Tales from the Moon

Submitted by DesireeSchmitt on Thu, 12/25/2008 - 18:01.

This memory makes me smile and appreciate the struggles with my home.  I was working at Edison's and one of my regulars came in and found out which house I was renovating and he proceeded to tell me stories about the old candy store.  I love the stories of the Tremont old-timers and when I went home from work that night, I posted a blog about the conversation which was much more than a story about my home.  So, in the spirit of the holidays, sharing may make someone else smile as well...

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Tales from the Moon

"Use it!" Moon demands after I've poured him a "Jager."

[A funny drink order (I think) because most of the men his age who come into the bar ask for things like a "highball" or some flavor of liquor "up" or "neat."]

Moon not only asks for Jagermeifter, he asks for it by its nickname as if he is one of those young clubber/bar hoppers.


Moon sips his "Jager."  He savors the mouthful and sets the rocks glass down - exactly in the space it left before it hit his lips.. circling the glass over the watermark on the bar left from when he picked up the piece.  Once he is sure it is secure in its original resting place, he lets go and turns his attention back to me...

"Use it!" He spurts.

"What shall I use?" I ask.

[The bartender in me tries to ask with some enthusiasm; however, the skeptic in me is not quite sure where he is going with his interjection and I am a bit unsettled about where this burst may lead...]

Again, Moon looks at his rocks glass. He carefully focuses on the piece and steadily lifts it, again, to his mouth, takes another sip, and returns the glass to its original resting place. [His precision mimics the focus and discipline of a serviceman - up the gig line - down the gig line...]

Moon lets go of his glass and his eyes return to mine. He takes a moment and seems to settle into another time and place. He tells me of the property I currently own and how it was a candy shop where all the "kids" went before heading across the alley to the dance hall (now a vacant lot on the Northwest corner of College Avenue and Thurman Alley.)

The candy store is where Moon's father first spotted his love interest.  And at the dance hall, they met and later fell in love.  And that is how Moon and his siblings came to be...

[Aside - I love to hear the stories of my "new" home from the old timers... how it shaped their lives, how it fell into disarray, how my renovation efforts remind them of the old times... it makes the painful renovation effort worth it!]

"There she is!" Moon reenacts. "There's my golden apple!" [as his father points to a woman who has caught his eye while exclaiming to his friends] "I'm going to marry her someday!" Moon's father kept to his words exclaimed in that dance hall and married his "golden apple" and the rest is indeed, history.

Moon's father died early and his mother stayed on as his widow, until she passed at the age of 106. For her 100th birthday, the family started with a dinner at Sokolowski's University Inn, her favorite food spot. The rest of the celebration was spent in New York City, where she walked with her family to sites and neighborhoods that she hadn't seen since she was a young girl. The kids cried when mom waved, feverishly, at the Statue of Liberty.

Moon's mother was born in Poland in 1898 and immigrated to the States. She landed in New York City, as did so many others. Her fate took her not only to Cleveland, but to Tremont. The pretty lady met a handsome man in the late 10s of the early 1900's in that old dance hall which is now my neighbor's empty lot.

Moon's mother "saw" three centuries... 1800s, 1900s, 2000s and the majority of her life was spent in our neighborhood, Tremont. Her children subsequently gathered in the store I now call my own and it shaped all of their lives.

"Use it!" He says again after telling me this beautiful story of his mother, her influence, the neighborhood, family and relationships.

When I ask him again, "Use what?" He quietly points, with a crooked finger and a slow arm and says "Here," [pointing to his head] and "Here," [pointing to his heart.]

"Use it every day!" He says. "I'm old, but don't think I don't see you kids with your pagers, and your phones, and your computers every day. I see you with your rush and importance and your need to buy things, but I see your big loneliness."

"Practice tomorrow... use this [again points to head] and use this [again points to heart] and tell the people around you that you care. Take only a day at a time and practice... and before you know it, twenty beautiful years will go by and you will find that the beauty is in the longevity which is the beauty of love and forgiveness, in yourself and in those around you. None of us are perfect, but we all can love and forgive... use it! Practice the use! Stop the other madness - go back to using your heart and your head!"

"And then?" I asked [expecting some other great insight...]

"Then??!!" He asked with HUGE aggitation... "THEN!!!???... YOU PASS it ON!!!  He YELLS!


