Tomorrow my friend Marc turns the big 6-0. Not only does he not seem it, but that leaves only Alan among core friends still clinging to his 50’s. And me.

Walt has been in my life’s equation since first grade. Unlike Stuart, who lived two doors away, I was gifted with Marc’s friendship on (as he would note), a 1 in 3 shot. (There was a trio of first grade classrooms at Rowland Elementary in the fall of ’55; we wound up together).

The rest is history.

Our friendship was founded on boyhood’s basic instincts and glued together by coincidence and incidents of memorable moments, (some even important).

While I was growing up on the mean streets of South Euclid Walt’s family was movin’ on up to Beachwood. We may have had intermittent contact along the way, but I well remember when we reunited for a lifetime. It was Math 117, the second in a three-quarter required sequence. I’d transferred in from Michigan State; Walt was already in Columbus, living in the SAM House.

We reconnected. So much so that we coordinated our schedules to take 118 together that spring. So much so that when I changed my major and was compelled to take a DIFFERENT three quarter math sequence, Walt took fifteen hours of the higher level regimen as electives, so we could sit together. And we did so sophomore year for, yes: Maths 121, 122, and 123.

It should be noted that Marc was also present the night I met the mother of my children. He too had been fixed up—with Andy Wolf, a junior cheerleader from Miami (of Ohio). We caught “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” dined at Emil’s way out at E. Main and Hamilton, then called it a night. I slept over in the Sammy dorm that night; we both said we’d never see our dates again. Only one of us was right.

It was during those glory days that Sol’s Boys was the pre-eminent team on Cleveland’s sandlots. As catcher, I saw the field as no one else could.
We were a talented group—well-schooled in fundamentals. The plays got made. Walt at short, however, was special. Everything seemed effortless. From my angle he never broke a sweat.

Life moved along, people were getting married, having kids, etc. I can’t remember why, but somehow we wound up in Vegas….must have been in the 80’s. Having just arrived, we’d dumped our bags, and were en route to a quick bite before hitting the tables.

“Wait,” he cautioned me, as we angled through the casino. Stopping at an empty blackjack table he put a twenty dollar bill on the green felt. Moments later the dealer busted.

Walt swooped up the doubled money.
“Let’s go,” he urged. “I didn’t feel like paying for lunch.”

He never broke stride. The entire weekend. Even the next day when Wieder showed up unannounced at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Marc chuckled, but he never switched gears. Like he was turning another double play.

And life moved forward. Our kids knew each other. His mom sold us a house. And during my abyss—when I was less-than-lovable—the birthday cards kept coming and his warm hellos never chilled.

Not that all memories with Marc bring smiles. One fall Saturday in 1974, we suffered by the TV together. The Bucks were ahead against Michigan State when Levi Jackson stunned the East Lansing crowd going 88 yards with 3 ½ minutes left. Then, down 16-13, in the final minutes we drove the field. A goal line pileup would not dislodge and the refs did nothing about it. Fourteen seconds left. We lined up; they didn’t. And in broad daylight they denied us one last play from scrimmage—and the gun sounded! Woody raised hell and indeed the final score wasn’t official until some 45 minutes after time expired. We shot hoops in his backyard after that. Jeff was there. No one was talking much. Our season had died inside the Spartan 1.

And life went on. The kids grew up. Half our marriages went south. And while my athletic career came to an end, Marc’s continued….and does even to this day. Still, whenever our paths would cross Walt would urge me to join the Wednesday breakfast group. I don’t know why, (perhaps out of insecurity), but for a long time I abstained. Those were wasted moments. My loss. For a few years now they have highlighted my schedule. 8:30, Corky’s, big booth in the back….the table with the big wooden RESERVED sign on it.…hopefully Chad as the server. Les, Art, Bob (H), and………..Walt.

So it’s six decades for my friend. As he would say, “a good run.” We haven’t shared Vegas together recently, but we did one better. A year ago, with Mary, we watched Alan and Joanie get married on a South Carolina beach. A magic moment and…oh, yeah…the three of us found the room in the beach house with the TV. You see, Ohio State was playing that night.

So, happy birthday to my friend Marc: a man who on a daily basis proves Leo Durocher wrong. And whose milestone birthday falls, coincidentally…on a Wednesday.

That, by the way, was a 1 in 7 shot.

3 Responses to “FOREVER YOUNG”

  1. Aunt Helen says:

    Since “Marc” is now turning 60, isn’t it time he spelled his name correctly?

  2. Marc says:

    Thanks B-really touching-it means alot to me

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