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Vagabond Scribe

(Leahs Backstory)
A Work of Fiction

Act One: A Childs Space

Elayne Zalis

Vagabond Scribe (Leahs Backstory)


2008 by Elayne Zalis
All rights reserved
No part of this book, including the images, may be reproduced or transmitted in
any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying,
recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission
in writing from the author.
*
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the
product of the authors imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to
actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely
coincidental.
Cover art: Russia Sent (front) and The Beatles (back) are from Give-A-Show
Projector, a computer graphics series, 2007 by Elayne Zalis. All images in the text
are from this series.

To my teachers

CONTENTS
Preface

ix

Act One: A Childs Space

Fifth-Grade School Sing

Love Potion Number Nine

Postscript

10

Act Two: Elusive Lifelines

13

Notes
Act Three: Vagabond Scribe
Notes

34
43
76

Arellas Afterword: Transforming Dear Diary

95

Bibliography

101

PREFACE

he young Leah as a woman archives traces of her life. She begins the
first stage of her retrospective in the mid-1980s, at the opening of
Vagabond Scribe. Many years have passed since she left Miami, the place of
her birth, her childhood, her breakdowns and awakenings. Her wanderings
have brought her to the American Midwest, the countrys heartland. Far
from her hometown, separated by time and space, she feels ready to
commemorate the South Florida chapters of her past.
From her latest stopover, a protective retreat, Leah taps into both
personal and cultural memories while also weaving together magical forays
into other worlds. Her early diaries and journals help, and so do her old
letters, as well as her collection of books and memorabilia. She follows
paper trails, leads to real and imagined places she has visited along the way.
She focuses on representative periods from her childhood (196465), teens
(196971), and young adulthood (197580). The texts that aid her memory
work provide valuable signposts not only as she looks backward but also as
she looks ahead.
Her mission becomes clear: to transform her archive into forms
she can share with others. Hence this collection, a work-in-progress that
looks behind the scenes at a memory bank in the making, a resource for
ideas and inspiration. For now, Leah offers previews of stories to come. At
times she changes names, masks identities, and adds creative
embellishments. Fact and fiction blend.

Give-A-Show Projector

ACT ONE: A CHILDS SPACE


(196465)

reread and rewrite my childhood diaries, embracing public stories


privately told. (Twenty years ago, my cartridge pen in hand, I watched
Patty Duke and Donna Reed broadcast in the background.) Voices
weathered, ambiance cooled, I pass through again a space made for
writing, a childs space. During my visits, I remember what that space
had felt like then and how I had retreated there, to sketch out a world, to
validate a life. (Twenty years later, my computer keyboard in place, I
watch Patty Duke and Donna Reed cablecast in the background.)
For Fifth-Grade School Sing, I draw on a diary I began in
1964 when I was ten years old. For Love Potion Number Nine, I draw
on a diary I began a year later. Always addressed to Dear Diary, these
notes remind me not only of memories I preserved but also of thoughts
and experiences I never documented when I was a young girl living in
Miami. Aware of blind spots and exclusions, I work through the early
texts, bringing them together in new ways. I rearrange the pieces and
look for clues to unwritten histories and forgotten stories. In my mind
and on the page, chronology unravels, geography disperses, and
backgrounds and foregrounds merge. I imagine endless variations.

ELAYNE ZALIS

Fifth-Grade School Sing (1964)


