Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Little Boy and the Fat Man - 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.

The Little Boy and the Fat Man

Perhaps if you are a news junkie like me, you've heard the Doomsday Clock recently moved closer to midnight than since 1953. This symbolic clock will strike midnight if and when a global nuclear disaster ever occurs. The concept was developed after the atomic bombs were detonated to end WWII in 1945. On that subject, I recently discovered that during the war, my uncle and Godfather Hank may have been involved with the transport of the first atomic bomb to Tinian Island in the South Pacific where the B29 bomber squadron was based that dropped the first atomic bomb over Hiroshima, Japan. Hank never told anyone the full story since the information was classified top secret, so he likely went to his grave with those secrets. Recently, however, much of the information about that pivotal bombing has been declassified, so after some google searching, I discovered that the first atom bombs were disassembled into various pieces and transported by different means and routes to avoid having the entire bomb fall into enemy hands. So it’s definitely possible that my Godfather, pictured below at various ages, was involved since he was a transport pilot in the U.S. Naval Air Forces, Pacific Fleet, rising to the rank of Commander in the Naval Reserves after the war. See photos below of his aviator wings and command patch.

Godfather Hank in 1933, 1945 & 2003

Naval Air Force Aviator Wings & Command Badge

Further research into the newly unclassified documents revealed that the engineers and technicians on the Manhattan Project (code name for the development of the atomic bomb) were also transported via various means from Los Alamos, NM where the bomb was developed to Tinian Island so it could be re-assembled before being loaded on the B29 pictured below christened Enola Gay after pilot Paul Tibbets mother. Further complicating matters, these scientists did not travel with the atom bomb components, so the entire process was a logistical challenge that came off without a hitch between the June 21st departure from Los Alamos to the August 5th bombing.

Since I was born after WWII, my memories of that period are totally from history books and my relatives who were among the veterans that served so valiantly. I do recall my Godfather giving me airplane paraphernalia like his old flight goggles and oxygen mask that I’d play with as a kid. Until now I had assumed my only real connection to the atom bomb occurred during the 50’s with the "duck and cover drills" in grade school and the construction of a few "bomb shelters" around town. Beyond that, I do recall the singing the German song "Oh Tannenbaum" or "Oh Christmas Tree" during the holidays as a kid. It was during the Cold War, so naturally I thought they were singing "Oh atomic bomb", and I chimed right in!

Duck & Cover Drill

Bomb Shelter Construction

Little Boy and Fat Man brought a quick end to the war, saving countless American lives in the process. That being said, having visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial several times during business trips to Japan, let’s hope and pray that these homicidal devices are the first and last atomic bombs ever detonated, keeping that dastardly Doomsday Clock from ever ticking to midnight. . . . . . . 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Mom's 100th Birthday - 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.

Mom’s 100th Birthday

Today, Tuesday, January 24th, would have been my Mother's 100th Birthday. She died 14 years ago at age 86 and we miss her dearly. She was the ultimate “loving disciplinarian” who would make sure we behaved properly (most of the time) but used a firm hand in a teaching manner. Then whenever more severe parental instruction was needed, Dad would be brought in as the “enforcer” with the infamous paddle! Mom & Dad met after WWII and were married in 1947 as shown in the photo below in front of the former St. Patrick’s church.

The Catholic faith was the foundation of their loving relationship and how they raised their family of 5 children. Mom was dedicated to the Blessed Mother and would pray the rosary regularly, especially during Lent when the entire family would gather together every weekday night to toggle through the beads and recite the mysteries. The following photo was taken by my Dad showing us with our parish priest, Fr. Raterman (I’m the one with glasses in the back with the ball glove on my hand). About that same time, Father had been teaching me Latin in preparation for becoming a mass server. He needed a lot of patience, but that basic training set the stage eventually for me to fluently read and understand such Latin tomes as Julius Caesar and Homer's Iliad & Odyssey during high school, all since forgotten, of course!

My Mother loved her family unconditionally. She really enjoyed spending time with her 10 brothers and sisters, especially with her three sisters pictured below (Mom upper right) celebrating the end of WWII in 1945. And most of all, she enjoyed our family get-togethers on the farm commemorated in the family photo below next to the Mile Creek running through our farm with the house and barn in the background.


Mom always had a lush flower and vegetable garden, using the fresh produce to cook three square meals a day for our family. Of course, as kids we did our share of tending to the garden and helping her cook, while also assisting Dad feed the livestock and tend to the crops. It was fun growing up on the farm (for the most part) and the memories come flooding back as we commemorate Mom’s 100th birthday. After us kids were grown, Mom & Dad were blessed with a long and enjoyable retirement spending time traveling, playing cards and partying with family and friends. The Halloween photo below represents a typical example.

Happy Birthday, Mom. This prayer is in your honor. Rest in peace.

Proverbs 31:  The Wife of Noble Character

10 [b]A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Florida Trips - 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.

Florida Trips

Naples Pier at Sunset

US 1 Overseas Highway
to Key West
As much as we enjoy living in the midwest, there are times in the winter when it becomes a challenge. So now that we’re retired, my wife and I have traveled to Naples, Fl. until spring to escape the cold. We both enjoyed our first taste of Florida in the 60’s during spring breaks, but really didn't appreciate the area until, as a newly hired engineer at Ford, I was assigned to do hot weather testing in Florida during the winter. My wife would sometimes accompany me on the trips, which allowed her to enjoy the beach, shop and sightsee while I was working. One such trip was to Naples, where Ford had a nearby test track. We stayed at a hotel along the beach and came to really enjoy the area, but concluded everyone was pretty old at this place. Fast forward 40+ years and now I blend right in (not yet for my wife), so here we are enjoying 80 degree weather in sunny Naples.

