Blogs > Jim Collins' Editor's Notebook

Jim Collins is editor emeritus of The News-Herald and also serves as executive in residence at Lakeland Community College. His popular weekly column appears each Sunday in Comment in The News-Herald.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

We should all be so fortunate as the Pallisters

The passing of both Hugh and Gretta Pallister within the short span of only seven months represents the end of an Era – perhaps an Epoch — in Willoughby.

For never, within my memory at least, have two people of such stature and magnitude so dominated everything that was good, decent and worthwhile about the city (and before that the village) that they loved so much and served with such distinction and dedication.

Both lived long, remarkable lives. Hugh was 100 at his passing last September and Gretta was 96 when she left us just last month.

For decade after decade, they were ubiquitous. It was impossible to attend any kind of civic event without seeing both of them.

And they weren’t behind the scenes. They were right out front, leading the parade, as it were, cheerleaders for everything that was worth doing.

Their belief was that if it was worth doing, it was worth doing well.

I considered both Hugh and Gretta good friends, and I thought I knew them pretty well. But I take a back seat to the orators who spoke at both of their services at the Willoughby United Methodist Church.

During those memorable services, I found out how little I really knew about these two wonderful citizens.

And, like so many good people of their ilk, they did it all without pay – unless you consider the nearly three decades Hugh served on City Council as a paying job.

That’s one job people don’t perform for the meager money it pays. They do it for love.

Gretta was born on River Street, where she and Hugh lived for all those years, amid a conclave of friends as close as the paper on the wall.

Let’s see, there were John and Georgia Nelson and Dan and Carol Fishwick and I don’t know who else, but they gave a new definition to “good neighbors.”

Gretta’s obituary in the paper was so eloquent and touching that I firmly believe it was written by Dan Fishwick. For example:

“Born on the first day of spring, 1918, on River Street in Willoughby, Gretta walked in the footsteps of her father, noted photographer and naturalist C.M. Shipman.”

We should all have a send-off by a biographer so talented.

I can’t begin to recite all of their myriad involvements, but you couldn’t mention the Burroughs Nature Club, the Heart of Willoughby, Gully Brook or anything having to do with nature, conservancy or the great outdoors without thinking of Hugh and Gretta.

It seems as if they took on the identity of everything in which they were involved.

The fact that both lived such long lives and that Gretta outlived Hugh by only half a year tells me that there was a grand design for their lives and that few are so fortunate as to know as much love – for each other and for all their many interests.

I am not certain whether they ever had a disagreement, but I know firsthand of some issues on which they had not only total agreement, but also an ability to persuade others that their view was the correct one.

I need only cite their service on the Distinguished Citizen Committee of the Chamber of Commerce. Its focus has now changed to honor business people only, but for decades the committee consisted of 10 members all of whom were former recipients of the award.

I was chairman of that committee for ages, and I got to hand-pick the committee every year. I always chose Hugh and Gretta, along with Bob Riggin, Terry Coleman, John Tigue, Bill Crosier, Father Francis Curran, Jerry Merhar, Suzanne Jackson and, I believe, John Muranko.

The Pallisters always voted of one mind. One might suspect they had discussed the matter in advance – and at some length.

One year (2005) they came primed to nominate Don and Pat Lewis for the honor. There was another faction equally determined to choose Dan Hart.

The discussion went on and on. I think it carried over into another meeting. They were all fine candidates.
All  I tried to do was moderate the discussion and keep it on track.

In the end, common sense prevailed. We honored both the Lewises and Dan Hart. Hugh and Gretta were happy, everyone else was happy, and one and all considered it a job well done.

I am not good at mind-reading, but I would wager a farthing or two that when Hugh spoke at City Council meetings, somewhere in the background were lurking the thoughts of Gretta.

And why not? Just as with the “distinguished” award, they thought alike.

At a time when retired Municipal Court Judge Larry Allen was city law director, he drafted legislation defining the city’s Historic District. He termed the main drag “Buffalo Road.” Hugh and Gretta were amused – barely. Hugh was on council at the time.

