Tuesday, December 18, 2012

DRAGWAY ZERO

     If you head west out of Alsace, chances are you'll be doing it on Route Eight, which runs in a near straight line all the way to Sandusky, parallel to the lake shore. It's a busy six lane stretch, part of all that roadbuilding Ike did in the Fifties. There used to be dozens of stores, restaurants, and even a drive-in on either side of Eight; now, most are darkened, dusty memories.

     Just past the drive-in is an intersection,  where Eight meets Gherson Road. From the intersection, there's a mile or so of road that's so level and straight, it seems tailor- made for drag racing. Indeed, duting the Fifties and Sixties, the days of muscle cars and cheap gas, that's exactly what it was used for on warm summer nights. Some folks drove their wheels to victory, some to losing the race to the police, and some.....some lost everything, and it's said they may be out there, still trying to win.

     More than one motorist, coming in from the west, had the unnerving experience of a black car, a vintage '59 Corvette, appearing out of nowhere, whipping past them, and vanishing just before reaching the traffic lights at Gershon. Some say it's the shade of a Vermillion boy who blew a tire at high speed back in '62, and rolled his fiberglass coffin to a horrible end.

     People hitching to Sandusky or Toledo at night claim to have been knocked  flat by the wind of an invisible car, hearing the whining roar of the engine just as it passes them, then being slapped down by the slipstream; those who would know say the sound is that of a 389, known as the Bobcat, a celebrated muscle mill, generally found in the GTO.

     A group of musicians, heading home from a gig in Alsase late one night, were scared silly by the vision of a Ford Econoline van passing them, bathed in an eerie glow, and ablaze from stem to stern. It disappeared into the distance, trailing the stench of gasoline and burnt flesh.

     I rarely get out that way, and I've never personally seen anything out on Eight.
However, I know many who'd swear that some competitors just can't quit, though Hell should bar the way.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

SAD SADIE

     When I drive down Gotham Avenue in Alsace today, I can't help but think about what she was, what used to be, before darkened storefronts and "FOR SALE" signs dominated the view.

     Up ahead, just before the Thirteenth Street corner, is the vacant lot where the Tiger Lounge once stood. I used to patronize the Tiger, not often, as I was never into dim cheatin' bars, but every now and then. I even met Sadie, the heroine of this story, once or twice, long ago, when I was just old enough to buy a drink legally.

     I wasn't there for what happened , and I didn't come around for what came afterward.

    Sadie was young, once, and pretty-she hadn't lost all her looks, but loneliness and alcohol had left their mark on her. She was a fixture in the bars downtown, although the Tiger was her base, of sorts. There, she'd meet men, have a laugh, a drink or two, and sometimes leave with one, though not often....no matter what else, Sadie was a lady.

     One night back in '73, Sadie met a stranger, a man who'd come in off one of the ore boats, so everyone said. He  was tall, handsome, and never out of cash. Sadie fell, and fell hard-why him, who knows? For weeks, they were to be seen in the best booth at the Tiger, huddled together like two high-school kids.

     My aunt ran into Sadie one afternoon, at Hafner's, buying groceries and beaming like a prom queen.
Leon, her guy, was going to marry her, and move her to Detroit, a nice apartment, where they'd start a life together-he'd gone back up there, to get things arranged, and would be back within a week.

     Leon was never seen again. Some said he drowned in an accident on his trip to Detroit, some said he'd had his fun, and just left her in the lurch. Some said Leon already had a wife, and kids, in Detroit....again, who knows?

     Sadie came in alone, after two weeks in seclusion. She ordered a double 151 and Coke, and sat in that booth, nursing her drink.

     The bartender, after a couple of hours, noticed that Sadie hadn't ordered another drink, but hadn't left-he could see her, sitting slumped in the corner of the booth. He called her name, and got no response.

     Another customer walked over to the booth; Poor Sadie was past help. Clutched in one hand was a small pill bottle, the bottle empty. There was no note, just the sad, mute testament of Sadie herself.

     Not long after, a change took over the Tiger Lounge. Patrons who took seats in Sadie's booth moved....when asked, they'd often say that they got "the creeps" sitting there. The jukebox would play by itself, always the same song, "You Belong To Me", by the Duprees, Sadie's favorite. The scent of Night Odyssey perfume would waft through the bar, even if no one visible was wearing it.

     An aura of sadness often swept the room, particularly around ten-thirty, the time Sadie took her own life, and some claim to have seen her, a shadowy form exiting the Ladie's room. or crossing the floor toward the booth, cloaked in a veil of sad emotion. The bartender, as he tendered his resignation one evening, claimed he saw her in the bar mirror as he tallied his receipts, recognisable, but pale and ghastly, her eyes two dark holes in her face.

