Mark Ermine nailed it. “Talking about the past is fine, but continually reliving it isn’t.” That having been said, it still seemed appropriate that I take the streets uptown tonight. Why not do a drive-by of the old neighborhood, what with this being Erev Road Trip.

No, I don’t live in the past, but I am blessed with a great memory, and wonderful memories. And today for the first time since I got my license, I drove the old neighborhood….at speed limit…or below.

They’re pretty much gone from Cleveland now, the boys of my summers. Scattered like old baseball cards. A few even dead.

Hovanyi, Fenton, Cohen, Fromin to the east.
Gelfand, Davidson, Mateijka, Mulberg going west.
And on Beaconwood there were Jimmy Masseria and Marvin Rosenberg.

I loved Chris Hovanyi—“Bulb” we called him. He’s gone now. His given name was Alex, and he lived next to us/across the street. His dad had a big garden; his mom never left the house. When it rained we’d play Monopoly on his screened-in porch. But only until it stopped.

Stuart and Ricky were on his other side flanked by Morton and Gary Cohen. Morton was fat and we’d tease him mercilessly. He was so nice though, and kept coming back for more. I’m guessing none of us are proud of the way we treated him. His younger brother (Gary) died young. At five Gary’s parents had him wearing thick, coke bottle eyeglasses with black frames…sort of like a Jewish Ernie from “My Three Sons.” Moreover, he had a speech problem and couldn’t pronounce “F” words. It was always “Stuart Henton” to him. We could have treated him nicer.

Fromin was next. A year my senior, he was always the gifted athlete. At a time when most kids were promoted to the majors at age 11, he was drafted by Frank Snell and the Red Sox at nine. I, myself, was called up at 10, and that, too, was an honor. Nine though…that made you a neighborhood icon.

Around the corner you had Masseria and Rosenberg. Jimmy was a rare non-Jew in our lives. Still, in a neighborhood of wall-to-wall Landsmen, it mattered not. He was special. Although a devout Catholic, Jim stayed home from school on all Jewish holidays as well. Ecumenical before his time.

And, boy did Masseria have a temper. Stuart would always tease him about his late Aunt Agnes.

“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagnes!” Stuart would scream at him, for some reason thinking the name was funny. “Aaaaaaaaaaaagnes!” Relentlessly obnoxious: “Aaaaaaaagnes!”

Once Masseria got so mad he threw Stu on the ground and had Fat Morton sit on Fenton while Jimmy stood over him throwing grass on his face. Endlessly. He used to call that the “Chinese Torture.” And more grass… in his mouth…..

He’d be spitting it out shouting “Let me up. Let me up!” I’ll never say “Aaaaaaaaaagnes again!” And Fenton’s face would be beat red; he’d get up….and say it again. “Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagnes!”

It took a lot to piss off Jimmy. Only Stuart could do it.

The good old days.

Marvin was nice but even more manic. If he was in a good mood he was fun; if not, he’d tell you he had to calm down by giving you “Slugs.” That meant you had to let him hit you five times in a row in bicep.
One. Two. Three. Four. Five. He’d count it out, and when done just go “Ahah. I feel better now.”

Marvin threw right but batted left. First of his kind. Steve was a switch-hitter. The rest of us were plebian.

Truth be known, these are simple memories, warm memories, and perhaps, a half century later, not important.

Stuart spends half his year in town, maybe less. The others are either geographically or mortally gone. Only Bruce and Hal remain.

Maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be. There’s something nice about it. A dozen kids in the 50’s living on “Leave It To Beaver” and baseball, and only two stayed home.

And they’re brothers.

Hal and I are closer now than we ever were then. We’re neither reliving the past, nor recreating it.

We’re saluting it… brothers.

2 Responses to “THE BOYS OF SUMMER”

  1. Stuart says:

    One of your best! Have a safe trip and take pictures. No mention of Norm’s garage?

  2. Mark Ermine says:

    I actually made the comment to our dear friend Bob. The past is great (if you care or can remember it) you, Bob and Stuart seem to remember it all in detail. I on the other hand have very little recollection of our days in South Euclid. Maybe I have blocked it all out. Whatever, remembering your childhood is wonderful, trying to relive it daily it borderline nuts. Hope you have a great safe drive to NJ. Enjoy your time, call when you come to Columbus

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