John L Lathrop, 52, of Fayetteville, NY, died Wednesday, after a long, no holds barred, cage match battle with ALS. His diagnosis in 2009 gave him plenty of time to write this obit, which he did, so blame no one but the deceased. His immediate plan, post demise, was to go to heaven and give Lou Gehrig a great big sloppy kiss on the cheek.
Born in Waverly, NY, he did time in Scranton, PA, before moving to the Syracuse area in 1998. He graduated from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh in 1980. He is survived by his wife Frances Cawley Lathrop, daughter Ann, son Jack, brother Rick (Catherine) of Elmira Heights, NY, sister Valerie McCarty (Mike), and his parents Jim and Sandy of Denver, NC. He was predeceased by his brother Rob. John deeply cherished Frances’ siblings Kathleen Coughlin (Jeremy) of Fayetteville, NY, and John Cawley (Rachel Dunifon) of Ithaca, NY, and their families. Believe it or not John is also survived by his paternal grandparents who are bordering on ancient and live in Waverly, NY.
John spent 30 years in the printing business from cutter to art director to sales, finally retiring from Canfield & Tack, Inc., Rochester, NY, in late 2011 as one of their top salespeople. He was their tallest, anyway. John spent the balance of his days painting in his studio and receiving friends like the Loh, Kelly, Ritchie, Shepardson, Coughlin, Cramer and Cawley families.
John became an avid blogger after his diagnosis and his extended blather may be read at meatloafchronicle.tumblr.com. A lifelong artist, John leaves behind a legacy of paintings that no one ever seemed to want; subsequently, they were foisted upon family. He was a volunteer with the Fayetteville Fire Department and served as president of the Fayetteville Firemen’s Association for two terms. He rode a Triumph America motorcycle and wore a size twelve boot. He was an ardent music lover from opera to heavy metal (opera 1, heavy metal 333). He was also a rapacious fan of the cinema and had seen “A Room with a View” and “Howard’s End” once each. In sport he was a lifelong fan of the NY Football Giants and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
He would like to thank the staff of Hospice (the Death Dealers) especially his nurses, Gary (RIP) and Melissa, and the hospice chaplain, Rev. Tanya. People wishing to experience a warm glow and a tax deduction can contribute to the ALS Research and Treatment Center at Upstate Medical University or the Hospice of Central New York.
Family will receive friends Thursday, April 26, from 9-11 am at the Craftsman Inn, Fayetteville, NY. A brief service will follow at 11 am. Burial will be private at the Fayetteville Cemetery.
The devil is in every knife drawer! God is in the spoon drawer. Put spoons in your backpocket. Then if you come off your cycle on on your ass it gives a good place for the Dr to start.
Of course, this is not me. I had better stems. Now I got no stems & no voice. Psst hand me that pack of camels.
As I blog over the next couple of days I listened to:
“Zappa in New York” from 1977 (with Don Pardo)
UFO’s “Strangers in the Night” from 1978
“Robin Trower Live” from 1976
Mott the Hoople “Two Miles From Live Heaven” assembled in 2001
I am at a verbal loss to explain to you what I feel about music. It rates right up there with how much I love people. Strange, it seems, but that’s no lie. Also, & I’m sure you’ll agree if it came to deafness as a trade off for ALS I’d take it. Music no more & deafness for but a few more years with my family & back to work. That’s a deal. But all of these kind of pacts start with the man way way downstairs & I wouldn’t jeopardize my immortal soul. I wouldn’t want to have to save Franny or the kids from some sort of evil predicament. Please don’t get involved in anything that may cost me my soul!
When I was a child I took trumpet lessons & was a member of the stage band. I practiced intermittently and one day had my lesson alone with Mr. Sickler. I told him when I was at football games & heard our high school marching band play the national anthem, the hair on the back of my neck stood up. He told me that happened because I loved music. I wasn’t trying to get a higher grade, it was totally true. Eventually, when it was county band time I was surprised to get Mr. Sickler to audition before. Of course every kid wants to play first trumpet. I knew deep inside that I wasn’t good enough because I hadn’t put in the hours. When all was played & done I was looking at the postings on the bulletin board to see what I’d attained. Second trumpet was me. Somehow, Mr. Sickler just happened to be there & explained how even with my sweet natural vibrato & good tone, it was evident that I’d not practiced hard enough. I knew he was right. I shook his hand, thanked him & went directly down to the parking lot & keyed his car to the metal on both sides.
Kidding. (A) I had no keys & (B) I was a good 5th grader with a decent grasp on good & evil. Keying his car for doing his job properly & taking the time to explain why, would’ve been an asshole move. I was not an asshole, yet.
That winter I was running down the sidewalk at full tilt, I can’t remember if it was for a reason, books in left grasp & trumpet case in the right. As I ran the trumpet case got away from me. I can still see it sliding bell end first. Near a tree the sidewalk was pushed up due to the roots. That is where the case stopped, abruptly. I picked it up & continued my walk home.
Let me tell you about the instrument in that case. It was a full generation old but it was sweet. My father had played it in band. It had beautifully toned copper accents, on the tubing as well as completely around the bell with engraving. It was sexy & I felt proud as I honked out tunes like Au de Claire la Luna & Pomp & Circumstance.
Let me tell you about the instrument that I pulled out of the case that weekend’s Saturday. The pieces of felt covered wood that positioned next to the valves to keep the trumpet from moving forward or backward had failed & allowed the bell to mash up beyond repair on that uneven sidewalk. There were cracks through the metal that made it unplayable. I felt scared & couldn’t tell my parents or grandparents what had happened. Thus began my three year gut secret that I went to great lengths to keep in as I was still in band.
