Tuesday, December 27, 2016

75th Post - 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.

75th Post

With the New Year fast approaching, it’s a good time to reflect on the past, which is really what this blog has been about for the last year and half. Although not an official count, this should be about my 75th weekly post. Fish Report has been really great as a forum to share my memories. Based on the feedback, there seem to be a few of you out there in cyberspace who enjoy them as well. For that I thank you, and am especially grateful for future blog topics that are sent in from friends, family and regular Fish Report readers I only know through this blog. Keep the cards and letters coming! Many of my blog ideas are also inspired by songs from that era like Billy Joel’s We Didn’t Start the Fire that musically chronicles the historical events pictured above that happened during his lifetime, which mirrors mine since we are the same age.

 Ft. Loramie Historical Association’s Wilderness Trail Museum
Photos that accompany my blog seem to really catch peoples eye. Finding them can be a real challenge, digging through old photo albums or asking a friend or family member to do the same. Someday maybe I'll digitally scan all my old photos; likely a day that will never come. The internet is a great source for old photos as well. The various historical societies back home are especially helpful, like the Community Post archives accessible via the Minster Historical Society and the Ft. Loramie Historical Association with so many photos and articles of bygone generations that rekindle many memories.

Midwestern Ohio was and still is such a wonderful place to be from. The values instilled as a child and kid growing up in that area provide a rich foundation that stays with you for your entire life, where ever you may reside as an adult (yes, even here in Michigan!). Christian religious principles instilled from a young age provide the foundation for the family values, work ethic, solid education, competitive sports, wholesome communities and thriving businesses so prevalent in our area, which makes it truly God’s country.

Think about what’s happened in our world over the last 100 years and how these values have been sustained and nurtured. Yes, there are cracks that show up occasionally, but don’t for a minute think there weren’t even more serious issues facing past generations. Our parents and grandparents kept these values intact during WWI, the Roaring 20’s, the Great Depression, WWII, Korean War, Cold War, Kennedy assassination, Man on the moon, Viet Nam War, Watergate, Mideast oil crisis, Iran hostage affair, Fall of Communism, Desert Storm, White House sexual scandals, 9/11, Mideast Wars, Great Recession, Banking and auto bankruptcies, War on terror, Cubs win the World Series and most recently, the Presidential election. Now it’s the next generation's responsibility to sustain and nurture our midwest value system within their descendants, no matter what chaotic shockers come along to try to derail things. Am I confident about the future; in a word, Yes. The instilled value system of our children and children’s children will help overcome any obstacles.

Happy New Year, Fish Report readers. Look for more blog posts in 2017.


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Hanging Lights at Christmas - 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.

Hanging Lights at Christmas

My wife recently read in a magazine about an effective test for a young women to determine if her boyfriend is marrying material. The article said to observe how he reacts to stringing Christmas lights. If he’s easily frustrated by the task, the advice was to steer clear. Well good thing that test wasn’t in place back in the day, because I would have severely flunked. For example, this year, six light strands were out that had to be replaced. And as always happens, the lights were inter-tangled with other strands, bulbs, branches, etc. that made it extremely difficult to replace, frustrating me to no end.

My Dad, on the other hand, always loved the chore, going through the entire process of cutting down a fresh tree, diligently watering it daily to avoid needle loss, and making a family event out of the annual tree trimming and lighting. He had also hand-made a beautiful crib and traditionally, as shown in the video below, the youngest child places the baby Jesus in the crib on Christmas Eve after the family recites a prayer and sings Silent Night.

And beyond that, Dad would always lend a hand to hang the lighted rosary on St. Michael's Church for the Christmas season. Then after the twelve days of Christmas, he'd help remove the lights. This interesting Facebook post by the Ft. Loramie Historical Association highlights how the wonderful tradition began 70 years ago. The installation and removal process was always a tricky proposition because of the cold, wind, heights and finicky burnt out bulbs that could clang against the brick of the steeple. But the final outcome, as shown in the photo on the right, was and still is a sight to behold that could be seen and appreciated for miles around.

The installation process meant climbing up the inside of steeple in order to pull up the rosary to the proper height and location. The view from up there was amazing, as I discovered as an adventuresome mass server after church one Sunday in the early 60’s, and rediscovered years later when my son and I climbed to the top where we shared the view and the story about his grandfather’s exploits installing the lighted rosary. Jack Hoying has photographed the panorama from that high vantage point as shown in this link from his considerable on-line collection of amazing photos. Not only are the views stunning, but the climb up the interior of the steeple past the three different-sized bells and across the open roof is breathtaking. Definitely not for the faint of heart.

I always look forward to seeing the lighted rosary on St. Michael’s each Christmas. During our visit, my wife, son and I make a point to stop by my parent’s gravesite in the Church cemetery south of town after dark when the rosary on the steeple is in perfect view. We say a prayer on their behalf while my wife no doubt also prays that I gain some of Dad’s patience for stringing Christmas lights!

Merry Christmas, Fish Report readers,

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Restored Christmas 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.

Restored Christmas Gift

Back in 1976, my wife’s grandmother gave a box of parts to her son, my wife’s father. The parts were for an old Edison graphophone that was used by their family in the early 1900’s. Included was another box with about 100 wax cylinders with all the songs popular at that time like Old Susanna, Danny Boy, Swanee River, Alexander’s Ragtime Band, and Over There. The boxes of parts and cylinders were stashed away in my in-laws basement for a couple years until during one of our visits, I offered to restore the graphophone. The boxes went into our attic, and it wasn’t until I retired some 25 years later that I had time to do the restoration. It became a challenging project, especially after we decided the restored phonograph would be a great Christmas present for my father-in-law from his family. That meant I had a deadline; no more procrastination!

