A Sunday Afternoon at the Steinbrenner’s Home

George Steinbrenner’s House, Bay Village

Rap! Rap! Rap! “Answer the door Mary Jane. It’s probably George,” mother calls from the kitchen.

When I open the door George is standing there. After he flashes his sparkly smile at me accompanied by a hearty, “Hello Champ.” He breezes through the living room past the dining room and plops down on the puffy dusty-rose couch in our family room. But not until he stops and shakes hands with my father who is busy looking at the evening news on our brand new TV.

By now, George has helped himself to a handful of cashews from our, always full, nut bowl. Then, just to be polite, he joins my father and, within seconds, the two men become glued to the TV while they watch a disturbing seen unfold before them.

It seems a certain politician had abused, in all sorts of ugly ways, the trust his constituents had placed in him.

When my father finished listening to the politician’s confession he turned to George and said, “This is a prime example of how power corrupts.” He then continues to say, “If you destroy a man’s reputation for personal gain you weaken your own humanity.”

Over the years I often wondered if George recalled those prophetic words.

My Home on Upland Rd.

I would like to set aside my father’s veiled warning that evening and remember how comfortable and welcomed George felt when he visited our modest home on Upland Road.

On the other hand, the Steinbrenner’s house was far from being modest. In its day it was the loveliest house in all of Bay Village.

The first time I saw George’s home I was reminded of a house you’d see on a luxurious southern plantation.

My first party at the Steinbrenner’s home

It was centered on a picturesque piece of property and near the end of a long driveway stood an attractive carriage house where their servants lived.

Although George invited me, several times, I only attended one gathering at his home.

That Sunday afternoon when I arrived at the Steinbrenners, George helped me out of the car. Together we followed the cobblestone path to his front door and, for one brief moment, I could have been walking into a colorful Kincaid painting.

The snow white house shimmered in the afternoon sunlight and violet shadows from massive, turn of the century, trees slid across the emerald green lawn. Yet, standing in the midst of such grandeur and knowing I was about to enter the world of the rich and famous all I wanted to do was go home. But, out of respect for George, I couldn’t.

By 3:00 PM plenty of George’s closest friends were being served hot Hors d’oeuvres, delicate finger sandwiches and genuine French Petit fours on a charming closed-in porch that stretched across the back of the house. And, by the end of the gathering, the crystal punch bowl was empty.

Looking back, I must admit it turned out to a delightful afternoon. Although, there were two things missing – a puffy dusty-rose couch and a bowl of cashews.

The Day George Fought With His Dad

Lake Shore Hotel 1952

When Joe and I attended a wedding reception at the Lake Shore Hotel I could never have guessed how our day would end.

That afternoon we walked down the carpeted steps into the hotel’s ballroom.

High above us thousands of tiny glittering bulbs in chandeliers lit the room and across from us, glass doors with ornate handles opened to a sweeping view of Lake Erie under a sapphire sky.

Waiters dressed in immaculate white jackets, black bow ties, black trousers and polished black shoes weaved in and out of the guests while balancing silver trays of bubbly champagne.

Lake Shore Hotel Ballroom

As we waited in line to greet the newlyweds I noticed, on a small stage behind us, a woman in a satin gown stroking a golden harp. Her music caressed the well-wishers like a soothing balm.

Then, without any warning, a sharp voice cut through the joyous atmosphere and everything stopped.

It was the Maitre D’s voice. He was standing in front of a microphone on the small stage at the end of the ballroom. “May I have your attention. There is an urgent call for Mary Jane Elster. Please go to the phone at the desk in the lobby.”

Joe accompanied me to the lobby and stayed next to me when I took the call.

I was startled when I heard George. His words were erratic and I couldn’t tell if what he said was a plea or a demand. “You’ve got to meet me at the train station in the Terminal Tower. I’ve fought with my Dad and I’m leaving home.” George didn’t say what the argument was about but I knew it was serious.

George talked to my mother earlier in the day and she told him I was with Joe and he already knew that we had recently become engaged. But it didn’t seem to matter.

I tried explaining how wrong it was to expect me to go and besides, “How would I get there?” George said “Have Joe drive you.”

Because I hesitated George became annoyed. His final word was “Try” and then he hung up.

Several years later, after each of us married others, we spoke again. But that’s a story for another time.

Author’s note – Because I am losing my sight I am seldom bothered by outside distractions making my memories even more vivid.

Mary Jane Schriner

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