Thursday, July 31, 2014

Childhood Homes in Willoughby-on-the-Lake

My Dad was born in Cleveland (near E. 87th, between St. Clair and Superior) and moved as a child to Willoughby-on-the-Lake, on Hayes Avenue, about a block from Lost Nation Boulevard and Lakeshore Boulevard. The history of the house is very interesting. I think it started as a lake cottage--there are many in North Willoughby. But then they dug a basement. They raised up the house and used horses in the excavation process. My Aunt Kay Coughlin's grandpa (if I remember correctly, a man named Gilmore) was the person in charge of the job. Also added to this cottage was a front porch and a second floor.When I was a kid in the 1950s, there were only 2 houses on the west side of Hayes Avenue (south of Lakeshore): my grandparents' house (below), and the Sullivan house.
Connie and Cora Coughlin's home, 1920s to 1960 (or so)
The other house on this side of the street belonged to Helen and Ed Sullivan. Ed was my Mom's uncle, my great uncle. Their children were Mary Ellen (my sister was named after her); Sally; John; and Mike. Today the house looks abandoned, maybe foreclosed. Here it is:

Sullivan House on Hayes Ave,
When my Mom and Dad married in 1947, they lived in a house a block away from Hayes Avenue, on Windermere. It was a tiny house. I lived there until I was 3, when we moved to Euclid. Here's the house:

Our Windermere House
Right near my parents' and grandparents' house was McKinley School. I enjoyed the playground there quite a lot. Also, just down the street, at Lakeshore and Lost Nation, was Ray's Tavern (probably not the official name). There was also a grocery store there and a store called Mannino's, which might have been a drugstore. I remember buying penny candy there. I spent a lot of time in the bar with my Uncle Jack and my Grampa. Here's the building from the Lakeshore Boulevard angle:

Ray's Tavern--Lakeshore and Lost Nation
I loved this little neighborhood of Willoughby. We moved after I turned three, soon after my mother accidentally ran over me on Windermere.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Who Will Defend the Wilderness? I Know a Few Warriors!

On my recent visit to Montana I started to think about the importance of defending Wilderness, defending the natural environment. We need to explain the importance of Wilderness to people of good will--and then stand up and fight for it! If not us--then who? I know there are a dozen other critically important things to think about. Please include the natural environment and true wilderness among them.

I am proud to say that my daughter Carolan is one of the defenders. She works much of the time in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, a gigantic and important wilderness complex just south of Glacier National Park. A couple weeks ago we met her after she hiked out (I think that morning it was a 15-mile hike) to the Spotted Bear Ranger Station. She had been supervising and training trail maintenance crews in "The Bob," as the Bob Marshall Wilderness is called. Sometimes she works at the Kalispell office of the Montana Conservation Corps (MCC). Other times she's in the field--The Bob, Glacier National Park, the Kootenai, or some other park or forest in Northwest Montana.

Carolan and Bob at Spotted Bear Ranger Station
Carolan's friend Jeremy Rust is also a defender of Wilderness. He works for the U.S. Forest Service and is Carolan's companion-in-adventure. They recently hiked in Glacier NP from Bowman Lake to Quartz Lake, paddled the length of Quartz Lake, then bushwacked their way up to Cerulean Lake. I don't think many people have had this firsthand experience! I recently saw Jeremy in the Two-Medicine area of Glacier:

Jeremy and Bob, by Running Eagle Falls, Two Medicine area, Glacier NP
I have met many other MCC and Forest Service workers: Lauren, Cliff, Elisheba, Beth Hodder, and many others. They are the hardest working people I know, tough as nails, and vigorous defenders of Wilderness and the Wilderness Ethic (which I will talk more  about in the future).

Monday, July 28, 2014

Poem for the Children of Gaza

The Children of Gaza . . .

Play soccer in the rubble between bombardments
Of their homes, schools, parks, hospitals—
Surgical strikes, of course,
Designed to surgically crush an entire block,
Entire generation, an entire People.

The children, who’ve known nothing but siege and war,
Their entire lives, try to ignore
The stench of death reeking from the neighboring apartment building
In spectacular ruins, not a stone on a stone:
                This is destruction on a biblical scale!

They hardly care who is right and who is wrong,
Wonder when this just war will end,
And they can get back to being kids,
Laughing, kicking a soccer ball on a pitch.

[Bob Coughlin / July 28, 2014]

Just Thoughts: Seattle, Pope Francis, and the Poor

Just Thoughts: What Pope Francis Says about Treatment of the Poor

On a recent trip to visit my daughter, I was struck by the vast gap between the wealthy and the poor in Seattle, one of the most successful and prosperous cities in America. Seattle is beautiful in so many ways: its great port, its geography, its exciting Pike Place Market, the green hills, blue lakes, and spectacular Mt. Rainier dominating the region. The trip from wealthy downtown Seattle to the airport is an eye-opener, however, and you see that this city is similar to all American cities. As you travel south from downtown to the airport, you see a change in the city’s complexion. You see Vietnamese, Cambodian, Latino, African-American, and Chinese neighborhoods. So much of this area is shabby and poverty-stricken. And even downtown you see homeless people and beggars on the street, reminding one of Third World countries. Wealth, prosperity, is not close to an equitable division in Seattle.