Mom took Jesse, Adelle, and me to the movies. We saw A Hard Days
Night. It was a Beatles movie. We also saw Viva Las Vegas, with Elvis
Presley and Ann Margaret. We ate dinner at Burger King. . . . LYNDON
BAINES JOHNSON V. BARRY MORRIS GOLDWATER . . . STANFORD
ACHIEVEMENT TEST. . . . Penny taught Adelle and me a funny verse, and I
taught it to Yvonne. . . . A STAMP AT 7-11 . . . PTA. . . . We said we were
all witches and that it was witch language. . . . CHARMING CHATTY. . . . It
goes: Ish ka bibaly, olton dolton, bo bo ba de tan dot an, wa bash ba
do. In the reading group, Miguel sat next to me. . . . FIFTY-YARD DASH. .
. . He was crazy. First he was touching my hair. Then he pulled out a
string of my hair and used it for a bookmark. . . . SCHOOL SING. . . . Next
he put his fingers underneath my dress and tickled me. Today is the last
day Im writing you when Im ten. . . . PATTY DUKE.
We saw two films at school. One was America the Beautiful. The
other was President Kennedy. . . . BEATLES MAGAZINE. . . . It showed
when he was having his funeral, when he was a little boy, and when he
was married. . . . PENPALS IN ENGLAND. . . . I dived off the high diving
board for the first time in my life. It was fun. . . . LUNAR ECLIPSE. . . .
Nadine dived, but she did a belly flop. . . . CRANDON PARK ZOO. . . . The
lady that lives in the pink house across the street is taking pictures of
everyone with a movie camera. . . . LIBRARY BOOKS . . . CHINESE FOOD. .
. . She took a picture of Glenn, the mailman, handing Cora the mail. . . .
MOM AND DAD. . . . Pedro is going to ask his civics teacher, whos a
lawyer, what we can do because she might use trick photography and
bribe us. . . . DOUBLE DUTCH. . . . Nobody likes Sarah now, including me.
We cant stand to hear her name, so we gave her one. . . . ETCH-ASKETCH. . . . First it was It, but then we changed it to Creature. Victor
Torres played A-boy in the Christmas play. . . . SPELLING BEE . . .
BARBECUE PIT. . . . Russia sent up the first three men in space. . . .
SHOPPING CENTER . . . ASPIRIN . . . BIRTHSTONE RING. . . . Why dont you
go sit on Albertos lap? some kids said to me at school. . . . HURRICANE
PARTY . . . ORANGE BOWL. . . . Now I changed the channel. This afternoon
Penny came over and so did Yvonne. We picked kumquats off our tree
so we could eat them. . . . SHENANIGANS. . . . Then we played Steal the
Bacon. Later we did handstands. . . . MIRACLE MILE.
On The Ed Sullivan Show, I saw the Ladybugs. They copied the
Beatles. . . . REPORT CARDS. . . . There are four members of the band.
Three are the daughters on Petticoat Junction. . . . ARM-FLEX HANG. . . .
2

VAGABOND SCRIBE

The other one used to be Zelda on The Dobie Gillis Show. . . . A HOT DOG
AND A HAMBURGER. . . . Today was about the coldest day weve had.
Usually I take my sweater off, but I didnt take it off today at all. . . .
BOOK CLUB. . . . We didnt go to the doctor because Adelle had diarrhea
in the morning and Jesse had a cough. Anyway, it was a rainy day. . . .
WATER WIGGLE . . . GIVE-A-SHOW PROJECTOR. . . . Im watching Jack
Benny, with Peter, Paul, and Mary. . . . STANDING BROAD JUMP. . . . Mrs.
Hanley said they were both good ideas. I used to like him, but I dont
anymore. . . . FIVE-YEAR DIARY. . . . Joses mother gave us ten more
phone books.
Nick made a part for me in his movie. . . . WORLD BOOK
ENCYCLOPEDIA. . . . Ill play the writer when she was a little girl. . . .
SLUMBER PARTY. . . . Nick said Id have to spray my hair brown. (When
you wash it the color comes out.) . . . BARBIE WALLET. . . . I might wear a
wig. . . . DAVE CLARK FIVE. . . . We went to the Youth Fair this afternoon.
I played a few games and was going to go on some rides, but Mom and
Grandpa Ben and Grandma Ada and everyone walked too fast and I lost
them. . . . MIAMI BEACH. . . . I looked for them but I couldnt find them,
so I went back to the car. . . . POPEYE PLAYHOUSE. . . . I wouldve done
some things myself, like go on some rides or play a game . . . BOBBY
RYDELL . . . but Mom had the money. . . . After dinner we listened to
Carmensita play the guitar. . . . TWIST AND SHOUT. . . . Im trying to get
in shape for the 600-yard dash by running around the block. . . . FLUFFY
SLIPPERS . . . BOARDWALK. . . . The jury decided Jack Ruby was guilty.
Hell get the electric chair. . . . DINETTE SET . . . BIRTHDAY PRESENT . . .
A WRINKLE IN TIME . . . Im going to be late for bed.
DO YOU WANT TO KNOW A SECRET? . . . PARROT JUNGLE . . .
RICKY RICARDOS BAND. . . . I listened to the fight between Sonny Liston
and Cassius Clay on the radio. It wasnt on TV. . . . SUMMER FUN SHOW.
. . . Clay won, so now hes the heavyweight champion of the world. . . .
JR. RED CROSS. . . . We called WQAM to request our favorite Beatles song.
. . . HALF MAGIC. . . . Adelle waited two hours. . . . BINGO . . . THE WIZARD
OF OZ. . . . Jesse passed shoe tying. Im watching a show about monsters.
. . . FRACTIONS . . . MUSCLE BEACH PARTY . . . DO WAH DIDDY. . . .
Hurricane Cleo uprooted fifteen trees on our block. A man from Bell
Telephone photographed us looking at the fallen trees. . . . NEW
SNEAKERS . . . LOBSTER DINNER. . . . He paid us each twenty-five cents. . .
. PIPPI IN THE SOUTH SEAS. . . . Khrushchev resigned today. . . . TWILIGHT
ZONE. . . . He was the Communist leader and premier of the USSR. . . .