At which he grabbed my hand and held it for quite a few minutes as he settled down. In the background, Ohio State was losing horribly in the final bowl game.  As the crowd around us maddended about the outcome of a college football game... it only seemed to emphasize Moon's point.

Moon held onto my hand and his lingering hold seemed to say thank you for listening yet at the same time solidly restated the wisdom he just offered... yet without using words.

After a bit, Moon left, leaving me a little more satisfied with... well... everything and everyone around me. Moon defined life's importances and paradoxes for me in a simple manner... smaller is bigger and bigger is smaller; all we can really have to hope for is love and when you find it you have to work at it every day - we can't plan anything, we only have today, so make the most of the people around us, and...

"Use it!"

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dbra, I think some people get it

I think some people get it. 

I also believe, that is why Moon gave me his speech.. when everyone else in the room was focused on the Ohio State Game.

He "used it" and because so, he "felt it" and knew that out of all the people in the room, I'd be the one to pass on the words he felt driven to say that night.  I closed the bar at 2:30AM and was so moved by his words, I ran home immediately after work and posted it on my blog.  Not just for me or to document, but for the rest of the folks with Google capability to be able to find it.

He knew.

I knew.

Now... You know.

We get it.  It has now been passed on from a generation to another... both who care...

We'll pass it on.  The world can't be a bad place forever...

This is the magic I live for...

(..and yes, I did end in a preposition, sorry...)

I'm starting to get homesick

for my old neighborhood.

My son and I were over the other day doing some work and one of my favorite neighbors walked by. I'm an avid gardener and every inch of my property is garden (no grass). This sweet lady walks by daily to care for her parents that live around the corner. She speaks no english, I speak no spanish, but we've laughed and smiled and managed to communicate over the weather, the flowers and my cats for several years. I know from conversations with her son that we are on opposites ends of the political spectrum, but I know without discussing it that we are essentially for the same things. We always end with a hug.

This neighborhood equity is disappearing in Tremont, and its very sad. I've been photographing Tremont for over ten years. Its become harder and harder to stumble on those things of pure beauty that take my breath away. Maybe its just time to leave it for the vultures.


dEBRA, WHY DON'T YOU SHARE SOME OF THAT BEAUTY ON TremontTruths that is the kind of things I'm looking for - the things that are getting lost - the beautiful things that others would like to see.  Think about it.

Never, never leave it to the vultures.   They've taken enough.  All the time we were on Tremonter and being snapped at for being so "negative" the snappers never once realized that it was all the beautiful flowers, the splendor in the grass, church socials, the old time front porch gatherings, the backyard coffee clutches, trading flowers across the fences, swappin' recipes over afternoon teas that we're fighting for. 

I want some of that back and I plan on trying to get it.  I'm going to start with our block club - trying to make it more hospitable - a place where the people of our neighborhood will want to come to - make it an exciting event each month - everybody will want to come to see what is going on - make it not so hum-drum - a real community club - we'll have refreshments - gardening ideas, neighbors helping neighbors, all sorts of things.

show and book

I've done both a show and a book, titled "gone".

I started to get paranoid because everything I shoot disappears. Everything is at my office and I wont be in for a few days, but when I get in I'll try to remember.

I really need to get back to my life. 



I bought the book Gone at an art show you had in Tremont a year or two ago. I keep it at hand and look through it every once in awhile to remind myself of both impermanence and the value of preservation.

I love the pictures from Gone and the text that goes with it.



Awesome!  Reminds me of my

Awesome!  Reminds me of my childhood!

I spent a good portion of my childhood growing up in the back woods of West Virginia on two mountains... one named after my ancestors... that is... until Mead/Westvaco clear cut it away and flooded the valley below... dealing the ultimate blow to my great aunt who died as a result.

I miss the summer days on the mountain in the farm house that had no running water, no indoor plumbing, and the only heat in the house was the wood burning cook stove in the kitchen.

We had our fair share of helping neighbors, hearding cattle, learning to drive when your feet can reach the peddle when you are barely sitting on the edge of the drivers seat, target practice deep in the woods, lemonade and music on the front porch in the evenings and harvesting the garden and wild things the month of August.