     When he turned, no one was there.
Business began to drop off, and the lounge was sold, and sold again-no one seemed able to make a go at that location.

     I walked past it one night, and felt a wave of sorrow wash over me as I passed . I was tempted to look in through the diamond-shaped window in the door, but realized I was afraid of what I might  see.

     The Tiger was torn down last year, along with that whole side of the block-progress.

     Maybe Sadie's not sad anymore, but at peace....one can only hope.

Monday, December 3, 2012

A COMMA, MAYBE

     It's time to bring this ship into the shore....
I'm running out of stories, my day-to-day life isn't interesting enough (even to me) to write about, and I don't want to turn this space into a "what's-wrong-today"-type rant.

     I've had fun these past two years, sharing my memories of home with you, especially those who've seen fit to respond to my entries.

     I subscribe to other blogs here, particulartly Dan Brady's, so I'll be popping in. Also, I may at some future date either pick up where I left off, or use the space for something different....dunno yet.

  A Merry Christmas to all; if the Rapture DOES occur on the 21st, I hope to see you There.



Monday, November 5, 2012

A TALE TOLD FOR TRUE

     I overheard my mother telling another lady this story when I was little; years later, she told it to me....she  said it actually happened.
   A  woman my Ma knew had a husband who worked at the mill, as did a lot of men back then. Over time, she noticed that he was getting home from the 3-11 shift a couple hours late. At first, she told herself that he was stopping off at the 2200 to have a few with his friends, but he brought home the same money as always, which meant he wasn't working overtime, either.

     Sure enough, a trusted friend told her what she dreaded to hear-her man was stepping out with a redbone from off of Pearl Avenue.

     She thought about it, and pondered, and came up with a plan....
The next day was his day off, and he went fishing at Hot Waters with a couple of buddies. When he came home about five, bucket full of white bass and perch, he found the house spotless, supper on the table (his favorites), and her, waiting with a smile and a drink for him in her hand.

     She sat him down, and fed  him to the brim, washing it all down with Old Crow. When the last plate was cleaned, and the last drop drunk, he staggered into the bedroom, stripped down to his boxers, and lay across the bed, asleep within a minute.

     This was her chance....she went to the kitchen, and got out her biggest pot, filling it half full of water, and setting it on the stove, turning the eye up high. When it was boiling, she added three boxes of Quaker Oats,
and a gallon of Br'er Rabbit Molasses, stirring it all together. Turning off the stove, she lifted the pot off the stove with two potholders, and carried it into the bedroom, where her philandering mate lay in a gluttinous stuipor.

     Then, holding the pot as high as she could, she poured the sticky, volcanic mixture over his sleeping form, from nose to toes.

     They stayed together, them-but he came straight home from then on.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

SOME JUST DON'T GET IT

     I've been wanting to write about this for a while, I'm not really sure why....I guess I just don't understand people like this.

     There was a guy in our bunch that hung around together, who just wasn't comfortable no matter what was happening. He always had to be right, to have the last word, and he'd get belligerent if things didn't go his way.

      We were always a pretty loose bunch-as long as you weren't hassling someone, you were cool. This cat never could leave well enough alone, always stirring something up somewhere.

     You might ask, why we'd put up with this nonsense? He wasn't always like that. He was smart, could be really funny, compassionate, even charming at times. Sometimes, though, you just wanted to make him disappear.

     Over time, everyone pulled away from him, as folks would reach their personal BS limit. Of course, it was NEVER his fault-people were out to get him, to use him, we were all laughing at him behind his back.

     It's been nearly twenty years since I've seen him, and that's fine with me. I bear him no ill will, and I hope he's managed to get past all that baggage he's been piling upon his own back.

     I've forgiven him, but I have no need to see him, hear from him, nor is he on my "thank-you-for-your-place-on-the-journey" list.

     Well, that's done.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

THE HOME IN YOUR HEAD

             If you've been on this trip with me from the beginning, you'll remember I used a quote, something about the "home in one's head".                                                                                      
     Sometimes, when I get to wonder who besides Dan and my wife actually reads this stuff, I wonder  what that phrase might mean to others.

Some may not have a home; when I was a ward of the Court, I met a lot of kids like that, who either couldn't remember, or the memories were too horrible to face.

Other people, and I suspect I'm one of them, re-write it as we go along, editing out the really bad stuff, and putting a Vaseline haze over the images that are left.