ELAYNE ZALIS

RED LIGHT, GREEN LIGHT . . . GHOSTS, GHOSTS, GHOSTS. . . . The Cardinals


beat the Yankees 60 in the World Series. . . . ALFRED HITCHCOCK . . . A
ROBOT THAT COULD WALK AND TALK. . . . I made bacon and salami for
breakfast. Penny helped. . . . CAPTAIN JANUARY. . . . Mom said it was
supposed to be salami and scrambled eggs . . . MAGIC CARD TRICKS . . .
and it was. Yesterday was Winston Churchills 90th birthday. . . . THE
STORY OF VAN GOGH. . . . It was also Mark Twains birthday. . . . GOLD
COAST RAILROAD . . . NASSAU BY BOAT. . . . I made a little hole to crawl

through for the door. As soon as youre through the doorway youll be in
the dungeonfour Christmas trees covered with two blankets and a
towel. All the clocks were wrong. The prize was a new wardrobe. . . . WE
USE POWER . . . SOLARIS HOTEL.
I didnt go swimming because I was so mad at Dave. I cant
drink plain white milk and he made me. . . . THREE SLOW POKES AND AN
RC. . . NEW CARTRIDGE PEN. . . . This morning he told me to put chocolate
milk in my cereal. . . . GOP ELECTIONS. . . . It was terrible, but I ate it so
we could see Thomasina at the movies. . . . PONY RIDES . . . AUNT BEA. . .
. Robert Kennedy was in a plane crash. . . . PARTY LINE. . . . I watched
the 36th Oscar Awards. . . . ROCKPIT RANGER. . . . Jennys father
accidentally ran over Bonny Bell, our red kitten. Her neck was broken
and she died. . . . HI-FI. . . . Mr. Bishop, Jennys father, took Bonny Bell
to a pet cemetery. . . . YELLOW BIRD . . . THE ADDAMS FAMILY. . . . I saw
her hopping around and thought it was fleas. Everyone was crying. . . .
SAND DOLLARS . . . WHOS MINDING THE STORE? . . . It was a sad
experience. . . . THE SPACESHIP RETURNS TO THE APPLE TREE.
A rocket launched from Cape Kennedy took pictures of the
moon. I saw them on TV. . . . MISS GREECE WON . . . TRACK-AND-FIELD
MEET. . . . Laurel told me something thats hard to believe. . . . BOSTON
CREAM PIE. . . . She said her friends brother dreamt that God came in his
room and said the boy would die April 7 and Castro would die May 9. . .
. A RIDE TO THE AIRPORT. . . . The little boy did die April 7, 1964. . . .
DONNA REED . . . THE INCREDIBLE MR. LIMPET. . . . Penny and I listened to
records and danced. . . . LEOPARD-PRINT BIKINI. . . . After lunch we
colored. . . . LINCOLN ROAD. . . . Then we played veterinarian with the
kittens. I was the vet. . . . A CABANA FOR THE SUMMER. . . . If you have
six RC Cola bottle caps, you can get in the movies free. President
Johnson rode down Biscayne Blvd. in a car with secret service men. . . .
THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES. . . . We were there. . . . CURRENT EVENTS TEST.
. . . I got a book on the Middle East, one on the earth, and two on atomic

VAGABOND SCRIBE

energy. For enjoyment I checked out a novel. . . . TWELVE-YEAR MOLAR.


