Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Tuesday in Chagrin (Falls)
I got an email the other day from a former student--one who is among my most former of students--John Mlinek, who was in my seventh grade class now and again during my first year (1966-1967) and who performed in the first two plays I directed at the Aurora Middle School (The Founding of Aurora; or, The Grapes of Wrath, spring 1967; Our War for Independence; or, 101 Ways to Be Revolting, spring 1968). Both shows I wrote with groups of middle school students; both we performed on the gym floor in the old middle school. In the first, John played the Rev. Ku Klux (clever, eh?), and in the second he was King George III. (I posted something the other day about John: Those kids from 1966 are turning 60 this year--impossible, impossible, impossible.)
One of my favorite memories of my entire teaching career: At the end of Revolting, King George III (John), whupped by the colonists, comes prancing into the gym dressed like a hippie and preaching "peace" while the soundtrack boomed "Georgy Girl," a recently popular song by The Seekers. (If you don't know it, here it is, via YouTube.) The crowd of middle schoolers in the bleachers went nuts. It might have been the biggest reaction to any moment in any of the 30+ plays I directed.
Anyway, John and his wife, Kim (who live near Cincinnati), were in town because Kim, now a technical director for televised sporting events, is going to be doing the Browns game this week (check it out: every image you'll see in that will come to you courtesy of Kim!). So we decided to meet in Chagrin Falls, at the bridge, at 5:30, and then decide what to do for supper.
We met. We decided. Rick's Cafe, which, it turns out, is a place John had always wanted to go but never had. (He, Kim, and Joyce munched ribs; I, morally superior, ate a salad with chicken pieces--and stole fries when I thought no one was looking.)
Hours flew as we rehearsed memories from years ago, as we talked about our lives then and now. At some point we drifted over to the popcorn/ice cream shop across the road, and while a dark thunderstorm edged in from the west, we licked cones (I ate moral yogurt, not immoral ice cream) and postponed our separation until Armageddon was upon us.
And off we drove--Joyce and I to home, John and Kim to Cleveland. While the heavens shuddered and flashed. And memory did the same.