Saturday, February 22, 2014

At Penitentiary Glenn, Lake Metroparks

Moi, at the edge of the deep ravine, Penitentiary Glenn Metropark
[The inscription, partially visible above, states, "Within ourselves there is a deep place at whose edge we may sit and dream." - Lehrman.]

Well, this is indeed a deep ravine, And right now the creek running through it is chock full of ice. Gigantic icicles creep down the cliffs of this gully. When I first saw this area the locals (my cousins Jerry and Mickey Coughlin and their friends) called it “Penitentiary Gully,” explaining if you ever fell into the gully, you wouldn't be able to get out--as if you were in a penitentiary. That's the story, and I'm sticking to it.

I came very close to getting arrested here once, around 1964 or 1965. I had borrowed my Dad's little sports car, a jerry-rigged mish-mash of a car, called an "Innocenti." My buddy Jed Korthals and I drove out to Kirtland to look at the ruins of the old Halle mansion, right along this creek in the gully. We parked on Booth Road, I believe, and walked down to the ruins of the mansion (the ruined house was still standing at that time). We walked through the place and then tried crossing a broken-down suspension bridge that crossed the creek. The floorboards of the bridge were gone and all we had to step on were cross-beams, each about 4 feet away from the next beam. And then four feet away again, and so on (hard to explain this--wish I could draw a picture here!). In the middle of this broken-down bridge, I was stung by many hornets. But there was no way to hurry off the bridge. I was just going to have to suffer through the stings. While I was in the middle of the bridge, I heard the horn of the Innocenti honking, over and over. Jed and I finally got off the bridge then ran to the car. There, 2 people were on horses, with several kids around the car, trying to let air out of the tires.

When I confronted these people, one woman on the horse said to me, "What are you doing here? You're trespassing!"

I responded, "We just wanted to look at the Halle mansion that my cousins told me about."

"Where are you boys from?" she asked.


"Ah, it was Euclid boys that burned down this mansion! I've called the Sheriff. He'll be here soon.

Well, this wasn't good news. Besides our trespassing, I happened to have what looked like a gun in the car. It was just a starter's pistol that my brother Denny and I used when practicing our track and field skills. But it looked like a real gun.

After waiting a very long time, with the sheriff not arriving, the lady on horseback said to us, "You boys stay here until the sheriff comes. I have to get back to the house. Then she and her friend left, as did the children. Soon as they left, Jed and I were gone in a flash. We escaped. No trespassing. No possession of a firearm. Just a good story to tell.

Linda Sanders-Coughlin

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