Sunday, March 22, 2015


You’d think that if you had lived all four of your angst ridden high school years in the same house you’d remember the name of your street. I didn’t. But with a street map of Tempe and by following my substantial nose I found the little dwelling. I didn’t expect the Taj Mahal but, Jesus, the poor thing was a storage unit. 

What had been a white two bedroom was now a lime green outbuilding in a sprawling church complex across the street from a hospital that didn’t exist when I was a boy. Sad and diminished, the little box still stood fifty years later.   

The house
The house harbors lots of memories, some of them actually good: my first LP, Dave Brubeck’s “Take the A –train,” My Ludwig drum kit with Zyldjian cymbals, the ebony Wurlitzer spinet in the living room, the three block amble to and from my high school, once on a broken fifth metatarsal after a basketball scrimmage, the gorgeous Mary Lou McNatt, the lead in the all school play “Rebel Without a Cause” and second place in a state wide oratory contest that foretold a life of silver medals.

When I got back to the house from the police station my bags were on the back stoop. The night before I had crashed in the back seat of my car in front of my singing partner’s house. There may have been beer involved. Very early that morning my mother found me and called the cops. The officers, much embarrassed and apologetic, took me downtown presumably to book me for underage drinking or some other Class 1 felony. I was never charged. I sat in the slammer for a couple of hours, was released and walked home to be find my worldly possessions on the back stoop. I was on the street.

The stoop

A year and a half later when I turned 21 I went back to the house for the first time since that momentous day. I went back, ostensibly, to get my birth certificate though I suppose I was hoping for something more. There would be no something more and I never saw my mother again. 


Blacks Crossing said...

Since this blog is by far one of your very best and so intimate it is painful, it is worthy of expletives but I will just write "WOW!" here. "Holy #*$%" would do as well.

The photographs punctuate your incredible prose, so profound that I will need to print this off and place it in my burgeoning notebook of quotations and pithy writing. The last paragraph is heart-wrenching.

Too many book possibilities, friend! Time to get started.

Thea said...

Steve! Your writing continues to amaze me. Daryl's comment is so well done, he expressed my exact feelings. However, I wonder if some of your good heart and attitude that I find gental and comforting may have come from your mother, perhaps when you were younger. At any rate you are one of my favorite friends and your blog is one of the few that I always go to with care not miss a word.

Steve Immel said...

Thanks to both of you, my good friends, for caring about my catharsis.

John Farnsworth said...

Steve, whatever went before resulted in a Good Man I am honored to call Friend.

Steve Immel said...

Gracias Juan. El mismo a tu.

Jim Rogers Photography said...

Wow, I was loving this blog with your usual engrossing verbage. So many similarities between us. Obvious love of jazz with Brubeck as your first album. Mine was Stan Kenton. Drums. Me too, but had to rely on high school for equipment. Typical bonehead move to get in trouble at home. Been there, did that. But from that point on, I stopped to count my blessings. Such a sad ending in your story, but in a way, a story of triumph considering what and where you are today. I'm proud of you and value our friendship even more!!!

Steve Immel said...

Thank you so much, Jim. You do have to count your blessings and it's how you survive or surmount your troubles that is the measure of a person. The most moving thing about this post is the outpouring of support and friendship. I didn't cry when I wrote the piece but have come close when reading the kind and loving way people have responded. That's a gift to be sure.

John Ellsworth said...

Whatever else might have been thought by our parents back then, we (you and I, amigo) were doing the very best we knew how. Life was fun and it was equally treacherous but we were too young to see the dark parts before, too often, we were in their grasp. You did what you did because that's what guys our age did back then. It was neither good nor bad, it was just a part of growing up. My own parents (my hateful dad, especially) made similar value judgments about me as your mother made about you, perhaps. Now, from this POV in my rear view mirror, I want to ask them, Well, if you didn't want me to behave that way, why the hell didn't you teach me better. Instead, in keeping with those know-nothing times, we were judged ex post facto and our lives dashed with "you should have known better"(s). Keep smiling. You were the greatest guy I knew back then. I know--I was there. You were the best friend I could ever have asked for and you saved my life more than once. I'll love you forever for all of it. Plus, at this time in our lives, we both have far surpassed any standards they might have set for us or goals they would have had us achieve. They were too small.

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