Sunday, October 18, 2020

Board Games - Dave's Midwestern Ohio Memories

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

Board Games

As a kid, cold weather meant more activities indoors, disappointing after literally spending the entire summer outside. So we relied on a number of board games to occupy our time. Monopoly was a favorite, although it took too long to play.

Mom seemed to always get us board games that made us think or taught some sort of a lesson like Sorry (say your sorry), Concentration (think through it), Clue (whodunit?) or Scrabble (check the dictionary). We especially liked board games that included cards, because we played a lot of cards as well in the winter. For example, Uno was a fun but different card game.

But once in a while we’d play a game with really no redeeming value, Giant Cootie comes to mind!

My sisters liked Operation as they wanted to be nurses.

But my all time favorite board game was BAS-KET, a dexterity game originally released in 1938. My vintage was 1955, when I was 7 years old. The base of the box is the basketball court and there are two pieces of cardboard that are set upright into the ends of the box. These have the basketball hoops (with nets) and scoreboards to complete the court.

The ball is red, but a conventional ping pong ball worked as well if the red ball was lost. The court has dimpled holes, so when the ball is dropped on the court it will come to rest in one of these holes. Each hole has a spring-loaded lever attached. Note the underside of the board showing how the mechanism works.

If the ball stops in one of your holes, you pull the lever back, let it go and hopefully launch the ball into the net. The only skill involved is getting the hang of how far back to pull the lever to get it into the basket. At first, many balls are launched amusingly over the back of the hoop and across the room. Of course, once you get the feel of the levers, almost every shot is a sure thing. After each shot, the players watch the ball roll about on the court to see whose hole it will wind up in and they shoot again.

The fun in this game is in seeing how many shots you can make in a row and chasing the balls that are launched out of the court around the room. In fact, we’d play HORSE with the game and purposely shoot the ball into something way off the court like one of Mom’s flower pots or Dad’s beer mug. For a nice change, Bas-Ket always provided mindless but fun amusement. Check out this neat YouTube video of a guy being surprised with a vintage game just like the one he had as a kid. Love his reaction.


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Monday, October 12, 2020

Walk-Off & Debate - Dave's Midwestern Ohio Memories

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

Walk-Off & Debate

60 years ago today, two significant events in history occurred within a few hours of each other. First was the Pirates’s Bill Mazeroski hitting a walk-off home run to beat the Yankees 10-9 in game 7 of the 1960 World Series. And later that evening the Nixon-Kennedy presidential debate was held. That historic election was the first to have the debates televised. I had written about my memories of that election in this previous blogpost, so will focus this post on what I recall about the historic home run.

Maz’s blast was probably the most famous home run in history, and no, I unfortunately was not at the game nor viewed it on TV, but was listening to it on the radio at home with Dad after school while we were building a new corn crib visible just to the right and behind the barn on this 1962 aerial photo of our farm.

On the school bus home, I had heard the Yankees were ahead by a run. Fortunately, our place was the first bus stop, so made it home just in time for the last couple innings. Dad liked baseball, especially the National League, and his favorite Pirates player was outfielder and future Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente, so he had the game on the radio. When I arrived, the home team Pirates were down by 3 in the 8th inning, but scored 5 runs in the bottom of the 8th to take the lead. The dreaded Yankees tied up the game in the top of the ninth after a Yogi Berra RBI. That set the stage for the dramatic home-run. On that bright October afternoon, Mazeroski slugged a pitch from Yankee reliever Ralph Terry over the head of left fielder Berra and beyond the ivy wall at old Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. It gave the Pirates a 10-9 win over New York in the seventh and deciding game of the World Series.

Today after a walk-off, the hitter typically does a majestic bat flip and trots around the bases soaking in the fans admiration (except during Covid play!), but not Mazeroski. He quickly dropped his bat and zipped around the bases in record time. Good thing, because of the lax or more likely no security in those days, the fans were quickly closing in to mob him as he rounded third. The dramatic moment is recorded for posterity on this Youtube video. After a little research, in an interview years later, Mazeroski explained that he didn’t think the ball would get out of the park because the fence was 425’ away. So he was hustling around the bases to get to third with only one out so he could possibly score the winning run on a sacrifice fly by the next batter. But as he approached second base, he heard the crowd roaring and saw Yogi turn his back on the ball, then he knew it was over the fence and the Pirates had won the World Series. From that moment on, he claims to have “floated” around the bases heading for home.