Fortunately, a friend nearby collected old phonographs so he showed me his collection while also taking a look at the parts from my wife’s family’s graphophone. He showed me a catalog from the era indicating the original price was $27 in 1906. He also provided the name of guy in Newaygo, MI nicknamed the Victrola Doctor, who could provide parts if needed.

So with that bit of encouragement, the restoration project was started. The following photographs offer some idea of the mess I had gotten myself into.

The graphophone was powered by a hand crank used to wind up a spring driven mechanism pictured above that was all gunked up with oily sludge, so cleaning that device became the first challenge. According to the Victrola Doctor, the best way to clean it was with a special penetrating fluid used in the airline industry called Aerokriol Penephite that he was more than happy to sell me an aerosol can of the WD40-like stuff for $8.50. It worked like a charm and so with the drive mechanism functioning, I moved on to restoring what was called the cylinder drive and reproducer assembly. It’s pictured below and is belt driven from the spring drive mechanism that rotates the wax cylinders as a small needle in the reproducer picks up the undulations in the wax creating sound that is amplified by a gigantic horn called a cygnet.

Finally, just before Christmas, the restoration was complete. My wife’s siblings had agreed to share in the cost of the restoration, so a couple days before Christmas I emailed them a facetious recap of the expenses that not only included the various parts & supplies totaling $120, but also a labor charge at some exorbitant hourly rate. When told the cost would be $1728 per family, my wife’s siblings politely told me shove it and paid me only $20 each to cover the parts and supplies. My in-laws enjoyed receiving the restored gramophone that Christmas as shown in the photo below. And here’s a video of the graphophone playing a Christmas song. Remember this is 1906 audio quality.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Brothers Three - 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.

Brothers Three

Last week’s blog about my Uncle Bob mentioned a skit that we performed for Dad’s 80th birthday. Several requests came in for the skit, so here goes:

A skit commemorating Dad’s eightieth birthday – Oct 29, 1993

Narrator: We present for you a three act skit which chronicles the somewhat fictional farming exploits of three brothers, Alfred, Leo and Bob, over the course of one growing season many years ago. The cast includes Luke as Alfred, Dave as Leo, Woody as Bob, and I’m Ann, your narrator helping along the way.


The scene begins as the threesome enters from off-stage and looks over a broken plow represented by a chair laid on its side on stage. Narrator: The first act takes place in the springtime on Alfred's farm as the threesome try to fix a broken plow.

Bob: Dern it, Alfred, I've told you a hundred times not to hit that big stone. You do it every year and break the goddern plow. Now how are we going to fix this thing?

Leo: Well, Bob, Herb Poeppelman, (the farmer to the north), has the same plow. Maybe we can borrow the part from him.

Alfred: Nah, Leo, I just saw him heading for town a few minutes ago.He'll stop at Bruckens and won't be back all day. Maybe brother Clarence has the part at Streakers.

Bob: I doubt if he's there, cause he probably went home for a nooner! Why don't we take off the broken plow share and use just the one bottom. Alfred: Might as well – like in the ole days of the horse drawn plows.

Leo: (looking up at the sun) Boy, it sure is getting hot! (as Leo begins to take off his shirt) You know, that reminds me of what Pop used to do in the spring while plowing with the horses. In those days he'd put on a pair of long underwear like this in the fall and leave it on all winter, then on the first hot day while plowing, he'd peel off the dirty ole underwear, throw it in the furrow, and plow it under! Bob: No wonder all of us were born in the later part of the year, Mom couldn't stand to be close to Pop until that long underwear was plowed under and he took his annual bath each spring!

Narrator: So that explains everything!

Alfred: Auk, I got to get to plowing, cause Louise and me have to go to a dern Hoying family get-together tonight. (pause) I'll have to listen to the same ole in-law stories over and over again. Like Louise's brother Jerry bitching at the ole chicken farmer, Paul Gaier, (pause) about how many times Dettie would break up with Paul before they were married, and Jerry would have to lug that dern cedar chest back to Paul's place each time they broke up! (pause) Or to hear about how much money all the Hoying's are making, (pause) especially Pat! (pause) He's got more hair-brained ideas to make a buck than anybody I've ever seen! (Pause) Or to hear Clem Aselage complain about Copelands, the weather, the kids and just about everything else. So, I gotta get going! Act one ends as Alfred, moves towards the tractor to begin plowing.


The brothers are looking over something that could represent a combine)

Narrator: Act Two begins as the brothers are pondering how to get the combine unstuck in the muddy part of the wheat field on Alfred's farm. Bob: Goddern it, Alfred, I told you a thousand times not to drive through that low spot since it rained so dern much.

Alfred: I know, I know ! But I had something on my mind and forgot about it.

Leo: Well, what's the problem?

Alfred: No problem really, but Louise went to the doctor yesterday and found out she's pregnant.

Bob: You ole son-of-a-gun. I didn't know you had any "spit" left in ya!

Alfred: Look whose talking, bachelor Bob!

Leo: (Laughing) ...So Alfred, after Dave, Sara, Ann and Lucy, what do you want, a boy or a girl?

Alfred: Dave wants a brother, so I guess a boy.

Leo: What would you name him?

Alfred: I'm sure Louise would want to name him after another Biblical character, (pause) but personally I'd prefer Alfred, Jr.! That has a nice ring to it,.... don’t you think?

Bob: Well the baby will be born before we get this wheat in if we don't get this sonabitch unstuck!

Leo: Why don't I hook up my Farmall and pull your ole Oliver out. And if that doesn't work, I've got something at home that surely will work, my ole reliable FORD tractor!! (While looking at audience).

Narrator: The audience is reminded that Chrysler does not make tractors, right Leroy?

