my boyfriend when I was in my early twenties. Will I get back together with him? Will I not? Will we live happily ever after together (we will not)? That’s the last thing I wrote in my Nothing Book, as I soon moved to Houston, Texas, leaving my Nothing Book behind somewhere in my parents’ house in central Massachusetts. Only to be found again last year.

Here are some pictures I drew in my Nothing Book in junior high:

The first one is an illustration from a story I wrote about a girl who thinks she turned into a frog but then realizes that she just forgot to take off her costume for a play she is in at school. Everyone thought she was a real giant frog for some reason. And then at the end, she eats a fly. So go figure.

The next one is a picture of an area in my kitchen. Notice the two phones mounted on the wall with really long cords. One was my mother’s business phone. The other one conveniently reached all the way to the cellar steps, so you could have your own personal phone booth to chat in. You just had to hope that no one would trip over the extended cord. I actually portray this in my recent book when Sally wants privacy while talking to her friend Michelle about things she doesn’t want her parents to hear. Note the analog clock on the wall, plugged into an outlet. That clock is long gone (yes, my family still resides in that house) and replaced with something digital I think run by batteries. Then there are the two alien looking creatures on top of the phones. Those are Weeples. They were very popular at the time. They were little pompoms with googly eyes and antennae, stuck to large feet. They were sort of stickers. I had a ton of them. They all had names. These were Willy and Weepy. Businesses used Weeples for advertising purposes. Very 1980s.

Last year, I got into a conversation with a friend who is also from the 80s about what we called denim articles of clothes back then. I was specifically referring to jackets, which were prolific. I thought they were jean jackets, and we agreed on that, or maybe denim jackets. We both could not recall anyone calling them dungaree jackets. Then I was looking through my trusty Nothing Book, which I had just brought back with me from Mass to Oregon, and what did I find?

Aside from the hysterical context, I clearly called Jeff’s jacket “dungaree.” End of discussion. I have absolutely no recollection of who Jeff was, except he was wicked good looking, wore a dungaree jacket, and had a Sony Walkman. How cool could one guy (10th grader) be? I am guessing this was in 1982. I wonder if Jeff is still wicked good looking (all my friends would have to agree). I doubt it. But does he still have the dungaree jacket? They’re back in style now!

Okay, I’m not going to share all of my thoughts and creations of the 80s, but I did find a poem that I wrote that I want to share. I can’t recall when I wrote it, in high school or college (both were in the 80s of course), but it did end up getting published, unfortunately anonymously since I forgot to put my name on it, in my college literary journal. It’s called “The Rose Thorn Of Love” (I know, I know).

The fragrance drew me near.
I inhaled deeply,
The sweet addictive scent.
I reached out to the sea of red,
To touch the velvet shining bright,
But my harsh touch to delicate flesh
Burned, as it fell, rained to the ground.
I stood back, appalled,
Stunned by my dastardly deed,
By my streak of passionate violence.
Lying dormant, so very long.
But still the fragrance remained,
And drew me even closer.
Again, I reached out to grab hold of the stem,
So not to harm the precious bud,
But I did not anticipate obstacles,
Looking so willing but bearing thorns.
My blood is a small price to pay for 
The deal of innocence.

My book, “May I Have Your Attention Please” can be found on my new universal link, in both paperback and eBook! Check it out! I plan to release my second book, “I Just Can’t Say I Love You,” in September 2023. Please check it out, and if you do read my book, please leave a review on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, or whatever other platform you are using. It would mean a whole lot!

Here again are the links to my Facebook page, Debby Meltzer Quick Author, TikTok, @dbmquick and Instagram, quickdebby_author. Please follow me on these pages. And please explore my page here at

Writing About the Holidays

Wow. It was really hard to find a picture that represents the Winter holidays. Everything is pretty much Christmas related. And the one I finally did choose basically looks like someone was trying to make an effort to include Chanukah in their Christmas celebration so someone wouldn’t feel left out. Here’s a little secret. Jewish people, as a rule, don’t feel left out of Christmas. We feel left out that our holidays and beautiful traditions are not openly observed in public. That’s not really the same thing. People seem to understand these days that Chanukah is not the “Jewish Christmas,” so that’s a start. It is a completely different animal, and if you want to learn about the history of the holiday, please feel free to peruse Wikipedia.

