Friday, September 30, 2011

What Happened to Euclid's "Mt. Baldy"?

When I was a kid, Euclid had one mountain--"Mt. Baldy." This mountain was somewhere between Highland Road and Chardon Road (US Route 6), about a quarter mile south of Euclid Avenue, US Route 20. I'm guessing Harms Road dead ended near the peak of this landmark.

Last Sunday I attended 9:30 mass at Lourdes Shrine, the beautiful and historic grotto off Chardon Road hill (just south of Euclid Avenue). After mass I drove up Highland Road to the Euclid Creek Park road that winds through a narrow valley, ending up at Green Road in South Euclid (by the way, it ends where the village of Bluestone once stood; here the beautiful slabs of Euclid Bluestone were quarried by some of my Irish ancestors).

Anyway, on my drive I couldn't see Mt. Baldy. Where had it gone? A mountain can't just disappear, can it? I used to be able to see Mt. Baldy from St. Joe's High School on Lake Erie. Something that prominent can't just disappear.

My best guess is that Mt. Baldy got some Rogaine treatments or transplants--in other words, vegetation has regrown on that once-barren hilltop and cliff. And now Mt. Baldy has transformed into Mt. Hairy. That's my theory and I'm sticking to it.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Goofy Little Poem

When It’s All Gone

What if, no when, I lose them,
One by one . . .

If I have nothing left, in the end,
But, say, my nose . . .

Then I will nuzzle you
And sniff you like some old beagle dog.

Maybe you will roll me over,
Scratch my belly,

Say, “Good boy! Good boy . . .
Now get back in your cage.”

                                                September 28, 2011

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

More about Cincinnati's Boal Street & Cincinnati Communes

There were several community houses (some people might call these "communes") in Cincinnati in the early 1970s, and I was connected to three of them. One loose community was the 225 Orchard Street apartment building in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, near Liberty Street and Sycamore. People who lived in that building included me, Chris Cotter, briefly Dan Wenstrup, Clare Weinkam, Annie Weinkam, Peggy Scherer, Jack Shereda, and others who don't immediately come to mind.

About 100 feet across Sycamore Street was the Mansfield House, which was a genuine community or commune. When I moved to Cincinnati from Euclid in late January of 1971, the people in the Mansfield House included Greg Haas, John Luginbill, Joan Levy, Bonnie Tompkins, Andy Meyer, and a handful of other folks. I was never sure if there was an official roster of House residents. Certainly Carolyn Bromley and her brother Dan lived there much of the time, as did Jack Shereda, and, from time to time, Kenny Przybylski. When you add in the frequent visitors, you get a sense of how dynamic and exciting this place was: Denny Ryan, Henry Scott, Mary Alice Shepherd, Chuck Matthei, Peggy Scherer, Anne Weinkam (and her sister Clare and brother Paul), Dick Crowley, Richard Gale, Chris Cotter, Joel Stevens--and so many other wonderful, talented, and committed people.

A third community house, of sorts, developed about a quarter of a mile away, just up the Sycamore Street hill, then down Boal Street, a beautiful hillside street that ran above the Over-the-Rhine basin. I think that somehow Jim Tarbell got hold of the house--for very little money. And Jim let his friends live in the house. The address, if I remember correctly, was 324 Boal St. The house, built in the late 1890s, was a three-story brick house, a style common in Cincinnati's older neighborhoods. This house had a wonderful view, a back yard that was a hillside, and a side yard--something lacking in most of Over-the-Rhine.

For a very short time, when I was between apartments, I stayed in the Boal Street house. Regulars there were Henry Scott and Dan Bromley. A fellow named Jack lived in the first-floor front room; I'm sure many other people lived in that house or stayed temporarily in that house from time to time. I remember that Chris Cotter's dad, Larry Cotter (a prominent architect in Cincinnati), looked over the house to give an opinion on its structural soundness. If I remember correctly, Mr. Cotter was not particularly sanguine about the house's long-term prospects (guess he was wrong!).