Alfred: The FORD would surely be better than those funny orange colored Allis Chalmers tractors the Hoyings use! But at least the Hoying's drive good cars. Those FORD's they have are really sharp, especially compared to our piece of junk '59 Chevy. And if I ever trade in my trailer for a truck, it's gonna be a FORD for sure! (pause)

Narrator: This is getting out of hand! The previous segment was in there only because Dave could get a plug in for FORD where he works. What do you say we get back to the combine, which the brothers were able to get unstuck, but had to get Gaier’s Garage to come with their wrecker to finally get it out. No one remembers or cares what kind of truck he used! All Alfred remembers is all the crap Bob and Leo gave him for getting stuck! Meanwhile the scene shifts to the milking parlor later that same day. Alfred is alone and milking a cow (Woody and Dave together impersonate a cow, with Dave the tail-end).

Alfred: (Yelling to a person offstage bouncing a basketball) Darn it, Dave, quit that basketball playing right now and get back here milking! I got a young fresh cow to break in and I need your help. (The basketball continues to bounce)

Narrator: Alfred tries to put milkers on a fresh young cow and the cow is getting the best of him. (Cow repeatedly swings its tail in Alfred's face and tries to kick him (props are a feather duster and a milk bucket).

Alfred: (Disgustedly) Dern cow, quit swinging your tail in my face (as Alfred swats tail away repeatedly, to no avail). Suddenly, the cow kicks Alfred and he goes sprawling on the floor. The bucket tips over and milk flies everywhere. But the basketball keeps bouncing offstage. (Alfred gets up, cusses and kicks the cow back and goes sprawling to the floor again since the floor is wet with milk. At this point the narrator steps in and while helping Alfred to his feet, looks to the audience and says:

Narrator: It's all Dave's fault! (as the basketball continues to bounce offstage)


(Act Three begins as the brothers are looking over a broken corn picker on Alfred's farm). Narrator: It's now fall, and the brothers are at Alfred's farm and are fixing the corn picker.

Bob: Alfred, I told you a million times to be careful and don't run the corn picker snout into the ground. It's a real chore trying to bend the dern thing back in place (with tools). There, I think I got it back in shape. Now be careful the rest of the day!

Alfred: OK (as he goes offstage pretending to drive a tractor making tractor-like sounds , looking behind him at the picker snouts, adjusting the height carefully.

Leo: I'm sure not looking forward to tonight! Sally's gonna drag me to church services. Bob, you're lucky you're not married. Hell, you go hunting whenever you want, you don't need to pay all those dern bills the kids and Sally run up, and best of all, you don't have to take orders from anybody!

Bob: Well, Leo, I hate to break it to you, but I got a girlfriend I'm getting pretty serious with. I could use your advice, but not like the stuff you just told me.

Leo: (Astonished) You're kidding me! Why in the hell would you do something like that. You got the perfect life. Why ruin it! Who is she anyway? Did you get her pregnant?

Bob: Cliff Meyer's little sister, Carolyn, from Newport. She's a real doozy! And no she's not pregnant -(looking out at the audience) I don't think! I'm gonna ask her to marry me, and I'm curious how you proposed to Sally?

Leo: Hell, I didn't propose to Sally; I had to get permission from old man Enneking, and he was tough as nails. Maybe you can ask Cliff instead and avoid the mushy stuff! Oh Oh, here comes Alfred!( Alfred enters from off stage with a sheepish frown on his face, pretending to drive a tractor)

Narrator: Do you think Alfred is coming back because the wagon is full of corn or because he ran the snout into the ground again? You guessed it!

Bob: (Slowly, with a frustrated and perplexed look) I'll be a monkey's uncle! Twice in one day! Dern it, Alfred. You're going to have to fix this yourself. I'm getting outa here and going squirrel hunting! (Bob stalks off stage)

Leo: Alfred, your timing is absolutely terrible!

Alfred: What do you mean? It wasn't any better yesterday when you ran the snout into the ground at your place. Leo: That's not what I mean. Bob told me while you were gone he wants to get married to Carolyn Meyer, and I sort of poo-pooed the idea. That's really what teed him off, I think.

Alfred: Your kidding. That's Cliff Meyer's little sister, isn't it?

Leo: Yep! And I bet that's where he went instead of squirrel hunting!

Narrator: The plot thickens! Will Bob marry Carolyn? Will Alfred figure out how to straighten the snout without Bob's help? Did Bob really go squirrel hunting? Since we all pretty much know how the story ends, let's close our little skit with this final scene. It's the next week and all is well. It's a beautiful Indian summer day in late October, all the crops have been harvested, and the brothers are just finishing unloading the last of the corn.(The threesome pretends to unload a wagon of corn when a pregnant Louise, played by Lucy, and Sally, played by Sara, both dressed in a long apron, bandana, and granny shoes slowly move on stage, one carrying a bucket of beer - long necks - and the other carrying a platter of sandwiches for the men)

Louise: Curly (Alfred’s nickname), how about a bite to eat? I've got some sandwiches made of Busse's sausage.

Sally: And I got some cold Hudepohl.

Narrator: The scene closes with everyone sitting around drinking and eating, celebrating Alfred's birthday and another successful year on the farm.

All: (toasting) Das ist gut!! (Then have the audience join in to sing happy birthday to Dad, with the actors adding the usual second verse: May you live a hundred years, may you drink a thousand beers, so get plastered, you ba........d boy, happy birthday to you!!

The End

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Uncle Bob - 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.

