Archive for March, 2015
Never apologize for showing feeling. When you do so, you apologize for the truth.
– Benjamin Disraeli
After Chris died I struggled to find a way for me to “be”-
I failed the “me” is no longer the “me” . I met with my personal Gorilla of Grief
and he is with me still
I have learned- learned how to traverse the mine fields of grief, learned how to exist, learned , like one who is blind, to navigate through , learned when to rest , when to fight. The gorilla has been “trained” over these many months , I know how to find respite , to hide in the smiles and games of my grandchildren as I feel his presence- knowing if I let my guard down he will attack with a pent-up ferocity which will cripple me . He is dangerous- he waits.
And he can find you – no matter how well you think you have him under control. You realize he has sapped your strength and there is very little left to deal with the illnesses and life issues that befall those of us who continue to age. We age differently too- another of his gifts- there is a greyness – an aging process that accelerates – he causes the body’s defenses to be spread too thin. You realize you cannot keep this voracious animal at bay without there being a cost. The cost is not only emotional it is physical. You see the ravages on the face of your husband , the marks of the struggle etched there for those that remember the time before the gorilla. Your face no longer recognizable to you when you deign to look in the mirror.
In order to add strength you find you can and have to delete- yes! delete from your life those people and situations that also sap your strength. You can no longer afford the luxury of tolerance, patience and those people and situations that take or are superfluous to your well-being. There is something freeing in realizing you don’t have to anymore. They will not help you control and cage the gorilla. You also learn truth and transparency is not what people really want , they want such things yes- but in small doses, metered out- not all at once. You gather strength to “be” by not expending wasted energy.
And then you find yourself sitting in the parking lot waiting for a loved one to run an errand- a song comes on the car radio, you aren’t quick enough to turn it off, the damage is done and “We will rock you”
takes you back instantly to a soccer field at a Lorain Catholic High School ( also now dead) when life was happy and where no gorillas just camaraderie fun and hope. Too late- the gorilla is free, he tears at your gut, your breathing stops , tears flow so fast and get trapped between the rim of your sun glasses and cheeks , blinding you , your hands clench, nails driving into your palms hoping to stop this vicious beast – but he is too strong, memories fill your mind, crashing in upon each other and finally the wracking sobs explode once more. Time has been negated and you are back in a hospital room locked into the worst moments of your life – once more – The gorilla is free to do what he will ……
One of the hats I wear is as Co- chairman of a non -profit organization called Charleston Village Society (CVSI) The organization came about as a “neighborhood preservation” organization – we are NOT the local “historians” of Lorain that particular job of work falls to the Lorain Historical Society http://www.lorainhistory.org/ . CVSI wanted to preserve the dignity of this – Lorain’s oldest neighborhood, preserve her housing , the quality of life, the stories of her past and the people who walked the same street as we who helped bring about “Lorain” .Personally, along with others, her stories appealed and sent some of us on searches of her history- a difficult task as much of Lorain’s earliest history and therefore, this oldest neighborhood, was unwritten, word of mouth and “buried “. Thanks to the estate of Peggy Gillmore -a direct descendent of one of Lorain’s founding fathers , we have found out a lot more of “yesteryear” from old newspapers etc.
During the past couple of decades we have tried to work on those goals of preserving this old neighborhood and adding to it . You can find back reports here http://www.loraincounty.com/charlestonlorai/.
Unfortunately, our website does not allow for numerous photos and in segueing from the last post
I have reprinted our annual report here for 2014.
Charleston Village Annual Report 2014
The in-kind donations continue to help us thrive and survive with all the projects we have taken on in this Lorain’s oldest neighborhood. For every dollar in cash we receive three times the donations with in-kind support of materials labor and equipment. We could not attempt these projects or their upkeep without the partnerships and in kind donations. Such as the continuing sponsorship of our website https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/category/charleston-village/ a thanks to Emerge http://www.loraincounty.com/charlestonlorai/
As in previous years 100% of all money collected goes toward the project for which it is designated.
We filed our IRS form for our non- profit for 2015 and were, I am pleased to say, accepted
E-File Postmark: Filed January 19th 2015- accepted January 19th-2015
The Charleston Pioneer Cemetery continues to be in the capable of hands of Diane Wargo Medina and she is developing a new blog page: ( still under construction) https://charlestoncemetery.wordpress.com/
Without Diane , her volunteers , tenacity and passion over the past three decades this old cemetery would be non-existent. She has been the driving force once more planting, clean-up and preserving the history of the people buried there still as well as fighting the ongoing battle of keeping the headstones from disintegrating . Although the cemetery is owned by the
city , Diane has been its keeper!
