Dear Hal,

I spoke to our parents last weekend and of course your birthday came up. Dad told me he had a card for you on the visor of his Plymouth. It was the last, apparently, of the Jai Lai Restaurant postcards with Woody Hayes on the backside. Mom, on the other hand, said she’d been depressed. She requested I pick one up and mail it to you. I asked her if I should buy a gift from the money that Ed took, but she gave me a dirty look. At that very moment Sam entered and plaintively asked  “Bruce, please leave your mother alone.” Struck me it wasn’t the right time to announce that I’d just this week made the final payment on Mom’s funeral — you know: the one her third husband pre-paid.

In any event, Happy Birthday. (Oh, and Dad says he’s not offended that you never liked the name “Harold”. He’s green-lighted me honoring your request to be “Hal”, specifically noting that the Harold was from your mother’s side of the family).

So Happy Birthday HAL,

I was sitting on the plane the other day…thinking about how old you are…how old we are…and smiling—

More than that, I’ve was thinking of how lucky I am…we are…to be brothers.

To be friends.

I know for me that even as I back out the life cycle events, as I close my eyes and picture the so-called unimportant events that were most important to my life—-when I replay my immaterial but significant memories—you’re always there.

Like the ’63 AllStar game, when we sat with our father…first row of the left field upper deck—just above the Pesta Pickles sign.

Or ’64—the NFL champion game…when the Browns blanked the 11-point favorite Unitas-led Colts. How we pulled the all-nighter…Wieder, you and me…winning primo seats from the radio station. How great was it on that 40 yard line? Oh–wait… Sorry. I forgot. WHK only gave us two tickets. I forgot. My bad. You watched it, as I recall, with Dad, in black and white, from a motel in New Philadelphia.

Well…we shared “The Drive” in the Dogpound, didn’t we?

You were always there, H — the Zelig of my life. You were my teammate in the White Sox infield and the Boobus Bowl backfield. You were my comfort and cushion in both laughter and tears—

—from the tumult of being with me when 45 to the torture of sharing our aunt at 90.

—from the laughter with Stuart watching, as Dad’s station wagon spilled Highlights on High Street to the spill from our eyes, watched by Margie  (eyes rolling), as we —bookends sitting on your couch— studied “The Notebook”.

Don’t think, Little Brother, that I don’t remember. Don’t think, “Little Herb”, that I still don’t cherish…

—May 12, 1972 when after 5+ months I got out of the army. Braniff Airlines scratched me in Chicago and flew me to Cincy. You drove down, that Friday night, and retrieved me near midnight. (And for what it’s worth, I refuse to believe it was your residual guilt from the upset you caused your father by not enlisting with me).

—October 6, 2006 when you sat in at Halcyon & Cedar, in a church as I spoke. (Yours were not the only tears, Butchie Boy).

—August 1, 2012 when (with Margie) you served as a buffer on the best non-date of my life.

So here’s to you, Hal, or H, or whatever you wish to be called. To paraphrase Aunt Helen’s classmate, Bill Shakespeare:

 “…What’s in a name? that which we call a Harold
       By any other name would smell as sweet…”

I love you,



  1. Columbus Rabbi says:

    I always thought his name was Howard. That is what I called him at your Dad’s funeral. I hope he has forgotten my error.

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