Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Notes on Being Morgans 9-14-2013

These notes were saved as possible material for the celebration of Dad's life at a Memorial service at St. Luke's Catholic Church in Lakewood, Ohio.

Once upon a time, long ago in a land called Lakewood, there lived a family called Morgan.  They had everything!

They had cars (including a Lincoln Continental and two Cutlass Supreme Oldsmobiles).  The Wasmers finally won the Lincoln because they had the wherewithal to keep up with spare parts. Rod Varney’s vintage Impala looked out of place on our driveway but Mike Blake’s Corvette Stingray (rescued and refurbished from the family junk yard) looked pretty cool as did Greg’s Triumph MG (until he totaled it). By the way, Normile Insurance must have love the Morgans. 

They has cameras (and all the Kodak film they ever needed) and carrousel projectors galore. The cameras were on loan from Morgan Studio and shot images in 2 ¼ X  2 ¼, 35 MM, Slides, B&W and Color.  

They had Bicycles (mostly Schwinns – they were repaired and tires were checked every spring at the Schwinn shop on Detroit Street). They also had a portable gadget bike with little wheels. Ridiculous. Dad bought that bike when he saw it advertised in a newspaper. When the novelty wore off he gave it to me. I hated that bike. Often, the bikes were lost and stolen but because they had Lakewood license stickers – more often than not they were recovered. My son Ben took a Yellow Schwinn with a Lakewood license dated 1982 to college. That bike was older than he was but he was happy to have it. (Until was stolen, of course. Miami probably doesn’t routinely call the Lakewood PD if and when…)

They had sporting equipment - Tennis racquets (mostly Jack Kramer Autograph models), Footballs, Rawlings Baseball Mitts, Bats and Baseballs (for hardball or whiffle ball play). Golf clubs – a closet full of mismatched sets. They had basketballs too. Their garage had an inviting hoop and net set up. A good idea to lift the garage doors though so you don’t break any more windows. ( As many times as I saw Dad fix a broken window pane – I never mastered the art of getting the glass cut to size and the putty just right in repair) They had Hockey Equipment too. (Mom and Dad were not ALL IN for Hockey like they were for Golf and Tennis…Something about ice time at 2 am made them a little suspicious I think)

They had Musical Instruments: including a trumpet, a guitar, a banjo, a drum set and a baby grand Piano. (No one in that family has any musical talent. Except Greg – But I ask you - Do drums really count as a musical instrument?)

They had garden tools and two lawn mowers (but zero gardeners). They had plenty rakes and snow shovels. They had a leaf sweeper and a wheel-barrel. They even had one of those edgers you could trim where the grass meets the driveway.

They had a mountain of Tonka trucks. They came in handy if you needed to throw something up at the Buckeye tree in the front yard to get a Frisbee unstuck.   

They had cap guns and rolls and rolls of caps. (Most of which would be bashed with big rocks or carpenter hammers on 4th of July weekend. What is the fun of a pop pop pop when you can risk hearing loss with a big kaboom). This only satisfied the quest for noise until we figured out the black market for firecrackers and M-80s .

They had board games  – Life, Risk, Clue and others, But it was Monopoly that was repurchased to keep up the money supply, tokens and requisite number of die on hand (you need two to play that game). 

They had closets full of practical outerwear. They had boots (galoshes), rubbers,  hats, scarves, mittens, gloves, coats for snow and rain. Windbreakers, sweaters (the ugly sweaters we got for Christmas - we wore on paper routes before sunrise – never to school).    

They had records. LPs of Broadway shows (like Oliver, The Sound of Music, The Music Man, Judy Collins (Clouds), comedy albums (like Allen Sherman’s Hello Mudda, Hello Fadda and the First Family album with Vaughn Meador and company). Lynn had a bunch of 45’s – the Beatles, Beach Boys, The Turtles (Happy Together), Petula Clark (downtown) and Nancy Sinatra (These boots are made for walkin’).

They had a Ping Pong table in the basement which was great (if you wanted to play Rob (again) or if you, instead wanted someplace for you and your friends to put their sixpacks of Stroh’s 3.2 beer.