. . . Mom and Dad are having a fight. They say its because of me. . . .
MISS OSBORNE THE MOP . . . WONDERS OF CHEMISTRY. . . . Yvonne looked
in my address book for boys to call. . . . ADVANCED SWIMMING AND
DIVING. . . . She called Miguel and said I loved him. The neatest and most
correct spelling booklet gets a prize.
We had a volleyball game after school. . . . LITTLE WOMEN. . . .
Someone asked who was staying. I said I wasnt. . . . APPLE STRUDEL. . . .
While Mrs. Collins read the class a story, practically everyone made
signs that said Leah Stay. Mrs. Collins saw the signs and thought I was
moving. . . . SHIRLEY TEMPLE. . . . I stayed. We lost 218. Rita led the
pledge. . . . MIRACLE WORKER . . . CHARM BRACELET . . . DINNER KEY. . . .
I went to the rodeo with Denise and her father. Lorne Greene and Dan
Blocker were there. . . . SPLASH PARTY. . . . I was about to get their
autographs when they said no more. . . . OLYMPICS IN TOKYO. . . . I
bought a picture of them instead. . . . CLEOPATRA. . . . Im sorry that Im
writing so sloppily, but Im in a big hurry. Its past 11:00 and I have to
go to bed. . . . HOPSCOTCH. . . . Mom and Dad just got home. (I was
babysitting for my sister and brother.) . . . PILLOW FIGHT. . . . Mom
screamed at me and said shes going to throw you away. . . . SWING SET
AND SLIDE. . . . I didnt get a part in the school play because I dont use
enough expression. . . . SIMON SAYS . . . A PICNIC IN THE BACKYARD.
When we got back from phys. ed., we saw Mrs. Miller with her
head on her desk, sleeping. She went home and Mrs. Stephens stayed
with us. . . . KIDDIE POOL. . . . We had a little art lesson. . . . THE TEACHER
WHO WRITES BOOKS. . . . I went to the Eden Roc Hotel with eleven other
students. We did a Social Studies demonstration for principals. . . .
SNOWCONE. . . . The topic was aviation and flight. . . . THE MONKEY. . . . I
have to work tomorrow at Dads store. I dont want to go. . . . LITTLE
MISS UNIVERSE. . . . Adelle had a fight with Cora and said she was
running away. She hid behind Jennys steps and then in Joses fort. . . .
ELECTRIC QUIZ GAME. . . . At our Language Arts Workshop, Mrs. Pratt
told us how wonderful books are. . . . EVERGLADES NATIONAL PARK. . . .
Adelle and Jesse got stuck in our bedroom. Grandpa Ben came over and
tried to get the door open but he couldnt. . . . MAD MAGAZINE. . . . I finally
got it open. . . . YOM KIPPUR . . . WRITING TO YOU IN THE DARK. . . . I was
tied with the girl who was winning . . . HALLOWEEN PARTY . . . but I fell
and didnt get to finish the race. . . . VEROOM STINGRAY BIKE. . . . Anita
was looking at me and lost her balance, too. I wouldve come in first or

