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.