Lefty Parent

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Circle of equals

Posts Tagged ‘1970s’

Coopster Created Part 4 – Billy & Alice

Sunday, December 3rd, 2017

It was still Wednesday December 12, but no one really cared. The four of us were in line outside Crisler Arena, my three comrades listening to my stories as I continued to recount my European journey. Though we were already pretty high, Clark produced one of the “jays” from his pocket and we joined many of the other people in line who were engaged in the same concert preparation.

The oval indoor basketball arena, which seated over 12,000 was situated just east of the “Big House” (UofM’s biggest in the county college football stadium). The arena had been built in the mid 1960s, based on a growing interest in the University’s men’s basketball team after Cazzie Russell led that team to three straight Big Ten championships from 1964 to 1966. Several years later the arena was renamed after Herbert “Fritz” Crisler, the retiring Michigan athletic director, who had played a key role in championing the place being built. As my mom and dad explained it to me, he had been a famous and innovative Michigan football coach during the 1940s, whose greatest legacy to the game of football was to invent the concept of having a different set of players play defense and offense, transforming the game into its modern incarnation.

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Coopster Created Part 3 – Eberwhite Woods

Friday, November 17th, 2017

The churchyard from Eberwhite Woods in winter

It was still Wednesday December 12 and I walked through the familiar streets of my home town. There were patches of dirty snow on the ground, in spots shaded from the sun, remnants from a snowfall probably more than a week ago. But the sky was clear and the temperature was above freezing, which was quite a nice day in Ann Arbor terms for this time of year. From Bicycle Jim’s I was walking west on South University through campus with the UGLI and graduate library on my right and the law school across the street on my left. Though this was my home town, I felt like an outsider of sorts on this street in the midst of campus, just a “townee” and not at this point a college student, at least until next fall when I planned to go back to Western in Kalamazoo.

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Coopster Created Part 2 – The Blue Front & Bicycle Jim’s

Sunday, October 22nd, 2017

The Blue Front

It was still Wednesday December 12, a mild winter day in Ann Arbor with the sun shining and the temperature above freezing. I walked along the sidewalk on the north side of Wells street headed west, looking out onto Burns Park and my old elementary school to my left across the street. School was in session for the rest of this week before the two-week winter holiday, and kids were out at recess running and playing with their youthful energy and a hint of that manic intensity that went with being temporarily unleashed from the classroom.

While I was phasing in and out of consciousness in bed this morning, before officially waking up and starting my first day back in the States, I had heard the vocalizing of a large scrum of kids about fifty yards from my window. I knew they must still be playing their large unsupervised soccer game before school. Probably my fondest memory of my school days in fifth and sixth grade at Burns Park Elementary School were those big, pretty much every morning and lunchtime, loosely organized games. They were “anarchic” in the best, informal governance, sense of that word. Run by the assembled group of kids, with no adults in sight, and only a few simple rules. Sixth graders on one team versus fourth and fifth graders on the other. All soccer balls in play at the same time. No official score kept. Between morning and lunchtime games, it was a good forty to sixty minutes of aerobic exercise each school day, and I remember us playing pretty much in any weather conditions.

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Coop Goes to Europe Part 45 – Home

Sunday, September 24th, 2017

1139-martin-plIt was still Tuesday December 11 and I sat in the front passenger seat of our old Buick Skylark that my mom was driving home from Detroit Metro airport. My brother was in the back seat and my backpack stowed in the trunk. The car was technically mine, given to me by my grandfather, my mom’s dad, but was now our family’s only car. Her “old banger” of a car finally died and was sold for parts for fifty bucks and hauled off by a tow truck. She did not have the money to buy even another used one. She at least, while I was gone, was paying the insurance, the gas, and what little maintenance it got.

It was nighttime already so it was hard to make anything out. I-94 from Detroit to Ann Arbor was familiar to me, having driven into Detroit and back, maybe a dozen times or so in the past few years, mainly to go to the airport or to see a Detroit Tiger baseball game. Particularly when we got near the car plant outside Ypsilanti, all lit up just off the freeway, I knew I was getting into familiar territory and close to home. I felt really tired, my day starting fifteen hours ago after little sleep and since then the four Chivas on the rocks. My mom got a kick out of it when I told her what I had drunk on the plane, commenting that I had become a “sophisticated drinker”, though I did not tell her how much I had drunk.

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Coop Goes to Europe Part 44 – The Coopster

Sunday, September 10th, 2017

The Waite Tarot deck Fool card

It was Tuesday morning December 11. I awoke with a start from a hypnogogic state, Kevin calling my name, and it barely felt like I had slept at all. My mind had buzzed late into the night with anticipation, it being my last night after eleven weeks in Europe. It was 6 o’clock and I had a 7:15 AM bus from the downtown Oxford bus station to the London Victoria Coach Station. From there a walk across the street to the BOAC office where I would check my backpack and take another bus to Heathrow for my 11:15 AM flight nonstop to Detroit. Kevin had volunteered to drive me into town.

My last two days had been pretty mellow, just hanging out here at the Clay’s with whoever was home. That is except for a trip to the village pub last night with Kevin, Madge, Bill, and Nana, where they took turns treating me to pints of Watney’s for my final sendoff, each with a toast. Kate was out studying with her friends. Before heading out she had found a moment with me when the others were out of earshot to say goodbye and say that Mackenzie wanted her to pass on a big thank you to “her cousin Spike”.

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Coop Goes to Europe Part 43 – Kate & Company

Sunday, August 27th, 2017

Scene from 1973 “Godspell” movie

It was a chilly overcast Saturday afternoon December 8 as Kate Clay and I walked down Manor Farm Road from her family’s house towards Horspath village’s little bus stop at the bottom of the hill. She had invited me to join her and her “mates” who were going to see the new movie version of the musical Godspell, showing at a theater in Oxford.

