Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Dave’s Midwestern Ohio Memories from the 50’s & 60’s

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.

High School Basketball Memories

With the high school basketball season beginning, the memories of my old coach John Kremer always come to the forefront. He celebrated his 90th birthday earlier this year, and in 2009, was an inaugural inductee into the Ft. Loramie Wall of Honor. The photo of Coach at the induction ceremony is shown. On the occasion of his 90th birthday, I sent him a card and a brief note of thanks, which has been excerpted below: 

Coach Kremer,

Congratulations and happy birthday on reaching the wonderful milestone of 90 years. The news about your upcoming birthday sure brought back many wonderful memories about Ft. Loramie sports and your many contributions that made those recollections so special.

For example, Ft. Loramie’s basketball program was said to have started in 1935; however, I recall my dad telling abut playing other teams from around the area in about 1930. They played in the upper level of Brucken’s CafĂ© and those initial games eventually led to the creation of Ft. Loramie’s basketball program, the Shelby County League and the construction of the gym as part of the now-demo’ed old high school building. After a recent meal at Brucken’s, my brother and I, along with our sons, climbed up to the Brucken’s upper level to see the setting for ourselves and to share the story with our sons. There were a lot of cracker box gyms prevalent back in the day, but upstairs at Brucken’s literally takes the cake!

Playing basketball for you in 1964-66 was really something special. You molded me, a tall, skinny, clumsy kid, into a decent basketball player. I recall you giving me a pair of weighted shoe inserts and ankle straps for use during the offseason, and you challenged me to be the first player from Loramie to dunk the ball. It worked! I could easily dunk during warm-ups, but the only opportunity I had during a game once was on a breakaway, but lo and behold I travelled!! The weights also helped my rebounding in that I held the school record for a number of years.  However, that too is imperfect, as years later, a fellow player, who as a benchwarmer kept the statistics, told me that he gave me a rebound every time I touched the ball from a missed shot, whether I controlled the rebound or not. Needless to say, I was glad when my flawed record was finally broken years later.

Enjoy your special day, as the tributes coming your way are so deserved. Thank you for everything you’ve done on behalf of all Loramie High grads over the course of your storied career.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Dave’s Midwestern Ohio Memories from the 50’s & 60’s

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.

After Last week's blog on Veteran’s Day honoring those who served in WWII, a relative emailed me the following photo taken just at the end of the war in 1945 of my mother and her three sisters. Recall from last week’s blog that their younger brothers had all served in the war, consequently during that time, my mother and her sisters helped their dad with all the farm work. Once the war was over, they could get back to enjoying life again, as is so obvious in the photo. They were representative of so many who contributed on the home front to support the war effort. As a further tribute, here’s a video of 2,097 Rosie the Riveters who set a Guinness world record recently, as well as this article about several Rosie the Riveters taking a plane ride in one of the bombers they had built some 70 years earlier. The sacrifices made by this generation for our freedom and way of life are so exemplary that their efforts should never be forgotten.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Dave’s Midwestern Ohio Memories from the 50’s & 60’s

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.

Our Flag & Veteran’s Day

The US flag was always prominently displayed while growing up, and in 1959, the number of stars on the flag grew from 48 to 50 as Alaska and Hawaii became states. To celebrate the occasion, my mom made a cake in the shape of the new flag with 50 blueberries as the stars and red raspberries as the stripes, and white icing background. Now my wife makes the same cake every year on the 4th of July. We have a flag pole on our yard and am proud to fly the flag year around. And this 
tribute to our flag recently arrived in my email inbox from a friend that inspired the idea for this blog entry on Veterans Day.

Because my grandfather passed away at age 52 right before WWII, my dad received an agricultural deferment to farm the 220 acres making up two family farms; my grandfather’s and my great grandfather’s. However, his 5 younger brothers all went into the service, as did my Mom’s brothers (shown in the photo). My uncles contributed in various ways to the Allied victory, including a medic at D-Day, a naval mapping expert on President Truman’s staff, an honor guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Solder, a Navy Pilot, and an officer on the destroyer USS Yosemite during the Pacific campaign. Fortunately, all survived the war after serving valiantly, ended up getting married and having a bunch of kids (I have 75 cousins!). Although Dad didn’t serve, he helped provide the food and supplies so necessary for the victory.

