Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Spring Training - 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

Spring Training

Spring training has started here in Florida where we are spending the winter. It’s always a great time of the year for me, since baseball is my favorite sport, even though I could never really hit a curve ball! When spring training starts, better weather was always just around the corner, and down here in SW Florida, the weather could not be more perfect; 80’s and sunny every day. Fortunately, we have two MLB teams that train in our area, the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins. Both are American League teams and arch-rivals of the Detroit Tigers, whom I adopted when Manager Sparky Anderson moved from the Reds to the Tigers in the late 70’s a few years after we moved to Michigan to work for Ford Motor Company. As shown on the map, the Tigers spring training location is in Lakeland, between Tampa and Orlando, quite a bit north of us.


Over recent years, I've enjoyed watching many teams play each spring, typically scalping tickets prior to the game. In fact, I’ve been scalping tickets to all kinds of sporting events for years, and have never been shut out. The closest I ever came was in the early 80’s when I wanted to see Isaiah Thomas play for Bobby Knight's Indiana Hoosiers against Ohio State lead by Clark Kellogg. I patiently waited outside the stadium asking if anyone had any tickets, with no luck until about game time when a woman and her wheelchair-bound husband were about to enter the arena. They suggested I come in with them, as her husband would be in his wheelchair in the handicapped area so I might as well use his seat, which was right on the floor behind the handicapped area near the Hoosier bench. From the seat, I could faintly hear Bobby Knight giving profanity-laced instructions to his players. But there were no thrown chairs that game, unlike the infamous 1985 Indiana-Purdue game documented in this YouTube video!

The Hoosiers went on to win the game, the Big 10 and the NCAA championship. Isaiah Thomas was subsequently drafted by the Detroit Pistons where he lead them to two fantastic NBA championships.

But I digress, so back to the Spring Training topic. I was disappointed when the Reds moved their spring training to Arizona from Tampa a number of years ago. I had written about seeing the Reds play at Al Lopez Field in Tampa during spring break while in college in this previous blogpost, never realizing the Reds and Indians now share the same spring training facilities in Arizona until researching for this blog.


The Red Sox spring training park is my favorite, since it has a replica of the Green Monster in left field. I make a point to spend an inning or two watching the game from on top of the scoreboard and always bring a cold beer since it’s in the bright sun. When the beer is gone, so am I! While growing up we had a “red monster” aka our barn in right field of our makeshift ball field on the family farm as described in this previous blogpost.


When the Red Sox came into camp earlier this spring, they had an unexpected visitor waiting for them in the stadium, an alligator as shown and described in this article.


The Twins stadium is also very nice in that most of the seats are in shade so not as much beer is required when watching the Twins play! I recall another scalping incident at a Twins-Cardinals game several years ago when I bought an extra ticket from an elderly man and his daughter. Turns out the man had macular degeneration so his daughter was trying mightily yet rather unsuccessfully to describe the game to her dad. I offered to take over for her, which please both of them to no end. I was literally describing each and every pitch, hit ball and fielding play. He was a big Cardinal fan, so I pretended to be one as well, using my smart phone, which he could not see, to google Cardinal players, records and statistics. He was even better than google in that he always added an interesting tidbit about any Cardinal trivia we shared. And to cap off the game, I caught a foul ball and gave it to his daughter. Great fun!

Our son is visiting us this week for his birthday, so we’ll be scalping some tickets for the Red Sox/Pirates game tomorrow. I was hoping the game might be enough for his birthday, but what he really wants is a new putter. Have you seen the high prices of putters these days? We’ll see, but for certain, he’ll have to give me more strokes!


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Concorde - 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

Concorde


It’s been almost 50 years since the first flight of the Concorde Supersonic Transport, developed jointly by the British and French. It was a fluke that I had an opportunity to fly on the Concorde back in the mid-70’s. The chance came about because I screwed up by taking my expired passport to the airport one Sunday evening for a conventional 7 hour overnight flight from Detroit to London with my boss at Ford where we worked. The Custom's agent quickly spied my expired passport and obviously would not let me board. But my boss’s last words to me as he headed through security was for me to find a way to get to London in time for an important meeting early Tuesday morning as I had prepared all the pre-work materials for the meeting.

