Thursday, April 24, 2014

“Roundtable Return”

c. 2014 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

It was a cool morning at Geauga Gas & Grub.
While patrons streamed through the doors, buying breakfast snacks, coffee and fuel, a small club assembled by the front windows. They seemed unconcerned about the busy buzzing of humanity that filled the air with noisy chatter.
Only one purpose concerned this group. After a long winter, they had gathered for the first ‘Geauga Writers’ Roundtable’ meeting of 2014.
Notepads and newspapers lay everywhere. Brief conversations echoed in contrast to the pervasive din of morning business.
Then, Carrie Hamglaze called the meeting to order.
As ‘Grande Dame’ of local journalists, and a former elected official, her very presence brought a sense of regality to the gathering.
“Welcome everyone!” she cheered. Her red hat glistened in the sunlight. “It has been a long winter, my friends. But here we are, again!”
Mack Prindl, of the Parkman Register, was first to agree.
“We’ve been locked in the deep freeze,” he groaned. “Once the Pittsburgh Stillers fell out of NFL playoff contention, I just wanted to fast-forward to the league draft.”
Martha Ann Reale of the Newbury Siren-Monitor laughed out loud. “Around other cities, like Cleveland, they enjoy pro basketball at this time of year. But of course ‘yinz’ don’t know about that sport.”
Mack snorted, angrily. “We don’t need bucketball in Da ‘Burgh!”
Carrie grew impatient. “Please! We are here to discuss Geauga County, my friends! Stay focused!!”
Ezekiel Byler-Gregg of the Burton Daily Bugle stroked his gray beard. “I agree. How about the Maple Festival? There’s something my readers want to hear about!”
I raised my hand like a schoolboy. “Indeed. But first, may I ask why Sandy Kimball isn’t here?”
“You are very observant,” Carrie smiled. “Our new friend from the Claridon Claxon fractured her arm while shoveling snow, a couple of weeks ago. She is recovering at home.”
Martha Ann frowned. “Oh my!”
Ezekiel bowed his head. “Will she be at the Maple Fest?”
“Not sure,” Carrie answered. “I will give her a call after the meeting. So, everyone... what are your headlines for the week?”
I raised my hand again. “A recent score on eBay produced two issues of the Geauga Republican from 1879. It seemed like a perfect opportunity to research the history of journalism here at home. I expect to get a few columns out of those issues.”
Ezekiel nodded affirmation. “Well done, plowboy!”
“Well done, indeed!” Martha Ann said. “I enjoy reading the words written by our forebears in this creative craft of newspaper writing.”
“A few years ago an issue surfaced on eBay from, 1919,” I recalled. “That was good for at least three installments, as I remember. A local look at the prohibition of beverage alcohol. Fascinating material.”
Martha Ann smoothed her denim blouse. “I have a story about the Maple Festival from over fifty years ago. Did you know that John F. Kennedy visited here, while he was a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts?”
Gasps resounded. Then everyone bowed, silently.
“There is a photo of him with the courthouse as a backdrop,” I said. “From 1959. Truly incredible. Sometimes I stand at that location and ponder that he was really here.”
“A local story with national importance,” Carrie reflected.
Mack shook his head. “I’ll look forward to seeing that story. But something more recent is important to my readers... the Rock & Roll retirement of AC/DC!”
More gasps, of a different nature, echoed around the table.
“Have you lost your mind, hayseed?” Ezekiel blustered.
Martha Ann closed her eyes. “Pringle, you are a buffoon!”
“P-R-I-N-D-L!” he shouted. “I ain’t a can of potato crisps!”
“Please,” Carrie pleaded. “Can we stay on track, here? Think local!”
“Malcolm Young is suffering from a decline in his health and has returned home to Australia,” Mack mourned. “Without his presence, Angus and the rest can’t go on. This is a tragedy.”
“That’s a local story?” Martha Ann hissed.
“AC/DC fans are everywhere,” he retorted. “How many times have you heard their music from stands at the Maple Fest? Or the Great Geauga County Fair?”
I covered my face.
“Why, I’ll bet even the Chardon Polka Band plays some of their songs,” he continued.
“Moron!” Martha Ann shrieked.
“Actually,” I mused. “A polka interpretation of ‘Thunderstruck’ would be quite amusing...”
“There’s a local subject!” Carrie blurted out, with excitement. “Has anybody written about their television show?”
“Of course,” I said. “About two weeks ago.”
Mack began to play ‘air guitar.’ Then he began to sing. “Thunderstruckkkkkk!”
Martha Ann wrinkled her nose. “Shouldn’t you be playing ‘air accordion’ instead?”
Mack laughed out loud. “Actually... YOU ARE RIGHT!”
Carrie spilled her tea.
“Enough already!” she screeched. “I call this meeting – adjourned!”

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