Another little secret: Do you know why there are so many different spellings of Chanukah? Well, I’m not really the expert on everything, even if I would like you to believe that I am. But here are a couple of facts. First off, many Jewish children go to Hebrew school starting at a very young age. They are taught the pronunciation of all the letters and sounds. One of the sounds is the CH- sound. In English, this would sound like the CH in cherry, chat, chop, or chill. But in Hebrew, it is totally different. It sounds like the horrible noise people make when they are trying to hawk a loogie (I looked this up to make sure I got it right). Sorry to be so gross, but it’s true. It comes from deep in your throat. Most people who don’t speak Hebrew or other languages from that part of the world just can’t make that sound. It comes out like an “H.” So that is why there are CH spelling, and H spellings. And also, it is a Hebrew word, transliterated into English letters, so you can just spell it any way you want, as long as it sounds the same. Now you have some trivia to share at your next office holiday party.

Holidays are important to most people, and the December holidays are an institution in the United States (many other countries as well, but I don’t live in them). Shops close down, work is closed, the government comes to a halt, and even the mall isn’t even open (Walmart might be, I don’t know). Large amounts of food are consumed, and families and friends gather to celebrate and inevitably to reopen the wounds of all of their childhood slights and traumas. Some people look forward to the holidays, and others dread them. I love holidays, but I just don’t love other people trying to push their traditions on me. That doesn’t mean that I don’t like to celebrate with people who have different backgrounds than I do. On the contrary, for as long as I can remember, I have been part of my friends’ Christmas celebrations, and they have been welcome to light candles and eat latkes with me on Chanukah. So that’s why holidays take a very important role in my book series, “McKinney High Class of 1986.”

I have kept most of my stories non-denominational, but there are mentions of Sally in “May I Have Your Attention Please” celebrating Shabbat on Friday nights by lighting the candles with her mother. And she gets a lot out of these familiar interactions. All of the books mention yearly holidays, such as Valentine’s Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s, and of course, there is much ado over Christmas in every story. Schools are closed, the snow has fallen, and the characters are preparing for two weeks of non-stop family fun. But since this has not been my experience every year (Chanukah goes by a lunar calendar so it spans a different 8-week period every year) I thought it would be a good experience to educate my readers about my holiday. I keep it kind of simple and fun. It’s always fun to be with your new love over the holidays and spend time getting to know their family. So that is the context of my winter holiday scenes. James learns about Sally’s family traditions, and in turn, she spends time with his family, learning about their experiences.

Not all of my characters have the best holiday seasons. Sometimes, it’s their first time away from home, and they miss their family and friends. Sometimes, they expect someone to be there with them, and they just don’t show up. Sometimes, they are experiencing a significant personal issue, and they don’t feel that they are ready to share it with their family just yet. Sometimes, the holidays were no big deal in their family growing up. And sometimes, they suspect that it might be the last Christmas they are able to spend with someone they love. No one character experiences the holidays in the exact same way as their friends. I think this is important, because this is like true life. Everything is not always ribbons, bows, and happiness. Sometimes, things are hard, and you find a (figurative) lump of coal in your stocking. Hopefully, everything gets better over time, but forced cheerfulness does not make all of the problems go away.

We are all inundated with Christmas movies this time of year. “White Christmas,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “The Santa Clause, I, II, and III,” and “Elf” (my favorite). Then there are Lifetime and Hallmark movies about coming home for Christmas and meeting your true love after they first try to take over your ranch to build a racetrack or something. These movies are Hollywood’s way of telling the masses how they should feel during the holidays. If you start out as a Grinch, the true meaning of Christmas will make your heart grow several sizes. If you just believe, you will get your heart’s desire. Everything that hurts will be remedied, and everyone will have a Merry Christmas. I think people like these movies because they aspire to have a holiday season just like they have seen in the movies their whole lives. And that’s fine. I hope they do have a holiday just like that. But I also think it’s important to know that not everyone is in the same situation for one reason or another. And if we want our friends, family, and strangers to be okay, we have to remember that we need to be there for them on the other 364 days of the year as well as on Christmas day. Not everything is fixed by a mug of eggnog.

