The Chinese curse “May you live in interesting times” certainly applied to one aspect of my gig Tuesday evening (August 28th) in downtown Cleveland, in uniform, of course, and carrying my peace flag, of course.
While walking on Euclid Avenue toward Tower City to catch the Blue Line Rapid at the end of my tour of peace duty, one man sitting at a sidewalk table stood as I approached. I thought it was out of respect for my presence, but au contraire mon ami.
He said, “Where are the stars?”
I said, “The stars? The stars are in hiding. They are ashamed, embarrassed and disgusted with all the death, destruction, instability and chaos we have caused in the Middle East. Millions upon millions of refugees, and it all started with us.”
The man was a bit taken aback, as if he just had the wind knocked out of him, but he quickly moved into “defense mode” talking about the evils of Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. He mentioned 9/11 and I said we killed a million men, women and children in Iraq. He said, “That is what war is all about.”
I wondered later if he would be so sanguine about war if his own children had been slaughtered in war.
The man claimed he was in Iraq and his dad took part in the D-Day invasion of France during World War II, then added, “I suppose you think that was a mistake, too. You probably voted for Hillary.” I said I voted for Jill Stein and he said it was a wasted vote and I said, “I voted on principle.”
He topped off our conversation by calling me a “communist fuck” and motioned for me to move on, so i walked away.
The most touching conversation of the afternoon occurred while standing at the corner of East Ninth Street and Carnegie Avenue, greeting folks going to the Indians-Twins game.
A middle-aged woman walked up to me, right hand extended chest high, to shake my hand and thank me for my service. She said her son served in Iraq but that he was home now.
I said, “I hope for good.” She said that was so and I asked if he had been wounded. “Not physically,” she said. “He has PTSD. Three of his friends committed suicide in the same week.”
“OH MY GOD!!”, I said. “What a waste. What’s been accomplished in that war? Lots of death and destruction.”
Mom nodded in agreement.
“Lots of money for war profiteers.”
“Lots of money for war profiteers.”
Again Mom nodded.
I wished her son well and told her I enjoyed talking with her as she walked away and she said likewise.
Well, to end this report on a lighter note….
Toward the end of the Indians-Royals telecast during the final game of the recent series in Kansas City, Matt Underwood mentioned that the starting pitcher in the first game of the series with the Minnesota Twins at Progressive Field on Tuesday would be Kyle Gibson.
The question popped into my head as to whether his grandparents would be in town again for the game, as I had talked with Grandpa before a game back in June when his grandson would be pitching against the Tribe. Gramps was pessimistic about the outcome of that game, however, since Indians ace Corey Kluber would be on the mound for the Indians. (As luck would have it, Kyle & Co. defeated Corey & Co. that day.)
Here’s the back-story about meeting Gramps.
Back in June I noticed an elderly couple crossing Carnegie Avenue, wearing red tee shirts with “Twins” in white lettering on the front.
I greeted them cheerily, saying “Welcome to Cleveland. Anyone from Mankato?” (Years ago I played volleyball with a woman from Mankato, Minnesota.)
The gentleman said they were from Indianapolis. I asked why they were wearing Twins shirts and he said, “Our grandson is pitching for the Twins today.” I said, “Who’s your grandson?” and he said, “Kyle Gibson.”
So, I’m standing at 9th & Carnegie last Tuesday afternoon, minding my own peaceful business, when an elderly gentleman and his wife cross East Ninth Street on their way to Progressive Field. Yep, you guessed it.
The gentleman walked up to me and said, “We met before.”
I said, “You’re Kyle Gibson’s grandpa.”. He acknowledged same and I mentioned his grandson’s team had beaten the Indians back in June and he said, “Yes they did.”
He asked who was pitching for the Indians Tuesday evening and I said, “I think it’s (Carlos) Carrasco.”
Grandpa said, “It should be a good game.” Then he said, as the couple walked away, “Thank you for your service.” I said, “You’re welcome.”
It was a good game–from the perspective of Indians fans. Carrasco & Co. roughed up young Kyle pretty well, with the final score being Indians 8, Twins 1.