Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Birthday Gag Gift - 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

Birthday Gag Gift

Recall several posts back that I had “celebrated” my 70th birthday? Well, as a gag, a good friend gave me a gift certificate for a pedicure at my wife’s nail salon - so that provides a clue that she was in on it, too.

This week my wife had scheduled a manicure, so I tagged along to check out what a pedicure would entail. Needless to say, I took the plunge (literally starting by soaking my feet in something akin to toilet bowl cleaner) and got my first-ever pedicure as pictured above. As further evidence my wife was in on the gag, the couple who gave me the gift certificate pictured below showed up to razz me and take photos!

I recall as a kid on the farm, going barefoot all summer long, stepping on rusty nails (requiring painful tetanus shots), getting splinters and stubbing toes. And when I did wear shoes, they were cramped hand-me-downs or worn out basketball sneakers. After 70 years of wear and tear, my feet were really in need of some tender loving care.

No, the pedicurist did not need metal cutters to trim my toe nails as pictured above, However, she did need something that looked like a cheese grater and some course sandpaper to smooth out the bottom of my feet.

Now, I’m not the first guy to get a pedicure, as back in the mid-1700’s, Thomas Jefferson brought the practice to America from France as outlined below. Therefore, I'm in good company.

The pedicure also included treatment to the lower leg as pictured above. The vibrating lounge chair provided a thorough massage to my back as the pedicure was being performed, plus they offered a glass of wine as a refreshment. All-in-all, the pedicure was very relaxing and much more enjoyable than I had imagined. And for at least a week afterwards, my toes sort of tingled in a good way, somewhat like after a thorough teeth cleaning, only on the opposite end. Will I ever do it again: maybe in another 70 years, but for now I have happy feet, thanks to my gag-gifting friends!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Roo-shee Girls - 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

Roo-shee Girls

During the spring of my junior year in high school, we got knocked out of the tournament early because our team was not very good. For a reason I don’t recall, all the seniors on the team quit early in the season, so that left me and four sophomores elevated from JV as starters. To keep the scores close, our primary tactic was a stall coupled with a full court press, which worked ok during the season in the cracker-box gyms we played back then. But in Sidney High’s huge gym where the tournament was played, that strategy was dealt a fatal blow, so we lost big time.

On the following Sunday afternoon, I was riding around with some of my high school buddies, when we heard through the grapevine (predecessor to the internet) that there was a party at a farm house near Russia, so off we went, having no idea where the party was being held. So we drove up and down the various roads around Russia, finally finding a farm with a bunch of cars in the driveway north of town that we hoped was the party place. For some reason, I remember the farm also had a bunch of antique stuff around the yard somewhat like the photo below. The mailbox indicated the name of the family that lived there, and we knew there was a Russia cheerleader with that same last name. So we drove in and indeed found the party was going full blast! Apparently, the cheerleader’s parents were gone for the weekend, probably looking for more antiques!

Other than visiting my cousins in Russia, as documented in this previous blogpost, that memorable Sunday was my first exposure to the girls of Roo-shee! Wow, they were all knockouts and super friendly. Seems they were kind of intrigued by us out-of-towners almost as much as we were with them. No doubt the local guys were peeved, but who cared. We were in seventh heaven, partying to the max. It was a very fun and memorable afternoon, as from that moment on, Roo-shee girls were always on my radar screen.

Our favorite meeting place at the time is pictured above; Louie’s in Newport, now Scudzy’s, located on State Route 66 right along the old Miami-Erie canal. Louie Bruns was the proprietor, and because his bar was located about half way between Loramie and Russia, it became the place to connect up with Roo-shee girls.

The juke box was always rocking with the latest hit songs and the red booths were gigantic, so we’d all squeeze in together to share some food, drink and the latest scuttlebutt around our two neighboring towns.

