Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Memories of Joe - 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.

Memories of Joe


Last week's blog touched on the fact that I had attended a memorial service for a golfing buddy. His name is Joe, whom I’ve had the pleasure of calling a friend for over 25 years. He was a happy-go-lucky guy who died suddenly in the arms of his dear wife Darlene from a pulmonary embolism while in Florida this winter. My favorite memory of Joe was witnessing a hole-in-one he shot back in 2006. Joe not only bought everyone at the course a drink after the round, but also treated his foursome to dinner that evening! The photo above shows him being awarded a plaque commemorating the accomplishment by his playing partners. We’re all laughing because, as a joke, we superimposed the photo to the right onto the plaque as we were awarding it to him.

Joe worked for race car owner and businessman Roger Penske early in his career, before buying a Chevrolet dealership from Roger in 1981. Naturally, with me working at Ford, there was always a lot of good natured ribbing between us over the years. That being said, I was sad to see his dealership forced out of business during the GM bankruptcy in 2009. He was so upset at General Motors (and went to his grave that way) that he not only sold the land associated with his dealership to a competitor, he ended up buying a Lexus with the license plate shown below.


Joe and his wife love traveling all over the country in their motorhome; having accumulated over a million miles with several different models, each one bigger and more elaborate than the next. I recall Joe giving us a tour of his latest model, and in one cabinet were bottles and bottles of his favorite drink, Disaronno liqueur, stacked like solders on multiple shelves. But Joe was like an airline pilot, refusing to imbibe the day before a trip. That practice paid off a few years later, as they were traveling back from Florida one spring along I-75 in the hills of Tennessee. The motorhome suddenly had a tire blow-out and it went careening down a large ravine into a wooded area. Joe was able to fortunately keep the vehicle from rolling over, until it finally stopped when a large tree got in the way. Both had been buckled in at the time, so they survived the crash with only scratches and bruises. Fortunately a National Guard caravan was passing by and stopped to help. He said the motorhome was totaled and was a royal mess inside, but he claimed every bottle of Disaronno survived the crash! That catastrophe marked the end of their motorhome adventures as they never bought another one.

Darlene is Irish through-and-through, so needless to say, we have tons of photos celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with them over the years. My favorite is shown below along with their wedding photo from 1967.


We attended the same church, our wives played Euchre together, our sons went to the same schools growing up and we winter in Florida near each other, so needless to say, we all miss Joe dearly. But counter to the instructions on his holy card, I can’t seem to let you go, Joe!


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Radio Personalities from the Past - 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.

Radio Personalities from the Past

Radio Personalities Dick Purtan and Steve Kirk

Recently, my wife and I attended a memorial service for a golfing buddy and at the luncheon afterwards, by happenstance, we were sitting at a table with a women named Colleen whose voice I recognized from the radio! While driving to work at Ford Motor Company for almost 30 years, I would routinely listen to the morning disc jockey/comedian Dick Purtan and his compatriots tagged as Purtan’s People. The photo below shows the group as they performed a Gilligan’s Island skit at a charitable event. Dick Purtan is the one playing Gilligan with the mustache. Colleen most likely is the blonde in the middle playing Lovey Howell.


Purtan spent a few years at Cincinnati radio station WSAI before moving to 50,000 watt CKLW in Windsor, Canada. No doubt some of you old timers like me can remember CKLW back in the day, as they had such great rock and roll hits with a really strong signal. We would listen to the station all the way down in mid-western Ohio around the clock. It was 800 on the AM dial and easy to find. My favorite was Jo Jo Shutty McGregor, the traffic girl we all fell in love with. Because of listening to Jo Jo's traffic reports, I knew all the roads around the Detroit metropolitan area by name long before moving there in 1973. See the photo of her in her traffic helicopter and a more recent photo with Dick Purtan below.


The station was famous for their 20/20 news, delivered at 20 minutes before and 20 minutes after the hour, which meant every teenage radio listener like me at the time would switch to CKLW at the top and bottom of the hour when all the other stations were broadcasting the news. CKLW’s news was over the top, so even that was entertaining. Click here for an entertaining youtube segment about CKLW back in the 60’s.

Naturally, the conversation with Colleen focused on her days behind the mic as one of Purtan’s People. It was really fun talking to her about those wonderful times. She said her alarm was always set at 4:17am when she got up to get ready for her stint on morning radio. Her husband was with her at the reception after the memorial service and we came to discover they are a house divided; with Colleen a Michigan State graduate and her husband a graduate of Michigan as is obvious from the photo on the right. Although Colleen is a natural talker, being in the radio business and all, she and her husband don’t speak to each other on the day of the big U of M/MSU football game each fall (somewhat like me and my family of avid Buckeye fans on the last Saturday in November each year)! Also, I came to discover that Dick Purtan lives on the same lake we do, and also that Jo Jo Shutty McGregor and her husband used to live on the lake. Little did I know!

Dayton had their own radio personality at the time, Steve Kirk at WING 1410 am radio pictured below. He was known for his trademark remark after telling a joke - “Ha Cha Cha”. Before WING, he also worked for WSAI in Cincinnati with Dick Purtan. While at WSAI, Steve actually interviewed the Beatles in 1964 before their concert in Cincinnati. You could tell Steve and Dick worked together as their antics on the air were very similar. Both also used their celebrity to benefit local charities in the Dayton and Detroit areas, having raised millions of dollars for such charitable causes as the Salvation Army.


Radio personalities like Steve Kirk and Dick Purtan sure provided wonderful entertainment for us growing up around the midwest. And their antics continue, but in a more toned down way, as both have Facebook pages.

