Mother's suit against son unfortunate but amusing

This Just In . . .

April 09, 1999|By DAN RODRICKS

THIS UNHAPPY but nonetheless amusing business of Jeffrey Levitt's 87-year-old mother suing her son, the paroled savings and loan swindler, made me wonder: Could it happen to me? To any of us? Imagine, a mother turning on her son like that. But you never know these days. You've heard that expression, "Everyone and his brother is suing someone." It could just as likely be, "Everyone and his mother." And, as newspaper editors used to tell their cubs: "If your mother says she loves you, check it out."

So, just to make sure everything was OK between her and me, I telephoned my mother, the former Rose Popolo, 85, of Plymouth County, Mass. (The following conversation is based on my notes. No electronic recording device was used.)

"Hi, Rosie, what're you doing?"

"Just finished supper," she said. "I had fresh asparagus. How's everyone down there?"

"Fine. How're you doing, Ma?"

"Good. Just finished watching Tom Brokaw."

"Everything OK?"

"Yup."

"No problems?"

"No, why? What's the matter?"

"Nothing."

"Your nephew, Timmy, got engaged last night."

"That's nice. To a girl, right? The one he's been going with a long time?"

"Sure," my mother laughed, pronouncing "sure" in two syllables: "Shoe-wah."

"Say, Rosie, you're not mad at me, are you?"

"Mad? Of course not. Don't be foolish. For what?"

"I don't owe you money or anything, do I?"

"No. Why?"

"Just wanted to make shoe-wah. ... You haven't spoken to Bobby McCarthy, the lawyer, lately, have you?"

"No. What for?" Rosie laughed, cutting "four" in two: "Foe-wha."

"There's a guy down here, used to be a big-shot savings and loan president. His 87-year-old mother is suing him."

"Oh, my God. For what?"

"She says he used her credit cards and ran up the accounts, and took her money in some kind of stock deal."

"He stole money from her?"

"That's what she says. The son swears to God he did nothing illegal, which is different, you know, from sleazy."

"Is it in the paper? Send me a copy."

"OK."

"This guy, is his mother loaded?"

"Loaded? I think she might be well-to-do, but I don't really know."

"I hate credit cards. Never use 'em. I do everything cash and carry."

"Ma, I don't owe you anything, money-wise, right?"

"No."

"And it was OK I took that old oil lamp from the basement, right?"

"Shoe-wah."

"You're not going to sue me for stealing from you, are you?"

"You couldn't steal from me. I'd slap your hands before you could. ... So, that's nice about Timmy getting engaged, huh?"

Very nice. A relief, really.

Hockey stars, signs of spring

Hockey fans: Look for Ivan Labre, former Caps star, and Gordie Lane, retired from the Caps and the one-time Stanley Cup champion New York Islanders, tomorrow at Mount Pleasant Ice Arena, a fund-raiser for the children of the late Calvin Lauf. Exhibition games start just after 3 p.m. Admission is $5. ... The vast majority of Maryland legislators don't even question the state granting $44 million in loans and tax credits to a company that posted a profit of $390 million last year. Did we really think they'd be bothered by the way Marriott International dealt with the state in its pursuit of this corporate welfare? As Emily Litella used to say: "Never mind." ... Signs of spring: Cherry blossoms, tulips, the shad running up the bay, and UPS men in shorts.

A 'Kirk' of art

I brought home an original "Kirk" the other day -- a 12-inch cardboard church with a colorful decoupage of jungle animals on its four sides, a cardboard cockatoo and a Popsicle cross on its roof, a rubber praying mantis by the front door.

"It's a bank," says the artist, Robert Kirkendall, showing me the coin slot he cut into the roof. "People like 'em."

And for only $6.

The "animal kingdom" church was a hit in my house. (We really like the praying mantis headed for service.) It's one of dozens of whimsical pieces Kirkendall has made in his small apartment in the rear of a building on Belair Road in Northeast Baltimore, near the popular Woodlea Bakery. Kirkendall, who's 57, tells me he grew up in foster homes. He used to live at Rosewood Center, too. Through the help of the Baltimore Association for Retarded Citizens, he's been on his own for a few years. And during that time, he's returned to a hobby he developed when he was younger -- making things from scraps of cardboard, paper, tape and glue.

I watched him the other day, working a razor blade against cardboard in a warm splash of morning sunlight on his kitchen table. He glued together pieces of a box, strips of brown paper from a shopping bag, and small tubes to make a ship with two smokestacks. He used small squares of ceramic tile for portholes.

Kirkendall makes a lot of ships, from a foot to 3 feet long. He's made churches, houses and forts, too. He coats them with cutouts from newspapers and magazines, and adorns them with plastic action figures or costume jewelry he picks up at flea markets. Sometimes he'll stick a clock in one, to give the piece utility.

Utility is beside the point. Kirkendalls are fun pieces. Interpreting them is optional.

"People like 'em," is all Kirkendall says when I ask why he coated the sides of two churches with illustrations of stock cars.

Six months ago, Pat Hornburg, a BARC support specialist, arranged for Kirkendall to offer some of his pieces for sale in a place where they'd be appreciated -- the American Visionary Art Museum. Just this week, he sold a couple.

This could be the start of something big. Glad I got into the "Kirk market" early.

Pub Date: 04/09/99

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