I still try to incorporate those memories in my everyday life.  That's why the inside of my home now looks like a farmhouse.  It brings to life simple pleasures and cheer and a great feeling of well being.

Our entire society, not just Tremont, has suffered (yes, and beneffited) from progress.  But I miss the connectedness of the farmhouse and the hills.  I do get some of that here in Tremont...when I go home to the suburbs... people don't reach out to strangers or make eye contact.  That's one of the biggest reasons I'm here... but we can all do more to be more neighborly..  myself included.

I think it is a great effort Jerleen... I'm in this summer... 

Maybe we can get the church to tear down the fence that is already falling down and we can use their parking lot and my yard for a monthly gathering?

That is the one picture I do have of my home... a wedding at the Ukrainian Church with my house in the background... happy... lively!

Des, great, I'm also

Des, great, I'm also thinking of using the corner of West 7th and College as a sort of central location for Craft Fairs, maybe even some old time box suppers, I'm from Virginia - back in the hills also and I know most of the city folks don't want to hear about the "good old days" but they don't know what they're missing. 

I could tell you some really fun stuff.  Like I learned to cook on a wood buring stove - the kind you had to get up at 4am and build a fire so the oven would have time to get hot enough to bake bread for breakfast - and chopping wood was an everyday thing - and when you went out to get a load of kindling in the summer time you didn't dare pick it up before you took a long stick and jiggled it to make sure there were no copperheads underneath -  we didn't have indoor plumbing - and the outhouse was built out over the creek - and we used sears catalogs for tp- everybody went to church and we'd have what they called meetin's on the hill and they'd make benches out of long boards and stacks of rocks - all the women would cook - there'd be food of every kind - chicken and dumplings, fried chicken, homemade pies, homemade biscuits, fresh green beans, corn on the cob, you name it - if it could be grown in the garden - it came to the dinner and then - they would have a cake auction - the ladies of the church would bake all these delicious cakes and everybody would bid on them - the money would go for something the church needed or to help a needy family.  We'd have sewing groups - Our ladies group would sew for everybody - we'd make baby bundles for anybody that was expecting - I always got picked to make the baby quilt because everybody liked my baby quilts best- We'd send packages to missionaries over seas - I have aprons and quilts all over the world - We used to cut quilt squares for the Njavo Indians and all kinds of stuff.

Down in the hills, you didn't throw anything away - since I was a little kid I learned to save buttons - no matter what you wore out or threw away, you saved the buttons - to this day, I have a button tin - out of habit - back then pretty buttons were treasures and when you made homemade clothes - you could go into your button tin (or can) and go through all the buttons and pick out some for you new garmet.  Also you could make toys out of some of the bigger buttons - A string and a big button would make a space yoyo. Well, I got carried away.

But from growin up down in the hills, I can survive.  You were taught things worthwhile back then - How to make use of everything - and have fun with nothin' at all. 

We had to take a bath in a round wash tub behind the heatin' stove and the girls always got to go first - starting with the oldest- if there were a lot of kids sometimes the water was so dirty by the time the last one got to the tub it was no use in it takin' a bath.  In the summer time - we moved the tub out behind the house. 

We didn't have a refrigerator until I was about maybe 8 or 9 and we used a spring that up the holler under the trees - it stayed ice cold - we would take our milk, butter and cheese and tie rope around them and drop them down into the icy water - we had one milk jug that didn't have a tight lid and we had to leave it sticking above the water level - a darn black snake got into that jug and drank that whole gallon of milk.  Our houses didn't have things like gutters, so the birds would build nests under the roof edges and the darn black snakes would crawl up into the roof trying to get to the bird eggs and - we were always watching for the new birds to hatch - I used to get myself a chair and climb up to look at the new little birds and lots of times I would be lookings right into the face of a big black snake - talk about peeing your pants - once I went to stick my hand in and that big snake dropped out right beside me - I nearly killed myself falling off that chair and running screaming through the house.  

Ok enough.





Also, you're invited to join the new community discussion group TremontTruths.  I've just started it so I need some members to get on board.  You can share anything you like - there's no censorship and no deletions.  Please feel free to invite others to share their ideas and opinions as well.  http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TremontTruths I'm hoping it will become a really good place to share anything from opinions  - to lost and found - to swap and shop as well as your grandma's best kept recipes.

You can share photos - advertise, etc. so get on board.