ELAYNE ZALIS

second if Id finished. . . . PATROL BELTS AND BADGES . . . CORRIDORS OF


BLOOD. . . . We found a whole bunch of comic books and started to read
them. Jesse wants some ice cream. . . . 20/20. . . . Gypsy, our cat, caught
a mouse and almost ate it. . . . TRANSISTOR RADIO.
Moms going to walk Jesse to school and pick him up the first
week. . . . PARK PLACE . . . THE MUNSTERS. . . . I coasted down the hill. . . .
FLASHBACK. . . . We played cards for six hours. . . . THREE WISHES. . . .
They dropped real snow. . . . CARTWHEELS AND FORWARD ROLLS. . . .
Everyone threw it. . . . MITCH MILLER . . . DANCING IN THE STREET. . . .
Claire and I finished our display window. . . . CHAIN LETTER . . . ROYAL
CASTLE. . . . I can swim, but Im learning to swim better. . . . A CAT
MEOWING. . . . It was very, very hot. Tony and I checked breaks. . . .
DADELAND . . . LAKE OKEECHOBEE. . . . The librarian spelled my name
wrong. . . . STONEHENGE. . . . Everybody got sunburned. The jukebox was
fixed. . . . SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE MOVIES . . . TRICK-OR-TREAT. . . . I
have the best handwriting in my class. . . . LUCILLE BALL AND BOB HOPE
. . . PIATA. . . . My cousin Ruth spent the night. . . . ESP. . . . I finished my
clipper ship for Mr. Clark and an atom for him, too. . . . A POSTCARD
FROM MOM. . . . $2.00 BILL. . . . I think Im getting a bicycle for my
birthday. . . . PIZZA AND A COKE . . . JOHNNY QUEST. . . . Jesse taught
himself how to swim underwater.
Love Potion Number Nine (1965)
Hermans Hermits and Freddy and the Dreamers were on Hullabaloo. . .
. PINK LIPSTICK. . . . He walked in space. . . . We did dances like the Frug,
the Swim, and the Jerk. Something went wrong with the computers. . . .
CANT YOU HEAR MY HEART BEAT?. . . . Dinner at the Pancake House. .
. . WOOLY BULLY . . . MCDIVITT AND WHITE. . . . The hurricane is
coming at 5:00 a.m. . . . GOLDFINGER. . . . I found a huge red ant pile
perfect for my science fair project. . . . WONDER ART. . . . It matches my
blue shoes. . . . HELP ME RHONDA. . . . Were driving to California.*. . .
TOP 10 . . . VENETIAN POOL. . . . We crossed the Suwannee River. . . . OUR
CAT MAGEE. . . . President Johnson will be inaugurated at noon. The
luncheon, parade, and ceremony will be televised. Well see it at school.
* During the summer of 1965, I took a road trip with my family. We drove

from Miami to California and stopped at tourist attractions along the way. Six weeks of
such intense familial companionship was a bit stressful for me. Fortunately, I brought
along my transistor radio, complete with earplug.

VAGABOND SCRIBE

. . . HOWARD JOHNSONS . . . I SAW WHAT YOU DID AND I KNOW WHO YOU
. . . SECRET AGENT. . . . Pope Paul VI was in New York. He gave a
peace talk and held mass in Yankee Stadium. . . . PHANTOM PLANET. . . .
The Statue of Liberty, Washington Monument, Liberty Bell, and other
historic monuments were almost blown up. . . . ALABAMA AND
MISSISSIPPI. . . . We sat with Tony and Jorge at the movies. . . . DIORAMA
ON THAILAND. . . . I listened to the radio almost all day. . . . STRAIGHT AS
. . . . It was real neat and exciting. . . . DO THE FREDDIE. . . . At my
slumber party, Dad made us go to bed and wouldnt let us watch TV. . . .
DR. NO . . . CONCHITA MOTEL, NEW ORLEANS. . . . Camille has practically
everything, even stilts. . . . MAGILLA GORILLA. . . . The world was
supposed to come to an end at 2:00. People heard voices saying it would.
The Gemini landed. My sunburn still hurts. Tracie Wyatt and Carlos
Valdes are going steady. So are Brandy Cole and Sergio Lopez. . . .
ROOM #808. . . . I sent a postcard to Rita. . . . PASSOVER SEDER . . . OUR
TRIP OUT WEST. . . . Several friends were at the park. . . . EIGHT DAYS A
WEEK.
Nicole and Josette are from Haiti. They speak French. . . .
HOUSTON ASTRODOME . . . BEACH BLANKET BINGO. . . . Adelles having a
party tomorrow. Mom doesnt know. . . . FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE. . . .
The Ranger 3 Satellite hit the moon yesterday and sent about 7,500
pictures back to earth. . . . NANCY DREW. . . . Denise called WFUN radio
again. Before, she fed Mrs. Tate to Yum-Yum. Tonight she told her
problems to Kay. She said she was worried about hurting Mrs. Tates
feelings. . . . DAIRY QUEEN . . . LOVE POTION NUMBER NINE. . . . At the
Alamo we saw old documents, pictures (including Davy Crocketts),
cannons, guns, forts, and a jail. . . . MADRAS SNEAKERS. . . . I had
laryngitis almost all day. One of my teachers gave me a cough drop. . . .
HOUSE FOR SALE. . . . Whenever I made a sound everyone laughed,
especially Herbie. . . . LBJ RANCH . . . TWELFTH BIRTHDAY. . . . Jesse and
some other kids were on TV playing with a baby duck. . . . CARLSBAD
CAVERNS. . . . The program was on live the first time it was shown, in the
morning. We saw it at 5:30 on tape. . . . NEW MEXICO. . . . The cave was
750 feet deep. . . . BIG SIS. . . . We took an elevator down. . . . THE
FATHER OF OUR COUNTRY. . . . I was at Marys dancing to Hullabaloo. . .
. Both of my grandmothers were there but only one of my grandfathers. .
. . JUAREZ, MEXICO . . . A GUIDE NAMED CEASER. . . . We went to a
bullring and looked around. . . . AUTOGRAPH BOOK . . . STUFFED BULLS
HEAD. . . . I got my last report card from elementary school. Ive had
ARE

