Two Young Boys Shared a Dream: 1964 Cleveland Browns’ Championship


Believeland:  Cleveland a City of Childhood Dreams 


As a kid from Cleveland; I recalled that cold, blustery day at the old Municipal Stadium on December 27, 1964, when the City of Cleveland rejoiced as the Browns won the N.F.L. championship against the Baltimore Colts by the score of 27-0. With the wind blowing across the lake into uncovered, wooden bleachers, I sat with 5 of my high school friends witnessing the last football championship victory of any professional team from Cleveland, Ohio.
It was there that I watched history made with my classmates from Collinwood High School. The first half of the game was a tug of war between the defenses, the only score came on a Lou Groza field goal. It was the defense that day that frustrated the Colts,it was Bernie Parrish and Walter Beach, who jammed the Baltimore Colt receivers at the line of scrimmage, and disrupted the receiver’s timing routes. . It should be noted that this tactic was the forerunner to the “bump and run “style of defense used today by many high profile defensive backs. Turnovers figured in the score, with two Baltimore fumbles and two interceptions. In retrospect, the Browns outplayed the Colts in every facet of the game and dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball; especially, in the second half of the game in winning 27-0.

In the locker room, I witnessed the presentation of the “Ed Thorp Memorial Trophy” awarded to the Champions of the N.F.L. from 1934-1969. It was presented to the Browns’ owner, Art Modell..

As I stood in the Brown’s locker room and watched with amazement  the players removed their muddy socks and gear, I turned to see camera bulbs flashing and the awarding of the trophy. My friend, Bill Russell and I were captured in the photograph with Art Modell. He photo bombed the group by peeking over the group while the back of my head appeared to the extreme right of the composition. The photo appeared on the front page of the Cleveland newspapers the next day. The photograph recorded, N.F.L. Commissioner, Pete Rozelle as he presented the trophy.

Ironically, forty years later, the city and the team held a reunion at Severance Hall in commemoration of the Browns’ championship. Just as I had cheered with my close friend, Bill Russell many years ago, we stood together and cheered the players entering the hall for the celebration. As Gary Collins, former M.V.P. and wide receiver who caught three touchdowns walked past, I stopped him with a comment he long remembered, “ Hey Gary, do you remember the kid that first told you about your winning a Corvette sports car as a result of being the most valuable player?” Oh, yeah, I do, if fact you look a lot older now,” he chuckled.
Two young boys, who morphed into two mature men forty years later, shared their dream of the Browns’ championship in a renewal of their friendship.

P.S. See the video linked.

Desperate Times: Desperate Lives

Broken glass, hearts, marriages, lives, and windows.

Broken  hearts, marriages, lives, and windows.

Living in Cleveland, Ohio during the winter of 1977 was like most years; plenty of snow, limited sunny days, many cold nights, and the daily task of driving on slippery, snow covered roads. It was soon to become clear that this day would be like no other day in my life. As I sat, in a chair backwards in the school custodian’s office, feelings of fear, anxiety, and sadness were painted on my face by a brush stemming from pure coincidence. The color of these coincidences were later expressed in puddles of  blood.  The origin of the blood came from a wounded teenager who attempted to commit auto theft and escaped from the school custodian’s office.

Looking back in retrospect, it seemed that fate and destiny played a unique role in our chance meeting.  Our stand- off confrontation felt like the forces of good and evil were locked in a struggle for survival.  What force would prevail?  The answer was in the hands of a higher power.   In the moments that followed; there was a confrontation that created two faces of desperation in a desperate face off for self-preservation. A poker faced kid sat across the room, avoiding my glances, while he nervously rubbed the arms of his chair.  The silence in the room was deafening.

The events of that day collided and exploded into a series of actions that imprinted into my mind — a life changing event.

