Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Summertime in Osgood - 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

Summertime in Osgood

The highlight of our summers was visiting our uncle, aunt and cousins in Osgood. My aunt Dettie was the closest sister in age to my mother. Both are shown in this photo along with their other sisters. Dettie is on the lower left and Mom upper right. All were in their 20’s and obviously enjoying life before kids!

After getting married to uncle Paul, aunt Dettie got pregnant about the same frequency as mom, since all their kids matched up age-wise with me and my siblings (more evidence to be presented later). So needless to say, we had tons of fun visiting them in Osgood at their home shown here located at the corner of Main & Church Streets.

My uncle worked at Minster Machine but also had a large chicken farm, which included a barn where the baby chicks were raised, then were moved to a gigantic chicken coop when they reached egg laying age. I recall the eggs would roll out in front of the nests. Before automation, my cousins recall collecting eggs in wire baskets from long wooden laying boxes that their dad had made and attached to the walls. Then they'd wash them in the egg washer, buff out by hand any remaining dirty spots, put them in egg cases, and store them in a large walk-in cooler until they were picked up by the egg processor. They don’t really remember much about the automation, but were thrilled to lose that job.

For them, raising chickens was totally different than how our much smaller flock was tended to on the farm. It was egg gathering the old fashioned way, which I hated since the chickens would always peck at my hand as I reached in for its eggs.

Looking at this aerial view of their Osgood home now reveals, likely in the name of progress and a more lucrative financial outcome than chicken farming, that the coop and barn have been demolished and new homes built in their place. That was not my uncle’s doing, but the subsequent owners since the family moved to Sidney on another small farm about the time I was in high school.

As a kid their Osgood homestead provided many memorable times. I distinctly recall their back yard had a handmade swing set and an awesome sandbox under a tree. The sand box had places to sit along the sides and was filled with lots of clean sand.

We'd spend hours on that ole swing set and in the sandbox, playing with my cousin’s Tonka toys that were perfect for constructing roads, bridges and buildings in the sand using only our imagination as a blueprint.

Their place was right across the street from St. Nicholas church in Osgood. During one visit as a teenager long before getting my drivers license, I recall giving my cousins a ride in Dad’s car around that huge church parking lot since in those days, he always left the keys an unlocked car. Having driven tractors since about age 8, it was a snap, but I’m really glad to have never gotten caught or damaged the car!

We’d ride bikes around the big church parking lot, and also head downtown to purchase pop, candy and baseball cards at the local store. In later years, my mom’s brother managed the local grain elevator in Osgood so no doubt my younger siblings and cousins would stop by to say hi to him. For certain, no bike ride was complete without ending up at the ball field next to the school west of town for a game of sandlot baseball. The school has been torn down, but at least the ball diamond still exists as part of a Community Park.

Capping off a summertime visit to our cousins was always a fabulous chicken dinner barbecued over a makeshift charcoal grill that uncle Paul had handmade out of a 55 gallon drum and some grated steel. Dad and Paul would sip their beers all afternoon while slow roasting the chicken on the grill. No doubt some of that beer also ended up on the chicken to dowse the occasional charcoal flair-up. They also basted the chicken with a secret recipe shown below, which gave the chicken a unique, mouthwatering flavor. We now make is with much less salt! Try it sometime, you’ll like it!

Summertime is also a great time for family reunions. Here’s a photo of the 2018 family members who attended this years event held this past weekend at Ft. Loramie park. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it.

And here’s a photo of the 1948 reunion attendees held at the now demolished St. Patrick’s school. Mom & Dettie are side-by-side right in the middle. Mom always kidded her mother (upper right) about this photo because her bra strap was hanging out! There are 8 relatives who attended both - can you pick them out? I didn’t attend that reunion either, being only 6 months old and with the baby sitter! Traditionally, the reunion is held in August, and coincidentally (or not), my sister and Dettie’s second child were both born on the same day the following year in May, nine months later. Hmmm!!

Enjoy your summer.

