My chum Joey

Shared by Curt Johnston on June 28, 2015

Joey introduced me to Frankie when Frankie slept in his crib.  I’d known Joey since we were 3 or 4.  We grew up in the CPG-metro (aka … the Colerain and Pleasant Grove Metroplex, circa 1956-57).

I don’t know when, but we likely first met up in that tiny pre-school Sunday school class at Pleasant Grove Methodist Church. Later, we started 1st grade the same day as only the second class of the year old Hilltop School. We’d watched it being built with forbidding and mixed emotions. There was no Kindergarten for us. Joey and I were thrust directly into the pandemonium of day 1, 1st grade.  I knew Joey and he knew me and we clung together among the mass of 25 or so fresh Hilltop CPG-metro 1st graders. 7th grade was our last year at Hilltop. We were shipped off to the big city’s Martins Ferry Central School for 8th. Somewhere in between 1st and 7th grade, Joey morphed to be just Joe.

We shared a mindboggling childhood so rich that it hardly makes sense. Reared by wolves would only barely approach our shared experience beyond the reaches of parental oversight. “See you Sunday!” as we departed parental oversight on Friday night by foot or bike to places unknown to camp and explore as we would. We were, after all, Boy Scouts.

News travels slowly to Los Angeles and I only just saw that Joe had succumbed to the illness I had heard about. I’ve not met the life Joe built with his family.  To those Joe left behind for only just a moment … believe, hold fast, hope, have faith, trust, and rest assured that your Joey remains alive and in my fondest memories.

The Best of times with Brother Joe

Shared by Jay Bernstein on March 21, 2011


My best times with Bother Joe , in no particular order or favorite. Just 25 of his 21,749 nights on this Earth. There didn't seem to be enough time at the cermony so I wanted everyone to know what i would have said if I was able to last night.
1.       Going to Columbus for a cup of coffee and ending up in the middle of a riot on High street following the annual Michigan –Ohio State football game.
2.       Joe and Bridget dancing the Hora at my wedding
3.       Jay partying with Joe and Bridget at their wedding at brother Franks house. “who’ll stop the rain?”
4.       Listening to John Lennon’s imagine album for the first time
5.       All night partying and being told by “ma” ‘if you can’t touch it, its too far.' We blew up Uncle max's green ashtrtya that night by seeing how many wooden matches it would takle to build a bonfire.
6.       Joe making his beef stew recipe for us. He thought alcove of garlic meant the whole bulb. We tasted garlic for a week.
7.       Drinking 22 shots of Tequila on my 21st birthday. He said I needed the 22nd shot for good luck. you allready know about joes life saving method of throwing me in my bed face down.
8.       Visiting his house with roommate Og whenever I was in Wheeling WVA selling bras to Stone and Thomas, Joseph Hornes and LS Goods.
9.       Toga party at Ogs and Joes. On the way there brother Bill and I hit a Deer with his Volkswagen. The state trooper had to write an accident report and made me wait outside the car because I was laughing so much. Then debating if we should keep the deer and take it to the toga party
10.   Climbing to the top of Washington hall all the way through to the top of the clock tower aonly to be found out by the RD and getting yelled at
11.   Acting like trees with brother Bill and John George along the Hocking river after partying all night.
12.   Tooling in his Plymouth Duster around Athens County.
13.   High times on the Plateau. I think we ordered a pizza from Dominoes delivered there.
14.   Going to Old Man caves
15.   OU reunion at Burr Oak and meeting Ambrosia and Abe for the first time.
16.   Bringing back a bottle of Tequila from Mexico, with a worm in the bottle. Thus starting the first of many Tequila parties. Joe and Bill ate the worm to see if they would hallucinate.
 all that Joe said was: ”it tasted BAAAADDDD.”
17.   Being introduced to rock and roll with the white album and LA Woman
18.   Getting into a bar room brawl outside a bar in Tin Pan Alley district of Wheeling. Joe pulled me off the guy and said ”be cool brother. We are in front of the Police station.
19.   Picketing for the release of the infamous Athens 77 after their arrest for a sit-in at the ROTC bldg. for protesting the bombings at Haiphong Harbor.
20.   Making my very first sales presentation to his Journalism class on how to go out and sell advertising for the Athens Magazine which he was editor of.
21.   Listening to Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention with dear friend John Barbaly and Joe. Who new they were the Turtles?
22.   After all his many all night political debates when he got me to see his point of view. He would do his best Stan Laurel imitation and say, “Precisely Ollie.” I think that one was only unique to me as he always acted as if he had no clue what I was talking about when I asked him to do it for others.
23.   Drink and drown night every Tuesday night at the Red Room with the Laverty brothers. All the Schlitz malt you can drink, 75cents/pitcher.
24.   Watching Joe chew and then swallow a light bulb.
25.   Visting Joe last year and watching the NFL draft together. It was one of the last 2 times I was with him and I will always cherish the time we spent together.

