There is this scene from an old “Dallas”. J.R. is being forced to sell the company and he’s taking one more walk/thru with his young son. The place is almost empty and Jeremy Wendel, the new owner, is pushing them out. All of a sudden Wendel reaches for a still-hanging portrait – of J.R.’s father – and with that J.R. barks out “Touch that painting and I’ll kill you where you stand”. And then, in the moment where time stood still, J.R. grabbed his Daddy from the wall and strode gallantly from the building.

Friday, March 6

“I haven’t moved in thirty years,” she noted wistfully.
“I haven’t moved in thirty months,” I shot back.

Amateur psychologists insist that other than death or divorce, changing one’s residence is life’s greatest stressor. Permit me to disprove it.

I had my Grandma Bogart ‘til I was forty and in that time she moved once. Her daughter survived HER however, and in the quarter century since, has yet to pull up stakes.  That being noted, if you google it you will find that twenty-three times since her mother’s demise, our aunt has led the league in ulcers.  (Giving them).

Moreover, there’s me:

I was five when, caravan style, Jews fled the city. It was the second Great Exodus. Over several years Cleveland’s Israelites traipsed up Cedar Road to their new Promised Land: suburbia. Car by car up the hill… methodically …as if …well— just picture the parade onto Noah’s ark. (Ed. Note 1: Women had been voting some forty years, but even in 1955 they rarely had cars). (Ed. Note 2: Even if they “had” cars, you could bet your backdoor mezuzah they were titled in their husband’s names).

—And so it was that family by family, each made turns that would predestine their children. Here’s my take: those with gelt turned right at Warrensville Center Road; those with but charm turned left. (Ed. Note 3: My great theory is that the self-employed Jews –ones with futures but minimal bankability– de-arked in South Euclid. ‘Til then unsettled, it would be their Plymouth Rock. “Old money” needn’t experiment in new communities; the solid brick fortresses of University Heights and Shaker were their sustenance.

By ages 5½ and 4 then, the Brothers Bogart moved to their log cabin on Bayard. It was a modest house (‘though I didn’t know it at the time), and one we clearly expected to graduate high school from. The bank, however, had a different idea. (Ed. Note 4: let’s just say that it wasn’t in the cards).

Stonehaven came next. A street over, bigger — it just wasn’t for me. Yes, Mom’s new husband truly stepped up to keep us in the school system—but me? Three years it had been and I missed my Dad. More space was nice, but truth be known, it would always be “The House That Sam Built”. Just saying’.

Post-college the pace picked up: Mayfield Heights, Willoughby Hills, Wrenford Road, and then (tympani), the final resting place,  Beachwood. (Thank you Elaine Walter).

So much for The Iliad; next came my Odyssey.

The Mayland Towers. The Mark IV. The Marsol Towers. The Oliver House.

Truth is, try as I may, I can’t quite remember the sequence; I cannot quite sync in the years. My favorite move, however, remains clear:

We were living on Cedar, just east of Green Road when the landlord (not necessarily thrilled with the habitually late rent or the teenage tenant), refused to renew our lease. What to do? We wanted to stay close to the high school; location was perfect.

Enter Aunt Helen. Ever studying the Cleveland Jewish News, she found a like unit, RIGHT NEXT DOOR. Of all the important unimportant events of my life, watching the old landlord glare at three high school kids schlepping boxes remains near the top. (Ed. Note 5. The celebratory dinner was at The Swamp Club that night).

Michael went to college.  Halftime ended. The Odyssey continued.

First, the garden apartments across the street from The Oliver House. Then to The Georgetown Apartments. Three units I would rent in the ten years  I slept there. Each unit, I thought proudly, was nicer than the last (or so I thought). Little did I realize that the love of my life would appear, walk into Chez Bogart, and leave asking herself (“How can he live like this?”).

Who knew? Certainly not me.

I joined with Carrie in 2012 when we both “just knew”. Thirty months ago it was. Thirty months!

Friday, March 13

As planned the two men with their truck had taken the heavy stuff last week. In the seven days since, CJ did most of the schlepping. For some reason the lady thinks I’m just not capable. Who am I to correct her? And still… still… at my request … and by design, she left one thing behind.

Work was done today just past noon. I took my aunt shopping, grabbed a bite, then headed to the old house. Reaching up to the visor I tapped for perhaps the last time, the only garage door opener I’ve known since my marriage.

Entering the abode, I went straight to the living room where still clinging to the wall was the 2 1/2 foot by 2 foot framed caricature of my father.  Displayed in the ’58 artwork is a bald, fat man — cigarette dangling from his mouth, cocktail glass in one hand and hand of cards in the other.  

I grabbed it from the wall and strode gallantly out, and to the future.


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