Friday, August 10, 2018

2018 SCAL Cross Country Preview

The Shelby County Preview hosted by Russia opens the season on August 21st

Even though many local cross country runners have been conditioning since the beginning of July, official practice got underway August 1st and it looks to be another exciting season for both the high school girls and boys. Last year you may remember I predicted the D-III girls in this area would be as loaded as they've been in long time. That was never more evident than the District Meet when an absolute bumper crop of young talent emerged and a couple weeks later the perennial favorite Minster Lady Wildcats took home the gold trophy at state. The local boys teams were strong as well, only it was juniors and seniors who seemed to shine the brightest in the biggest races.

The Shelby County Athletic League had a fantastic 2017. On the girls side, Ft. Loramie broke Russia's 5-year streak winning the league title and followed that up with an impressive 4th-place finish at the state meet. The Lady Raiders kept a different streak in tact however, qualifying for the state meet a remarkable sixth consecutive year. On the boys side, Ft. Loramie rode the momentum from their state title in 2016 and won the SCAL, District, Regional, and finished 7th at National Trail Raceway in Hebron. The Houston boys also became a team on everyone's radar and wrapped up their season with the program's first-ever trip to state.

This year the SCAL girls return a majority of the talent from 2017 and below are my top five runners I'll be keeping my eyes on when the Preview opens the season on Tuesday, August 21st:

Houston senior Hollie Voisard had a breakout season in 2017

Everyone around Shelby County will be pointing at the Ft. Loramie girls as the team to beat in the league. In addition to the three runners listed above, sophomores Corynn Heitkamp and Caitlyn Gasson are back from fantastic freshman seasons and will likely be challenged by 3-4 new freshman making their debuts. I envision Russia securing that second spot in the SCAL with seniors Claire Meyer and Anna Fiessinger chasing Becca Seger to give the Raiders a nice top three. The key for Russia will be their 4 and 5 runners who appear to be junior Clare Caldwell and perhaps freshman Ella Hoehne at this point. Botkins is super young and a real question mark for me right now. The Lady Trojans have a lot of potential and I see sophomore Emma Koenig as their leader this fall. Houston has a bona fide star in senior Hollie Voisard who I expect will make a return trip to state. The Lady Wildcats also bring in freshman Ava Knouff who won a number of junior high races the past two seasons. Finally, the Anna girls are in rebuilding mode in my opinion and their best performers just might be freshman this year.

The SCAL boys were hit a little harder with graduation this past spring, but my top five include an impressive list of veterans and one underclassman I'm looking forward to watching in a few weeks:

Jake Rethman and Joe Ballas lead a strong senior class in the SCAL

This might sound redundant, but the league favorites on the boys side is Ft. Loramie. They've won the previous three years and even after graduating two of their top four from 2017, I believe junior Jordan Drees steps up to #3 for the Redskins this year and will be followed by senior Gavin Schulze and junior Evan Luthman. Challengers for the SCAL title will be plentiful however, and I'll start with Houston and the 18 boys that showed up for the first day of practice. Along with the two seniors above, throw in classmate Jacob Slater, and juniors Blake Jacobs and Patrick Meiring all back with experience from state and hungry to return. Botkins graduated their top runner and only state representative from last year in Austin Fullenkamp. No need to feel sorry for the Trojans though because Austin's brother Alan is back after a great freshman season, as are junior Elliott Goubeaux and sophomores Donovan Brown and  RJ Poeppelman. By the way, the black & gold are oozing with talent in the freshman class having five of the top eleven 8th-grade runners in last year's league meet. Anna is another program smiling about their youth. After junior Jacob Robinson mentioned above, I believe three freshman will have a big impact beginning with last year's SCAL junior high champ Lucas Smith, Colin Frilling and Holy Angels transfer Hayden Schmidt. Russia has a rich tradition of success, but after a 6th-place finish in last year's SCAL, the Raiders have plenty of work ahead once again. Top returnees are senior Gavin George and junior Andrew Deloye, along with sophomores Nick Caldwell and Jonathan Bell. Jackson Center will look to an athletic duo to lead them in junior Christopher Elchert and senior TJ Esser. Lastly, at Fairlawn I anticipate their top runner to be sophomore Alan Asher.

