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My strat is still in the pawn shop(a long decemberxc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2xa6)

By Louie b. Free (Contact)


Published January 7, 2007



Another year comes to an end. Family medical issues not resolved/ended/cured and my Strat is still in the pawn shop. Yet Ixc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2ve witnessed and received great Love oxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2re this past year. Ixc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2ve had friends diagnosed w/cancer,friends that have run afoul of the law(some again),friends addicted and some cleaned up. Sometimes it is hard to look at the successes when the failures loom so large-but I am still a believer that LOVE is the greatest success in life so, there are some that I want to thank for holding on to my slippery heart. You few know who you are,the loyal and the few new, the very few new although few is probably overstating it. When I returned from xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc5x93exilexc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2x9d last year, some came around and I, as always, left the door open(maybe Sammy was right when he always yelled at me for leaving the doors open, from fridge to the house toxc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2xa6)-some stayed, some ravaged, some really ravaged).

xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2xa6and my Strat is still in the pawn shop.

I remember last year-this week- having a number of local news folks in the studio to do a year end wrap/rap(hmmm, a wrap from the Flaming Ice Cube Cafe sounds really good now, hey! Ixc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2ve got some xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc5x93eggless in the fridge, but do I have the bread?-an all too common question for me.).After hearing WYTVxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s Angie Shaker and Vincie Bevaquaxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s top ten stories, Angie politely asked me which one I considered to be the top local xc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2storyxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2 of 05. My response then is ,unfortunately, the same this December: the failure of our local officials to come together and even attempt some logical,intelligent or even reasonable resolution to the criminal justice nightmare thatxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s become a reality to too many in OUR community. Their failure to contain this sickening virus has led to its spread to the suburbs, as if it wasnxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2t bad enough in the city. Our brave women and men of law enforcement continue to deal w/the shitte of our elected officials. Last spring I had urged the Mahoning County commissioners to ask for the resignation of Mah. county sheriff Randallxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2Dukexc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2 Wellington as an incentive to pass the tax. The commissioners approach was to xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc5x93pass the tax and give the new board of commissioners a chance to prove themselves worthyxc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2xa6xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2x9d. We did that. Sheriff Wellington remains in office, either unwilling or unable to perform his duties. A renewal tax will be on the ballot in xc3xa2xe2x82xacxcbx9c07-what will they do to sell us this one?

xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2xa6and my Strat is still in the pawn shop.

The Rescue Mission of the Valleyxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s numbers are up. There are more and more needy folks in this area. If there are any of yxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2all that doubt the worthiness of the Mission-take the tour.

So many people - so sad.

xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2xa6and my Strat is still in the pawn shop.

Three people that I know and like have been given awful medical news this past year. Two have allowed me to talk about their situations on-air.

Tom Lambxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s talked on-air w/me numerous times. He called into the show in the latter part of xc3xa2xe2x82xacxcbx9c06 and told me of a tumor that he had removed. He has cancer-a rare cancer-how rare?-4 know cases currently in the U.S.

Tom asked his doctor if hexc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s treated any others w/Tomxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s form of cancer:

Doctor:xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2x9d yesxc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2x9d

Tom:xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2x9d How are they doing?xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2x9d

Doctor: xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc5x93Theyxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2re all deceased.xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2x9d

Tom remains optimistic. He is currently going through chemotherapy + radiation therapy. When he called into the show last Friday, he told me that he shaved his beard because the hair was falling out in clumps-yet Tom remains optimistic. I asked him about New Yearxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s Eve. He told me that New Yearxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s Eve is also his wedding anniversary-as he told me that I could hear him choking up:

LbF:xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2x9d So tell me then, how was your wedding anniversary and New Yearxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s Eve combined?xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2x9d

Tom( fighting back the tears,struggling w/the words): xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2x9d We hoped for another year togetherxc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2xa6xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2x9d

Tom,who is the president of the South County Democrats- billed as the oldest Democrat club in the county, has cancer. Ixc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2ve met Tom and consider him a real friend. Tom and I have disagreed on a lot of issues/candidates,etc oxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2re the years.True friendship withstands disagreements. Tom has a family that he loves and loves him-he refers to his lovely wife as his xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc5x93angelxc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2x9d. The Democrats are fortunate, they have no stronger spokesperson.