As you well know, the name Buffalo Road never caught on. Perhaps we can thank Hugh and Gretta for that. Larry didn’t mind a bit.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

We can start playing baseball in April, but let’s moving ‘Opening Day’ to July

What I am about to propose is an idea that some might consider off-the-wall, weird or merely out of character from one as reliable, staid and conventional as I.

It has never been brought up before. Perhaps never again will it surface.

You will note that I did not term my idea as radical, or even progressive, because any suggestion of such inclinations in me is totally alien, if not abhorrent

Radical and progressive conduct is much easier to detect in those who are involved in such enterprises as Occupy Wall Street, nitwit protests and certain college insanity, for example, trying to shout down speakers who have an opposing point of view.

I do not approve of such nonsense, and I do not vote with those who do. Radical and progressive I am not.

So take note, Al Franken. You may have pals in the U.S. Senate who think you are sane, but I think you are a jerk. I even got an email the other day from a senator from Ohio (no names included here) who asked me to send a contribution to Al.

I did not, needless to say. (In college, our great KSU journalism prof Bill Taylor taught us that if something is needless to say, don’t say it. So I shouldn’t have said it. And by the way, if you think KSU stands for Kansas State University, you would be wrong.)

But I digress.

I know you are waiting patiently to hear what my unusual idea is. I hope you haven’t been standing on one leg waiting for it.

It is this. For Opening Day in baseball, have it on the Fourth of July.

Why? Because by then the weather is often decent. At the Indians opener this year, the weather was rotten.

It might have been a nice day for a Browns game. And believe me, I have been to many a Browns game played under worse conditions than the Tribe opener.

You expect that in football season. But here is a news bulletin – this is not football season, it is baseball season. And you don’t want to go to a baseball game and freeze.

So let’s open baseball season on July Fourth (but still start playing in April!) when the games are not played before 42,000 people not all of whom are sitting in the comfort of heated loges that have all the amenities of home, including all the food you can eat, all the Diet Pepsi you can drink plus indoor plumbing.

From where I was sitting with my three companions it was a long walk to the nearest facility. I don’t know about you, but the older I get, the more I appreciate the propinquity of the facility.

Our grandstand club seats were fine. And we were able to avail ourselves of all the food and beverage we could handle – free.

I had only three hot dogs and two bags of peanuts, but I stopped counting the hot dogs that ex-police chief, fire chief and Chief Deputy Sheriff Bill Crosier consumed, as well as the hamburgers, onion rings and pop, which some people call soda but which is actually pop.

A soda, if you didn’t know, has a scoop of ice cream in it. The Pepsi had no ice cream in it, so it was not soda, it was pop. I didn’t count the hot dogs devoured by Gary Robinson and Greg Sanders, two top-ranking and highly competent officials of the Lake Health System. But they didn’t appear to be ill or overfed.

A couple of years ago I wrote about the tasty and nourishing food served by the hospital system. I realize that Gary and Greg are not patients, they only work there. But I’ll bet they don’t sit around all day eating hot dogs. They have better things to do.

At one point, Josh Willingham of Minnesota came up to bat and Greg and I recalled that the Indians once coveted him when he played somewhere else.

We couldn’t remember where that other team was. But Greg has one of those all-knowing phones that I wrote about last week.

“Greg,” I said, “why don’t you whisper into your phone ‘Where did Josh Willingham used to play?’”

Quick as a wink the phone replied that he played for the Washington Nationals and a few other teams.

Amazing! Absolutely amazing!!

How would you like to be a school teacher and have some kid in the back of the room with one of those phones, asking it questions about solid geometry or frog anatomy?

I’d tell the kid’s mother, that’s what I would do.

Well, we stayed at the game until we started to turn blue, then we left along with about 41,000 other fans and headed home.

When I got there, the lady of the house was watching the game in the comfort of our living room. I joined her. Now, that’s the way to watch a ball game.

