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June 8, 2005

What follows is a modern fairy tale, a contribution from a friend. Hope you enjoy it, too.


When I was quite young, my father had one of the first telephones in our neighborhood. I remember the polished, old case fastened to the wall and the shiny receiver hung on one side of the box. I was too young to reach the telephone, but used to listen with fascination when my mother talked to it. Then I discovered that somewhere in the wonderful device lived an amazing person. Her name was "Information Please" and there was nothing she did not know. "Information Please" could supply anyone's number and the correct time.

My personal experience with the genie-in-a-bottle came one day when my mother was visiting a neighbor. Amusing myself at the tool bench in the basement, I whacked my finger with a hammer. The pain was terrible, but there seemed no point in crying because no one was home to give me sympathy.

I walked around the house sucking my throbbing finger, finally arriving at the stairway. The telephone! Quickly I ran for the foot stool in the parlor and dragged it to the landing. Climbing up, I unhooked the receiver in the parlor and held it to my ear. "Information Please" I said into the mouthpiece just above my head.

A click or two and a small, clear voice spoke into my ear. "Information Please" and I told her the sad story. She listened and then said things grown-ups say to soothe a child. But I was not consoled. I asked her, "Why is it that birds should sing so beautifully and bring joy to all families, only to end up as a heap of feathers on the bottom of a cage?"

She must have sensed my concern, for she said, quietly, "Wayne, always remember that there are other worlds to sing in." Somehow I felt better.

Another day I was on the telephone, "Information Please." "Information," said the now familiar voice. "How do I spell "fix?" I asked. All this took place in a small town in the Pacific Northwest.

This story will continue in the next Northwest CorČner column. Please watch for it.