Columns

2012.04.18 A birthday note to Dan

on . Posted in By The Way

By DAVID GREEN

As I was cleaning up the pages from last week’s Observer and getting ready for the next issue, I noticed that the date would be April 18.

I immediately sent an e-mail to you, Dan, my brother, asking if you would like me to dedicate the next Observer to you, and if so, to provide some direction on how to go about this.

I didn’t expect to hear back. I figured it would be deleted as another stupid e-mail from Morenci. But you did respond and suggested that I would probably have to write something about Bean Creek.

I’m not sure how to go about dedicating an issue to someone other than stating: This issue of the Observer is dedicated to Daniel Robert Green on the occasion of his 58th birthday.

I’ll start by taking a look at April 18, and what a fine day it was in history. A king was crowned in Poland 1200 years ago. Five hundred years later, a queen consort was crowned in Poland. It was the day that William Dawes and Paul Revere started yelling, “The British are coming!”

The first train in Asia moved down the tracks on an April 18. Billy the Kid escaped from jail in New Mexico. It’s been an excellent day for earthquakes, including the famous San Francisco disaster, and a fine day for asteroid discovery.

Dan, if you were to pick one item among the dozens, I think you would go with this one: April 18, 1994, the day Michael Jackson had scalp surgery after his hair caught on fire.

My recollection of April 18, 1954, is quite limited since I was only three and a half years old. I remember that it was an Easter Sunday and I recall hearing in later years that it snowed a lot, which meant a rather cold arrival for your entry into the world.

I also remember that time as the Day of the Great Lie. That’s what your birth has meant to me. When my mother went to the hospital, Gertie Lawrence came over to baby-sit and spent the night.

Gertie was a very kind woman, but she could be a tough old bird. Don’t mess with Gert. She would do anything to help you, but in some respects she wasn’t one to coddle, and I guess she wanted me to grow up.

On the morning of your birth, Gert told me that the Easter Bunny came and took my blanket away. My favorite old, torn blanket that I used to rub around my nose while I sucked my thumb. My constant companion. Gone. Stolen by a trusted holiday icon.

And instead I was left with a crying baby brother.

I know it isn’t fair to pin this on you, Dan, but that’s the reality of my early years and so much more. All my insecurities and frailties in the decades that followed stem from that one terrible morning.

Maybe that’s why I bit your butt on the sofa that one afternoon and in doing so lost my first tooth.

Maybe it’s why I was so cruel to you later and didn’t want you to tag along when the Bryner boys and I headed down the path along Bean Creek. I wanted you to get your own friends, but maybe Frankie Wybel and Jeff Boyer were the only ones left in the neighborhood.

I wonder what you did after I packed a lunch and went off for adventures. I feel badly about it now, but at least you understand where it came from.

Dan, we had plenty of good times together, too. Many, many battles with the little plastic soldiers. Many games in the yard. I was there the day we played Crack the Whip with John Bancroft in the front and you at the tail. I don’t think we knew at the time that your arm was broken.

I hope you didn’t mind when John Bryner and I started re-writing Bob Dylan songs and singing them to you. “Sad-eyed Danny of the Outhouse,” for example. I hope you took it as an honor.

I was a proud, older brother when you started making movies, especially “Running Nude Along the Bean.”

Dan, you traveled west first. You moved to Oregon and a year or so later I left Maine and also moved to Oregon, although I seldom made it from Portland down to Eugene.

Then something happened: You stayed in the northwest, I returned to Michigan. Other than taking you on vacation once, we hardly ever see one another.

Dan, we probably would have been best friends if we lived in the same town. Gertie’s Great Lie would have been forgotten and together we would run nude along the Bean.

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