Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Ice Skating - Dave's Midwestern Ohio Memories

A Series of Guest Blogs by an out-of-state Fish Report reader originally from this area about fond memories of growing up in Midwestern Ohio during the 50’s & 60’s

Ice Skating


The recent dramatic weather swings brought back memories as a kid in winter when there would be a rainstorm followed by a hard freeze. The creek running through our farm would overflow its banks and flood the bottom land shown in blue on the above aerial map of our farm. Then the sudden dip in temperature would freeze the water creating a wonderful, albeit temporary, lake for us to skate on.

The following print reminded me of helping my little brother learn to skate for the first time on that frozen flood plain. Also, there was a nice hill adjacent to the bottom land that we’d take our sleds down and onto the ice, traveling a long way before coming to a stop. Great fun!

The water in the bottomland would be several feet deep right about where my sister is in the photo below. However, the depth of the water in the creek to the right of her would be about 20’ deep, so we’d steer clear of that area. It never froze over as the water was running too fast. Eventually the water would subside, leaving the ice all jagged and broken up in the bottomland. Sometimes the fragmented ice would stay there all winter until the spring thaws.


Invariably, the flooding would bring in carp that we could see swimming under the ice. I recall Dad shooting them with a .22 rifle right through the ice. He called them bottom-sucking trash fish, among other such terms of endearment!

The creek flooded frequently because it was getting silted up from upstream erosion that restricted the flow. So when I was about age 11 or so, the creek was dredged from one end to the other to improve flow and mitigate flooding. This allowed the farm land in the creek’s watershed to also drain more rapidly enhancing timely crop planting and harvesting. Seeing those big steam shovels and bull dozers in action was a real treat. After the operators would quit for the day, I’d climb up on to those big rigs and pretend to run them.

Dredging the creek had another advantage during winter in that I could ice skate all the way down to Newport after it was frozen. If you look closely on the map below, you’ll see the creek ran parallel to the old Miami-Erie canal that I had written about in this previous blogpost. During the time of the canal, the creek supplied water to two old canal feeders named Basinburg and Lickety Lakes. Lake Loramie served a similar purpose, as did Lake St. Marys. Basinburg Lake was about half way to Newport and Lickety Lake was right at the intersection of State Routes 66 and 47 in Newport. Legend has it that Lickety Lake was named after some skinny-dipping escapades, but who am I to know?


My first pair of skates were the old clip-on style that did not work too well and were a real pain to install. Finally, I saved enough allowance money @ $1.25 per week to buy some figure skates. Then later hockey skates.

Hockey was fun but the ice was always very ragged and had to also be cleared of snow. We made makeshift goals out of two-by-fours and always seemed to lose the puck and break our sticks. To this day, the whole rigamarole turned me off to ice hockey, and that’s even after living in the suburbs of Hockeytown for 43 years.

Next week, look for another post about winter sports memories.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Cracker Box Gyms - Dave's Midwestern Ohio Memories

A Series of Guest Blogs by an out-of-state Fish Report reader originally from this area about fond memories of growing up in Midwestern Ohio during the 50’s & 60’s

Cracker Box Gyms


It was fun watching via live stream Loramie’s game Saturday night at the historic Hoosier’s gym in Knightstown, IN.


Loramie played great and won the varsity game 56-49. JV lost a heartbreaker in OT 51-50. You can see the highlights here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbAdwvDcHBQ


The old gym brought back many memories of playing basketball in “cracker box gyms”, our nickname for the small basketball courts prevalent back then.


As is evident on these photos from the old Loramie gym, the backboard was mounted right to the wall and the sidelines were also walled off from the elevated bleachers. The courts in those days were so small, the foul circles intersected with the center jump ball circle. The shorter court made the game much slower, which helped prevent injuries of players banging into the walls.

The backboards were wooden as well, and they all seemed to have selective dead spots. All these factors really gave the home team a distinct advantage. On the other hand, it was a huge disadvantage for those of us used to playing on the smaller gyms when we played on a regulation-size court with a glass backboard, especially during the tournament. We could never master that “kiss off the glass” shot, plus we'd run out of gas in a hurry!

The scoreboards in the cracker box gyms were also ancient - no tenth of seconds showing on those old antiques!

All the SCAL teams had smaller gyms except Fairlawn, as the schools in Green & Perry townships had consolidated in 1952 and eventually built a new school with a regulation court. Russia’s gym was probably the smallest in the county while Botkins had a regulation size court, but with a tile floor since it also served as the cafeteria. That floor had absolutely no spring. Fortunately, all those cracker boxes are now long gone, having been demolished. But the memories go on! In fact, I have a piece of Loramie’s gym floor among my keepsakes appropriately stored according to my wife in a box of memorabilia in the attic!

Here’s an interesting article about cracker box gyms that you might enjoy.