It all began, as I drove into the school parking lot, the entire car lot was snow- covered by a heavy snow flurry. After parking my car, the school custodian began waving and gesturing, he was pointing to a car covered with snow.  As my attention was turned to his urgency, it was noted that the car was idling with carbon dioxide venting from the tailpipe.  We met at the car in question. Mr. Evans, the custodian, opened the car door and grab a teenager by the arm.  Next, we escorted the young man to his office for temporary confinement to await the arrival of the police. The culprit was about 17 or 18 years old, light skinned, and of average height and build.  Mr. Evans accused him of taking a teacher’s purse from the lunchroom, and that he attempted to steal a teacher’s car. He was caught red handed with her purse and car keys in his possession. Once secured in his office, Mr. Evan’s called the police and reported the incident.  He quickly left the office to attend to his duties, leaving the teenager and myself alone.  Just before leaving, Mr. Evans walked out of the office while commanding the youth to stay seated in a chair and await the police.  Immediately, the stressfulness of the situation began to escalate, as the realty of the situation became understood.

The custodian’s office measured about 10×12 with a large plate glass window facing the outside, a desk, and chairs.

Initially, we ignored one another, avoiding our dilemma. The climate in the room changed quickly with the passing of each and every minute; the young man’s body language changed from a calm demeanor to one filled with high anxiety.  The change was evidenced by his emotional state; he fidgeted, squirmed, and looked around the room for an escape route. Twenty minutes passed, it seemed like an eternity awaiting the police while the face-off continued.  At first, our glances into one another’s eyes were less frequent, but with each passing minute, the glances became stares.  As my eyes looked into his, there was a sense of strength, confidence, and courage coming from my higher power. Quickly, the climax of our story came to pass. The young man stood up, then I stood up, we prepared to be attacked, we sized up our best route of escape.  Instead of a fight, he chose flight from the room.

In just seconds, to my disbelief, this kid crouched, and sprinted forward, like a track star getting out of the starting blocks.  He hurled his body toward the plate glass window, using his skull as a battering ram, shattered glass, and tumbled into the snow outside the window.  He left a puddle of blood in the snow, as he raced away with his new found freedom.  In that moment, the reality of the encounter was beyond my understanding.

My initial reaction was to peer through the broken window and see if the kid was injured or alive. His silhouette disappeared around the corner of the school. As I collected my thoughts; I was relieved for the both of us.  A physical altercation was avoided between us, and we both could go on with our lives without ties.

In the moments earlier, we were bonded by circumstances that created desperate emotions and actions.  Just as quickly as the confrontation appeared, it had disappeared into the snow.  A report was filed in the school office, and duty was served back to the classroom.

In the end, two strangers met, and escaped a relationship built out of desperation and fear.  As a post script:

In the next days, a call came from the school office that informed that the rear window of my car was broken.  Upon a closer examination of the damage, it was apparent that the window had been shot out by bullets.  Further checking located two bullets lodged into the driver’s headrest.  Was this incident the result of the earlier incident?  Did the teenager voice his feelings?  As I pondered these thoughts, it was recollected that not a word was ever exchanged between us.  Possibly the teenager had spoken and was heard loud and clear. This is just one of many stories remembered from my many years as a teacher.


Are Corporations People?


Are corporations people? Consider some differences. When a corporation is charged with a crime against society for various things like product recall; chemical dumping, oil leaks from pipelines, or drugs that cause harm, they are simply fined without anyone in the corporation having to be punished for the crime. By law,, the corporation has legal protections beyond those of any citizen, in that; the corporation’s liability for a criminal act is limited. Officers and employees of the corporation are shielded from prosecution by the articles of incorporation. It becomes very difficult to prove guilt when many hands are creating the product or service and the usual defense is to take the fifth amendment by corporate officers and deny any personal knowledge of the wrong doing. Thus it is seldom that any employees are prosecuted for acts of crime against the citizens of the United States.. Such a distinction in liability protection between corporations and people seems to be reason enough to treat corporations differently. Simply, it maybe described as “corporate buck passing.”

