Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Goodbye Cheracol bring on the Sudafed

Cheracol cough syrup
Originally uploaded by Brite Lights photos.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A damned cold has laid me low for a couple of days, making me long for a jolt of Cheracol cough syrup - not the stuff they sell over the counter now - the real stuff I got as a kid, loaded with codeine.


Whenever I got a cold when I was kid - and started hacking - my mother would drag out the Cheracol and give me a good dose. The fact that I would go into a stupor for a couple of hours seemed to escape her - I guess she thought it was the cold bothering me.

That whole experience all came flooding back to me in the past few days when I took Sudafed - a drug I don't like to take at all. Hell, I don't like any drugs anymore - including aspirin.

But when my nose was running like Niagara, I gave up and took a half-dose so I could work without turning my keyboard into a petri dish.

One would think a half-dose would be, well, a half-dose and not that potent. But about a half-hour after gulping the small red pill with a cranberry juice chaser, I was alternately wired and exhausted, suddenly thinking about cough syrup.

When I went to Villanova, the campus infirmary would dole out bottles of codeine-laced cough syrup every time you went in. And several of my buddies (who mixed the syrup with Coca-Cola in some kind of weird conconction that tasted awful) would develop cold symptoms every Friday so they would have something to keep them partying through the weekends. And, of course, they encouraged everyone to drop by and pick up a bottle (sometimes two if you got the right doctor or the friendly nurse who dated some of the basketball players).

I never developed a taste for the stuff (probably a realllly good thing), though I confess to getting a fair share of the drug for my buddies. One bottle of cough syrup was good for three or four bottles of Schmidt's of Philadelphia in a trade. I didn't much like the Schmidt's beer either, but a sober weekend? At Villanova? Pleeeeeese...

If the Sudafed doesn't do the trick today, it's on to more serious stuff - Four Roses Blended Whiskey mixed with ginger ale. I'll feel worse in the morning, but the evening will be much better.

Where's that Cheracol when I need it?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Memories of my 55-mph dream machine

LAKEWOOD, N.Y. - The summer between junior and senior years, it was summer school time again, thanks largely to my inability to study either Math 11 or chemistry.

While both Ethel Goller and Hank Weiss gave me passing grades, in those two classes, the Regent's exams were not so kind.

But instead of riding a bus to Jamestown, I signed up the Chautaqua High School program which necessitated wheels, as my mother would not let go of her automobile for my commuting - particularly when she had given me the summer school money for Jamestown, not up the lake.

At the time, Yamaha 80 motorcycles were the rage. Bud Hooper had one already and so I purchased one on a time payment plan, $16.23 per month. Bob Fulcher and Jim Carr ended up with machines, too. What a summer!

I only crashed a few times and once jumping one of the hills at SWCS my girlfriend Cindy Hall slipped off the back and landed squarely on her ass.

Seems funny today, but at the time, she didn't see the humor and had a bruised tailbone for weeks.

Most of us got pretty good at popping wheelies and speed shifting. I remember that the fastest I could get the machine going was 55 mph, full out on Summit Avenue headed down towards where Cheryl Towers lived. We used to encircle Bill Loftus, who had a Honda with a smaller engine. He wasn't too steady on it, either, and more than once we thought he might end up in the ditch.

I once eluded the Lakewood Police by cutting through back yards up on Winchester, shutting the engine off and pushing my motorcycle home the long way around, covering it quickly before the police figured out which red motorcycle was popping wheelies in front of Mayor Roland Rapp's house on Erie Street, right near where Randy Carlson still lives.

That's exactly the kind of story you shouldn't tell your children. My eldest son tried the same trick with his small cycle but got caught. In fact, I must have been the luckiest kid alive because I rarely got nailed for the things we were doing, but my boys - after hearing tales like this - were in constant hot water.

I've owned two other motorcycles since that Yamaha 80, a BSA 441 Victor and Yamaha 200.

The BSA Victor rarely ran. I should have learned from owning two Triumph Spitfires. The Yamaha I sold when I was about 40 and had one of those close calls that screamed - LAY THE BIKE DOWN - except that I didn't and somehow made it through a gap between a car and a truck that Chester Anderson's nose could not have fit through.

Still, seeing the photo posted with this blog reminds me of riding all the way around Chautaqua Lake on summer days - without a helmet, of course.

When the helmet law went into effect in New York, that's when my red Yamaha 80 and I said goodbye.