Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

You can only be Thomas-the-Train when you're 3!

Don't even think about messing with the Melonheads of Kirtland today!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Baseball in Euclid in the 1950s and 1960s

Though I was born in Willoughby, I grew up in Euclid, Ohio--from age 3 until I left home and moved to Cincinnati at age 22. Euclid was a sports-crazed town--at least that was my perspective on it. And I was baseball crazy. Beginning around 1957 I spent my summer days playing baseball at the local playground, which everyone called "Mudville"--later to be officially called "Willow Playground." Mudville was down Farringdon Avenue at E.272nd Street, about a quarter mile away. I always ran to and from my house to Mudville, passing the homes of many playmates and fellow ballplayers. Moving down Farringdon, there were the homes of Buster and Kenny Zylowski, Chuckie Lintern, Bernard and Paul Dembek, Clay Lutsch, Frankie Andrulis, Mike Sikora, and Pat Mueller.

Mike Sikora became a well-known realtor in Mentor. Buster moved out to the state of Washington, Kenny to Florida, and I don't know about the rest. Mike Sikora was older than us, maybe 4 years I would guess. I have one hilarious memory of him getting bopped on the head by a high fly ball. The ball hit him square on the top of his head and bounced straight up, higher than the telephone wires. I also remember Mike playing in the local softball league--a ferociously competitive league usually dominated by the guys from Gary Avenue.

While watching the baseball playoffs these past few weeks I thought of Bernard Dembek. Bernard was also a few years older than us, but I did play ball with him. He had a straight overhand pitch and he could throw very hard. Bernard did not give up many hits. His arm motion was unique and scared hitters half to death. His brother Paul didn't pitch as often, as I remember, and didn't have that straight overhand motion (but, if I remember correctly, Big Paul could hit the ball a mile).

One of the greatest players on Farringdon was Clay Lutsch. He usually played shortstop and was a tremendous fielder and hitter. He had a buddy who lived on Shirley Avenue, David Kaprosy, who also was a terrific baseball player--good hands, strong arm, good hitter. Dave Kaprosy had hands twice as big as my own. I believe he is now a lawyer somewhere around Moreland Hills. So many successful people came out of this humble Euclid neighborhood!

Frankie Andrulis lived across the street from Clay. He was a couple years younger than us, but also a good ballplayer. He was tall and thin, and had an older brother even taller. Even his sister was tall; they were all good athletes.

At the very end of Farringdon lived Patrick Mueller. Talk about tall--I think Pat ended up being the drum major for Ohio State's band. I played baseball with Pat for many years and went to high school with him. I believe his father was a Cleveland detective. No idea where Pat is today.

These were some of the ballplayers that lived on Farringdon. Each street had a gang of ballplayers--Zeman Ave., Shirley Ave., Drakefield, Gary, Biardale. Many names come to mind: Jay Niedermeyer, Jim Allsip, Gary Czyzynski, Dale Kovatch, my brother Denny, Frank Calabro, John George and his brothers, the Lynch boys, Tony Severino (maybe the greatest athlete of all of them), Gary King. Wish all the names would come to me!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Hike in the Big Creek Valley, Girdled Road Reservation

Big Creek Valley (Girdled Road Reservation)

Beech Tree

Red Maple

Flowering Dogwood

Girdled Road Reservation Trail

Leef Litter on the Trail

Crabapple Tree
Today I took a long hike in a local Metropark, the Girdled Road Reservation, which is in Leroy Township and Concord Township, Lake County, Ohio. One of the trails is in the Big Creek Valley, through spectacular forest--sugar maple, beech, red oak, dogwood, witch hazel, tuliptree, white sycamore, wild black cherry, red maple, etc.

It's amazing how wild this park is--and how diverse and wonderful the Lake Metropark system. The Lake Parks include miles of Lake Erie's shoreline as well as deep, mature forests. One park, Hell's Hollow, is very wild indeed. Several of the parks are visited by black bear--and this is in the Greater Cleveland area--a densely populated region. One big secret about Greater Cleveland is the natural beauty of the area, preserved in the Cleveland, Lake, Geauga, and Summit metroparks. And we have the Cuyahoga Valley National Park as a huge bonus! Oh yes--we also have the 11th largest lake in the world just to the north--big, beautiful Lake Erie.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Monday, October 21, 2013

Fighting Irish of Notre Dame: Fighting to Build Bridges

This video makes me prouder of my Alma Mater than any stupid football victory. [Have to admit: I still love Notre Dame football.]

Friday, October 18, 2013

Monday, October 14, 2013

Virgin Forest in Greater Cleveland?

There is a remnant of the great virgin forest of 280 years ago in Greater Cleveland. The remnant is in the North Chagrin Reservation of the Cleveland MetroParks. It's near Strawberry Lane--maybe  a half mile hike through the woods. There are only 15 giant white pine trees left. They are in a deep forest of beech, Canadian Hemlock, red oak, sugar maple, and the other trees, shrubs, wildflowers and fungi of the Northeast Ohio climax sugar-maple beech forest.

