Walk softly when you visit Lawnfield, the home of President James A. Garfield in Mentor, and for God's sake don't ask what became of that garrulous old groundskeeper. The man in question is Jim Garfield, the 79-year-old great-grandson of the President, who was born and raised on the eight-acre estate. Garfield was booted from a job at his former home late last year by the Western Reserve Historical Society, which operates the facility in conjunction with the National Park Service. "Mr. Garfield was an employee, but he resigned," says WRHS President Kermit Pike. Sources at the historic site tell a different story--of Garfield being told to turn in his keys and given his walking papers by tight-assed administrators who were threatened by his proprietary interest in the grounds, plumbing, and whatever else needed attention. Reluctant to cross swords with the keepers of the family jewels, Garfield is nonetheless adamant about the circumstances of his departure. "The word 'resign' never came from my mouth," he says. "I grew up at Lawnfield. Why would I resign from there?" Pike claims the welcome mat is still out. "I'm sure as the spirit moves him, Jim will participate," he says. Not likely, according to Garfield, who declares, "I don't go where I'm not wanted."
The coolest wrong number in town these days is at the U.S. Customs Service, which has been getting calls from people looking for Swedish massages. The reaction is not what you might expect. "When we tell people who call that we're a Federal law-enforcement agency," says one official, "they're actually not scared away, but even more intrigued."
Amnesty International will be in town next week hoping to jolt Stun Tech, a Bedford Heights firm that manufactures tasers, stun guns, and other electro-shock equipment. AI Deputy Executive Director Curt Goering is speaking at the City Club on June 8, where he will release a report condemning the growing use of electro-shock technology by law-enforcement agencies and calling for an outright ban on the stun belt. "It's essentially torture by remote control," contends Goering, noting that in a California courtroom last year, a belt-wearing defendant was electro-shocked for repeatedly interrupting a judge. "I guess we should go back to using a ball and chain," says Stun Tech President Dennis Kaufman, who claims that his electronic restraint reduces the chance of injuries to prisoners and their keepers. Not if the inmate has heart problems or epilepsy, counters Goering, who is also worried about the U.S. exporting instruments of torture. Stun Tech does $1 million in annual sales, of which 99 percent are domestic, according to Kaufman, who wishes he were sharing the podium with Goering. "I'm sorry I wasn't invited to spar with him," Kaufman says. "I would gladly accept that invitation."
Talk about a burn! The Rib Cook-Off at Burke Lakefront Airport got so crowded Friday night that hungry customers were refused admittance--some after paying $10 to park in the municipal lot across the freeway. The mood wasn't much better inside, where there were long lines just to buy a "smart card," the plastic version of food and beverage tickets. Handling the card was especially good fun on Saturday night, when there wasn't a napkin to be found. Next year: pre-basted sticky cards.
Rib recipes and hot tips to email@example.com.