Archive for December, 2012


Monday, December 31st, 2012

Closing books on a year is bittersweet. Time’s elapsed—forever. Still, as Ermine warns, “It’s OK to look at the past— just don’t stare at it”. So here’s one more glance at 2012, and to its special blend of love, laughter, friendship, smiles, tears, mistakes and (hopefully) growth!

It was an entertaining year in so many ways:

As to cinema, I sustained a lifelong practice of viewing no James Bond, Indiana Jones, Luke Skywalker, or for that matter anything akin to The Hobbit or Lord Of The Rings. Thrice, however, cultured as I am, I thrilled to “The Three Stooges Movie”. (Most memorable was the sitting with Michael and Stu Miller. Exiting the theater I picked up a text my son’d sent minutes into the film. “This will be two hours of my life,” he noted, “I’ll never get back.”

Then there was my theater stuff. On stage I played a business tycoon (“How To Succeed…”) and a Nazi soldier (“Sound Of Music”) and yes, even directed a show. My most fulfilling role? That of father, grandfather.

Ah, family…

It was a year Max learned to daven and Lucy to crawl….when my sobriety turned 15, my youngest 30, and my eldest 35. Still, hearing Max call my name, seeing Lucy point to her head, I felt nothing but younger.

It was a year too, of lessons. How I scoffed as my aunt felt ignored by the rabbi. “Perhaps he didn’t get your message”, I urged. “You should send emails. Then he has to respond.” We debated it often through summer and fall. Our discourse ended only recently. “You’re stupid,’ she told me while shopping for Chanukah.

No, I didn’t have all the answers. Nor did others. All my detective work couldn’t find Hindy’s coat and neither sportswriters nor Matt Klein ever did explain the Jets’ handling of Tebow.

On a personal level, it was a year of loss…

From cousin Barby to friend Al to Uncle Ernie. I conjure still, Barby of the 60’s, twixteen wearing pastel lipstick at the Riviera Swim Club. And I picture Brother Al, black shirt, gold chai and grimace, poking me in the chest after lodge— lecturing, always lecturing. “Yous guys don’t understand,” he would moan. And Ernie Fanwick: a treasure. Just months earlier so many of the family had gathered in Stamford as he and Aunt Lee marked 60 years. He was sitting at a round table at the brunch in the hotel when I left for the airport. Patriarch to many, friend to all….

There was too this year, life being life, visceral disappointment. Nothing glares out, even now, like the election and how some treated one of their own. Positions come and positions go and Lord knows I never tell others how to think…but I wore my bumper sticker proudly. Amen.

The Breakfast Of Champions, of course, continued. We enjoyed guest appearances by Gruber, Chronic and Wido, dubbed Kanter “Ozzie Nelson” and continued to wait for Kramer (Siegal) to return. And for the second year in a row, one fell in The Bet. As of Wednesday, but three remain.

And speaking of food: It was a year I got to take Max to Great Neck Diner for breakfast, Lucy to Lulubelle’s for lunch and Aunt Helen to Harold’s for dinner…. A year I found the world’s best salmon at Ben’s Deli (Bayside) yet but weeks later, (unwittingly), began eating “at home”.

It was the year too that Fred helicoptered in. Taking the second bedroom in May, it’s fair to state that between my meetings and theater and his runs to the race track, our paths rarely crossed. We were, clearly, two schleps passing in the night.

And it was a time of life-saving moments. Snyder saved Skippy in Chicago and but weeks later my niece found a home for the Darryls in Baltimore. Bob’s actions made for a Happy Thanksgiving and Liz’s actions resulted in truly a Festivus miracle!

It was a time for farewells…I said Shalom to Great Neck, what with Michael and Meredith moving out. The flag too is up in Chitown, as Stace and Jace move on.
Goodbyes also to 3-a-days in restaurants, and my PC: home cooking and an Apple? Who’d have thunk it! Oh, and Hello to Pandora Radio, by the way. (Why pay for Spotify?) Does it get any better?

The year began with a Catholic friend praying at a mass for my grandbaby and ended as a country prayed together for all our children…When it began I was retiring each night alone yet waking with Darryl and Darryl aside me. Today I fall asleep with my arms around a treasure, and wake with a big “hoont” named Rusty vying for position. Yes, I began the year with a catheter in my heart but am ending it with love in its place.

