We ventured into Garfield Heights last night, in the dark. It’s one of the conglomerate of southwestern Cleveland, post world war two, suburbs. The roads tangle, lanes end with reflective barriers. Poor roads, inadequate signage, unmarked alleys, three of which comprised the drive way into the community center. It’s not threatening or dangerous, it’s confusing and frustrating. We were in search of the Garfield Heights community center and our first meeting of Venture Crew 2309.
They say Crew 2309 for short. They are Venture Crew to me. We walked into a room of teen age voices. Laura was a new face and adsorbed on contact into a mass of teenagers she knew not. I located the Scout leader I have met on and off for the last thirty years, was introduced to the mother of an eighteen year old Eagle Scout, who was pointed out to me, on the other side of the room.
I sank into a sofa next to the Eagle Scout mom, who also is a veterinarian and a Crew volunteer. For an hour my head swam in a wave of noise. The treasurer finished signing us up (and collecting dues). The scout leader next to me, and the one in front of me (whose sister I’ve also known for thirty years), and the veterinarian beside me told me of past adventures and what they hoped the Venture Crew might plan for this year.
In an hour’s time I arranged to never drive Laura to or from a meeting in Garfield Heights, and heard in minute detail last summer’s hike for two weeks in some mountain range in New Mexico (and the two month’s preparation (it involves red blood corpuscles, I’ve been told)). The other bimonthly meeting is at the Methodist Church, the home of card playing every Monday afternoon. I can certainly car pool there.
The meeting ended. Two things happened. I could not ascend from the depths of the sofa. The veterinarian whistled between her teeth. Her son appeared. “He’s trained to do this,” she said. “Can he pick you up?” Woosh, I was upright again.
Then, because they had not “appropriately” opened the meeting by pledging allegiance to the flag, they concluded with the recitation to a flag on the board, honoring veterans, and made of half a dozen twisted strips of red crepe paper over many, many stars and the black board, filmed by years and years of chalk dust. All as obscure as much of this country’s current moral sense, unless, of course, those young pledgers cared more about each other than our abused little pledge. Kept that to myself.
“So what did you and those three young women find to chat up so animatedly?”
“Band! They are in Woodridge band. We talked about what they do and what we do.”
Chicoma Mountain, New Mexico