it’s a long way to go
It's a long way to Tipperary
and the sweetest girl I know ...
Interesting earliness this morning, of nostalgia. Scrolling FB, there’s William’s name, William England. One of my super-smart students those years at HNES, he’s now a senior at UFla, which I knew because he and Kristen were in the same class at HNES. He’s a sideline photographer for the Gators and apparently plays basketball there. William I expected to go his father’s path to medical school, if only because his dad used to let him scrub and watch heart surgery, but FB wandering I see he’s going to Navy OCS on graduation, then to Pensacola for flight training. Happy days in the air, William, enjoy landing a jet fighter on a postage stamp at sea! Life Is Good.
See, the mind does this traveling, to Fall 1956, my own senior year at UFla, excitement at my acceptance for Navy OCS, a mind’s quick trip to Newport, Rhode Island, the green 1948 Dodge sedan that mama and I chose between it and the blue one that May 1948 day at the Bay Line depot after Karl Wiselogel called and said, “your new car’s on the boxcar, you can go choose which one you want.”
Nine years later, Linda and I had the green Dodge my senior year at Gainesville, not like that red Porsche on William’s FB page, back to Newport years later for Naval War College, frequenting Mack’s Clam Shack and that lobster house on the waterfront downtown -- climb up on the side of the vat and pick out my lobsters, dollar each. My God but Newport was cold in winter, frigid, snow plow scraping by in the wee hours, covering up my car at the curb. Clanging bell in Newport harbor I could hear from my pillow. Narragansett Bay: the Jamestown Ferry, whistling at night for it’s last crossing, also from my warm pillow. Civilization loses the war when it trades a ferry for a bridge.
Bonnie Hale has her open heart surgery today at Cleveland Clinic, Bonnie in blessings and prayers, and her medical team, and her boys. Bonnie’s on the second tier, which means this afternoon. Mine was first tier, on the trolley from hotel to heart institute about four o’clock in the morning, in the extreme bitter cold of a January predawn in Cleveland, packing dreams just in case.
Bitter cold in Cleveland now also, and unless he’s home now, Jacob is still in Cleveland teaching a course at the NASA school, Jacob Williams, posting pictures of the coldest parking lot under the Milky Way. We warned Jacob but he went anyway. Every other week for some months or a couple years thirty and more years ago I drove from Harrisburg west on the Pennsylvania Turnpike to Cleveland in my business, coordinating with my clients Gould Ocean Systems Division and the Australian Department of Defence, I know it was 1979 because that was where I drove my first trip in my first new Cadillac, a red Sedan deVille.
Mind again, the traveling mind: Jacob and his family dear to me all our years at Trinity, Apalachicola. At Christmas and Easter, Jacob’s mom baked for our Eucharist the most beautiful Greek bread, with Greek words and decorated with cherries. In the mind: a packed, overcrowded church, little children coming to the Altar rail, asking for a cherry with their chunk of Bread. “Father Tom! Can I have a cherry?!” The Body of Christ, the Bread of Heaven. An old black Chevrolet pickup truck rolling down the alley, stopping at the back gate and Neumann Marshall walking to the rectory kitchen door with a mess of mullet for our supper. Apalachicola, where the love was so thick you could feel it. Trinity Church with the old prayer-soaked walls, as Mamie said. Wednesday evening Bible Study, Ina Margaret dashing into the rectory with a huge platter of fried mullet she’d just netted at Indian Pass. Netted, cleaned and fried. Piping hot. OMG. Life Is Good.
Where was I? Gainesville? Newport? Apalachicola? Cleveland?
Cleveland? Is that you, Grover?
Now mine because Joe brought him to me in Cleveland to keep me company for my open heart surgery, there I named him for the president even though the city was named for General Cleaveland, the surveyor and the local newspaper dropped the “a” so it would better fit on the masthead of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, a strange way to name a city. Grover is my teddy bear. First, he was Patty’s, Joe brought him to me, he’s mine now, Grover.
We brought in healthy potted azalea cuttings from Patty’s Garden yesterday afternoon, because it seems as bitter in PC as it is in Cleveland this morning.
Mind’s eye: a long way round.
St. Andrews Bay to Lake Erie. ECP to BKL, an hour and forty-five minutes at forty-five thousand feet. It's a long way.