Back to the Hoosier’s gym to wrap up this blog, it became famous in the 1986 movie called “The Hoosier’s” about a team from a small town in Indiana that won the state basketball championship in the 1950’s. Back then, all the high school basketball teams in the state played in the same class, so a small school winning it all was a rarity. Here’s a short segment from the movie:
https://youtu.be/A0VVTCnBM_I

And better yet for me, here’s my niece’s son Deegan playing point guard during Loramie's JV game on the Hoosier cracker box gym - doesn’t get any better than that.


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Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Serving Mass - Dave's Midwestern Ohio Memories

A Series of Guest Blogs by an out-of-state Fish Report reader originally from this area about fond memories of growing up in Midwestern Ohio during the 50’s & 60’s

Serving Mass


Three years ago, I had written this blogpost about my memories serving high mass on Christmas Day. The above photo taken after that mass came into my possession recently. That’s me on the front right and the alter boy behind me is my first cousin Denny, the same cousin I played K of C basketball with as described in last week’s blogpost. The server standing next to me is John, aka Spike, a classmate and close friend. Nelson, a distant cousin, is standing next to Denny. Coincidentally, I had an opportunity to get together with Nelson last week in Florida where we are both spending the winter. Joining us were several other snowbird Loramie alums pictured below, L-R, me, Frank, Doug, Tom & Nelson.


As a young boy, it was a real honor and privilege to serve mass at St. Michael’s church. We were all trained to be mass servers by our parish priest at the time, Fr. Raterman, who’s pictured below with our family (note even in the presence of our parish priest, I had my ball glove!)


Back then, being an alter boy was a lot different than today. First of all, there were no alter girls! Also, all the masses were spoken in Latin, so Fr. Raterman focused his training on the Latin responses as well as the many activities required before, during and after mass by the altar boys. Click on this video link to get a sense for the training Fr. Raterman provided.


Fortunately we did have a “cheat sheet”, sample shown above, to help us with the Latin. But an alter boy in training had to memorize all the responses in order to qualify. Fr. Raterman was also a stickler for reciting the names of all the various items the priest used during the mass as indicted in the graphics below.


At Christmas, Fr. Raterman always gave the servers a small gift. For example, we received this pin one year and another year, a small nativity crib, both of which I still have.

The most challenging aspect of serving mass was paying attention so the proper activity could be performed at the correct time. In those days, the servers had to ring a chime at the consecration. Picking up the chime without it accidentally ringing was a real challenge.

During high masses and funerals, an incense burner called the turibulum was used to sanctify the altar and body of the deceased. More than once, I recall the smoke from the incense causing a server holding the turibulum to pass out! The incense didn’t bother me; in fact, I rather liked the smell.

What caused me the most problem were the hard kneelers near the altar that made my boney knees very sore.

To this day, while attending mass, I tend to observe how the servers are doing. Without the Latin, their duties are a cakewalk. Plus they get to serve with girls!

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Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Gone Too Soon - Dave's Midwestern Ohio Memories

A Series of Guest Blogs by an out-of-state Fish Report reader originally from this area about fond memories of growing up in Midwestern Ohio during the 50’s & 60’s

Gone Too Soon


Last week, the sad news arrived that my childhood friend, Ken, had passed away after shoveling snow during the winter storm. While growing up, our families spent almost every 4th of July and New Years Eve together. Those were special holidays that we enjoyed celebrating with special people. Our parents were great friends and us kids matched up nicely age wise.


At those celebrations, we would play for hours in their old barn pictured here that provides a fitting backdrop for recent photos of Ken, a 2nd cousin on my father’s side, his lovely wife Monica, a 2nd cousin on my mother’s side, and their large family.




The get-togethers with our families would always end with a bang, as fireworks were set off each 4th and shotgun blasts at midnight on NYE. What a thrill!

Ken was active in many civic affairs around Ft. Loramie, including being a key member of the Redskin Field Crew recognized in this previous blogpost. He was also an honored veteran, who was commander of the local American Legion Post.


My childhood memories about Ken mostly centered around sports. He was a star athlete on our high school baseball team that won the district championship in his senior year.


Here’s what my sister Sara recalls about playing sports with Ken and his brother Tom:
"Recall visits back and forth, often New Years Eve, 4th of July etc. and atmosphere was especially light and fun filled. To me, personally, Ken and Tom accepted me into the male triangle to play all sports and cards. Needless to say I realize I was just a fourth person necessary to even up the sides but they never made me feel that way. Lots of laughter overhead from those adults, too."
Ken was a year older than me, so for sure he is “Gone Too Soon” as reflected in the lyrics of this song by Simple Plan.

No one will miss him more that his grandkids pictured below at a party on his 70th birthday. May his memory sustain them now and forever more. Rest in Peace, my friend.


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Tuesday, January 22, 2019

K of C Basketball - Dave's Midwestern Ohio Memories

A Series of Guest Blogs by an out-of-state Fish Report reader originally from this area about fond memories of growing up in Midwestern Ohio during the 50’s & 60’s

K of C Basketball


After graduating from high school in 1966, my two older cousins suggested I join the Knights of Columbus and play on the Council's basketball team. Dad was a long time K of C member who also encouraged me to join the fraternal organization that supported charitable work around the area. Because Ft. Loramie did not have its own Council, my Dad and cousins all had joined nearby Minster’s Council, so I soon participated in the memorable initiation ceremony held at the K of C Hall along Main Street in Minster.


