Miner Fall, Major Lift...A Column by Richard Kerns PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Richard Kerns   
Friday, 10 October 2008 09:20

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Once Upon a Camera Wandering…

Had fun with AppIndie over the past week or so, taking the Kodak out and about, capturing some moments passing.

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Not that Miners Field will pass anytime soon. The place is a thing of beauty, and the boys made the turf their own with that come-from-behind, overtime, gutsy-coached inaugural victory. Down 14-0 to start and 28-14 at the half, they took the field in the second a different team, knocking out a furious comeback capped by a 2-point OT conversion that slammed with the force of backboard-shattering dunk.

I’d like to know what the good Coach Devore said in that locker room. Wonder if had something to do with pride, and strength and standing your ground, declaring the turf your own, unto the ages of all the football to come: Miners Stadium, the Pit of Despair for aspersions to glory not painted red, black, gold and white.

Leadership is vision, and harnessing people to it, inspiring them to the cause. The beauty of football is not so much brawn, as character; where one man’s fire can light an entire team, conquer a season, win a Super Bowl.

Ray Lewis.

It is good to once again live in an era of Charm City gridiron legend, and my heart beat faster this past weekend, at Chris Berman’s mention of the Inner Harbor, but I will forever miss my Colts, and be forever wounded by the kidnapping, rape and slaughter of what was dear to me, the stuff of family, tradition, generations entwined.

I have been reborn unto football by my son, who recently claimed the New York Giants as a favorite after their performance last year. I blessed the union of boy to team, as only a historically gallant effort on both sides of the ball would earn the mantle of Greatest Football Game Ever Played, so that the Giants pedigree is deep, nearly the peerless quality of the once upon a Baltimore Colts, who won that game.

Haven’t been to a high school football game since distant day at Catoctin, back before the Internet, CDs, cell phones, faxes and texting, the latter of which is new-century Morse code that I am all-thumbs attempting to master. Read a cool column at the beach by a seaside DJ of about my age, passionate in his craft, and I respected the read, so when he chided it was never too late to learn texting, I began to reconsider the self-imposed ban.

Abloom on MainWas sitting in a boring, boring meeting just tonight, fighting to keep myself conscious, brain being pulled as if downstream, to blissful surrender over the falls, only to know the crash and whip saw return, and whether anybody noticed. So I texted my daughter, and it was fun.

Figured out ya gotta turn down the buttons, because it needs to be incognito. Which is so painfully obvious. I do betray the years in my clumsiness with it.

But I also wonder, what is the shorthand for “where”? It seems to come up a lot.

Took my daughter from bricks of gold out Midlothian to Braddock, to borrow a dress from one of her buds for Homecoming, which was awfully nice of a young lady I believe is named Jenna.

Then it was over to Burger King, down to the ATM to slip a straight-A teen --or at least a hell of a lot closer than I ever got – a little well-deserved cash for the effort. And in that roundabout quality time, the eldest of the Progeny Three sent at least a dozen messages. Probably more. And still talked to Dad. In short bursts.

The yawning gap betwixt the generations. We hobble gamely along but just can’t keep up.

But I’m not to old to forget that I’m overdue for a game at Mountain Ridge, and with The Boy newly engaged in football, it seems only fitting and proper to do so. Crowd-averse, I think I’d stake out a spot on the hill. Tell the lad to scale the fence into the woods when the time came. Stealthily, though, beneath the flood lights and gaze of a thousand neighbors’ eyes just across the green way.

The pumpkins of Brookedale Farms, Fort Ashby, W.Va.And I do not mean Greenway.

The boys of Mountain Ridge announced a new player on the stadium scene last Friday night.

More than just a good game, which a team like the Miners guarantees, win or lose, the hill on the visitor’s side affords a view of Mountain City splendor, day or night. It’s nice to live in a town that looks so cool from afar, as is befitting a place of cool up close.

These Miners are bound for greatness in school lore, beyond the best that even high achievement in the rest of the season might afford. Titles come and go, but only once in two or three generations, does a team open its home field, and only sometimes do they win that moment on the field, which leaves one to wonder at the threadbare number that could have won as magnificently as the Miners.

Unfortunately, Elias don’t catalog cajones. Something hard to quantify, as it were, but of infinite value, on fields of every sort.

You can’t take a bad picture of Miners stadium, I discovered last Thursday, when I was free the day job. Picked the camera back up that Saturday for a ride to the Freeze, as The Boy has a cold, and was not up to the traditional walk. The Freeze was closing for the winter, and we needed one more hit. So I took a pic and posted it.

