... what a beautiful man!
It was July, a sultry day, as I sauntered up Cleveland Ave. to the corner of Hancock Street. On the corner was Mo’s Drug Store who used to call me “Edgie”. He had sold his store, recently. Mo was a kind man who used to offer me penny candy. I was sad to see him go and I was not too happy to welcome the new owner, Ed Gilbert. Gilbert was a short, stocky man with a red face that made you think he was an alcoholic until you got to know him. It took a little while to see the warmth in his beaming face.
I was 10 or 11 then and returned to Eddie Gilbert’s store for many years until he had a stroke when I was in my middle twenties. After he had been in his store for several years he bought a house on the corner of Swan Street Park. I would drive down Swan Street and see Ed sitting in a folding chair watching kids in the park playing baseball. It was sad to see Ed kind of sitting in a heap without much to do. Ed had offered me and my family lots of kindnesses for which I will always remember him.
After I had gotten married, Catherine and I were living in a Veterans’ Housing project in Woodlawn. Often, when the kids had pains, I went to Gilbert’s Drug Store to see if Ed could help. On one occasion one of my children, I forget which one, was not sleeping well with a belly ache. Ed said, “We will fix that.” Ed went in back and shortly appeared with a small bottle that was filled with pink fluid. Ed said, “This is mother’s elixir. You put a few drops of this in the babies’ bottle and it will allow Catherine to sleep.”
Every Christmas season was a time to visit Eddie’s Drug Store. Now that I was an adult was when I got to go into the back room at Ed’s store. Sure enough there were bottles of egg nog a set for celebrating. Whatever was your pleasure, scotch, brandy, rye whiskey, you choose. I did not stay too long as I was afraid of getting too bombed.
On another occasion, I went to see Ed at his drug store. I needed a little money and asked Ed if he would lend me the money. Ed questioned me about why I needed money. His question was made out of concern, I felt. I told Ed that I would prefer not to ask my father for money. Without hesitation he asked, “How much?”
There were other situations where I sought Ed’s help and he never refused me. I can still see him sitting in his chair, overlooking the ball park, watching kids at play. This is the last memory I have of Ed and I am glad for it.
May 3, 2013