Finally, like every year, I'm certain there will be a lot of surprises and a few disappointments as the 2018 season flies by. The only thing for sure is that Fish Report will be tracking it all from August through November. Stay tuned for more and get out to a race if you can!

Lucas Smith of Anna and Olivia Borchers of Ft. Loramie are fab freshman to watch

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

No Smokin' - 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

No Smokin'

Recently my brother and I played in my Club’s golf invitational; although we didn’t win, we had a great time. My brother enjoys a cigar while golfing so as he was playing a hole, he suddenly realized his lighted cigar was on a cigar holder like shown above stuck into the ground near the green of the previous hole. Since our group had a fore caddy to help hunt for lost balls, rake sand traps, clean golf balls and tend to the flag, we sent him in our cart to the previous hole to retrieve the cigar while we finished putting out. By the time we got to the next tee, he was just returning with cigar in hand, but no holder! Somehow that had disappeared. But the sight of this young kid holding a lit cigar reminded me of an escapade from my youth.

Back when I was about 8 years old, during a wedding at the Osgood Legion, a few of my cousins and I were able to latch onto a cigar that traditionally in those days was handed out by the groom after the wedding dinner. So here we were behind the wedding hall, matches in hand, lighting up our first cigar and passing it around for a whiff. After a few puffs, I became white as a sheet and felt really lightheaded. Soon I began “tossing my cookies” behind some bushes, drawing a big laugh from my cousins, until suddenly one of them started as well. Soon the entire bunch of us were sick as dogs! I recall spending the whole evening in the back seat of my parents car, periodically sticking my head out the window to barf! Not a pretty picture, but I sure learned my lesson by not ever getting into the smoking habit thanks to that dreadful incident.

I do recall a year or so later; however, watching an episode of the Beverly Hillbillies with Granny making a corn cob pipe that we kids had to try making as well. We stuffed it with corn silk and lit it up. It tasted so bad that the experience just reinforced my earlier disaster with the cigar.

And once during college, I took a puff of a friend's stubby marijuana joint, which burned the back of my mouth terribly, so for the third time, I again swore off smoking of any kind. So just like Bill Clinton, I never inhaled!

All these negative smoking experiences occurred before it was proven to cause cancer, so I’m thankful to have learned some early life-saving lessons. 
My parents did smoke at that time; Mom Viceroy’s and Dad Winston's. I couldn’t stand the smell of their burning cigarettes and was really glad when they quit in the late 60’s. However, I’ve found cigar smoke much more tolerable, especially outdoors in a golf cart. Wonder if our fore-caddy took a drag on my brother’s cigar while returning to the next hole? Unlikely, as he never missed a beat tending to his caddy duties.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Pouring Cement - 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

Pouring Cement

Our next door neighbors were recently re-doing the landscaping on their yard and while the work was underway, I noticed the landscaping company was about to remove and discard the above cement slab from the yard. It was created by the family who had previously lived there. They had three young children as commemorated by the footprints in the concrete and shown in the photo below.

The children's grandparents were all deceased, so we, in a way, filled that role for them. Fortunately we had stayed connected over the years, even though they were transferred overseas, but were in the process of repatriating back. So I texted them offering to save the concrete slab if they’d like. They immediately responded yes, so Sunday, the family came over to pick it up for placement in the yard of their new home. It was great seeing our old neighbors and their kids again.

This occurrence made me recollect times growing up as a kid when we’d leave our mark on any cement that Dad would be pouring around the farm. We would have plenty of time to scope out what to put on the cement as it took some time for Dad to set up the forms and mix the cement. Then as it was hardening after Dad had left to do something else, we’d do our thing in the cement before it fully set.

No doubt Dad got a kick out what he discovered when he removed the forms a day or so later. However, some were accidental. I can recall my young brother walking across the entire floor of a hog stable that Dad had poured earlier. The footprints were quite deep and no doubt are still there. Hogs didn’t care, but Dad sure did!

Sometimes my sisters would pretend they’d be movie stars just like on the sidewalk at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood.

But most of the time we simply wrote our name, initials or the year.