Party on my brother.

Shared by Nancy White on March 18, 2011

Once upon a time, Joe was my son.  Well, we had an OU family. Joe was aka Shane; named one night when we were all laughing about our alternate ending to the old movie, Shane. Joe’s “brother” was Jay aka Chester, Dave was Pa, and I was Ma. Then there were cousins, Bill, Rick and Jack. As Ma, I cared about my boys, like telling Joe (to no avail) not to build a bonfire in the glass ashtray in the middle of the living room in our Lakeview apartment.  Who knew ashtrays could explode? Or riding in the back seat of Joe’s Plymouth Duster to make sure he and the boys came back alive from tooling around the hills of Athens in the dark of night, in an altered state. Then there was that foggy (-headed) night when Joe and Jay stood on our balcony, looked down 5 floors and said, “I think I can touch that garbage bin” on the ground. Fear that they would lean over the balcony and actually try to touch the bin birthed a mother’s advice mantra… “If you can’t touch it, it’s too far”.  We wish you weren’t so far from us now, Joe. But we’ll keep you close by continuing to have our family reunions, as well as wrapping our arms and hearts around Bridget, Rosie and Abe for you.  We love you, Joe.  Nancy and Dave

Ode to Brother Joe

Shared by Jay Bernstein on March 16, 2011


I have known Joe for almost 40 years and can remember the very first time I met him. It was just after Labor Day Sept 1971 in Athens Ohio. It was one of those beautiful autumn days, that to this day, always bring a smile to my face when I think of those times. I was being dropped off at Ohio University by my parents and unloading boxes to go up to my new home on the 2nd floor of Washington Hall, worrying about leaving behind all that I had known and wondering if I will fit in. 2 boys, who were sitting on the steps watching, came over and offered to help carry some boxes. One guy had a red afro and I was wondering gee white people have afros? And the other guy was wearing a purple and white basketball shirt that simply said M.F.H.S. Well its 1971 and it was a time of protest, but Mother F....r High School? Turns out those 2 boys were Bill Laverty and Joe Lampert who actually went to Martins Ferry high school. He said he was from the Ohio Valley and that they make a lot of steel there. Yeah well I never heard of Martins Ferry. I said I was from Youngstown, and it was known as the Steel Valley and we made a lot of steel there as well. To which Joe replied, well you ever heard of Lou Groza? A fellow Browns Fan, are you kidding me? It was only just last year that he casually mentioned that his mother had graduated with Groza while we watched the Browns draft on ESPN. That was Joe, always with little tidbits of facts way before there was Google or a Wikipedia. And so began a lifelong friendship with a man I have only known as Brother Joe.
He will tell you that I encouraged him to have a positive attitude when dealing with difficulties and I will tell you he taught me to look at the world in a different way, to appreciate music,  and taught me to write down in words what I thought. That was one of Joe’s greatest gifts, his ability to get people to talk about themselves, listening with genuine interest and being able to recount those stories years later down to the last detail. Joe was insatiably curious about the world around him which led to 4 years of some of the greatest adventures I have ever had and I am eternally grateful it was Brother Joe that I shared those adventures with.
There is not nearly enough space for those adventures except to say it was really, really fun. The plateau, tooling in his Plymouth Duster, Old Man Caves, art park, turning 21 and almost dying from a Tequila overdose, ( Joe said he saved my life after 21 shots of Tequila by placing me face down in my bed so I wouldn’t choke on my vomit). The next morning he offered me a cold Rolling Rock to cure my hangover. I think maybe it was really 3 days later before I could actually get out of bed. We climbed to the top of Washington Hall through the clock tower quoting a famous mountaineer who scaled Mt Everest, “because it is there.” It was George Mallory not Sir Edmund Hillary because Joe always taught me to check my facts. It did not matter where we went because it was always fun when Joe wanted to go exploring. Road trips to the greatest concert we never saw, George Harrison, on account it was snowed out, only to end up at Brother Bill’s farm for a crazy weekend. Joe would say, “Can’t let a good party go to waste.”
