The mold in the air ruins my Fall. This is the third or fourth year I’ve had this problem. I wake up to use the bathroom and upon standing I am so dizzy I almost fall. Exercise helps, so I set out Tuesday morning for my new walk. I still walk down through Haight Village to Morgan Street, but instead of crossing the river on the new Morgan Street Bridge, I cross the road before the bridge, then walk down the gentle slope to just above the river. There is a trail under the bridge leading to the new pathway to the walking bridge the Mayor wrote about in one of his Facebook posts.

I love the new walking bridge. I think we should name it after the mayor. It would be a long standing tribute to the time he has invested making our downtown better. I love standing over the rushing waters listening to the noise of the dam with all the wonderful old Rockford buildings visible above the river. It’s really a knockout. The fishing is pretty good too judging from the stringers have seen. I think it has something to do with the oxygen in the water due to the dam.

As I walk I think about the stuffiness in my head. I wonder if there is something that will help me get through this fall season. I stop for breakfast at Magpie (sausage and eggs) and then on my way home decide to stop at the Downtown medical clinic and Downtown Discount Pharmacy. Dr. Ram had given me some Zyrtec but it had no effect. Raj the pharmacist suggests I try Claritin but he says it will take several days. I think it is beginning to work.

The following day I walk the old way across the big bridge (it is a little longer walk and I am feeling like I can walk more this morning) and stop at Magpie again. When I get there Stephanie asks if I have read the newspaper. I never read the Rockford paper anymore unless someone tells me about a specific article and so I say no. She tells me that Frank Schier is in the hospital. He is having a very hard time with his health.

(Frank and I go back for what is now almost thirty-five years. He worked for me as a bartender when I opened the Old Rock River Café in 1982. He was the original bartender in the part we then “called” the Irish Rose, what had been the Head Pin Lounge in the State and Madison building. We wanted to have a bar in that space but we did not want to call it a saloon or tavern etc. so we just called it the Irish Rose. In 1990 when we moved to our present location we decide to keep the Irish Rose name instead of the Old Rock River Café. A good choice I think.

But back to 1983, or so. John berry painted Gothic vines on the window. I wanted to copy the black and white photos of the Irish poets and playwrights that adorned the walls of my favorite pub in Chicago, O’Rourke’s. We found some old windows in the basement that used to be part of the window displays from the John Carlson Menswear store. It had occupied the space in the front part of the building where a company called the Woodstock Century Corporation then built a restaurant they called Gentleman Jim’s. The windows were too big for the photos we had enlarged to fill them so we decided to put a quote from each of the writers underneath.

Frank ran a contest to choose the appropriate quote for each of the poets. The prizes were all in numbers of glasses of Guinness and Jamie Johannsen (nee Bailey) won them all. I remember she had one hundred sixty-five gasses of Guinness to use up. I believe she had a party. John berry did the calligraphy under those pictures. It is still visible upon close inspection at the present local.

I wrote a column for Frank for about a dozen years. I quit in 2008 when George Bush had destroyed the economy and I really need to pay attention to my business. I definitely miss it. Some would say that my column helped the sustainability of the Irish Rose in those early days, I can’t help but think it did. I think that’s why I am doing this blog today. I miss my time at the Rock River Times.

I call the hospital (Swedish American) and inquire of the floor nurse whether Frank can receive visitors. She comes back to the phone and says that he would prefer it be after three PM. I remember having my heart attack and the people who came to see me in the hospital. The mayor (Larry) came with Jim Thacker. My friend John Augustsson came with his girlfriend and the other person who visited was Frank. I am finishing this blog and walking down to Swede’s because my van is at Clendening’s having some body work done. I am going to see my old friend Frank.