Uncle Bob

Beyond my parents and teachers while growing up in Ft. Loramie, I probably learned more about life from my Uncle Bob, pictured above in both a 1946 & 2004 photo with my Dad, his older brother. Uncle Bob had just returned from the war at the time of the 1946 photo where he served in the Army as an infantryman. But in today’s Army, he would have been classified as a sniper, as he was the absolute best marksman since Davy Crocket. He loved the outdoors and was an avid hunter and fisherman. And I would classify him as an original environmentalist, because of his inordinate appreciation and respect for nature. Nothing ever was wasted around his farm, plus he could fix anything. His workshop was amazing. He had this innovative setup for precisely sighting-in his rifles. He could spot a groundhog from a 1/4 mile away and pick it off in one shot. Many a night I would be laying in bed and hear Uncle Bob’s dogs barking after treeing a coon in a nearby woods, then the single pop of Uncle Bob’s rifle, as he never missed! And when I was older, he would invite me along on the coon hunts - what a thrill. I also tagged along with him when he checked his muskrat traps and fished Lake Loramie. He made me promise to never divulge his best fishing holes and trapping sites. Squirrel hunting with Uncle Bob was a challenge, as you had to be totally quiet in the woods for hours waiting for a squirrel to scurry out of their nest to hunt hickory nuts, only to meet it's maker by eagle-eye Bob.

Bob was such a story teller, and he loved to “pull our leg” with with his tall yarns. For example, he incurred an injury during the war when a gun backfired on him and blew off the tip of his thumb. Who knows, maybe he even got a purple heart for the injury. But he would always tell us kids that an elderly neighbor who was a real curmudgeon by the name of Ben Olding purposefully ran over his thumb with his car. He also claimed that Ben Olding was flying any plane that ever flew over. Literally, thanks to Uncle Bob, Ben Olding got blamed for just about any unexplained phenomena that occurred when we were growing up.

Uncle Bob was a bachelor who lived with my grandmother on the farm pictured above that was across the road from our farm, both of which were the home farms of my grandfather and great-grandfather respectively. Along with a third brother who lived on another nearby farm, the three would work together, sharing equipment and helping each other out during planting and harvest times. I recall at Dad’s 80th birthday party when my brother, brother-in-law and I performed a funny skit about the three farmers at harvest time many years before. At another family get-together, a bat suddenly started flying around inside the hall where the event was being held, causing quite a stir. But Uncle Bob, undeterred, immediately went after the bat, catching it with his bare hands, released the bat outside and immediately sat back down to resume eating his meal without missing a beat - or washing his hands! As an outdoorsman and a bachelor, his personal hygiene was probably not the best! But that was about to change as indicated in the following story:

One Halloween, just after receiving my drivers license, I happened to drive by Uncle Bob’s place around dusk and noticed several people were toilet papering the trees around his house. Wanting to protect my favorite uncle, I snuck back and found their car hidden behind a shed, took the keys out of the ignition and put them under the front seat because that’s where Uncle Bob always put the keys for his car. As kids we would often listen to the radio in Uncle Bob’s car using those hidden keys, as Dad never had a radio installed in his cars. So eventually Uncle Bob arrived home and discovered the TP’ers sitting in their keyless car. First place he checked was under the seat and handed the perpetrators their keys. Unbeknownst to me, one of the culprits was somebody Uncle Bob had been dating, eventually to become engaged to and marry. Her name was Carolyn, about 20 years younger than Bob, but what a wonderful lady she was with a great sense of humor and a very memorable laugh, who eventually was somewhat able to “domesticate” Uncle Bob. Carolyn and I would kid each other for years about the TP job and the hidden car keys! I always blamed Ben Olding!

Uncle Bob’s farm was located near the terminus of the Loramie Creek, the northern most tributary of the Ohio River. As a result, Native Americans traveling between the Ohio River and Lake Erie had to portage their canoes from the Loramie Creek to the St. Mary’s River north of Minster. So there were lots of Indian artifacts to be found in that area, and Uncle Bob was a master at finding them. His secret was walking a newly plowed field just after a rainstorm once the sun came out. The shiny surfaces of the arrowheads cleaned by the rain would reflect the sun to make them easier to spot.

After Uncle Bob’s death in 2009, his collection of over 400 arrowheads was assessed by an archeologist, who discovered there were artifacts from all six prehistoric Ohio Native American paleological eras spanning over 10,000 years. His collection is now displayed in perpetuity at the Ft. Loramie elementary school as shown in the photo above. For more information about the collection and Uncle Bob, click on the following links:

Friday, November 25, 2016

SCAL Girls Basketball Preview

Fish Report's 2016-17 Girls Basketball Preseason All-SCAL

Maria Herron, senior, Russia (12.7 ppg). Outstanding guard for the Lady Raiders in her fourth year on varsity. Typically faced opponent's best defenders last season. Sees the floor extremely well and should have a huge year as one of the best shooters in the league.
Tiffany Hatcher, senior, Russia (11.0 ppg). Can pop it from long range and led the Lady Raiders in assists last year. Look for her scoring ability from the wing to free up and Russia's post players. Quick defender also that will create problems for other teams.
Macey Huelskamp, junior, Anna (10.3 ppg, 8.1 rpg). Floor leader for the Lady Rockets that is capable of a double-double every night. Will be hard to stop underneath the bucket at 6'-0" and is versatile enough to bring her defender outside and score.
Sarah Bergman, junior, Botkins (9.6 ppg, 8.0 rpg). At 6'-0" a real threat in the post and a beast on the boards. Will be the key to a much improved Botkins team that returns eight of her teammates from last year.
Cassie Meyer, senior, Jackson Center (7.7 ppg). Fresh off another state volleyball championship means a late start to the season. Athletes are athletes though and expect Cassie's winning mentality to lead to Lady Tiger's success.