More than anything else then, this was the year of The Concert. Ten years after the London’s Concert For George, I sat among friends at Cain Park learning “All you need is love.”—-which explains why, in the year Wieder wrote a another book, after August first, I had no time to read one.

I’m excited, clearly, for the brand new year. Grateful for ’12 though, No, not all prayers have been answered. Out east remain stars I still wish to gaze on. (It had to be said). And I will. Maybe not when I want…but in God’s time.

I close then, one eye out the window on the falling snow, and the other set straight for tomorrow, and its promise. And it’s true, like I said as this year started: I do live a climate where regardless the weather, I feel sunshine.


Thursday, December 27th, 2012

Rummaging through boxes I stumbled across a note from The Little One, circa the end of the century. Written her last days of high school, she was promising to see me more once at college.

Parents miss kids post-divorce; Lord knows I missed her. Family dynamic what it was back then, let’s just say our time together wasn’t what it should have been. I could have pushed harder, sure, but she was in the middle and yes, we survived. Still, as lamented so long ago, “I never saw her brush her teeth”.

‘Got used to it. Even accepted it as she grew up…healthy…then moved away. As did Michael, I might add. And JJ. Gone to Windy Cities and Empire States to spawn beautiful children whose teeth again I wouldn’t see cleaned.

In a movie just viewed, Artie and Diane Decker flew east from out west to spend time with their grandkids. Studying the mantelpiece, they saw picture after picture until, finally, they found themselves.

“We’re The Other grandparents,” rued one, wistfully.

There was a time that might have bothered me—a time I may have felt the victim…the outsider—-a time (perhaps), I’d have slunk down in that theater seat, hearing those words, feeling pain.

But I don’t.

Wayne Dyer says ““If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” He’s so right.

Four grandchildren live away and I can’t change that. Unfortunate as it is, the separation was presaged by Generation Y’s exodus from my dying city. (If anyone’s to blame, I suppose, ‘tis the stream of clowns running northeast Ohio). No one stays. Why should they? None of my kids gave serious pause to staying in Cleveland.

And still, when I picture Max in that Yankee cap flanked by people with New York accents, or as I think of Lucy in a highchair while her father and her father’s father sit cheering “Da Bears”, I fret not.

I see not myself, the grandfather absent. That must be. I see, rather, the grandparents present—that which is.

My kids are lucky to have family around them—family that breeds not only family, but the feeling of family.

I was discussing the movie with Stace today. (She’d seen it too, and that line—the reference to “the other grandparents” —she’d heard it too).

“When I’m in New York,” I reminded her, “There’s never a time Stuart doesn’t step aside and let me bat first with Max.” As Rooney well knows, there’s never a trip my machetunim don’t open their home to me, minimizing my costs… maximizing my relationship with The Prince.

I choose, then, not to dwell in an equation where miles make me meaningless. My world, and pray tell, Max’s, is half-full, not half-empty. We share a realm in which I not only feel, but know that Meredith’s parents invite our visits and encourage our interaction.

Grandparenting is not a competition; it’s an interaction. Max is blessed to have vibrant, caring kinship surround him. As is Lucy. My barometer is set, of course, through the Millers, but with the Rooney’s bambina still an infant, I expect no less looking west. Jason’s family has been nothing but inclusive and Bonesy? His door is always open.

So I don’t pout that they are there, and I don’t feel like I’m less than equal. I am, if you I need a label, The Further— not The Other.  And I pray that as my children did, my grandchildren too grow up… healthy…and move away.

Perhaps even to Cleveland.


Sunday, December 23rd, 2012

Each Friday the nation’s newspaper publishes a feature titled “!0 Great…”. One week it might be 10 Great Places to dine; another it could be 10 Great Places for bird watching, or perhaps 10 Great Places to Shoot Archery—-whatever. The only things never posted are 10 venues for anything I might do. Not once has it been, for example, 10 Restaurants with Great Corned Beef or 10 Coffeehouses to watch people from. Au contraire! No, it’s always locales to hunt geese or parks to build camp fires.

When, pray tell, will the journal evolve? When will it reach out to shallow people like me?