I remembered Kate from that summer three years ago when she was just thirteen. She was extremely shy, and had not interacted with me, my brother, or my mom very much. Now at sixteen she seemed to have come out of that shell, though still more reserved than her gregarious older brother. She had a look about her that was quite distinctive, with straight brown hair cut short on top and behind the ears in back, but with long bangs tumbling over her forehead and even longer on each temple down in front of her ears. Shy and cerebral like me, she had a thing where she would look down when she was thinking, her bangs hanging down obscuring her eyes and nose, then bring her head up and flip her bangs to the side revealing her big eyes when she was finally ready to share her thoughts. More so than me, her brother or her parents, she seemed to have a real fashion sense about her, wearing a knee-length camel colored wool coat, fake-fur trimmed black gloves, brown and gold plaid knee socks rising above tall shiny black boots with platform heels an inch higher than mine. With my own big ‘fro’d hair, charcoal colored flared slacks, and two-tone suede heels (a bit worse for wear after ten weeks of way more use than I had imagined when I brought them) we would have looked the part of a trendy young couple. That is except for my bright orange down jacket (certainly a bit on the dirty side as well from so much use) that clashed with the rest of my attire.

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Coop Goes to Europe Part 42 – The Clays

Saturday, July 8th, 2017

The Horspath village pub

It was Saturday December 8th and I woke up in the rollaway bed in Kevin Clay’s bedroom at the family’s house in Horspath. I had gotten in last night around ten o’clock and Madge, Kevin’s mom, had made up that bed with fresh linens, rather than having to use my sleeping bag. Good thing, because I had noted that final morning at the youth hostel in Amsterdam when I had last rolled my bag up, that it really smelled of ten weeks of my sweat. Not so noticeable in a big male bunkroom where your nose kind of expected a bit of that reek, plus the pervasive smell of hashish also kind of masked it. Of course, after those three days lying open on my bunk, with the smell of burnt hashish in the air, I’m sure my bag was now imbued with that scent as well. But here in this clean well kept house, it’s odor would probably be more noticeable, so best not to have to unroll it.

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Coop Goes to Europe Part 41 – London

Sunday, June 18th, 2017

It was Friday December 7th and I was in the friendly confines of the American Express office in London. The place was full of people including some of my backpacker ilk, though there were no VW vans being sold out front or hashish being sold in the bathrooms like in Amsterdam. It had been a two hour train ride from Colchester to Liverpool Street Station and then about a half hour on two subways to Victoria Station, about a five minute walk from Am Ex. Hearing all the English being spoken around me made me feel close to home. In just four days I would be on the plane back to the States.

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Coop Goes to Europe Part 40 – Great Bentley

Sunday, May 28th, 2017

It was still Wednesday December 5th and I was relieved when Ceil Kane answered the phone, remembered who I was, and then confirmed that they could put me up for a couple nights. She and her husband Ilya had answered my mom’s notice in the Oxford newspaper nearly four years earlier, offering the house swap. We had ended up agreeing to the swap, spending ten weeks during the summer of 1970 living in their place outside Oxford while they lived in ours in Ann Arbor. For Ilya it was the opportunity to take several statistics classes offered by the UofM Institute of Social Research. Turns out the place they lived now, after moving from Oxford, was in a small village called Great Bentley, only ten kilometers from where I was. My mom had continued to correspond with them and given them a heads up that I was traveling in Europe. They had offered to put me up for a couple days when I was in the area, and they had recently received a letter from my mom updating them on my travels and my approximate arrival back in England. Ceil said she was happy to drive to Manningtree and pick me up, because her husband Ilya was sick, and she needed an excuse to get out of the house.

So I sat on a bench in front of the little train station and waited. It was getting late, long since gotten dark, and I thought that it was duly chilly for an early December eve in southeast England. (Not that I’d ever been in southeast England before in early December!) I was still fighting that cold I had been wrestling with in Holland, and I felt chilled, even wearing my down jacket. I could feel my body wanting to shut down so it could divert more resources to fighting this cold that was gripping me. I was sneezing and my nose was running. But it was the excitement, exhilaration even, that I was really close to actually getting on that plane and flying home, that was keeping me afloat, above the drag of the virus on my body.

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Coop Goes to Europe Part 39 – Max

Sunday, May 7th, 2017

It was still Wednesday December 5th as I stood on the stern of the ferry crossing the North Sea, and watched the Dutch coast disappear over the horizon. The stormy sea was now the only thing to see in every direction and that fact was as nearly unnerving as it was awesome. Mitigating that sense of being engulfed by the roiling swells was the fact that the ship we were on was so damn big.

I was in a strange psychological space, alone now on the stern deck for the past half hour or so, pondering what I had left behind on the European continent. The places would still be there if I ever returned, but almost all the people I had encountered and the circumstances that brought us together would not. It was past and gone, though a lot of it still in my memory and bits in my journal. There was a grieving at some level combined with an excitement that I would be headed home soon.

There was also a deeper excitement, plus relief really, that I had actually fucking done it! I had parted company with Angie and struck out on my own nine weeks ago from England for the Continent and had hung in there through all the ordeals and low points of my odyssey in this foreign landscape. Hung in there through the moments where I contemplated calling it quits. Hung in there, as Angie and I had originally planned, until I had used up all my money and returned to the States for the Christmas season. Anything less, at some level, would have felt like failure, a failure to fully engage in the opportunities that the universe was putting in front of me. I felt like I had failed to seize opportunities so many times in the past.

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