One other important aspect of my Dad not serving during the war came about when he would drive his sisters and their neighborhood friends to and from the local dances at Lindhaus Park every weekend. It just so happened that one of those neighborhood girls became my mother-in-law 30 years later! Fortunately that connection gained me quick acceptance to the family, otherwise who knows what might have happened, as my garb and hair at the time were very hippy-like! There’s no doubt in my mind those living during the WWII era represent the Greatest Generation, and the veterans especially accomplished amazing triumphs for which they are being gratefully honored today.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Dave’s Midwestern Ohio Memories from the 50’s & 60’s

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.


My Dad’s 102nd birthday would have been on October 29th. Before Dad's passing at age 94 in 2008, our clan would annually reconvened on the home farm that had been in the family for generations to celebrate his birthday, plus before his retirement to recognize the conclusion of a successful harvest season. One year, we surprised Dad with a restored Oliver tractor shown in the photo that was just like the one he used as a young farmer. Dad was in his prime again on that memorable fall day, especially as we all took turns riding with him on the tractor. The combine in the photo is Dad's 70 year old McCormick harvester that he donated to the owner of the tractor for eventual restoration.

So Dad's 102nd birthday means he was born in 1913, which happened to be the year of a big flood in the area. With Lake Loramie, Miami-Erie canal and the confluence of several creeks in the town, history has it that the entire area was severely flooded during the spring before my Dad was born, which no doubt delayed the preparations for the plantings that year. My Dad used to tell about a discovery he made while plowing one spring on the family farm when he was 14 or 15 years old. It was a button made of bone so he cleaned it up and brought it to his Dad, my grandfather. The button brought a huge smile to my grandfather’s face as he recalled the button was likely from his Dad’s (my great grandfather's) long underwear. Apparently in those days, my great grandfather would put on a pair of long-johns in the fall and never take them off until spring. And usually it was while plowing as the weather started to warm when my grandfather would stop the horses, remove his overalls right in the middle of the field, literally strip off the well-worn long underwear and throw them in the furrow to be plowed under, never to be seen again (except for the button). And that further perhaps explains why all the children of my great grandparents were born in the Dec/Jan timeframe nine months after the spring plowing, as great grandmother would likely have nothing to do with my great grandfather until those dreadful long-johns were plowed under and he had his annual bath!

This is the original Oliver tractor

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Girls Regional Cross County Preview

Wednesday night on Fish Report's high school sports talk show we previewed this Saturday's OHSAA Boys Southwest Regional Cross Country Championships. If you missed the show, you can watch the replay here. Today, on Fish Report's Blog, I'm previewing the girls championships. Let's start with some numbers... In the Division III race, 16 girls teams and 15 individuals equals 129 runners from 30 schools competing on the levee bank of the Great Miami River in Troy. The top 4 teams and any runners that finish in the top 16 will move on to the state meet the following weekend in Hebron. Below are 8 questions regarding the girls races heading into Saturday.

How good is Chloe Flora, really?  
One thing I know for sure about Botkins senior Chloe Flora heading into the regional meet. She's the best Division III runner in southwest Ohio by a bunch and won't be challenged by any other runners this Saturday. But, how good is she really? The meet record of 17:51 set by Sunni Olding of Minster in 2003 may give Chloe the challenge she's looking for. Chloe's personal record is 18:16, set back on October 10th at the Anna Rocket Invitational. Course conditions in Troy were reported a little soft on Wednesday night from all the rain the last couple of days. That will make breaking the record a real long shot. Perhaps Chloe might decide to run easy and save herself for state? Uhh, not a chance.

Chloe won the regional title last year and is a good bet again on Saturday

Can the Russia girls three-peat?
The bar keeps moving up for the Russia girls. The program has been riding high the last two years after winning the only two regional girls cross country titles in school history. On top of that, the 2014 team established themselves as the most talented Lady Raiders team to date when they finished a best-ever 3rd place at the state meet. Will the 2015 team continue the tradition and capture a third consecutive regional title? Russia squeaked past Xenia Christian by three points and Covington by six points for a district championship in Clayton last week. Expect another close contest between those same three schools this Saturday.

