One of the few things I am pretty good at is old song trivia. That's why what I am about to tell you was so maddening.
Years ago, a friend of mine and I were driving along and got in a traffic jam on I-271. One of us said: "It looks like there's somethin' happenin' here."
The other one said: "What's the name of that song?"
And neither of us knew right off the bat. So we started going through the words.
"Let's see: 'There's battle lines being drawn. Nobody's right if evervbody's wrong.'" Like that. Figuring eventually the title of the song would be in the words somewhere.
We would go dry for a while and then one of us would say: "What a field day for the heat. Thousand people in the street."
Eventually we re-constructed the whole song and never did figure out the title.
Naturally, the first person we ran into the next day had it: "For What It's Worth," by Buffalo Springfield.
Oh yeah. Right, right, right we said.
Just a stupid little story, but vivid in my mind.
That's the way with memories. They are important and fun and forever.
And this one came to mind again a couple of weeks ago on our way to Blossom Music Center when we passed the intersection of Rt. 303 and I-271, the former site of the 20,000 seat Richfield Coliseum. That's where Phil Yanchar and I were going the night that goofy old song popped into our heads.
It became the "former site" when the folks from the Cuyahoga National Recreation Area bought the property, tore down the once-magnificent Coliseum and returned the land to its natural state, a commendable act.
Come to think of it, I have lots of memories from the Richfield Coliseum.
I remember when Frank Sinatra was the opening act. A Reflector reporter and her husband got all dolled up and went to see him.
Over the years, performers as diverse as Elvis and Pete Maravich and Michael Jordan were showcased in the Richfield Coliseum.
I saw Linda Ronstadt in concert there. Fleetwood Mac, too.
But my Billy Joel tickets were the best concert seats I've ever had. I scalped them from a guy in a hotel parking lot. It felt as illegal as a drug deal. He reached out the window of his car, clutching the two tickets so I could see they were authentic. I held out the money, and we both grabbed.
The result was seats where I looked Billy Joel right in the eye from 25 feet away when he pivoted on his piano stool. The saxophone player came into the stands and played from behind our seats. Yes!
That happened at the Richfield Coliseum.
The highlight of my life as a professional basketball fan happened there, too. During the so-called Miracle at Richfield run in the late 1970s, I secured a photographer's pass through this newspaper. I sat right on the floor. Not in a chair at floor level ON the floor under the basket.
Some of the greatest basketball players ever John Havlicek, Nate Thurmond, Dave Cowens, guys like that were so close I could touch them during the game. And what games they were: Cavs and Celtics for the right to play for the NBA championship. I've never seen such sustained noise and excitement. Right there in the Richfield Coliseum.
And now it's gone. The landscape plantings from near the building's front entrance are the only remaining frame of reference.
Only in America would they sacrifice such a fine, serviceable building after fewer than 30 years in service. I wonder what ever happened to the beautiful loges to the 20,000 upholstered seats to Pete Franklin's old radio booth.
They tore up the parking lot where I lost my car one time. Forgot which entrance I used. I had to wait for maybe 10,000 cars to leave so I could see what was left.
So many concerts, so many games, so many memories.
But now the space is just a field of wild grasses and saplings.
I'm not complaining; I like wild grasses and saplings. But I just felt compelled to share the nostalgia generated by a trip past the old Richfield Coliseum ... for what it's worth.