Screw ‘Em! In the holiday spirit, I will make the first move. I present then, in alphabetical and not preferential order TEN GREAT PLACES I MADE HOLIDAY MEMORIES:

  • CLEVELAND, OHIO. City Mission. Burnside and I worked the kitchen as Joe Piteo and the good folks at Blazin’ Bills fed four hundred. Things took longer than anticipated and leaving to head uptown to a speaking engagement I noticed I not only had no tie with me, but no time to stop home. A moment later, in a scene straight from the movies, a resident approached me with a scruffy, folded tie. “I’ll get it back to you tomorrow,” I said, thanking him. He nodded, though, without hesitation. “Merry Christmas,” he told me. “Please keep it.”
  • CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, OHIO. Grandma Bogart’s house. She lived upstairs on East Overlook and each New Year’s Eve my brother and I’d sleep over, so our parents might romp. The TV was black and white, but the thrill of staying up for Jack Paar then switching over to Guy Lombardo lives on. On a clear day, we can still picture the Roosevelt Hotel and hear strains of “Old Lang Syne”.
  • GREAT NECK, NEW YORK. December 31, 2011. Babysitting Max, studying his every move on a monitor. Is there a warmer, fuzzier way to slide into the next annum? He was one year old back then—not only too young to understand how funny his parents were when at 5:30 that day Michael broke the full-length mirror, but also too young to know how much I loved him, and that night.
  • LAKEFRONT STADIUM, CLEVELAND, OHIO. December 27, 1964. Browns 27, Johnny Unitas’s Colts 0. Wieder and I, (with the aid of brother Hal, and Dickie Lomaz), had pulled an all-nighter, won a radio contest and with it two ducats on the forty yard line. In the process we saw Mia Farrow, snuck into the post-game press conference, and carved a winter day we can still hold onto.
  • LONG ISLAND, NEW YORK. Chanukahs with the Ladies Luxenberg and their offspring. In the new century my son wed into a clan with a family backbeat so strong that even oft-missed notes in holiday sing-a-longs can’t quell the warmth. That first year Michael got me a book “The Ten Year War”. I had to read it all through to find out it was about Bo and Woody and not my parents.
  • LYNDHURST, OHIO. The couch on Aldersgate, circa 2009. A random comment to my brother that I’d never seen “It’s A Wonderful Life” had spawned an evening. Margie had the chair to the side as two brothers sat glued to the sofa. That last half hour there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. (Well, at least on the couch).
  • SHAKER HEIGHTS, OHIO. Chanukahs at Grandma Cele’s. The apartment overflowed with aunts, uncles, cousins and food. Most people think “Nes Gadol Haya Sham”, which translates to “A Great Miracle Happened There”, relates to the military exploits of Judah Macabee. Not so. Indeed, this holiday slogan refers to the fact that at Celia Porter’s each year, for two hours, the family got along. In that short respite with the menorah lit, Ruth didn’t hate Irv, Benny liked Phil and our mother still smiled. Indeed, a great miracle happened there!
  • SHAKER SQUARE (IN CLEVELAND), OHIO. Henry Katz’s apartment. January 1, 1969. Fenton had been dating this girl Barbara and was sucking up to her bachelor father. At the time Henry was seeing a former Miss Indiana—someone light years younger—- and had invited Stuart over to watch the Rose Bowl. Good friend that I was, I joined Stuey that afternoon, watching with strangers as the Bucks beat OJ Simpson and the Trojans 27-16. To this day, when people ask me where I was for that game…it’s just hard to explain.
  • SOUTH EUCLID, OHIO. Rowland School. The big diamond was final home for the Boobus Bowl, gridiron classic that kicked off each holiday season Davidson, Gelfand and Bogarts in ‘61—a host of Baskins, Mandels and Fruit Punch thereafter….with one constant: H and I, though both married, always took the muddy clothes off post-game at our mother’s. “And don’t leave them on the floor!” she would shry. Every Thanksgiving.

So there you have it: TEN GREAT HOLIDAY MEMORIES….(Or was that nine)? Did I get ahead of myself? Well…ok…here’s TEN. I left room for it.