A Championship Unexpected

Our team was whooping and hollering as our voices echoed from the tiled walls in the locker room at old Navy Park Field H2008 01 29_6234ouse in Cleveland, Ohio.  The source of the noise came from the joy of winning  a city championship with a bunch of close, high school buddies.  It came as a surprise, it was unexpected, and its affect would be everlasting. It all began in homeroom at Collinwood High School with Eddie Moses, a good friend.  We were recollecting the many Saturday mornings, and early mornings before school that our intramural basketball teams had won game after game without missing a beat.   Now, as high school juniors we were looking for a challenge outside of our school and neighborhood.  Every summer, we played pickup games, we played as a neighborhood team against the other surrounding neighborhoods, winning time and time again.  Eddie mentioned an adult friend who would be the catalyst to help finance and to help transport our newly formed team.  He  was a man named Marik.  He was always known by his last name.  He drove a Chevy II, convertible in 1963.  He had coached baseball in the area and was interested in helping to organize our efforts.  At the time, I lived in a small two bedroom apartment with my grandmother, father, brother, and sister.  My source of income came from earnings as a newspaper boy with the Cleveland Press.  We couldn’t afford basketball uniforms, let alone new Converse, Chuck Taylor style, basketball shoes.   Marik found a solution, he found uniforms at a sporting goods store, that were ordered but never used.  When he brought the uniforms for Gary and I to our apartment to model, they were too large for us.  My dear grandmother stepped up and volunteered to alter them to fit us.  Wow!  I had given Marik $7 to buy a new pair of sneakers, I took one look at them and was dazzled by the Converse Star on the side.  The plan to play was in motion.  We had recruited our friends and were ready, willing, and able to play ball.


Practicing and playing basketball to prepare for our season commenced.  Personally, I would shoot around just about anywhere, from the neighborhood playgroud to the Y.M.C.A.  We traveled from the east to the west side of Cleveland playing at the various high school gyms. It was a very competitive league, we played  above average most nights, losing occasionally to larger, more physical teams.  I recall playing against one, Emanuel Leaks at 6’8″, who eventually played in the N.B.A. Finally, the weekend of the tournament had arrived.  Our team was seeded #1, we were surprised at the seeding but paid little attention to it.  On Friday night, we played a very talented team of African-Americans, they could run and fastbreak.  Our strategy was to play a slower, more deliberate game, taking unconstested shots at the basket.  The game went down to the last seconds, we won it at the foul line, as we went perfect there.  On Saturday morning, I had the pleasure of playing against a team called the Knights of Columbus, they were from my old neightborhood.  I knew and respected their abilities for I had played with them on Saturday mornings as a younger kid.  Once again, the game was nip and tuck, we hung with them, and slowly took the lead into the last few minutes.  With a small lead, we decided to stall the ball, hold it by passing and dribbling, thus forcing them to foul us.  Good fortune was with me, as I was fouled at least three times in the last minute, I proceeded to make all of my free throw attempts to cinch the win.


On Sunday, we played at Navy Park Fieldhouse for the championship, against Quad Realty of Parma.  This team had defeated Manny Leaks and his mates to get to the finals.  They were very tall and athletic, we knew our best game had to be played.  The first half was a disaster, they blitzed us, scoring and rebounding against us with a flair.  The had doubled our score in the first half, it was a game in which we had to play our game and hope for the best in the second half.  I had just one basket in that first half.  In a deliberate, calm state of mind, our team began its climb out of oblivion into the light of a contender.  Our team made each possesion important, painstakingly passing the ball and making them play defense until one of us had a clear look at the basket.  Then the improbable happened, the crowd jumped to its feet with a roar, as I sank a 15 foot jumper to put us ahead by one point with less than a minute to play.  In the second half, I was perfect from the field, scoring on each shot attempt.  Quad Realty on its next possession made two foul shots to go ahead with less than 30 seconds on the clock.  As Eddie dribbled down the court, I was ready for the last shot, I sensed their defense was over playing , so I returned Eddie’s pass quickly, as the ball was passed around the floor to Billy Russell to George Chimielewski in the opposite corner.  George put a move on his defender, then dribbled around him while driving to the hoop and sinking his shot. He was fouled with one shot coming.  We were up by one, George missed his one shot, but time expired and the city championship was ours  Our starting five; Eddie Moses, Billy Russell, Al Cernigoj, George Chimeilewski, and myself had created a dream and made it come true.  We could not have made it without our bench; Gary Moore, Eddie Miklavcic, Tommy Kramer, Tony Rutti, & John Lewis.


A banquet was held in our honor at a downtown hotel, The Pick Carter, at the end of the season when trophies were awarded.  To my surprise, I  was named the most valuable player in the tournament.  I accepted the award with a quiet resign, knowing it was a team effort, and my buddies would always be remembered for their individual contributions.  This success helped to motivate and stimulate my life going forward by attending college and finding success in life.

