Be careful when you open your voice mail. Marge Schott might come hurtling out of a mosh pit.
"I wish you were 10 years old," said M.A. Brown of Bevis. "What you wrote about Marge - saying people call her a 'crazy old lady' - I'd come down to The Enquirer and slap your cheeks."
"Someday, you'll be old, too," another woman said. "And don't use my name. I'm an old lady."
"I am so steamed!" hissed Al Spiry of Oakley. "Your Marge Schott column took three hours to get over. It was Mickey Mouse stuff, National Enquirer stuff."
It was about Marge not speaking for Cincinnati. Her wrong-headed praise of Hitler - "He was good at the beginning, but he just went too far" - speaks for a misinformed person. Not a community.
"Marge is not one loud voice. She is one big mouth," said a caller who wished to remain nameless because she has FOM (Friends of Marge) for neighbors.
Jean Barnes wrote from Milford to praise Marge: "Ms. Schott said nothing that was offensive. . . . It is refreshing to hear her speak from the heart."
"There was no need to do a chop job on Marge," protested Edwin Marcotte of Wyoming. "Hitler, like Marge, is being used as a scapegoat. He did start out OK. What she said was correct."
"Hitler was a louse," began Bob Walden of Bridgetown. "I flew 25 missions over Germany during World War II as a ball-turret gunner in a B-17. So, I'm no fan of Hitler. But you're giving Marge a good kick in the butt for saying something other people have said."
David Konover of Clifton took a higher road. "As an 88-year-old Jew, I have long since reached the stage where I am amused rather than get my shorts uncomfortably in a twist at all the continuing proofs that verify what fools these mortals be."
"When Marge speaks, just consider the source." - Bob Johnson, Westwood.
"She's just an ignorant, sad old lady." - Sue Murphy, College Hill.
"I am sick and tied of everyone telling me that Marge Schott speaks for me and everyone where I live," an exasperated Marilyn Birmingham protested by phone from Edgewood. "This woman speaks only for herself."
Mace and Pepsi
My column criticizing all parties concerned when moshers helped turn Pepsi Jammin' on Main into a tear-gassed street festival drew this fax from Joe Marusin of Villa Hills: "Have you ever tried to converse with a gas mask on, or with gas around you?"
Matt Smerdel of Eastgate moshed at Jammin' and lived to tell about it. "I know it's scary. I could land on my head. But the danger adds to the rush I get when I'm up there crowd surfing."
The audience at the 1996 Cincinnati Flower Show didn't riot when Kroger's fruit and vegetable display - designed by produce-man Eddie Ivers - won the best of show medal. But the award did tick off some flower-lovers. My column on Mr. Ivers brought out his new fans.
"Those snobbish plant experts are so small," said Madge Walton of Mount Washington. "Hooray for Eddie!"
Judy Haas of Dayton, Ohio, saw the Kroger display as "a work of art.
"Too bad those so-called horticulture specialists are crying foul. Congrats to Eddie. He deserves the medal."
One last item follows an April column on John Wallen, maintenance mechanic at Beech Acres, a children's services agency. In 1985, he stored a child-size coffin in the agency's basement. The coffin was for a gravely ill 2-year-old girl from a dirt-poor family.
For months, he checked on that coffin. As long as it was there, he knew the little girl was alive. One day it was gone.
Mr. Wallen remembered the coffin this spring as he built a cafeteria in the Beech Acres basement. He wanted the room named after the girl so "she would be remembered by more people than just me."
His bosses have gone him one better. They've named an annual employee award for extraordinary work after the little girl. On June 6, Mr. Wallen - because of his sensitivity and concern - becomes the first recipient of Beech Acres' Leasia Nicole Black Award.
He never met Leasia. But the 2-year-old's short life taught him this lesson: "Every day is a gift."
Cliff Radel's column appears in The Enquirer Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Available to speak to groups. Tips and comments most welcome. Call 768-8379 or fax at 768-8340.