Pioneer Magazine: “Bread & Butter Story”
Issue no. 7 (October 2013)


“Every so often I catch a glimpse of it in my window. That lipstick red, plastic and palm-sized sign; leaning against the glass, staring past its own reflection onto the busy press of Broad Street. Thirty years ago my mother used it to indicate to our milkman when we were out of milk: placing it in our window until he rambled by––in his circuit around the neighborhood––and then he’d knock at our door, carrying a pint of milk by the neck. Sometimes my mother tired of waiting and would buy it from the store instead. Other times, by pure luck, he would drive past just as she’d set it in the window. To me, ten years old at the time, it was a magic trick. Something summoned, incanted. Now, sitting in my window, the sign has faded to a hazy orange, the lettering chipped away to nonsense.

All the newspaper offices where I work are similarly held hostage by clutter, but for each it is different, subjectively meaningful. Among mine: a photograph of Rosalind Russell with upturned hat from His Girl Friday, a race pennant from the ‘81 Regatta on the Housatonic, a Partridge and Orange fly lure, a stub from the first film I took my daughter to (Victor Fleming’s The Wizard of Oz), a photo of my mother and me outside Mann’s Chinese Theater (her hair griefed silver, her eyes shadowed behind dark sunglasses). And the faded milk sign, turned towards the window, staring down. Most of the time these things sit there inertly, mind their own business. It is an act: they are so loaded, so haphazard with memories that will zing around the room the moment they’re sprung. Sim sala bim! like unexploded ordnance, reaching out in every direction.”


Read the issue on Pioneer Magazine’s website here.
Or download a PDF of the entire issue here.