She hadn’t prepared any hot dogs or peanuts, and I didn’t want to cheat her out of a repast. So I took her up to the Manhattan Deli.

They have better food than Progressive Field. They only thing is, it isn’t free. Oh well, that’s America. But if all the food in the country were free, we’d all be going to Giovanni’s every night, and there isn’t room for all of us.

Editor's note: The headline on this column was edited April 16, 2014 to read We can, not can't, start playing baseball in April...

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Knowledge of trivia no match for a know-it-all phone

Sometimes, when we are making idle chatter, the lady of the house and I talk about building on an addition so we can store all the stuff we save.

The conversation, of course, is not totally serious. But to be sure, we are both prolific savers.

I give her much credit. She is constantly going through boxes and throwing stuff away. Some of it I beg her to save, like the magazine with a picture of her hitting a tennis ball on the cover. But she says she was much younger then. And I say, “so what?”

Unlike her, I have a terrible time throwing away keepsakes. I wonder if the Historical Society has any interest of a pile of programs from meetings going back to 1950?

I found on my desktop the other day a souvenir I will never give up. It is a ticket stub from an Indians game played against the New York Yankees on April 8, 1993. There is a big picture of the beloved Chief Wahoo on it.

Why is it so special? It was the game in which second baseman Carlos Baerga became the first player in baseball history to hit a home run both right-handed and left-handed in the same inning!

I understand the feat has since been duplicated twice. I guess that would make it triplicated.

The stub is autographed by Carlos because I gave it to Jim Ingraham, our N-H guy who covers the Tribe, and he had  him sign it for me.

(I remember the occasion very well. It was at that game that Fred Skok, the late, great judge of Lake County Probate Court, asked me where I got the loafers I was wearing. I told him Sharon, Pa. He asked me why I got them there. I told him Pennsylvania doesn’t charge sales tax on clothing. On the spot, Fred made me an honorary Slovenian. But I digress.)

A couple weeks ago, Bobby DiBiasio, the vice president and public relations guy for the Indians, was the speaker at Rotary. I told him about having that ticket stub commemorating Baerga’s amazing feat.

I thought it was not only a rare, but also somewhat obscure accomplishment – truly arcane, as in known only to a few.

Bobby D has an amazing storehouse of baseball trivia lodged in his brain.

He shot right back with: “Who were the two pitchers who threw those home run balls?”

I didn’t recall. “No idea,” I replied.

He recited their names. Both were Steve somebody-or-other. Boy, I’ll tell ya.

Which brings up another point about trivia. If you are a worldly person, I am sure you know there are cell phones which you can talk to. Right. You can ask them questions and get answers. Amazing!

We were having dinner the other evening with Bryan and Sandy Flanigan and he asked me if there was an Irish-American Club around here. I said there was one in Euclid.

He had a know-it-all phone. He asked it, “What is the address of the East Side Irish-American Club?” In a split second, the phone gave him the address on Lake Shore Boulevard.

Example No. 2: I was sitting next to Steve Byron one night last week at a Rotary past presidents meeting.

He had one of those phones that are smarter than most people.

I told him to ask the phone who the pitchers were who threw those home run balls. The phone replied with the names of both guys named Steve.

“OK,” I told him, “ask your phone who finished Paul Revere’s Ride?”

The reply was almost instantaneous. And it is a very long story.

Apparently along the way, Paul Revere was captured, a second rider, William Dawes, fell off his horse but got away, and a third rider, Samuel Prescott, completed the ride.
Steve’s phone knew all that.

I’ll tell you, modern technology scares the wits out of me. The fact that there are now phones that know everything is not only frightening, it is also bizarre and weird.

The possibilities may be unlimited, but there are some things that I don’t want to know!

I already know pi to 20 places. But Bryan’s and Steve’s phones probably know it to a million places. Who cares?