Apparently, I had accidentally grabbed my expired passport from our safety deposit box rather than my active one. So after my boss took off, I went to the airline reservation desk at the airport to figure out how best to get to London in time. The agent indicated the only option was flying to New York’s JFK Airport Monday morning and take the Concorde for a three hour flight leaving at noon. Coupled with the 6 hour time change, I’d arrive at 9:00pm London time, which would allow me to get a good night’s sleep and attend the meeting the next morning. The cost was triple the price of the original flight, but my boss said get there, so I directed the agent to book the flights.

Now the problem was getting my passport! I called my wife and she fortunately was able to track down someone who knew an official from the bank where the safe deposit box was located. She called that official at home and asked if there might be a way to gain access to my passport early the next morning. He fortunately agreed, but said the vault could only be opened after 8:00am and so I met him at the bank at that time to pick up the correct passport before rushing to the Detroit airport for the flight to JFK.

Once arriving at JFK, I had to clear customs which went seamlessly this time thanks to having the correct passport, and finally boarded the Concorde for London’s Heathrow airport.


I was amazed at how small the plane was internally; literally almost hitting my head on the ceiling walking down the aisle. And my assigned window seat was very cramped with my head and shoulders hitting the curved side of the plane. The window was a tiny porthole that I had to bend down in order to view outside.


When the plane took off, it ascended dramatically upward and swerved over the Atlantic in order to diminish the noise over the city as the powerful supersonic jet engines were rather loud even inside the plane. Plus, when the plane exceeded the speed of sound (741 mph), there would be a sonic boom that could be heard if it were flying low enough over land. There was a display mounted on the pilot's cabin as shown below that indicated the speed and altitude. The speed of the Concorde at Mach 2 was almost three times faster than a conventional passenger jet.


At that high speed, the interior wall of the plane was warm to the touch due to the friction caused by the thin air over the fuselage. And at altitude, one could observe the curvature of the earth.


During takeoff and landing, the nose of the Concorde had to be tilted downward as shown in the photo below so the pilots could see the runway. The plane’s designers may have been inspired by a swan trying to land and take off as also pictured below.

 

As an engineer, I was obviously very intrigued by the Concorde (refer to the inner workings of the plane on the diagram below) and really appreciated the once in a lifetime experience to have flown on such an ingenious flying machine.


Unfortunately, I had to return to the US the old fashioned way, and once back, had quite a time getting my travel expense approved through the bean counters in the company. But with my boss’s backing, especially given the success of the meeting we attended, finally got it approved and paid. Worth every penny in my view!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Valentine Memories - 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

Valentine Memories

My first memories about Valentine’s Day occurred in first grade at Ft. Loramie elementary school. In those days, there were no pre-school or kindergarten. So that meant 42 new first graders were in a single classroom taught by a wonderful teacher Miss Quinlin, whom I’ve written about in this previous blog. 

About a week before Valentine’s Day, Miss Quinlin had each of us first-graders start work on a project to decorate a shoe box for the big day so everyone could exchange Valentine’s cards. The top of the shoe box included your name, plus a slot so the cards could be inserted, somewhat like the box displayed on the right.

The standard issue scissors for first-graders had rounded blades to prevent injury, but it sure made it cumbersome to cut the slot, especially since I was used to using my Mom’s conventional scissors at home.

While the box was being constructed during class, at home we had to address all the Valentine’s cards to our classmates. I recall going to Willman’s department store with Mom to buy an assortment of small cards. There were 27 girls in our class, plus I needed cards for Miss Quinlin, my three sisters, two grandmothers and Mom. So that meant a lot of card signing, envelope stuffing and addressing during the busy week before Valentine’s Day. Plus Mom suggested I insert a candy heart, each with a special message, with the cards. After 4 1/2 months of getting to know my classmates, the fun part was finding just the right card and inscribed candy heart for each of the girls in my class. The mushy ones went to those special girls like described in this previous blog about my first kiss. Imagine the germs that must have been all over those pieces of candy after fingering them prior to and during the envelop stuffing process!

Finally, the big day came and all of us first-graders excitedly inserted our Valentine’s cards in the decorated shoe boxes of our classmates. Miss Quinlin insisted we not open the cards in class, instead to take the box home and open the envelopes there. I recall my younger sisters helping me open the cards, sometimes eating the candy hearts before I had a chance to read them. It was fun to see if anyone sent me a mushy card! I do recall getting a card from a boy in my class who incidentally became my best man at our wedding some 20 years later - Hmmmm!