We moved to Spencer Van Etten district. It was truly a better band. Mr. Pakula had shoulder length blond hair & a different taste in music. We played excerpts from Tommy by the Who and a couple of Bread tunes. You had to have your own instrument. Luckily seating had left me next to a lifesaver named Annette. She let me use a cornet she never played. My mashed trumpet was in it’s failure of a case in my cubby in the band room. I played Annette’s cornet for the time we spent at SVE. After one concert, I’m not sure who asked but ask they did. It was probably my grandfather. My answer, well rehearsed described how Mr. Pakula wanted a more mellow cornet in my seat. That answer worked well. That was the last band I ever had in my curriculum. In hindsight I should’ve owned up when it happened cause it was my fault but not really my fault. As my grandparents aged & my parents had bigger things to worry about the trumpet tumbled down a chuck hole & was forgotten altogether.
When I finally got out of band I was elated. I do not like brass except for accompaniment on ska or soul. Over the next couple of years I tried singing in rock cover bands. Not quite ready to be a front man, the only reason I was standing there was my mom at the end of the bar nursing a drink. Back then It’s illegal for a kid under 16 to perform where there was alcohol for sale. After some gigs I decided to quit in the parking lot of a hotel in Towanda, PA. I sure it was a relief for my mom. I was ignoring my friends, especially the soft lumpy ones. They couldn’t hang in the bars we were playing & for some reason management wanted us south of the border. Now I would sing on every once in a great while. Now I have no voice at all. I speak through my iPad & a couple of programs
Still gotta listen to music every day, hour. I still get the occasional goosebumps on the back of my neck. Usually it’s just before a live band opens up.
Sure, I look like a businessman. This is me walking out of the Sofitel in Chicago with my overcoat loaded with 5 kilos of Tibetan Finger Hash.
Today as I blogged I listened to one of the greatest live albums ever pressed, Blue Öyster Cult’s 1975 recording “On Your Feet or On Your Knees”
If you’ve read the former entries, you’d know that my parents visited on Monday & Tuesday. Everyone has family issues forged from the deep past or the lesser depths of recent history. I did my share of bonehead moves & when I was catching shit for those I could balance the books. I think if you read the former entries, you’ve realized that I had a difficult relationship with my father. As I grew up I came to the realization that my father & every day of his previous life were lashing out. It wasn’t me, it was all that made him. I am pleased, as I believe he is too, bygones have went & we get along fine.
My brother Rick enjoyed a better relationship with my father. They had more common interests. Maybe a first born man child thing, who knows. Further down the road he suffered the same differences that any teens would at the hands of their parents. We were fun loving kids who often deserved more punishment than we received, if we’d only been caught.
As our parents struggled through the good times & bad of their marriage we found spare time which could’ve been ill used. It was a good thing that as we advanced through our teen years we found interests that didn’t involve illicit behavior. Science Fiction Theater, Theater, graphic arts, lighting, music, acting, painting & ceramics kept us on the relatively straight & reasonably narrow. So look at us now & what we’ve become. Rick is a touring stage manager & I’m sitting on the couch in my former office, writing & painting. I’d be out there selling printing which you can lay off as a finger of graphic arts if it wasn’t for this damned disease.
Now I get to die early. That’s gonna take some thought on my part.
Handsome shoes but can you imagine them in a 15 - 16 gunboat size?
We were kids that didn’t have sneakers dedicated to gym class or a sport. A singular pair of green bottom knock-offs that you bought by the stringer-full like you were fishing. A lot of country kids suffered the same shoe sickness but we didn’t live in the country. The second day at Athen’s High, Rick connected with his upgrade, they seemed like all-stars, I forget the color. I let him know later that actual owner was onto his slight of sneakers. I found out by taking a drink of water. I was into drink where the water got no colder, an independently refrigerated fountain when I saw somebody line up too close to me. I didn’t freak, we were in the hallway, what could happen there? Two kidney punches made me stand up straight & push my attacker back.
“Freddy told me some new kid, name of Lathrop, stole my sneakers!”
I pointed down at my green bottomed beauties worn in beauties.
“That doesn’t mean shit.”
“There are more Lathrops than just I, here at Athens High.”
Rick told me later that it was an impulse theft. Once he got to where he could look at them safely he found that they weren’t chucks at all. They were “Beta Bullets”. Kind of a Chuck Taylor knockoff. 2 full sizes smaller than his size the crime was perpetrated in the Athens High gym locker room. ” Rick said he’s always regretted that lowlife move. Because of the guilt he felt he punished himself daily as he cut off the hightop.He wore them until they wore out.
I was always on a sneaker hunt. Always looking to upgrade. Always with an eye out in the lockeroom. It seems like every year we would wind up walking about in a quality shoe. Be it mom, some friend upgrading or just a pair left alone, abandoned, looking for a life of hijinks.
Maybe that’s the reason when I first got into the money I would own close to 40 pair. Black (of course), plaid, red of Chucks and green & red in the one star in suede.
I had a pair of Dan Marino Nikes that were vastly overpriced, washable leather & one size too small. Man, they were painful to wear but they looked so good. I guess I carried the torch a bit further for my brother & me.
Since I made my father a godzilla, it’s only fair that I make my
mom one too. This is a photo of her steam blasting the bathroom.
Sanitized for your protection.
As I blog I’m listening to “A Nod Is Good as a Wink to a Blind Horse” from the Faces in 1971
My mother’s dropping by tomorrow as well. There are times she’s gotten mad at me over something stupid I had done or said. But for the most part my mom has been an advocate & ran interference between my dad & me. She protected me from a man who would come to his senses later.
My mom was always there to talk to. If anything happened to me, she would take our explanation, as we had made it home with the odd bruises or abrasions & didn’t require hospitalization.
My mom loved me from a baby on up.