Well, that connection to Roo-shee still exists to this day, as about 6 years after my initial encounter described above, I was fortunate to meet a very special Roo-shee girl who is now my wife of 46 years. Love those Roo-shee girls!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Sinclair Community College - 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

Sinclair Community College

A recently Fish Report article was about a girl from Covington signing to play basketball with Sinclair Community College, which brought back recollections about my basketball playing career at Sinclair. So I went on-line and found the photograph above of Sinclair’s current team. As shown above, their record is 14-13.

With little money after graduating from high school, I started working on the night shift at Frigidaire in Dayton while attending Sinclair during the day at the old Dayton YMCA building, squeezing in basketball practice after my classes before going to work on the washing machine assembly line. Because of having the lowest seniority, I was assigned the worst job, loading the 50 pound tubs into the washers at the rate of about 1 per minute. The good news it helped my strength and endurance for basketball.


Fortunately, all of Sinclair's basketball games were on the weekend, several times playing other community colleges in Kentucky and Tennessee. The long bus rides to those games were fun since the cheerleaders came along with us. My appreciation for cheerleaders back then was well documented in this previous blog.

Our team had several African American players, so whenever we went to those Appalachian schools, many times the opponents and their fans reacted poorly towards those players. Such behavior really upset us and provided extra motivation for our team; literally every time leading us to a blowout win. Fortunately we never faced the likes of those type of fans and opponents when playing local teams in Ohio; otherwise, we’d have gone undefeated! As it was, if memory serves, our record was something like 12-7.

That season represented the start as well as the end of my college basketball career, as I subsequently was accepted at General Motors Institute as described in this previous blogpost. They had no basketball team but fortunately had great professors!

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Spring Training - 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

Spring Training

Spring training has started here in Florida where we are spending the winter. It’s always a great time of the year for me, since baseball is my favorite sport, even though I could never really hit a curve ball! When spring training starts, better weather was always just around the corner, and down here in SW Florida, the weather could not be more perfect; 80’s and sunny every day. Fortunately, we have two MLB teams that train in our area, the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins. Both are American League teams and arch-rivals of the Detroit Tigers, whom I adopted when Manager Sparky Anderson moved from the Reds to the Tigers in the late 70’s a few years after we moved to Michigan to work for Ford Motor Company. As shown on the map, the Tigers spring training location is in Lakeland, between Tampa and Orlando, quite a bit north of us.

Over recent years, I've enjoyed watching many teams play each spring, typically scalping tickets prior to the game. In fact, I’ve been scalping tickets to all kinds of sporting events for years, and have never been shut out. The closest I ever came was in the early 80’s when I wanted to see Isaiah Thomas play for Bobby Knight's Indiana Hoosiers against Ohio State lead by Clark Kellogg. I patiently waited outside the stadium asking if anyone had any tickets, with no luck until about game time when a woman and her wheelchair-bound husband were about to enter the arena. They suggested I come in with them, as her husband would be in his wheelchair in the handicapped area so I might as well use his seat, which was right on the floor behind the handicapped area near the Hoosier bench. From the seat, I could faintly hear Bobby Knight giving profanity-laced instructions to his players. But there were no thrown chairs that game, unlike the infamous 1985 Indiana-Purdue game documented in this YouTube video!

The Hoosiers went on to win the game, the Big 10 and the NCAA championship. Isaiah Thomas was subsequently drafted by the Detroit Pistons where he lead them to two fantastic NBA championships.

But I digress, so back to the Spring Training topic. I was disappointed when the Reds moved their spring training to Arizona from Tampa a number of years ago. I had written about seeing the Reds play at Al Lopez Field in Tampa during spring break while in college in this previous blogpost, never realizing the Reds and Indians now share the same spring training facilities in Arizona until researching for this blog.

The Red Sox spring training park is my favorite, since it has a replica of the Green Monster in left field. I make a point to spend an inning or two watching the game from on top of the scoreboard and always bring a cold beer since it’s in the bright sun. When the beer is gone, so am I! While growing up we had a “red monster” aka our barn in right field of our makeshift ball field on the family farm as described in this previous blogpost.