Settlers’ Watch: continues to bloom. We had a courageous band of volunteers who braved the terrible rain the day of Pride day 2014. We did weed and mulch but the rain and mud put paid to most projects that day. Many thanks to Lorain Rotary members and our own CVSI volunteers.
The carvings from the tree lawn had to be removed and stabilized. The salt and weather etc has taken their toll, even though they were sealed every year.
Thanks to Carl Neilsen and the use of an indoor space, Ariel Vasquez, Frank Sipkovsky, Ernest Ritchey and Don Fugitt were able to work on the anchor carving. I am told it was a big job and the stabilization had to take place in stages. Thanks to Falbo Construction and new concrete plinths we moved the anchor to its new home along the Eric Barnes Heroes Walk.
The Lorain Lighthouse carving is due to be removed this spring to the Children’s Garden , the Portside Sign to the west of Eric Barnes Heroes Walk and the Heron will be at the entrance to the Marine’s Monument walk.
All the carvings are having to be stabilized and sealed once more . The Captain is still in need of a lot of work but hopefully, thanks to a donation from the Knights of Columbus we were able to purchase the very expensive chemicals needed.
The Admiral King Tribute Site
Many, many thanks once again to the Lorain Utilities Dept – under the direction of Ariel Vasquez and his crew. The donation and planting of the marigolds by Ariel Vasquez on Pride day brought a splash of colour in the much and mire of that day.
The Admiral King Site continues to draw interest on the internet and tourists. This year you could see the neighbors and community having picnics and waiting for the 4th of July Fireworks put on by the Port of Lorain. I am very pleased to say they were most respectful of the site and very little litter was to be found the next morning.Eric Barnes’ Heroes Walk – This year saw another feature added to the walk- The United States Marine monument ( Lofton Henderson Post) has been added. This too is a work in progress. However, the Marines held a dedication and erected a flagpole, with the United States of America Flag and that of the Marine Corps. Ariel Vasquez designed the area and the garden surrounding the place where the monuments will be placed in phase two.
We would be remiss if we did not mention one of our special volunteers . Joe Artim. Joe has been a wonder – you will see him every day working along the Eric Barnes Heroes Walk tending the garden areas of the young men who gave their lives for this community.
Joe has grown, purchased and planted so many wonderful plants. I cannot begin to describe how the area has flourished under his gentle care.
Joe also has been weeding and watering during the most dreadfully hot days and in the fall cleaned cleared and prepared the area of Settlers Watch.
The Crime Watch program continues to quietly look out for the neighborhood especially Veteran’s Park.Outreach and Promotions Committee
Once more the committee decorated for the Trains and Trees at Black river Landing – this year we not only had the Lilac Lorain tree but added another tree.
This tree was all about the ship captains and maritime history of this neighborhood. Donations for the trees came for the most part from the committees own pockets. Many thanks to Renee Dore, Frank and Carolyn Sipkovsky ,Don and Marianne Fugitt and Lisa Miller
Poster Boards and other artifacts were displayed at various “historical gatherings” and talks to various community groups continued .
We also continued the Guided Tours of Charleston Village and once again Frank Sipkovsky was your tour guide.
This year has not been all about successes. We continue to lose more of Lorain early history in her housing stock in this Lorain’s oldest neighborhood. Even there though there has been a bright spark , we lost the Gow House to demolition due to the fact it had been uncared for and empty for nearly 40 years.
Lorain County did however take another foreclosed home diagonally opposite ( the Coleman Home) and rehabbed the structure. Unfortunately it too had been bastardized of its original architecture by the “business of rentals” and chopping the home into two and three units.
We also lost one of staunchest and longest members – Peggy Gillmore- the last Lorain Gillmore descendent of one of the Founding Families of Lorain. I am pleased to say the heirs have rehabbed this over a century home but so much of Lorain’s history has once again been lost.