  • BEACHWOOD, OHIO. Festivus, 2012. Carrie’s house. Stace and Jace are in town, and though Rooney’s otherwise occupied, Jason and Lucy will join us for the holiday dinner. We’ll watch football, do some feats of strength, and I’ll even rally my one year-old around the Festivus pole. But we won’t air our grievances. (At least I won’t).

I’ve got nothing to complain about, and ten great memories, or more.


Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

It was hard not to be moved by Adam Sandler’s rendition of “Hallelujah” at the Concert For Sandy. Angst of the underlying cause coupled with hometown pride struck just the right note and if you haven’t heard it yet, YouTube it now. There’s something warm and fuzzy, something pure, when people truly love their roots.

Candles lit and Margie’s latkes downed, we sat regaling common pasts. We—once of Bayard, Bexley, Wrenford & Stilmore — and the guitarist.

“Where did you live?” I asked Robbins.
“On Corwin,” he said.
“No one lived on Corwin, “ I shot back. “That was like a third world country.”
(It got a laugh—even from onlookers. But only those from our suburb really got the joke).

Two things are clear about growing up in South Euclid. First, those who weren’t there will never quite “get it”, and second: those same non-residents, (if they hang around with us), are condemned to endless recountings of what to them will be mundane tales.

Like the night Snyder got his ’66 Mustang and the competition to ride shotgun in his car that Friday…

Or the day years earlier that Masseria made Morton Cohen sit on Stuart when Fenton teased Jimmy about his aunt. There was Morton squatting on Stuart as a stubborn relentless Fenton screamed “Aaaaaagnes” and all-the-while Jimmy kept throwing grass on Stuey’s face demanding “Are you gonna say it again?” (Which of course had Stuart screaming “Aaaaaagnes” even louder). We called it, Chinese torture in the day.

You may not understand the attraction if you weren’t there, but you surely can appreciate the splendor of another’s hometown pride. I know I can. Couldn’t as I was growing up, perhaps. But now I can.

I wasn’t so “evolved” growing up. I had this—let’s call it geographical prejudice. For example, I didn’t like New Yorkers. Wasn’t supposed to. Perhaps it was the Yankee thing: They were the Indians’ nemesis then, back before The Curse Of Bobby Bragan, and always seemed to have the upper hand. (Not that I’d ever met a New Yorker). In fact, when first I had contact with live ones at the SAM House, Wieder eagerly pointed out they were Mets fans). Even before that, actually—in high school— Bobby told me the Beachwood guys were “all wusses”. It wasn’t ‘til later at State, in an epiphany, that I realized Walt, Ginis and Ellis each began at Rowland.

Over time my eyes would open.

Take Jason, for example. Perfect example. By the time I’d been summoned to meet the man who would ultimately sire Lucy, Stacy had been pretty clear he was “The One.” I did a quick read that Saturday, and while he presented as strong, silent and warm, his steadfast commitment to The Windy City also struck a chord. (Not that I was doing handstands over the Chicago thing. It meant, after all, that The Little One was out-of-town forever). Still though, there’s a substance to loyalty, and I saw that. (Not that it didn’t have a downside! That very first day, what did he have us doing? At his request, (and remember we were putting our best feet forward), we took a boat ride around his downtown. Over what seemed like hours, a beaming Jason pointed out the beauty of this
city’s architecture.  What I wanted to say was: “Really, Jason?”  I knew though, it was a good thing.

So I get the home-town bit. I really do. Whether it’s Woody Allen’s allegiance to NYC or Springsteen singing Asbury Park, it plays well. ‘Tis a sign, if nothing else, that these guys haven’t forgotten where they’ve come from.

Nor have I.

Which reminds me of a scene just weeks ago at Tuscany, the restaurant tucked in the middle of what used to be The Mark IV Apartments:

Tom Baskin’s wife sat with Dickie Baskin’s sister and Stevie Gold’s sister on a Friday evening, telling stories about Tommy’s childhood friends. “You know,” said Jan, “It’s that South Euclid thing.”

Didn’t know of whom she spoke. At all. It mattered not, though. I understood.


Friday, December 14th, 2012

I drove by Rowland the other day and wanted to vomit.