Coach Ripploh
The K of C team played in the so-called the Tri-County League with about 8 other teams from Shelby, Auglaise and Mercer Counties. At the time, Russia was the defending champion and Minster came in a close second. Minster Coach Bill Ripploh wanted a championship so I and another new graduate from Minster were added to the team.

The season started in early December, and I was immediately plunged into an intensely physical style of play that I obviously had not been exposed to in high school.

The schedule included two games against each of the other teams in the league; one at home and the other away. Fortunately, we didn’t have to play Russia early in the season, which allowed our team to gel. We started slow with a 2-2 record, but by the time of the first Russia game in January, our record had improved to 6-3 after a blow-out win over Maria Stein K of C as scribed in this Community Post article.

January 5, 1967 Community Post

As a rookie, my playing time was limited, especially since I was a string bean compared the older players. I was getting seriously pushed around when driving to the basket or trying to rebound. The physical play occurred because the referees did not call fouls nearly as closely as in high school, which meant in this league I quickly learned to defend very aggressively on defense without risking fouling out. As a result, I generally came off the bench to defend whomever had the hot hand on the other team.

Bowling Green’s 1963 Basketball Team

In early-January, we traveled to undefeated Russia for our first matchup. They were led by their high school coach Elijah Chatman, an African-American from Akron who played on the same high school team as future NBA greats Nate Thurmond and Gus Johnson. Chatman (35) and Thurmond (43) both went on to play at Bowling Green where in 1963, they guided BG to a 21-4 record, a MAC championship, eventually losing to Illinois in the second round of the NCAA tournament that was eventually won by Chicago-Loyola, who BG had beaten earlier in the season.

Needless to say, Chatman had the early hot hand in our game, so off the bench I came to try and stop him. I had never guarded anybody so quick and agile! He blew me away for 18 points while I was held scoreless; losing the game by 11. But as indicated in the Community Post article that follows, we recovered in our next game to blow out New Bremen by 29 points.

January 12, 1967 Community Post

We played the final game of the regular season at home against Russia in late February after we “whipped” Maria Stein when I “bagged" 22 points. We were in second place behind 25-1 Russia and had to beat them in order to qualify for the State K of C tournament. Elijah Chatman must have been injured so was not playing. As a result, we were able to eek out a one-point win as described in this Community Post article:

February 23, 1967 Community Post

So off to the State Tournament we went, only to eventually play Russia again in the quarterfinal round. The winner earned the right to play in the semifinal game at the Cincinnati Gardens before an NBA game between the Royals and Baltimore Bullets. This time we lost by a disappointing 2 points after having an 11 point lead at halftime. I distinctly recall missing a on-and-one foul shot late in the game that could have tied it. You’ll have to ask one of the Russia players if they went on to win the State Tournament and what it was like to play at the old Cincinnati Gardens.

March 2, 1967 Community Post

That was the only season I played in the league, as I was off to college at General Motors Institute in Michigan the next year. While playing for the Minster K of C, I attended Sinclair Community College and also played for their basketball team as documented in this previous blogpost, while working at Frigidaire in Dayton to earn money for college. How I was able to do all that is beyond me now! The good news is I’m still a K of C member in good standing at our local parish council here in Michigan.

As a follow-up to a recent blogpost about the restoration of the barn on our former family farm, a cousin provided an excerpt from my uncle Tony’s memoirs about the barn on their family farm in St. Patrick's that I had turned into a blogpost back in 2016. Enjoy!

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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Band of Brothers - Dave's Midwestern Ohio Memories

A Series of Guest Blogs by an out-of-state Fish Report reader originally from this area about fond memories of growing up in Midwestern Ohio during the 50’s & 60’s

Band of Brothers


My uncle Gene and his six brothers were honored recently with a commemorative brick in the newly dedicated Veterans Memorial Park in Sun City, Florida, where uncle Gene lives and my uncle Tony is buried.


The brick shown below in a larger photo, recognized the seven brothers for their services during WWII and the Korean War.

                          Pat                      Lindy                Gene         Jerry            Hank        Tony             Ed

Three of uncle Tony’s grown children were able to also attend the dedication and are pictured below with uncle Gene.

         Karen                                  Gene                              Steve                                 Ken

This is a blow-up of the framed newspaper article about the brothers (and one brother-in-law) shown in the photo.


Here are some previous tributes to our greatest generation:

Most read blogpost about Okinawa veteran Vernie Hoying:

Veterans Day 2015:

Rosie The Riveter:

Even though I’ve written many times about my uncles who served in the armed forces, our gratitude can never be expressed adequately enough to atone for the sacrifices they and all veterans have made to fight for the cherished freedom we all enjoy.

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