But if they get phones that can predict the future, then I want to have one. I’d like to know who is going to play quarterback for the Browns next year, what is the score of the next Super Bowl, and the hardest question of all – how deep is the ocean and how high is the sky?

I think the answer is, nobody knows, so people just write songs about it.

That’s the key: If  you don’t know something, you make up an answer, as all great speakers do, or you write a song about it.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

I'm still a hard-core jazz guy, but I've discovered country's Moe Bandy

As Don Miller of Eastlake (a music lover if ever there were one) is forced to remind me every now and again, there is some redeeming quality in almost every form of music.

Some of it is difficult to find, but if you look hard enough, you will discover something of interest.

He began a recent communication by pointing out an example of music that is not worth listening to. The artist (?) is Daft Punk, and I must confess I have never heard of this person – or organization, whichever it is.

“A few days ago,” Don wrote a couple of weeks ago, “Daft Punk’s electronic funk grooves won big at the Grammys. Daft Punk, which sports helmets in public, won four awards.

“I doubt,” he continued, “that I will ever listen to Daft Punk.”

Since Don and I see eye-to-eye, or ear-to-ear, as it were, on most musical issues, I will second his opinion.
This will save me the trouble of ever having to make my own assessment of this group (?), since I won’t be tuning in on it/them.

But he turned back the clock a few years to remind me of a comment Buddy Rich, the greatest drummer who ever lived, once made about being allergic to country music.

“You said,” Don wrote, “‘Country music isn’t so bad after all. Some of it is very good.’ And I agree.”

I changed my opinion of country music because of the views (and remarkable talents) of my sister, brother-in-law, their two sons, and several visitations I made to Grand Ole Opry while in their company during trips to Nashville.

All of this, of course, is leading up to something. That “something” is a CD Don sent to me.

“Here is an example of country music that I think is very good,” he said. “If an alien came down from Mars and wanted to listen to some ‘good ole country music,’ this is what I would play for him.”

This comment takes several things for granted. For one, that the visitor from Mars would be a “he.” For all I know, it could be a “she.”

And for another, for all we know, the Mars in question could be an electric company in Mentor.
(I know, it’s not too funny. But I like to liven things up a little bit with humor once in a while.)

“When you get some extra listening time,” Dan Don said, “spend 25 minutes and 48 seconds listening to Moe Bandy. And remember, ‘She’s not really cheatin,’ she’s just gettin’ even.’”

Whenever Don sends me a CD, whether it’s Oscar Peterson, Anita O’Day or any other giant in the field of jazz, he always knows exactly how long it will take to play.

He must have a stop watch. But I digress.

I must confess I have never heard of Moe Bandy. That may be a failing on my part, because I suppose a really cool person who knew all about country music could recite chapter and verse of everything Moe had ever done – or recorded.

I started to call my sister in Nashville to ask her about him, but she changed the subject and we never back to talking about Moe.

But within a day or so, the lady of the house and I were motoring someplace (motoring is the same as driving) and I plugged in the CD Don sent me.

The first song, of course, was, “She’s Not Really Cheatin,’ She’s Just Gettin’ Even.”

I am here to tell you that it was sensational!

Now, I am not about to tell you I made some kind of a great discovery in the field of music. For all I know, perhaps everyone with even a nodding acquaintance with country music knows all there is to know about Moe Bandy.

I suppose I could have googled him, but that would have destroyed the mystique surrounding him. Not only had I never heard of him, but apparently Don Miller hadn’t heard of him either.

So what? I say. Who cares if everyone in Nashville already knows of our discovery? That’s one of the things that makes magical moments in music so exciting and so much fun.

It’s like reading “Hamlet” and saying, “I have just discovered a writer named William Shakespeare.” If it works for you, the rest of the world doesn’t matter.

My lady and I both loved the entire CD, including “Hank and Lefty Raised My Country Soul” (that would be, I presume, Hank Williams and Lefty Frizzell), “Your Memory Is Showing All Over Me,” “Jesus in a Nashville Jail” and “Our Love Could Burn Atlanta Down Again.”