For nearly 50 years, the broadcast of the deciding game of the 1960 World Series was believed to be lost forever. However, it was discovered in a black and white, five-reel set encased in gray canisters in Bing Crosby’s wine cellar near San Francisco. Crosby, who was a part owner of the Pirates, was superstitious and too nervous to watch the Series against the Yankees, so he went to Paris with his wife Kathryn and listened to the famous game on short wave radio. However, he hired a company to record the game by filming it off a television set so he could watch it when he returned. Pittsburgh broadcaster Bob Prince called the first half of the game, and Yankee broadcaster Mel Allen the second half.

Back then, game-ending home-runs were not called walk-off’s, a baseball term conceived in 1988 by Dennis Eckersley as he was describing to the press what he did (“walked off the mound”) after the Dodger's Kirk Gibson hit a dramatic home run in the first game of the World Series between the Dodgers and A’s, which the Dodgers eventually won.

Who do you think holds the record for most walk-off homers? Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle and Stan Musial all had 12. But the Indians Jim Thome had 13. Good company, Jim!


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Sunday, October 4, 2020

Dinosaurs - Dave's Midwestern Ohio Memories

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


Dinosaurs intrigued me as a kid, likely starting with a coloring book my Godmother Aunt Catherine gave me at a very young age. Then later she gave me a dinosaur puzzle which my sisters and I really enjoyed.

By the time I entered the first grade, my interest in dinosaurs was in full bloom. Miss Quinlin, our teacher who I’ve written about in previous blogposts, assigned us a homework project to make a paper mache’ dinosaur and bring it back to class for show and tell.
Needless to say I went at it with "an enthusiasm unknown to mankind."

With the help from my mother and plenty of interference from my younger sisters, we spread out all the materials on the kitchen table, first making the paste by mixing flour and water, then cutting up strips of newspaper.

My goal was to make a model of a tyrannosaurus rex, the king of the dinosaurs. Wish I had this kit back then.

Instead we improvised. After the paste and newspaper strips were prepared, balled up newspaper was used to form the body with rolled up extensions for the neck and tail. Then the form was covered with layers and layers of the newspaper strips dipped in the paste. A head was also formed and covered in news strips with the paste and when dry was attached to the neck of the body with masking tape, followed by many more layers of pasted newspaper strips. Finally my t-rex began to take shape. Next came the legs, which were made up of rolled newspaper attached again with masking tape and covered with more pasted news strips. When finally formed to the desired shape (or more likely when we got tired of pasting so many darn news-strips), a final coating of tissue paper was dipped in the paste and placed over the surface before painting the t-rex green with watercolors. Eyes, mouth and teeth were painted on to finish it off.

Over the next week, all of us first graders brought our dinosaurs to class, lining them all around the classroom. It was quite a menagerie! The problem was when it came time for show and tell, I had spent so much time making the paper mache t-rex that I hadn’t really checked out the encyclopedia If we even had one back then) for any background on the dino so I had to somehow BS my way through the “tell” part, a skill that became especially useful during my working days!

Later in the first grade, I recall we had another opportunity to make some paper mache’ art by creating a solar system. Coating balloons of various sizes with pasted news strips was also a fun project for me and the family, as we loved star gazing during clear summer nights on the farm, with the sky unimpeded by city lights like where I live now, with literally no stars visible.

Years later when the movie Jurassic Park came out, my interest in dinosaurs was peaked again.

But I haven’t been to Jurassic World, so it's on my bucket list; speaking of which that list could be a topic for a future blog. Stay tuned!


