Saturday, September 29, 2012

Names from Long Ago

This week I saw the name Patricia Q. Breitenbach in the Cleveland Plain Dealer obits. As I read through the obituary I realized that Patricia was the mother of Kathy Breitenbach, who was in a class with me at Notre Dame/St. Mary's College. Kathy, whose last name now is Sarnacki, was in a French class with me. I remember talking with her after class one day around 1968 or '69 and we discovered we were both from Greater Cleveland: me from Euclid and Kathy from Pepper Pike. Mrs. Breitenbach died at age 88; she had a large family and is survived by many children, grandchildren, and even a great grandchild. This was a successful life; may she rest in the peace of the Lord.

The other day I was thinking about my Euclid neighbors when I was a kid, back in the 1950's and 1960's, especially the kids around my age: Brian D. Cox, Alan Lane, Howard and David Packer, Walter (Buster) Zylowski, Chucky Lintern (I bet the last time he was called "Chucky" Dave Garroway was the host of the Today show!), and a few others. I have totally lost contact with all these guys. I wonder where they are, how their lives have gone.

The fall weather also caused me to think of Ron Valenti (Valente?), another person I haven't heard from in forever. He would come over to my house (from his home on Elinore Avenue, near Forest Park Junior High), and we would play football on Farringdon Avenue. Ron was an "immigrant" to Euclid from Warrensville. Wonder whatever happened to him?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Chagrin River Review--Goes Live Monday, September 24th

Several of my colleagues and I have been developing an online literary journal, Chagrin River Review. The co-founders and co-editors of this journal are (besides me) Angie Weaver, Tobin Terry, Tom Hyland, Ellen McHugh, and Suzanne Ondrus--with some help from Byron Kanoti. We all brought something different to the task, and the fruit of our work will be revealed in the first issue this Monday at this web address: We are all connected to Lakeland Community College in Kirtland, Ohio, but the college's role so far has been peripheral--so don't blame the college if any material offends!

One of my covert goals with Chagrin River Review is to develop a literature and mythology of our home--which is the Chagrin River drainage area of Northeastern Ohio: Lake County, Geauga County, Cuyahoga County, and surrounding area. This area is part of what the French Jesuit Exploreres and Voyageurs called "La Nation du Chat," the Cat Nation, the home of the Erie Indians.

Can we make any progress on such a mythology? This is the same kind of task that William Butler Yeats set for himself in Ireland over a hundred years ago. Was he successful? Of course we can make a start on this!

The journal will evolve as we learn to exploit the power of the internet--so we will include oral readings and more graphics in the future. And who knows--maybe some day a bit of video. Right now we have some excellent poetry and short fiction. Take a look at our new journal!

Link to Chagrin River Review

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Carolan and an MCC Crew Save a Man Mauled by a Black Bear in the Bob Marshall Wilderness

My daughter Carolan called tonight with an incredible story. Yesterday, September 14th, near the Black Bear Creek area of the Bob Marshall Wilderness, Forest Service worker Mike Revis, Carolan, and the Montana Conservation Corps crew she was leading back to Spotted Bear, encountered a man who has just been mauled by a black bear. Mike came upon the man on a trail near Black Bear Creek. The man was bloody, dazed, and hurting badly. Twenty minutes after Mike came upon the man, Carolan and the MCC Crew arrived. The bear was still very close by, probably waiting around to finish the kill.

Mike and Carolan had radios and called for a medical helicopter to evacuate the injured hiker. Carolan, who has EMT certification, and Mike administered emergency first aid as they waited for the copter. The other MCC crew members helped with the first aid and and tried to secure the trail in case any other hikers would try to pass through (the bear was lurking very close by).

It wasn't that long before the helicopter arrived, with an EMT and a nurse aboard. Mike, Carolan, and the MCC members helped lift the injured man into the helicopter. Carolan tried to keep the man calm and warm  before the take off. Fairly quickly  the helicopter left for a hospital in Kalispell, Montana.

Meanwhile another radio call went out to the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Service. They soon arrived in another helicopter and decided that this dangerous bear would have to be put down. They located the beer very close to the site of the original attack, and dispatched it. The bear had bloody claws and was covered with bear spray. Sometimes you can't defend yourself with bear spray or even a gun when an attack happens suddenly. The dead bear was then loaded onto a helicopter and taken to a lab where the blood on its claws, the contents of its stomach, and other things will be analyzed.

Carolan got back to her home in Kalispell about 10:30 PM Friday after a day full of terror--and considerable excitement. The man who had been attacked survived and will be OK.

There were lots of heroes in this story--people who had been well-trained and who responded to the emergency properly: Mike, Carolan, the MCC crew, the Forest Service, the emergency medical helicopter personnel, and the crew from Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. Courage plus training yielded a successful outcome.

The Bob Marshall Wilderness has lots of predators at the top of the food chain: wolves, mountain lions, grizzly bears, and black bears. In my mind, the black bear is the most dangerous to humans.