When the Red Sox came into camp earlier this spring, they had an unexpected visitor waiting for them in the stadium, an alligator as shown and described in this article.

The Twins stadium is also very nice in that most of the seats are in shade so not as much beer is required when watching the Twins play! I recall another scalping incident at a Twins-Cardinals game several years ago when I bought an extra ticket from an elderly man and his daughter. Turns out the man had macular degeneration so his daughter was trying mightily yet rather unsuccessfully to describe the game to her dad. I offered to take over for her, which please both of them to no end. I was literally describing each and every pitch, hit ball and fielding play. He was a big Cardinal fan, so I pretended to be one as well, using my smart phone, which he could not see, to google Cardinal players, records and statistics. He was even better than google in that he always added an interesting tidbit about any Cardinal trivia we shared. And to cap off the game, I caught a foul ball and gave it to his daughter. Great fun!

Our son is visiting us this week for his birthday, so we’ll be scalping some tickets for the Red Sox/Pirates game tomorrow. I was hoping the game might be enough for his birthday, but what he really wants is a new putter. Have you seen the high prices of putters these days? We’ll see, but for certain, he’ll have to give me more strokes!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Concorde - 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


It’s been almost 50 years since the first flight of the Concorde Supersonic Transport, developed jointly by the British and French. It was a fluke that I had an opportunity to fly on the Concorde back in the mid-70’s. The chance came about because I screwed up by taking my expired passport to the airport one Sunday evening for a conventional 7 hour overnight flight from Detroit to London with my boss at Ford where we worked. The Custom's agent quickly spied my expired passport and obviously would not let me board. But my boss’s last words to me as he headed through security was for me to find a way to get to London in time for an important meeting early Tuesday morning as I had prepared all the pre-work materials for the meeting.

Apparently, I had accidentally grabbed my expired passport from our safety deposit box rather than my active one. So after my boss took off, I went to the airline reservation desk at the airport to figure out how best to get to London in time. The agent indicated the only option was flying to New York’s JFK Airport Monday morning and take the Concorde for a three hour flight leaving at noon. Coupled with the 6 hour time change, I’d arrive at 9:00pm London time, which would allow me to get a good night’s sleep and attend the meeting the next morning. The cost was triple the price of the original flight, but my boss said get there, so I directed the agent to book the flights.

Now the problem was getting my passport! I called my wife and she fortunately was able to track down someone who knew an official from the bank where the safe deposit box was located. She called that official at home and asked if there might be a way to gain access to my passport early the next morning. He fortunately agreed, but said the vault could only be opened after 8:00am and so I met him at the bank at that time to pick up the correct passport before rushing to the Detroit airport for the flight to JFK.

Once arriving at JFK, I had to clear customs which went seamlessly this time thanks to having the correct passport, and finally boarded the Concorde for London’s Heathrow airport.

I was amazed at how small the plane was internally; literally almost hitting my head on the ceiling walking down the aisle. And my assigned window seat was very cramped with my head and shoulders hitting the curved side of the plane. The window was a tiny porthole that I had to bend down in order to view outside.

When the plane took off, it ascended dramatically upward and swerved over the Atlantic in order to diminish the noise over the city as the powerful supersonic jet engines were rather loud even inside the plane. Plus, when the plane exceeded the speed of sound (741 mph), there would be a sonic boom that could be heard if it were flying low enough over land. There was a display mounted on the pilot's cabin as shown below that indicated the speed and altitude. The speed of the Concorde at Mach 2 was almost three times faster than a conventional passenger jet.

At that high speed, the interior wall of the plane was warm to the touch due to the friction caused by the thin air over the fuselage. And at altitude, one could observe the curvature of the earth.

During takeoff and landing, the nose of the Concorde had to be tilted downward as shown in the photo below so the pilots could see the runway. The plane’s designers may have been inspired by a swan trying to land and take off as also pictured below.