The white pines average 148 feet tall. They are mostly on the edge of a deep ravine. The trees were seedlings in the early 1730's, almost 50 years before the founding of the United States of America. In 1730 there were very few Indians in this area. It was a kind of no-man's land after the annihilation of the Erie Indians, the Cat Nation, around 1655. And there were probably no white settlers in the area yet. If any non-Indians came through, it was probably French-Canadian fur trappers or French-Canadian Jesuits. Below are some photos from the area

From a sign near the ancient white pines.

280 year-old white pine; 150 feet tall.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Last Boat Ride of the Year on Lake Erie

Linda Rose on the old Sea Ray--quarter mile off Mentor Beach Park and the city of Mentor-on-the-Lake. The lake was a bit choppy but we had a fun ride, our last ride of the year on the Big Lake.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Hiram Irish Music Session (#2)

Tunes played at Hiram College yesterday include:

1. Tom Hackett's Dream
2. Madame Maxwell (O'Carolan)
3. Morning Mist (James Keane)
[the above 3 tunes were new to the Hiram Session]

4. Eleanor Plunkett (O'Carolan)
5. Fanny Power (O'Carolan)
6. Golden Keyboard
7. Sligo Maid
8. My Cape Breton Home (Jerry Holland)
9. Ash Grove
10. John Ryan's Polka
11. The Butterfly
12. Maggie in the Woods
13. Si Beag Si Mor (O'Carolan)
14. Rights of Man
15. Off to California
16. Christmas Eve
17. Wind that Shakes the Barley
18. Haste to the Wedding
19. Frost Is All Over
20. Cliffs of Moher
21. St. Anne's Reel
22. Gaspe Reel
23. Over the Moor to Maggie
24. O'Carolan's Concerto
25. Gentle Maiden
26. Sally Gardens [we sang this song--WB Yeats wrote a lyric for an old tune]

Some of the musicians: Bob Coughlin (me--whistles, guitar); Ellen Eckhouse, harp; Sheldon Firem, bodhran, whistles, guitar; Paul Dreisbach, uilleann pipes, whistle; Tina Dreisbach, Irish flute, whistle, concertina; Robin Montgomery, grand piano; and Frank Krygowski, on fiddle and whistles. There were also 2 people playing button-box accordions;other fiddlers; another concertina player; an autoharp player; other whistle and guitar players--I don't know everyone's names, unfortunately.

P.S. Frank Krygowski has given me the names of a few other musicians present: Jean McGeary, John Sharp, Barb Montler, and Dennis Akers on button-box accordion.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Irish Music Session at Hiram College(1)

Sheldon Firem , bodhran (Irish drum) player extraordinaire, at the Hiram College Irish music session, organized by Tina and Paul Dreisbach, music profs at Hiram. At the harp is Ellen Eckhouse.

In the above video you can see Ellen Eckhouse playing an O'Carolan tune on her harp. You can also see many of the 14 musicians present, including Tina Dreisbach on flute

I will post one or two more short videos plus the tune list from this session--I'll do that tomorrow.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Wonderful Poetry Reading at "Your Vine or Mine" in Painesville

I was a featured poetry reader along with my friend Tobin Terry at the micro-winery in downtown Painesville, Ohio, this past Tuesday. Our reading took place at the winery/restaurant "Your Vine or Mine." The atmosphere was wonderful: good food, wine, and poetry. The evening began with four people reading at the "open microphone." The included Alynn Mahle, Robin Flowers, and Ryan Manista. I didn't catch the name of the other reader. Their readings were wonderful. I especially liked a new poem Robin wrote called "My Father's Watch," or something like that. Alynn's poems were also quite good, as usual. Ryan read publicly for the first time, and it went very well. He is already a very skilled poet.

I followed the open mic readers and read/performed the following poems:

1. October in Willoughby, 1958
2. Cat Nation Ghosts [a poem about the annihilation of the Erie Indians]
3. Remnants [of the Cat Nation]
4. Before the Invention of Safety [about growing up in the 1950s]
5. "I'm from Painesville, with an Emphasis on the Pain!" an Elegy for Mike Celizic
6. Old Math: The Calculus of May 4, 1970 [about the Kent State killings]
7. Just Under the Surface [on the culture of guns in Chardon and the Chardon High School killings]
8. The Chase [about my old beagle-dog, Jake]
9. Toothpaste Violence [how we squeeze every drop out of the toothpaste tube in my house]
10. Whiff of Despair [haiku about the coming of fall]
11. Northern Lights
12. One Happy Moment [portrait of my daughter Carolan and grandson Colin doing cartwheels at Patterson Apple Farm in Chesterland]

I got to sing a bit and howl like a beagle as I performed some of these poems--great fun!

My performance was followed by Tobin Terry. Many of Tobin's poems were funny, especially the one about the Johnnycake Turkey, "Mr. Gobbles." And the brilliant one about his mother, "Nursery Crimes." Tobin sang much of that poem. This is one of my all-time favorite poems.

The "Your Vine or Mine poetry reading, organized by Margie DeLong, and co-hosted by Margie and Tobin, will occur on the first Tuesday of every month from now on. The next one will be Tuesday, November 5th, from 6:30 to 8:30. The featured poet will be Grace Curtis, from Waynesville, Ohio.

Thanks to Margie for getting this going!