Fun times and great memories!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Tax Time - 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.

Tax Time


(click to enlarge)
Needless to say, there aren’t many fond memories about tax time over the years, but in the process of preparing my taxes this year, trying to squeeze in as many deductions as legally possible, I recalled a tactic that a few of the upper classmen were doing back when I was a freshman in college at General Motors Institute (now Kettering University). Since GMI was a co-op university, students were considered employees of GM and as part of our job responsibilities, had to attend school in order to be employed. So several bold students decided to deduct their tuition costs from their income on their IRS 1040 submission on the premise that the tuition was a deductible expense associated with their work requirements. Coupled with the standard deductions at the time, those students literally incurred no federal or state income taxes. And if the GM facility where they worked was close to their parents, they could live at home and save enough money in one year to buy a new Corvette!

Back then, the sticker prices on a new Corvette were under $5000 as shown on the right, and coupled with a 20% GM employee discount, could be bought for about $4 grand. Imagine a student buying a new ’67 Vette, enjoying it for 50 years, then selling it on auction like the vehicle pictured below going for $3,100,000, with the basis of that original investment being the tax savings accrued from deducting their tuition as a student at GMI. To my knowledge, these students never were audited by the IRS, so the deductions stuck. Within a year, the IRS stiffened the rules, so I was never able nor had the courage to give it a try. But after graduating, I did saved enough (after taxes) to buy a used Corvette, in fact several of them over the years, chronicled in this previous blogpost.


Back in the ’60’s, by the time of our Senior year at GMI, we were making $8 an hour, working 1100 hours a year, so would accrue income of about $9,000. And GM would subsidize the tuition costing $3000 a year, so if one lived at home with minimal expenses and no income taxes due, there was more than enough money remaining to buy the Vette. That’s why we nicknamed GM Generous Mother while going to school there and as chronicled in this song about GMI from that era: 

High above the old Flint River, factory whistles blow, toot, toot
Stands an ivy covered outhouse General Motors Institute
She's our mother, how we love her, raise her name on high, hi de hi de hi
To hell with Ford and Chrysler products, God bless GMI

Having traveled back to Kettering's campus last summer for an alumni affair (a car show, of course!), while talking to current students, discovered they now get paid about $12 an hour and tuition is up to $30,000. Plus GM is no longer affiliated with the University, so no more discounts are offered on new vehicles nor is the tuition subsidized by their co-op employer, now expanded to about 700 companies. And with Corvette’s costing upwards of $70,000, the same economics unfortunately don’t come close to working out for current students. Besides, the Corvette is not really an inspirational vehicle for today’s millennials; instead it’s an old man’s car designed for someone like me who wanted one back in the day but couldn’t afford it. For that matter, many of today’s millennials don’t even want a vehicle! They’d prefer autonomous vehicles to drive them from place to place! I can assure you of one thing, that won’t be nearly as much fun as driving a Corvette. On second thought, there might be only one activity in a self driving vehicle that would be more fun, but I won’t go there! Oh, how times have changed indeed.


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

52 1/2 Anderson - 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.

52 1/2 Anderson

52 1/2 Anderson, Dayton, Ohio

Last week’s blog referenced University of Dayton’s Final four run back in 1967 while I was living with three UofD students at 52 1/2 Anderson, just east of campus off Stewart Street. One of those guys emailed me after seeing the blogpost and shared some memories of the place that I had forgotten about. We rented the second floor while the owner and his family lived below. That’s why there were two addresses for the home, with us in 52 1/2, the upper floor. There was a back stairway to access the upper level without bothering (too much) the family below. The place is still there as shown in the current photo above. I sure don’t remember the big tree in front, but 50 years ago it was likely just a sapling, because I do recall the four of us on the first warm day of spring crawling out the front windows and sun bathing above the porch. The shade from that big tree wouldn’t allow that today.

The second level had two bedrooms and a small kitchen, so needless to say we were squeezed tightly into the place. The bedroom walls were plastered with posters, pretty much like shown above. The three other guys actually rented the place from the landlord, so whenever I crashed with them during my work stints at Frigidaire while attending General Motors Institute, I threw some cash for rent into a fish bowl that we used for beer and food money, in that order! The photo of the home shows an attic with a third floor window; I’ll have to ask the guys about that the next time we get together. The attic could have been our man cave as envisioned below!


We all hated doing dishes, so naturally as the semester rolled on, the dirty dishes piled up in the sink, countertops and elsewhere, just about as pictured on the left. One of our parents might occasionally visit, and the first thing our Mothers would do was wash the dirty dishes, making us dry them. As a result, she had us captive and could hold a decent conversation with us; trying to divulge if we were staying out of trouble and keeping up with our studies. Needless to say, this inquisition was a painful way to get the dishes washed, but obviously less disagreeable than doing it ourselves!

Two of us were tall and thin while other two were on the stocky side. Literally, we looked like a pair of hippy Mutt and Jeff cartoon characters from yesteryear, as we strolled around campus and hung out at the local hot spots on Brown St., imagining taking some sweet young co-ed up to our mythical man cave without them catching sight of the dishes piled up in the sink. Right!

Somehow we survived those days, with all of us marrying up, having wonderful children and successful careers in spite of the inauspicious start as college roommates. Three of the four of us spend time in Florida so we get together each winter to connect up, play some golf and reminisce about those old times at 52 1/2 Anderson. Then we sometimes call the fourth guy who winters in Texas. Our wives claim the stories seem to get stretched more and more each year. Definitely not true! For example, here’s one story documented in this blog post about the 52 1/2 Anderson roommates that’s definitely true describing our road trip to Virginia Beach and beyond.

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