Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Columbus or Bust - 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.

Columbus or Bust

With the start of the high school basketball tournament, now's the time to share some of my favorite memories about playoff basketball. Back in my day, local teams made the state tournament three years in a row; Jackson Center in 1963, Piqua Catholic in 1964, and then Minster got to Columbus in 1965. Unfortunately, none went on to win it all. That Minster team was special in that two of the players were my first cousins with whom I had played many barnyard pick-up games over the years growing up. The semi-final game was on Friday, so a group of us Ft. Loramie juniors skipped school and headed to Columbus with tickets in hand to St. John’s Arena where the Wildcats were to play Springboro. Little did we know that the tickets were for seats in the very last row and as someone who had never been to St. John’s arena, it was in nose-bleed territory. That arena has the steepest stands imaginable so it literally felt like you were falling out of your seat, ready to tumble all the way to the floor. Check out the photo below; especially note the top tier of seats up in the roof right under the banners. And watch the game on this YouTube video where it appears the camera was positioned up there in the rafters with us.

Although Minster lost the game, the highlight was seeing one of my cousins dunk the basketball; the first time I had ever witnessed a dunk in high school play. From that high vantage point, it was like watching the dunk from a sky cam. And at that moment, dunking the basketball became a goal of mine as well, which I accomplished (sort of) and wrote about in a previous blog.

The best state tournament memory came in 1977 when Ft. Loramie won it all, becoming the first local basketball team to become state champion. During the previous summer when visiting my parents, I recall seeing Doug Brandewie, the star of that team, whose family lived in the neighborhood, running along the road adjoining our farm. Dad’s said Doug ran by every day and he seemed to be going faster each time. That’s when I had an positive inkling about that team, because up until then, no one ever really did summer conditioning. The year before, long-time Loramie Coach Kramer had retired, so new Coach Hamlin was obviously putting the boys through the paces that would really pay off big time the following spring during their tournament run. They beat Mansfield St. Pete 63-50, also at St. John’s Arena, but this time we had great seats in the lower bowl.

The Redskins, who were only 2-8 early in the season, started their run after beating Minster in triple overtime, going undefeated the rest of the way. My brother-in-law played for Minster in that game and remembers it was held on a Sunday as the game was cancelled earlier in the season due to bad weather. It was a home game for Ft. Loramie, but actually played at Minster because Loramie rented Minster’s court for their games because their cracker-box box gym was so outdated as evidenced by the center circle and the foul circles partially overlapping and the out of bounds lines right up against the walls.

Not coincidentally, that State Championship team created the momentum around Ft. Loramie to build and fund a new high school with a modern gym, which may never have happened, or at least as quickly, without the community spirit created by that winning team. A few years later, in the annual alumni basketball tournament, that championship 1977 team met our group of players from 1966-67 in the finals, which we lost on a last second shot by the player I was guarding (or should have been guarding due to double teaming Doug Brandewie). If only I had taken a lesson from that ‘77 team and did some running to get in better shape before the alumni tournament!

Today, with girls basketball to complement the boys, it seems there is always a Shelby County League team heading to State, which really makes it enjoyable for local fans and Fish Report readers alike during tournament time. Good luck to all the local teams. See you in Columbus!

St. John's Arena isn't home to the state high school basketball tournament 
any longer, but this is what the crowd looked like when it was!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Automotive Trivia - 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.

Automotive Trivia 

Q: What U.S. production car has the quickest 0-60 mph time? 

A: The 1962 Chevrolet Impala SS 409. Did it in 4.0 seconds.

A friend sent me an email about automotive trivia including the above photo which reminded me of my second car. Recall an earlier blog entry about a ’59 Chevy, my first car that was a hand-me-down four door family car from my Dad. Because of a spin out event at the end of our driveway in a neighbor’s V8 just after I turned 16 and also since he was loaning me money to buy a car, Dad insisted I could not buy anything with a V8 engine. A friend’s older brother had a red ’62 Chevy 2 door hardtop with a 3 speed column shift and an inline six cylinder engine with only 35,000 miles that fit the bill, so I bought it at the beginning of my senior year in high school. After graduating and saving some money from a summer job before college, I was able to pay back the loan to Dad and make a few upgrades to the car. First were 409 cubic inch V8 engine emblems for each front fender, then a Hurst floor shifter (with a four speed knob), a Thrush muffler, spring clamps to lower the vehicle, an 8 track stereo with a reverberator and finally some used Crager wheels that really set the car apart. The ignition timing was reset to roughen up the idle, so with the Thrush muffler, it sounded just like a big block V8 engine. I’d rev the engine at a stoplight and the guy next to me always wanted to race. Off he sped when the light changed, typically burning rubber, while I would take off normally. The car’s illusionary speed and 409 reputation was all that was needed. But it got me in trouble once, pulling out of Eagle's Park in Minster after a dance, the wheels spun on some loose gravel and I got picked up by the sheriff for reckless operation, resulting in the loss of my license for a month that summer. Without the upgrades, there’s no doubt in my mind I wouldn’t have been pulled over. So with no license, I recall having a friend drive my car through town once while I ducked down in the front seat, so the local cops thought I was driving and pull us over just as i popped up to show myself! The cops nickname was Wuppy, for Wuppenhorst I think; he acted like Barney Fife and looked like Fred Flintstone!