In Pope Francis’s stunning “apostolic exhortation,” Evangelii Gaudium, “The Joy of the Gospel,” his explanation of the Church’s position on this issue is unambiguous, and truly radical. The Pope writes, “Our faith in Christ, who became poor, and was always close to the poor and the outcast, is the basis of our concern for the integral development of society’s most neglected members. Each individual Christian and every community is called to be an instrument of God for the liberation and promotion of the poor, and for enabling them to be fully a part of society.”

Later the Pope writes, “In all places and circumstances, Christians, with the help of their pastors, are called to hear the cry of the poor.” And then, in paragraph 192, Pope Francis gets even more specific: “We are not simply talking about ensuring nourishment or a ‘dignified sustenance’ for all people, but also their ‘general temporal welfare and prosperity.’ This means education, access to health care, and above all employment, for it is through free, creative, participatory and mutually supportive labour that human beings express and enhance the dignity of their lives. A just wage enables them to have adequate access to all the other goods which are destined for our common use.”

Wow! Pope Francis made the church’s position on these social issues perfectly clear.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Seattle's Great Pike Place Market

Can there be a more wonderful, crowded, exciting market in America? Pike Place in Seattle is a United Nations of diversity, with wonderful sights, smells, tastes. A wonderland for the senses. It dwarfs the two great markets I am familiar with--Cleveland's West Side Market, and Cincinnati's Findlay Market. This must be what American cities were like long ago, before the era of supermarkets. We've lost a lot--but fortunately Pike Place is still thriving (as are West Side Market and Findlay Market ).

Linda pointing out the fish for sale at Pike Place Market

Flowers (not that expensive) and beauty everywhere!

And wonderful eating, with a view of Puget Sound

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Poem about the South Side of Seattle

The Shame

Traveling on the Link Light Rail,

Heading south from the prosperous center of Seattle,

Complexion changes, Vietnamese, Filipino, Latino--

Cheap restaurants, graffiti, crummy housing,

People on the streets festooned with tattoos,

The usual storefronts: payday loans, pawn shops, blood plasma operations:

Enough cash for dinner and a few beers

In exchange for a pint of your lifeblood.

And there, to the southwest,

Towering over these shabby digs--

Rainier, world's most beautiful mountain,

Most majestic, hovering over it all,

Yelling out, “Shame! For shame!”

O America! You of the false promises.

[Bob Coughlin / July 22, 2014]

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Irish Music "Seisiun" at Ashtabula Harbor

On Saturday, July 5th, we had a wonderful Irish music "seisiun" at Kyle Smith's boat dock in Ashtabula Harbor, right near the huge lift bridge. About 8 musicians were there. Kyle was on fiddle; Sheldon Firem on bodhran and whistle; Lynn Higgins on fiddle; Bill Lewis on 4-string banjo and fiddle; I played my guitar and whistle; another fellow on guitar (he sang several songs--very nice); another woman on fiddle; and a woman named Amy playing several instruments. Kathleen O'Neill Webb and her husband Rick Webb and Linda Coughlin listened in on the session, as did several other people. It was a wonderful time in a great setting.

A huge lift bridge about 100 yards from the session site.

Sheldon on small bodhran; Amy; Kyle on fiddle

Amy and Kyle

Bill Lewis on banjo; Lynn Higgins on fiddle

Me on guitar

Monday, July 7, 2014

A Happy Day for Linda

Linda at Overlook Park, Mentor-on-the-Lake
Robby, Linda, Bob, Colin
A wonderful day she had--watching her two beloved grandchildren, opening a few birthday cards, simple supper with her husband,  daughter, son-in-law, and grandboys. Phone calls from a daughter in Montana and a daughter in Columbus. An evening by Lake Erie.

Forced to wear her husband's shirt from two years back: "Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm 64?"

You know the answer!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Great Blueberry Harvest Begins!

This morning we picked the first blueberries of 2014. I am surprised how plentiful they are despite our nasty winter in the Chardon/Hambden Township area. Hopefully we will be picking berries for a few more weeks!

Big One!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Summer Solstice Sunset on Lake Erie

Summer Solstice. Photo taken from Mentor Headlands Beach. Our beloved Lake Erie, named after the Cat Nation Indians, La Nation du Chat, is the 11th or 12th largest freshwater lake in the world. It really is one of the wonders of the world, and we try to enjoy it!

Baking Apple Pies for Our July 4th Picnic

For our picnic at Julia and Ed's house, my specialty--apple pies.