ELAYNE ZALIS

perfect conduct for six years. . . . NAIL POLISH REMOVER. . . . Mom


doesnt drive, so Dad does all the driving. . . . A MOUNTAIN 6,000 FEET
HIGH . . . SKY LIFT . . . CABALLERO MOTEL, EL PASO. . . . Im sleeping at
my cousin Ruths house tonight. Uncle Jerry and Aunt May took us to a
drive-in movie. It was the first drive-in I ever went to and about the
worst movie I ever sawCheyenne Autumn. The sand isnt exactly sand.
Its called Gypsy. . . . BLUE EYES, SEVENTY-FIVE POUNDS. . . . I wrote
my name real big in the sand. Adelle and Jesse rolled down a sand dune.
Dad took pictures. . . . WHITE SANDS, NEW MEXICO . . . GRANDMA IRIS
AND GRANDPA DANS 44TH WEDDING ANNIVERSARY . . . SPANISH QUIZ. .
. . I bought a bra. . . . FRANKIE AVALON AND ANNETTE FUNICELLO . . .
THE GAME OF LOVE.
Carolina Snowball, the worlds only white bottle-nosed porpoise,
died Tuesday afternoon at the Miami Seaquarium. Her caretakers are
going to stuff and mount her. She was a big tourist attraction. . . . BLACK
SABBATH. . . . Hes a brain. . . . Victor, Sergio, Carlos, Juan, and Tim
played in a band called The Sidewalk Surfers. Denise, Tracie, Laurel,
and Brandy danced to their music. . . . A CLUB CALLED THE TERMITES . . .
DEAR BRIDGETTE . . . EL TOVAR HOTEL, GRAND CANYON. . . . Leila and I
made slides of insects, plants, and flowers for the microscope. . . .
HENRY VIII. . . . We saw the movie twice. . . . HANG MAN . . . PAINTED
DESERT . . . GYM SUIT. . . . A satellite was launched at 8:30 a.m. to study
meteorites. . . . BANJO BILLY AND CAPTAIN JACK . . . QUARTZ ROCK . . .
PETRIFIED FOREST. . . . Im learning how to skateboard. . . . OUR TURTLE,
SAM. . . . Adelle got a blue cowboy hat and boots for her tenth birthday.
We celebrated at the Grand Canyon. . . . HURRICANE BETSY . . . CAT
BALLOU. . . . Its pretty neat. . . . GALILEO. . . . We climbed a mountain
trail. . . . SPIN THE BOTTLE . . . THE CLAPPING GAME. . . . GLASSBOTTOM BOAT. . . . I didnt climb the whole trail because they left me
behind. . . . BRYCE NATIONAL PARK.
LOUIE LOUIE . . . HAPPY NEW YEAR. . . . We drove down the
hotel strip. I bought black leather shoes and this diary. . . . ROMAN
FORUM . . . LAS VEGAS . . . HOOVER DAM. . . . Then we crossed the desert. .
. . SPRING FEVER . . . THREE STARS. . . . I won the girls 50-yard dash. . . .
SUMMER FUN SHOW. . . . I didnt think I could beat Jan. . . . A LA MODE. . .
. She fell right before the finish line. . . . HOLIDAY INN . . . SPACE AGE
MOTEL. . . . A policeman lectured on summer safety and guns. . . .
HOUDINI . . . WRONG NUMBER. . . . He had a spazz attack. I had to empty
my ant observation nest because all the ants were escaping. . . . STRANGE