The items from Peggy’s home , papers and photos led us on a journey that continues to this day . I personally wrote a series on Peggy’s family when , what I believe to be an extremely important portrait was seemingly not wanted by those I believe should be in the business of preserving Lorain’s earliest heritage. The series can be found here
The General Gillmore Portrait is still in my living room, we have found those that would appreciate the portrait, the print of “Storming of Fort Wagner”and the genealogy of the Gillmore family etc. that will go with the portrait, However, we have, not as a group, had a vote on this as yet . The General and some of Charleston Village Society’s accomplishments were written about in Lorain County’s Pulse Magazine.
We were also able to give a framed original of a mid 19th century map of this old neighborhood to the City of Lorain.
The map was also part of Peggy’s memorabilia as well an original Bible which we believe to Alanson Gillmore’s church – Christian Temple Disciples of Christ. We believe this to be one of the pulpit bibles damaged due to the Lorain Tornado. We have returned the Bible to the church and they concur they too, believe it to be one of the pulpit bibles-.
The Chronicle Telegram, once again has also been very supportive when covering events over the past year.
CVSI contacted the city with regard to the parking overflow for the July Rover Fest event- there was and has been a lot of controversy of this event . Our main concern was the overflow parking being utilized by Eric Barnes Heroes Walk. I am pleased to say the security for the area was in place and in fact no problems arose from this event.
We are hoping to get the “pass the hat’ campaign off the ground this spring because as you see our finances are non-existent for the most part. We use every dollar donated 100 % goes to the project designated – This is 100% a VOLUNTEER organization
Our financials for the year end (2014) as follows. However, once again for every dollar donated 100% of the donation went toward the project for which it was donated. This is an “ALL” Volunteer organization
CHARLESTON VILLAGE SOC. End of year financial report 2014
Starting Balance carry-over 2013 $101.01
Ending Balance $101.01
Starting balance carry-over from 2013=$15.97
Donations 2014 = $275.00
Expenses 2014= $0.
ENDING BALANCE 2014 = $290.95
Starting balance carry -over from 2013= $43.35
Donations 2012 = 0
Expenses 2012 = 0
ENDING BALANCE 2014= $43.35
Starting balance carry-over 2013 = $19.76
Donations 2014 (Cash/Checks)= $695.00
Expenses 2014 = $597.74
ENDING BALANCE 2014= $117.02
Admiral King Tribute Site
Starting Balance carry over 2013 -$ 68.46
Donations Cash 2014 = $250.00
Expenses 2014= $96.75
Ending Balance 2014= 221.71
Eric Barnes Heroes-Walk-
Carry over 2013 = 447.99
Donations for 2014= $250.00
Expenses for 2014= $558.28
Ending Balance 2014= $139.71
We had a total of cash donations (including Gift Cards) in 2014 of $1,470.00 and our cash expenses came to $1,254.77 for all projects. A full accounting is available upon request.
As you can see our volunteers and in kind donors are the power that keeps the projects running. Without the donations of plants, rope, wooden pilings, aggregate, recycled benches, trash receptacles, paint, sealer, publicity, photographs and “at cost” and manpower none of these projects could be accomplished and maintained. The in-kind donations from our supporters are, by my estimation, 3 times the monetary value and are priceless. However all cash donations are gratefully accepted and CVSI is a 501c3 – Thank You
Respectfully submitted March 4th 2nd 2014 by Co- Chair CVSI Loraine Ritchey
A few weeks ago, I was interviewed for Lorain County’s PULSE Magazine by Kristen Hampshire. The experience was one of sheer pleasure, the professionalism with which Kristen handled the interview, made very difficult because I tend to ramble and give the “back story” before answering the question. The fact checking by the editorial staff, the photographer- Laura Watilo Blake, who was constrained by my boundaries.
The article Buried History leads off with the General Gillmore Portrait – unwanted , and the story that led to the 12 part series on this blog.
The cover , pronounced, Lorain’s little known identity of Treasure Town. I wonder how many in the county see Lorain and her buried treasure?
Kristen asked: ( paraphrasing)
Why do I embark on the history of Lorain, why is it important to you and yet like the portrait
inconsequential to most in this community?
I had been thinking about that very fact for a few days before the interview. Why do I care along with a handful of others ( even those that should care were unimpressed , didn’t even find the portrait worthy of a 1st look)? Why do a very few people get excited when uncovering Lorain’s stories but the majority of her 64,000 residents really aren’t bothered?
