Tuesday, December 18, 2012


     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


     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


     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.