Thursday, July 29, 2010


I wanted a picture of the old Lorain Journal masthead, but all I can find is the current one, for the Morning Journal. As curmudgeonly as it may sound, I don't WANT the Morning Journal, but the real newspaper we affectionately referred to as, The Urinal".

The Journal was fun to read, misprints, misspellings, and all. It was an actual newspaper, not a McPaper patterned after USA TODAY. There were cool features, like "The Passing Scene", columns such as "Count Marco", "Sydney Harris", and that baron of Boudoir Cheesecake, Dr. Crane. The funnies had Flash Gordon AND Brick Bradford, not to mention Dick Tracy, The Phantom, Superman, L'il Abner, and Pogo. Frank Edward's column of the unexplained, "Stranger Than Science", graced its pages for a time. At Christmas, the front page carried the story of Eski, the Eskimo, and Mary Lee Tucker made sure underprivileged kids had a good Christmas. Heck, just reading the movie page with the ads for films showing locally was entertaining.

The only thing I ever enjoyed in the Morning Journal was "9 Chickweed Lane".

Monday, July 26, 2010


Like a lot of folks my age, I grew up with radio; some of my earliest memories are of my mother singing along with Brook and Dinah, Johnny Mathis, or Nat "King" Cole on WWIZ, 1380 in Lorain.

As I got older, the music changed, but was still wonderful. Also, most stations played everything, it seemed, from the Beatles to Elvis to Roy Clark to the Tempations, great sounds pouring out of that magic box, all day, all night. KYW, WHK, WJW,WIXY, WABQ, and other stations kept it comin'.
I got my first radio in junior high, when the Big 8, CKLW, Detroit / Windsor was king. They played a wide variety of music, including artists from Canada who ordinarily wouldn't get a lot of airplay in the States.
By high school, I'd discovered FM, which was expanding into the realm of popular music, especially rock. WMMS, WGCL, WLYT, and WNCR were pumpin' up the volume in the 70's, while CKLW and other AM stations were still going strong.
Sadly, by the time I packed it up and left town, the handwriting was on the wall...hard playlists insured that you'd hear the same twenty songs at nearly the same times every day, and the oldies and classic rock stations in the market were becoming jokes, not to mention the advent of rap and other non-music.
I have found, though, a lot of AM stations are going to an eclectic oldies format, almost making it like it was...1380 in Lorain is playing tons of good old stuff, at least according to Google, they're still there...wish I could get them down here.

Friday, July 23, 2010


When we were kids, Ma took us to the barber once a month. as I remember, we generally didn't go to a barber in Lorain, rather to either Mr. Marshall's place in Oberlin, or our cousin Geneva (Gigi)'s shop in Elyria.

Personally, I loved both of them. They both had pop machines, and stacks of comic books to read while waiting. Mr. Marshall's shop was downtown, with a creek running behind it, Gigi's was a few blocks from downtown Elyria.
Mr. Marshall liked to talk, and I enjoyed getting into conversations with him, Paul, his assistant, and the other customers. At Gigi's I tended to doze off from the sound of the clippers, something I still do at times.
From the time I was fifteen until I went into the Navy at twenty, I didn't cut my hair, and I stopped cutting it again once I got out, from 1976 until 1985, when a lady friend convinced me to get it cut again; these days, I generally keep it short, although sometimes, I miss the days when it was long, and even straight, at times.
Even so, I love going to the barber; I wish Cousin Gigi's shop was still open.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


As seems to happen a lot with people I know and love, an e-mail brought Pat to mind; that's him, holding his sister, Tammy. Pat's seven years younger than me, a year younger than my youngest brother-we really didn't start hanging out together until we were both grown.
We both love music, science fiction and horror movies, although Pat doesn't share my love of cinematic cheese...once, he threatened never to speak to me again, after showing him the film, "OCTAMAN".
We spent many hours crusing around, listening to music and talking about just about everything, sometimes going to movies and clubs...Pat's not much of a drinker, although he did like Fuzzy Navels. We went everywhere, and ran into everyone.
Pat's married now, to a girl he met years ago, while working at McDonald's. I'm happy for him...after all, he gave me pleasure of his company.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


I decided to use the photo of the gate, although it came years after I left Lorain; the place deserved to be fixed up.

I first heard of the cemetery in Lorain History class, seventh grade...I'd remembered what I'd always thought was a park at that location, but had always been in a moving car when passing the spot. One fall afternoon, I decided to walk down there, and see for myself.

I arrived at the spot, and was puzzled...if this was a cemetery, where were the headstones? They weren't visible from the sidewalk. As I started up the walk that ran down the center of the park, I could finally see the stones, recessed into the ground. They were old, every date from the nineteenth century, weathered, some almost unreadable.