Which calls to mind my cousin Paul of the Shot-at-Steelers Ball, who recently reached out to me via this fine Web site, after too many years we’ve been apart. Though lacking a Lancaster’s rugged good looks, Paul sported dreamy blue eyes that the girls just died for, all around him, the puke; he was a cousin by marriage, brother by heart.

It is a MAD doctrine between he and I: Mutual Assured Destruction, in that, you say too much, mo fo, and I will reply in kind.

So it is that I tread gingerly in this tale, quite possibly within his eventual earshot, unlike all the stuff I spread up at the River. Paul is my go-to man for tellin’ tall tales that leave the little ones quaking in their boots. I can still hear the wailing and lamentation of my nieces and nephews, now working their way through their 20s, when I’d long ago share another tale of Paul: “Please, please, stop, Uncle Dick,” they’d say so cute and terrified. “We know he lives in Colorado! From the Deck at the Crest of West, 10-06Paul can’t be coming here in 15 minutes!! You’re scaring us!!!”

So anyway, Paul didn’t just drink like a fish, he had gills for beer. I grew up in envy of the gag reflex that was completely foreign to him. Though three years my junior, he was my senior commander in all things inebriation. I can count on one finger the times I remember him passing out before me.

Though blessedly sober now for many years in the love of a beautiful wife, and an even more bodacious family, he remains legend. The special party favor he left in a crisper drawer, always a crowd pleaser, as is the reach for a piranha and subsequent trip to Miner’s Hospital, and all the laughs attendant in the ER, as he writhed in pain.

Invariably and always, though, Paul was a happy drunk. Which was saying a lot for some of the trials he knew. We walked ‘em together, his and mine.

At the end of the night up at the River, Paul always got hungry.

Joe Hess was among the Founders of the Valley I call home, on the banks of Savage River; he and the Old Man, and their ladies. Joe built his own cabin from a coal-dust- caked shack he tore down at the railroad and hauled to Garrett County in the back of a Ford station wagon. Grand Old Man of the Valley, grand in every way, he was paid utter deference.

So when Uncle Joe issued an edict, we listened, and when he said that the best thing to do after drinking all day was to fill your belly, Paul took that lesson to heart. It was genetic with him, though, so that he needed only a spark of mental capacity to perform the necessary tasks. He would appear zombie-like, albeit a happy one, as he mechanically grabbed a hot dog and clumsily impaled it on the two-prong gig. Stumbling from the table to the fire, he inserted into flame for about a minute, or until it the outside was charred black, the inside raw. Wolfed it down, declare it the best damned hot dog he ever ate, and repeated, two or three times.

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Thus explains Paul’s attraction to late-night tavern food. I went to Blank’s with him once, and he ordered up burgers like rounds of brew.

Although I never had the experience of cruising with Paul, in one of his PRRfect cars, I have to believe this distinguished alumnus of Beall High, Class of 1984, took his share of circles ‘round the West End circuit, which is where this whole story began, almost.

Because Paul came back to visit a few years ago, and right at the top of his list was to share with his bride and children, all the glory that was the Freeze, the best food ever cooked anywhere on the face of the planet.

Only, it didn’t work out quite that way. It was good, it was the Freeze, hot fries, tasty burgers, all the works, but Paul had conjured up such a vision of gourmet cuisine, born of late nights equal parts gray haze and liquid excess, that the food at the Freeze would have had to have been orgasmic to warrant his years-long cheerleading.

I could see it in his eyes after he’d been there. Sorta like the Santa thing. Something lost.

The Freeze is a place of a magic for the children of Frostburg, and the occasional drunk, hungry 20-50 something. Everything up on the board looks good and tastes good after the requisite wait amidst drive-in diner goodness not just undiminished by time, but refined. And the trip is always capped by ice cream, or it wouldn’t be a proper visit to the Freeze.

We are consoled in its closing, though, by leaves ablaze. Chill nights, sun-kissed days, woodsy scent of autumn in the breeze.

Pretty soon we’d be parking on the other side of Ormand Street, which is another sign of the season, if Ormand wasn’t still all torn to gravel, on the eve of blacktop rebirth. I miss that one-way down the hill, and am getting quite worn the bumps of Frost and uphill-bound boobs of College. Which serves to remind how far we are from traffic up here, something even the beach can’t claim. And that’s nice to recall.

The beach, I mean. Because winter’s coming, and it’s Frostburg. Those unacquainted about to learn just how cool and breezy the Mountain City can be…

Last Updated on Monday, 13 October 2008 22:18
 
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