THREE PLACES I REMEMBER
1. DARBY CREEK, south of Columbus, Ohio
My wife, Alice, and I hit a tree stump in Darby Creek, and I flipped our canoe. I became entangled in branches and logs. The current felt like nine bathtubs pouring over me at once. Alice perched herself on a log in the creek, trying to save her iPod.
The canoe ride was billed as a languid 12-mile paddle downstream with no white water. But we canoed right after a major storm and a wet spring (last year). I was rescued by two kayakers, who found my paddle and extricated my leg. The canoeing outfitter did not want to talk about my adventure. He was having a slow season and didn’t want anybody to overhear us.
During my flip, I kept repeating, “Do not panic.” But I panicked some.
“Life is a very narrow bridge, and the important thing is to not be afraid.” — Rabbi Nachman. Be afraid, but not longer than, say, a minute.
Alice’s iPod made it. My cell phone died. Mother Nature made it.
2. THE SOUTH
I don’t go to Waffle House that often. The closest Waffle House is in Medina, Ohio, and that’s the South.
What are grits? Cream of wheat? What are you supposed to do with grits? Pour syrup on them?
At Waffle House I order hash browns with onions. That’s called “scattered and smothered.”
My son Teddy suggested I try Huddle House. I went to one in South Carolina on vacation. Pretty much the same as Waffle House. (I can’t go to Waffle House — or Huddle House — with my band, because two guys in Yiddishe Cup don’t like “Awful House.” They like baked potatoes at Wendy’s.)
My wife bought a two-pound bag of stone-ground grits at a gift shop in Charleston, South Carolina. The label read, “Food for the Southern Soul.”
If that’s true, the South is in trouble.
3. SHAKER HEIGHTS, OHIO
The sports teams at Shaker Heights High are called the Red Raiders. Why aren’t they the Shakers? It would be class, similar to the University of Pennsylvania Quakers.
There are three real Shakers in Maine. That’s it. Would these elderly women be offended if Shaker’s teams became the Shakers? I doubt it.
Red Raiders. What does that mean?
Shaker – the religion — is the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing. Shaker central in Cleveland was the intersection of Coventry Road and North Park Boulevard. The Shakers had a grist mill there. They had buildings — dairies, farms, woodshops, who knows.
I live nine houses from Shaker, in Cleveland Heights. I have a friend who lives in Shaker and Cleveland Heights. Her living room is in Cleveland Heights and her bedroom is in Shaker. Her house straddles the border. I wonder how this affects her outlook. She moved to the Heights from the West Coast and may not yet understand what “Shaker” connotes locally. Harvey Pekar always played down his Shaker High diploma. Reduced his street cred.
Go Shakers. Classy name. Lower Ivy League cachet.
Yiddishe Cup plays 7:30 p.m. Thurs., July 5, on the lawn at Wiley Middle School, 2181 Miramar Blvd., University Heights, Ohio. (Indoors if raining.) Free. It’s “Family Fun Night” with games and free ice cream one-half hour before the show.
Next week’s blog post will go up Tues. July 3 instead of July 4.