That schoolyard had been the center of our universe. In halcyon days, the decade where one’s only concern was threatened rain, it bubbled with activity. Imagine: no less than three swift-pitching diamonds (not counting the rarely-used one facing north outside Miss Roth’s office), two hardball venues, three football areas and a basketball court! No wonder there was always a group and always a game. Indeed, if you weren’t there “in the day”, you missed treasured times.

Those late 50’s/early ‘60’s, there was —at that corner— most of what we wanted and everything we needed. Sharing bats, balls, and gloves, newfound friends carved lifelong memories. Heck, if you didn’t own a bat, someone else did, (and he’d show you how not to crack it). If your ball’d roll in the sewer, some guy’d scrounge a coat hanger, bend it, and fish out the sphere. And yes—even if, Godforbid you were a gloveless nerd, some kid on the other team would flip you his (coming in). Heaven help you, though, if you held it the wrong way!

It was a perfect world, that school yard. Perfect.

That was then, of course, and this is now. That was long before I drove by…and got nauseous.

The first slice taken from our heaven came early. We were still in grade school when they installed the sign midway ‘cross the northwest corner on Wrenford. ”No Dogs Allowed”, it read. This one pole, strategically placed, eliminated touch football outside sixth grade classrooms.

Board Of Ed clowns: they weren’t done. Another post—this one mid the expanse of land on Bayard, was soon to sprout. It precluded not only baseball (played west to east), but fast pitch games against the wall.

Two strikes, though, were not enough. You know that swift pitching area adjacent to Miss Shafer’s room 24? A series of concrete cylinders (two feet tall, perhaps a foot in diameter) now spreads across it, from left to right where…wait for it: they’ve added a parking lot.

All this ensued in the 70’s, perhaps the 80’s. Married then, with children, I paid little note. Administrators had moved on too, I suppose, but while those players changed, their game went on.

Sometime in the past decades they pulled the signs and put in tar.

A driveway curls (this century) through Rowland’s northern grass, not far from an added parking lot….

And another drive—wide and permanent—goes, GET THIS, on the big diamond, the entire length of the foul lines, from third to first. Let me put this in SouthEuclidspeak; It runs from the closed end of the Boobus Bowl gridiron, by the fence where once hung a “Muck Fandel” sign, east toward the barbed wire fence against which we’d stand waiting to be picked for a game, then north, up the right field line (of blessed memory), and dies…where else? At a parking lot.

What is it, by the way, with all these roadways and parking spaces? Fifty years I’ve been gone from Mr. Goode’s class and they haven’t added one single classroom. Why all the parking? Are third-graders driving now? My guess is the only “green space” left is in contractors’ wallets.

It was Wednesday when I took that drive, gagging.

‘ Drove by today… just before writing…just to be sure.The basketball court: it’s gone too! How sad.

My pre-driving days, the friendly confines of Rowland’s fields was the safest, most productive place to be. We learned teamwork, competition, discipline, and on occasion, even grew up.

They paved over our memories at that school yard, to be sure. And so it is. Worse yet, though, they poured concrete on the good times of the next generations—and the memories they might have made.


Monday, December 10th, 2012

Listening closely to the Brothers Bogart you may often note sustained dialogue on matters trivial or not of issue at all. Be it dominating discussion the night before our Mom’s 80th (twenty minutes studying coffee options) or wasting call after call planning preemptive strikes against Helen, our debates are endless but never aimless.

Others call it nonsense. We term it “The Art Of Conversation”.

Musing, years ago, that our aunt preferred him, Hal summed it up aptly: “Everybody Loves Raymond,” he noted. I didn’t know about the “everybody” thing, but fact was, when he coined it in ’09, that no matter what I did, no matter what he didn’t, our father’s sister liked him more. (EDITOR’S NOTE: By October, 2012 H had updated the theory in his weekly post-game analysis of a shopping trip. “Let’s face it,” he remarked, “She just doesn’t like you.”).

All of this, with the backdrop of recent elections, has created yet another project.

“When,” I inquired last week, “Did it all change? When did you become the ‘fair haired’ boy?”

Margie and Carrie said little and Harold demurred.

“Was it when Dad died?” I continued. “I think everyone liked me better ‘til then.”

Silence (still) from the other end.

“Except Grandpa Irv,” I pushed on. “He liked you”
“Who’s Grandpa Irv?” asked Carrie.
“Not in front of my brother, “ I whispered.

