Tag Archives: ann arbor

Clubius Incarnate Part 16 – Roomette (December 1958)

Pullman Roomette

[Note: Having finished my backpacking through Europe memoir, Two Inch Heels, I’m returning to writing a more imagined “memoir” of my life starting at age three. This is chapter 16. If you’re interested, you can see the first fifteen chapters by clicking here.]

I was so excited! Today we were going to take the train to go “back east”, wherever that was, to visit my “grandparents”, whatever they were. I did know what trains were, because I had seen them on TV, on cartoons and other shows. I had also seen them for real when we were in the car and we had to stop and wait for a train to go in front of us. But I had never gone on one myself.

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Clubius Incarnate Part 14 – Cider

Molly was excited when she came over to get me. I was going with her and her mom and dad to the Dexter Cider Mill. It was a cold, cloudy, windy day, and I almost forgot to bring my jacket, but my mom reminded me. Molly and I walked across the street together, looking both ways like our parents had told us.

Molly’s mom and dad were coming out of their front door and Molly’s mom called out to her, “Molly, you and Coop can sit in the way back if you want!”

Their car was called a “station wagon”, because it had more seats than a regular car. A regular car had a front and back seats. But a station wagon had another seat behind the back seat. Molly called it the “way back”, because her parents had told her it was the seat “way in the back” of the car. Molly and I both liked the way back seat because it was far away from the adults in the front seat. Also because it was different, when you sat in it you were looking out the back window of the car. You could not see the adults driving, so it was easier to pretend you were driving, even though the car was going behind you not in front of you.

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Clubius Incarnate Part 13 – Tom Swift

Dad read books and sang songs to me when it was bedtime. He told me it was the favorite part of his day, to sit in the wood rocking chair across from my bed and together get “lost in a good story”, and then “raise our voices in song”.

We finally finished reading the Tom Sawyer book. I was sad when it was done, because I liked hearing about all the things that Tom did. I did my best to keep pretending I was Tom sometimes down in the basement or out in the backyard. I knew that Tom was special because his life was an adventure that was in a book.

“So Coop”, dad asked as he sat in the rocking chair, “What should we read tonight?”

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Clubius Incarnate Part 12 – Television

My mom had shown me that you could “divide” things into four “quarters” by drawing an “imaginary” line across the middle and another one up and down the middle. Where those two lines crossed was the “center”. She said it worked for things that were square or round. She liked doing things like that, thinking with lines and numbers, and writing them on a piece of paper.

So it worked for square things like the basement. When you walked down the stairs to the bottom and turned left, that was my quarter. It was perfect for me because I was left handed and liked to go that way anyway. It had my toys and the shelves my mom and dad made out of bricks and boards to put the toys when I wasn’t playing with them. They never did anything in that part of the basement. I could always play there whenever I wanted to. They called it “Cloob’s area”, though now they were calling it “Coop’s area” because of my new nickname.

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Coopster Created Part 11 – Mister Jim

It was a cold, gray, windy Monday on the planet Ann Arbor. Monday February 11th 1974 to be exact. Though now that I was no longer soldiering through Europe with my pack on my back, I wasn’t keeping a journal and writing down the dates. Overnight, the blowing snow had covered the outside of my one small basement window, the one I could see from my mattress on the floor. I had been out earlier in the cold wind shoveling the snow away from the window, and the rest of the driveway, per the list of chores my mom had left me, that I was determined not to get behind on and risk getting a negative comment from her.

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Clubius Incarnate Part 11 – Cooper

I heard the doorbell ring out in the living room. My mom was in my bedroom with me helping me button up the special shirt she had bought for me for dressing up. She said it was a “Campbell tartan” because “Campbell” was my “middle name”.

“Jonathan Campbell Zale”, she said. “That’s a name you can run for President with some day!” Her eyes twinkled when she said it. I knew that was something very special for boys to do when they grew up. We were dressing in special clothes to go to a party across the street at Molly’s house. My mom was wearing a bright white shirt under a blue “dress”. That was one of those things that only women wore that was open at the bottom instead of pants or shorts, which was what she wore the rest of the time. She had on the black shoes, “heels” she called them, that made her very tall but also walk kind of funny. Her lips were very red and shiny.

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Clubius Incarnate Part 10 – Brother

This morning my dad told me that my mom was finally coming home from the hospital with my brother that had been inside her. He took me over to Molly’s and then he drove off in the car. I still did not know what was really going on, so it worried me. I had seen a baby before but it just cried a lot. Why did we need to have one of those at our house?

Molly and I had been playing up in her attic bedroom when my dad and Molly’s mom appeared to tell Molly and me that the baby inside my mom had come out and was now my brother. My dad had asked me if I wanted to go and see my new brother at the hospital, but I didn’t say yes or anything else, so I stayed at Molly’s house.

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Coopster Created Part 10 – Long Drive Home

It was Sunday December 23 and dad, David and I sat in a booth at dad’s local favorite Xenia coffee shop that served breakfast fast food style. Instead of having someone wait on your table, you bought your food at the counter like you would at McDonalds and took it back to your table. That way no need to tip, which dad always tried to avoid. That morning’s conversation was mostly about football, including Miami of Ohio’s upset victory over Florida in the Tangerine bowl Friday night, plus yesterday’s pro football playoff games. We distracted and medicated ourselves with vicarious game highlights, instead of acknowledging the sadness that our long weekend together was ending, and we had the long four-hour drive back to Ann Arbor ahead. Dad’s drive that day would actually be eight hours, since he had to turn around and drive the four hours back down to Xenia alone. At least he would have the playoff game between the Dolphins and his local favorite Cincinnati Bengals to listen to on the radio.

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Coopster Created Part 9 – Dr Z

It was Thursday morning December 20, just eleven days left in a very eventful year, and just some 100 days left until my nineteenth birthday. The thought of turning nineteen in April felt strange to me. All my teen years I had felt like an eighteen-year-old in waiting. That milestone was pretty much the age of majority, gaining one the right to vote, to drink, to smoke tobacco (if I cared to which I didn’t), plus the adult possibility of being drafted, and whatever decision I would have to make if that happened. But having achieved that iconic Alice Cooper “I’m Eighteen” thing, I really had no similar desire to get any older than that.

There was that iconic statement from a young activist, “Don’t trust anyone over thirty!”, that was often repeated by those above or below that age. I couldn’t tell you who said it, but it was really very provocative for people on either side of that divide. I had no desire to get that old, and somehow lose some real or imagined revolutionary cred. I had lived in that zeitgeist of almost, and then actually eighteen, for years now. Comfortably so apparently, and the thought of turning nineteen somehow felt like the clock would start ticking, and before I knew it I’d be thirty. Weird!

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Clubius Incarnate Part 9 – Hidden

I liked to hide. I liked to be in a place where no one could see me or find me until I wanted them to. A place where no one could tell me what to do, or even say that they liked or didn’t like what I was doing, like adults. I liked it the most when, from where I was hiding, I could see and hear other people but they could not see me. Then I could watch them without worrying about them watching me back. If another kid was hiding with me, that was okay, because they didn’t count. Especially Molly. I never wanted to hide from her.

Molly’s mom brought Molly over to play with me. Molly’s mom always wanted to talk about the baby in my mom’s tummy.

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