Sunday, October 25, 2015

To be a Rock and Not to Roll


Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin iwas released in late 1971. Jimmy Page and Robert Plant composed and sang, for many of us, an anthem and a background soundtrack for moments in time with friends as we came of age during our high school years. It could be heard coming from Nick the Greek car parked in front of Manners Restaurant on a Friday night. It was playing at an impromptu party at Pat McCarthy’s house. It was playing at Megan Hilti’s house as we made the kitchen our own.  Our parents were reasonably comfortable in knowing we’d all return home eventually. Fast forward thirty years and the lyrics appeared on the wall in my son’s room next to a poster of Fifty Cent. Fast forward again another dozen years and the sound of those subtle and familiar notes can be heard in the air while waiting for an airplane in St. Louis the week of my daughter’s wedding. 

And if you listen very hard/The tune will come to you at last/When all are one and one is all/To be a rock and not to roll. 

Stairway To Heaven
There's a lady who's sure all that glitters is gold
And she's buying a stairway to heaven
(And) when she gets there she knows if the stores are all closed
With a word she can get what she came for
Ooh ooh ooh…ooh…ooh ooh ooh
And she's buying a stairway to heaven
There's a sign on the wall but she wants to be sure
'Cause you know sometimes words have two meanings
In the tree by the brook there's a songbird who sings
Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiven
Oooh…It makes me wonder
Oooh…It makes me wonder
There's a feeling I get when I look to the west
And my spirit is crying for leaving
In my thoughts I have seen rings of smoke through the trees
And the voices of those who stand looking
Oooh…It makes me wonder
Oooh…And it makes me wonder
And it's whispered that soon, if we all called the tune
Then the piper will lead us to reason
And a new day will dawn for those who stand long
And the forest will echo with laughter
Woe woe woe woe woe oh
If there's a bustle in your hedgerow
Don't be alarmed now
It's just a spring clean for the May Queen
Yes there are two paths you can go by
but in the long run
There's still time to change the road you're on
And it makes me wonder…ohhh ooh woe
Your head is humming and it won't go - in case you don´t know
The piper's calling you to join him
Dear lady can you hear the wind blow and did you know
Your stairway lies on the whispering wind
And as we wind on down the road
Our shadows taller than our souls
There walks a lady we all know
Who shines white light and wants to show
How everything still turns to gold
And if you listen very hard
The tune will come to you at last
When all are one and one is all, yeah
To be a rock and not to roll
Ooooooooooooh

And she's buying a stairway to heaven

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Remembering Things


Note: This list was compiled over a year ago and shared with my siblings. My brother Dan posted it on Shutterfly page he named Morgan Family Ties. 