VAGABOND SCRIBE

. . . DISNEYLAND . . . JAMES BOND. . . . The best rides were


the bobsled up the Matterhorn, the submarine voyage, and the sky lift. . .
. PEYTON PLACE. . . . Since I rode my bike to school and Leilas mother
was driving her home, I had to follow them in the car. . . . 16. . . . They
drove 5 m.p.h. . . . FIREWORKS AT 9:00. . . . We met some tourists. A
cold wave is coming. It will be 45 degrees. . . . MICHELANGELO . . .
SHOWERS AT PHYS. ED. . . . Everyone dresses wild here in California
girls wear sailor paints and high-waisted, long dresses. . . . A BAND WITH
HARRY JAMES. . . . I brought a blouse to school for everyone to sign. The
fifth-graders used blue ink, and the sixth-graders used red. . . . GIG
YOUNG. . . . I got space-age sunglasses. Adelle and Jesse got Donald
Duck hats. . . . MOVIELAND . . . KNOTTS BERRY FARM. . . . They signed
my autograph book. (It matches this diary.) . . . GOLD ROLLS ROYCE.
He put a price on each Easter egg. . . . JUNGLE CRUISE . . . A RED
AND WHITE STUFFED SNAKE. . . . When Rita and I were going downtown,
we were the only passengers on the bus. . . . ORANGE BOWL PRINCESS . . .
MONORAIL. . . . The Farmers Market was closed. . . . JOLLY GREEN
GIANT. . . . Jesse received the magazine I ordered for him. . . . HAND
AND FOOTPRINTS OF THE STARS. . . . I squeezed orange juice all day at
the store. . . . FOAM RUBBER ROCKS . . . MUNSTERS SET . . . FASHION SHOW
AND STUNTS. . . . From the railroad tracks we could see fireworks
launched in Coconut Grove. . . . SURFERS NEAR THE FISHING PIER . . .
PISMO BEACH. . . . Our next stop was Carmel, a quaint little town. . . .
MRS. BROWN YOU'VE GOT A LOVELY DAUGHTER. . . . FRIENDSHIP RING .
. . GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE. . . . Everybody got sneakers. . . . ALCATRAZ. . . .
Her voice was on the radio. . . . FISHERMENS WHARF . . . CHINATOWN. . .
. I got lost. . . . YOSEMITE. . . . Jesse recovered and Adelle got sick. . . .
SNOW-CAPPED MOUNTAINS . . . LITTLE DEER. . . . I brought my radio with
me. We played in the snow for the first time. . . . SLIDE PROJECTOR . . .
BEST WESTERN . . . THE ARCH OF CONSTANTINE.
It was supposed to be scary but it wasnt. . . . WONDERFUL
WORLD. . . . At a gas station we took pictures with a real cowboy, his
covered wagon, and his two eleven-year-old oxen, Star and Comet. The
electricity didnt go off. . . . LAKE TAHOE . . . ILL TAKE SWEDEN . . . PICNIC
AT ELDORADO BEACH. . . . I ride a bus to school now. . . . THE HAT GAME.
. . . We saw the sights. . . . CREEPY CRAWLERS . . . ARTS AND CRAFTS. . . .
Jesse started first grade. . . . SILVER SPRINGS . . . MORE RECORDS AT
SEARS . . . CRAZY VOLLEYBALL. . . . I went downtown by myself. . . . TWO
ASTRONAUTS . . . INSTANT BREAKFAST. . . . Later, we played checkers. . .
BEDFELLOWS