I noticed one stone, right outside the window of the house next was the grave of a girl, who'd died at the age of sixteen, only four years older that myself. It saddened me, and made me ponder what it would be like, to die so young.

Over the years, I returned many times to the cemetery, to enjoy the solitude. Sometimes, but rarely, there would be others there, quietly walking around, or examining the stones. The very last time I was there, a marker with a bronze plaque had been placed at the entrance, commmorating the cemetery's recognition as an historic site.

Monday, July 19, 2010


This is a message to those who, on the off chance, might be reading this, and think that I'm advocating the use of recreational drugs. I ask you to remember that these blogs cover a period that ended roughly twenty years ago...people change. However, I'm not going to breast-beat over something I really don't feel guilty about, particulary in this venue.
I don't get high anymore; I did, for around twenty-five years, and I had good times on drugs, and bad-sometimes, how the experience came out was directly affected by whether or not I was high.
The previous entry described an unusual occurrence that happened to me, and was not the only one-more'n likely, I'll write about others as this blog continues. However, even though I (and others) may have been high when some of these things happened, we were never THAT high.
So much for the sermon.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Everyone's got a strange tale or two to tell; this is one of mine.
Summer, 1981: I'm on a beat up old ten-speed, coming over the 21st Street Bridge at about ten or so at night. I'd just reached the high point of the arch, and I decided to see how fast I could go coming down the other side. I started down, pedaling as hard as I could.
I'm clippin' along pretty good...the slope's fairly steep, and I'm in tenth gear. I came off the bridge proper, and was barreling down the sidewalk between the two guardrails, when I saw something odd ahead of me....
About ten yards ahead, standing in the middle of the walkway, was a girl, about early twenties or so. She had long blonde hair, pretty face, she was dressed in a white blouse, faded jeans, and white tennis shoes. She was just standing there, her right hand up in her hair, her left down at her side, just looking at me.
I hit my brakes, and began dragging my feet to stop the bike-there was no room to maneuver around her. I got the bike stopped several feet past where she'd been...she was gone.
I looked around for her, but she was nowhere in sight, which she should have been; the area was well-lighted. I began scooting the bike forward, still looking for her, when I noticed something that chilled me....
Ahead, about three yards or so, was a large pothole, almost a yard across, and nearly a foot deep. Had I hit this at the speed I'd been going, I would've been tbhrown from the bike, perhaps into traffic.
Who was she? Perhaps better...what was she?

Friday, July 16, 2010


I don't drive; never have. However, I love cars, particularly the muscle cars of the 60's and early 70's.
When I was in junior high, on warm nights, I could hear the racers dragging on West Erie Avenue. In particular, there was , some nights, this high, throaty roar, like a dragon gone supersonic, tearing east to west with what always sounded like a note of triumph.
One night, I happened to be downtown, on the northern side of West Erie, when I heard that familiar roar, coming closer. Looking up, I spotted a Superbird coming my was a neon yellow-green, and looked fantastic. It rolled to a stop at the Washington Avenue / West Erie Avenue light, thrumming as it idled. Through the passenger window, I could see long blonde hair, and a glimpse of a pretty face. The light changed, the 'Bird's tires squealed, and it vanished into the night.
Fast forward, twenty-seven years....Cleveland, I'm in a Lorain Avenue bar, sipping my third rum-n-coke after work, when in walks this woman. She's tall, blonde, older that me, perhaps late forties, wearing a red Plymouth racing jacket, festooned with patches. On a whim, I offer to buy her a drink, and she accepts. We introduce each other, and I compliment her on her jacket, mentioning those bygone days of draggin' down West Erie. She smiled, and said to me, "Do you remember a yellow-green Superbird that used to drag West Erie"? Sure do," I said, "I only got to see it once, but I remember it well". Her smile got wider, as she said, "Did you know who drove it?" "No", I said, "but I did get a glimpse of his old lady once...smokin', with long blonde hair."
She laughed, a whiskey and cigarettes chuckle that seemed to suit her, and replied, "Thanks...that was me. My boyfriend and I used to shut 'em down almost every night down there."
Here's to ya, and to American iron, and summer nights on West Erie.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Like most kids, I loved playing games, running, all that stuff...but my favorite thing was catching animals. In the spring and summer, on into early fall, there were so many different kinds of critters, from tadpoles to toads, snakes to salamanders, pillbugs to praying mantises, a young Marlin Perkins like me was kept busy.
I remember going out one September afternoon, and gathering about a dozen mantis egg cases; my intention was to take them to school. Well, I put them in my ma's desk drawer, and forgot about them. They hatched the following spring, thousands of them, scaring her silly. I also loved catching snakes, but I never made the mistake of bringing one home.
Actually, my Grandfather was responsible for the critter story of all time....he loved fishing, and would often go up to Sandusky Bay with my Uncle Eddie, and spend the day there. They returned late that evening, and Papa had a prize catch- a huge channel cat, about four feet long, and still alive. When he got in, everyone was in bed, so he filled the bathtub with water, figuring he'd get up early, and clean the fish.
'Long about three in the morning, the entire household (if not the entire block) was awakened by a was my mother, who'd gotten up to use the bathroom, turned on the light, and was greeted with the sight of this enormous black fish, feelers waving, in her tub! She was standing there in the doorway, eyes bulging, finger pointing to the tub, so discombobulated she'd gone past speech, and was making hissing sounds. I took one look, and fell out laughing; not only was it funny (to me), but this was one no one could hang on me!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