Those Ford test trips usually entailed driving instrumented test cars to Key West along US 1 from Miami. We would have to soak the cars in the hot sun until the interiors were 140 degrees, then get in and start driving to measure how fast the vehicle cooled down. The soak time took a couple hours, so during those downtimes, we’d plan fun activities like enjoying the unusual sights, sounds and cuisine of Key West. On the return, we do another soak on Marathon Key, where our neighbor from Dearborn happened to spent the winters. On one trip, he was kind enough to take us bone fishing on the Gulf. It was a calm, sunny day and the Gulf was so clear we could see the bone fish hit the bait 40 feet down. After we enjoyed the fishing and performed the cool down tests, we headed back to Miami, where one evening after a run to Key West, we went to the Orange Bowl to see the Bengals play the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football. Speaking of Miami, city driving tests to simulate stop and go traffic was always on the agenda. Our favorite city traffic route was in Miami Beach along A1A where bikini-clad girls would be walking the streets. It was hard to concentrate on our test instruments while running that route!

During one test trip, we drove across Alligator Alley on a high speed run. Alligator Alley is an 80 mile straight shot, 4 lane highway built in 1968 across the Everglades between Ft. Lauderdale and Naples. We made arrangements with the Florida Highway Patrol to escort us across as our speeds were about 100 mph. I remember them driving Mustang police vehicles like shown on the right. The state troopers were ahead of and behind us, with lights a flashing, which made the trip more fun than driving on the autobahn in Germany with no speed limits. And yes, I was getting paid to perform these grueling tasks! Heck of a lot different than the farm work I was used to!

Alligator Alley

Stay warm, my friends!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

DJ, Jr. & Sr. - 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.

DJ, Jr. & Sr.

My wife received the above photo in her recent Christmas card from her cousin, whose mother Rita is my wife’s aunt and Godmother. Rita is pictured celebrating her first communion in 1937 with her older brother, my wife’s father. Also, Rita's Christmas card included a handwritten letter shown below dated January 8, 1940 from my wife’s father, age 10 at the time, to his Dad traveling on a business trip to Chicago. It reads as follows:

Dear Dad,
Is it very cold in Chicago? It snowed all night but it wasn’t very cold. Played snowballs at school today. I’m glad I wasn’t in the airplane. I have been very lonesome for you. Three of the Reds didn’t sign up yet, Meyers, Goodman and Lombardy. How did you like your trip? Last night the windshield wipers froze and Mom and Tom had to get out and clean them. I pray so you would get there safe. Take care of yourself and come home soon.
Your big Boy,
DJ, Jr.

My wife’s grandfather, nicknamed DJ, Sr. for Delbert Joseph, was one of kind! He always wore a sport coat with a lobster-shaped diamond lapel pin somewhat like shown on the right that he picked up on one of his many “ business” trips. If you look closely, the pin is visible on this 5 generation photo below; DJ is on the far left, my wife’s father, DJ, Jr. better known as Doc, is on the far right, next to him is his daughter Joan, with her baby Michelle in the lap of 100 year old great-great grandma Anna.

Once when DJ visited us in Michigan, to make an impression, he contacted in advance all the local places we would be going so they could acknowledge him by first name when we arrived as if they’d known him for years. We indeed were impressed, thinking at the time that he personally knew all these managers, waitresses, bellhops, valet attendants, etc. that we ran into. He always made a big show of tipping them generously for their over-the-top efforts.

His business involved the manufacture of metal castings, as well as the fabrication of storm doors and windows. During one of his business trips, he got robbed of his trademark pin and wallet full of tip money; he was hospitalized, but ok. That incident put a damper on his travel, and a few years later in 1976, he unfortunately passed away suddenly at age 72 on his son’s 46th birthday. He had lived a life full of adventure, travel and successful business dealings. As evidence, after his death, the family discovered a large box of matchbooks and airplane whiskey bottles from his travels, along with hundreds of room keys that he “collected”. His trips were documented on a map with stickpins showing his many destinations. See the photos below of the now prominently displayed items in the basement bar of my brother-in-law (thanks, Ron). We were amazed at the wide variety of exotic locations DJ had visited, allegedly all for business purposes (Siberia, for example!). One of a kind, indeed!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Ten Year War-Bo & Woody - 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.

Ten Year War - Bo & Woody

At our family Christmas party this year, my niece’s boyfriend, an OSU grad, when discovering we live in Michigan, asked as an Ohio native if I was a Buckeye fan. My response was that I root for the Buckeyes for 365 days a year. When he realized that 2016 was a leap year, his suspicions were confirmed; I’m a fan of that “school up north”! He asked how and when I switched, and my response was while attending Michigan for my MBA in 1974, but it really started earlier while at General Motors Institute in Flint, MI. on November 22, 1969 in the Big House when the Wolverines, lead by new coach, Ohio native Bo Schembeckler, upset the #1 ranked and defending National Champion Buckeyes 24-12. This Columbus Dispatch article and youtube video about the game say it all! That victory started “The 10 year War" between Bo and Woody commemorated in the superb book with the same title by Joel Pennington. Needless to say, being a Michigan fan has made for some fun and interesting family get-togethers with my rabid OSU-rooting relatives. Check out this previous blog about some of those times.

Eventually our conversation turned to the most recent game and that 4th down spot. He (reluctantly) admitted that the Wolverine’s outplayed the Buckeye’s that day and likely would have won if Michigan’s quarterback was healthy or the game was played at the Big House.

With the greatest rivalry in sport renewed again with coaches Harbaugh and Meyer, Jim and Urban sounds rather congenial compared to Bo & Woody. They need to come up with some nicknames for the current coaches cause Jim and Urban will never make the list of famous football nicknames. Maybe with better nicknames, they'd win a bowl game!

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