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In Memory of Emil

Where My Uncle and Cousin Emil Worked: The Metal Craft Spinning Company

Where My Uncle and Cousin Emil Worked: The Metal Craft Spinning Company

For two years, 2008 and 2009, I posted all my blogs at Blog.Com. When suddenly it started to go bad around the end of that period, I moved to Multiply.Com for a while, which also went bad. Anyhow, here is a blog I wrote about my cousin, Emil Zoltan Paris:

I wish I had a photograph of my Cousin Emil. Perhaps I do—and when I find it I will post it—but I could not lay my hands on it on short notice. Emil Zoltan Paris Jr., to give his full name, was my father’s twin brother Emil Zoltan Paris Sr.’s only son. Between those formative years in my life during the early 1950s, he lived only a block away on East 177th Street.

He was a couple years older than I was, and he was anti-intellectual to a high degree, but he was fiercely loyal and goodhearted. As a little kid, I was frequently picked on by the neighborhood bullies—unless Emil was around. He was tall and big, the type that became a defensive tackle in high school (and in fact, that’s just what he was at West Geauga High). Whenever he caught someone who was picking on me, Emil just sat on him and whacked away until blood squirted or sounds of apology were reluctantly tendered.

Once, when he walked into our living room while I was reading Tom Sawyer, Emil picked up the book and slammed it to the floor, saying “There! That’s what I think of books!” Even at John Adams Junior High School, Emil was not known for his learning or sensitivity. But we liked him for his good heart and his steadfast friendship. Not, however, for his humor. Once he asked me if I could use the word Rotterdam in a sentence. When I hesitated, he grinned and said, “I gave my sister some candy and I hope it’ll rotterdam teeth out.”

Emil married a woman named Lois from Detroit, but it didn’t turn out well. She left him for another woman, who happened to be African-American.

I lost touch with Emil went I went to college and, from there, moved out to California. Then, I heard from my mother that he was living in Lake Havasu City, AZ, just across the Colorado River. Twice, on my road trips through Arizona, I detoured to Lake Havasu and visited him, once with my mother along. He was running a limo service there. We kept in touch now and then.

After a few years there, he moved back to Cleveland to be with his aging mother. It was difficult to tell who was more ill, because Emil was showing symptoms of advanced Type 2 Diabetes. Toward the end, he lost his vision. Then he passed away about sixteen years ago, leaving his two grown-up sons, Greg and Doug, with whom I am not in touch.

I miss not having Emil around to talk about old times. Those included the years he worked for his father’s company, the Metal-Craft Spinning Company in the Flats of Cleveland (see photo above).  The building in which Uncle Emil’s factory was located has now been subdivided into luxury lofts. I used to drop in with my father ostensibly to talk to my uncle, my cousin, and Mr. Prosser, my uncle’s partner. Actually, I was probably just as interested then in the nudie pinup calendars scattered throughout. For lunch, we would walk over to the old Flatiron Café and have some delicious sandwiches. It is still there, but it’s become yuppified and now calls itself an Irish Pub. Those gruff Slavic faces at the tables of the old greasy spoon are all gone.