As I said on a previous occasion years ago, I now have a great affinity for country music, even though I remain a hard-core straight ahead jazz guy and an unrepentant be-bopper.

If Moe Bandy ever comes to Cleveland I will probably go to see him. That is, he isn’t my age, which might preclude him from moving too quickly for fear of stumbling and falling off the stage.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Chief Wahoo commentary sparks feedback

From all I’ve seen and heard over the past week, last Sunday’s essay was pure gold.
Everywhere I went, from a pancake breakfast at the beautiful Community Center in Willoughby Hills (thanks, Mort and Flo O’Ryan, for getting it built) to a plethora of luncheon meetings throughout the week, I got a solid “thumbs up” for coming to the defense of the Indians’ Chief Wahoo and for exposing political correctness for the sham that it is.
Translation: People (at least the people who read this column) have a love affair with Wahoo, and they share my disdain for the disease that infests much of far-left America and masquerades as political correctness.
So I suppose if I were a really clever fellow I could just re-run that same column every Sunday and be regarded as a genius.
Problem is, most of my readers are also geniuses, so after a few months they would see through that ruse for what it is – a limp excuse for filling the space every Sunday with the same thing over and over until the message lost its freshness, not to mention its urgency.
So let us just say that Chief Wahoo will live on in our minds and hearts, and let’s move on.
But first let me say that the briefest reply I received in response to the message about the Chief was a single word.
It came from Ken Krsolovic. It said, merely, “Amen.”
Interestingly, one of the lengthiest responses didn’t deal with Wahoo at all, but rather with my introduction to the topic when I pointed out that as an eighth-grader I delivered The News-Herald to a number of families in North Willoughby who lived on streets with Indian names.
I noted that, at that time, the newspaper was published only on Tuesday and Friday. That prompted Bill Behnke to send a lengthy email about serving in the U.S. Navy at the time and getting mail only once every six months.
Since he received a half-year’s supply of News-Heralds at a time, he was somewhat pleased that the paper had not yet begun to publish daily.
He was caring enough of his shipmates’ hunger for news that he shared the papers with them. One of the first he opened bore the headline, “No Garbage Collection Thursday.”
Bill said he took some good-natured ribbing from the crew, but regretted not saving that issue.
Trivia question: Name two people whose 90th birthday parties the lady of the house and I attended over the past few weeks.
Why, they were those of Bill Behnke and Bob Meil. But I digress.
The other thing I must tell you about today is in regard to Ted Diadiun. I hired Ted as a sportswriter at The News-Herald a generation or so ago. We share several things in common. Here are a few:
We have played poker in my dining room into the wee hours. We both love baseball. We were both inducted into the Press Club of Cleveland’s Hall of Fame on the same evening a couple of years ago. And we both write Sunday columns – his in the Cleveland Plain Dealer and mine, of course, which you are now reading.
His last two columns were so good that I was going to call and tell him so. But I often don’t get around to doing what I plan to do.
Two weeks ago he wrote that journalism contests are a joke and should be shunned by serious newspaper people. I thoroughly agree.
Last week he spoke of the right of readers to speak out on topics that interest them, but he alluded to people who don’t sign their messages as morons.
He may not have used the word “morons,” but I’m using it here.
Which brings us to the present tense. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Dick Swain, a good friend who had been the judge of Mentor Municipal Court for many years and who died rather suddenly.
I received a lot of very nice compliments about the column – from mutual friends, fellow Gyro Club members and countless community leaders, not to mention words of appreciation from his widow, Susan.
Well, didn’t I get a nasty letter (through the U.S. Mail) from someone who wrote, “Shame on you for your editorial about Dick Swain.”
(Journalism Lesson No. 1: It wasn’t an editorial. It was a column. There is a large difference.)
The writer chastised me for not mentioning his first wife, Sandy, and his children. Well, I was not attempting to write a biography of an old friend. I was merely trying to recall a few highlights in a life well-lived. If I wanted to write everything I knew about Dick it would have taken pages and pages.
So to anyone who thought I wasn’t all-inclusive enough, I apologize.
But guess what? The letter wasn’t signed. It wasn’t written by someone who was proud to attach his name to his thoughts. It was written by a gutless wonder.
And do you know what I think of gutless wonders? The same thing Ted thinks of them.
I may have a strong opinion about such lugs, but I never get mad at them. I have more important things to get mad about.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