I have many fond memories of the Boal Street house. I remember a wonderful party we had on one of the upper floors--must have been around 1975 or so. Lots of people packed in, music and dancing and beer--lots of fun! I remember another time when we took the old Peacemaker Ross Anderson up on the roof. Now Ross was about 75-years-old and blind, so this appeared to be a dangerous stunt. But Ross was so happy to sit under the stars on the roof of that old house. So many wonderful friends, meals, parties. I remember one day playing Scrabble with friends, including Ken Przybylski and Mary Alice Shepherd (now Mary Alice Milnes). Mary Alice took some pictures and when she later showed me a photo she took, I grabbed it and tried to crumple it up. What a dumb, vain move on my part! I wish I had that photo now, with Kenny deceased almost 25 years. Another memory is of Malcolm Dalglish, the great musician, playing his hammer dulcimer in the house--right at the beginning of his folk music career.

One amazing thing I've found about the Internet is that you can type in the address of a house, and then use a function on Google Maps to actually see that house. If you want to try to see the old Boal Street house, type this into Google: 324 Boal Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202. Then drag the little yellow icon of a man onto the road and take a look. It's a miracle!

I have also found a photo and property description of this house by going to, and then typing in the house address.

Monday, September 26, 2011

More about the Cincinnati Boal St. incident

I located a website that discusses the strange incident Kenny Przybylski related to me--something that happened on Boal St., a hillside street that overlooks Cincinnati's Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. Here is the statement:

"Cincinnati: A house here (440 Boal St.) was rained on by something that was described as resembling 'watery blood except that it was oily." There was a little cloud overhead, and it seemed to be several colors, red, greens and pinks, which seemed to be the source of the oily stuff. The witness, who was outside during this, noticed his hands starting burning where this stuff had touched him. He went inside and washed, and when he came back out the cloud was gone and the rain had stopped. All his peach trees died in a short time, and grass where this stuff had fallen also died. No idea what this stuff was and there were no planes overhead to drop anything. Samples were taken and results were never shared with the owner. July 22, 1950."

This was found at the following site:

It's possible that I misremembered this as a flying saucer incident. The details seem to be very close to what Kenny told me--and Kenny heard this firsthand from the owner of this house.  This house is visible from the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood (at least it was when I lived there). The side yard has many tall spruce or fir trees that that be seen from a half mile away.

My 94-year-old friend, Robert Shamleffer

Every once in a while, Robert Shamleffer, aged 93 and 3/4, knocks on my office door to say hello or give me another piece of evidence of the directions and influence of the "people up there." When he says "up there," he points heavenward or moves his eyes upward.

Robert is stone deaf, so a conversation with him is difficult, to say the least. And he has trouble reading my lips, so hidden by beard and mustache. But I think I understand this fascinating man, who is a diligent, though totally non-conventional scholar.

His references to non-earthbound intelligences remind me of the old man on Boal St. in Cincinnati, who told Kenny Przybylski that a flying saucer landed in his yard many years back. Kenny believed this man and Kenny believed many matters of this kind--just like Robert.

Robert is an extraordinary man, and a brilliant one, and I'm glad he has befriended skeptical me.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Smart Little Bugger

My grandson Colin, now about 13 months old, was at our house last evening with his Mom and Dad. I've hardly seen him the past couple weeks and was overjoyed to have him around. Having Colin around is no task for the faint of heart. He is a whirlwind of activity and he leaves you breathless trying to babyproof the house. He finds "trouble" where you hadn't anticipated it. We block off the stairs to the second floor of the house, but when we took him out the front door for a little walk outside, he promptly tried to walk down the three steps--as if he were on flat ground. He simply has no concept yet of a safe way to go down steps (some 20 years ago, Colin's Aunt Emily developed an approach of sliding down a stairs step-by-step, all the while saying, "Emmy go down backwards. Emmy go down backwards."). Colin go down forwards--and fall down!