ELAYNE ZALIS

. HAWAIIAN LUAU . . . MARY POPPINS . . . FOUR DAYS IN SPACE. . . . We


bought spareribs at a Safeway supermarket and ate at a drive-in movie. . .
. RENO . . . JR. SCHOLASTIC. . . . I found more ants. We went to the horse
races. . . . SEASHELLS IN NAPLES. . . . Minors were allowed. Coras son
had a heart attack. Hes only a little boy. . . . SIX-GUN TERRITORY.
Ruth and Elsa have an air conditioner in their bedroom. . . . LAYAWAY . . . MORMON TABERNACLE CHURCH. . . . Practically everyone felt
sick after running the 600 yard dash. . . . SON OF CAPTAIN BLOOD. . . . I
threw up a little but no teachers knew. . . . DOWNTOWN. . . . THE
LARGEST OPEN COPPER MINE IN THE WORLD. . . . Leila has a big, happy
family. . . . DINOSAUR NATIONAL MONUMENT. . . . I always have fun at
her house. . . . MOSAIC . . . SQUARE DANCING AT SCHOOL. . . . It snowed
for about five minutes. . . . BOBBSEY TWINS. . . . I played ping-pong with a
partner. . . . COKE PARTY. . . . We lost. . . . HOW TO STUFF A WILD BIKINI. . .
. I also played pool. . . . ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK . . .
SILHOUETTES. . . . Adelle had her last ballet lesson for the year. . . .
SKETCH-A-FASHION . . . WATER SHOW. . . . The chipmunks were so tame
they ate right out of our hands. . . . DENVER, COLORADO. . . . We put our
awnings down. . . . U.S. MINT. . . . I dont know many people at my new
school. . . . SCAVENGER HUNT . . . LOST WORLD. . . . We drove to
Colorado Springs to see a rodeo. . . . HONOR ROLL. . . . A bull jumped the
gate. . . . TELEPHONE CHARM . . . DODGE CITY. . . . A comet flashed by. . .
. GRANDPA DANS TEMPLE. . . . I went to South Beach. . . . TWO BOOKS
ON THE MIDDLE AGES, ONE ON THE EARTH, TWO FOR MY SCIENCE
PROJECT, AND ONE NOVEL. . . . Miss Kansas was there. . . . FATHER GOOSE
. . . RENAISSANCE FAIRE.
*
Postscript
Although the young Leah communed faithfully with her diary for a year
and a halfa page dailyshe pulled away as junior high school and
adolescence overturned her insular world. I write in retrospect: Workingclass ethics had not prepared me for white-collar norms, and nothing had
prepared me for teenaged street life at home. Looking back, I see many
blank pages, and then the writing stops. I had reached a point where
nothing was familiar anymore, and diary writing as Id known it no
longer provided a rewarding escape. Layers of memory unfurl. I realized
I no longer had public or private voices with which to speak.

10

VAGABOND SCRIBE

For several years I abandoned the writing space I had been


getting to know, and then in high school mysterious forces led me back,
but to a more open-ended, free-associative variety. This pattern recurs:
from blank pages to new writing spaces.

11

Orange Bowl

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Elayne Zalis, PhD, has an interdisciplinary background
in writing, communications, and the media arts. She
explores media in transition, a range that encompasses
film, video, print, digital arts, and the Web. She is
interested in what artists and writers are doing, and in
what critics and scholars are saying. Her recent work
focuses on personal and cultural memory. She lives in
Southern California.
Vagabond Scribe (Leahs Backstory), a literary experiment,
paved the way for the novel Arellas Repertoire, in which
Leah reappears fifteen years later, once again an alter
ego that the fictitious Arellawho writes the
afterword of Vagabond Scribecreates. These texts
form part of a quartet that also includes two works of
nonfiction, Video-Graphic Alchemy: Transforming Dear
Diary and VirtualDayz: Remediated Visions & Digital
Memories. For additional background on these books,
see http://www.TheMemoryChannel.com.