I can't find any pictures of the neighborhood when I lived there, 1971-76, or really any of how it looks now. Back then, the streets were gravel, there were no sidewalks, everyone's mailbox was out by the street, and there were ditches, about four feet wide, on both sides of the streets.

Officially, the neighborhood is called "Cityview", but the residents all called it "Campedo," which means, "the camp", I've been told. At first, I hated it there...all my friends who lived in Lorain proper called it, "the country". After a while, I got to like it. The people were mainly cool, mostly black folks, some hispanic, a few whites, but pretty much everyone got along.m I was going to Clearview High then, and even though I was usually in one sort of trouble or another there, It wasn't generally with other kids.

I lived in three different houses while I was there; my ma and Phil lived in two houses previous to Mike and me coming home from Boy's Town, me in June of '71, Mike in August of '73. We were poor, as were most of the folks living there, but it was all right- I felt more freedom out there, folks were generally laid back.

It's changed a houses, pavement and sidewalks, it looks a lot like any other neighborhood near the outskirts of town, more's the pity.

Monday, July 12, 2010


In the summer of '73, the city started a Summer Jobs Program-mothers all over Lorain (including mine) were dragging their kids down to the Service Director's office at City Hall, to get them signed up to work for the City. I was seventeen, and really didn't have that much going on during the day, anyhow, so away I went.
My first assignment was the Sign and Paint Department...that lasted a day. From there, I spent two weeks with Parks, mowing grass At Oakwood Park. Finally, I was transferred to Sanitation, to work garbage.
It wasn't too bad...there were two other guys my age there, and I knew some of the regular workers. We only went out on the truck twice, spending the rest of the time sweeping out the gartage, hosing down the trucks as they came in, and listening to the old dudes talk about the job, and tell dirty jokes, all for $1.60 an hour, paid biweekly.
The work wasn't hard, certainly not as bad as walking behind an industrial mower in the hot sun. The old guys would buy beer, and one of the guys my age always had pot. Most of the day, we sat around the garage, waiting for the boss to tell us to do something.
I'd gladly take that job now, at the same pay... even today, $54 a week would help.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


I'd wanted a picture of the exterior of the Palace Theatre; all I can find are shots of the Civic Center, which is not quite the same thing. The Palace was the biggest theater in Lorain, the flagship, if you will...admission for kids was a lordly thirty-five cents when it was a quarter at the Dreamland. Still, going to the Palace was worth it.
One of my earliest memories is of being led by the hand, into this vast, dark room, packed with people, all staring at a huge screen, on which Daffy Duck was portraying Duck first view of the Palace, my first of many over the next seventeen years-the Theatre mutated into the Civic Center in '76.
The Palace was the place for big, grand films - I saw "YELLOW SUBMARINE" there, and films like "JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS", "ATLANTIS, THE LOST CONTINENT","DELIVERANCE", and "BONNIE AND CLYDE". They had Midnight Scream Shows, the Summer Vacation Film Program, the Back to School Show, where every kid got a pencil box, and the Christmas Show, complete with Santa Claus.
The last film I saw there was "CARRIE".
I've seen films at the Civic Center, 4-X, "THE COLOR PURPLE", and "BATMAN", but it's not the same. I'm glad that it's still there in some form, but I really wish there was still a movie theater in downtown Lorain.

Friday, July 9, 2010


I'm sure that everyone wonders if kids still play the old games we used to play, or is it all PlayStation these, I think there'll be games as long as there are yards, or open fields.
Mike and I used to play two-man kickball, five outs apiece, with much arguing over who'd reached their last out. In a group, we often played Tag, Hide and Seek, and a game called Colored Eggs , which most people seem to have never heard of. Everyone but one kid, who was the Wolf, would pick a color, keeping it to themselves. We'd all be at one end of the yard, with the other end as a safe zone, as the Wolf walked around us, calling out colors. If the Wolf called out your color, you had to run toward the Safe Zone. If you got away from the Wolf, you were safe; if he caught you, you became the Wolf.
We could play outside until dinner; for most of us on school nights, that meant staying inside after that. On the weekend, or during vacation, we could stay out until dark. Except for kickball, there was rarely any equipment used, just running and imagination.
Anyone for Freeze Tag?

