All posts by Gary Kinzer

Rose Avenue Everest

I remember the first time I defeated you like it was yesterday. My hands rusty and blistered, they became the primer for callouses I still have. Every time I rub my hands together I think of you. That tower, my Everest.

I had seen many other kids tackle you, but they had an advantage. They were older, taller, and stronger. I was tiny, but mom had always told me something about dynamite being in small packages. Momma was right. She was always right. She was small too, but ran the hurdles in high school. Dynamite.

I didn’t beat you with fanfare, in fact I was alone. I’m pretty sure Grandma saw me through the kitchen window, but she wouldn’t tell. She always had an eye on us, but she let us explore the world. It was comforting. She was our security blanket.

I had tried to defeat you while school was in session, but couldn’t. My body would not Continue reading Rose Avenue Everest

The Elm Street Pirates

It was a rare treat to go to Elm Street and climb on the rope net. We played tag and pretended it was a ship and we were pirates. Don’t touch the ground. It was water you know. There were sharks. I always liked the park, but I am not sure if it was because it was a delicacy. When I think of parks in Washington Court House, I think Eyman. The fact that there was ponds, a pool, and several more slides and toys drew me there. I just didn’t want you to think I forgot you. The rope burns were plenty, the splinters the same.

You did have a stigma though. There were rumors about a girl named Simone that sacrificed animals and drank people’s blood back in the woods. She was supposed to be a Satanist, but it was probably propaganda so people wouldn’t disturb your slumber. Or Continue reading The Elm Street Pirates

The Grandfather of Eyman Park

I’m sorry to see your new tattoo. Your days are numbered, but I will not forget you. I know that you have seen us all grow up, braving the big slide alone for the first time, jumping out of the swings, and bending the spring on the chicken as far as it will go. I still swing in the arms of your shadow. You remind me of a great childhood. That time filled with merry-go-rounds and an excer-swing. It took a long time to master that thing, but you watched me progress. Even you wondered what that thing they made out of tires was. It was great at collecting rainwater and turning our clothes black. I’m sure you laughed when our moms saw our clothes.

I can’t believe you are not going to be around for my kids. You watched my dad. You Continue reading The Grandfather of Eyman Park

Popcorn, Fifty-Cents

As a kid I went to the games at Gardener Park to play football with my friends while the real game was going on under the lights. I didn’t care what was happening on the field, we were living our own glory behind the bleachers. After a sweat filled game, we searched for him. We knew he was around, somewhere. Sure we could have gone to the concession stand and gotten the same thing, but it never tasted as good as his. There he was. I gave him my fifty-cents.

The buttery goodness of popcorn touched our tongues, while we raced over to the concession stand to grab a pop. For many years he was a constant. In our adolescence, we laughed at him, because we didn’t know him. That is something I regret to this day. We Continue reading Popcorn, Fifty-Cents

Satan’s Ferris Wheel

Biting my nails, I looked up. Am I big enough? Why would anyone do that? I glanced at the lights that sped past me; a new hurdle was in my way. I had cleared them before, but they were nothing like this. Steel twisting and turning and squeaking. My heart pounded just like the rattle of the steel cages as they passed. I quickly ran out of fingernails and just started biting the skin off my fingertips where the nails should have been. What is this ride? Satan’s Ferris wheel? It was the Zipper.

The closer I got to the front of the line, the louder it got, the louder Continue reading Satan’s Ferris Wheel

Toothless Grin

Primed and ready for the race, we stood patiently. We had our locations planned in advance, and we got there early to secure the spot. This was the time for magic, we knew we would see the man in the red suit, but our real prize rained from the heavens.

A band near the beginning? Come on! Give us a break! Here it comes. Dad, let go of my shirt. Dad! It started raining confection like arrows from long bows. Smack, crush, thump, thump. I got one. Here we go again. Thump, crash, smash, crush. Man, I missed it. I’m going to have to get a little faster. Maybe I could get a head start. Dad, let go of my shirt. Continue reading Toothless Grin

Look In The Mirror

It’s hard to find the words to express my gratitude to the man. To me he is a hero. He is immortal. He is my mentor. He is Mr. Mickle.

I know not everyone shares my opinion. Every great person has people who don’t get them. Lincoln had half a country against him. Socrates was put on trial. Martin Luther King Jr. met his fate. They were all larger than life, and to me, he is the same. He’s touched the lives of countless children, both in the schools and out. I never had the opportunity to call him my principal, but I’m happy I called him coach. Nine years. Scratch that, his impact is ongoing, make it twenty-eight years and counting.

When I first met him I was fragile. He was a mountain. His voice echoed in the Eastside cafeteria. He commanded attention. He took mine. He took all of ours. Even though he was loud, he had a soft side. He taught us how to walk on our hands, how to do cartwheels, how Continue reading Look In The Mirror

The Elm Street Pirates

It was a rare treat to go to Elm Street and climb on the rope net.  We played tag and pretended it was a ship and we were pirates.  Don’t touch the ground.  It was water you know.  There were sharks.  I always liked the park, but I am not sure if it was because it was a delicacy.  When I think of parks in Washington Court House, I think Eyman.  The fact that there was ponds,  a pool, and several more slides and toys drew me there.  I just didn’t want you to think I forgot you.  The rope burns were plenty, the splinters the same.

You did have a stigma though.  There were rumors about a girl named Simone that sacrificed animals and drank people’s blood back in the woods.  Continue reading The Elm Street Pirates

Rose Avenue Everest

I remember the first time I defeated you like it was yesterday. My hands rusty and blistered, they became the primer for callouses I still have. Every time I rub my hands together I think of you. That tower, my Everest.

I had seen many other kids tackle you, but they had an advantage. They were older, taller, and stronger. I was tiny, but mom had always told me something about dynamite being in small packages. Momma was right. She was always right. She was small too, but ran the hurdles in high school. Dynamite.

I didn’t beat you with fanfare, in fact I was alone. I’m pretty sure Grandma saw me through the kitchen window, but she wouldn’t tell. She always had an eye on Continue reading Rose Avenue Everest

Washington Court House Inchworm

One of several large outdoor murals painted by Harry Ahysen around Fayette County, OH.

Two and two are four. Art is around us, but it is something that you have to open your eyes to see. Fairly often we find ourselves focused on a task too hard to take a look at our surroundings. We need to learn to take time to glimpse at the world around us. The towns and cities we live in may not have the Louvre or the Met; they may not have a thriving theatre or a concert hall, but there is art everywhere. I am glad to have grown up in Washington Court House because I have had the opportunity to grow up with art. Some of it is hidden in the confines of old buildings; some however, is in plain sight. It blends into the town’s culture and heritage and eventually is forgotten, because we forget to open our eyes to it. We forget the brushstrokes and sweat it takes to make our masterpieces blend in with the community. We forget how boring the blank canvas was before those brushstrokes took effect.

Four and Four are eight. I had the opportunity to take a walk on a sunny Continue reading Washington Court House Inchworm