I believe, in my case, my penchant for theatre and years spent acting out the written word, the stories told , the donning of the character , the “fleshing out ” of that character as you read the script- the cold reading tells you the way of portrayal is part of the reason.
Kristen wrote :
” As Ritchey passes neighbors’ homes, she thinks about the people who have lived there. She sees the original plat of Charleston Village, and when she walks through Lakeview Park
she imagines the 21,000 grape vines once planted there……….”
The article continues but the gist of the piece will tell you – I imagine the way things were when I look at one of Lorain’s falling down and abuse of historical properties, the mega rental units in what once was a beautiful family home.
I can see the life before , the characters flesh out in my mind . I can see and hear Captain Wilford , his arm around his wife that night as the huge pleasure craft the The Alberta, came at the John Osborne cutting through the fog that night and into the wooden three-masted steamer .
Fannie Wilford’s terror can only be imagined as she stood with her husband, her children asleep below decks, a cruel ending to such a lovely day as the steel-clad Alberta towering above the little freighter bore down upon the hapless couple ……
The Alberta according to The Cleveland News Leader July 30th 1884 said of the Alberta. ‘This huge steel monster, during the few months she has been afloat has become the terror of the lakes. Proud of her reputation as one of the fastest side-wheel steamers on fresh water, she (Alberta) has been run in an extraordinarily reckless manner. “
“Tom! That boats going right through us!”
Very Quietly Captain Wilford answered
“I KNOW IT”
Behind the Waterfront (Bertram B Lewis)
“ Steam rushed from the freighter’s crushed boilers, the air was filled with shouts of seaman and those screams from those who had been sprayed by scalding water.”(Lewis) ……The steward, Mr. Austin (the same man who just hours before has held Sunday school services) rescued Addie and rushed her through the scalding steam holding his arm across his face and keeping the little girls face close to him. He handed her up to the deck of the Alberta and went back through the steam for the mangled and scalded sailors below”(HFMC)
I read this and like so many other actresses and actors, I flesh them out in my mind – they become more than print on a yellowing page, they become real! I take on their fear, their pain , their story- how would I portray my part. Is that why, as I look at the portrait of General Gillmore , reading his reports during the Civil War, I see the characters, I see the times in which they lived- they become people once more not just faded photos? The letters written by the same Fanny Gillmore – ( Wilford) who stood on a deck with her husband that night- the letters of life….
I see Fannie on her front porch, waiting- for who what – everytime I pass her house
And I get angry at the lack of respect. What I do know is their stories are important to Lorain, a town that needs a buried treasure , heroes and romance.
You can access PULSE MAGAZINE on line
( unfortunately this issue- Winter 2014 is not yet uploaded to the site- but you can contact Lorain County Chamber of Commerce . It is free to subscribers.https://www.loraincountychamber.com/
These days of winter still linger outside the den window- snow still falling in March. The ground frozen- unyielding and yet below a small little bulb struggles to break through the hard coldness surrounding it. The energy within fights the blackness to reach the surface. Soon the snows will melt in a warming sun turning ice to life, giving moisture, warming the dormant earth until at last the bulb senses a release from the prison. Tentatively, it will send out a small shoot to search for the sunlight- pushing through undaunted and finally celebrating its freedom with a glory of fragrance, colours reflective of passion and hope.
I wish my life was like that – it isn’t- the bulb has more of a chance than I. My world is still dark and frozen. The questions rage on in my mind- WHY? Why is my beautiful son locked in that terrible place- thanks to others.
He had no chance to see the coming spring.
Why?? rings through the bleakness – why if there is as supreme being , whatever the beliefs does he/she allow the horrors perpetrated in their names and yet daily those of light and laughter die? Why???
I don’t know of any answer! I have been reminded of those things this week and your last days. The mask, I had to wear when in your ICU room, caused an allergic reaction under my nose and around my mouth. It took many days for it to heal properly after you died. The scar is there, unseen for the most-part but every so often with a cold virus it will flair. It did this week, from a distance it could be mistaken for a “Hitler moustache. Another subhuman- Roman Catholic altar boy who visited such horror upon mankind.
And yet there is a beauty in this grief so profound as to sap the energy of life and laughter – it is the love that your Nana, Dad and sister still feel – not diminishing- as the world turns once more around the sun – one day I will know the answers ……. as will we all in the meantime I will put my faith in the earth , the sky , the sun and rain to bring forth life……….