I look at that picture of our house-in my mind, it's nowhere near that shabby, and it's HUGE....I'd love to be able to walk through it now, just to see.

Were all those nice people really that nice? If I were to go back to Lorain, 1960, the age I am now, would I  be greeted by smiles and welcome?

Would I find I'd outgrown the places, and the people I'd loved? 

Would there be things that I remember, that never happened?
    
     Might it even be possible, that all that has come since, is nothing more than the dream of a four year-old, who even now AWAKENS-

Monday, September 17, 2012

SOME OTHER TIME, PERHAPS

     This is a picture of  20th and Broadway, taken in the late sixties. On the southern side of that corner building is a staircase, leading to the basement of the structure. There's a railing, somewhat hard to see in this shot, that runs down the side, east to west ....at the time the photo was taken, the basement space was occupied by a taxicab company, the name of which escapes me, presently.The company closed up shop in about 1969, and the space went vacant, falling into disuse, debris of all sorts covering the stairs and floor below. the entrance to the stairs was boarded off, as was the door downstairs.

     Fast-forward to 1975....it's about midnight, and I'm heading home, walking south on Broadway, passing the VL Cinema, and the bank, and coming to the corner. As I reach it, I hear music coming from behind me, in the direction of the building.

     I walk over to the railing, and look down....the area below is clean, as are the stairs, and the boards across the stairway entrance are gone. The door below me is open, light spilling out, along with the sounds of music, laughter, and conversation. Well, thinks I, someone bought the space below, or rented it, and they're going to have a business there, perhaps another cab company.

     I started to go to the stairs, to descend, and see for myself what's happening, but I decided to wait-whomever might not welcome the intrusion. So, I continued home.

     The next day, about eleven or so, I was headed past the spot, and went over to greet the new tenants. I walked to the railing, looked down....

     And was greeted by dust, debris, 
boarded stairway,and a long-boarded shut door.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

POP BOTTLES

                If you're a kid, one of the things you've got in common with Grone Folx is a continual quest for funds. Generally, even in a good economy, jobs aren't really there for kids, except for running errands and mowing lawns,
that sorta thing; even those were iffy.

     Asking your parents for more money? Okay, if you don't mind going through a long, drawn-out process to get it.

     There WAS another way, back then, and it often literally lay there for the taking....pop bottles.

     If you needed, say, two dollars for the show and munchies, no sweat. The little bottles, like small Coke, were each worth a nickel. 16-ounce bottles, a dime. Quart bottles were twenty cents, and those half-gallon Lawson's milk bottles, a quarter.

     People threw bottles away, or sometimes let them pile up on their back porches, intending perhaps to return them. With a wee bit o' persuasion, you could often get them to gift you with ther whole lot. A wagon came in handy for such tasks, or a stray shopping cart.

      Once you'd loaded your cargo, it's off to the store....supermarkets were best, although the corner store would do in a pinch, if you could convince the owner that yes, you DID buy all that pop from him.
Eventually, you'd get shed of your load, and walk down the street, pocket bulging with coins.

      Some places, I've heard, still take pop bottles; I wish we were one of them.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

THE PROM

     It was 1973, and I was in my usual state at Clearview High....in trouble. The Principal, the Honorable Raymond L. Troxtell, was displeased with my boyish antics
and refusal to work and play well with others, and took what he thought, I'm sure, was devastating action-he banned me from the Junior Prom.

     ARRRRGGGGGGHHHHH! 'Twas kryptonite to my very tuchus, to not be allowed to dress up in a silly pastel-colored monkey suit, and sashay around with some teen nullandvoid for several hours; a crushing blow.

     The next day, when I arrived at school, I noticed signs in strategic spots, advertizing a Talent Show that would, in addition to being a break from the usual routine at Camp Placebo, serve as an audition for the Prom Night gig; bands were required to contact ol' Uncle Ray to be put on the list.

     Sensing an opportunity, I dashed to the payphone at the end of the hall, and called my friend Mike's house, getting his sister Sylvie on the phone. I told her about the gig, and asked her to get a message to Mike, who attended Admiral King, to call the Principal at Clearview.

     When I caught up with Mike at his home later, he told me that he and the Fabulous Techniques were the first ones on the list for the audition, and would have the headline spot; the show would be in two weeks.

     Showtime came, and the auditorium was packed. There were two bands from Clearview, plus the Techniques, auditioning.

     The other bands were okay-Iron Horse, fronted by my classmate George Pratt, was particularly good, but that was nothing to when the Techniques took the stage, and blew off the roof with this....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxJFjO4Skgo


     The place EXPLODED! The lads were funkin' up the joint, Micheal's drums detonating like cannons, the horns swirling to the sky, guitars and bass driving like a stampede.