They had Silver Crazy amounts of silver goblets, tea pots, trays, bowls, flatware (forks, spoons, knives),  so much so they had to ask a housekeeper (Anna Benson, Annie Avery, Estelle) to polish the stuff. The housekeeper did the laundry too for all those kids.  Estelle was the best at ironing shirts. Anna had gang green and lost a leg, Annie Avery got Cancer (she was a woman of faith). They were a part of our family and a part of our family routine. (Nobody made a better Fried Balogna Sandwich than Anna Benson.)

They had Uncles – Phil and Al on Mom’s side and John, Andrew and David on Dad’s side. David is still with us (Maybe he is the greatest of the great. Too young to be a part of WWII. Until he passed, he was the surviving member of our parents generation. Which, in a way is poetic, because David cared the most about staying connected with all of us.

They had talent – (and still do.)
Sundance can act.  And - He can teach you to focus on the zen of recreational tennis.  

Lynn knows how to sell – If you think you need eye glasses – she’ll convince you that you need two pair.

Dan is a visual artist and a master of social media. Dan is the ultimate connector. He is as comfortable hanging out with Little Steven of Bruce Springsteen’s e-street band as he hosting an event for emerging artists at Tower Press or Gallery 22. Truly a blend of commercial artist and fine artist in his own right.

Greg has used his degree in Education (originally because those classes had more girls) as a strategic platform for a career in Commercial Real Estate. Greg can sing and he is President of the Tampa chapter of the American Red Cross. (He has real life life-saving experiences to his credit.) He once hosted his own version of Jeopardy for 250 of his closest friends in Tampa.

Rob is the only Morgan with the humility and credibility to manage someone else’s business. He really is the BEST. Mostly (I submit) because as the youngest you get to witness the mistakes of your older siblings. You also avoid the traps. Somehow Rob knew his success was going to be a product of hard work. (I love you ROBO but you are remarkable more because of your effort than your potential.) Maybe that is part of the trick too. (All of us kept lowering the bar of expectation for you.)

Me – I am a poet and writer. (Mostly I believe the truth really is stranger than fiction and one other thing my mom taught me “The truth belongs to the teller” – or at least the most widely believed version of the truth …No matter how many times she said it, I just cannot bring myself to believe that Greg was such a savant that he fixed the vacuum cleaner when he was just 3 years old. And I don’t want to make allowances for Dan just because he is sooooooo sensitive).
They had great parties – Parties for weddings, parties for wakes (Grammy Lawton’s was a fitting celebration for that 100% Irish Catholic side of our family). Grammy Lawton passed away when  I was in 5th Grade (I remember because I was hard at work on a report on the great state of Alaska as the house filled up with friends and family showing sympathy for Grammy’s wake.) And St. Patrick’s Day was legendary (Mom and Dad loved that holiday).  Cast Parties, Parties for the Lakewood High School team (players and coaches). And, of course, a number of parties when our parents weren’t home. (Those always with a degree of risk.)

They belonged to the Cleveland Yachting Club and they had a big boat – But they didn’t have as much fun at the Beverstocks. No-one learned how to sail (really) – at least not like Tom Bernard – a true sailer. (He would say that nothing was better than “a beer in one hand, a tiller in the other hand and a joint in the other hand”). None of the Morgans wanted to be on the swim team (although they did compete occasionally for CYC).  Dad swam two lengths of the pool underwater to show that he could. And in spite of belief to the contrary the official number #836 (with which you could sign for food – billed later to your account) was used sparingly.

They had charge accounts – Ask Lynn. You need sporting goods or a smart outfit for Lakewood High…Just put it on the Morgan account at Charlie Gieger’s. And Rosie’s Wine House was quick to respond when the bat call went out for 15106 Edgewater Drive. Morgan Studio accounts at Bonfoey’s Frame Shop. Kohler Brothers for hardware (anything from Dowl Pins which would be cut down for Bonne Bell Lipsmackers package design options to plywood and nails to make room for more production space at the studio). The Tom Schmitt Shell account was not a frivolous one. When asked upon determining the need for oil an attendent might ask “Want the good stuff Mr. Morgan?” the response was “No, put the cheap stuff in it.”

