My father was your prototype salesperson: personable, pleasant looking, (although no rock star), and above all, able to freely give someone undivided access. He could look you in the eye and have you believing that no one had ever commanded his attention like you were at that very moment.

And he had a great vocabulary, solid grammar, and an amazing ability to read between the lines. Clearly, long before Ronald Reagan, my Dad was The Great Communicator.

Which makes the following fact even more amazing: Al Bogart hated the telephone. Hated it. The man held a life-long resentment dating back to the days of rotary dial.

Closing my eyes I can still picture South Euclid suppers in the ‘50s. The phone would ring and my Mom would answer it.

“Al, it’s for you.”
“THEY DON’T LET YOU LIVE!” he’d exclaim. (Customers, creditors…it didn’t matter. The refrain was always the same. Like Pavlov’s dog).
Before dinner, after, or as we played catch in the backyard:

“Al, it’s for you.”

(Which is not to say that he didn’t sometimes use the phone to his advantage). Periodically I’d want to do something that any parent would have frowned upon. Like hitchhike, for example, or drive 9 hours with Bob and Art to Boyne Mountain Ski Resort, in specific.

Then, then….he would flip:

“Why don’t you call Bobby Snyder’s father and see if he thinks it’s a good idea?” I can hear him like it was yesterday.

Still, what, (to use HIS phrase) “truly frosted his ass,” was when we’d take the phone off the hook. Those were the days before call-waiting; those were the days of busy signals. Worse yet, those were the times when one never even knew if someone else was trying to reach them. Busy was just busy.

And so it was that one Sunday afternoon during the OSU days my father tried to reach me. He was living in suburban Columbus, ten miles from campus; I stayed with my brother and Dick Baskin on West Maynard.

The future mother of my children visited and privacy was in order. As such, the phone came off the hook. Later that day we left to grab a bite, and yes, unbeknownst to us, he’d been calling. And calling. And calling.

Remember, there were no cell phones. There was no texting. There was then, only fuming.

How mad was he? How frustrated? My loving dad hopped in his station wagon and drove across town—bolting into the apartment. We had left, but  Hal was there to greet him. Moreover, the quarter hour on the freeway hadn’t cooled him down. To this day my brother recalls Dad being “out of control,” going directly to the phone cord and ripping it right out of the wall! Right out. Permanently off the hook, you might say.

Returning to Maynard a bit later all I could do was laugh. And I wasn’t the only one. Harriet laughed. My brother laughed. Baskin laughed.

My father never did.

“Why do you do these things you know will antagonize me?” he asked.
And then he hugged me, told me he’d pay for reinstallation, and within days it was all forgotten.

Within days, but not within decades.

Today’s News Herald has an article about some guy facing first-degree misdemeanor charges; he’s accused of ripping “…a phone cord out of a wall….”

I read the article twice, thought of my father and called my brother.

And I laughed.


  1. JS says:

    Life is so amazing, couldn’t be happier. Luckiest person in the world. Other people’s misery matters not to JS

Leave a Reply