     Then, they took it down a notch, and the lead singer, James "Brougham" Hitchens, knelt at the edge of the stage, and crooned this little number....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AX2lvItpXCo

securing the spot for the gig.

     The night of the Prom, I'm unloading Mike's kit from the Econoline, and I'm waiting....sure enough, no sooner do I get inside the door than the Hon. Raymond L. comes barging up, all irate authority.

      "Mr. Hopewell", he barked, "you were specifically banned from attending this school function-"
"I'm not", I replied, "I'm working; I'm WITH THE BAND!"

      Advantage....me. I got to trip on the music, the food, the girls, the whole Prom trip itself, without having to dress up, or any of that Archie and Veronica jazz.

     As it turned out, I not only helped my friends get a really good gig, but I was instrumental (NPI) in the formation of another band.

     George and the members of Iron Horse were at the Prom, natch, and were talking shop with the Techniques between sets.  Within three years, Iron Horse had broken up, and Mike and his cousin, Nate, a guitar player, had split the Techniques. Eventually, they got together with George, a friend of his named Tegan, and a friend of Mike's (who became a friend of mine, Dave Rathmore) to form another band, Ruby Enterprise., which I roadied for, and hung out with.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

VINCENT

      This post is about my bear, Vincent.      I got Vincent a few months ago, when Trace and I were browsing through the DAV in Whitney. Black and red are my favorite color combination, so I was drawn to him, not to mention the fact that he looked lonely.

     He was only a dollar, so I brought him home. He's guarded the head of our bed ever since then.

     Whenever an adult, particularly a guy confesses to owning a teddy bear, the first question is always, "Do you sleep with him?" In my case, the answer is "Yes, along with my wife."

     It's not the same as with my childhood companion, Binky....I don't have a need to sleep with Vincent, but I find his company pleasant, perhaps the best explanation I can give.

     Oh- if you were wondering, he's named after the late Vincent Price, whom I always wanted to meet.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

THE CASCADE PARK ENIGMA

     Stuff sometimes happens that leaves you wondering just what went on, or thanking the One Who looks out for us.

     This was one of those times.
It was the spring of '67, and I was with a group of other boys and an adult sponsor, on an outing to Cascade Park. It's a nice metropark in Elyria, with woods, the Black River, trails, caves, and waterfalls.

     This particular day, we were hiking along a trail at the top of a cliff, about eighty feet or so, going to the West Falls.There were six of us boys, along with Jerry, a college student who headed our VIA club, the Ramrods. We were just having the kind of good time a bunch of eleven year-old boys would on such a day, slinging rocks, making jokes, and being alive.

     I dunno whether someone pushed me, or if I just tripped, but I remember falling, hitting the ground, and wondering why the river, which I'd been hearing below and to my right, was now just to the right, and a lot louder....

     When I looked right, there was the Black River, just a few yards away-I'd fallen nearly eighty feet from the top of the cliff, but was unharmed, other than some scratches! My friends and Jerry were looking worriedly over the edge at me, and I assured them I was okay. I had to backtrack a bit, to find where I could get back up to where I was.

     As a believer,I know that God keeps us from and allows harm as He sees fit. Even knowing, I didn't take this for granted, nor have I on the other occasions where He kept me safe while in danger.

      As always, my King, thank you.

    

Friday, July 27, 2012

THE B&O ROUNDHOUSE FIRE

    I can see it in my mind's eye, clearly....

     Flames, leaping into the night sky, seeming to my child's mind to be miles high. Firehoses snaking across the ground, and water running into the gutter. The Grone Folx are all standing around, watching as the firemen try vainly to extinguish the blaze. 
Someone shouts, "Evacuate the area!", and someone else shouts, "Shut the @#%$ UP!"

     I'm about seven years old, and the B&O Roundhouse, to the southeast of our house, is on fire.
I don't know what time it is, only that I was awakened by the G.F. clamoring to each other as they head out of doors to see what's going on-I, of course, followed them.

      People, the whole neighborhood it seems, are out there, watching the structure blazing away in the night. More fire trucks than I'd ever seen in one spot are there, but they are unable to do more than keep the fire from spreading.

     Finally, my mother takes me by the hand, and leads me back to the house. In the morning, we hear that the Roundhouse burned to the ground.

     Ever since then, I've tried to find an article, picture, or something about that fire, to no avail; the Black River Historical Society lists a roundhouse fire in South Lorain back in, (I think) '36, but obviously, that's not it. My colleagues Dan Brady and Dennis Lamont have nothing on it, or have ever heard of it.