(EDITOR’S NOTE TWO: Irv Porter was Grandma Celia’s second husband, a wonderful man and grandfather to us. His discord with my father, though, was Olympic in nature, and to his dying day whenever my dad was upset with anyone, he would call them “Irving”. Upon our parents’ separation in ’63 our grandfather outspokenly said things kids just shouldn’t hear. I called him on it and he shot back, making me cry. He died shortly thereafter, ever calling his beloved Hal “Butchie Boy” and me, “Al Bogart’s kid”).

My brother never answered. We agreed, though, that over the course of our lifetimes the worm had turned. Somewhere along the way his hair turned golden.

Hence the project…

We have decided to scientifically approach the half-century paradigm shift of our clan. Not just regarding Helen, mind you, but as to the whole fam damily.Indeed, the Bogart Boys are about to redefine what it means to have “too much time on their hands”.

First, we are listing, household by household, rosters of kinfolk for every four years commencing with 1960. This will include aunts and uncles and great uncles, cousins, and even rumored relatives (like Leah Lader) with lineage unknown. (Does not EVERY family have a few of those? You know: people you’ve been told were related, but no one can tell you exactly just how).

Then, we will ascertain whether in that particular election year they preferred Raymond (Hal) or Robert (me).

Finally, we will tally both the popular vote, and also the electoral college. In so doing, allotting one electoral vote for each dwelling, we can balance the big family households of, (say…the Hoffmans), with the smaller states (like Grandma Bogart’s home).

This—all of this—we will seriously do. It is the least we can contribute to our posterities.

Interviewed Sunday, Wheelchair Sheila noted that “Bruce was always active. You had to love him.” Not everyone agreed. When asked why she preferred Harold, our aunt opined “Why wouldn’t I?”

History, perhaps, doesn’t crave the answers. Two brothers do though. It will provide them not only additional food for fodder, but paint, easel and canvas for more of The Art Of Conversation.


Thursday, December 6th, 2012

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”


He sat in solitude outside Caribou.

“What the F are you doing here?” I questioned the west-sider. Not only a theater friend, Paul is the only equity actor ever burdened singing a duet with me on stage!). Indeed, just sharing that song in “Threepenny Opera” had given me street cred.

“New job,” he muttered. “Working.”

I saw pain in his eyes, and understood. (For years Paul’d been paid to do what he loved: act. The market, I suppose, and even his age perhaps, had changed things. Pushing 60, he was compelled now, to get a real job.

I get it. I sense the vitality he felt all those years, charging out into the world each day all full of (as my Dad would say) “piss and vinegar”—doing what he loved…and how different it is for him now.

I never had that: the ardent fervor for career. Ever. Passions felt have been many, from family to athletics to lodge to theater to love—but never for work. To me, even in the glory days, it was only a job.

I was always going to college. At no time though, meandering through Brush High, were career plans on my playlist. Ever. As such, my higher education would have twists and turns not often associated with upward mobility.

For starters, it began in East Lansing. Our dad, (always my Pied Piper), unveiled this brainstorm.

“Michigan State has the best radio/tv school in the Midwest,” he’d announced, in deference to my interest in broadcasting. (I would last there one quarter—straight A’s, I might add), before bailing to Columbus. The boys were there, you see–my high school pals— and in the state up north, one was a very lonely number!

Transferring in, I hit Ohio running. Within a year thoughts of show business vaporized. I would spend the next three years being perhaps the only one on campus neither getting high nor making plans.

Stuart, as much as anyone, had my ear. As such, his insistence that I major in accounting had me doing so—for a quarter. The hours I spent in Hagerty Hall! LIFO? FIFO? Are you kidding me? (Perhaps that’s when I stopped hitting classes?)

“You belong in sales,” my Dad urged often, and I agreed.
“Well,” remarked Fenton, “You should sell your books.”
“Then you know what you would have, B?”
“No,” I offered, naively.
“Well…You’d have a ‘going out of business’ sale!”

Next came theater…for a quarter. This ill-fated venture ended abruptly one Tuesday at 15th and High. All theater majors, it turned out, were required to attend a performance of “Carmen” at Mershon Auditorium. I tried; I really did. I was sitting there with Linda Weisberg when, midway through the opera’s first act, I just couldn’t take it and walked out. It wasn’t a date or anything; leaving—even changing my major— made total sense.

