|Brad in Delaware - 1980|
Yesterday I received an e-mail notice that a FAG (Find a Grave) volunteer had taken photos of a grave that I had requested.
The photos were of the final resting place of Bradley Richard Corrill of Cincinnati, Ohio.
Regular readers of this blog and those who know my history will remember the name "Brad."
They will remember that at one time of my life I almost threw away my life because I was so in love with Brad.
A brief history:
I met Brad, or to be more accurate Brad met me at the Drury Lane Bar in center city Philadelphia in the summer of 1980.
I was still with Bill but temporarily separated. Bill and I had sold our house in Philly before our new house was completed in Downingtown, Pennsylvania. I had advised Bill to quite his job and stay at our new house under construction. Bill lived in the basement while the house was being constructed.
I leased a small apartment on Spruce Street in center city Philly for a year, until our house was completed. For the first time since I had moved in with Bill in 1965, I was on my own. My fantasy realized, to live in center city Philly, in walking distance of not only work but the gay social life.
And that's when I met Brad. I'll try to keep this sad story short. I could literally write a nice sized book about that Summer of 1980.
Anyway, back to my narrative. It was during a weekday night that I sauntered into the Drury Lane bar, a bar I never frequented. I don't know what possessed me that night to go in but I did.
Shortly after securing my gin and tonic (my gay bar drink of choice), I saw this good-looking guy across the bar giving me The Look.
After I returned his look he came over to me and introduced himself. I was immediately smitten. And I don't easily become smitten.
We had a pleasant conversation and then it came time for the "your place or my place?" question. He said he was "staying with friends." I later found out (much later) that he had been thrown out of where he was staying, with a bartender he had met earlier in the year when he moved from his home in Cincinnati to live happily forever.
|Me and Brad shortly after our fist meeting - the "Magic" was there|
We went back to his "friends" place (for a few hours). I told him I had an apartment and that he could stay there until he found another place.
Thus began a Summer Fling that almost ruined my life.
Turned out that as attractive as Brad was and his helpless puppy dog demeanor, he was not interested in me at all except for a place to live. But I was smitten.
I don't want to speak ill of the departed but I have to say that I was tested that summer.
|A smitten Ron being protective - fool that I was|
Brad was an alcoholic. He was a drug addict. Foolishly I thought I could "save" him. Fool that I was.
I remember one time I got him a job interview and he not only showed up late but showed up drunk. I was so embarrassed.
I remember the two times I took him with me on vacation to Provincetown, Massachusetts and he promptly hooked up with someone else, leaving me alone.
|Brad and I in Provincetown, Mass July 1980 - during a whale watching expedition - wine was served on this outing|
I remember the times I came back to my apartment and he had someone else there who, when I asked that person who they were told me "Who are you?" I replied "I'm the person paying rent on this apartment."
I threw Brad out twice from my apartment only to take him back each time. One time as I was leaving work, walking through Rittenhouse Square I passed him sitting on a bench alone. This was about a week after the second time I threw him out of my apartment. He said "Hi!" as I passed. Weak willed as ever, and a sucker (no pun intended) for homeless puppies I asked him "Why are you here?" He told me he had no place to live. Again, I took him in. I gave him the keys to my apartment.
That only lasted about a week. I came home again one day after work and again, he had someone in MY apartment. I threw the uninvited visitor out. Brad and I got into a loud argument. He was drunk (or on drugs, I could never tell which). I was shouting at him. He kept telling me "Shut up! Shut up!" I wouldn't. Then he lunged towards me and threw his forearm on my neck, causing me to fall to the floor.
I was choking. I couldn't get my breath. I thought I was going to die.
I began thrashing about, trying to get my breath. All I could think of was that I didn't have a chance to take a deep breath before he cut off my oxygen by his arm on my windpipe.
In my thrashing about my left leg hit the temperature attachment on the radiator heater. The impact of that metal attached cut my left ankle causing blood to spurt all over the floor.
Brad, realizing what he was doing, released his hold. I gasped for breath.
Brad kept saying "Oh I am so sorry, so sorry!" He kept repeating himself.
Brad was a gentle person by nature and this outburst of him and his physical attack on me was so unlike him. I admit I was being a bitch with my shouting and anger and I would not shut up. But he shut me up, that's for sure when he almost choked me to death. Folks, that was the nearest I came to dying.
After I gained my breath back I attended the blood that was flowing from my ankle. Since it was so close to the bone, and thank goodness I didn't break my ankle, it was easy to stopped the bleeding.
That violent episode calmed us down and brought us back to reality.
I realized then and there that I had to permanently separate ourselves because no good would come of our continued relationship, such as it was. I was still hopelessly in love with Brad he didn't feel the same way about me.
He said at one time he did but one day "It just went away." That was so hurtful for me to hear.
I spent most of those summer months of 1980 trying to reignite our "magic" but it was not to be. Brad was in love with that bartender (named Jerry) and was only using me to have a place to live.
I wanted to save Brad but there is no "saving" an alcoholic and drug addicted person. Again, I mean no ill will towards Brad's friends and relatives but folks, this was my experience with your friend and relative.
Brad was a nice person. I felt like I had to protect him. And I thought he wanted to have a life with me. He didn't and thank goodness he didn't because if he did, then I wouldn't be with Bill now. And what a saint Bill was, to stick with me though all that.
The next day after The Episode, I told Brad he had to leave. I suggested that he go to his home in Cincinnati. He had friends there and a place to live. I gave him $100 and a one way bus ticket to Cincinnati.
Of course shortly after he left I called him. He took my calls a few times but then stopped taking my calls. I wrote him letters. Long, feeling sorry for myself letters, professing my love for him and forgiveness but he never answered my letters. I suffered greatly that summer folks, greatly.
I will always remember that Summer of 1980. It ended with the assignation of John Lennon and the Philadelphia Phillies winning the World Series.
That was the year I retreated from the active Gay Life. No more intense affairs for me. Domesticity was my life.
A few years ago I sent out a Christmas card to Brad as well as some others I hadn't heard from in years. Brad wrote me back. I was surprised to hear from him. Interestingly my "feelings" for him had disappeared. No longer there. No hate, just nothing.
He suggested visiting me here in Delaware but he told me he would not stay with me and would expect me to cover his expenses. Those days were over folks. I didn't answer.
He did ask me one more favor. To send him the "porn" picture that I had taken of him during one of our Provincetown visits. I said "Sure, I would be glad too" and I did. Said photo is below:
|Brad in Provincetown - 1980|
I talked to Brad on the phone, even though he was hard to understand. I asked him how his life had been since he left Philadelphia (never to ever return) in 1980. He said it was good. He had friends and someone to take care of him, which is what he needed.
|And older Brad (on the right) with his friends his hometown Cincinnati, Ohio|
Instead I went on to a happy life as apparently Brad did when he returned to his hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio.
See how fortunate I have been in my life? I am so lucky.
When Brad died one of his friends sent me an e-mail telling me he died. I appreciate the kindness and thoughtfulness of his friend to show me that courtesy. Brad must have had very good friends.
|Brad in Cincinnati - 2014|
Brad is at rest now. But you know folks, for as contentious as our brief summer fling was, it was an experience I will never forget and there was some good that came of it. For both of us.
I do believe life has a meaning, even though sometimes it doesn't turn out the way we expect it to.
Seeing Brad's gravestone, or bench yesterday brought back all this flood of memories. Something I feel I should put down in writing before I depart from this earth.
Thanks for listening to my story. (note: the three friends also featured in this video are also gone. I alone survive).