The fuse box at Edgewater Drive house. (Anyone else remember Dad using this as a technique for turning off the TV at “bedtime”?)
The costume room downstairs. (Probably not ideal in the room near the furnace and certainly not well merchandised).
The movable type printing press in the basement. (I know Sundance used it to print campaign slogans and re-wrapping sticks of Wrigley’s gum with “Jimmy for me in ’63.”)
Paint the basement floor with abstract expressionist’s zeal. It must have been inspired by left over buckets of paint. (This was after the basement was temporary living quarters for Sundance’s Navy pal John Latham.
Using the heat of the furnace room to dry a variety of paintings.
Paintings with busted up model Clipper ships Dad had spent hours making. At least one of those paintings made the living room and was titled “Davey Jones Locker.”
That game of elevator played by closing the kitchen door, living room door, door leading to the downstairs bathroom adjacent to the kitchen and the door leading to upstairs bedroom. Switching the lights on and off and opening to living room as if a floor of department store.
Lurch Bell cord in living room. Door bell sound presumably to call the help was a fun way to trick someone into answering the front door.
Chanel No. 5 – Mom always had it on her make up table and Dad always seemed to have a new bottle of this fragrance in time for refills.
The investigation over who might be breaking Christmas light bulbs from the string on the wrought iron fence. How did Dad know it was Katy Bizzance (spelling?).
You know, I never took that leap from the balcony to the living room couch but several of my friends did. I know Lynn’s friends tried that cheap thrill too. Rick Sirocky (spelling?)
Kim Lovejoy was a friend of Lynn’s who lived on Abbeshire. She was a big girl but years after she was almost unrecognizable as a skinny Kim. (Funny, the first time I saw the skinny Kim was a McDonald’s restaurant).
Just wave to the guard at CYC and you can drive right through. (Yeah and having a CYC window shield decal on the driver’s side doesn’t hurt either.)
Fall in!
The Eight-Year Plan. (Jim Geshke and his truck made it look like the job could be completed in 8 years.)
Bang! (Game over)
Tonka Trucks (durable enough to throw in the air to dislodge buckeyes from the tree that technically was next door but had overhanging branches in our yard.)
Monopoly (The common and now politically incorrect practices of paying of “fag money” to free parking for rolling the dice too long of accusing the banker of “jewing you out of money due.” )
Greatest Hits:
“Ripp Van Winkle, Ripp Van Dee, Ripp Van Winkle, Ripp Van Dee” (A sort of march beat and an ideal ending to a Booth’s Theater production. Was that a name honoring the guy who shot Lincoln? Or maybe his brother, who was also an actor…)
“I was workin’ in the meadow, a bird flew over me…He said that he was hungry…so I gave him a piece of bread…”
“M&M Clinic, we’re on your side”
“Hummmmmmmm en yah, Hummmm en yah, having fun with Hummm en yah”
“…Key Biscayne, Key Biscayne….And that was our vacation”
 “Lindbergh Song” (Even though it is technically a butchering of Eagle of the U.S.A. which was released in 1927.)
“Wesley Morgan played the organ. His father played the drum. His mother played the fiddling sticks and they all went rum-tum-tum.” (A particularly irritating tune to hear dad sing if you overslept.)
“Dutt-Dutt Dutt-Dutt” (More a performance piece than a song. I had almost forgotten the use of that device to call for TOI-LET PA-PER before Dan brought that cultural artifact back to life at McBride Hall)
Fried Balongna (Anna Benson special)
Frozen Hough Bakery chocolate cupcakes
Ann Page corn flakes (almost, but not Kellogg’s) and Ann Page sandwich crème cookies (nothing like Nabisco Oreos or the off brand Sunshine Hydrox). Ann Page was the A&P generic. Hey did you hear A&P merged with Stop n Shop? Yeah, they’re gonna call it STOP & PEE…(ha ha ha)
Mom’s onion dip. (The dry onion soup mix was secret ingredient.)
“Thank you very much for telling me! Thank you very much for telling me!”
Remember This (Part II)