Bob xc3xa2xe2x82xacxcbx9cthe birdwatcherxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2 Fitzerxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s been diagnosed w/pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer leaves very few survivors,long or short term. Bob was on w/me last year for the 10th anniversary of the beginning of the WYSU FM radio show,Commentary Cafe that he co-hosted w/ YSU Political Science dept Chair + former Mahoning County Republican Party(yes,folks, there IS a local Republican Party),Dr. Bill Binning. Bobxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s a talented musician and teacher. Bob also remains positive. I wrote/blogged about Bob last October. This is an excerpt( the entire piece can be found by inserting Bob into the search or look at October 2006 blog archives):

So, I just spoke with Bob and had my fears confirmed-Bob DOES have pancreatic cancer. Bob shared this thought with me: xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2x9d Louie, if I had died from a massive heart attack I would never have had the opportunity to say, Louie, I love you-to you,Louie and to the others in my life that I lovexc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2xa6xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2x9d

-and my Stratxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s still in the pawn shopxc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2xa6

I have another friend whoxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s been given a death sentence this past year. Although he walks around like us, talks around like us, even looks around like us(well, like you, not me), he carries w/in him the knowledge that the sand in his hourglass is much greater in the bottom than in the top. We canxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2t see the sand left in our hourglasses-he can and sees too few.

-and my Strat is still in the pawn shop.

I know a woman whom I believe will become disabled,crippled in 2007-by her own doing. She tells me how depressed, how sad she is and refuses to see her actions, her actions alone, as the cause of her depression. She is collapsing under her own weight.

Oh yeah, my Strat is still in the pawn shop.

xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2xa6.and Love, oh yeah,Lovexc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2xa6

Sparkyxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s still not made the forward motion and I KNOW he needs to make, he tell me: xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc5x93Look at you, youxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2re okxc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2xa6xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2x9d yeah,Sparks, Ixc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2m okxc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2xa6but my Stratxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s still in the pawn shop and there was the Dobroxc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2xa6

Oh and hey, what about the Atch10?? The only family member,outside of my immediate, that speaks w/me-my 90+yr old aunt, my Momxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s sister called one day sounding panicked and said:xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2x9dLouis, your mother probably never told you this but your grandfather had a sister,her, her husband and 8 children were murdered at auschwitzxc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2xa6you need to know thisxc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2xa6I have their names and informationxc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2xa6you need to know this,you hear me Louis,you need to know thisxc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2xa6xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2x9dNo, my mother never told me-she wouldnxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2t have, that information is too painful,too sad,too real.

xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2xa6and my Strat is still in the pawn shop.

I encountered an old friend(one of the founding members of the not-so-secret-now defunct: Pep Boys , nah, not the auto parts guys-this is Bxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2nai Pep !!. This friend ,that Ixc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2ll refer to as Double N or N2 and I used to meet regularly for lunch at the herbs-a-plenty Pyatt St.Diner. )When I saw him,we embraced and exchanged new years salutations. Double N then told me that he had recently divorced-his third. I could clearly see the sadness in N2xc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s eyes. Double N is not a carousing cheater,drugger(alcohol or illicits),nor is he a verbal abuser or beater. I didnxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2t know his first wife, but his second wife makes me look emotionally stable. N2xc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s third wife seemed to be THE one-not just to me, but to everyone that I know that got to know her. I remember getting engaged 28 years ago and told my now-wife that men see life like this: We xc3xa2xe2x82xacxcbx9cre born,grow up, get married,have kids,get old and die. At that time, I felt that most guys liked to think they can interrupt that cycle by eliminating one of those steps. When Double Nxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s second wife left,N2 was distraught, yet quickly picked himself up doing an amazing job w/his three children,the oldest was not yet into her teens-yes, that so-called mother left,abandoned her three children(see??,see my above comment on her emotional stability). I saw sadness in Double Nxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s eyes and greying in his temples.

xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2xa6and my Strat is still in the pawn shop.