     Does anyone who reads this blog remember the Roundhouse Fire of '63, or-
DID I DREAM IT?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

S.O.P.

When I was twelve, I got to spend six weeks in the summer of '68 on a great adventure, a long, strange trip; it was called the Special Opportunities Program, or S.O.P., and it was (purportedly)an educational program for high-intellect kids. We spent six weeks living and studying on a college campus (in our case, Oberlin College), taking high-school and college prep courses, and being exposed to art, literature, and the college experience itself. Being as this was 1968, that took on a whole new meaning. Our counselors were college seniors, from all backgrounds, but generally of a liberal mindset-we discussed the war, civil rights, the emerging roles of women and minorities, and our opinions were treated as valid. Also, we saw drug use, heard the newest of music, and the sexual revolution at play. Some of it was mystifying. One morning, we came into English class, and wee told we would view a film. When it was over, we were to write our impressions of what we saw, leaving the finished paper upon our desks, and continue on to the next class. The film we saw was the military footage of the liberation of Auschwitz. When we next had class, it was never mentioned. Years after S.O.P., I ran into a teacher who was on staff there at the time, and I asked him what it had all been about....he told me that, as far as he knew,the Special Opportunities Program was a government-funded study to discover (in his words)"what use could be made of genius-level, low-income children". Over the years, I've found very little else about it.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

HEAD REST

I first heard of Head Rest when I was a student at Admiral King; a couple I baby-sat for told me about the place, a "drop-in center" for teens. Not long after that, I got sent to Hawthorne Hills (see "THE SUMMER OF '72"), and I didn't get to the place until September of '72. It was really cool, a house on 22nd Street that had been converted into a haven for troubled youth. If you wanted , there were counselors to talk to, although most people just hung out, and talked to each other, when they weren't watching tv, playing cards, or listening to music. There were three fine sisters,the Catalanos, who lived right across the street, who were there almost every night, plus others from the area. The counselors ranged in age from the early twenties to a lady in her fifties. Head Rest opened at four every afternoon, and stayed open until midnight. Sometimes, they'd pop popcorn in the kitchen, and there was a Pepsi machine just inside the back door. I met my second-ever girlfriend there, a girl from Elyria named Betty, although everyone called her Mickie. History took place there-we saw the King-Riggs tennis match there, a well as the Trickster's resignation. Mainly, the place was about not being hassled by anyone. Their funding ran out in August of '75, and the place closed; I was the actual last person out of the door. Someone needs to open a place like that in Lorain, now....really.

Monday, June 4, 2012

WESTGATE SHOPPING CENTER

It's been years since I walked or rode along its length, I dunno if there's even any stores left open; the picture I have posted looks like a derelict. It's hard to imagine Westgate as a bustling shopping center, but that's exactly what it was in my childhood. We shopped for groceries at Pick-N-Pay, bought our school clothes at W.T. Grant, did laundry at the all night Laundromat. For about a year, we lived across the street from Westgate, and it became, among other things, our playground- I learned to ride a bike in its parking lot, ate cookies and candy pilfered from Lawson's and Fisher Foods, and had my first-ever employment carrying bags of groceries for Pick-N-Pay patrons, or gathering carts for the store manager-I still carry a scar on my right thumb from where I smashed it between two carts one afternoon. My Ma would collect "LET'S GO TO THE RACES" cards from Pick-N-Pay, and tune into the program on Wednesday nights to see if she had a winning race.....she never did. I loved going grocery shopping with her, especially as we only had to cross the street to get home. The last time I was there was about '81 or so....a friend wanted to stop at the Westgate Grille, so we did, and had a couple beers. To Pick-N-Pay, Marshall Drug (site of my first sundae), Hough Bakeries, Nobil Shoes, W.T. Grant, Lawsons, Fisher Foods, and all the other stores and shops of Westgate, SALUTE!

Friday, May 18, 2012

THE SUMMER OF '77

     Ahhh...to be free, multi-colored, and twenty-one again, riding that cosmic surfboard, existing on caffiene and attitude, racing the sunrise to rest, until the night called again....
     Nineteen seventy-seven, a year I deeply experienced, but barely remember. My friends and I roamed the streets of Lorain like euphoriated coyotes, no doubt making some nervous, but pretty much harmless. Lakeview, Big Dick's, L&K, Midway Mall, we were everywhere, into everything, generally on something.
\

     I have no pictures from then, thank God- my daughter has enough about me to make her laugh as it is. She thinks I'm strange as a Christian conservative of middle years-what would she think of the liberal space-captain of twenty-one?

