Random people haunt my memories
Everywhere I go, I’m haunted by ghosts. Not moaning, moaning, clanking apparitions of chains. They are fleeting memories of chance encounters with random people from my younger years.
As I travel around Akron, I am constantly reminded of them. I never knew their names. In fact, I didn’t know them at all.
But I will never forget them.
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Here are some of the people who haunt my memories.
Who was the taxi driver who took me to the hospital during the Blizzard of 1978? I was terribly ill with strep throat and needed antibiotics. My mom called a taxi, and that taxi driver made it through the heavy snow to our house in North Hill. I will always be indebted to this heroic stranger.
Who was that Elvis Presley fan at the Acme on State Road in Cuyahoga Falls in 1988? It was the day after my father died, and I was absently looking for a magazine to read on the flight to Florida. A man walked up to me, pointed to Presley’s picture on a magazine cover, and proclaimed, “He will always be king.”
Who was that little boy who stood next to me on South Main Street at the All-American Soap Box Derby parade in the late 1970s? He looked up into the clear blue sky, saw the moon in broad daylight, and began to scream in terror. Apparently he thought the moon was only visible at night.
Speaking of moons: Who was that high school prankster who stuck his posterior out the passenger window of a moving car in 1979 at Portage Trail and Sixth Street in Cuyahoga Falls? My boyfriend and I were walking down the sidewalk after a Black Tigers football game when we made the mistake of looking left. Our jaws dropped. The car full of cackling teenagers flew away with us in their rear window.
Who was the guy who threw a shoe at Kurt Cobain during Nirvana’s concert at Rhodes Arena on October 31, 1993? If I remember correctly, the rock star started urinating in the sneaker after turning his back on the audience. A fan claimed he lost the shoe in the crowd and someone else threw it on stage. Rather sheepishly, Cobain said he owed her some new shoes.
Who was this older gentleman who worked as a movie theater usher at the Rolling Acres Mall around 1976? He seemed like such a nice man when he took my morning ticket. I felt bad when the two boys in front of me laughed at him.
Who was that sorority girl who struck up a conversation with me outside the Kent State auditorium in 1983? She told me she hoped to become a model. We chatted for a while and went back to class. In retrospect, I think she may have taken an interest in me, but I was too ignorant to notice.
Who were these random bullies who beat me up outside the Rubber Bowl after a nighttime football game in 1977? There must have been four or five. They picked me, formed a circle around me and started knocking. I walked away with a black eye. Did they ever feel guilty about it?
Who was the driver who pulled over in a black hearse when North High School’s National Honor Society sponsored a car wash on Tallmadge Avenue in 1980? As we soaped the tinted windows, we continued to peek inside to see if anyone was home.
Who was the waitress working nights at Lujan’s on State Road in Cuyahoga Falls in 1983? As my friends and I gorged ourselves on the all-you-can-eat buffet, the waiter moved from table to table asking, “More coffee? More coffee?”
Who was that guy who rode the Rotor all afternoon at Geauga Lake amusement park in 1993? The spinning ride almost made me sick and I couldn’t wait for it to end. When my friends and I headed for the exit, the ride operator allowed this man to stay on board, lap after lap after lap. He didn’t get dizzy! We called him Rotor Man.
Who was that pre-teen doing karaoke at the Canton Center Mall in 1989? I happened to be walking past while she was singing “Waiting For a Star to Fall” by Boy Meets Girl. Such a sweet voice. Every time I hear this song, I think of her. I hope she had a good life.
Who was the guy in the van that saved us at Portage Lakes State Park in 1976? My buddy and I accidentally set the grass on fire while launching a model rocket. We tried to put out the flames but they spread too quickly. A quick-witted driver pulled over to the side of the road, grabbed a large blanket, and snuffed out the flames. Then he told us to get out of there. Thank goodness he showed up when he did.
Who was the pawnshop owner in Temple Square who gave me a ridiculously low offer when I tried to put on my Mad Magazine collection in 1980? I needed the money and I think he sensed my desperation, but I declined the offer and left with my collection. The pawnshop went bankrupt. I still own those Mad Magazines. So the.
These are some of the many ghosts that haunt me. I see them as I travel around Akron.
I’m sure they don’t remember me. Why do I remember them?
Mark J. Price can be reached at [email protected]
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