Sunday, May 23, 2010

Pentecost: "Come Holy Ghost"

Today, at St. Mary's Church in Painesville, Ohio, we sang this beautiful song. The opening lyrics were written by a former neighbor in Euclid (she lived on my old street, East 266 Street). Her name is Maryanne Quinlivan, and she is a Cleveland Ursuline nun (the order of nuns that taught me in grade school). The second part of this song is the famous hymn to the Holy Spirit, "Come Holy Ghost." These are very ancient words ("Veni Creator Spiritus"), attributed to Rabanus Maurus, who lived circa 780 to 856 AD in what is now Germany.

"One Spirit, One Church"

(by Kevin Keil and Maryanne Quinlivan, OSU)

We are a pilgrim people,
we are the Church of God.
A family of believers,
disciples of the Lord.
United in one spirit,
ignited by the fire.
Still burning through the ages,
still present in our lives.

1. Come, Holy Ghost, Creator blest,
and in our hearts take up thy rest;
come with thy grace and heav’nly aid
to fill the hearts which thou hast made.

2. O Comforter, to thee we cry,
thou gift of God sent from on high.
Thou font of life and fire of love,
the soul’s anointing from above."

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Irish Writer James Joyce

Recently I've gotten interested in the Irish writer, James Joyce.

James Augustine Aloysius Joyce was born in Dublin, Ireland on February 2, 1882, and died in Zurich, Switzerland on January 13, 1941. Joyce is often acclaimed as one of the greatest writers of his era, but his two most famous books, Ulysses and Finnegan's Wake, are rarely read. A collection of short stories, The Dubliners, might be more accessible and more widely read than his two monumental works.

I've been reading a biography of James Joyce by Richard Ellman; it could have been titled "More Than You Wanted to Know about James Joyce." I have written a biography (co-authored with Judy Bechtel Blackburn, Building the Beloved Community: Maurice McCrackin's Life for Peace and Civil Rights), so I have some sense of the work involved. Ellman's work is a quantum leap beyond our book in the detail of Joyce's life and writings. I can't imagine how Ellman found out so much! Let's just say that this is a brilliant and fascinating work, and has increased my understanding of James Joyce tremendously. [more coming]

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Great Karan Casey at Nighttown Tonight, 7 PM

The greatest Irish singer, Karan Casey, is singing with her band at Nighttown tonight (Nighttown is located in Cleveland Heights at the top of the Cedar Road Karan Casey formerly sang with the Irish group "Solas," and has in the past years worked solo and with her own band.

I heard her sing at noon today on Dee Perry's show on 90.3 FM. I wept while driving my car as she sang a traditional Irish tune. One of the greatest gifts on earth is a beautiful voice singing a beautiful song--and that's what you get from the great Karan Casey!

I have Casey's latest CD, Ships in the Forest. On that CD she sings an old Joni Mitchell song, "The Fiddle and the Drum." How could this song ever be sung more poignantly, more beautifully?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Passing of Frank Calabro Jr.

In today's Plain Dealer I noticed an obituary for Frank L. Calabro, Jr., aged 64. This must be the fellow who was two or three years ahead of me at St. William's School in Euclid, Ohio, and St. Joe's High School in Cleveland. The obit states that Frank Jr. is the son of Frank and Elizabeth Calabro, and is survived by two children, a sister, and three grandchildren.

I clearly remember Frank and his father in our Euclid neighborhood. The family lived on Gary Avenue, between E. 266th Street and E. 272nd in the little bungalow homes built by Marvin Helf. These homes were constructed beginning around 1951 and first sold for around $11,900, give or take.