When Jimmy had something on TV, no one changed the channel. If you behave, he might allow you to quietly view “The Rebel” with him. But don’t make any noise during the program – especially the opening credits and music: Johnny Yuma was a rebel, he wondered alone… Note that the person formerly known as Jimmy never liked that name (or being a Junior either). When he had the chance he changes his name to Sundance.
Suzie Sanders, Mike Young, Vince Ebner, Blue Bird Landscaping, broken collar bone, bendy straw, improv with Mom that brought out the Brando in him, discharged from the Navy (note no modifier to discharged).
Lynn and her friend Wendy Wiken were talking about getting out of the house legally at age 18. They wanted emancipation. I don’t know how Wendy’s home life was but Lynn was a child of the 60’s. Yes sir, after age 18 you can go where-ever you want she thought. This discussion might be taking place while enjoying a refreshing Marboro cigarette. (Girls who smoke look so cool.) Well Lynn was successful in busting out, technically.
Horace Mann, St. Augustine, Andrews school for girls in Willoughby (OH), Lakewood High School. Meet Mark Paris. “Go ahead, get in this cardboard box and I’ll push you down the stairs. It will be fun…like a roller coaster.” The executive producer of Booth’s Theater (in the attic before it became Dad’s home studio space.)
Wes has one theme running throughout - It’s failure. He learned early to make light of being “held back” in first grade. It’s devastating to be viewed among your peers as the kid who flunked. Add to the mix that your brother is in the same grade as you. “What…are your guys twins?” Fast forward and Wes starts to look like a good student athlete and is co-captain of the CYO St. Luke lightweight football team. That big season ended in a loss to Saints Philip & James. (Is that fair – two saints against one.) So it goes, the greatest triumphs usually end in a crushing defeat.
Greg has uncanny ability to pull off the clutch catch or play in the closing moments of a sports contest – especially the pick up/street variety. Intramural basketball as a fifth grader, he stood poised to make a foul shot at St. Luke’s gym that won the game for the orange team. Maybe the Riley’s box scores of baseball at the circle (where Abbeshire meets Edgewater Drive) would verify Greg’s all star status; Or touchdown pass record from dad on the front lawn; Or maybe the hockey games at Lakewood Park; Or the championship run at the University of Miami Cosmic Wheels (intramural touch football). Probably not. Always at his best in unorganized chaos when the game is on the line.
Dan is a funny man and an ideal personality for a culture of social media. The dude is on trend. Sometimes almost shamelessly so. He’s manages to leverage technology in everything he does. The continuity of 500+ JPEGs of the week is emblematic of what it means to be connected to the Straight Shooter. Clam bakes. The Brockley house. Dan found a way to deliver value to clients in NYC, notably Southeby’s Auction House when he offered one-stop shopping for catalogues. Dan is the man when you need photos that are photo-shopped and ready for production. At one time or another over a period of nearly a decade Dan found himself in front of rare books, priceless collectibles and artifacts. Dan is also a champion of emerging artists.
Rob is the best. The twin headaches (Wes and Greg) were winding down their undergraduate careers as Miami Hurricanes when Rob found his way to the original (albeit less exotic and decidedly midwestern) Miami in Ohio. Rob insisted on paying his own way. The first in our family to go to college, study and get good grades without being distracted by the notion that being a Morgan somehow means you are made of finer clay. Regional sales, sales trainer, Black & Decker, Buck Knives, Stanley Tools, PetMate and so on. He speaks fluent Mandarin (Just kidding).
Miscelleaneous Things
The dumb waiter next to the fireplace. A cool feature that mostly was too much trouble to use. An elevator that did not see much use. Such a great house. But so many things that needed repair.
Tony the plumber. A Italian character.
Terry the Milkman. Sealtest products delivered to the milkchute through the breezeway to the side door. (That milkchute was also, by the way, the easiest way to break into the house even with every door locked.)
Rosie’s Wine House, piano tuner, window washers…
The Plain Dealer, The Lakewood Ledger, The Cleveland Press, Look, Life, Time Magazine.
Ballwin Baby Grand Piano in a house without a single musician.
Two lawnmowers, no waiting.
Schwinn bicycles.
Two Cutlass Supreme Oldsmobiles. (Plenty of Normile Insurance Coverage).
Golf with dad has two rules: 1) Hit it as hard as you can 2) maintain pace of play (Both rules are, in hindsight, counterproductive to my personal development in the game).
SauSea Shrimp in glass containers that become “juice glasses”.
Schmitt Shell on Lake Avenue.
Charlie Geiger’s
Tick Tock
Pick n Pay
Super X
Uncle Bill’s
Lawson’s – We’ve got Sealtest delivery but we’re always running out of milk and Dad will always be up for a milk run if it means he can also get a gallon of ice cream.
Convertible beds that are couches by day. Seemed like a good idea at the time. Not very comfortable. (Especially uncomfortable for Greg if Dad was trying to wake him.)
45s – Happy Together by the Turtles, The Beatles, The Doors, Petula Clark, Dave Clark Five. (Good to have those little plastic things in the middle of the record). Lynn has the portable player and a carry case for her records.
Burning leaves in the street in the Fall.