They did what they could to fuel the economy – but they were frugal in many ways. The guy that sold us firewood came to the door one winter. Dad asked “How much do you charge?” The answer, “$125 a cord Mr. Morgan.” To which dad responds “Fine, give me $100 worth.” Whenever possible the family haircuts came wholesale with Dad working the buzzer. (Later Rob tried to cut his own hair with some sort of TV hair trimming gadget. Dad tried to fix it but even he and  Mom agreed that Rob could stay home from school if he wanted to wait until some hair grew back. That was quite a bald spot gash he engineered with that hair whiz.)

They lived in a big house – They lived in a lot of square feet. The living room consisted in about 30% no-fly zone, however,  when we were little. Eventually we earned permission to sit in guest area couches. That history was lost on my 2 year old Lindsey (obviously because of bad parenting she insisted on standing on a coffee table.) That was the year of the Boston College QB Doug Flutie threw a Hail Mary pass that beat the previous national champions Miami  (11/23/1984 Thanksgiving week). By the way Bernie Kozar (Miami’s QB) had a pretty good day passing day as well that day.  

Friday, September 6, 2013

JOCM (7-21-1918 to 8-20-2013)

James O’Connell Morgan
(July 21, 1918 – August 20, 2013)

James O’Connell Morgan was an artist, a veteran of WWII, a loyal husband and father of six. Morgan was founder of Morgan Studio in Cleveland, Ohio, the advertising, art and photography business he started and ran for the better part of four decades. The Cleveland native, later in life, lived in the village of Key Biscayne, Miami Florida and Keller, Texas with his wife Mary until her passing in May of 2011. He then moved to Tampa, Florida.   

He Graduated from St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland. (He was an average student, but showed early talent as a promising artist and illustrator.) He Graduated from John Carroll University where he was a Three-year letter winner and two-year starter as both offensive and defensive lineman on John Carroll's first and only Big Four championship team in 1939. Team record was 13-3-1 (.794) in his two years as a starter. (He was 60-minute Morgan in football at John Carroll University in Cleveland). Years after he graduated, he was installed in JCU’s sports Hall of Fame.

He studied at Pratt Institute of Design in New York where he began to solidify his career path before the call of military duty caused him to take a detour. The year at Pratt and the time he spent in New York City influenced him greatly.

He was a soldier during World War II. First enlisting and later entering officer candidate school (OCS). He served as a leader of a camouflage unit and led Black troops (at a time when the army was still segregated). He went wherever they asked him to go and yet was able to stay out of harm’s way. He served his country with honor for over four years.

After his time in the U.S. Army, he began his career at Malmquist Studio as a commercial artist until he left to start his own business in Cleveland, Ohio. He founded Morgan Studio in 1951 as “the architects of the printed page.” He was convinced that design was a noble and worthy profession. Along the way, Morgan Studio served a roster of blue chip clients including Ohio Bell Telephone, Youngstown Steel Door, Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company, L’erin Cosmetics, Ernst & Ernst, Glidden Paint, Stouffers Restaurants, Lake Erie Screw Corporation, Mooney Chemicals, Cleveland Federal Savings and Bonne Bell Cosmetics.

He was a devoted husband to Mary Francis Lawton Morgan (Jim and Mary were married in December of 1942 –Mary died May 2011. They were married for nearly 70 years.)

James O’C. Morgan and his wife had six children: Sundance (formerly James O’Connell Morgan Jr. – born 1944), Mary Lynn (born 1952), Wesley (born 1955), Gregory (born 1956), Daniel (Born 1958) and Robert Morgan (born 1959). 

James is survived by nine grandchildren:
Lynn’s children
James O’Connell Varney   
Philip Varney
(James is married to Susan and they have two children Colleen and Lane)

Wes’ children
Lindsey Lawton Morgan (married to Robert Christopher Dewey)
John Benjamin Morgan
(Wes is married to Lynn)

Greg’s children
Wesley Morgan
Matthew Morgan

(Greg is married to Ellen and has two stepchildren, Lauren and Michael)

Rob’s children
Megan Morgan
Tara Morgan
Kevin Morgan

(Rob is married to Joy)

Memorial service at St. Luke's Catholic Church in Lakewood, Ohio on September 14, 2013.