For many of us, life in four square miles continues to yield dividends.

Growing up, our Mom’d cut colored paper into strips, make rings and, chaining them together, hang Chanukah decor on drapes. 50’s-Jewish-chic— every link, every hue conjoined. So it was too on Tuesday, as five score or so laughed, smiled, and welcomed week-old Chase Miller to our world.

11 AM: The proud father stood before us. Robert is not so much my friend as the husband of a friend. No matter! Baby in one hand, Hebrew in another, speaking to a confluence of veteran Clevelanders—we were, each of us…connected.

“You know a lot of people,” the Little One says often. My response is steadfast: “Lived here my whole life, that’s all.” (Not sure she gets it; others do).

Ask the survivors: the “boomers” from Shaker, Brush or Heights High…the ones still calling their home their home. Bonded, we speak with reverence of ”The Heights” recalling when (do I sound like my father?) neighborhoods were neighborhoods. Reveling, we interact with friends to this day over coffee NOT Facebook. And when, as this week, “nice Jewish children” of life-long Clevelanders bear nice Jewish babies….it’s Hands Across America.

And then some.

The ever/growing bris got moved: from a party room in Lyndhurst to a municipal center in Solon. (Side note: When I was growing up they shot Jews in Solon). Still, the venue, from mohel to meat tray was not only a cavalcade of stars, but a magic melding of family and friends…and love.

There were the grandfathers: Howard was my lodge brother way back. And Arnie? Two years my senior at Brush, truth is he never really talked to me…until last year. Then, when H and I drove to Jersey for breakfast with Fromin…well, that put us on the map. We made our bones on Pennsylvania’s Turnpike.

And the grandmothers, both Rochelles. Dated neither, so I’m told, but one’s sister was Hal’s first girlfriend, (circa 1959) and walking with her last May, we brought up the rear at the Jack Roth Run.

The hits just kept on coming: Herzog, who graduated with Arnies’ sister Roz and Diane (Stilmore by marriage)…and Gail, (a “Roosevelt” girl) from Jeans West and Stacy (who used to play football with me halftimes in Scooters’ parking lot) and even Park’s Ritual Director, (there as a civilian).

And Uncle Sonny. He once sold me shoes that Tammy, when eyeing them, made me remove on the spot.

“Who sold you those?” she asked, (not long ago, as if to a third-grader). “They’re hideous!”
“Uncle Sonny,” I mumbled.
“Take them off now! You need to be barefoot.” (Did she forget he was actually HER uncle, not mine?)

Tammy was there, of course, with the kids and Matthew. He asked me to join him for dinner with our friend Treg (a Newark transplant with a sister that married a guy we met in Columbus the night before the race…) Six degrees?

Then there was Betty. Her father was a gambler like ours. Were all men on Bayard? She grew up right of Mulberg by Matejka next to Davidson aside from Gelfand—neighbors all. Had “Sonny Boy,” the ugliest dog in South Euclid. Wed a Sammy from Ohio State—kids went to school with ours. Still, as I told her just last week, forty years later her dog was still ugly.

It was Cedar & Warrensville redoux, with a touch of High Street. Decades later nothing had changed: in a sea of women for each lady I’d dated there were two Bob hit on. (Life Lesson Number 3: With Bobby, always bet the over).

Handshakes take time. Soon, gobbling lox, eyeing the clock…in this middle of the work day, I HAD to get going. Why, then, the gnawing sense of leaving a wedding early?

Goodbye to Alan, I said. …and Diane…and the Rochelles. Should I do the complete lap? Put on my coat—the long, black one. (Thought I looked good, actually).

So long to Tammy and kids: “Have fun in Florida.”
“I put a sweater aside for you at Nordstrom,” she offered.

Heading to the door I passed Larry, patriarch to the clan and, may I add…another Lodge Brother. When I was younger he would scare me—always. He’s different now: kinder, gentler—even approachable.

“Mazel Tov,” I told the great-grandfather. “It was a wonderful bris…you have a great family, a lot of friends…”
“I know each and every one of them,” he boasted, warmly.
(“We all do,” I thought, by didn’t say. “We all do.”)

Just ask my Little One.

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