I speak with Olivia Anderson regularly. Oliviaxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s husband, Jack Anderson, died last December(05). Regular listeners heard Olivia speak w/ me on-air one year after Jackxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s passing. I miss Jack, more importantly, Jackxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s passing left a void in the media, in investigative journalism.

Canxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2t close out the year w/o the Bob-call. Bob, an animal-loving guy whoxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s called oxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2re the years - since the LbFRS early days. I believe that Bob connected w/the show xc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2cause Bobxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s an animal lover,rescuer and adopter. a few months back Bob called the show and announced that he did not wish to live any longer. I was horrified-Bob sounded very serious . I am constantly amazed at the depths that some people can and do feel. I was also shocked at some of the care-less emails that came in while Bob and I talked. Excerpts of some of those emails: xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2x9d dump this loser Louiexc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2xa6get to something more importantxc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2xa6 his wife is better offxc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2xa6what does this guyxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s problems have to do with anything you are talking about Louiexc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2xa6xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2x9d I talked with Bob on air for the next 90+minutes and then off air. Bob is sad,but still with us. The animals he encounters and those folks that Bob befriends are better w/him in this world.

I have a friend ,an old friend-a friend since our teenage years, who lives in the southwest. She moved away many,many years ago and fortunately looks back. She can listen to 17 seconds of the show or read the title of a blog and know whether I am happy,sad,mad,blue,read , on the edge,over the edge hanging by a rope,string or frayed thread. Friend has a daughter who just graduated from high school. I had the privilege and I sincerely mean privilege of a deep conversation recently w/ Friendxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s daughter. We had a heart-heart about her mom and dad who are divorced. I shared my observations with Friendxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s daughterxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x80x9ddifficult observationsxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x80x9ddifficult observations that I felt she needed to hear. I had hoped that Friendxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s daughter was mature enough to hear my observations-after all, I know who raised Friendxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s daughter:FRIEND!. Friend and I had many long,l-o-n-g conversations while Friendxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s daughter was young,very young and not so young. I said some tough stuff to Friendxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s daughter, but first I made a bed for her w/Love. Before I laid out the facts to Friendxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s daughter, I laid out a foundation of Love,warmth and caring for her-oh, not just for this conversation, but this was a foundation of Love that Ixc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2ve tried to build for Friendxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s daughter.Friendxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s daughter cried during the conversation. We talked,we rested on the foundation of Love. I spoke w/ Friend after the conversation w/Friendxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s daughter. I was concerned that I was too direct re: Friendxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s exxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x80x9dFriendxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s daughterxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s father. Friend thought that I did well. Friend was in the room w/her daughter while we talkedxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x80x9d-while we(Friendxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s daughter and I) talked, Friend cried also. Ixc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2d hoped that I had made a positive impact on Friendxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s daughterxc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2xa6I wonderedxc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2xa6.and wondered-then weeks and weeks later,I received a card from Friendxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s daughter-an outpouring from Friendxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s daughterxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s heart in the guise of a holiday card. Friendxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s daughter wrote w/amazing insight and maturity-she wrote how that one conversation provided for her a seismic shift in her thought process. I learned in the letter that Friendxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s daughter was able to utilize my directness as light on her path-when she looks to the past to better understand where shexc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s been-new insights AND as she journeys forward ,towards where shexc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s going ,now w /a better,a clearer view of her foundation and the road ahead.I was pleased that our conversation was ,while very difficult,very positive. Sometimes the only way to get to the other side is by trapeze. To make trapezee progress, you have to swing out - off of the safe platform,and then let go hoping to reach the other trapeze, or the hands of someone who will hold onto you delivering you to safety,the other side,into the hand of anotherxc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2xa6