This was an amazingly mixed neighborhood. I would guess that mostly there were young families there--many of the dads were former GI's, back from World War II. A lot of the moms were stay-at-home housewives, with lots and lots of children. Probably 60 % of the residents of our neighborhood were Catholic (and as I think about it, all were white). There were some Jews in the neighbborhood, including 2 of our nextdoor neighbors, Abe and Ray Packer and their children, and the Eismann family. "Ner Tamid" temple was about a mile away, at E. 250th and Lake Shore Boulevard. The Catholics belonged to St. William's Parish, with a number of Byzantine Catholics near Lloyd Road belonging to St. Stephen's Byzantine Catholic Church.

The Catholics were an interesting ethnic mix of Irish, German, Slovenian, Polish, Italians, and many other heritages. The local Protestants, like the local Jews, must have felt somewhat marginalized in this heavily Catholic neighborhood.

There were some white-collar workers in the area, but most of the dads were blue-collar, unionized workers at the gigantic factories in Euclid and the northeastern neighborhoods of Cleveland (especially Collinwood and Glenville). This area of Euclid and Cleveland was one of the great industrial belts of the world, with Fisher Body, TRW, Addressograph-Multigraph, Chase Brass & Copper Company, Eaton Axle, the New York Central Railroad yards, and many many others.

Our neighborhood had a small park, which everyone called "Mudville," but the City of Euclid eventually called "Willow Playground." In the summer, tremendous softball games were played on Mudville's baseball field. Each street had its own team, and my Dad (and later I myself) played for Farringdon's team, while Frank Calabro Sr. and Frank Jr. played for the great Gary Avenue team. As a kid I loved sports, especially baseball, and these guys played a ferocious brand of ball. I remember the names of some of the Gary Avenue players. There were the Lynch brothers, the George brothers (John and Fred, I believe), and the Calabro's. I remember fierce games between Farringdon and Gary Avenue, with some personal clashes between my Dad and Frank Calabro Sr. One time it even came close to blows. We didn't hate the Calabro's by any means--we admired their baseball skill and their tremendous competitive spirits.

I played CYO baseball for a year or two with Frank Jr. We had a good team, and I looked up to the likes of Frank Calabro and John George and the Lynch brothers (Danny and ??). Frank seemed all grown up at age 12 or 13. He was about 5'6" and built like a tank, and I think he had to shave early on. The funny thing is that Frank never got much bigger, and I imagine that inhibited his football play for Bill Gutbrod's squad at St. Joe's (Frank would have been on the squad with the like of Tommy Schoen, Dick Moore, Tim Mullaney, Brian Stenger, and other great athletes, who probably towered over him).

After Frank's graduation from St. Joe's, I lost track of him. I guess he went into the army, and served during the Vietnam War. I was at the University of Notre Dame for 9 months of the year and had little contact with Euclid-St. William's-St. Joe's friends and acquaintances.

It was sad reading about Frank Calabro's passing, and I say a prayer for his wonderful mother and father, for his sister, children, grandchildren, and friends.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

My Mother--Margaret Ann, on her wedding day in August of 1947. Such a wonderful person, fun, full of life, Irish as Patty's pig! Thank you, Mom, for the gift of life, for the gift of family, and all those ineffable gifts that you, and all good mothers, give to their children

Friday, May 7, 2010

Vicki and Jack Pendergast in Baltimore--2005

I only met my Coughlin cousin, Jack Pendergast, once--at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, Maryland, around 2005. I also met Vicki at that time, and saw her again last fall when Jack's funeral was held at Arlington National Cemetery. As the Irish say, "the likes of Jack will not be seen again!" Jack was the champion family genealogist, an important figure in international Irish music with his work with Comhaltas Cheoltoiri Eireann, and a high ranking retired military man.
I thought about Jack and Vicki today because I have just heard from another Coughlin cousin, Shawn Hogan (who is also a cousin and friend of Jack, Vicki, and their children).

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

May 5th, 1978--Hippie Wedding

Unsere Hochzeit, 5 Mai 1978. Sankt Georg Kirche, Cincinnati, Ohio. Links-rechts: Bob, Chris Cotter, Linda, Mary Ann Hageman.