In closing, learning the value of a team effort was and will  forever be imprinted on my heart and mind, as I recall that memorable moment in my life.




Salty Apple Pie: Pre-World War II


Aunt Jeanette's HouseAs I stood on the banks of the Allegheny River watching the waterfowl swimming and flying over and around the docked pontoon boats across the way; I recollected a childhood story told to me by my grandmother.  It was a story about my father and uncle growing up in the small town of Kittanning, Pennsylvania.  Here I stand in 2012, I had made a road trip with my wife, Susan, to revisit my father’s birthplace, retelling her the story of “Salty Apple Pie.”    It was about 1939, a warm summer’s day, when young boys would swim in the river while cooling down from the hot days sun.  On such a day, my father, Reynolds, dressed and headed down the steep, ridged Johnston Avenue going home.  On his way he would pass the house of Aunt Jeanette, who was known for her great apple pie.  As he walked by her house on Wilson Avenue, just across from the Fourth Ward School, he smelled the aroma of freshly baked apple pie.  It was unmistakable!  The warm summer breeze was blowing the scent of the pie through the neighborhood.  Reynolds caught the scent and began to run towards her house, as he had done each day after school to catch  a chance at a delicious treat.  He would always knock first before entering the unlocked screen door.  “Aunt Jeanette, its me.”  The aroma of cinnamon and apples created images in his mind of a scoop of vanilla ice cream melting over slice of  warm pie. Aunt Jeanette answered the door,  “Rennie, where’s your brother?”  I left him at the river, he’ll be along sooner or later.”  She apologized, ” I’m sorry about the apple pie, but there’s been a small misstep on my part, I mixed in salt thinking it was sugar.”  Disheartened, he replied, “Sucks, I really was looking forward to a piece of your special pie.”  She ordered, ” Rennie, you better throw out the pie, excuse for a minute, I have to run an errand.”  There was a moment of silence, as she left slamming the screen door.  Rennie’s thoughts began to entertain the idea of playing a practical joke on his brother,Jack, who was 4 years his senior.

Rennie ran out of the house, down the steps, and across the street to the school yard, looking for Jack.  “Hey Jackie, Aunt Jeanette made us some apple pie.”  Jack’s eyes opened wider with each thought, he turned without a word and raced across the street and into Aunt Jeanette’s house. Jack found no one home, so he decided to help himself to a piece of pie by pouring some cold milk over a slice.  There were few comforts living in a small mining town, but eating homemade pie was at the top of the list.  Jack’s expectations of pleasure turned into a mouth full of disgust, as he spat out the pie into the sink.  He was duped, he was mad, and he was going to get even with his younger brother.

Later that same afternoon, Jack returned home in a crabby mood and with a  surly mouth. He had been fooled by his younger brother and was humiliated.  As Jack walked in the door, he could hear his brother telling their mom about the tomfoolery.

As I finished telling the story to Susan, we decided to visit the schoolyard and Aunt Jeanette’s house on Wilson Avenue, laughing about a tale of two brothers that has been handed down over the generations. All parties to the story have left this earth, but their spirit lives on in the hearts and minds of those who loved them.  To this day, I love apple pie.

Would You Like to be a Pollyanna? Play Her “Glad Game.”


The original game was played by Pollyanna in a book published by Eleanor Porter named after the character in 1913.  She decided to change her small town by playing a game that her father had taught her called “The Glad Game.”

Basically, it meant that she always found a reason to feel glad.  

For example, think of something that doesn’t give a glad feeling, then try again by rethinking the same thought by finding some part of the original thought that has a fiber of gladness.  ” I am feeling overworked, tired, and stressed out over my job, but I am truly glad that I have a job and can support myself.”  

Try this idea with yourself, then expand it to your family and friends, especially when you hear a negative thought expressed in your presence.  

The game is an experiment in which all parties playing the game can find a way to be glad.  Come and discover  some fun and enjoy.. Teach a child to play and you will learn something different.


College Degrees With the Highest Salaries in 2013


Smithsonian 003A new study just released by the National Association of Colleges and Employers tracking the highest paying college majors for the class of 2013 suggests  that fields of study in technology yield the greatest return on your tuition investment.