I'll never think ill of beloved Chief Wahoo

When I was in the eighth grade at McKinley School, I delivered The News-Herald in North Willoughby.
The year was 1942, and the paper came out on Tuesday and Friday. As I recall, I collected six cents a week from my customers.
My route covered all the streets in the Arrowhead allotment, including Cherokee, Seneca, Tioga, Mohegan and the others.
They were named for Indian tribes. There were no protests. Nobody set up picket lines to challenge the notion of Indian names for a quiet residential neighborhood. (Nobody had heard the term Native American at the time. That came much later in deference to the out-of-control concept of political correctness.)
There were a lot of nice people who lived on those streets. Some turned out to be leading citizens of what was then Willoughby Township.
Many of those people were baseball fans. There was a saloon on Lake Shore Boulevard across from my street (Orchard) that was owned by a former first baseman of the Cleveland Indians, Jimmy Wasdell.
It was called The Dugout. I understand the people who congregated there spent a lot of time talking about baseball and about the Indians.
I say “I understand” because I was too young to go in there. But I knew a lot of the people who were regulars, and they idolized the same players I did – Bob Feller, Lou Boudreau, Ken Keltner, Jeff Heath, Roy Cullenbine and a lot of others who were not really Indians, if you know what I mean.
But while they were playing in town, they were Indians and we loved them. We loved Earl Averill until he was traded to the Tigers. Then we didn’t love him as much any more.
And we also loved Chief Wahoo. He was the symbol of the Indians, who had some great sluggers but didn’t finish very high in the standings because there were always teams with better records.
No one even thought of complaining about Chief Wahoo, because he represented everything we loved about baseball.
Life was good, summers were long and hot, and we dreamed of playing someday in the World Series – with Chief Wahoo to rally us.
Somewhere, somehow, things got crazy. Americans began protesting nearly everything. Some issues were legitimate and serious, and some were just silly.
Some protests were conjured up because a certain segment of citizens needed something to complain about.
There was a lot of that going on. There was a new protest every week.
A lot of non-Indians joined in the cacophony. They got Stanford and Miami to change their sports teams from Indian names to vanilla pudding designations that make a lot less sense than their highly respected Indian names did.
I am shocked – shocked! – that there is still a college team in Michigan called the Chippewas. They need a good protest to get that changed.
Actually, they don’t need any such thing. The Chippewas are as respected as the Washington Redskins and the Cleveland Indians.
If I am a failure in the arena of political correctness, forgive me. Better yet, sue me. That’s the way to settle things. Go to court! Let a jury decide! Even better, let a federal judge decide. Some of those birds are so low on the IQ totem pole that they make pronouncements making little sense.
I was at breakfast last Sunday at Burgers-n-Beer and saw another of the regulars, Rocco Vitalone, with his nephew, Karl.
Just so you won’t get confused, Rocco is the hair stylist in Mentor and his brother, Mario, is the car-towing guy. When I cut my grass I wear a bright chartreuse T-shirt Mario gave me for that specific purpose because he says it is good for business.
I’m not sure anyone ever got his car towed because I was wearing a Vitalone T-shirt, but in these turbulent times you never know what might happen.
But I digress.
Rocco and Karl both asked me, “What do you think of Chief Wahoo?” I said I love him.
They agreed – with great enthusiasm.
“What are we going to do about the people who don’t like Wahoo?” they asked.
“Well,” I responded, after giving the matter a moment of thought, “they might want to think about moving.”
Both Rocco and Karl loved my response. They came over to the table where my brother and I were sitting, we continued our conversation about Wahoo, then Karl took out his phone/camera to show us pictures of him with the new Browns coach, Mike Pettine. He told how they tried to instruct him on the proper pronunciation of his last name.
I told them I couldn’t help, because I know only two words in Italian and neither of them has anything to do with football.
But we are nearing the bottom line, to coin an expression, and I can add only that political correctness is totally lost  on me.
I have never referred to manhole covers as personhole covers, and have never shouted, “Person the lifeboats, the ship is sinking!”
And I will never think ill of our beloved Chief Wahoo. So don’t waste your time trying to change my mind. It is totally closed on the subject.
You will also take note that I never once mentioned the obvious political affiliation of those who are lost in the mire of political correctness.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Remembering Judge Dick Swain with fondness

