Oscar winner Richard Dreyfuss was recently in Washington D.C. to call attention to the most endangered Civil War battlegrounds. The actor joined the Civil War Preservation Trust as it released a report regarding the battlefields deteriorating due to neglect, land development and other issues.
The thought occurred to me that the same measure must be taken to safeguard the great battlefields of my life. Even nice Jewish boys from the suburbs get into fights.
Here then is the bi-centennial report of the Bogart War Preservation Trust.
The following battlefields, venues for the four greatest struggles of my life, should be remembered and if necessary preserved as historical landmarks:
1. Holiday Inn, (Exit 232, I-80). Sight of the Battle Of Buckhorn (July, 1991). In route to New Jersey with children in tow, the then-wife and I spent the night at a motel. One of us was snoring, and a quiet peace was had only after I agreed to sleep in the bathtub. Not necessarily peace with honor.
2. Houston Woods State Park (Cincinnati, Ohio). The Battle Of Mary Jane was fought here over two days, April 4 and 5, 1970. My college girl friend and I spent the weekend with another couple in southern Ohio. Over the course of thirty-six excruciating hours she importuned that if I really loved her I would smoke marijuana. (“Why can’t you just try it…for me?”) I was as resolute as she was high. Each and every cycle I abstained and passed the joint on; over time her glares morphed from frustration to disdain. The silence between us was deafening. The only unspoken communication was that ours was not a match made in heaven. On that score, the instant we got back to her apartment at Woodruff and Waldeck we broke up. I drove to the SAM House and discussed the matter with the wise men of my generation. Upon their advice I shot over to the AEPhi House to see Wendy. We made out in her room for a bit, but the fact is she just wasn’t for me; she didn’t have that “edge.” On Monday, April 6, Grace Slick and I reconciled. Little did I realize that I may have won the battle, but I would lose the war.
3. Mt. Sinai Hospital (Cleveland, Ohio). This renown medical facility was the scene of the Six Day War (November 9-14, 1979). During my wife’s extended convalescence after the birth of our middle child, I broke the news to her that the 1975 Plymouth Satellite had a mishap and wasn’t making left turns; it would only turn right. This was long before the GPS, but I had carefully prepared a roadmap home (by way of West Virginia). The problem was that we were routed through some of the less favorable neighborhoods in the area, and for some reason my wife didn’t want to take the scenic tour with a newborn in a car seat. Frankly, I thought the entire episode was rather funny. I laughed alone.
4. Truckstop, (Snowshoe, Pennsylvania. August, 1990. The Battle Of The White Hanky occurred on the westbound return trip from New Jersey. Its genesis occured several days earlier. The Von Bogart family had been traveling from Scranton through the hills of The Quaker State to pick up the kids at Camp Perlman. Somewhere along the way I got lost, but instead of asking for directions I relied on my gut instinct. The wife kept urging me to stop someone and ask for help. I rejected all help, continually reassuring her that “This feels right.” Ultimately I got it right and we found our way to Starlight and then to Passaic, New Jersey.
Our trip home was no less eventful. Seconds after passing the Snowshoe exit we suffered not one, but two simultaneous blowouts. After pulling to the side of the road I did what I do best with flat tires—I stared at them. The wife urged me to start walking back to the exit ramp.
That wasn’t going to happen. Instead, I remembered what my father had taught me to do in such situations and tied a handkerchief to the car’s antenna.
“Just what is that supposed to do?” she asked incredulously.
The kids laughed.
“Someone will stop.”
The kids laughed harder.
She yelled at me, calling me “Mr. Fun”, ”Loser” and other warm, fuzzy names, but I had faith.
Within ten minutes (maybe less) someone stopped to help us.
We spent the next two hours at a truck stop while the mechanics patched us up.
The Good Samaritan had proved me right and vindication was mine. Once back on the road I did apologize. That’s how Bogarts win fights.
The aforementioned quartet of battle sights can and should be memorialized. Each represents a pivotal action in my personal Civil War. I don’t have the wherewithal to secure some Hollywood celebrity espouse my cause in our nation’s capital. Still, why is it that when I review the seminal fights of my life I feel like I myself starred in “The Revenge Of The Nerds”?

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