By Arthur H. Gunther III

When you are walking with young children, in this case one 7, another 5, and you have to pass the time of day as the clock seems to run awfully slow, you have to be inventive.
Kids have fertile minds, and they are not yet cast into the tight thinking cubicles of adults. They also appreciate unusual humor and like weird, even absurd thinking, for theirs is still the land of the fairy tale, of limitless imagination. A pity that they grow up.
So it was, that on Broadway in Nyack, N.Y., the other day, just past the former home of the late actress Helen Hayes, we three came upon a virtual riverbed of small, smooth stone set not in a stream but between the sidewalk and the curb. An inventive way, perhaps, for a lazy fellow to avoid mowing more lawn.
So unusual was the sight that it required immediate comment, for we three like to make such proclamation upon seeing the unusual. It was also a way to, as I wrote, pass the time.
“Why are the rocks there,” asked the little one, a female. “Yeah, did someone go to the beach and get all those stones?” the elder, a male, chimed in.  “No,” the grandfather said. Then why are they there, both young ones wanted to know.
I had to come up with an answer, and fast, and believable, though these kids either take everything I utter as absolute though strange gospel, or they tolerate my musings and make it seem they agree so as not to hurt the old man.
“How many words did you learn in first grade?” I asked the male “Ten?” “100?” Sam answered, “More than that.” Beatrice gave no comment, for though she has learned words, quite a few,actually, she has yet to glean them from spelling tests in public school (she will in a week or so).
“Well, Sam, every time you learn a word and get the spelling right in the Upper Nyack School just a short walk away, the teacher places a rock, a small stone, in this spot.”
“Oh, c’mon,” he replied, then “Really?” “True,” I said. “You know how I am always saying  that you have rocks in your head?” Well, each rock you lose makes you smarter.
I think the kids are still trying to figure this one out.

   The writer is a retired newspaperman who can be reached via This essay may be reproduced.