Each of my core friends has special interests — avocations, perhaps. Stuart’s is work (Yes, even his “avocation” is work); Wido’s is photography: Bobby loves golf, and Arthur complains. I could go on. The point is that we pretty much know each other and, for the most part, each other’s interests. ‘Tis the beauty of lifelong friendship.

For years now I put Ermine on restaurants. Through the graces of Facebook we’ve marveled as our Columbus pal has crossed the globe, wining and dining at upscale eateries. It’s all relative. I don’t travel much, so as I may crave revisiting Bayside, New York’s Ben’s Deli for salmon—excuse the expression, but it doesn’t consume me.

So…preconceived notion of Ermine being precise, you can imagine my growing amazement these past weeks as he’s posted not once, but several times of being at Nationwide Arena in Columbus! Finally I couldn’t take it anymore.

“What’s with you and all the hockey?” I asked him last week. (It seemed the obvious question from one Jew to another. I mean let’s face it: our people traverse desert, not ice. Especially South Euclid brethren. What do we know from such narishkeit? Had Erv been raised in Shaker Heights with its Thornton Park and all, I supposed his nouveau gentrification might make sense. Mark though, was one of us: a Brush boy. We played sports!).

This was last Monday.

“Trying to relive his youth at Bexley Park”, read his 10PM post. What the hell was he talking about? I would check with Wieder, I noted before hitting the sack. And Snyder. Did he know?

—And as I slept, the most social of medias lit up —

First came Bobby. Admitting he’d played some hockey, he then tried to mute the aberrant behavior by teasing me ‘bout the structure my poor deceased father’d tried to instill in me.

Then came Alan—so unnerved by Ermine’s blasphemy that at 6 AM his time he shot back in caps: “NOT ME!”

The dialogue continued…a score of comments to come. And so it was that driving to Wednesday’s weekly breakfast with the “old boy network”, I had but one goal: setting the record straight.

“Did you ever play hockey?” I asked of the table. It was Lester, though, at whom I stared. (A product of not only Rowland, Greenview and Brush…AND The Ohio State University AND Park Synagogue Hebrew School, he would surely be the best barometer).

“No,” said our standard bearer. Immediately.

Ah, but Snyder showed up. NO, he assured he had never played daily, but YES, they would play then at Bexley. “On the tennis courts,” he noted.
I was incredulous. Could it really be that otherwise mainstream South Euclid boys played games other than baseball, basketball, and football? Golf perhaps gets a pass—-but NO ONE played hockey. Not really. Not on the “mean streets” of South Euclid. Not at Bayard and Wrenford, the Tigris and Euphrates of the Baby Boom era. Maybe Stuart was right—that it was a “Bexley thing”. Perhaps that’s why Bobby not only acknowledged his past but also pointed out that he’d owned his own skates! (Are you kidding me? His own skates? Jeez, even when our parents would send us to Riviera Day Camp and the counselors’d shuttle us to Northfield Rink—even then we rented skates!).

The subject changed, of course. Men like Fred and Himmel and Kraut have better things to talk about than whether anybody north of Ellison stooped to hockey.

But the thought still lingered…in me.

Intellectually, I could accept, I suppose that in New York Matt Klein had his Rangers….or that in Chicago Jason followed his Hawks. But still, weren’t those the same two guys that…well: Brother Klein, he goes ice fishing. And Brother Bohrer: he held his bachelor party on a pontoon. (Would anybody really call them voices of reason?).

It was two days before the Facebook thread wound down. Ermine (I think), was frustrated by the fact that only Bobby’d lined up with him. As such, he switched gears to something he was, in fact, right about.

“…You have to come to Columbus,” he told me. “You promised a year ago.” “I’m still waiting,” he added.

I answered him plainly. Clearly. Even succinctly.

“Waiting,” I told him, “For the hockey season to end.”

One Response to “OF ICE AND THEM”

  1. bob snyder says:

    Just to be clear in trying to explaining this to the non S. Euclid readers. Some Rowland neighbors weren’t allowed to go outside the immediate area with out special permission. Some were even forced to join so called swim clubs as a way of not having to go to Bexely Park pool on hot summer days. Kids that lived in the Bexely Park area were much more Cosmopolitan and traveled to places like Rowland to play swift pitching or to Victory Park for the carnival and late summer OX Roast (minus adults), or to ice skate with classmates at the old Arena. Maybe it was because at one time Wrenford was but a dirt road from Elison on to Bexely Park. Whatever the reasons, it took until High School for many Rowlanders to catch up with the Bexely area when it came to worldliness. Sort of like the farm kids meeting the city kids @ OSU.

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