     To all of you who shared that summer of voyage with me, I hope you came out of it at least as healthy as I did.

     For Micheal, Ivey, Bruce, John, and so many others who aren't here to read this....you are missed.

Monday, April 30, 2012

THE NORTHERN MOTHER


    
     I've been thinking a lot about the lake lately....to be honest, I've thought about her since I left. I live near a "lake", one of those gynormous turf-scars that the Corps of Engineers was so fond of digging way back when. It's nice, and I've heard that the fishing's good-but it's not Erie.

     Oddly enough, I've never been out on her water. I last swam in her about thirty-five years ago, and I've never gone boating on her. The furthest out I've ever been is to the end of the Mile-Long Pier. Still, she sings in my blood, and I never knew until I was gone.

     She's claimed five friends over the years, but I bear no grudge-she is what she is, and often, she's dangerous. My brother almost drowned in her waters about a couple months after two kids we knew drowned riding a bike off the Pier, back in March of '68. She's the reason we have the kick-ass winters we do, the famed "lake effect" found in few places on the globe, according to Dick Goddard.

     She was my friend, on quiet, sleepless nights. I could hear the waves tumbling in, the hiss of churning pebbles in the surf, the whispering sound, so like the human voice, that always gave her nighttime shores a haunted quality. The moon, like a giant medusa jelly, glowing over her reflecting surface, dominating the fainter light of vessels going to ports far and near.

     She has mystified me, with glowing fogbanks that traveled against the wind, sounds when nothing is visible to make them, first-hand accounts of strange aquatic reptiles from ages past, showing up to unnerve fishermen. I've played in her surf, tried to surf on old doors at Lakeview, sat on the sand at one am, listening to a radio station from almost directly across the water, and had a thousand adventures on and near her.

     Some nights, after a 40-ounce or a Cuba Libre,  I'll call the Coast Guard station at the mouth of the Black, and ask after her. The Coastie can't give me specific data, Homeland Security and all, but we generally talk for a few, and it's good to hear someone from "up home".

     Lord willing, I'll take my wife and daughter to meet her someday....I think they'd love her, as I do.

Friday, April 13, 2012

AUNT GLENNA













I Googled my Aunt Glenna recently, and ran across an article about her










She was a professional photographer, often doing publicity shots and album cover photos for people like Dean Martin, Hal Holbrook, and many others.










I haven't seen my aunt in nearly thirty years, as she tends to keep to herself, family-wise. I last heard from her about eight years ago, when she answered a letter I wrote to her.








I remember how exciting it was, when she'd come to visit back in the 60's, driving to Cleveland Hopkins Airport to pick her up, and the fun we'd have while she was with us, particularly at Christmas, when she brought the coolest presents-one year, she gave me a dart gun shooting gallery, with targets that spun and made noises when you wound it up.


Over the years, her visits became less frequent.

I've left her her privacy, as I understand the need.


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

AMENDS



I don't remember which step in AA is about making amends, but I've thought at times about apologizing for some of my youthful misdeeds whilst in Lorain...an angel, I wasn't.


To all the store owners who were victims of my five-finger discount policies, I'm sorry-generally, it wasn't even something I needed, but simply wanted.

To the owners of the dozens of windows I broke over the years, I've no explanation, even one that satisfies me.


To the other kids whose bikes I stole, it wasn't about you, just about me being selfish.


I once caused a power outage in Lorain; that was an accident. I once keyed a lady's beautiful car because her son wouldn't come out and fight me; that was deliberate.


To those who saw fit to throw me out of their establishments for asinine behavior, you were right.


To Sheriff Phil Stamitti, no, I didn't win the sword cane in a card game, and yes, I knew the sword was in there. When you were with the LPD, you always treated me okay, and you didn't deserve the lie.


To those people I disappointed by not trying, running from responsibility, from life, forgive me; you saw something in me that I didn't.


My best to all, and here's to the statute of limitations. BTW, is my spray-painted scorpion still on the (NW) alley wall near 20th and Broadway?


Saturday, March 24, 2012

A MOMENT BRIEF, BUT SCARY







One Sunday, my buddy Tex and I decided to stroll up to the corner store, and cop some beer; we both ran tabs with the owner, which was cool, as we were broke.


When we got there, we found the lady in charge was gone, and the dude she left behind the counter wasn't studying anyone's tabs, and was even a bit fly about it. So, we split.


