Friday, November 7, 2008


In case you are interested in learning what happened after 1969 to the characters I mentioned in "How to Break and Ankle," here's a listing:

- Richard, the friend who shared my North Avenue apartment and whose melancholic guitar outbursts so upset the neighborhood, married a girl from Johnstown, went on to become a stone mason and fathered three daughters. Hobbled by a fall from a scaffold, he endured constant pain until about 20 years ago, when he took his own life.

- Fred, Monroe's affable roommate, after flunking out of W&J went on to school and jobs all around the country but was never able to break free of the gravity of Western Pennsylvania. He died here, at 56, of complications from diabetes.

- Monroe served in the Air Force in Vietnam, after which he settled in San Francisco, where he worked as a waiter. "Monroe has decided to become a homosexual," Fred told me at the time. He later moved to New York City, where he now owns two trendy Manhattan restaurants.

- Regis also served in the Air Force in Vietnam. I returned to Perrysburg in 1972 to be an usher at his wedding, but I don't think he will ever forgive me for abandoning him and our plans to emigrate to Australia. As far as I know, he's still living in Perrysburg and working in the family business.

- Bim, my father's half brother, had a bad heart but didn't know it. He collapsed and died during a family gathering of the California clan at age 64.

- I last saw my paternal grandmother, Dorothy McCully Burroughs Achenbach, in the late 1980s. She and Harry had by then moved from Bancroft Street to a double-wide. When my wife, Alice, and I visited them, Gram was dressed in a neat blue suit, but wore enormous, pink, fuzzy slippers. She was still counting her cigarettes. "We are so old!" she complained. Harry died first, and Gram followed a year later.

- My mother lived long enough to see me stop gallivanting around the country and settle down, and to enjoy her first grandchild, but not her second. She died of cancer at age 52.

- My father remarried and remains in Florida and in good health at age 83. He did indeed drag me to a barber shop in August 1969. It was the last time I entered a barber shop. Because…
…the girlfriend I mentioned when Bim and Jeannine arranged my blind date started cutting my hair. She did such a good job of it that I married her, and she has been cutting my hair ever since.


Anonymous said...

nice story Da - I dont remember you ever telling ME about dropping out of college with plans to emigrate...

Murphy's Cats said...

Hi Park,

Just read this story on my lunch hour and really enjoyed it. I, too, was a hippie in the early 70s and really miss those days. Looking forward to reading more of your stories!

Pam Murphy