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Although it's not in Lorain, a trip to Cascade Park was always a treat. As a child, I loved the playground, with its corkscrew slides and sand, and riding the pedal-boats on the river. There used to be an enclosure with black bears in it, long gone-I remember throwing bread to them.
We'd hike along the trails to the waterfalls, and explore the caves behind them, with the roar of the water pounding in our ears. Even as an adult, I loved wandering down those trails, remembering good times in the past.
I was last there four years ago...Mike, Phil and I decided to ride down there. You can't drive across the ford anymore, too risky when the water's high. We wound up at the playground, and we had our picture taken there-I'm holding a bunch of balloons I found taped to a trashcan.
(Mike's got the picture, I think.)
I think my wife and daughter would love Cascade- maybe, Lord willing, we'll get back to the NorthCoast, and visit a spell.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


All my life in Lorain, this street loomed large; to call it "the main drag" seems an understatement.
As a child, Broadway was a magic ribbon of shops, theaters, and restaurants that the grown folks would take us to, for all too brief visits. For me, of course, Broadway was a part of my everyday experience, the block between 20th and 18th Streets, at least...we walked to school that way.
Later, Broadway was my workplace, and my playground, whether shining shoes, or pub-crawling through venues with names like The Angry Bull, the 333 Club, and Club 1504. My shrinks were on Broadway, as well...the Nord Center's offices were originally downtown, then moved out to the southern end of Broadway, in a building that looked like a giant toaster oven.
I last walked down Broadway about four years ago, on a visit to Lorain; I was looking for sunglasses, and found a great pair for $3 at suprise. Still, it was a sad experience, like visiting Ma at Oak Hills Nursing Home after her stroke. Too many strangers, and too many ghosts.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


It isn't so much that I didn't want to write about Ma, more like I wasn't sure how to write this; Ma was so many different people in my life, and I didn't want to give the wrong impression. Rather, I wanted to give a complete picture of our relationship...which turns out to be impossible.
I was her oldest, and no doubt a bit of a puzzle at first, and probably a disappointment later. Me, I desperately needed her, but dreaded the very thought of acknowledging that-to do so was to admit weakness. From my mid-teens 'til about the last year of her life, we fought a lot, especially as we got older~I was frightened by her physical heath problems, and she by my emotional illness. I think we were afraid of losing the other, but unsure of what to do.
Make no mistake, the love was strong, but distorted by human frailty. We did manage to learn to talk to each other without striking sparks, but it took years, and lots of pain. Still, it was worth it-I knew she loved me, and vice versa.
Ma was a Christian, so I know where she is, and that she is happy; I'll see her soon.

Friday, July 2, 2010


The first one I remember was in front of Scott's 5 & 10 Cent Store, on looked a lot like this one, although it was only a dime back then.
It seemed like most stores of any size had something similar, dime horses, photo booths, machines that gave up candy, gum, and toys with the turn of a poor Ma hated to pass these things at the shopping center, but my grandfather always had pocketsfull of coins so we could ride, or play.
There used to be a machine that would make these discs with your name or whatever you wanted stamped into them; I dunno how many of those discs I had over the years, or the plastic rings, squiggly rubber bugs, and superballs I've gotten from machines...I got two superballs out of one just the other day, and gave one to my daughter, Sarah.
Dime horses are probably the first place kids run into the concept of ephemera,; it's a fun ride, but extremely brief, and when it's over, you no longer have your dime.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Yeh, I know; that's a picture of Frank Zappa. Thing is, I don't have any pictures of Dave, so I'm closely approximating again. Picture Zappa with black wire-frames, without the soul patch, and playing a bass instead of a guitar, and you've got Dave.
I've known him nearly forty years, met him through Micheal, just after I got kicked out of school-as you'd expect, it was about the music and, to be honest, the recreational herbs. We've been through a lot of long, strange trip together, gigs, camping, trouble, marriage, death, and more laughs than anyone has a right to...Dave's one of the few people who can make me laugh, whether I want to or not.
We still keep in touch-in fact I got a letter from him day before yesterday.Dave hates computers, won't use one, ain't even studyin' 'bout owning one, and he keeps his Trac-Fone at about a two minute balance, so they can call him in on Saturdays, if needed. I text him every once in a while.
What the heck...I need the penmanship practice, anyhow.