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Monday, September 28, 2020

Classic Car Tunes - Dave's Midwestern Ohio Memories

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

Classic Car Tunes

A college friend who grew up on a Botkins farm offered the following comment after reading recent blogs about the $1M combine and the rock & roll song written about the Olds Rocket 88:

"Enjoyed your recent Fish reports. Farm equipment, we were poor enough to share a combine, chopper and hay baler for many years. Had the first hay baler with a bale kicker in the area, eliminated need for a son to load bales. (likely since the son left for college!) We also had an Olds Rocket 88. I remember the trip my brothers and I took to my grandfather's funeral, we were late, I think we got it up to 90 MPH.” 

As promised last week, this blog is about other songs paying tribute to classic cars and the memories they bring up. Many were by the Beach Boys. A favorite was 409, about the infamous big block Chevy engine highlighted in this previous blog from 2016. 

Another Beach Boys classic was Little Deuce Coup about the original customized hot rod derived from the 1932 Ford V8. The song referred to a “big slip daddy”, which was the nickname for a limited slip differential that allowed both rear tires to be smoked simultaneously.

Another Beach Boys tune I like is Fun Fun Fun, about a cute girl who’s daddy took her T-Bird away. When I retired, we bought the retro 2004 Thunderbird pictured here.

Ronnie and the Daytona’s had this one hit classic called Little GTO with the famous refrain "Turn it on, wind it up, blow it out, GTO”

Another one hit wonder was Hey Little Cobra by the Rip Cords. I actually tried buying a Cobra a number of years ago, but unlike the driver in the photo, my head stuck up over the windshield about 6”, plus the legroom for my 6’4” frame was totally inadequate. Oh, the sound and the speed - too bad!

John Fogerty of Credence Clearwater Revival fame, far from a one hit wonder, did a nice tune called Hot Rod Heart that I had written about in this previous blog. "Let’s go riding, rolling down the open road. We can put the top down and listen to the radio”

As a Ford retiree now driving Lincolns, I’d be remiss in not including the 1955 classic Hot Rod Lincoln by Charlie Ryan.

Prince’s 1999 hit called Little Red Corvette was a late comer to the car tunes, but for me probably brought back the most memories. It was in the summer of 1968 when my ’62 Chevy needed a new set of tires. I recalled that Dad would use that “excuse” to convince Mom it was time for a new car! So I tried the same approach on Dad cause I’d need a loan from him to buy a car since I was in college.

The car I wanted was a beautiful 1967 red Corvette convertible that was being offered at $3100 as a model year closeout at Katterheinrich Chevrolet in New Knoxville. Dad took one look at the car and quickly said No! (Note: the car would now be worth ~$100k!)

He instead suggested why not buy a stripped down Chevy Nova also on the show room floor. Fortunately it has just been sold and they had no more in stock. The Katterheinrich salesperson suggested I could order a Nova that would be delivered before I headed back to school in the fall. To close the deal, they promised to put new tires on my current car immediately since they would eventually be taking it on trade. Dad said yes, so unbeknownst to him, I ordered the gold Super Sport model pictured above for $1900 after trade-in. The Nova SS came in by fall; it was fast and sporty; I loved the car.

But that meant I was in debt to Dad for ~$1900, which I fortunately didn’t have to pay off until after graduation. Then life got in the way of my loan payments! It was a diamond ring for our engagement!. By the time we were married, the debt was only down to $1700, but fortunately my fiancĂ© had $1800 in the bank, so we had a net worth of exactly $100 the day we were married! Heading off to our honeymoon after the reception, we needed some quick cash, so my new wife opened one of the wedding cards we had received. Lo and behold, inside the first card was what appeared to be a folded $100 bill! from my uncle and aunt. For a second, we had aspirations our net worth had just doubled!

After the honeymoon, with both our incomes, we quickly paid off the loan to Dad and actually did buy my first Corvette, the first of three pictured below.

1963 Split Window Coupe

1965 Stingray Convertible

1968 Stingray T-top  

After writing this blog, a google search for top classic car songs yielded this link of 100 best car songs, of which the first few match up well with my favorites described above. Promise, I didn’t cheat and look this up before composing this post.


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