On the average the starting salary of most college graduates is $44, 259 from reports received regarding the class of 2012.  Below are the exceptions to the average starting salary:

1. Petroleum Engineering, $93,000

2.Computer Engineering, $71,000

3. Chemical Engineering, $67,600

4. Computer Science, $64,800

5. Aerospace/Aeronautical Engineering $64,400

6. Mechanical Engineering $64,400

7. Electrical/Electronics and Communications Engineering $63,400

8. Management Information Systems/Business $63,100

9. Engineering Technology $62,500

10. Finance $57,400

One Day at the Roxy Theater

Burlesque Theater in Cleveland, Ohio

Burlesque Theater in Cleveland, Ohio



The Roxy Burlesque Theater was located in Cleveland, Ohio on East Ninth Street.  It was where I began to discover more about my sexuality as a young boy.  One day, my friends suggested that we ride the rapid transit downtown and attempt to gain admission to see a show.  Well, I found myself standing in front of the ticket counter with money in hand, and a serious face, attempting to convince the  ticket person to sell me a ticket.  It worked, we all gained admission to see the vaudevillian comedians and strippers perform on that Spring day in 1963.  While sitting in the front row, we laughed and exchanged glances between us, trying to tell ourselves that we had a right of passage to be there.  The drums rolled, the curtain went up, then this beautiful specimen of a woman danced and stripped to her bra and “g string.”  As a young boy, it was my first time seeing a real woman, it was startling, yet exciting.  She danced and moved around the stage until another young boy sitting near us caught her attention.  I looked ever so closely at his face, It was Elmer Clink.  This blond haired, blue eyed kid sat next to me in my Geometry class.  His attention was transfixed on her while his eyes were mesmerized in amazement at her statuesque presence .  The stripper stopped and spoke to him, “Son, does your mother know that you are here?”  It was as though she was speaking to all  of us that had  lied about our age to get in to see her. I felt guilt and shame, Elmer began to cry, tears were streaming down his pale white face.  He was alone, although I felt like we shared the same feelings.  We had shared this remarkable  experience although he would never know it, since I kept it a secret, I never told him about it, I wanted to save him from any future embarrassment.  I was able to put myself in Elmer’s shoes, so to speak, I was beginning to understand the human condition and more about the meaning of empathy. How has empathy played a part in your life?


My Knee Injury, Surgery, Recovery, and Return to Sports: A Case in Point



For the Love of the Game

I awoke from my knee operation wondering to myself, what now?” .

Dr. Ward of Grand Strand Orthopedics in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina had completed arthroscopic knee surgery for a meniscus tear on my knee.  The knee is one of the most commonly injured parts of the body, and the meniscus tears are often the cause of knee injuries. (  His 30 years of medical experience has come to symbolize excellence among athletes and confidence among those in need of orthopedic surgery in the Grand Strand area. I highly recommend his services. Please read ” MyJournal” toward recovery and share your experiences. The meniscus is the tough, rubbery cartilage that absorbs shock between the shin bone and thigh bone and distributes weight across the knee joint.  When this cartilage tears, it can cause pain and instability in the knee joint. As, a patient and recovering athlete, I will explain how the knee injury has impacted my life and my road to recovery.  Future journal postings will create a timeline of events to share with others who are experiencing  a similar recovery. Amateur and Professional athletes are always looking for new and innovative technologies as a solution to recovery from a knee injury.  For injuries of the ligaments, muscles, and tendons, blood flow is the most critical element in rapid recovery.  Blood flow brings oxygen and nutrient rich blood to the area which are required for the body to heal itself.  Unfortunately, an injured knee at rest has a restricted blood flow but all too often also results in a small but frequent re-injury. It is from my personal experience that I want to recommend a healing solution for serious knee injuries. .knee is the leader healing solutions and treatment for knee injuries.. This knee wrap is a state of the art technology that uses frozen gel packs inserted into the interior of the velcro wrap system to surround the knee with 20 minutes of therapy.  Multiple gel packs are included with the wrap system which will fit universally.  I have used this system with great results, especially right after the surgery, my knee was sore and suffering from inflammation.  Currently, I use the therapy after heavy physical use of the knee.  As a caution, consult with your doctor prior to using any physical activity.  With this tool for therapy, and limited knee exercises, I am beginning my journey back to better health.