I just finished my last blog entry, “And the Moral of the Story?” and had it posted this afternoon.
About two hours later, I spoke with my Mother and she asked if the ‘Fred’ in that story was the one, the only, Fred Marchinetti. I told her it was, and sadly, she said she thought he had passed away.
Well, I looked it up and sure enough, ol’ Fred did go on to greener fairways on August 16 of this year, 2022. And right there at the top of the obituary was a picture of Fred. A picture of the bumble (without his glasses). A picture of the March-Man. Like I said, I hadn’t seen him in over ten years, but it still struck such a sad chord in me, and I was flooded with memories and stories about Fred, and they all hit me all at once.
All I can do to commemorate the man is tell you a couple stories that stand out in my memory. Tell you about the things he said and did that changed the way I think and formed a lot of the man I was to become. Like I said, Fred was a good guy.
Some of these stories are already written as a part of my blog, so when that’s the case, I’ll leave it to you to go digging and reading on your own to learn the whole story. If you follow me, it’ll be pretty obvious when you see it.
The first night I met Fred, he was there at the Pressbox, soon to become Dano’s Tavern down on 10th and Washington. He was there with his then wife, Cindy; Danny and Linda and Patty; John and Cindy; John and Karen, Bruce and Don, Billy Ox, Jack, Kramer and few assorted others. That was the regular crowd.
I did my normal thing and kept to myself at the end of the bar, but I caught Fred’s attention when I walked in the door. Why? Because I came out of nowhere and no one in the bar knew who I was. So Fred being Fred asked me point-blank if I was in the witness protection program. He let out his signature laugh and anointed me, ‘Warren Popodopolis’ forever more and again.
And it was something that he never let go of…I was always ‘Warren’ to him, no matter what. I can’t say much cause I do the same thing. It’s easier for me to remember folks if I remember a colorful name or nickname rather than just a name or even a face.
That Christmas was my ‘Christmas alone’. The Christmas that some folks thought was so sad and pathetic and was in all reality one of my most cherished Christmas memories, but at the time, no one understood it. I’ve written about this night before.
The bar was only open until 6pm that Christmas Eve and we were all there celebrating all we could. Everyone had parties and family dinners to get to, but not me. I ordered my wings and I drank and I looked forward to wings and wine and jazz in the dark, all alone. I’ll say now that I had a most wonderful Christmas Eve. Fred, however, just could not understand it.
He and Cindy invited me to their home for a Christmas dinner of steaks and lobsters, but even though I was deeply touched at their generosity, still I declined. The rest of that story has already been written so I won’t go into it. Suffice it to say, one of my first memories of Fred was of his simple and honest generosity, offering a place at his table to some ‘kid from the bar’. Fred was a good guy.
Shuffle ahead to spring time and the bar was rattling with talk of baseball. Jack already had his opening day hot dog grilling, in his shorts, out in the snow and he just knew the Indians were going all the way this year. We were all sitting around the bar one warm and sunny afternoon and talk turned to ‘heroes’ This moment in time is where I developed a deeper appreciation for ‘heroes’ in my life - and I've also written about it before. Fred pulled a picture from his wallet and it was of a kid he knew from his son’s baseball (might have been football?) team and said, “This kid Brian is my hero. That’s why I carry his picture. He’s made of nothing but heart and he never gives up. We all have to have heroes, Warren. Keep them close” And that moment in time has stuck solid with me as did Fred’s advice. Understand and never forget your heroes. Sage advice. Fred was a good guy.
Even when there were troubles between all of the ‘friends’, Fred was a buoy of sorts for the whole group. He didn’t care about all that nonsense. He wanted everyone to be happy.
Drink Miller Lites and pound shots of Coco Ribe and just have fun!
I guess the point is that Fred just didn’t care. He loved his family and he loved his friends and he loved his work, but he never let it get too thick around him to ever be a worry.
I could go on all night, but it’s not necessary, and I think if Fred was here now, looking over my shoulder as I type, I would hear the cackle and then get the shoulder rub and I would hear,
“Forget all of that, Warren. Come on back to the bar and let’s do a shot. Coco Ribe, right? And a Miller Lite, right? Yeah...you're ready! Quit looking so sad all the time. That’s all you need. ”
Our home bar is now an apartment house. Most of the bars we went to are no longer there, either turned into apartments or bulldozed under completely for the next big thing, but that doesn’t matter to me.
Whenever I drive past the old Dano’s Tavern location on 10th St, I can hear Fred’s giggle and cackle and I can see him making his rounds about the bar, talking to everyone in there, making sure everyone was happy, making plans for golf the next morning, making plans for the bars we would hit on the way back home, but most of all, just there being Fred. That’s all I ever need – or want – to remember about Fred.
And now I think of the last time I saw Fred, walking into the Oasis Pub as he was struggling to leave and using a cane – just as I am now. He almost didn’t recognize me at first, but as soon as he did, I saw that old, familiar light in his smile. We talked for just a minute and that was it. That was the last time, but even though so many years had passed before it and now after, I don’t think a day’s gone by that I haven’t thought of Fred in one way or another.
Fred was a good guy.
All I can say now is, “So long, Fred. I'll be expecting that bottle of Coco Ribe to be on the bar waiting for all the rest of us to get there to do shots…So long, Fred.”
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