“…I took a little trip to my hometown.  I only stopped to look around…”

Leaving East Cleveland Court, my path to the office was both circuitous and fortuitous. Roadwork, coupled by a hatred of driving that suburb (they ticket car phones), had me heading out Euclid— past Lee, past Taylor— past Noble and Belvoir — until I finally hit Green. It was in the twenty more minutes of travel… dreidling through paths not travelled in decades…that I realized once again, how buried treasures lay everywhere. We just have to look.

—And so it was that this morning, ‘tween breakfast and Helen, I re-ran the route in search of more bounty. Disappointed I wasn’t, finding rapture in replay.

8:45 AM

Southbound from Carrie’s, my consciousness was being piqued by the landmarks of past. First up: Notre Dame College (to the right). Took my ACT’s there under protest.
“It’s a waste of time,” I told my mother. (Michigan State needed SAT’s).
“Don’t be such a big shot,” she said. “You’re not there yet.”

I drove by Golfway, Judy Martin’s street. Must have been sixth grade or so that Holly Lawrence, Michael Agin and I stared out the backside, watching dirt move as Greenview was built.

Ah…the Post Office (on my left). How many times have I stood in line at Helen’s request, just to find out if it an envelope was one ounce or two?

Then the medical building, on the right. Thoughts rained: Jamie being pushed in a wall for CAT-Scans and such, circa ’84…

Just teasing Mayfield, the memories poured.

There was St. Gregory’s, (again on the right). The name’s been changed, but this storied venue’s housed signal moments in successive centuries. Midway through the 20th, I threw three straight footballs through a swinging tire at the carnival. Savoring the big blue ‘n white bear I’d won, steadfastly I safeguarded it… until the 90’s… when it evaporated in a box in the Lomaz garage. Moreover, just years ago I won the annual poker tournament, knocking Linsker’s father out at the Final Table. Outdoors or in, it’s my favorite parish.

8:55. Still driving.

It used to be Jay’s Drug on the corner by Franklin’s. If you played for the Red Sox and you won, it was ice cream for all. Alas, my hose were white so I got one trophy (1960) and three years of Creem-O-Freeze—then again, only if our father drove home.

Crossing the intersection, FOR THE FIRST TIME IN YEARS, I saw the parking area not as a Marc’s lot, but as the gathering place before the annual Little League parade. “In the day”, spruced up in clean, pressed uniforms, we would strut our stuff on the Sunday before season openers. Smiles lined the streets as we swaggered…all of us…undefeated.

9:00 I drove past the courthouse. Judge Klein was a lodge brother and when he first ran for office, back in our Rowland days, we had his sign on our lawn. Two decades later he was still on the bench and he still remembered.

9:03 Passing Anderson I angled left. All those years as a kid— how I marveled that the road’s sharp turn didn’t change the name. It was still Green Road.

By 9:08 I was crossing Monticello and edging toward final memories. There used to be a Lawson’s store (“bodega”, as my son would say). And a Crown Pharmacy (owned by Gelfand’s father). You could cut through the bushes right next to it and beat a fifty foot path to the diamonds. Learning the route was a rite of passage reserved for those in “the majors”. Minor leaguers played on a field far less proximate. (Ah, the subtlety of caste systems).

It was ten past nine when my eyes caught the dashboard time and I saw the unseeable: Aunt Helen, sitting on her couch…watching the clock.

And still I pressed on.
On a mission I felt.
To see Negrelli Field…
One more time.

I turned east on Greenmont. Familiar it looked, where was the drive? Industrial now–where was that turn? It know it was there in ’62!

And then I gave up. I had to. I was “on the clock”. My field of dreams would wait lest my morning turn to nightmare.

So I turned back north, letting go of the past. 35 in a 25 now; I would be on time.

I had re-crossed Mayfield when approaching Greenview it looked like rain. Like lightning I recalled the junior high dance and how the guys, in a downpour, ran south in the street toward Cedar to Geraci’s. (Yeah, they were there back then).

Still pleasuring in past, my phone rang loud. “Morris Bogart” read the screen. (I figure when she takes the listing out of my grandpa’s name—I mean he only died in 1954—then so will I).

“Bruce,” she opened, “There are two bags on the steps. The white one is garbage and the blue one is for recycling.”
“Yes, Aunt Helen. I know.”
“I tell you this,” she shot back, ”Because you don’t remember anything.”
“Yes, Aunt Helen.”

“And as I stopped along the thoroughfare…there was music playing everywhere….”

P. Anka


  1. Aunt Helen says:

    I wish I didn’t have to continually communicate with you via your blog, but you never return my calls. What time are you:

    1) picking me up for dinner
    2) getting a different bottle of wine
    3) picking up my soup from Jack’s

    Also, trash day is now on Thursday. Could you pick up my trash by 3:10 pm of Wednesday? Not Thursday. I want to make sure that you have time to put the bags in the correct containers in the backyard when you return on Thursday. Sometimes, it takes you a few times to get it right. White is garbage. Blue is recycling. Please try to remember. If you can remember throwing three footballs through a tire in 1957, then you should be able to remember which bags go in which containers.

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