Later that summer after getting my drivers license back, two friends and I drove the car to Virginia Beach and NYC the week before heading to college, sleeping in the car all the way there and back; one of us in the front, one in the back and me in the trunk. You might wonder how I could sleep in the trunk with the large storage cavity in the bottom shown in the photo below. Well, our suitcases fit perfectly in that space, leaving a relatively flat area for my sleeping bag. Plus with my 6’4” frame, it gave me extra leg room compared to the interior seats. Well, one night before arriving in NYC after leaving Virginia Beach while parked on a dirt road off an exit of the Garden State Parkway, a motorcycle gang sped past about 2:00 in the morning and the roar woke me up as I was sleeping in the trunk. Cracking the lid in time to see the bikers turning around, likely with the intent of ransacking the car (and us!), I began yelling and pounding on the back wall of the trunk until my friends finally woke up and took off toward the Parkway, trying to outrace the bikers. I kept peering out from under the trunk lid at their fast-approaching headlights, wishing the ‘62 had a real 409 at that point. Fortunately we did manage to safely get back on the Parkway, and finally ended up sleeping in a rest stop until about 5:00 in the morning when suddenly the grass sprinklers turned on and sprayed all over the back of the car soaking me trying to sleep in the trunk. After more pounding and yelling, the guys up front finally woke up again so we took off for NYC, arriving via the Holland Tunnel during rush hour. The portion of the trip in the Big Apple was a total blur! About all I remember is driving back, eating sliders for $1 a dozen, filling up with 35 cents a gallon gas and arriving home with only pocket change. Then the next day I headed off to college for my freshman year. What a fun trip and a great car!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

First Kiss - 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.

First Kiss

With Valentine’s Day around the corner and being the romantic that I am, this blog entry is all about my first kiss. It occurred during recess under the fire escape pictured above at Ft. Loramie elementary school in first grade. The school is now gone, but the memory lasts. Turns out this first kiss has something in common with the couple in the kiss cam photo below as well as a famous movie star, Eva Longoria. No, it wasn’t her that I kissed! But just as she claims in this video, Ms. Longoria’s first kiss tasted like Cheetos; so did mine. The first grade girl that I kissed was nibbling on some Cheetos and I went up to her and said I’d trade her a kiss for a Cheeto. She agreed and there we did the deed right behind the bushes under the fire escape. I wonder if she remembers it; likely not as it probably wasn’t her first kiss, as she was so hot!

Another memorable kiss came after a class party in the summer between my sophomore and junior year in high school, just after getting my drivers license. I was driving my Dad’s 1959 Chevy and asked a classmate if I could take her home after the party. She agreed but had a midnight curfew, so off we went after the party heading back to her house. Now this was the first time with a girl in a car and so I was learning and improvising on the fly. When we pulled into her driveway just before midnight, again being the romantic that I am, I reached over and opened the car door for her. I picked up this trick from my dad when he would drop my grandmother off at her house! The girl exclaimed “You mean you aren’t even going to walk me to the door?". So I dutifully walked her to the door and when we got there, I said goodnight and turned back to the car. She again exclaimed, “You’re not even going to kiss me goodnight?”. So I kissed her a good one - again learning on the fly. Remember this was a few years before Bob Seger’s Night Moves album, so had it been out, I would have of course known exactly what to do. Right! The song also reminds me of a part time summer job at a drive in theater I once held, but those escapades will be fodder for a future blog entry!

Happy Valentine’s Day, Fish Report lovers!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Loramie Basketball - 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.

Loramie Basketball

Strangely, I had a dream recently about the 1963-64 Loramie Redskin basketball team; why I have no idea! When waking up the next morning, I recalled the dream but only could come up with the names of 4 of the 5 senior starters, Mel Boerger (#50 above, my 1st cousin & my dad’s Godson), Nelson Barhorst (#45 above & distant cousin), Ed Sanders (#55 above & brother to classmate friend) and Dave Borchers (distant cousin - number not shown). So after a Google search to find the 5th starter, what came up from the Nov. 30, 1963 issue of the Lima News is shown below. Like my dream, it’s all garbled so the reader is inclined to pay to access the full article, but the name of the forgotten player was buried in the scrambled mess :­ John Rethman (#43 above & a neighbor). The team blew away Buckland early in that season 104-60. Dave Borchers scored 38. Note that a few years later, Buckland was consolidated into Wapakoneta HS. This game occurred over 52 years ago, which means the Seniors on the team will be celebrating their 70th birthday this year! Thanks to my cousin Mel, my sister Lucy and Jim Rosengarten, the curator of the Ft. Loramie Historical Association, for the photos and the stats (Mel sent the cheerleader photos; unfortunately they weren’t in my dream!)
Fort Loramie Goes 4Crazy' FORT The Buck- Totals land Bucks "took it on theBuckIand 42 20 104 22 14 17 Fort Loramie 31 23 26 nose" here Friday night Indian Lake Garners Win 3 were downed by the Fort Lora- mie Redskins, 104-60. Dave Borchers shoxved the Raskins trie path to victory as dumped in 38 points, more double the total of any- orft else in the game. Buckland Mix Place Tom Place Bob Fry Tod Miller Harold Ettly David Hughes Eisass totals Fort Loramie Sanders Ernst Dave Borchers John Turner Mel Boerger Dick Schwartz Nelson Barhorst Mike Bollenbacher John Rethman Steve Monnin Jay Darst GFT 066 0 7 0 1 6 1 2 7 19 0 0 4 10 1 0 00 1 0 0 00 19 16 54 GFT 4 2 0 1 1 3 1 3 15 0 8 0 4 0 0 1 3 0 2 1 7 0 2 0 6 2 32 
As indicated in the stats below, under Coach Kremer's guidance, that ’63-’64 team went on to win the SCL (not SCAL!) with a 21-3 record. They were great role models for us younger players coming up in the system. Plus with all my personal connections to the team, it was especially fun to watch them play and do so well. Growing up with these guys meant playing many barnyard basketball games together that would always be physically challenging, especially since I was a few years younger, but that rough and tumble play really helped me to eventually become a better basketball player.

Happy 70th Birthday to the seniors from one of the best teams in Loramie history.

(click on the pictures to enlarge)

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