HOME AGAIN, HOME AGAIN
For the CFL 100th Grey Cup documentary series, 90th Parallel Productions is focusing on “The Chuck Ealey Story” by exploring the development of The Stone Thrower–my father-daughter memoir. This five-day blog series follows the road trip that will be used in this fall’s documentary.
On our flight to Ohio cameras followed us through the airport. People stared. Some ignored us. A few bravely ventured over to ask questions. Even my father, who spent much of his young adult years on film, felt uncomfortable. But it was was a powerful experience—retracing the footsteps that initiated the content of The Stone Thrower and capturing them on camera.
At the Columbus airport, in Ohio’s capital city, many people still recognized my father from his college football days in the late sixties–even though he grew up in a small town nearly two hours away. For many people, his image and accomplishments stuck out to them.
“Oh, I remember you. I’m as young as you are, Chuck!” one airport employee shouted.
It’s only my second time going to Portsmouth, and as we made the 70-mile drive from the airport to his hometown, I was filled with anticipation all over again. It was just my father and I—me asking questions, him telling stories. This time all of it caught on film for posterity, filling in the final gaps of the memoir I brought in a binder and held on my lap making edits throughout the day.
We stopped in my father’s old neighbourhood in the North End We stood by those infamous tracks where I held stones in my hands as a Norfolk train rumbled by us.
We strolled past the homes where my father lived as a child and the church where he was baptized. We stopped in at the 14th Street Community Centre, where my father attended his first dance and learned to play ping-pong. Kids road up on bikes and started to follow us. They asked if they could throw a football with my father. A boy and a young girl with a mean spiral made him earn his stripes with a few tosses of the old pigskin. One woman stopped her car on the train tracks to come and say hello to their local prodigal. A relative came by to say that he had just graduated from the paralegal program at a local college.
My father was home. And even though I didn’t grow up there, on our first day in Portsmouth, it felt that way for me also.
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