The Lady Raiders have compiled a record of 141-7 so far this season

Who will advance with that final fourth team spot?
I mentioned Russia, Xenia Christian and Covington as being three of the top teams. Could one of those teams fall to fourth? Yes. Could one of those teams fall to fifth and miss out on a trip to state? I don't think so. That leaves one spot left for state. Who will it be? Another local team like Miami East, Botkins, Lehman or Ft. Loramie? It might be a school most local teams have never seen this year, namely Columbus School for Girls or Mount Gilead. Where did they come from? This year the Central District in Pataskala had two races that schools could pick to run in. The top four teams from one race advanced to the Pickerington Regional and the top four teams from the other race advanced to the Troy Regional. No other Division III district in Ohio had a choice like that.

Are any teams from the Cincinnati area good?
There are three districts sending runners to Troy. Clayton (Dayton) is sending eight teams, Pataskala (Columbus) is sending four teams, and West Chester (Cincinnati) is sending four teams. Consider this, the Clayton district had 25 teams battling for their eight spots. The Pataskala district had ten teams battling for their four spots. The West Chester district? They had five teams competing for four spots. Sounds like fuzzy math to me. Summitt Country Day is the best of the bunch, but I don't even have them in my top ten. We'll see on Saturday.

Is Karmen Knepp the new star of the CCC?
The Cross County Conference is no slouch when it comes to fast runners. At last week's district race the conference had ten of the top twenty runners. Compare that to the SCAL which only had four of the top twenty. Miami East junior Lorenza Savini was the top CCC finisher at 2nd overall, but the girl everyone is talking about is Bradford freshman Karmen Knepp. Karmen finished 3rd at the district meet and in doing so, passed up the CCC Runner of the Year, senior Carly Shell of Covington. Maybe it's her freshman status or maybe it's the fact that she will be the only Bradford runner in Troy this Saturday, but Karmen is a rising star people are watching right now.

Bradford didn't have enough for a full girls team this year,
but Karmen Knepp has Railroader fans excited 

Will Mary Kate Vaughn shine in the Division II race?
Speaking of stars, there was none brighter than Mary Kate Vaughn from Oakwood when she burst on the scene three years ago as a freshman. She set the current Division II regional meet record in Troy that year with a 17:51 and the following week set the current state meet record in Hebron with a 17:41. Her junior year was hampered by injuries and her senior year has been a very cautious schedule of just two regular season meets, her conference meet, and last week's district meet. Mary Kate came in 3rd at the district race behind winner Abby Nichols of Alter and Oakwood teammate Elizabeth Ordeman. No doubt she will run with the leaders on Saturday, but will she have enough to finish on top?

Mary Kate's lone win this season was the Bob Schul Invite in August

Is the Division I race the best showcase in Ohio?
If you're a D-III or D-II fan and you're thinking about leaving after those races are done, I would suggest sticking around for the D-I race. That is, if you want to see the best individual runner and best team in Ohio. Troy sophomore Morgan Gigandet has the fastest time of any girl in any division in Ohio this season with a 17:26. She also led the Lady Trojans to a district championship last Saturday. The team that finished 5th in that same race was Centerville, who are ranked both #1 in Ohio and #9 nationally. Then why did the Lady Elks finish 5th you say? They ran all reserve runners last week, knowing even their junior varsity team was good enough to qualify for regionals. This week it's the varsity's turn and Centerville has seven girls that all ran sub-18:42 two weeks ago. That's smokin' fast.

Finally, what's up with the $7.00 admission fee?
All good things eventually come to an end, and no longer is the Troy Regional free to attend as it always was before. The OHSAA wanted Troy to follow suite with the other three regional meets in Ohio and start charging admission. If Troy didn't comply, the meet was going to be moved to Cedarville University and they would charge admission. Big deal. I'd rather spend $7.00 in Troy than $7.00 in Cedarville. Will the new policy keep casual fans away? Maybe a few. Consider this... What does a two-hour movie on Saturday night cost these days, $10.00? For $7.00 this Saturday afternoon you'll get five hours of excitement, drama and even a little comedy. It's entertainment well worth it, even if this is your first cross country meet this season. Open your wallet and I'll see you in Troy.

