Bottled Up

Bottled Up


When I was a kid, my brother Jimmy (true child of the late-60s, early-70s that he was) painted his room in dayglo colors and glued magazine cut-outs all over his walls. All over his walls. Jimmy made that room into a happening — something that was a true reflection of who he was.

I loved that room, and in my mid-teens I was fortunate to get to live in it for a couple of years. I added a picture of my own here and there, but I could never match Jimmy’s creativity, or his knack for wackiness. Jonah had a similar knack, and a similar feeling about his room — make it into something that’s really a reflection of you.

So what did Jonah do? You know how some people love beer and save their favorite bottles? Well, Jonah hated beer; he detested all alcoholic substances. But there was one beer he did love. Root beer. Most Saturdays, when I finished at temple, I’d stop at the deli and bring home sandwiches. Always, I’d bring a root beer for Jonah. In time, it became a six-pack of root beer … to last the week. Stewart’s. In glass bottles. And unbeknownst to me (for a while, at least, until they reached “critical mass”), Jonah was saving them … caps and all.

Lady Liberty holds a torch for Root Beer (Jan 2004)

Lady Liberty holds a torch for Root Beer (Jan 2004)

He can’t have known he was going to do this. But then again, Jonah was smart. He may very well have been planning this for months. And frankly, I’m still not sure how he made this happen. But one day, I walked into his room, and there, hanging from the ceiling, were a couple of dozen empty bottles of root beer. Their caps had been put back on, and somehow he got string through those caps, and he’d attached them to his ceiling. Everywhere! It was the wackiest … coolest thing. For years, every time I walked into Jonah’s room, I’d look at those bottles suspended from above, and I’d just shake my head. And smile.
We remodeled part of our house in 2005, and Jonah moved to a new room. We lost the root beer bottle collection when the builders ripped down his ceiling.

Jonah's 14th birthday ... this is the kid who put up those bottles (Feb 14, 2004)

Jonah’s 14th birthday … this is the kid who put up those bottles (Feb 14, 2004)

The only photograph shows evidence of just one bottle. But at least I caught that one bottle on film — testimony to his very creative, somewhat off-beat approach to life. An approach that his friends, I think, will agree is very much like how Jonah was pretty much all the time. As kooky as they come. But with a powerful thread attached, God only knows how, that came loose only with demolition.

Jonah Maccabee Dreskin. The man with a smile for everyone. The man who could get a smile out of anyone. The man who, if you were falling, would toss you a lifeline — a powerful thread — and never let you go.


BillyBottled Up


Join the conversation
  • Rona - July 21, 2009 reply

    I just finished reading your entire blog.
    It is the most moving, most beautiful thing I have ever read.

  • leorakaye - July 15, 2009 reply

    luckily he has a mom and dad and brother and sister who act as that same string connecting the rest of us to what is most important – thanks for this today – needed a little reminder…

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