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

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