“As long as you’re not sure what to do,” urged my father, “Get a teaching certificate.” (Worrying so of the draft, he knew teaching meant military deferment).

Fleeing to Arps Hall, I took a B.S. in Education. English was my major, Psych my minor, student-taught in Worthington… and never looked back. Truth be known though, until Engagement The First, when The Jersey Girl said I wasn’t allowed to, I figured I’d sell Highlights. I liked it.

—-And No, I was apathetic about my major; I just didn’t care. I had no passion.—no fervent desire to any one thing. Who did?

Take Wieder. Do you think even ONCE he turned to me at Brush, or in college and said “When I grow up I want to live on a mountaintop in South Africa and write books? Lord knows I’d take a bulletin for Alan, but I remember that first year in Drackett. He couldn’t spell “professor”.

Arthur? He may be my only lifelong friend to live his adolescent dream.
There were 16 in our club those days. One out of sixteen?

…Which makes my friend lucky—Paul that is. And blessed. He’s had a good run, spending the guts of his lifetime doing what he’s loved most. Daily. Some people, as good as they are at what they do, never have that pleasure.

Like me.


Monday, December 3rd, 2012

“Are you…wait…LUCY’S GRANDFATHER?” asked the server. Breakfast at LuluBelle’s and she’d made my day. I’d been there but once—a half year earlier—but Saturday morning, sans baby or buggy, Sara remembered.

Rewind a year….

We were still in the waiting room at the Northwestern Hospital and Jason had just announced the birth of a daughter. Hugging concluded, proud father having headed back to his wife, I burst out with the show’s theme: “I love Lucy and she loves me, we’re as happy as we can be. Da da, da da da, da da da….” (No one knows more than two lines).

I would sing it continuously, perhaps obnoxiously, for the next half day…until at 6pm or thereabouts, Stacy peered up from her bed and imploring “Dad, really, you need to stop. We don’t want that to be her theme song. ”It was 6:02 Chicago time, and I stopped on a dime. No pouting; no sulking of course. There were new songs and new life to be sung.


People don’t generally associate Bogarts with dance, let alone the world of ballet. I share this, then, with utmost humility: Lucy Bohrer, now one, looks great in a tutu. (Not that she wears it daily, my granddaughter. This, though, was her birthday party and, elegantly, she dressed as the prima donna.

She was the reason, of course, we’d convened in Chicago. All of us: from local diaper-clad tots to friends and family, imported from Great Neck and Chappaqua and Cleveland— big hearts in a Little Gym…to love Lucy.

There’s something so special ‘bout first birthdays. Not only is everyone alive, but everyone’s reasonably young and…therefore… there! As such, glowing, she sat, my Lucy did, surrounded by parents and grandparents, an aunt and uncle and cousin, and all kinds of toddling friends, each with THEIR parents (still happy together).

So young…so vibrant, so innocent.

“Lucy loved being the center of attention,” Carrie noted, (me nodding). Silently, even proudly I wondered if she’d got it from me.

It all seemed so right. Standing on the periphery, watching with quiet confidence, my eyes captured the father Bonesy, stalwart and warm and the mother Rooney, my bambina…together… blanketing their Little One.

And with in her gentle quiet, Lucy Hannah Bohrer grasped it all.

—As she grasps me, I believe. My granddaughter, you see, is just at that stage.  By scent she knows me, accepts my voice—and yes, when we go cheek-to-cheek, she smiles, feeling safe.

Kids: they know.

It was a wonderful time. From the tumblers like Joey and Bo that I knew through friends, to the irrepressible Max, Pride Of The Yankees… to my pretty ballerina, Lucy.

And it was, yet again, further proof that the world goes full circle:

We were driving to dinner just Friday: Stacy, Erica, Lucy in the basket…and the two of us. “Daddy,” purred Rooney, “..Do me a favor—sing your granddaughter a song!”

(A year later—and I thought she’d never ask)!

Exuberantly, triumphantly, the words just flew out:

“I love Lucy and she loves me,
We’re as happy as we can be.

Da da, da da da, da da da….”

(No one knows more than two lines)!