As we were leavin', we heard our names called from the house attached to the rear of the store. Sitting on the porch were the owner's two teenage daughters, seventeen and fifteen. They wanted to know if we had any weed....as it turned out, both Tex and I had about a dime each, plus the usual hardware.


They said they'd buy a nickel from us, which would more than cover a 12-pack of Miller, and run us up to Lakeview Park, as they were thinking about going there themselves. That was cool with us, although we decided to buy the brew at another store a few blocks away. We piled into their Dodge wagon, as Tex's ride was down, and left, Tex driving.


We get to the other store, and Tex gets out, going inside. The girls are up front, and I'm sittin' in the back, sufferin' through whatever crap G-98 was playin', when my Spider-sense starts to tingle.


I look to the rear, and sure enough, like a blue and white shark cruisin' over the reef, was a Lorain Police car, doin' that SLOOOOWWWW glide, y'know what I mean.


I'm thinkin' to myself, "Lessee.... I'm in a car, with two underage white girls, holdin' weed, and the cops are right behind us....I'm in a WORLD'a s#@^"


Just as I was about to stash my bag somewhere in the car, the Eagle Cab goes past, not even slowing down....


Sheer trip, man.

Monday, March 19, 2012

DOES ANYONE REMEMBER



When Oakwood Park had a fountain?


Sliding down the pole on field trips to the fire station?


"Chameleons" on sale at the five and dime?


Watching "The FBI" late at night, and being scared when they talked about the dangerous criminals at large?


The smell of the Mister Softee truck sitting at the corner?


Finding marbles buried in the dirt?


The tunnel that opened onto Lakeview Park beach?


The Pure Oil Firebird?


The Halloween parade every October, down Broadway?


The Back-to-School Movie Show at the Palace each year?


Eski, the Eskimo, in the Journal each Christmas?


Chocolate milk from Lorain Creamery?


WELL....I do.


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

ALL-NIGHT TV




Like most of us, I grew up loving television, and so much of what I remember from my growing up I can relate to tv, when a particular show was on, where I was, etc.




In the mid-70's, I'd become an extreme version of myself, long-haired, an afficionado of euphoric substances, and a night-owl. Serendipitously enough, local television changed, almost as if to accomodate those such as myself.




Traditionally, the local affiliates signed off at about three am, signing back on at five-thirty or so. Then, like a present from the tv fairy, came all-night tv on the weekends. At first, the stations still signed off, albeit for only fifteen minutes. After a couple of months, they began to run truly all night.
















Dig this....I could come toddling home at one or two, too....er....STIMULATED to go to bed, and just turn on the tv. WJKW, Channel 8, had 8 ALL NITE, or as Dave called it, "Eight 'til you cry", which generally had a double feature of cheesy horror and science-fiction, some films I'd never seen, or heard of








others, films I hadn't seen since the beloved Ghoulardi went off the air ten years before








Great stuff, serious trip. At the same time, WEWS, Channel 5, had MOVIE 5, which morphed into JANE'S All-NIGHT MOVIE for a few months. They semed to specialize in obscure, off-the-wall, el cheapo movies, like these....






















Some of these films were so weird, I'd call someone, just to verify I was seeing what I was seeing.




If I got hungry, there was a wonderful pizza joint, Piccolo's, which stayed open until 4 am, and had really great pizza and subs for cheap.




Now, late night tv is generally infomercials, and there's no pizza places open that late.


Still, there ARE DVDs, and the nuker for leftover slices....




Tuesday, February 21, 2012

SONGS IN THE KEY OF ALAN







There's probably some poor soul somewhere who isn't affected by music at all; thank God it's not me.


I don't play any instruments, my singing is beloved only by my wife and a few church ladies, but music has always been important to me.


These songs, for one reason or another, shaped my interests, my beliefs, and me, over the years.




I first heard this song at the age of nine, and it gave me the creeps. I didn't hear it again until I was eighteen, but by then, its subject had led me into an interest in similar things that continues to this day.





I saw this film, heard this song, in '68; I was twelve, and watching the world around me turn strange.





Four years later, I was in love for the first time, and this song seemed to confirm that all was right with the world.





I heard this song for the first time the same week that first romance ended.





This song has uplifted me, even saved my life a couple times.





This song is for all the special ladies over the years....thank you.





This song is for me, and the one special one who sits beside me.




For the One Who has brought it all to pass, and holds our future....

Monday, February 6, 2012

QUIET PLACES




Even as a child, I was generally most comfortable when alone; social conventions often seemed silly, and needless, and I am sometimes anxious around groups of people, especially strangers.