When older, I enjoyed helping Dad with the cement work, digging trenches for foundations, setting up the forms, adding rebar, mixing the materials for the cement (sand, gravel, cement and water) and finally pouring the cement. Dad would sometimes have me throw boulders in the bottom of the foundation trenches to save cement. I also remember a couple times burying a time capsule with some of our drawings or newspaper articles inside a tin can.

One cement project that unfortunately Dad never accomplished was to pour a basketball court in front of our garage. To improvise, I played on a cement pad outside our milking parlor where the cows were left out after being milked. I hung a rim and net from the barn and could play basketball between milkings; however, since the cows had a habit of pooping just as they were released outside, it meant dodging cow paddies while dribbling!

For posterity, be sure to inscribe something on the next wet cement you run across!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Making Hay - 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

Making Hay

This time of year on the farm while growing up was always an extremely busy time. Back in the 50’s and 60’s, my Dad could make a decent living while supporting a family of seven only farming 100 acres. He rotated the crops each year by planting corn, wheat, oats, hay and then back again to corn in sequential years. That way he didn’t have to use much if any fertilizer or herbicide as each crop took out or added the appropriate nutrients to complement the crop planned for the following year. Mom used a similar technique for her garden as noted in the diagram below.

Weeds were prevalent in the fields and garden, but us kids would be sent out with hoes to clear them out several times each season! I can recall times with Dad driving by one of our fields when he suddenly spots a weed, stops the car and sends me out into the field to pull it out.

Thinking back on those times, using today’s terminology, we had an extremely sustainable and organic farm. Literally nothing was wasted. All food scraps were fed to the hogs and no more than a grocery bag of trash was accumulated each week, which went into the coal furnace to help heat the house. The manure in the stables was spread over the land and plowed under in the spring to provide natural fertilizer for the corn, which depleted the land more than any other crop. Any metal junk was dumped into 55 gallon drums and collected by the high school’s Future Farmers of America organization during twice-a-year scrap drives. I can’t think of a single item of waste generated by our farm during those years. Amazing!
July meant it was time to harvest the wheat and oats, bail hay and straw and cultivate the corn. Those efforts along with the routine livestock feeding and milking of the cows lead to really long days working in the heat and humidity of a typical Ohio summer. Dad would enjoy every minute though, especially if the weather had cooperated and the yields were good. He knew the family’s livelihood was directly impacted by a successful harvest.

Of course, as kids, we didn’t really have that same appreciation, so found the work much less enjoyable and a real chore most of the time. I can recall sweating profusely in stifling heat and dusty conditions up in the hay mow packing away bails as they were loaded onto an elevator from the wagon full of bailed hay. Each load held 100 bails each weighing about 75 pounds, so it was quite a workout. We much preferred the lighter straw bails which also didn’t itch as much as the hay. Hay was used to feed the milk cows and the straw was used to bed down the stables all winter while the cows remained in the barn. During other times of the year, they were let out to pasture to eat grass as pictured in this aerial photo of our family farm. Note the cows under the shade trees near the creek at the upper left corner.

Harvesting the wheat and oats was a much more enjoyable process, primarily because it was significantly less labor intensive. The harvester or combine as it was called back then was quite a machine that intrigued me to no end.

Amazing how it could cut the stalks and thresh out the grain, separate the straw and auger the grain into hopper wagons that would self unload into an elevator carrying the harvest up to the storage granary in the barn, all by barely lifting a finger compared to the hard work associated with the hay and straw bailing process.

But Dad would always remind us how good we had it compared to when he was younger, as they farmed with horse-drawn equipment. He would tell about all the neighbors convening for a threshing “party”, that really wasn’t much of a party, at least until the work was done, when the food and drink was served well into the night.

But of all the chores at that busy time of year, cultivating corn was by far my favorite farm task, as it meant I could listen to the radio mounted on the tractor while traversing the rows and rows of corn. It provided a restful interlude to the busy farm life during the summer months.

Farm life back then was indeed a challenge, which was the primary reason I chose a different career path and studied engineering. However, I’m very grateful for the farm experiences that helped me throughout my entire career and beyond, especially with the skills to fix things and solve problems, along with the farm work ethic ingrained into me.