[I have no idea why I originally wrote that sentence above in German. It simply means," Our Wedding, My 5th 1978. Saint George Church, Cincinnati, Ohio. Left-right: . . . ."]

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Poem for the 40th Anniversary of the Kent State Killings

Old Math: The Calculus of May 4, 1970

Neil Young’s song still dances around my brain
Forty years after that fateful Monday, May 4th, 1970:

“Four dead in O-hi-o. Four dead in O-hi-o.”

The math is both hard and simple:

4th day of the fifth month of the 1970th year of the Lord.
77 Guardsmen with fixed bayonets advance toward the crowd.
13-second fusillade;
67 shots fired, many into the ground or into the air;
4 dead in Ohio: Jeffrey Miller. Allison Krause. Sandy Scheuer. Bill Schroeder.
Their ages: 20, 19, 20, and 19.

9 wounded in O-hi-o: John Lewis, Thomas Grace, John Cleary,
Alan Canfora, Douglas Wrentmore, James Russell, Robert Stamps.
Dean Kahler permanently paralyzed.
Donald MacKenzie wounded from a distance of 750 feet.

Branded into memory, the image of Mary Ann Vecchio,
Horror on her face, arms extended over the lifeless body of Jeffrey Miller,
Shot through the mouth:
John Filo’s Pulitzer winning photo
Developed inside every young American’s brain.

58,000 Americans dead in the Vietnam War;
10 times that many wounded; how many with deep psychic injury?
Uncountable millions of Vietnamese soldiers and civilians.
A couple hundred million Americans torn up in anguish,
Conflicted, confused—a confusion that can never be resolved.

The old chant continues:

“Tin soldiers and Nixon coming,
We’re finally on our own,
This summer I hear the drumming,
Four dead in Ohio.
Four dead in Ohio.”

(Robert M. Coughlin, Kirtland, Ohio. May 4, 2010)

[This poem is copyrighted 2010 by Robert M. Coughlin]

Monday, May 3, 2010

Jahrestag Meiner Hochzeit

Uebermorgen ist der Jahrestag meiner Hochzeit — Nummer XXXII! Linda und ich wurden in St. George’s Church in der Stadt Cincinnati verheiratet. Der Pfarrer war Fr. Harry Meyer, ein wunderbarer Mann und ein grossartiger Pfarrer. Bin ich gar fantastisch gluecklich! Meine Frau, Linda, ist immer noch eine schoene Girl, und ich liebe sie so sehr. Sie ist auch die beste Mutter der Welt — meine Kinder haben Glueck, unbedingt! They are lucky ducks to have someone like her as their mother.

Ich danke dem Herrn Gott fuer Linda, meine Ehefrau, und unser Zusammenleben, our life together!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Great Cleveland Orchestra

This past Friday we saw the great Cleveland Orchestra play at Severance Hall. The Cleveland Orchestra is one of the world's greatest orchestras. We attended the "Fridays at 7" program, featuring Neruda's "Trumpet Concerto" and Handel's "Water Music." The Neruda piece featured wonderful trumpet playing by Michael Sachs. And in the "Water Music," the harpsichord, recorder, flutes, horns, and trumpets were wonderful, especially in the "Suite in D major," which the conductor, Bernard Labadie, played last, which I understand is not the normal order.

After the concert, there was a group of percussionists, Samba Joia, who played Brazilian rhythms in the Grand Foyer of Severance Hall. The ecstatic drumming brought 6 folks out of the audience to spontaneously dance! I felt like we were in the Carnaval of Rio de Janiero (except no one was without clothes)! Following the drum session, we went back into the Concert Hall for a performance of flamenco music and dancing. The flamenco guitarist, Juanito Pascual, was unbelievable, spectacular. And he was surrounded by 4 percussionists, including the great Jamey Haddad. Equally as spectacular was the flamenco dancing by Nino De Los Reyes. What a night of music! I felt so proud to be a Clevelander Friday night.