Two new faces should make big splashes in the SCAL

Jada Rowland, junior, Anna. Averaged 6.1 ppg as a freshman and 2.0 ppg as a sophomore for D-I Sidney that went 46-3 during her time there. Once scored 24 as a freshman against St. Mary's, which included six 3-pointers. Look for the 6'-2" junior to have her best season yet.
Alicia Kessler, senior, Jackson Center. 6'-2" volleyball star for the Lady Tigers that has decided to try basketball. Could be just what Jackson Center needs after the graduation of leading scorer, rebounder and shot blocker Nicole Fogt from last year.

If you've never heard of Hattie Meyer, you will this season

Now that Jessica Boerger has graduated, it would appear the Ft. Loramie dynasty of the last four years has ended. What's next? The Lady Redskins seem to have no problem developing new stars and the best bets are a pair of juniors. Hattie Meyer came off the bench last year and will be the starting point guard this season. Abby Holthaus is a versatile post player that will be a tough match-up for opposing teams. Neither girl made our Preseason All-SCAL, but don't be surprised if they garnish some post season honors.

Not a year seems to go by in the SCAL where there isn't sisters on someone's roster. This year the best sister combo goes to the Houston Wildcats. Sarah Monnier is an experienced 5'-10" junior post player that averaged 5 ppg and 5 rpg last season. This year Sarah will be joined by her freshman sibling Jessie Monnier who already has a couple inches on her big sis at 6'-0". Sounds like double trouble for SCAL opponents.

Audrey Francis of Fairlawn was one of the most entertaining players in the league last year. She did it all for the Lady Jets as a junior averaging 18.5 ppg and 5.5 rpg. She was also a 1000 point scorer with her eyes set on her sister's school record of 1,622 points this year. Sadly, but understandably, Audrey decided to sit out this final season after surgery on her knee and a commitment to play college volleyball at Wheeling Jesuit University.

Audrey Francis was a pleasure to watch for three seasons

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Roto-Rooter - 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.


Thirty-four years ago, my Dad had what he termed “roto-rooter” surgery for a swollen, and fortunately benign, prostate. According to my nurse sister, Dad was exactly the same age as I am now, so it comes as no surprise that I was recently diagnosed with the same malady after a painful night in the ER and a urologist appointment the next day. Meds were tried unsuccessfully, so the doctor performed a more modern version of roto-rooter surgery called TURP on my prostate that was the size of an orange versus a normal size of a walnut. The plumbing caricature above pretty much describe the procedure. Ouch, indeed! The surgery was on the same day as the seventh game of the World Series, so staying overnight in the hospital was tolerable since I wasn’t going to get much sleep anyway. With the rain delay and extra innings, the game kept my mind diverted from the pain into the early hours of the next morning. Ditto on election night the following week while recovering at home.

Several of my friends have had similar surgeries, so thanks to their insight, I pretty much knew what to expect. Several suggested the whoopy cushion shown below called a Kabooti Comfort Ring, which would’ve come in real handy when attending church the first time after the operation. The sermon that week was about perseverance, which is exactly what I had to do to get through mass. Meanwhile, the wife of one of my best friends included the following quote in their get well card, “If it has tires or testicles, it’s gonna give you trouble”. The 1992 quote is from a State Senator and feminist from Ohio named Linda Furney. Having worked in the auto industry for my entire career, this was a double whammy! On top of that, my wife claimed I was a different person after the operation, but have since returned to “normal" as the recovery progresses. It appears she likes me better when I’m on pain medication and resting half the day! No doubt the medication cut the edge on my fabled German stubbornness, which must be coming back into form as I recover. She was told if I was that way all the time, we’d be in the poor house as I had absolutely no gumption to do anything productive (let alone hold up my end in a discourse).

Fortunately, the worst is now over and I’m on the mend to hopefully a successful recovery and full functionality, if you get my drift. My wife really has been a fantastic caregiver and my nurse sisters have also been very supportive from afar. On the other hand, my younger brother now knows what’s heading his way in about 9 years!

Lost about 20 pounds in the process, and now I have a bunch of lose skin in all the wrong places! Also, this procedure has somehow changed my taste in wine and beer, as I used to prefer reds and dark brews, now nothing by whites and lite beer. And regarding the age-old dilemma of boxers or briefs, now only boxers will do. Ironically, my wife purchased a set of plaid boxers while I was convalescing; one maize and blue and the other scarlet and gray. Guess which one I’ll be wearing Saturday?

President-elect Trump talks about draining the swamp in Washington; given my roto-rooter experience, I think the photo below better depicts what is needed.

And finally, Happy Thanksgiving, Fish Report readers.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Volunteer Fire Department - Dave’s Midwestern Ohio Memories

Blog about fond memories of growing up in Midwestern Ohio during the 50’s & 60’s.

Volunteer Fire Department

After I participated in a recent meeting of the Tri-City Fire Commission, a fire consortium here in Michigan among several local communities including the city of Orchard Lake where I live, the Fire Chief was reminiscing about the most serous fires he had to fight over his career. So naturally, on my way home, I started thinking about major fires that occurred as a kid growing up. The Ft. Loramie Community Fire Department, pictured above in this 1964 photo, was a department of dedicated volunteers who took the job very seriously. Most were local proprietors around town who were available on a moments notice should the fire alarm sound. Chief Morrie Frey was the local barber and his shop and home was directly across the street from the Fire Department. So he was like a full time firefighter on call 24-7. He would take the fire truck out to the fires and the other volunteers would follow in their vehicles, many red pick-up trucks with magnetic flashing red lights that could mounted to the top of the truck during a run.