Over the years, I found a number of places to block out the noise of everyday, and better hear the voice of my Creator. I visited them often, and sometimes long to see them again.




THE WOODS- There were the ones behind Elyria Avenue and Broadway, between the tracks and the river , peaceful, with the scent of water permeating all. There was King's Woods, on the northern side of the east / west rail line, and the small patch of woods and marsh behind the south side of 21st Street, up past Reeves Avenue. Each one had its own atmosphere, and allure, its own attractions, whether it be the garter snakes along the Black, or the wild strawberries to be found near the projects.




LAKEVIEW PARK- I frequented the park between midnight and five, when it was closed, and vacant. I'd roam all through Lakeview, like its official spectre, listening to the faint echoes of the other ghosts there.




BROADWAY, AT NIGHT- The bars closed at 2:30, yet I might still be downtown at four,
Adding to twenty-some years of footsteps I'd left there over the years. I'd climb to the vantage point of the 530 Shop roof, or the parking garage at 300 Broadway, and of course, I'd ankle over to Veteran's Memorial Park and....point the cannon.




CHARLESTON CEMETERY- As a youngster, I would be leery of cemeteries at night, save for this one.


I don't walk at night here-I haven't for years- but I sometimes catch a reverberance of those nights, walking through the quiet spaces, sometimes running into others, far from sleep, seeking solace-


Perhaps you.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

CHRIS







This is one of those stories that just defies explanation....
Back in '88, I decided to quit drinking and partying of all sorts~things were becoming a mess, so I decided it might be time.

I'd been at it a little over a month, when I woke out of a sound sleep with my heart pounding, gasping for breath...it was about half-past midnight, and I decided to walk to St.Joes, and visit the ER, about five blocks away.

When I got there, the head ER nurse put me in a cubicle, and told me the doctor would be in shortly; it was a Tuesday night,and they weren't very busy. Sure enough, I'd barely gotten my shirt off and sat back on the gurney, when in walked a huge man, about the size and general build of Merlin Olsen, the football player turned actor. His hair, beard and mustashe were brown, with twinkling green eyes, a big, friendly teddy bear.

His name tag simply said "CHRIS". Over the years, I'd gotten to know most of the ER staff, but I'd never seen Chris before.

As he examined me, he spoke, "You're trying to get off drugs, right, Alan?" I answered yes, not sure how he knew. Then, he explained to me that what I was experiencing was not a heart attack, but a simple anxiety attack, brought on by my body's dealing with the lack of drugs in my system.

He said that I was in no danger, that my heart rate and respiration would return to normal; indeed, I could feel it happening as he talked.

Chris said to me, "If you want, I could let you spend the night upstairs, under observation", Thanks, no", I said, "I'm okay now....I'm just gonna go home to bed."

He wished me goodnight, good luck, and left the cubicle. I put my shirt on, and walked out, ready to head home.

"Alan", said Kay, the head nurse, "where are you going?" "I'm going home", I replied, "the doctor said I'm okay, and I feel okay."

"The doctor hasn't been in yet, Alan", said Kay, "he's still up on the floors."
I'd said earlier that I didn't recognize Chris; when I described him to Kay and the other ER staff, neither did they.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

THE SLATTERY HOUSE



Dan Brady just published an entry in his blog about this house, and its original owner, Mr. Seher, who owned a brewery in Lorain.


Me, I always knew the place as the Slattery House.


You can't see it in this picture, but there used to be a sign on the railing on the front of the house, which said, "SLATTERY MOTION PICTURES".

When I was a kid, I used to wonder just who was making movies in Lorain, and how I could get involved in it. Looking in the phone book turned up no listing for a film studio, so it remained a pleasant mystery. Any number of times, I started to go up and knock or ring the bell, but my nerve always failed me.


Finally, in the summer of '88, I had the chance to do just that- I was working for R.L. Polk, the people who put out the City Directory every year, and the Slattery house was in my assigned territory. With a skip in my step, I scampered up the walk, up the front stairs, and rang the bell.


A young woman answered....no, she said, she was not a Slattery, nor did she know them-she lived there with her husband and two children. She said that she DID know that the "motion pictures" part came from the fact that the Slatterys had made industrial films for years, so the realtor had told her.


I thanked her for her time, and vowed to return some time, and ask for a look around-which I never did. According to Google, the house is still there, on the north side of Ninth Street, just past Reid, heading west.


Looking at the photo Dan took recently ( which I nicked for my blog-thanks again, Dan!)

I wonder the same thing I'd wondered countless times as I walked or rode past the Slattery place....


HOW MUCH DID IT COST TO HEAT?