Fifth track of the album Bookends, by Simon and Garfunkel. Over a period spanning several months, Art Garfunkel recorded the voices of old people on the streets of New York and Los Angeles. The voices that are heard in this song are taken from these tapes.

Mildred: I just made you some iced tea and put it in the refrigerator. It should start gettin' cold in about half an hour.

Leaman: I hope it's not too sweet. You've been makin' it too sweet.

M: I didn't make it too sweet. You been drinkin' it after it's done sat in there for a week and got too sweet.

L: It ain't been gettin' sweet sittin' in the fridge. You been makin' it too sweet all week. I told you yesterday it's been too sweet.

M: Well I put the same amount of sugar in it that I always have, and you just started in about it bein' too sweet here a few days ago.

L: It's been fine up until about Wednesday, when you started makin' it too sweet. You know I don't like my tea too sweet.

M: I haven't made tea since Sunday afternoon. You been drinkin' it all week long and not puttin' the tin foil back on top of the pitcher.

L: Bob said he thought it was real sweet when he come to see us yesterday. I told him you was puttin' so much sugar in it 'cause you knew he was comin' over.

M: I didn't know he was gonna come over here yesterday. I ain't made tea since last Sunday after church.

L: Go an' get me a glass of it then.

M: It's still hot. I just made it.

L: (angrily) Well now how am I gonna tell if it was too sweet if you go and dump it out and brew up a new batch?

M: There wasn't but a dab left in the bottom of the pitcher. It was a week old anyway! (pause) Bob didn't say nothin' to me about it bein' too sweet.

L: Well, he told me he thought it was real sweet.

M: Well... (pause) I reckon he didn't mind too much. He drank the last of it, Mmm hmmm.

L: He comes over here for your tea.

M: He must. I don't imagine he comes around just so you can talk his ear off.

L: He doesn't ever stay very long.

M: He was here for four hours! You didn't quit talkin' to him the whole time. You wore yourself out, just like you always do. You had to take a nap.

L: Bob always tires me out.

M: He doesn't do anything but sit there and listen to you.

L: We walked out in the garden and around the shop. I showed him where them ducks have been messin' up my patio, and how the gophers are diggin' up the lawn behind the tool shed.

M: They've been doin' that for as long as I can remember. You been showin' him those gopher holes for over a year now.

L: I had to sit down after walkin' around on my bad leg.

M: Well it wouldn't hurt you so much if you kept it wrapped up like Dr. Cofer told you to.

L: I can't let it be wrapped up for too long. I got to let it breathe some.

M: It ought to get plenty of air propped up inside this house all day.

L: It can't circulate right unless I keep it propped up.

M: Bob said he's gettin' the same thing in his joints. He's goin' to one of those chiropractors, Mmm hmmm. They're givin' him some new medication. It's supposed to be stronger than Motrin, but it can eat holes in the lining of your stomach.

L: He told me he was tryin' to get Wayne a job out at the Navy base.

M: Mmm hmmm. Well, you told me he said that to you on the phone last week.

L: Wayne hasn't decided whether or not he's gonna want the job.

M: Debbie told me all about it two days ago. She's hopin' he takes it so that her and Brent and Jamie can go down to Disney World this summer.

L: Bob says he doesn't know if Wayne would stay on at the base if he got an offer from Larry Flanders.

M: Mmm hmmm.

L: You know, he gave Wayne a raw deal when he went bankrupt.

M: Larry Flanders?

L: Yeah. I don't know why Wayne keeps workin' for him.

M: Well them doctor friends of his are all in with Larry Flanders. Wayne goes bowlin' with 'em all the time, Mmm hmmm. Him and Debbie are always down at the bowlin' alley. Them leavin' Brent home to look after Jamie. Brent don't ever come over here any more like he used to.

L: Well, he's gettin' older and growin' up. He's got things to get into. Bob's kids don't ever come around either.

M: I'm surprised you remember he even has kids.

L: Of course I remember them boys. We got their picture right over there in the curio cabinet.

M: They look to be about twelve and fourteen. I bet you wouldn't recognize 'em now if they were to come over here.

L: Yeah I would. I bet I would know 'em...

M: You haven't seen 'em in a long time. Eric graduated from college last year.

L: Is the other one still in school?

M: The other one? You don't remember his name?

L: Ummm. Jay? ...No, Jerry.

M: James.

L: Eric and James. I remember.

M: I bet you remember the names of Joyce's kids, but you see them even less than Bob's.

L: Janice, Jody and Jeanie Marie. They're all in school, aren't they?

M: Janice is studying to be a lawyer. Jody's graduating this year, Mmm hmmm... And I think Jeanie Marie has just started. Jody had to take a semester off when she got pregnant from that boy she was engaged to.

L: Is she gonna get married?

M: Well, Joyce says they were supposed to, but he got sent off to Saudi Arabia with the Marines. She called Monday morning while you were still in bed. (pause) She's gonna have to have laser surgery on her eyes, too, Mmm hmmm.

L: Dr. Cofer says that it's passed on through the family.

M: Yes, it's inherited. Bob had it done about nine years ago.

L: (pause) It's time for Lorne Greene to come on.

M: Is it six o'clock already? I better get to cookin' supper.

L: Get me a glass of tea, would you mother?

M: I'll have to put some ice cubes in it, unless you want it warm.

L: Ice is fine.

©2001, 1989 panamaus

Note: I wrote this in college as an exercise for my playwrighting class. It is a conversation between my paternal grandparents, who are now deceased. It is a recollection of something true. Click here for a fictional work with this theme.

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