Author Archives: Cooper Zale

Clubius Incarnate Part 38 – Ted Williams (June 1960)

I was excited. Dad and I were going to go to a Detroit Tigers baseball game with Molly and her dad. Dad said that mom and David should come too, but mom didn’t want to.

“I would love to see the game”, she said, “But there is no way I’m going to try to change a diaper at Briggs Stadium, and we don’t have the money to pay Margie to babysit.”

Since Molly’s dad’s car was one of those little “sports cars” that only two people could ride in, dad was going to drive us in our car.

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Clubius Incarnate Part 37 – Hardball (June 1960)

It was morning, and David and I finished eating our Cheerios for breakfast. Mom had brought some of David’s toys that he liked to play with up from the basement and put them in the living room. Then she closed the door to the hallway that went to the bathroom and bedrooms. She did that, she said, so she could watch David in the living room while she “worked” in the kitchen. She took David out of his special chair and he ran into the living room where his toys were. She then put a bunch of pieces of paper all over the kitchen table. I looked at them and they had a lot of words on the left side and numbers on the right side. She also had this yellow paper “pad” with lines on it that she wrote words on the left side and numbers on the right.

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Clubius Incarnate Part 36 – Scenery (May 1960)

Molly and her mom came over. Molly came down in the basement to play with me while mom and Molly’s mom talked in the kitchen. Molly had a “Sky King” toy airplane that her dad had got her. We played that I was Tom Swift and she was Sky King. Her airplane landed on my flying lab.

Dad had taken David out to ride his tricycle with Hannah. Even though she was older than David, I think she liked playing with him BECAUSE she was older. She never could be older with her sister.

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Clubius Incarnate Part 35 – Streetlights (April 1960)

Dad said he’d “watch” David so mom and I could go over to a “meeting” at Paul’s house. As mom and I walked down the street between our house and the park I was thinking that I wasn’t sure what a “meeting” was, even though I had heard the word a lot. There are some things I wouldn’t ask mom because I was worried that if I did, she would want to ask me why I was asking that question, and I wouldn’t want to tell her. But this wasn’t one of those things.

“What’s a ‘meeting’?” I asked her.

“Mmm”, she said nodding, “That’s an important word to know. A meeting is when some people get together to figure something out and decide what to do.”

“Why’s it important?” I asked.

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Clubius Incarnate Part 34 – My 5th Birthday (April 1960)

Today was Saturday and it was my birthday. Mom made eggs and toast for breakfast instead of me just making my own cereal. The four of us sat at the table in the kitchen eating.

“Eric”, mom said, “I don’t know if we’ll be able to do Coop’s party out in the park like we planned. The thermometer says it’s 38 degrees out there, the wind’s blowing, and there’s rain in the forecast for later this afternoon.”

“Liz, it’ll be okay”, Dad said, “It’ll warm up, I’m sure.”

Mom would always be worried, but dad told her not to be worried though he still seemed worried too.

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Clubius Incarnate Part 33 – Captain Nemo (March 1960)

So the four of us sat at the kitchen table and had “Roberts Spaghetti” for dinner again. Even David ate it now, though mom cut his up into really small pieces. I don’t think mom liked it very much, but I liked it because it wasn’t too tasty.

“So Cloob, are you going over to Molly’s to watch that movie?”, mom asked me.

“Yeah”, I said, nodding.

“Twenty-thousand Leagues Under the Sea”, dad said, “Jack says the kids will enjoy it. French lit is not my expertise, but it’s one of Verne’s best known works, and Jack says the movie’s well done from a science and engineering point of view.”

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Why I Write

My passport photo right around my 15th birthday in 1970

I continue to podcast chapters of my autobiographical novel based on my odyssey backpacking through Western Europe in 1973 at age 18. There appear to be at least a handful of people who are listening to all or some of the episodes, and occasionally I get at least a bit of feedback. Even one or two positive comments are very helpful feedback that I’m on the right track with this.

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Clubius Incarnate Part 32 – Bicycle (March 1960)

I felt someone banging their hand on my shoulder and I heard someone saying “Coo”, over and over so I opened my eyes. I was in bed under the covers and David was looking at me and hitting me with his hand on my shoulder. I could tell he thought something was different. Something DID feel different.

David pointed at the window between our beds. It was happening outside, but we could feel it inside the house too. He said “open” over and over again. So I got out of bed and I opened the window. It felt kind of cold, but not as cold as it felt yesterday, and the air smelled different. It smelled like something was cooking outside that was kind of sweet, or that smell when you opened a box of candy.

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Clubius Incarnate Part 31 – Molly’s 5th Birthday (February 1960)

We were getting ready to go to Molly’s birthday party. She was now five but I was still four. Mom said I was “four and five sixths”, but that was still four. I watched her put that red stuff on her lips and then push them together twice. I thought it made her look kind of silly like a clown. She put the shiny gold thing that had the red stuff inside it back in her “purse”. Grownup men didn’t put that red stuff on THEIR lips, and they didn’t have “purses”, they just put stuff in their pockets.

“Hey Liz”, dad said, “Isn’t Margie supposed to be here to babysit for David.”

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Listen to my “Two Inch Heels” podcast

I was just 18, always the “shy alpha”, inspired by the Rock music that was the “Greek Chorus” of my life growing up in the 1960’s in a progressive college town to be part of a new generation transforming the world.  I stumbled into an odyssey, not intending to do it on my own, thousands of miles from home.

Two Inch Heels is a memoir/autobiographical novel of my 11 weeks backpacking thru Europe in the fall of 1973 at age 18.  The trip was originally the brainchild of my two best female friends, who agreed to let me tag along, but due to circumstances, one could not go and the other dropped out after our first week in England. Feeling my tenuous self-esteem could not handle bailing on the remainder of the journey myself, it became at times a lonely ordeal, and finally a singular odyssey, that to a large degree transformed me from an older youth into a young adult.

The story is told in 53 chapters that encompass the key moments in my travels through England, southern Germany, Switzerland, Luxemburg, Belgium, France, Spain, Italy, and the Netherlands.  I was throughout a lonely homesick traveler, often on the edge of bailing and returning to the States, but pushed on by fear of once again, like so many times before in my life, not living up to my own expectations.

Looking for any and every inspiration to keep going until I can return home the storied traveler, I was buoyed by the rock and folk music I grew up with, mostly playing from memory in my mind’s “jukebox”, including bits of powerful and poetic lyrics.  I was also inspired by fellow travelers I meet along the way, that shared an agency I did not fully appreciate that I had.  Through their eyes I saw a new adult persona emerging for myself, that included the tall strut in my walk when I wore my two-inch heels, dressier shoes that I just happened to bring, along with my newly purchased hiking boots that never got properly broken in and continued to hurt my feet throughout my odyssey.

I think you might enjoy sharing my singular journey, though as a heads up, there is plenty of adult language and sexual discussion, which at least for me, was part of being 18.

Click here to listen