WHERE DID YOU GO TO
When Mel, the bride’s father, inquired about Yiddishe Cup’s fees, he said his grandmother had baby-sat Joel Grey (Mickey Katz’s son). Mel asked if Yiddishe Cup knew any Mickey Katz tunes.
I said, “We play more Mickey Katz songs than anybody in the world! You’ve heard us, right?”
No, he hadn’t.
I said, “Have you been under a rock for twenty-one years?”
Mel was from Cleveland. Where had he been hiding? Mel said he didn’t get around much. He used to get around. He said, “Where did you go to high school?”
“Brush,” I said.
Mel graduated from nearby Cleveland Heights High — a rival — but, nevertheless, he was OK with Brush High. He had played softball with Brush boys in a JCC league. Mel was six years old than me; I didn’t know any of his Brush buddies.
Mel’s daughter – the bride — was 31 and living in Brooklyn — Yiddishe Cup’s target demographic. I said, “Has your daughter checked out Yiddishe Cup’s Web site? It doesn’t matter if you like Mickey Katz. She’s calling the shots. ”
“Do you know Joel Schackne?” Mel said. (Schackne had been a champion tennis player at Heights High.)
“I know of him. Whose idea is the Jewish music?”
“Schackne is in Florida. He’s still playing tennis.”
“What does your daughter think about Jewish music?”
“What AZA were you in?” (AZA: a B’nai B’rith boys’ club.)
“I was in a JCC club.”
A week later, I met Bob, a cleaning supply man, and also a Heights High grad. I met him at an AIPAC meeting. Bob was not OK with Brush. He said, “Brush was a bunch of greasers and Italians!”
The AIPAC speaker, a Brush grad by the way, had left Cleveland years ago to attain multiple Ivy League degrees and become a weapons analyst with the government, maybe the CIA. He was an old friend of mine. I wanted to talk Iranian nuclear capabilities with him. The inside story. He didn’t.
Ron, a Brush graduate living in Connecticut, phoned to say he was in Cleveland at a nursing home, visiting his dying mother. Ron asked if anybody was still in town. (“Anybody” meant “Our Crowd.”)
I said, “Nobody is here.” Most of our gang had left. The Jewish guys still in town were, for the most part, entrepreneurs and family-business owners. A couple local guys had even made serious money. One, who built cell phone towers, was a playboy with femme fatales poolside.
Howard, a Brush grad in New York, called. He was coming through Cleveland. His parents were moving to assisted living. He said we should get together.
Did I have a post–high school life?
I think so. I’m not stuck on high school. But the subject does come up. I live in my hometown. What can I say?
1. Mel didn’t hire Yiddishe Cup for his daughter’s wedding.
2. The Arcs is the nickname of Charles F. Brush High School. Brush, a Cleveland inventor, developed the arc light, which illuminated streets prior to the incandescent bulb.
A version of this post appeared in the Heights Observer online on April 26, 2011.