Probably the most memorable fire as a kid was Ray Hoying’s barn fire around 1960. He was the neighbor to my grandparents in St. Patrick’s, so when visiting, we would play in that big barn with his children, who were second cousins. The fire started around dusk and from our farm about 10 miles away, we could see the flames and smoke shooting in the air. Dad knew the direction of the flames were about where his in-laws farm was, so the family took a ride to the fire. When we got there, the barn was totally ablaze pretty much as depicted in the photo on the right. That’s as close as we could get because of all the fire apparatus and other gawkers like us. However, we were thankful no one was hurt and that it wasn’t our grandparents barn that was on fire. I recall the first responders had gotten the livestock out of the barn, but that several cows ran back into the burning barn sensing they were in danger and instinctively returning to the only “safe” place they knew, the barn.

Once the fire was out, the barn was eventually rebuilt, with lots of help from the locals including Dad, who participated in one of the last barn raisings of that era.

Another serious fire that occurred after I left home was the factory fire of the Francis-Schulze company between Newport and Russia on Range Line Rd. The company was owned and operated by my in-laws, so upon the word of the fire, we left our home in Michigan to help the family recover from the disaster shown in the photos below. First order of business was getting production started again in what was an adjacent warehouse not damaged by the fire, which meant moving and repairing some fire-damage equipment literally on the fly while procuring and transporting new or used equipment and production parts in an expedited manner, and organizing the workforce to man the transformed operation around the clock to make up for lost production. Bottom line, the company never missed an order and they kept the pipeline flowing to their customers while the factory was rebuilt, this time with a sprinkler system fed from a large diesel pump adjacent to a much bigger retention pond behind the plant. My wife’s sister Joan tells the following story about that day, "Still amazes me looking back at these pictures and story how the Francis-Schulze sign (shown in the second photo), made of pressed board ever survived! Firemen all said a miracle! We took it as a sign from above; not to give up and build again! That sign still hangs today in the factory for all to see as a reminder to never give up."

Well, those memories came home to roost with me in 2002 when I was asked as an elected council member in the City of Orchard Lake to represent the city on the aforementioned Tri-City Fire Commission. After being on the Board of the volunteer fire department for less than a year, the Fire Chief suddenly announced his retirement, so we used that opportunity to investigate merging with the full time fire and EMS department of the neighboring township. A committee was formed that included me to work out the details, which we were able to accomplish in short order. The Township needed a new station, so they took over operation of our exiting almost-new station and truck pictured below.

The merger allowed the township to avoid the cost to build or buy new; meanwhile our citizens starting receiving fire and EMS services on a full time basis, cutting response times from 10 minutes to less than 4 minutes. Plus the firefighters were trained and licensed paramedics who could administer medications in route to the hospital rather than our volunteers who were trained as medical first responders who could only monitor the condition of the patient at the scene and while in route. Because we saved the cost of hiring a new chief and incurred lower fees from the township for the use of our station, the net cost was essentially a wash, which meant no tax increase for the better services. After the merger was consummated, the Fire Board was given the opportunity to participate in Fire Ops 101 training with new firefighters to learn firsthand the nuances of fire and EMS services. It was an amazing experience; in fact they gave each of us a fire helmet pictured below to keep along with the group photo in front of a burning tanker we had to extinguish during the training. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to talk to several people who thanked me profusely claiming they would not be alive had we not made the conversion to full time fire and EMS services.

Back to those dedicated firefighters in the Ft. Loramie Fire Department. They somehow inspired me much later in life to get involved in the firefighting services as described above, for which I'm eternally grateful. They must have influenced my brother as well since he was a volunteer on Russia’s fire department when he was living there. No doubt the firefighters in the 1926 photo below of the members of the Ft. Loramie department and their horse-drawn fire engines in front of the school, almost two years before the first motorized fire truck was purchased, inspired the group of dedicated volunteers on the department I knew growing up. And those guys surely have passed on a similar dedication to today’s crew serving the department pictured below in front of St. Michael’s.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Fall Butchering - Dave’s Midwestern Ohio Memories

Blog about fond memories of growing up in Midwestern Ohio during the 50’s & 60’s.

Fall Butchering

As a kid growing up, after the fall harvest in early November came butchering time. Dad and his neighbors would congregate on a Saturday morning at one of their farms and butcher a hog or two for each family. I suppose the process was considered gruesome by today’s standards, but at the time, it was a natural part of being raised on a farm. One of our neighbors was Lud Busse, one of the owners of Busse’s Meat Market in Ft. Loramie. He was there to help make the sausage using his famous recipe. Ft Loramie was so well known for Busse’s Meat Market that people would come from miles around for their meats, especially the tasty pork sausage, available in either smoked or fresh varieties. Campers at the lake each summer always made the trip into town for some sausage to take back to their homes in the cities. There was even a place in Dayton that carried Busse’s meats as I remember it being located along my route to Frigidaire where I worked. There was a large sign saying “World Famous Busse Sausage”.

Busse’s slaughter house was part of co-owner Lud Busse’s farm adjacent to our farm. I spent many a day at the slaughter house observing the butchering process and was amazed how effectively the butchers could carve up a carcass into prime steaks, ribs, hams, pork chops and bacon. A similar process was followed on those fall butchering Saturday’s at our farm. The sausage was made from portions of the hog not used for the prime cuts, which were ground up and stuffed into tubes made from pork intestines. And the animal’s blood was saved for blood pudding, a tasty concoction that Mom would serve hot with lassie bread for breakfast. The bones were saved for soup stock and the fat turned into lard for frying. Not much of the animal went to waste on our farm.

Some of the meats, especially the hams, sausage and bacon slabs, were hung in the smoke house where a small hickory fire would smolder for days to cure the meats so they wouldn’t spoil. Other cuts were packaged and sent to the Wagner’s Locker in Minster for freezing, as most farm homes at that time did not have their own freezers to store meat. Then afterwards came the best part when the pork chops and spare ribs were barbecued usually over an open fire and everyone enjoyed a feast after a hard days work butchering enough meat to last the winter.

