“…I have a place where dreams were born
       Where time somehow begun.
       That town where we got starts–
       We hold it in our hearts.
       It’s 44121…”

It was our Never Never Land, and there was treasure in it. Lifelong bounty.

Cedar on one side …north of Mayfield on the other. Warrensville Center if we were heading to the stadium … somewhere past Green if pedaling to the nine hole Lyndhurst Golf Course. Gentle geography it was, framed by our youth.

The roots of my hometown have legs. Bonds forged in that hallowed town and special time remain. Ties even mildly made on those golden (yet in the case of Wrenford and Verona partially-unpaved) streets to this day offer kinship and connection.

       “…It lives behind our every moon
       With memories of such fun.
       We keep an open mind
       It’s never far behind:
       Our 44121…”

We swam at Bexley Park and not Purvis (which was for “Wiley Snobs”). We put air in our bike tires at Eddie’s Pure Oil, from wherever we lived (even though Mr Codeluppi’s garage was much closer).

The best athletes hung at Rowland. On any given day you’d find Feldman or Fromin and sometimes even a Simmerson or Levine. Younger guys like me would sit, wait, and hope to be noticed. They never needed us for Swift Pitching against the wall, but sometimes in REAL games…perhaps there’d be an odd number of players and they’d want to even teams. Groupies we were — content to chase fouls. So we’d sit there, we would: Bogarts, Fentons, Masseria, Rosenberg, and the like. Content we were watching the icons, just wishin’ and hopin’ and thinkin’ and playin’ and plannin’ and dreamin’…

UNIMPORTANT IMPORTANT MEMORY: I was by the green utility box behind Rowland the night Les Levine, (world renown for making the majors at nine), was up there, having slid into home head first for the Red Sox, getting lime in his eye, and being rushed to the hospital. (Long before The Drive, The Fumble and The Shot — decades before the world knew of Elway, Byner or Jordan — there was The Slide). And it happened in South Euclid, Ohio.

       “…We have a treasure
       If we stay there.
       (More precious far than gold).
       For once you’ve played there
       Friends remain there…

I’m not talking about core friends, mind you. That goes without saying. Heck, even the misfortunate of Cleveland’s Jewish Baby Boomers — the Shaker or Heights kids — or even the ones whose parents made a few bucks and fled to Beachwood… even they had BEST FRIENDS.

I’m thinking ‘bout the entire town: from best friends to good friends to acquaintances. From classmates to siblings of classmates to people you really hadn’t known but knew they grew up near someone you knew.

We were and we are all in it together. We shared and still share a magical past. Indeed, the faces, memories and images are to this day embraced! Even chance meetings decades later conjure six degrees or more of separation:

I saw Susie Gottesman at Heinen’s. (She married in). Husband Michael was one of three Michael’s in my class first four grades. Agin was cooler than me, by the way — Letsky skinnier. The former was also in my Hebrew School; the latter had a sister that my brother once took to see The Temptations at the Versaille Motor Inn.

Bumped into Arnie Cohn at Marc’s. Had to introduce him to Aunt Helen. “How do you know him?” she asked aisles later. Gingerly I shared how I’d met him on Hinsdale but more importantly he’d married the sister of Robin Beckerman, the third-grader that broke Harold’s heart.

The hits, if you still live within a nine iron of SE, keep on coming! With neither a yearbook in your lap nor Facebook on a screen, sooner or later, on the street, in a store, at a simcha…somewhere under the rainbow that’s Cleveland you’ll be lucky enough to see someone from our past and realize the thrill isn’t gone…

Ronnie Rivchun at Bialy’s. Ronnie Pollack at Costco. Pollack was a Stilmore lad. So many thoughts: Alan Herzog, Leslie Zilbert, The Cohen girls, Les Rosenberg (nee Leslie). No relation was he, of course, to Marvin Rosenberg of Beaconwood.

Beaconwood: a halcyon street. Masseria had restaurant booths in his basement. Maddy lived nearby, and Susie Bucklan across the street.
These were the first girls I wasn’t afraid to talk to (although I warmed to Lynne Phillips in early years). And Susie Golden…and Arlene Rothenfeld (when they weren’t dancing with Arthur). And Linda Shafran, perhaps the most. She was a Bayard girl, you see…and I knew her brother Sidney…and her sister Leslie was in my brother’s grade…and her cousins lived next door and there was green vine on the house just like Wrigley Field in Chicago—-

And do you remember DD Davis on the other side of Miramar? Or Bernie Pleskoff? Or Mad Man Muntz?

And before you entered Greenview, did you buy an Elevator Pass?

       “…And that’s my home
       Where roots were sewn
       On diamonds in the sun.
       From Rowland, Greenview
       Then at Brush
       ‘Twas 44121….”

(With apologies to Peter Pan)

4 Responses to “44121”

  1. bob snyder says:

    44121 was our Neverland and still is because whenever we think of the times we had there we are young again. You could have gone on and on. Maybe you should and write a book. Just be sure to include the Bendler Times, our inside basketball court at Weiders, etc. etc.

  2. Gail says:

    Did you wrote that? Time to do more writing. Those latkes are so filling.

  3. Gail says:

    Always edit!!

  4. Marcy Press Enders says:

    Loved it!! Rowland, Friends, Bexley Park, Cedar Cemter was truly a Neverland! Great Writing!!

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