Regular reporting and commentary on the interplay of race, class and power in the civic, business and cultural spaces of NEO from the inner rings of Cuyahoga County, Ohio.
Primary interests: Cleveland/NEOhio regional public affairs; African American politics, commerce, culture and society; public education; national and international affairs; Cavaliers∫Browns.
Wednesday, October 12, 2016
Glenville II • Friendly Reunion
Yesterday I posted about getting together for lunch with some of my childhood friends. A few of our readers wrote me directly to wish
us well for the reunion; one said he would like “to be a fly on the wall” when
we got together. Another reader suggested I expand this piece as a rebuttal to the falsehoods currently being spread about the universal perversity of the inner city by he who will remain unnamed but must be forcefully rejected at the polls.
Four of us did meet and had a grand time. As might be
expected we ran our mouths for more than 20 minutes before anybody even looked
at the menu. Our waitress was gracious enough to snap a few photos of us.
Charles Stith, Charles Brown, Virgil Brown, Richard Andrews
The photos and the conversation sparked a lot of
reflection and reminiscence on the part of all. What struck me when I got home
and looked at the picture Charles had already posted to Facebook was the sudden
realization that with my whole family of origin having passed, these three
gents are the folks I’ve known the longest in life.
Charlie, Virgil and Charles were all born in Cleveland.
Virgil and Charles were kindergarten classmates whose houses backed up one to
the other. Charlie’s family moved almost directly across the street from me the
year after my family moved here from Washington DC.
Those who believe the nonsense of a certain prevaricating
pretender to the presidency would have all of us inner city public school
products following some path of pathology, but the reality is quite different.
There are of course myriad threads that have bound us
together over the years, and those memories and shared experiences are part of
what we celebrated. But we also reveled in the understanding that none of the
obvious differences among us had impaired our relationship. As Virgil noted, we
may have fallen out with one another at times, but at this stage none of that
As for the variety of human experience embodied in our
tiny quartet, consider that among our cohort is a conscientious objector and a
Vietnam vet [his book about the experience is now in its second printing];
a teetotaler and a recovering alcoholic; we even have a Republican by birth and
We are all fathers who love and support our children, the
vast majority of whom have moved far away, living in Florida and California to
be sure, but also in Australia, Turkey, and Hong Kong. Charlie and I even share
a niece and nephew in common, as his eldest sister and my older brother were
married for a time.
There are others whose names we called today who have
traveled this era and area with us, still others who have passed on in military
uniform or hospital garb. They too were part of our celebration today.
Most of you reading this no doubt find parallels to these
variegated patterns in your own longitudinal friendships. I hope you feel as
fortunate as we four marvelous if not magnificent men.