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.
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.
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.