-and then therexc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2sxc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2xa6..well, thatxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s just too close and too painfulxc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2xa6

Ah, my Stratxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s still in the pawn shop and who did I just run into??-The Bounty Hunter! I heard a strong,deep voice call out: xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc5x93Louie,Louie,Louie,where have you been?xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2x9d Well, the truth is - the Hunterxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s the one whoxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s been away and now in the good C.C.A.! Billyxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s an interesting friend. Ixc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2ve know Billy since I was about 19 years old. He had been riding w/a group of guys when,after committing a few serious legal violations,went off to prison. I had hooked up w/this group of riders. At the time I had a chopped Triumph,was a skinny runt and was told about Hunter,especially because I now had the Hunterxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s position w/this group of riders. Many years have passed,yet I still sense the warmth in Hunterxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s voice when he calls my name. He said: xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc5x93Lou, my momxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s 89 now and doing pretty goodxc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2xa6xc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2remember when we used toxc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2xa6xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2x9d Oh yeah Billy,I remember !

A woman that I know,Sherry, is cautiously celebrating the arrival of he son xc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x80x9cbabyxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s coming home!!! Sherry raised patriotic kids. Her son is in Germany after serving in our military, warring in Iraq. So why is Sherry cautiously celebrating? After all, this is Sherryxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s second boy whoxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s served in OUR military. This is Momxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s second son whoxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s served us,U.S. in Iraq. Sherry raised patriotic kids. Sherryxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s younger son ,when old enough, followed his older brother into the military. On 11 September 2001 Sherryxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s older son was, as all of the United States,shocked,horrified and angry. Sherry raised patriotic kids so THIS Momxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s oldest son decided to go into the military and defend his Mom,Dad,family,friends,neighbors and all of us,U.S. Sherry raised patriotic kids. So, again, why CAUTIOUSLY celebrating? ?Yeah,Sherry raised patriotic kids. Sherryxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s oldest son went to war for us,U.S. - he went to fight for us,U.S. in Iraq and didnxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2t come back-wait a minute, he came back physically, but lost his mind - not yet found, not yet recovered - in Iraq,while fighting for us,U.S. I remember one of my early conversations w/Sherry shortly after her eldest son returned from Iraq:

me: xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc5x93xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2xa6so,what is it that you want?xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2x9d

Sherry(w/tears streaming down her face): xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc5x93Louie, I want my son backxc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2xa6 I want my son to come back homexc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2xa6xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2x9d

Cautiously celebrating ? Sherry raised patriotic sons-she and her boys have held up their end,sadly, we havenxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2t held up ours. She doesnxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2t yet know how her younger son will return. Sherry does know that her younger son is physically safe in Germany, but that was true of her oldest son, the her first son that was sent by us,U.S. to war in Iraq.Her eldest son is now fighting a personal war - a war with himself ,except this time there is no more uniforms, no more camaraderie, no more xc3xa2xe2x82xacxcbx9cgloryxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2- just depression,sadness,fear,alcohol,unemployment and memories,the awful,ugly,painful,hellish memories of war.

-and my Strat is still in the pawn shop.

On New Yearxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s Day I called Dr.Henry Heimlich to once again thank him for developing the maneuver. I said to him how wonderful to know that everyday lives are being saved xc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2round the world by people using HIS maneuver on others and themselves! I,as always,remind him that Ixc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2ve used it 3times on others and I shudder to think about what it would have been like if someone had choked to death in my arms-yet,because of Henry Heimlichxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s technique,all of us carry the ability to save a chokerxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s life. BTW, one of the times that I used the HM was on my son when he was around 5 years old. Thanks Doc( bet Henry doesnxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2t have a Strat in the pawn shop!)

Well, yearxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s end and my Strat is still in the pawn shop-maybe thatxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s not such a bad thing,after all,I am a lousy musician.

~Louie b. Free


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