As an engineer, I was obviously very intrigued by the Concorde (refer to the inner workings of the plane on the diagram below) and really appreciated the once in a lifetime experience to have flown on such an ingenious flying machine.

Unfortunately, I had to return to the US the old fashioned way, and once back, had quite a time getting my travel expense approved through the bean counters in the company. But with my boss’s backing, especially given the success of the meeting we attended, finally got it approved and paid. Worth every penny in my view!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Valentine Memories - 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

Valentine Memories

My first memories about Valentine’s Day occurred in first grade at Ft. Loramie elementary school. In those days, there were no pre-school or kindergarten. So that meant 42 new first graders were in a single classroom taught by a wonderful teacher Miss Quinlin, whom I’ve written about in this previous blog. 

About a week before Valentine’s Day, Miss Quinlin had each of us first-graders start work on a project to decorate a shoe box for the big day so everyone could exchange Valentine’s cards. The top of the shoe box included your name, plus a slot so the cards could be inserted, somewhat like the box displayed on the right.

The standard issue scissors for first-graders had rounded blades to prevent injury, but it sure made it cumbersome to cut the slot, especially since I was used to using my Mom’s conventional scissors at home.

While the box was being constructed during class, at home we had to address all the Valentine’s cards to our classmates. I recall going to Willman’s department store with Mom to buy an assortment of small cards. There were 27 girls in our class, plus I needed cards for Miss Quinlin, my three sisters, two grandmothers and Mom. So that meant a lot of card signing, envelope stuffing and addressing during the busy week before Valentine’s Day. Plus Mom suggested I insert a candy heart, each with a special message, with the cards. After 4 1/2 months of getting to know my classmates, the fun part was finding just the right card and inscribed candy heart for each of the girls in my class. The mushy ones went to those special girls like described in this previous blog about my first kiss. Imagine the germs that must have been all over those pieces of candy after fingering them prior to and during the envelop stuffing process!

Finally, the big day came and all of us first-graders excitedly inserted our Valentine’s cards in the decorated shoe boxes of our classmates. Miss Quinlin insisted we not open the cards in class, instead to take the box home and open the envelopes there. I recall my younger sisters helping me open the cards, sometimes eating the candy hearts before I had a chance to read them. It was fun to see if anyone sent me a mushy card! I do recall getting a card from a boy in my class who incidentally became my best man at our wedding some 20 years later - Hmmmm!

Speaking of our wedding, my wife-to-be and I decided after spending our first Christmas together in 1971 that we were meant for each other. So shortly after the New Year, we went to look for a diamond ring together as I didn’t trust myself to pick out the right ring on my own. We stopped at Mayor’s Jewelry in downtown Dayton at Third & Main under the old clock tower pictured below. After all, we were in the Gem City!

We found a custom ring design we liked, picked out the matching wedding bands and placed the order. One morning about a month later, I received a call at work that the rings (pictured below) were in. I excitedly called my fiancee-to-be with the news so we met during our lunch break to pick them up. The engagement ring fit, so she just kept it on, with no bended knee proposal or anything.

To this day, I kick myself for not having picked up the ring myself so I could have formally presented it to her on Valentine’s Day about a week later. Bummer, as it would have saved me from having to buy another gift!!

Prior to getting engaged, I also never asked my future in-laws, Doc & Hilda, permission to marry their daughter. Another bonehead move on my part! Had I done so, they no doubt would have shared a story about a Valentine’s Day a few years prior when the two of them got into a little spat and weren’t speaking to each other for a day or so before the big day. Doc did give Hilda a Valentine’s card, but it had the following note written inside:
Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, I have my faults and so do you! Love, Doc!
My mother-in-law Hilda enjoys telling that story every Valentine’s Day, so no doubt she will be repeating it for all the doctors, nurses and other patients at Miami Valley hospital tomorrow where she is recuperating from successful hip replacement surgery.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Hilda and all you other Fish Report readers.