Speaking of our wedding, my wife-to-be and I decided after spending our first Christmas together in 1971 that we were meant for each other. So shortly after the New Year, we went to look for a diamond ring together as I didn’t trust myself to pick out the right ring on my own. We stopped at Mayor’s Jewelry in downtown Dayton at Third & Main under the old clock tower pictured below. After all, we were in the Gem City!


We found a custom ring design we liked, picked out the matching wedding bands and placed the order. One morning about a month later, I received a call at work that the rings (pictured below) were in. I excitedly called my fiancee-to-be with the news so we met during our lunch break to pick them up. The engagement ring fit, so she just kept it on, with no bended knee proposal or anything.


To this day, I kick myself for not having picked up the ring myself so I could have formally presented it to her on Valentine’s Day about a week later. Bummer, as it would have saved me from having to buy another gift!!


Prior to getting engaged, I also never asked my future in-laws, Doc & Hilda, permission to marry their daughter. Another bonehead move on my part! Had I done so, they no doubt would have shared a story about a Valentine’s Day a few years prior when the two of them got into a little spat and weren’t speaking to each other for a day or so before the big day. Doc did give Hilda a Valentine’s card, but it had the following note written inside:
Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, I have my faults and so do you! Love, Doc!
My mother-in-law Hilda enjoys telling that story every Valentine’s Day, so no doubt she will be repeating it for all the doctors, nurses and other patients at Miami Valley hospital tomorrow where she is recuperating from successful hip replacement surgery.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Hilda and all you other Fish Report readers.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Birthday Milestone or Millstone? - 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

Birthday Milestone or Millstone?


Today is my 70th birthday? Sure, it’s a major milestone, but on the other hand, it may be a millstone! Let’s face it, I’m old.


But I’m not alone, as these celebrities are also turning 70 this year! The ladies sure do look a lot better than the men, especially those old rockers.


And here are the athletes from that era who who turn 70 soon:
  • Dave Concepcion, George Foster, Cesar Geronimo & Ed Armbrister - Played for the Big Red Machine in the 70’s
  • Steve Garvey and Steve Yeager - LA Dodgers All Stars
  • Bobby Orr - Hall of Fame hockey player for the Boston Bruins
  • Bob Lanier - Hall of Fame Center for the Detroit Pistons
  • Jack Ham & Terry Bradshaw - Hall of Famers from the Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Calvin Murphy - Houston Rockets - shortest player in the NBA Hall of Fame (5’9”)
  • Nate Archibald & Dave Cowens - Boston Celtics Hall of Famers
  • Buck Martinez - Toronto Blue Jays player, manager and announcer
  • Dan Issel - Denver Nuggets Hall of Fame basketball player
  • Dan Gable - Olympic gold metal wrestler

On the other extreme, undoubtedly, the most famous person that died in 1948 was Babe Ruth.


Mom & Dad were married on May 3rd, 1947, so I was born 9 months and 3 days later as pictured below. I recall at their 50th wedding anniversary asking Mom & Dad what the heck they did for three days after the wedding?


According to the following list, David was the 5th most popular name back in 1948, so you might think my parents were up on all the latest trends.


In actuality, they named all their kids after biblical saints; L-R below, Ann, Luke, Sara, Lucy & David. Except for the dog who was named Brownie!


Here are some of the strangest facts about the year 1948:
  • A man was found dead on a beach in in Adelaide, South Australia and the words "Taman Shud", torn from a book, in a hidden pocket. The rest of the book was found in a nearby car, with a mysterious code on a page only visible under UV Light. The code and the identity of the man has never been solved.
  • Cecil Harris wrote his last will and testament on a tractor fender while dying trapped underneath it.
  • Sadamichi Hirasawa robbed a bank by pretending to be a public health official and giving cyanide to every bank employee as a "dysentery inoculation.”
  • The 1948 Nobel prize for Medicine and Physiology was awarded for the invention of DDT.
  • Huang Yu was the sole survivor of an airplane crash in 1948. His survival is notable for three reasons: it was the world's first commercial aviation hijacking, he was a hijacker and he was the sole survivor of the crash he caused.

Other highlights from 1948:


Here’s my birthday present that I’ll wear proudly along with that abominable millstone!


And here’s my cake:


But millstone or not, I’m enjoying life like a 21 year old! Retirement is like being in college, only without having to pay tuition or study!


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