Apple Pies-in-Progress. July 4th, 2014

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Logging Lake and Grace Lake--in Glacier National Park

My daughter Carolan lives near Glacier National Park in Montana. Last Sunday she and her friend Jeremy hiked and paddled Logging Lake and Grace Lake in the wild and remote northwestern part of Glacier. Here are a few photos from that adventure. Besides paddling two lakes, Carolan and Jeremy hiked 19 miles that day.

Carolan hiking a muddy trail near Logging Lake

Carolan paddling Logging Lake

Carolan and Jeremy on Grace Lake

Cutthroat Trout (he lived to see another day)

Waterfalls at the end of Grace Lake

Jeremy paddling Logging Lake
Carolan and Jeremy--Happy

Just Thoughts: Immigration

Just Thoughts: Immigration

At the end of the mass held at this year’s Celtic Festival in Painesville, Fr. Tom Johns, pastor of St. John Vianney parish in Mentor, reminded everyone of the July 12th Cleveland Diocese-sponsored “Walk for Justice” for Immigrants. He asked us to remember that the Irish ancestors of the people present were immigrants, and faced great discrimination because of their nationality and Catholicism. There is still a cultural memory of this discrimination--it is not so far in the past.

The Catholic Church in America is a church of immigrants. Catholics were relative late-comers in this country. Great waves of immigration started in the 1840s during the Irish Potato Famine and hardly decreased in the decades that followed. Greater Cleveland’s Catholic population is made up of the descendants of these immigrants: Irish, German, Italian, Polish, Slovenian, Croatian, Hungarian, Czech, Slovak, Hispanic, and others. So Catholics in America should never forget the immigrants, of the past or the present. They are us.

Come to think of it, almost everyone in America comes from immigrant stock. A few of us can trace our roots back to early colonists, but most of us have much more recent American roots. It could be said that Native Americans are the only people who aren't from immigrant stock.

Why do people leave everything behind and move to a new country? Think about it: if you had a good home, a safe environment, a good job, would you move across the ocean to a place where you might not even speak the language? When people emigrate from their native land, it is often out of desperation. It must be the hardest decision.

In the new land immigrants often face daunting obstacles--discrimination, the need to quickly learn a new language, the need for the basics of life, food, shelter, safety. The need for honorable work. Sometimes they feel rejected by the new society. That brings to mind the great line from the gospels: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” The Catholic immigrants, our ancestors, once rejected and discriminated against, are cornerstones of the strong and prosperous America we have today.

We as Catholic Christians must stand up for immigrants, find a just resolution to the dilemmas presented to our society by immigration. If we are successful, the immigrants will strengthen our society--and Church. We at St. Mary’s in Painesville, Ohio, have a great opportunity to work with the immigrants in our midst, and to offer our success as a model for the broader society.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Works of Mercy--Our Opportunity and Responsibility

Just Thoughts: The Works of Mercy

If you had religion classes as a child, you might have learned to recite by heart the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. These were celebrated most prominently in the Gospel of Matthew (Chapter 25, verses 34-46), and trace their lineage back to Jewish tradition and scripture. The Works of Mercy are among the most precious elements of our religious heritage, and they are honored and taught by many traditions such as the Methodist, Lutheran, Episcopalian, and Orthodox churches. One can also see these guiding principles in the social justice work of Unitarian-Universalist, United Church of Christ, and Mennonite churches. St. Mary's is my parish in Painesville, Ohio, and our ministries live out these exhortations of Jesus, the Corporal Works of Mercy:

1. To feed the hungry. 2. To give drink to the thirsty. 3. To clothe the naked. 4. To shelter the homeless. 5. To visit the sick. 6. To visit the imprisoned. 7. To bury the dead.

If you are not finding the opportunities for doing the Works of Mercy, contact the people in charge of the various ministries of your church. At our parish, we do all of these, every day of the year. Most of this work is done by volunteers, who don’t see it as a burden, but a blessing, a great opportunity.

The Spiritual Works of Mercy are these:

1. To instruct the ignorant. 2. To counsel the doubtful. 3. To admonish sinners. 4. To bear wrongs patiently. 5. To forgive offenses willingly. 6. To comfort the afflicted. 7. To pray for the living and the dead.

The first three Spiritual Works of Mercy probably demand a level of expertise, education, and training that not everyone possesses. But we can all bear wrongs patiently and forgive offenses willingly. And it is so important to comfort the afflicted (and maybe occasionally, like Jesus in the Cleansing of the Temple, to afflict the too comfortable!). And can there be any excuse not to constantly pray for the living and the dead? That is everyone’s vocation and opportunity, even the sick and the homebound.

The Works of Mercy help us honor the Great Commandment given to us by the Lord in Matthew 22:36-40: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

Living out the Works of Mercy obeys this Great Commandment and helps usher in the Just Kingdom, the Beloved Community that Martin Luther King Jr. and Maurice McCrackin spoke of.

Postscript: When I showed someone a draft of this blog posting, she reminded me that the ideas behind the Works of Mercy can be found in many other religious traditions, not just the Jewish and Christian traditions.