So let’s continue to share our experiences with the people we love or the people we would like to love and teach them about what is special or troubling to us, about our holidays, and about our lives. Let’s make them part of all of our traditions, and value theirs as well. And let’s make space for everyone over the holidays. Even people who say things like “Bah humbug!”

May the rest of your year be exactly as you would want it to be.

Just Wanna Have Fun

Photo by cottonbro studio on

What do you do for fun? Virtual reality? Netflix and chill? On-line shopping? Those all sound like really fun things, but none of them existed in the 1980s. We had video games, movies, and malls. We had no idea that 40 years later, everything we wanted or needed would be at our fingertips. So, what did we do for fun back then? Glad you asked!

Roller Skating: Yes, roller skating still exists, and it’s still so fun and exciting. But in junior high and high school, it was life. Our parents would drop us off at the rink, where we would meet up with our friends. We would lace on our rental skates and hit the floor. Then we would “party on down” to the music. My favorites were what is now considered classic heavy metal. “Round and Round” by Ratt was the ideal. What better to describe our actions in the rink? “Rainbow in the Dark” by Rio, the Scorpions “Rock You Like a Hurricane.” The list goes on and on. And there was the break for “couples skate.” Most of us left the floor and watched the pairs in envy. We looked forward to the announcement of “all skate!” There were the disco skaters in the middle in their snazzy outfits, and the showoffs, skating backward in circles. I remember wearing my stirrup pants with slouch socks under my skates, with cotton ramie sweaters from the Gap. Oh, the Gap in the 1980s!

Mall Rats: I admit it, I was a mall rat. I got a job at a cookie counter when I was 16, and before and after work, I would trawl around the mall for cute boys and fancy new clothes. All the most popular kids were there in groups, walking around or just standing and looking cool. There were tough kids, too. They became my friends and protectors. We didn’t have food courts back then, just Orange Julius, coffee shacks, and cookies. There was that pay-by-the-ounce salad bar near the department store, and one diner-like restaurant where all the entrepreneurial teenage girls were working hard for tips. Poster stores, record stores, Spencer Gift. Photo developing shops. Giant fountains where small children threw pennies in the water. I went back to my hometown over the summer. The mall I worked at, first dealing cookies, then jeans at the Gap, and then baby clothes at Filene’s, had been razed. Now a street runs through the space, and hip new 2022 hotels, shops, and restaurants have popped up near the bus station. It was surreal, like my teen years had been knocked to rubble by a wrecking ball. I thought maybe I was in the wrong place. But malls don’t seem to be much of a thing anymore. Storefronts are closing, everything is on-line. Instant gratification. I think this generation is missing out on so much. Mall ratting was cool.

Hanging Out: Maybe people still hang out, but not like we did in the 80s. We hung out at the BK Lounge, in the parking lot. It just seemed to be a place to go. It was better than cruising up and down Main Street. It was a place to meet up and scrape your change together for a small soda to sip on while you watched all the “cool” guys peal out of the parking lot in their old Camaros or Monte Carlo SS’s. We would applaud and rate their performance on a scale of 1-10. It was always hot, even at night. The girls were in miniskirts, the boys in tee shirts or polos. What else could you do in the city if you were under 21? Burger King. Now I’m a vegetarian. It seems kind of ironic.

Oh, there are so many other things that we did. Tanning in the sun, with sun-tan lotion. Spraying Sun-In in our hair. Going to the theater to see a movie, and not waiting the one week until you can get it on the internet. Going to an aerobics class. Drinking Tab and feeling like you instantly lost weight by that action. Watching Charlie’s Angels. It was all so wholesome. I miss it all. But not the feathered hair.

Writing my series, “McKinney High Class of 1986” really helped me to revisit my teen years. I imagined myself with my group of seven fictional high schoolers, getting dressed in the clothes I wore, listening to the music I listened to, watching the tv shows I watched, and having the fun I had. It’s hard to believe that my characters would be my age now. If they were here with me tonight, we would be reminiscing about the good old days. It would be wicked awesome.