Note: If you're a Russia fan like I am, you're invited to the annual Raiders pre-race/post-race tailgate party. Just look for the largest camper in the Troy Memorial Stadium parking lot with lots of fans dressed in Blue & Gold. A large pot will be cooking chicken noodle soup to be served between the girls race at 11:00 am and the boys race at 1:30 pm. Feel free to bring your own chicken noodle soup to add to the pot or whatever else you like! 

Chicken noodle soup is an annual tailgate tradition for Russia fans 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Dave’s Midwestern Ohio Memories from the 50’s & 60’s

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.

Friday Night Lights

To continue my series of blogs on football memories, this edition focuses on high school football. But what does a photo of some pumpkins, a 64 1/2 Mustang and Baltimore Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas have to do with high school football? Well, let me connect the dots. Because our high school did not offer football back in the 60’s, our play was limited to pick-up games and attending other high school football in the area. One of those schools was the Bradford Railroaders with a player who would eventually became my fraternity brother at college. But obviously I didn’t know him at the time. Some friends and I would go to a Bradford game in the fall, then attend the annual Pumpkin Show after the game. Beyond the pumpkins and football, there was always the traditional confetti being thrown around at the festival. Great fun; however, my mom would complain about finding confetti around the house for weeks afterwards!

Now for the connection to other two photos; the Minster Wildcats had a pretty good football team so we attended one of their games early in the ’65 season and then afterwards headed for the Friday night dance at Eagle Park. As a couple of friends and I were walking into the dance hall, a brand new 1964 1/2 Mustang convertible drove in loaded with several cute girls. As we began chatting with them, a group of guys approached the car lead by a good looking hunk with a perfect Johnny Unitas-type flat top haircut. Turns out he was Minster’s quarterback with his entourage. Needless to say, my buddies and I were relegated to the sidelines and it was at that moment we really regretting not having a football team. But I’m glad now in light of the concussion and injury problems associated with football. My bones are creaky enough without having played football; but thankfully no joint replacements so far! Regarding the quarterback, he’s since packed it on and weighs about 300 pounds! 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Dave’s Midwestern Ohio Memories from the 50’s & 60’s

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.

Fall Football Memories - Buckeyes, Wolverines, Spartans

Wow! Michigan State beats Michigan in the last 10 seconds on a 
fumbled punt snap. No, that’s not a memory from the 50’s & 60’s, but a fresh one from Saturday. It’s 3:00 am Sunday morning and I can’t sleep so maybe writing this week’s blog as promised about college football memories may help get my mind off the game!

Starting out as a solid Buckeye fan back in the 50’s and 60’s was a natural, as they were the only Big 10 team in the state, so everybody was a fan. But then in 1967 while attending college in Michigan, I became exposed to those two schools Up North. Whenever the Buckeyes, Wolverines and Spartans played another team, I always rooted for a win, forever hoping that my three teams would come into their mutual games undefeated, then let the best team win. But sorry Buckeye and MSU fans, during graduate school at U of M in 1974, I became a true maize and blue 
Wolverine fan.

Since that period, there were many, many memories (some of which I’d like to erase like the last 10 seconds of Saturday’s game); the Big House with 115,000 fans, fall Saturday tailgating, Heisman poses, Big 10, Rose Bowl & National championships, three yards and a cloud of dust, Bo, Woody & Duffy; the list goes on and on. With most of my family living in mid-western Ohio, and me from Michigan, the rivalries seems to become even more intensified over the years.

For example, my brother used to come to the OSU-Michigan games in Ann Arbor, but he never saw the Bucks win at the Big House (during the Cooper era). In fact, after one Michigan win over OSU, it so happened that Michigan coach Lloyd Carr and his staff came to eat at the same restaurant we were and sat at the adjacent table. That was rubbing salt into the wound, so my brother now refuses to come. On the other hand, my sister and her family have traveled to several recent games in Ann Arbor and have never seen the Buckeye’s lose! She’s the one with the scarlet and gray decor in her home, except for one maize and blue item, a block M in her toilet bowl. I go out to pee in their barn when visiting!

Next week I’ll focus on high school football memories, which will be tough as my high school did not play football at the time!