“The great majority of men are bundles of beginnings.”


South Euclid, 1960. On a spring Saturday in the back of Victory Park School, it was Little League tryouts. Single file, dozens aged 9-12 stood on damp grass waiting for a ground ball, their chance to impress the one manager that might pick them for “the majors.” I stood there that afternoon…afraid.

The draft would be a week later, on a Sunday. Bobby and I, too nervous to stay at home, spent the afternoon at the Mayfield Lanes. He was eleven and his biological clock was ticking. Me? I was a year younger by league standards, but was scared. In this new realm, a world outside Rowland’s parental cocoon, we were fish out of water. Our daddies weren’t there for cover, nor were there nets below our trampolines.

Columbus, 1968. Ninety days after bailing from MSU, moments after landing at Drackett Tower, I was longer alone. Dormed in the friendly confines of Curl Drive, rooming with Fenton, Wieder and Fischer, I felt safe. Harold, to be sure, wasn’t there much—he had Lisa up north. Stu was though, (as was Alan), and I, the insecure product of a then-rare “broken home,” found in those guys, the ultimate sanctuary.

There was a rhythm to our room: a backbeat I loved. Nightly Fenton would tease Wido. Endlessly. We’d be in our bunks, lights off…and Alan, frustrated would beg Stuart to shut up. He never did. He’d talk, ask stupid questions, sing “Ain’t Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore,” and the upshot of it all was ALWAYS that as Wieder’d get angry, I’d howl, and Alan, frustrated by the evening’s circus, would blame me.

“If you didn’t laugh, jackass, he’d shut up!” he’d yell at me or….
“Fenton, you’re a f’____ moron!”

Ah, but I was surrounded by pals and in that cacophony of love I never felt alone.

Beachwood, 2011. I’ve just entered my new office. Leaving people I know for those I don’t. An overnight move, it was three years in the making. Why is it easier to stay in a bad relationship than to risk the unknown? Why did I hesitate, linger, dawdle, defend and play “devil’s advocate” before listening to candid counsel of friends, before doing what Jacobson readily termed “the right move”? Why, oh why at 61, do I cling to a comfort zone, delay the inevitable…delay growing up? Am I that insecure?

It’s been a half century since that ground ball. Fifty years since our dads took calls. Five decades since Bobby made the Tigers and I the White Sox!

Victory Park is gone—there’s a Giant Eagle now. Mr. Snyder and my Dad…lost them too.

The Mayfield Lanes? Torn down… and Drackett, it’s co-ed. Fenton’s in Florida, Fischer’s out east, Snyder’s in Bainbridge (?), and Wieder: he’s in…of all places: Oregon.

A coffee shop anchors the lobby of my new workplace. Sitting over caffeine I know well the boys can’t walk in.

Time to leave then. Time to go upstairs…to work.

Maybe even time to grow up.

2 Responses to “BEGINNINGS”

  1. Stuart says:

    Not time to grow up yet. And, the boys are always with you. Good luck in the new office.

  2. Mark Ermine says:

    Never grow up. Growing up means giving up! The next chapter isn’t as good as the last. The friendships we all made back in 4th grade will always make us kids at heart. I shutter to think what will happen to us if we ever admit to anyone or even ourselves that we are now “grown up”

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