Thursday, April 18, 2013

“Hamglaze Happening”

c. 2013 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

‘Back in black.’ Call it a matter of personal style.
On Easter Sunday, I attended the 10:30 a.m. worship service at Celebration Lutheran Church with my niece. Those who shared the event were dressed colorfully in green, gold, purple, pink, yellow and white.
But my own hue was less adventurous. I wore the solemn shade of midnight. Not as a statement of any kind, but simply because that was what I had in the laundry basket.
Pastor Laura called us to reflect upon the resurrection of Christ, and the blessed season of awakening nature. I drifted through memories of yonder days, while praying.
The ‘Children’s Sermon’ made me ponder my own age. It was easy to remember when turning thirty had sent chills over my skin. But now, that event echoed from over twenty years in the past. At fifty-one, the idea of youthful discovery seemed curious and quaint.
Still, I wanted to reflect, and recall that lost moment of innocence.
After the service was over, my niece headed straight to her parental home. But I decided to buy a cup of coffee at Geauga Gas & Grub, on Center Street, in Chardon.
I was only a few steps from the register when a voice called across the room. “Rod Ice! Yayyy, you have to sit with me for a moment!”
In a seat by the front window was my friend Carrie Hamglaze.
I struggled sit down, finally placing my chair at an angle to the table. “How are you, friend?”
“I am well,” she observed. “But what about you?”
“Bad knee,” I confessed. “Surgery helped for a while, but lately it has been stiff...”
“Welcome to senior living!” she cackled.
I noticed that she wasn’t wearing her usual red hat. And there was only a taster’s cup of Irish tea in her hand.
“Having today off was a complete surprise,” I confessed. “I’ve worked every Easter for many years. But they hired a new fellow at work. So here I am.”
Carrie smiled broadly. “I looked at the house you were interested in buying, at the bottom of North Hambden Street. A cute little bungalow. What did the realtor say about financing?”
“Never called them,” I admitted with a blush.
“Rodney!” she squawked, like an angry hen. “Things won’t get done if you don’t stay focused.”
“Right,” I agreed. “Maybe this week...”
“You heard about Joe Gall?” she interjected. “The laundromat owner?”
“No,” I said with shock. “What do you mean?”
Carrie tapped her nails on the tabletop. She took a folded piece of paper from her purse, and began to read:

“Joseph E. Gall, of Munson Township, died March 23, 2013, at University Hospitals Geauga Medical Center. He was 72. Born Nov. 1, 1940, in Vestaburg, Pa., to Joseph and Edith (nee Leffler) Gall, he had been a longtime area resident. Joe was the owner/operator of Chardon Laundromat in Marc's Plaza.
He is survived by his children, Debbie (Bob) Young of Rock Creek, Cindy Adams of Garfield Heights and Bill (Kim) Gall of Mantua; sister, Gloria (Richard) Rizzo; brothers, Albert, Ron (Linda) and Dan (Carol); 13 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; daughter Jodee Clarke; and grandson Jason Larson.”

I bowed my head in silence.
“My first wife worked for Joe at the laundromat, many years ago,” I reflected. “I remember him from my days at Kresse’s Bi-Rite, where Marc’s is located today. We were literally right across the parking lot from each other.”
“There is a makeshift memorial at his business,” she explained.
“Really?” I shouted.
“Flowers, photos, even drawings by the grandkids,” Carrie said.
My mood changed from sorrow to determination. “I’ve got to go over there. Get a few photos with my iPhone. Meditate for a moment. So many memories...”
“The Chardon that we remember is slipping away, one life at a time,” she mourned.
“My late father-in-law said that, many years ago,” I recalled. “He had come from Pennsylvania, just like Joe. ‘Pops’ remembered People’s Drug and King’s Grocery. He remembered the Chevrolet dealership downtown. So many things that were before my time. Now, I talk about Conley’s or Fisher’s Big Wheel, and young kids at work just stare.”
Carrie nodded. “Each generation has its precious memories.”
“Now it is up to us to make some new memories, before we go,” I declared. “To leave a legacy of some kind. For the next generation.”
My friend sipped her tea. “That’s why you need to call about that house! Come home to Chardon. We can always use another man on the team!”
“Spoken like a championship coach,” I laughed. “But tennis isn’t my game.”
“I’m talking about the game of life, Rodney,” she said. “You’ve been on the bench for long enough. It’s time to compete once more, and win!”
I finished my coffee as she got up from the table. Suddenly, Geauga Gas & Grub was filled with patrons heading home after Easter celebrations. Contrasting voices filled the air. In the background, a television program about aerobic exercise on the beach flickered without purpose. No one seemed to be watching.
“See you soon!” Carrie promised, as she headed out the door. “See you... at the Maple Festival!”

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