I knew him when he had hair. We all did. Bobby, I suppose, met him first. In friendships spanning a half-century, (whether he’s liked it or not), he’s always been one of us. Even today, on his 62nd birthday.

From the times at Greenview and Brush as John DiPasquale used to kick him in the back with pointed black Stetsons— through interactions and reunions in this, our AARP era, (as he looks me in the eye and erringly says “B, I don’t know how you pulled it off…she likes you.”), Mark’s style has been singular. A graduate of our core group, Erv has been, and to this day remains, his “own man.”

I met Mark a bit after others. It was nothing personal. My circle of friends until then was limited to ballplayers at Rowland. With Stuart two doors away and a half dozen pals on Bayard, venturing beyond five hundred yards of comfort zone was unnecessary. Heck, it wasn’t ‘til fall of ’60 that my world opened up to Snyder, Codgie, Gaffin and others of our oh so motley crew. Enter Brother Ermine.

I called Bob this week, knowing I wanted to share about Mark. His memories, I sensed, would be vivid and warm. I was right.

It was a matter of geography, Bob noted. He and Mark lived near Bexley, (Mark on the “wrong end”). As such, when Erv moved in, Bob introduced him to Raisinbrain, Auerbach, Fischer and other pool regulars. (These were the cool guys back then. Me? I was still shooting hoops in Wieder’s garage).

By seventh grade we were all friends. Banding together in the red and black of R.E.N, Mark displayed wondrous foresight early on, being the first on our block to call Marvin a jerk. He was light-years ahead of us.

He was his own man.

Like when we entered Greenview. The exodus from an elementary school 90% Jewish took us to a real world where we were perhaps a minority. Mark, more than most, was not deterred. Not only did he mix right in with our new Christian friends, but he was one of only three Jews playing varsity football—and quarterback, no less!

He always had that tough exterior. And posture. Good posture. Although like the rest of us, he must have had insecurities, Mark, even at Greenview, walked with attitude. Five decades later I can close my eyes and still see his confidence.

Maybe it’s me?—my insecurities. Mark, I figure, was entitled to that “air” about him, even then. Even then, you see…he knew the girls. This was true in part because he had (for a Jew) that “bad boy” thing going, and also because his mom sold dresses at Donna Lee. Trust me, Goldie was always talking Mark up; he couldn’t help but be a known commodity.

By high school our group of sixteen was changing, morphing into sub-cliques. There was The Big Four of course, (Stuart, Bobby, Wido and me), and there was JoelandArthur. Dennis, Fred and Randy hung out, and yes, a few guys evaporated with girlfriends. Mark, in my mind’s eye, was independent. He was working, for one thing, but more than anything else, he was daring.

Like the way he drove—even before he had a license. Or, as Bob points out, the way he drove AFTER being licensed. In an era of GM and Ford, Mark road American Motors with arrogance. Many of our non-dating nights were spent in epic group car chases and Erv, so often, had the driver’s seat.

He was a risk taker. He was our Jewish Fonzie.   And he loved being first.

First in the workplace, first in the military, first in The Lodge, and yes, first to get pregnant, married and have kids (ALL in the right order).

Time, of course, distanced us all. But only in spurts. Lives bound in friendship connect and reconnect.

Bobby, years ago, fixed Mark up with Lisa and eventually Erv moved to Columbus. By then, of course, my dad was there. Mark may not remember this, but he actually bumped into my father the week before he died. They were at a movie theater and the men, bored by the film, had each gone to the lobby to smoke.

“I fart better than they sing,” my dad greeted him, (or so Mark told me at the funeral days later).

Our friendships, it is clear, have rekindled of recent. Not that they ever burned out. As boys we turned to men and as men, we turn in a different way, still, to each other. Bonds borne in youth, ties like Bobby, Stuart and I have with Mark, hold a special adhesive. Outlasting our teenage mock fights, outliving our mid-life crises, they’re secure enough to thrive and endure, even ‘til we grow up.

That’s why it’s easy for us—Bobby, Stuart and myself, to wish our pal the happiest of birthdays, and thank him for a friendship we continue to cherish…as time goes by.

3 Responses to “AS TIME GOES BY”

  1. Stuart says:


    You are so right about Mark being independent and having a tough exterior and never fearing taking a chance at anything. He may not admit it but inside it’s his sensitivity that I most admire. A true friend and our group would not be the same without him. Happy Birthday, Markie!

  2. Mark Ermine says:

    Thanks for the kind words. I never know how you remember all this, but you do and I am amazed. But for your information, I remember the conversation with your Dad like it was yesterday. Actually, the conversation took place at intermission of a play at the Palace Theater in Cbus. We both left at intermission, when your Dad saw me, his exact words were “I’ve heard Dogs Fart better than this play”. He had such a way with words. Again, thanks for your friendship all these years, I wouldn’t have changed anything (except one terrible Saturday in Aurebach’s basement).

  3. bob says:

    Once again Bruce puts into words special feelings we have for each other. I’m convinced only those that grew up with us can understand the bond. Mark I’m glad you were such an important part of that and still are. Happy B Day.

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