Wildlife agents kill black bear after attack on camper in Bob Marshall

Click on this link to see The Missoulian's story on the black bear attack in the Bob Marshall Wilderness:
Wildlife agents kill black bear after attack on camper in Bob Marshall

Friday, September 14, 2012

Feeding the Hungry--at St. Mary's in Painesville, Ohio

Every Thursday evening Linda and I go to St. Mary's Church in Painesville, Ohio, and serve a meal to the hungry. The meal is prepared, from scratch, by many volunteers associated with Karpos Ministry, led by Kathy Philipps and her husband Dan. St. Mary's lends us their kitchen and refrigeration facilities in the Fr. Hanzo Center. My guess is that about 15 people are involved in meal preparation, serving, and clean up. I don't know the names of every volunteer. Besides Kathy and Dan Philipps, there is Wayne, Jan, Joan, Rose, Pam, Jeff, Ken Fitzsimmons, Kathy Flora, Chuck Hillier, and many more (I'll try to get all the names one of these days). Chuck does one of the hardest jobs, washing up the pots and pans.

The food is delicious, as good or better than a family homemade meal. Kathy is very concerned that the meals be nutritious, and she uses her considerable powers of persuasion to get everyone to eat their veggies. The meal is topped off with a dessert. These are always good and often spectacular. My favorites are the fruit pies made by hand by an expert, the former owner of the restaurant on Burton Square, near Northern Ohio's Amish country.

The closest thing to St. Mary's meal that I have ever seen were the meals prepared at the Catholic Worker House in Davenport, Iowa, under the watchful eyes of Margaret Quigley Garvey. I lived and worked there in the summer of 1976, and we spent much of every afternoon preparing a delicious supper for the hungry.

Jesus said, "Feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty." We try to do our little part every Wednesday and Thursday evening, around 5 to 6 PM, at St. Mary's in Painesville, Ohio.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Carolan on Montana's Flathead Divide Trail and in "The Bob"

Montana Conservation Corps crew working on the Flathead Divide Trail
Carolan on the Flathead Divide Trail, not too far from Spotted Bear. That might be Glacier National Park in the distance!
Carolan on the Big River Trail, Bob Marshall Wilderness, near Schafer Meadows. Note the 4th of July bandana!

James Taylor in Charlotte

It was 1969 or 1970 that Marty Gerrity (Mike's brother) came to the University of Notre Dame with albums of James Taylor. The beautiful and intelligent music was a revelation and the beginning of my interest and affection for JT's artistry. Surely he is one of the great singer-songwriters and performers of our generation.

Last week he performed in Charlotte. His words were very funny and his music was beautiful, singing "In My Mind I'm Going to Carolina, " "You've Got a Friend," and "How Sweet It Is to be Loved by You."

In his remarks he has a retort to Clint Eastwood and his talking-to-a-chair speech; and he has a remark about "old white guys." Being one myself, I enjoyed this remark.

James Taylor's music brings a tear to the eye for all it has meant to me during my life.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Lots of Coyotes in Chardon and Hambden Townships!

Last Monday morning, Linda said, "Look! There's a wolf in the backyard!" I ran to the window, grabbed my camera, and took a couple photos of a very large canine stalking a cottontail about a hundred feet from my house. My brother Kevin identified it as a coyote, rather than a wolf (a wild wolf hasn't been seen in these parts in a long long time!).

Last evening I told some of my neighbors walking their dogs (and one couple taking their tiny three-month-old son for a stroll) about the coyote sighting. They told me three other neighbors have seen coyotes lately. One saw 2 coyotes together; another saw 3 together; a third person saw a pack of 4 coyotes together! Some of these animals have been caught on neighborhood security cameras.

I'm starting to feel that Chardon and Hambden Townships are more dangerous than my daughter's territory in Montana (the Bob Marshall Wilderness). Carolan just has an occasional grizzly or cougar to deal with; we have packs of wild coyotes!

Here are my coyote photos:

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Billy Collins' Great 9-11 Poem: "The Names"

In the video below, former poet laureate Billy Collins reads his great 9-11 poem, "The Names."

Remembering My Mother on 9/11

My Mother on September 11th

We didn’t know if we would live
Beyond that Tuesday.

I rushed from my teaching duties
Thinking not with my brain
But my frightened heart.

Filled the car with gas (what if
the stations ran dry?)

Took $200 out from the ATM (what if
the banks close?)

And drove my car like a maniac
Over the backroads to Euclid (what if
the freeways get jammed?)

To be with my Mother,
Aged, blind, living alone, maybe scared . . . .

When I got there, she was fine,
I was the one terrified.

She had lived through 12 years of the Great Depression,
Four years of The War-To-End-All-Wars,
Followed by The-War-After-That (Korea), and
The War-After-That (Vietnam), and
All the little wars,
All the little and huge deaths.

She was peaceful, strong, hopeful,
Helped her scared oldest son --me--
Face that terrible day
Gave me an idea of what to do


                                       Robert M. Coughlin
                                                September 11, 2003