We graduated in 1975 and we went our own ways and lived our lives. We kept in touch and saw each other over the years, always too infrequently but enough to know he was happy and very much loved by his wife Bridget and 2 children, Ambrosia and Abe. His greatest ambition was always to write his novel. I think he saw himself as Hunter Thompson, at least I think his writing style was influenced by Thompson if not his life itself.
It was never Joe’s intent to get sick, as Lennon once wrote, “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.”
His fight against the ravages of glioblastoma multiforme, a form of brain cancer or tumor in the brain defied all medical odds. Most people don’t survive 6-9 months, a year at the most. Joe fought with dignity for 7.5 years and really is a case study on how to deal with cancer in any form. “he once said to me, “I can’t give up, I won’t give up I will beat this thing.”
Shortly after his diagnosis, he suffered a stroke causing him to lose the ability to read, write and speak. Yet he taught himself to spell, to write letters of the alphabet, to write words and sentences and to eventually write and speak again. He did so because he believed he could and let that be his legacy. He so badly wanted to leave his mark in this world and I think he very much did.
 Art Buchwald, writing for the Washington Post once remarked, the question is not where we go when we die. Rather, what are we doing here in the first place?” He was here to bring love to a beautiful woman. He was here to create 2 wonderful children. He was here to be a great brother and a true friend. And he was here to prove that not matter what the odds are, we all have the power to overcome life’s most difficult struggles.
I also think I know what happens when people like Brother Joe leave. I shared this story with Joe after my Mom died and he wrote back and said how much he enjoyed it.
My mom grew up in the produce business in Beaver Valley Pa and was always eating fresh fruit. One day she slices open a grapefruit and discovers one of the seeds inside had a small sprout. She placed the seed in a small container and the seed quickly became a sapling. After, a couple of months and a few re-pots, she now has a small size tree growing on her patio. One day, she tells my brother, “take this tree and plant it in your yard, as it may bear fruit one day.”  That was over 15 years ago. Today you can drive by David’s house and see this enormous grapefruit tree that has over 400 grapefruits on it!
I tell this story because it really does not matter if you believe in religion or who your God is. I believe the Human race was planted here as the Tree of Life. And every now and then, that Tree produces a very special person, like Joe Lampert. And now that Brother Joe is no longer physically here, he remains in our hearts and is now sprouting  another tree somewhere in our Universe.
“Brother Jay” Bernstein 3/16/2011

Where does one begin...

Shared by Colin McNickle on March 16, 2011

Perhaps with the CrazyFoam battles at Betty's as kids...

Perhaps with Joe being the first person I trusted to critique my first serious piece of writing...

Perhaps with seeing who could get Harry Hamm's dander up the most when we worked together at the Wheeling News-Register.... (I think I won with my "NBC Proud as a Peacock" T-shirt and Mork suspenders, raggedly jeans and hole-filled sneakers... but Joe was a close second with his baggy "Asscrackistan" jeans that were 20 years ahead of their time.)

Perhaps with making more in our mileage reimbursement checks from the N-R than our salaries but knowing how to prioritize our spending -- beer from Becker's or Select Market...

Perhaps with Lampert-McNickle Productions and all those trips to all those clubs and all those beers (and all those "treats")...

Perhaps with "Rock 'n' Rollers," the local weekly radio show Joe and I did (I produced, he hosted), that gave Valley bands a leg up....

Perhaps with "whitewater rafting" on about a foot of water on the North Branch of the South Fork of the Potomac River (or was that the South Branch of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River? Or did we just imagine that at all those American Legion's we frequented on trips with pool tables and booths in the back in the corner in the dark?) in which we swore a tree limb in the water was an alligator....

Perhaps with tales of trying to mediate all those band fights.....


But perhaps it's better to begin and end simply:

    Joe had a hulluva ride. And I'm quite humbled that he allowed me to take one short jaunt of that journey with him.





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