Dad used to know the recipe for Busse’s sausage, but I think he went to his grave with that world famous recipe still a secret, although some claim current day Wagner’s and Winter’s sausage comes close, but in my book (er blog), those don't quite measure up to the original.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Why I Love Sports

(The following was written by Russia alum and University of Dayton sophomore Corrina Francis after Game 7 of the World Series on Wednesday night. Corrina was kind enough to share it with Fish Report.)

As I sit here at 1:10 AM, I should be studying for an economics test I have tomorrow, or more likely, sleeping. But I’m afraid sleep would elude me after such an incredible Game 7.

The Chicago Cubs have won the World Series. Some people have gone a lifetime without ever such a statement being made. 108 years to be exact.

Now I am by no means a Cubs fan. Rather, a Reds fan, so quite the opposite. But I am a sports fan and a baseball fan and that game 7 epitomizes everything I love about the game of baseball.

From a leadoff homerun, a homerun by a 39-year-old backup catcher, the Indians improbable comeback off Aroldis Chapman, a rain delay, and finally a game winning hit by Ben Zobrist in the 10th inning. This game was such a roller-coaster of emotions (or rather glass case of emotions), and I didn’t even have a strong rooting interest!

The on-field celebration was awesome to watch and I was taken aback by how humble the players were. Just watching the raw emotion of the players was so fun, and I couldn’t help but smile along with them. It was like they didn’t even believe what had just happened. Every player interviewed seemed to be in awe that they were at last world champions.

I was able to find a livestream of Wrigley Field. You could see the tension on the faces of the fans, just hoping against all hope that the Cubbies could record those final three outs in the bottom of the 10th. So much was at stake. A 4 hour 45 minute game, a 7 game series, and the Cubs best season in over 100 years would all be for naught if they didn’t win. More than that, 108 years of losing was looming.

I was watching the livestream when the final out of the game was recorded. It was pure madness. To anyone who could appreciate it, the scene was actually kind of beautiful. Strangers were hugging strangers. Fathers were sharing a special moment with their son. A man was kissing his wife because his favorite baseball team had finally the World Series after 108 years. And of course, all of Chicago was singing, in unison, “Go, Cubs, Go!”

It was cool to see a group of people so united. In a time when politicians and protests seem to be dictating the direction of social discourse in the country, it is impossible to see so many people passionate about a good cause and be so united. Any given Cubs fan didn’t care if the fan next to him was black or white, Republican or Democrat, Christian or Jewish or Muslim. All he cared was that he was a Cubs fan and the Cubs had won the World Series.

I love the game of baseball. I love diving catches, extra innings, homeruns, and comebacks as much as the next person. But I think what I really love about baseball and sports is the uniting power. It’s ability to bring people of all backgrounds together with a passion and unite them for a common cause.

As lame as it sounds, when watching the post-game coverage, I felt a tear run down my face. I could just feel that I was witnessing something special. And I realized, this is why I love sports.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

1960 Presidential Election - Dave’s Midwestern Ohio Memories

Blog about fond memories of growing up in Midwestern Ohio during the 50’s & 60’s.

1960 Presidential Election

This election season has definitely been memorable, but for an entirely different reason than the first election I recall while growing up; the 1960 presidential race between John Kennedy and Richard Nixon. As a 7th grader, Civics was one of our classes, and a new teacher had been hired, Mr. Hancock. In Junior High, students rotated to various classes, as opposed to elementary school where the entire day was spent in one classroom with a single teacher - boring. I enjoyed the hourly change in class rooms, teachers and subject matter in junior high.

Mr. Hancock would focus the first half of the class on the normal Civics curriculum, then would shift the discussion to the election. Since literally all the students in the class were Catholic, plus at that time, counter to today, Ft. Loramie was predominantly Democrat, John Kennedy, being a Catholic Democrat, was the overwhelmingly preferred candidate. So Mr. Hancock, whether he actually was a Nixon supporter or not, to make things interesting, took the Republican side in these discussions. But we made some hay against him the day President Eisenhower was asked what contributions Nixon had made as Vice President during his administration and Ike responded by saying "If you give me a week, I might think of one."

There were four debates that election, and all were broadcast for the first time ever on national TV. While watching the debates, my Mom commented that Nixon looked “shady and had shifty eyes”; never could get anything past her! The day after each of the four debates, Mr. Hancock dedicated the entire hour to the previous night’s opposing arguments, re-enacting the war of words with him portraying Nixon going against the entire class (he even looked somewhat like Nixon). The last debate actually involved using split screen technology since each candidate and the moderator were in separate locations around the country. I don’t recall a vice-presidential debate, as that would have pitted Lyndon Johnson and Henry Cabot Lodge against each other.

Mr. Hancock sure got us engaged and involved in politics, an interest that sticks with me and a number of my classmates to this day. I can clearly recall the exact location of his classroom right across from the gym and my exact seat in the class . The only other similar such remembrance was the seat I enjoyed during typing class as a senior sitting between two cute freshmen girls; but I digress! However, luckily, those typing skills sure came in handy once PC’s were invented - and for typing out blogs!

Finally, election day came with the race not called until the wee hours of the next morning. In fact, our neighbors, when the outcome was still unclear, rolled there big black & white console TV into the bedroom and watched the returns until CBS’s anchor Walter Cronkite called Kennedy the victor at 3:00am. Our family visited the neighbors the night after the election and the big TV was still in the bedroom.

Mr. Hancock’s class the next day was special in that with Kennedy winning, we could all rub it in and bask in the victory. But it turned out that Ohio actually went for Nixon, along with the 25 other red states shown below. Note how the popular vote was only about 112,000 votes apart.