After dinner we were viewing some of our recent photographs on the television screen when Colin discovered a tiny blue light that indicated the tv's on-off switch. Of course he turned it off. He is very very sharp with cause and effect, and he liked this effect. When I turned the tv back on, he immediately located the tiny blue light again, and turned it off.

Colin is a blast--so much fun. And the boy can wear you out chasing him, trying to keep him safe and sound!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Andy Nolan, Rest in Peace

Andy Nolan, whose funeral mass is taking place right now, lived a short life, some 26 years, 1985-2011. He attended Chardon High School, served in Iraq in the Air Force, and had many friends who loved him.

"Eternal rest grant unto him,  O Lord. And perpetual light shine upon him." Bless his family and friends. Bring him into the light and love and peace of Heaven.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Denny and I Trick Our Dad

"Don't Try this at Home!"

Dad sat at the dinette table, staring into his coffee in silence. Every day, after 9 hours at the Fisher Body factory, he sat there in perfect quietude, looking over the Plain Dealer.

Denny and I had a bright idea that summer afternoon in 1958. Let's make a dummy out of Denny's pants, shoes, and shirt, and hang it so that the feet are at Dad's eye level, just within his peripheral vision, as he sits there with his coffee and paper. "Let's see what he does," Denny said.

So we got to work, attaching sneakers to the pants' bottoms, stuffing the legs with paper, stuffing a shirt, then dangling this brilliant invention just within Dad's field of vision.

We were jigging this dummy up and down when suddenly we heard feet pounding on the stairs. In a flash Dad was standing behind us as we continued jigging the dummy. His face was red, eyes wide open. He was wheezing badly.

"What the hell are you doing?" he yelled.

We were speechless, dumbstruck. Finally I blurted out, "We were making a joke on you, Dad."

Dad unbuckled his belt, pulled it off . . . and taught us a painful lesson about scaring your Dad half to death.#

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Colin's First Pitch--Lake County Captains

My grandson, Colin Jude, made his first appearance in a professional baseball game today when he threw out the first pitch at a Lake County Captains baseball game. Colin seems to be ambidextrous at this point, throwing both right handed and left handed. His first pitch, from the southpaw side, was thrown at age 1 (OK, 54 weeks). It's thought that the pitch was a slider, about 5 miles per hour. If he can add 5 miles per hour every year until he is 20, he'll be throwing 100-miles-an-hour smoke by the year 2030.

At the game were Colin's parents, grandparents, Uncle Nicky Kleppel, and Fr. Tom Tifft, of Borromeo Seminary (in case we needed any divine intervention). There were also about 7 rabbis throwing out pitches--it was Jewish Heritage Day at the park. You think the Lord wasn't paying attention to this event?

Colin is the first Coughlin-relative to appear in a minor league game since Connie Coughlin, my grandfather and Colin's great great grandfather, played in the Three-I League around 1916 (I think my Grampa played for the Rockford, Illinois "Wakes" or "Rox").

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Anne Lamott's book "Bird by Bird"

If there's one book I would advise an aspiring writer to read, think about, laugh over, and reread, it would be Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. I just read one of the early chapters in the book ("Getting Started") and in that chapter Anne writes: "Start with your childhood, I tell them. Plug your nose and jump in, and write down all your memories as truthfully as you can. Flannery O'Connor said that anyone who survived childhood has enough material to write for the rest of his or her life."

I have an amazing memory for my childhood years and have written many things about them. One provocative incident came to mind today and I've decided to write it down to see if it could go anywhere.

This incident happened around 4th or 5th grade at St. William's School in Euclid, circa 1958. It has just occurred to me that I'm afraid to write everything that happened--at least in a nonfiction context. There is one sensitive issue that still causes me pain, that I'm unwilling to reveal. Maybe that part of the story needs the mask that fiction provides. We'll see.[will continue]