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The Ripples from Little Lake Nellie
Gary Smith
July 12, 1993
Four months after Cleveland Indian pitchers Tim Crews and Steve Olin died in a boating accident, their families and friends are coming to grips with the grief that still washes over them
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July 12, 1993

The Ripples From Little Lake Nellie

Four months after Cleveland Indian pitchers Tim Crews and Steve Olin died in a boating accident, their families and friends are coming to grips with the grief that still washes over them

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The children were playing Marco Polo off the dock where the two ballplayers died. Their mother was sitting with her knees pulled up to her chest beneath a large pink umbrella on the end of the pier. She gazed across the soft green hills that cup Little Lake Nellie, across the cypress and orange trees and the reeds.

"Marco!"

"Polo!"

"Marco!"

"Polo!"

Everything was fine as long as her neighbor kept talking and her rottweiler kept snorting and churning those crazy zigzags in the water. Just fine as long as the sun was high and the children kept playing that silly game, one of them going under for a count of three and bursting up with his eyes closed, crying out, "Marco!" and waiting for the others to shout "Polo!" and then flailing toward the voices, groping through the darkness to touch them.

Because then Jetta Heinrich's eyes wouldn't be drawn to the new wood on her dock or to the big brown barn and the rise of land just across the tiny lake where one of the ballplayers' widows lived. And she might not get that sick feeling in her stomach and the echo of the thud again in her ears, the one she heard that night, standing on her back porch in her bathrobe. She wouldn't have to leave like she'd had to nearly every time she'd tried to come out on the dock since then.

"Marco!"

"Polo!"

The dock her husband had constructed with a ramp leading up to it instead of steps, so her aunt in a wheelchair and her shuffling grandfather could join them. A dock with a bench at the end so they could sit together and watch the children belly-Hop into the water and play silly games. A place to build a family.

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