Exactly 1000 days after being inaugurated, John F. Kennedy was tragically assassinated in Dallas, a day that I’ll never forget. I had the opportunity to meet up this summer with the two guys I was with at the time we found out Kennedy had been shot. We shared a special bond and this indelible memory for the last 53 years, as if it happened yesterday. One of my favorite books is A Thousand Days - John F. Kennedy in the White House, by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Special Assistant to the President. It’s my bedtime reading, so I’m lucky to read 2-3 pages of the 1200 page testament before falling asleep. When finished, I merely start over at page one, as the story never gets old. But this election, whatever the outcome, will likely mean more reading each night since it will be much harder to fall asleep.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Regional Cross Country Preview...

The OHSAA Southwest Regional Cross Country Championships in Troy are always exciting

I have great news if you haven't been to a single high school cross country meet all season. You can see the best races of the year this Saturday at the Southwest Regional in Troy. I would know because I've been watching cross country for 30 years and I say the same thing every October! My biggest interest lies in Division-III where plenty of local schools will be represented by both teams and individual competitors. For me, there's nothing quite like watching small-town athletes run until exhaustion turns their legs into spaghetti, all for the chance to make it to state and represent their school. If you're hesitant to make the short trip to Troy because you don't know anything about cross country, below is your guide to the D-III races:

Ft. Loramie is state-ranked #3 and will be aiming for a regional championship on Saturday

Starting Time: 11:00
Record: 15:32.7, Sam Prakel, Versailles, 2011
14 Teams, 19 Individuals =117 runners from 29 schools
Advancing to State: Top 4 teams and Top 16 individuals minus team results

The southwest region hasn't produced a D-III boy's state championship team since 1995 when Anna coach Dean Stewart's Rockets brought home the title. Is this the year for the Troy Regional? Coach Stewart has another good team this season. His star is senior Lucas Huber who finished runner-up at last Saturday's southwest district meet in Cedarville and led Anna to a second place finish in the team results. The actual district winner was Ft. Loramie, currently ranked #3 in the state coaches poll. The Redskins will be aiming to avenge their 10-point loss to Anna at last year's regional meet and further prove their 5th-place finish at the state meet was no fluke. I think Coach Dennis Prenger has all the ingredients for big performances these next two Saturdays. Not only are his boys extremely fast, but I've observed complete humbleness from top five runners Jake Rethman, Joe Ballas, Tom Ballas, Noah Siegel and Alan Holdheide in the several races I've watched this year. I suspect the Redskins will take care of business in Troy and put the traditionally dominant region of northeast Ohio on alert for the following weekend.

As far as the individual race winner goes, I look for another strong performance from Bethel's Korry Hamlin, just a junior. Korry is a multi-sport athlete that has forever split his time in the fall between cross country and soccer, and not always in that order! Korry won the southwest district race at Cedarville last week in 16:26 and will get his biggest challenge from Chase Gardner of Seven Hills who also ran a 16:26 to win the West Chester district. Another notable contender includes Ryan Estes of Clark Montessori who finished runner-up at West Chester in 16:28.

Fish Report Predictions
State Bound Teams: Ft. Loramie, Anna, Summit Country Day, Clark Montessori
Bubble Team: National Trail
State Bound Locals: Korry Hamlin, Bethel; Cole Good, Franklin-Monroe; Nick Williams, West Liberty-Salem; Austin Fullenkamp, Botkins; Gavin Horne, Miami East; Tristin Freistuhler, Houston

Covington won the Southwest District at Cedarville and are slight favorites coming into Troy

Starting Time: 1:30
Record: 17:51.6, Sunni Olding, Minster, 2003
12 Teams, 16 Individuals =100 runners from 25 schools
Advancing to State: Top 4 teams and Top 16 individuals minus team results

Get ready for a good one folks. Who wins the girl's race is a toss-up in my opinion. Russia is riding an amazing streak of three consecutive regional championships and last year edged Covington by just six points for the title. The Lady Raiders have been led by three different girls this season in senior Audrey Gariety, junior Megan Frazier and sophomore Anna Fiessinger. Other top five runners include senior Shae Goubeaux and sophomore Claire Meyer who both have experience from Russia's run to the state meet last year. However, the Covington girls come into this weekend as slight favorites after beating Russia by ten points just a week ago at the district meet in Cedarville. The Lady Buccs have a definite leader in senior Anna Dunn who finished 5th overall in that race and would likely enjoy nothing more than one regional championship before she ends her career. Close behind Anna is a young group of teammates that includes sophomores Paige Boehringer and Ashlyn Plessinger, and rounding out the top five are juniors Kelsey Dysinger and Danielle Alexander.

Individuals competing for the race winner is highlighted by Bradford sophomore star Karmen Knepp. Karmen won last Saturday's Cedarville district by two seconds in 18:58, out-kicking Springfield Catholic Central freshman Addy Engel. Addy does double-duty as a runner and soccer player, and actually played in Catholic Central's tournament game later on Saturday night. Those two should go at it again this Saturday and I expect no competition from other individuals from the Cedarville district or the West Chester district where the top finisher won in 20:35.

Fish Report Predictions
State Bound Teams: Russia, Covington, Ft. Loramie, West Liberty
Bubble Team: Miami East
State Bound Locals: Karmen Knepp, Bradford; Lorenza Savini, Miami East; Marcy Bradshaw, Arcanum; Marie Ewing, Miami East; Lindsey Yingst, Miami East; Alanna O'Leary, Lehman

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 boys race at 11:00 am and the girls race at 1:30 pm. Feel free to bring your own chicken noodle soup to add to the pot or whatever else you like! 

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