As a displaced South Sider, I was grieved at the passing of Mike Myler, 71, of Morgan Park.
I first noticed Mike as a teenager while watching him and his friends play softball at Munroe Park. Mike was playing with a cast on his arm that extended from his hand to his shoulder, the result of one of life’s disasters. He swung the bat one-handed with a modicum of success and rounded the bases, lugging his casted arm along with him.
My first impression was that this guy was nuts, but as the game wore on, everyone at the park came to admire his dogged single-mindedness. In retrospect, Mike’s determination was to not allow his injury to interfere with the natural rhythms of softball and beer that are inherent to the dusty fields of Munroe Park.
Mike died on June 14 in the same accommodating manner, managing to have a heart attack and expire before gravity rendered him supine.
I was dedicated to the grape and grain at various taverns. Mike was complicit—much to my benefit and entertainment. I always felt a big smile stretch my face when Mike entered a saloon with his sad, hang-dog face, shuffling like a loyal bloodhound to an adjacent stall at the trough.
Mike was a man of curiosity. He absorbed the small aspects of the human condition and opined—sometimes quite uniquely—on our peccadillos and their solutions. He was piquant and interesting, doling out his often-unorthodox wisdom with the squinty-eyed intensity of an ancient storyteller.
Mike once told me that while hitchhiking home from St. Leo High School, the former heavyweight champion of the world, Ezzard Charles, picked him up in an immaculate, two-toned 1953 Buick. Mike described how—all the way home—the former world champion related story after story with humility and humor.
That’s how I like to remember Mike, all the way home.