When we lose a special friend, we all have our own ways of remembering that person.

They may be small things we have done together, situations we have experienced or small crises we endured.

For me, such remembrances tend to lean toward off-the-beaten-track experiences that others may not understand — or, if they do, don’t remember in the same way I do.

Around Mentor, most people remember Dick Swain as a very competent but often impatient Municipal Court judge who was irritated by fools, as a very loyal member of the Rotary Club (and I will add, the Painesville GYRO club), and as a man who dedicated much of his life to helping others. These were usually impoverished folks whose circumstances were deplorable and to whom Dick was a knight in shining armor who arrived with a saw and a toolbox and whose good deeds changed their lives for the better.

But I don’t remember him for those things because, for the most part, I wasn’t there.

I was never in his courtroom, and I never accompanied him on one of his humanitarian trips.

Oh, I have been at a number of GYRO meetings with him, but I especially remember the twice-a-month picnics in the summertime, because Susan would be with him then, and if Dick could light up a room by entering it, she could really turn the lights on.

But my most enduring memories of him go back to our days of Monday Night Football (he would analyze every play), when the guys would take turns hosting the event and furnishing the food.

Over the years, there must have been at least three dozen guys who were involved in MNF. Dick had sumptuous repasts in his rec room on Maple Street, but he didn’t do the cooking. The spreads of food were similar to those at the home of the late John Macso and his wife Lori, because she could make you forget that you came to watch football and not merely to eat.

I particularly remember a Monday night at a previous home of Dick’s (I think it was on Canterbury), because it was the night before a November election, and Dennis Eckart was running for re-election to Congress.

“Watch,” Dennis said. “About midnight, Margaret (I forget her last name) will come on, wearing her red dress, and tell you what a terrible job I am doing, and tell you why she should take my place in Congress.”

Dennis was only off by a couple of minutes. He explained that TV rates were cheaper after midnight.

Another fond memory I have regarding Dick was the time he was picketed in front of his courtroom because of something he said that was in the paper.

The story said, about an abused wife, that she shared “some culpability.” Well, Dick always maintained that his comments were taken out of context. “I’m trying to keep people from coming back in here. I was not criticizing her,” he said at the time.

But the headline brought a picket line in front of City Hall, where the court is located.

A bunch of women were circling the area, waving signs.

I recognized one of the pickets as another congressional candidate, a woman who often ran against Steve
LaTourette when he was in Congress.

I had been at a meeting at City Hall with another Great American, the late attorney Barry Byron, and we approached the pickets to see what they were up to.

“Elizabeth,” I said to the perennial candidate, “what are you doing here.”

“Jim,” she replied, “I never pass up a good protest.”

If the judge had any idea what was going on outside his courtroom, he never let on.

Dick Swain earned high marks for everything he did in life, from sitting on the bench of justice to his fine deeds in the community as well as to helping the unfortunates among us.

His desired final resting place at his summer home in Big Moose Lake, N.Y., will mark a fitting end to a life well-lived and testify to a fine reputation richly deserved.

The stunning array of black-robed fellow jurists at his services at the Methodist Church in Mentor attests to that reputation.